Posts Categorized: Audiobooks

Audiobook Review – We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

April 16, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2015 3 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – We All Looked Up by Tommy WallachWe All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach
Narrator: Hannah Dunne, Peter Vack, Sarah Steele, Seth Numrich
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on March 24th 2015
Length: 9 hours and 7 minutes
Genres: Coming-of-Age, Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Thanks for the Trouble, Strange Fire

three-half-stars

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of bright blue, like a puncture in the black skin of the sky.’

Imagine if you had to grapple with the knowledge that there’s a 66.6% chance that the bright light hovering in the sky is headed straight towards Earth. Imagine if you were told that even if there’s a chance it won’t happen, if it does, you have only six weeks before it happens. What would you change? What would you do? How would you choose to live your final six weeks of life?

We All Looked Up centers around four high school seniors trying to find out who they are while struggling to look beyond who they’ve been defined as. Their attempts to do so take on a frantic state when the news gets out about the asteroid named Ardor. Peter is a star athlete with a steady girlfriend but is drawn to Eliza in a way that he can no longer ignore even if it means for once not doing what is expected of him. Eliza fought against being labeled a ‘slut’ but has since decided to simply be and do whatever she wants despite the names people call her. Her father is dying of cancer and her mother has abandoned them; taking pictures of the crumbling world around her is the way she finds to cope. Anita is a straight A student that has only ever done what her father has told her to do but has finally decided that for once it’s time she admits to herself that what she truly wants to do in life is sing. Andy is the stereotypical slacker that hangs with the wrong crowd and must decide for himself whether he’s able to continue following the pack or if he’s ready to finally wake up and make his own decisions.

While all four of these characters (and several secondary characters) were all stereotypical in their own way, Wallach adds an impressive depth to each one of them that I loved watching unfold. The story itself is almost stereotypical as well, with the asteroid headed to Earth and all of humanity faced with their impending doom. Dun Dun Dun. But this story managed to complete impress me with the route that it took and the ambiguous ending that will manage to leave you satisfied even when you’re still left with questions. Nothing is for certain, anything could change… you just never really know for sure about anything in life. We All Looked Up is an elegantly written and philosophical pre-apocalyptic tale that will leave you contemplating your own existence.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker {PurchaseMy Review}
The Last Policeman (The Last Policeman #1) by Ben H. Winters {Purchase}

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Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

March 14, 2015 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Read in 2015 1 Comment

Classic Curiosity – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Narrator: Sissy Spacek
Published by Harper Audio on July 11th, 1960
Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
Genres: Classics, Historical Fiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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Also by this author: Go Set a Watchman

five-stars

Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the deep south defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.

 ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’

I recall reading this for the first time early on in school, in junior high possibly, and I can definitely say that the powerful message behind the book was completely lost on me at the time. As wonderful and inspirational as it is, it’s also much more complex and layered than my memory served. This is a book that teaches tolerance, morality and ethics, about the senselessness of violence and the differences between right and wrong. Doing what’s right meant something vastly different down South in the 1930s when Mockingbird was set and also in the 1960s when first published, however, even 50+ years later, it’s sad to see that we still deal with these issues to this day even if it may not necessarily be on the same large scale. This story still manages to retain significant meaning and teach us something about humanity regardless of time or place.

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

In addition to the various storylines that serve to teach an important lesson is the full cast of amazing characters that act out these life lessons. Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.

As simplistic as this story is delivered, it’s actually deceptively significant. It’s not a preachy how to guide on how to be a decent person but instead it’s the didactic story of one man’s fight for what’s right.

Notes on the narration: Sissy Spacek delivered an amazing narration with her authentic Southern accent that had me listening well past my bedtime. I couldn’t imagine Scout sounding any other way. Listen below for a clip to the audiobook.

classic curiosity

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Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

October 11, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Classic Curiosity, Ominous October, Read in 2014 7 Comments

Classic Curiosity – Frankenstein by Mary ShelleyFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
Narrator: Dan Stevens
Published by Audible on 1818
Length: 8 hrs and 35 mins
Genres: Classics, Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-stars

Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presents an uncanny performance of Mary Shelley's timeless gothic novel, an epic battle between man and monster at its greatest literary pitch. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.

