Thursday, December 5, 2013

Audio Review: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2) by Cassandra Clare

Title: Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices, #2)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Narrator: Ed Westwick and Heather Lind
Published by: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: 15hrs., 39 mins
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: The situation at the London Institute has never been more precarious. With Mortmain and his clockwork army still threatening, the Council wants to strip Charlotte of her power and hand the running of the Enclave over to the unscrupulous and power-hungry Benedict Lightwood. In the hope of saving Charlotte and the Institute, Will, Jem, and Tessa set out to unravel the secrets of Mortmain’s past—and discover unsettling Shadowhunter connections that hold the key not only to the enemy’s motivations, but also to the secret of Tessa’s identity. Tessa, already caught between the affections of Will and Jem, finds herself with another choice to make when she learns how the Shadowhunters helped make her a “monster.” Will she turn from them to her brother, Nate, who has been begging her to join him at Mortmain’s side? Where will her loyalties—and love—lie? Tessa alone can choose to save the Shadowhunters of London…or end them forever.

Clockwork Prince defies the sophomore slump and unfolds a tale of intrigue, action, and heartbreak.

I have to admit that I wasn't a huge fan of Clockwork Angel and I didn't think I would continue TID series, however, when it was released that Ed Westwick would be reading the audio for Clockwork Prince how could I say no?  Seriously, listen to this demo.  I don't care what the story is, if Ed Westwick is the narrator I'm listening to it.     

Besides the audio being amazing, the story itself was so much better than the first.  I was enraptured by the characters, as they didn't feel as stiff or as forced as they did in the first novel.  However, as bad as it sounds, I still am not a fan of Tessa.  She is the kind of person that everyone wants to help and protect, and she isn't deceitful or anything, but she puts herself and others in situations that are dangerous, cruel, and complicated.  As much as she tries to be strong and independent, I just see her as a weak person that unknowingly and unintentionally manipulates others.  She doesn't do any of this on purpose and I'm sure she is loved by many people, she was just not my type of heroine.  Then there is he love triangle between her, Jem, and Will.  It really becomes more prominent in Clockwork Prince and only serves to become an entangled mess that makes me very scared how Cassandra Clare is going to work her way out of it.

The plot is a bit more intense in this novel and the action increases multi-fold.  More secrets and mysteries are discovered leading to Mortmain's plans and the downfall of the Shadowhunters.   The characters are what makes this series, but the action is an added bonus to keep you on your toes and always wondering what was going to happen next.

All-in-all, Clockwork Prince exceeded my expectations and while I'm a bit nauseous over the idea of how Cassandra Clare is going to work out Tessa's love life, I'm still excited to read Clockwork Princess


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Audio Review: Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2) by Jamie McGuire

Title: Walking Disaster (Beautiful, #2)
Author: Jamie McGuire
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 11 hrs. 26 min
Source: Publisher*
Format: Audio
Rating: 2.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: Can you love someone too much?

Travis Maddox learned two things from his mother before she died: Love hard. Fight harder.

In Walking Disaster, the life of Travis is full of fast women, underground gambling, and violence. But just when he thinks he is invincible, Abby Abernathy brings him to his knees.

Every story has two sides. In Beautiful Disaster, Abby had her say. Now it’s time to see the story through Travis’s eyes.

 Explosive, sexy, and a bit unsettling.


The whole thought of reading the same story from two different points of views is quite interesting.  When you really like characters you want more of them, but the story itself may not lead to being part of a series, so instead Jamie McGuire took her story and gave us Travis's POV. 

Was Walking Disaster as good as Beautiful Disaster?  It is hard to say, because the essential story is the same we just hear it from Travis's head, which I have to say can be a scary place to be.  I enjoyed Beautiful Disaster, but I had an issue with Travis's and Abby's somewhat unhealthy relationship.  Walking Disaster only brings that out more for me.  Travis was very possessive and at times controlling.  Normally I love books from male POVs, but with Dan Bittner sounding exactly like I imagined Travis would (cockiness and all) Walking Disaster just made me too uncomfortable.

Besides their somewhat train-wreck of a relationship, the rest of the story was just as enjoyable as the original.  Jamie McGuire sure knows how to turn up the heat.  Listening to the audio at times almost felt a little uncomfortable with the scorching sex scenes.  I would at times look to the person next to me at the gym and think "if they only knew what I was listening to right now?"  