The summer of 1816 was named the “Year Without a Summer” after the eruption of Mount Tambora caused a long and dreary Volcanic Winter. With everyone keeping to the indoors, Mary, her future husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori all entertained themselves by telling ghost stories and then inevitably it was suggested they each come up with their own type of horror story. It was during this very summer that Mary Shelley, at the age of eighteen, came up with the initial concept of Frankenstein.

‘After days and night of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.’

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein, a man that through experiementation in both science and alchemy devised a way to combine pieces of human corpses and give them new life. Frankenstein is a legendary story and has become a pivotal part of our cultural understanding of the supernatural world, however, the novel is actually nothing like the classic movies involving lightning, screaming and Frankenstein actually being excited at his accomplishments.

His shock and awe quickly transforms into a horrific realization at what he was capable of and he ran away in terror, leaving the monster alone. We’re told Frankenstein’s story first and the steps that led to the monsters creation and the subsequent events as well. Frankenstein depicts him as a monster, thus the reason he is never given an actual name, but when we are finally given the story via the monsters point of view we realize this ‘monster’ is quite possibly anything but. His is a story of complete despondency that easily garners your compassion regardless of the pain and suffering he has wreaked. He may be a creation but is he still not a person? Is his creators ensuing abandonment to blame for his conduct because Frankenstein had a duty beyond just his creation? I believe it is. Without his creator there to teach him the ways of the world, he was forced to observe, learn and interpret on his own. So then it was his observances of society what transformed him into who he came to be? A matter of circumstance? He became an outcast of society because of his appearance and after a time became lonely and craved a companion. He sought out his creator so as to force him to duplicate his work.

This is my first read of the classic and I must say it’s nothing like I was expecting. It ended up being a strange and eclectic blend of genres. It was science fiction, with the creation of a man from pieces of corpses, and it was gothic and horror, the dead coming back to life and wreaking havoc on the world. Neither of those were the sole purpose or point of this story; it only set the scene. At the heart of this story are the revolutionary and intellectual questions about life, death and existence. About scientific possibilities and how far is too far. And it’s about compassion and lack of it in this world. Was Frankenstein’s monster truly an outcast only because of his appearance, because initially he showed the utmost caring towards individuals and even saved a drowning girl at one point. Society saw the monster and judged him harshly based off that alone, never giving him the benefit of the doubt. It’s a fictional accounting of a harsh world but it’s a rather truthful and distressing accounting. This is Gothic literature at its very finest and I’m so glad I finally conquered this incredible piece of work.

‘Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness.’

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Ominous October – A Good Marriage by Stephen King

October 9, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Ominous October, Read in 2014 3 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ominous October – A Good Marriage by Stephen KingA Good Marriage by Stephen King
Narrator: Jessica Hecht
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on September 30th 2014
Length: 3 hours and 33 minutes
Genres: Horror
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
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Also by this author: Doctor Sleep, Cujo, Pet Sematary

three-stars

Soon to be a major motion picture starring Kristen Connelly, Joan Allen, and Anthony La Paglia, Stephen King’s short story, “A Good Marriage” from Full Dark, No Stars is now available as a stand-alone audio edition!

Bob Anderson, Darcy’s husband of more than twenty years, is away on one of his business trips, when his unsuspecting wife looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers she doesn’t know her husband at all, but rather has been living with a stranger. This horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, could be the end of what Darcy though was a good marriage…

‘Did she know everything about him? Of course not. No more than he knew everything about her […] There was no knowing everything, but she felt that after twenty-seven years, they knew all the important things. It was a good marriage, one of the fifty percent or so that kept working over the long haul. She believed that in the same unquestioning way she believed that gravity would hold her to the earth when she walked down the sidewalk.

Until that night in the garage.’

Darcy and Bob Anderson have been contently married for 27 years. Together they have two children and they own a successful mail-order business that deals in collectible American coins which cause Bob to be away on travel frequently. During one of his trips, Darcy goes in search of batteries in the garage after the TV remote dies. In her search, she finds disturbing pornographic magazines that she would never have dreamed Bob would ever read but that ended up being the least disturbing thing she found in the garage that night. The most disturbing was a little wooden box that she herself had given Bob which contained a blood donor card, a library card and driver’s license of a Marjorie Duvall. Marjorie Duvall had been on the six o’clock news recently after she was found murdered by a suspected serial killer named “Beadie”.

Stephen King has said Dennis Rader, otherwise known as the “BTK killer” was his inspiration for A Good Marriage. Dennis Rader was a serial killer that murdered a total of ten people between the years 1974 and 1991. He was a seemingly innocuous member of his community; president of his church council, Cub scout leader and married with two children. No one ever looked at him twice until he was finally caught and convicted of his crimes in 2005. A Good Marriage is a short yet disquieting read that makes you wonder just how well you know the ones you love. Darcy and Bob were married for years and she never once suspected that her loving husband was capable of such brutality; never thought that the serial killer on the news could be the man she married.

My initial response to the ending of this story was discontent. The more I thought about it though, I can’t deny that this still managed to be an adroitly written story that manages to uncover the hidden darkness in all of us, leaving an all encompassing unsettling feeling as a reader. King’s short stories are always my favorite reads of his, although this one definitely left me wanting. I felt more detail was necessary to properly end this tale and I was honestly expecting a twist that never came. Jessica Hecht did a fantastic job with the narration though and really brought Darcy’s nightmare of a situation to life.

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Banned Books Week – The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois Lowry

September 26, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Banned Books Week – The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1) by Lois LowryThe Giver by Lois Lowry
Series: The Giver Quartet #1
Published by Listening Library on February 27, 2001
Length: 4 hours and 51 minutes
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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three-stars

December is the time of the annual Ceremony at which each twelve-year-old receives a life assignment determined by the Elders. Jonas watches his friend Fiona named Caretaker of the Old and his cheerful pal Asher labeled the Assistant Director of Recreation. But Jonas has been chosen for something special. When his selection leads him to an unnamed man, the man called only the Giver, he begins to sense the dark secrets that underlie the fragile perfection of his world.

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

“The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

The Giver tells the story of Jonas, an eleven-year old boy living in an ‘ideal’ dystopian society where everyone lives complacently without pain, fear or emotion of any kind. Babies are born to Birthmothers and then become assigned to family units. Children are given medication daily in order to repress their sexual urges. People are assigned spouses based on their compatibility with one another. Each individuals purpose in society is also assigned at the Ceremony of Twelve where they are told what their job will be for the rest of their living lives. It’s at this Ceremony when Jonas is informed that he is being given the honor of becoming the new Receiver of Memory, the sole holder of all community memories, including the painful memories of the past. The Giver, the old man that Jonas will be replacing as the Receiver of Memory, begins to transfer all of his memories straight to Jonas. From these memories, Jonas is able to see the flaws of his world and of it could be, a world with emotion and where people have the freedom to choose.

The Giver opens with the understanding that all members of this society are living in a Utopia as everyone is content and satisfied living in their impossibly ideal living conditions. No one questions this, it’s just become a fact of their lives. When Jonas turns twelve and is introduced to a vastly different version of his world, he at least begins to understand how far from perfect their society truly is. Everything is pre-determined with everyone living their lives akin to a robot doing only what they are told and what is expected of them. In that regards, I had a similar reaction when I read The Handmaid’s Tale about the scary possibility of how different life ‘could be’. With that read though, the world-building aspects were much more on point. The Giver had a complete lack of explanation when it came to how this society came to be. The only thing we as a reader are given is that in order to eliminate pain and suffering they had to remove/give up their memories. The end result was society didn’t spend time dwelling on past pains and their lack of memories meant they would never be repeated again. But how did this happen? How did they transfer all past memories to one single individual? It’s an incredibly interesting concept but I needed a little bit more detail for it all to make good solid sense. Adding to that, once Jonas is in possession of the memories and history of the society, he immediately begins to rebel against it all. The reasoning behind his immediate decision was sketchy at best and slightly unbelievable but I think for the reader (especially a young reader) it was a hard one to question since we already knew that the society was flawed and knew if we were in that situation we would also run far, far away from it.