The one thing I really enjoyed about the book was the prologue and epilogue.  They were intriguing and wrapped up some loose ends.  I don't want to give too much away, but I love how they added to the story and enriched it.

Walking Disaster is sure to keep Jamie McGuire fans happy and satisfied.  However, for me Travis was just too intense, but if you enjoyed Beautiful Disaster I think you will enjoy Walking Disaster as well.   

*I did receive this audio for review, but I was not compensated for this post in anyway and all opinions are my own.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2) by Jennifer Estep

Title: Kiss of Frost (Mythos Academy #2)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Published by: Kensington Books
Pages: 385
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: I’m Gwen Frost, a second-year warrior-in-training at Mythos Acad­emy, and I have no idea how I’m going to sur­vive the rest of the semes­ter. One day, I’m get­ting schooled in sword­play by the guy who broke my heart—the drop-dead gor­geous Logan who slays me every time. Then, an invis­i­ble archer in the Library of Antiq­ui­ties decides to use me for tar­get prac­tice. And now, I find out that some­one at the acad­emy is really a Reaper bad guy who wants me dead. I’m afraid if I don’t learn how to live by the sword—with Logan’s help—I just might die by the sword...

Things are starting to heat up at Mythos Academy.

I'm think I'm hooked on this series.  First off the characters are amazing.  They all have their flaws and that is what makes them real to me.  Gwen is the heroine of our tale and while she is not necessarily the hard-core, kick-butt girl seen in other YA novels, she has a strength and determination all her own.  In this novel her gypsy gift starts to manifest in different ways and brings a new power to Gwen.  I cant wait to see just how far her gift will grow and how she will use it to save others (because we all know that she is going to end up saving the day in the end...isn't that always the predictable thing in YA lit). 

Logan in this book is quite the jerk, along with Oliver.  I'd like to say they have their reasons, but that feels too much like saying "Boys will be boys" and I'm not ok with that.  They were jerks, plan and simple.  Did they have things that haunted them and affected their behavior?  Yes of course, but that doesn't excuse their actions. 

On the other-hand, our favorite stuck-up, snotty girl has turned over a new leaf.  Daphne has become one of my favorite characters.  Her and Gwen with their snark and quick tongues make great best friends.  Daphne turns out to be fiercly loyal and definitely someone I'd want on my side. 

Besides the characters, the plot is a little predictable, but still good.  It was action-packed and the intensity was cranked up a bit in Kiss of Frost compared to the last novel.  I loved the little twist and turns to the story and each page left me wanting more.

Kiss of Frost was a great second novel and I can't wait to see where Jennifer takes Gwen and her pals next. 

Have you read this series?  What are your opinions on Gwen not being the typical fierce, kick-butt heroine?
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Audio Review: The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles, #2) by Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson

Title: The Runaway Queen (The Bane Chronicles, #2)
Authors: Cassandra Clare and Maureen Johnson
Narrator: George Blagden
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 1 hr., and 18 mins
Source: Publisher*
Format: Audio
Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: Magnus Bane has a royal role in the French Revolution—if the angry mobs don’t spoil his spells. One of ten adventures in The Bane Chronicles. While in France, immortal warlock Magnus Bane finds himself attempting to rescue the royal family from the horrors of the French Revolution—after being roped into this mess by a most attractive count. Naturally, the daring escape calls for invisible air balloons…

Another exciting adventure featuring our favorite warlock...Magnus Bane.   

This installment of The Bane Chronicles brings us to Paris during the French Revolution.  A distraught, and very attractive young man, needs Magnus's help rescuing Marie Antoinette after she has been kidnapped.  

In The Runaway Queen we get a nice mix of serious moments and humor (which we all love Magnus for).  This short story is a little more concise than the first installment and even better in my opinion.  I loved how Magnus stayed creative and had to find a way to use his magic while being in disguise in the human world.  The juxtaposition of magic and historical fiction was fascinating and done really well in my opinion.

The Runaway Queen shows us just how out-of-the-box Magnus is.  His rescue attempt was perfect and quite creative.  Of course there were elaborate costumes and fashion involved because we are talking about Magnus in Paris people!

Can I say again how much I enjoy these audio installments?  This time we have a different narrator who did just as splendid of job as the last one.  Plus at just over an hour long they make the perfect little escape that can easily be enjoyed in one sitting.  Plus they are a super cheap way to stay connected to the shadowhunter world we love. 

If you are a fan of TMI and TID series make sure to check out The Bane Chronicles.   