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. Being a fan of dystopian I’ve come across too many books being compared to The Giver I had to see for myself whether these comparisons were accurate. My 13-year-old stepdaughter came home with it one day and told me about her class assigning it to read and a few days later after having finished it she praised it lavishly and recommended I read it so we could talk about it. Can’t say no to that. While I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as she did, I think it’s an important novel and an interesting concept to consider. It’s eye-opening in the sense that it makes us realize in comparison just how many freedoms we personally have. The Giver is all about controlling thoughts and feelings, the censorship of emotions. Kind of ironic that it’s being censored/banned in our school systems, no?

 

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Photo courtesy of Slate

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Banned Books Week – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

September 25, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 12 Comments

Banned Books Week – Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman, Sunil Malhotra
Published by Listening Library on February 26, 2013
Length: 8 hours and 56 minutes
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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Also by this author: Attachments, Landline

three-stars

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor... Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough...Eleanor.

Park... He knows she'll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There's a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises...Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

 

“You saved my life, she tried to tell him. Not forever, not for good. Probably just temporarily. But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.”

It’s 1986 and Eleanor is forever the odd girl out at school due to a combination of her weight, her crazy red hair (causing the nickname “Big Red”) and her eclectic fashion sense. Her home life isn’t any more glamorous where she lives with her mother, her cruel step-father and her group of siblings that all share a room with her. School might not be the sanctuary she might hope for but it’s still an escape. One day, not finding a single seat on the bus, she takes a seat next to half-Korean Park who is almost just as much of an outcast as Eleanor. They begin sitting next to each other every day, not saying a single word to one another and slowly but surely, their relationship grows over comic books and music without words being spoken.

I went a long time without picking this one up. Mostly because I’m extremely selective when it comes to contemporary YA but I had read (other than Fangirl) all of Rowell’s other books and I figured I should at least give it a shot. I didn’t find any real issue with it but it wasn’t a breakthrough novel for me. It likely didn’t help it that I had read Pushing the Limits earlier this year which is extremely similar: opposites attract, one of the two have a bad home life, they develop a strong and ‘unbreakable’ bond that changes their lives. I didn’t really care for Pushing the Limits and I felt about the same for Eleanor & Park. It must be said though that I appreciated the less than perfect girl, Eleanor was overweight with crazy hair and has a mad love for music. I wanted to love her. I loved how we didn’t have the obligatory insta-love, but rather a slow-building love that developed in silence. I wanted to love it, I really did.

When we aren’t given glimpses of Eleanor & Park falling in love, we’re shown just how awful and terrible Eleanor’s home life is. She has to make sure to take her baths when her step-father isn’t home since their bathroom is lacking a door, she can’t afford a toothbrush or batteries for her Walkman which is everything to her, she’s not allowed to have friends over and she’s interrogated fiercely if she leaves the house. Her mother, in fear of her husband, won’t help her and leaves her to suffer his wrath alone. It was heartbreaking yet resonated an honesty that I think is sorely lacking in most YA contemporary. While it was heartbreaking though, it was also hopeful, because Park gave Eleanor a much-needed spark that she needed in her life.

So where did it go wrong for me? I loved their slow-build love, their lack of vocalizing, it was obscure and different from any other love story I had read before. It didn’t stick to that same path though, it ended up veering off into typical territory with them declaring their undying love for one another after a few short weeks. I can completely understand finding that person that gives you that spark when you need it most in your life, but must it always transform into an “I simply cannot live without you. I will die.” It’s overboard and dramatic. Their bonding over comic books and music was wonderful and built a friendship between the two of them before the romantic feelings ever came. I kind of wish that it would have been kept as a friendship because I never truly felt the attraction between the two of them like I should have. The aspects of this book I loved, mostly the beginning, still made this well worth the read and I’m glad that I finally picked this up.

From a post on BookRiot “…members of the district’s Parents Action League deemed the Rowell’s breakout YA novel Eleanor & Park “dangerously obscene.” The”too hot for teens and taxpayer money” novel was ordered off school library shelves and there was a call to discipline the school librarians who chose the book.” Also, “The Parent Action League cited 227 instances of profanity in the book (including 67 “Gods”, 24 “Jesuses,” and four “Christs.”) as well as crude and sexually charged material that was inappropriate for students.” Despite my less than glamorous rating, I still feel like this is a valuable read that will open teens eyes and I would personally recommend it to my teens to read. Sure, there’s profanity. Sure, you’d like it if your teens don’t use it but regardless of how sheltered you keep them it’s simply not possible to shelter them from everything. Dangerously obscene. You know what’s dangerously obscene? Banning books. The only thing we’re accomplishing is making sure that our future generations are narrow-minded and in denial about the realities of the world.

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Audiobook Review – Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim Butcher

September 13, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 3 Comments

Audiobook Review – Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1) by Jim ButcherStorm Front by Jim Butcher
Narrator: James Marsters
Series: The Dresden Files #1
Published by Buzzy Multimedia Publishing Corp. on June 10, 2009
Length: 8 hours and 1 minute
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


three-half-stars

Meet Harry Dresden, Chicago's first (and only) Wizard P.I. Turns out the "everyday" world is full of strange and magical things—and most of them don't play well with humans. That's where Harry comes in. Harry is the best at what he does—and not just because he's the only one who does it. So when the Chicago P.D. has a case that transcends mortal capabilities, they look to him for answers. There's just one problem. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. So when the police bring him in to consult on a grisly double murder committed with black magic, Harry's seeing dollar signs. But where there's black magic, there's a black mage behind it. And now that mage knows Harry's name. And that's when things start to get…interesting. Magic—it can get a guy killed.

‘I don’t want to live in a world where the strong rule and the weak cower. I’d rather make a place where things are a little quieter. Where trolls stay the hell under their bridges and where elves don’t come swooping out to snatch children from their cradles. Where vampires respect the limits, and where the faeries mind their p’s and q’s. My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk. When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I’m in the book.’

Harry is a detective but also a wizard; the only one in the city of Chicago. He’s going through some hard times currently and haven’t worked enough jobs recently to pay the rent (or buy food for that matter) and when a job comes knocking on his door he doesn’t think twice. Monica Sells is the traditional damsel in distress that hires Harry to help her find her husband. Karrin Murphy is the head of the Special Investigations Department of the Chicago police department and needs Harry’s help in solving a recent double homicide where a man and woman had their hearts ripped out ‘mid-coitus’. In addition to homicides and missing husbands, Harry is dealing with Chicago’s crime boss who has a personal interest in seeing that Harry doesn’t solve the murder case. So basically just a typical day in the life of Harry Dresden.

Storm Front, the beginning of the massive fifteen (at the moment) installments in the widely known Harry Dresden series. Fifteen installments being the reason I’ve been so leery about picking this series but I’m so glad I finally did. I can count several Urban Fantasy series I love because of the empowered snarky main character with the best sense of humor but they all happy to be female. Not anymore.

‘Smiling always seems to annoy people more than actually insulting them. Or maybe I just have an annoying smile.’

“EASTER HAS BEEN CANCELED – THEY FOUND THE BODY” (T-Shirt worn by Harry)

While this isn’t the most solidly written detective/murder mystery (it was fairly easy to guess what was going on the whole time) it was still entertaining enough with an interesting cast of characters to avoid the urge to skip to the end. I loved the noir feel to Storm Front, Harry had a definite Sam Spade/Philip Marlowe feel to him just with a magical staff and a trench coat. The world-building was well-done without the typical info dump we receive at the beginning of any new series. There were various additions to this world that sets it apart from the rest: The White Council is the group which governs wizards, the Nevernever is a spirit realm and there are also vampires, faeries, demons and other assorted supernatural beasties. It was all very interesting and I look forward to the world being further explored in following installments.

I’ve been told that this is not the strongest installment and that they get better as they progress but I was sufficiently pleased with Storm Front that I will most definitely be picking up Fool Moon soon. The audiobooks made this even more of an entertaining read as they are narrated by James Marsters who does a fabulous job at conveying the proper amount of snarky into Harry’s tone (you can listen to the 1st chapter in full below). Don’t let the 15+ installments frighten you; if you love Urban Fantasy, The Dresden Files is one series you won’t want to miss out on.

Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne [PurchaseReview]
White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black [PurchaseReview]
Mark of the Demon (Kara Gillian #1) by Diana Rowland [PurchaseReview]

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Audiobook Review – Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah Harkness

September 6, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

Audiobook Review – Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) by Deborah HarknessShadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Series: All Souls Trilogy #2
Published by Penguin Audio on July 10th 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Occult & Supernatural
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Book of Life

two-half-stars

"Together we lifted our feet and stepped into the unknown"—the thrilling sequel to the New York Times bestseller A Discovery of Witches

Deborah Harkness exploded onto the literary scene with her debut novel, A Discovery of Witches, Book One of the magical All Souls Trilogy and an international publishing phenomenon. The novel introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and the handsome geneticist and vampire Matthew Clairmont; together they found themselves at the center of a supernatural battle over an enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens.

Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries, delivering one of the most hotly anticipated novels of the season.

All Souls Trilogy

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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy #1) {Purchase}

Shadow of Night picks up immediately after A Discovery of Witches ends (and I do mean immediately with little to no refresher. This was my second attempt at reading and I attribute my success at completing it solely because of this recap I found online which was an immense help.) with Matthew and Diana traveling back into the past to search for Ashmole 782 and to seek Diana help with her powers. For those that don’t remember: Ashmole 782: the bewitched alchemical manuscript that Diana found in Oxford’s Bodleian library. After the local witches, daemons, and vampires begin targeting Diana in order to find out how an unskilled witch was able to obtain the manuscript that they believe contains important information about the creation and future of all supernatural creatures.

Considering the fact that I loved A Discovery of Witches I was beyond ecstatic when I snagged an ARC copy of Shadow of Night. Diving into it right away in hopes to devour it whole I realized immediately that that’s not how this was going to work. Positively rife with historical detail regarding the Elizabethan era and historical figures as well (Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Dee, William Shakespeare and of course Queen Elizabeth I), this is one that will take some time to get through not just because of the amount of pages. The historical tidbits were interesting but I felt they lacked any sort of purpose and ultimately overpowered the true story making it much denser and longer than it should have been. The name dropping, while interesting, caused a bit of an eye-roll for me because did Matthew not have a single uncool friend that failed to make it into the history books? Apparently not. I can appreciate the obvious extent of the research the author conducted but including every interesting person from the time period felt a little like ‘everything but the kitchen sink’  and should have been scaled back a little to focus more on Matthew and Diana.

Shadow of Night definitely had a case of middle book syndrome. Add to that there’s a real non-ending that will likely cause some grumbles. There was progress in the storyline but mostly things of little consequence. My favorite aspects by far were the slight glimpses of the present day and how Matthew and Diana’s actions were inevitably changing the future. It was extremely interesting but those passages were so few and far between that I kept hoping for more. The evolution of Diana’s powers was the most fascinating. Going back in time only resulted in throwing them into chaos and the slight control she did have over them dissipated but discovering the full extent of her powers was truly shocking.

Shadow of Night was definitely my least favorite of the trilogy so far but I’m looking forward to some resolution and seeing how everything turns out. I plan on picking up The Book of Life soon in case Harkness continues her non-recap trend.

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Audiobook Review – The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

August 7, 2014 Bonnie Adult, Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 1 Comment

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate RorickThe Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su, Kate Rorick
Narrator: Ashley Clements
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on June 24th 2014
Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
Genres: Contemporary, Fairy-Tales/Retellings
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


four-stars

A modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice based on the Emmy Award-winning phenomenon, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

There is a great deal that goes into making a video blog. Lizzie Bennet should know, having become a YouTube sensation over the course of her year-long video diary project. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries chronicled Lizzie's life as a 24-year-old grad student, struggling under a mountain of student loans and living at home with her two sisters - beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. What may have started as her grad student thesis grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters. When rich, handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets - and for Lizzie's viewers. Suddenly Lizzie - who always considered herself a fairly normal young woman - was a public figure. But not everything happened on-screen. Luckily for us, Lizzie kept a secret diary.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet provides more character introspection as only a book can, with revelatory details about the Bennet household, including Lizzie's special relationship with her father, untold stories from Netherfield, Lizzie's thoughts and fears about life after grad school and becoming an instant web celebrity.

Written by Bernie Su, the series' executive producer, co-creator, head writer, and director, along with Kate Rorick, the novelist, TV writer, and consulting producer on the series, the novel features a journal-entry format, complementing the existing web series, while including plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new listeners alike. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like it's never been done before.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ that transports the characters from the early 1800s England to 2014 America. Lizzie Bennet is a college grad student that has begun vlogging about her daily life as a study of social media for her thesis. What started out as a simple school project though becomes so much more.