*I did receive this audio for review, but I was not compensated for this post in anyway and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 328
Source: Library
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

Devastatingly beautiful and heartbreaking.  Eleanor & Park will be sure to warm even the coldest of hearts and touch the lives of everyone who reads it.

Why, oh why did I wait so long to read this book!  Please excuse the incoherence in this review because even after finishing it couple of weeks ago I can't seem to come off the whirlwind that Eleanor & Park put me on.  

Eleanor has led a tough life.  She wears her individuality as a shield to protect herself from others harmful comments and from letting them get too close.  Somehow through comic books, mix tapes, and bus rides Park slips around that shield and it starts to crack just a little.  At first I wasn't really a fan of Eleanor.  She was brash and stand-offish, but the more I came to know her and her situation the more I just wanted to rescue her and her siblings (who I actually was not fans of either, but that didn't stop me from caring about them).  

Eleanor and Park's relationship was so cute.  They had some rough patches but the best thing was that they brought out the light in each other.  They were people who shouldn't hide, but instead let their individuality shine.  While there were many adorable scenes between these two, this book was hard to read.  It wasn't Rainbow Rowell's writing or anything like that, the subject matter was tough.  I found my heart hurting and wanting to escape from the story and yet I couldn't put the book down.   I had become attached to these people and their story and I couldn't leave them until the end.  (Little did I know they would stick with me long after I turned the last page). 

The characters and the situations in Eleanor & Park were very realistic and that is what makes it the book that so many people love.  It showed that sometimes life doesn't even hand you lemons, instead it takes everything and you have to somehow go on when there is nothing left.  It showed that sometimes you have to grow up before you are ready and know that the horrible thief that stole your childhood would never be caught and punished.  But it also showed hope and kindness -- and love.   

Eleanor & Park will blow you away...seriously just go read this book.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Guest Post: Sandy Smith author of Seed Savers: Heirloom


Today I welcome Sandy Smith author of Seed Savers: Heirloom to tell us about her favorite things to grow in her garden.


My Ten Favorite Things to Grow in a Garden



1. Tomatoes—They are fairly easy to grow and you can use them in a bunch 

of ways: in salsa, on sandwiches, pasta sauce, salads. The seeds are tiny 

but they produce so much! Tomatoes are pretty. The different varieties 

have so many cool names like Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Indigo 

Rose … and last but not least, I like the smell on my hands after picking 

the tomatoes!

2. Basil—Mmm. Pesto; need I say more?

3. Radishes—Seriously, radishes are one of the first things to plant in the 

spring when we are all itching to garden. And I’ve seen them come up in 

as little as THREE DAYS!!!

4. Strawberries—Again, the signal that summer is almost here—the 

strawberries are ripe!!!

5. Potatoes—Who doesn’t like pawing through the dirt now and then hoping 

to find a beautiful potato?

6. Lettuce—Easy, early, practical. Fresh salad for months. What’s not to love?

7. Green beans—Fun to watch emerge, produce a lot of food for many 

weeks. The seeds are a fine size and shape, just don’t hold them under 

your nostril and inhale.

8. Cilantro—I really like cilantro a lot and you really must grow your own. 

Everyone should just grow whatever herbs they like. It’s just tastier that 

9. Onions—I’m not sure why I like growing my own onions. Maybe because 

I like drying them and hanging them in the kitchen corner. 

10. Carrots—Challenging sometimes, but a must for the childhood 

memories :).

I love the names of those tomatoes and now I'm craving some fresh strawberries...yummy.

Check out Sandy Smith's book Seed Savers: Heirloom

Summary from Amazon:  Seed Savers isn't your typical bleak, violent dystopia. Think Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables meets The Giver or Fahrenheit 451; this is why it's totally appropriate for kids as young as nine (or possibly younger). The stories take place in a not-too-distant future where gardening is illegal, corporations own the seeds, and real food is no longer available. Three children are on a quest to learn about gardening and make a change back to the old ways. One word of warning--there are some religious texts cited in the books inherent to character and plot development which have "offended" one or two people. The series in no way teaches any religion. The only teaching in the books is about gardening.