Okay, confession time: I have never read the original Pride and Prejudice. YES, I plan on correcting this, hopefully soon. I have read the movies though (and LOVE them) so I’m at least aware of the storyline. TLBD was constantly popping up on my Twitter feed and when I finally asked I was directed here. WARNING: If you have not yet watched TLBD please make sure you have several hours of time on your hands before clicking on the link. I’m serious. That shit is addicting. And SO fun.

If you’re a fan of TLBD on YouTube, you will adore this book. Yes, it’s the same story for the most part but there are small additions to the story that would have happened off camera that we get an interesting in-depth look into. Plus, if you’re suffering from withdrawals of TLBD then you’re likely willing to take anything you can get.

If you’ve opted to read this via audiobook, it is quite frankly like listening to the YouTube videos with your screen minimized. The lack of actual face time with the characters was sorely missed because they are all incredible in their roles, but Ashley Clements (the actor who played Lizzie in TLBD) did a superb job at narrating the assorted voices and made me glad I opted to go the audio route. For those of you that have not watched the YouTube videos, it is not necessary to fully appreciate the book but you’ll likely want to watch them after getting immersed in the world of modern Lizzie Bennet.

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Audiobook Review – Raging Star (Dust Lands Trilogy #3) by Moira Young

July 10, 2014 Bonnie Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Read in 2014 0 Comments

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review – Raging Star (Dust Lands Trilogy #3) by Moira YoungRaging Star by Moira Young
Narrator: Heather Lind
Series: Dust Lands Trilogy #3
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on May 13th 2014
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: the Publisher
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Blood Red Road, Rebel Heart

two-stars

Her passion kept them alive. Now it may destroy them all.

Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo...until she meets him and finds herself drawn to the man and his vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to build a stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few. The young and the healthy. Under his control.

Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Presumed dead, he's gone undercover, feeing Saba crucial information in secret meetings. Saba hides her connection with DeMalo and commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, and her sister, Emmi, Saba leads a small guerilla band against the settlers and the Tonton militia. But the odds are overwhelming. Saba knows how to fight—she's not called the Angel of Death for nothing. But what can she do when the fight cannot be won? Then DeMalo offers Saba a chance—a seductive chance she may not be able to refuse. How much will she sacrifice to save the people she loves?

The road has never been more dangerous, and betrayal lurks in the most unexpected places in the breathtaking conclusion to the Dust Lands Trilogy.

Dust Lands Trilogy

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Blood Red Road (Dust Lands Trilogy #1) by Moira Young {PurchaseMy Review}
Rebel Heart (Dust Lands Trilogy #2) by Moira Young {PurchaseMy Review}

Good grief, what happened to this series? Upon finishing Blood Red Road my response was something along the lines of “OMG ALL THE STARS. YOU GET ALL THE STARS YOU AMAZING BOOK.” There may have also been some arm flailing. And then came the interminable wait for the next installment, Rebel Heart, but as soon as it had released I begin hearing the most disappointing things about it, most especially those dreaded words: “Middle Book Syndrome.” I decided I’m going to binge read the last two when the last one comes out so that I don’t have to deal with that disappointment. Well, let me tell you what. Binge reading (or listening if you want to be specific) Rebel Heart and Raging Star back to back is not the way to go because it was 22 hours of mind-numbingly boring storytelling. For a series to have such an amazing start, it’s really disappointing for the rest of the story to have caused nothing short of narcolepsy.


Me. While Reading.

Blood Red Road was constant intensity and that action was sorely lacking in the final two installments. What happened to girl cage-fighting or the hellwurms or Saba just being a total badass? None of these things happened following book one. The plot ended up shifting focus to lesser important (or interesting) aspects of this world with more focus on the drama and I disliked it greatly. Saba’s character transformation in Rebel Heart continued into Raging Star and we have our ongoing soap opera episode between her and Jack and DeMalo, oh and I suppose Tommo can be included too.

Raging Star is a slow meandering end to the trilogy with a sudden burst of activity at the very end that felt disjointed and unexpected. The action came far too late for me to be emotionally invested in anything that happened at that point. Very disappointing end to a series that started off with major potential.

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