Available: http://amzn.to/HLG7aV  (Heirloom paperback)
http://amzn.to/1a5xRNw (Heirloom kindle)  

Don't forget to check out the next stop of the tour

Thanks Sandy so much for joining us today.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Audio Review: What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1) by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Title: What Really Happened in Peru (The Bane Chronicles, #1)
Authors: Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan
Narrator: Jessie Williams
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 1 hr and 13 mins
Source: Publisher*
Format: Audio
Rating: 5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’s Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

I have to admit that I never really saw the allure of Magnus Bane in TMI series (admittedly I have only read the first 4 books so far), but it was actually in TID series where I really started to like this guy and care for him.  So when I had the opportunity to review the audio version of What Really Happened in Peru read by Jessie Williams, I jumped at the chance. 

First each of these stories in the series are short but are complete stories, which I absolutely love.  This audio was just over an hour so it made for the perfect little story that I could listen to in one setting.  Jessie Williams is one cute mister and his voice was a pretty good, though not perfect, imitation of what I imaged Magnus to sounds like.  You can hear a sample clip here.  

I'm usually not a huge fan of short stories/novellas since I don't believe they really add much to the plot, but What Really Happened in Peru didn't seem that way for me.  I think it was because it wasn't part of the overall series, instead it was this side story of a colorful and enigmatic character which many people adore.  

As for the story I loved it.  I got to see a different side of Magnus and how crazy he can be.  One of the best parts was that it was so funny.  It was great to see him try to experience life, especially when he decides to learn a new instrument and is unbelievably horrible at it.  The interaction between Magnus, Ragnor and Catarina was nice too.  It was a nice contrast to see him interact with warlocks instead of shadowhunters.  It was just a fun story, slightly crazy and sometimes a bit disjointed, but it made me happy and smile.  That's a winner in my book (did you get the pun...I know I'm a huge nerd).    

Overall, What Really Happened in Peru, was entertaining and so likable.  It was the perfect little story to devour in one sitting.  

*I did receive this audio for review, but I was not compensated for this post in anyway and all opinions are my own.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep

Title: Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Published by: Kensington Books
Pages: 385
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy — a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest.

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why—especially since I should have been the one who died. . .

I have always enjoyed stories with any sort of mythology involved so I was instantly intrigued by the Mythos Academy series.  I mean what could be better than Greek gods, Gypsies, Spartans  Amazons, and Native American deities all rolled into one series?

Gwen is my type of main character.  She's not popular or every guys dream.  Heck she wears hoodies everyday and reads comic books.  In fact she's kind of a nerd, but is still outspoken and quite snarky.  She is not this totally fierce, kick-butt character either...actually when it comes to fighting she is kind of horrible at it.  However, what she lacks in skills she makes up for in heart.  Even when something horrible happens to the Academy's notorious mean-girl, she is still determined to find her justice, not matter how cruel she was.    


Touch of Frost was a unique story and while there were elements of familiarity, the plot twist kept the story completely original.  I was actually surprised how fast I read this novel, because every time I tried to set it down I just wanted to know more.  All the situations Gwen finds herself in and each conflict will hook you more until you can wait to see what will happen next and to whom.  


One thing that bothered me about Touch of Frost was the rich kid aspect.  I feel this is a common theme in many YA novels and some of the students (ok most of them) who attend Mythos Academy were ridiculously rich.  Am I the only one tired of reading about what daddy's money can buy?  This led to some characters who were stuck up, snotty, and self-entitled.  Understandable that this story need these types of characters, but they got on my nerves fast and didn't really change (well except a couple) by the end of the novel.  


Even with the money thing and so not so likable characters I really enjoyed Touch of Frost.  I can't wait to see what Jennifer Estep and the rest of the series has in store.  

         

Friday, November 8, 2013

Audio Review: The Program (The Program, #1) by Suzanne Young

Title: The Program (The Program, #1)
Author: Suzanne Young
Narrator: Joy Osmanski
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 10 hrs and 57 min
Source: Publisher
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads: Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane's parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they'll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who's been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone, but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He's promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it's getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.

Emotionally stunning, and thought provoking.    

Oh where to start with this one.  First, The Program deals with the issues of depression and suicide.  In this dystopian-like world, if someone shows any bit of sadness or emotional instability they get sent into the program which "fixes' them so as they won't become part of the epidemic leading to teens taking their own lives.  However, the program's version of help is to erase all memories of pain and much of everything else as well, removing people and parts of each persons life from their own memories.  Talk about completely disorienting and horrifying.    
I feel so conflicted about all of this.  Of course I would love for there to be a fix all for anything, but that fix all doesn't mean taking away a person's memories.  Plus the fear and isolation that these teens go through everyday trying to avoid the program is painful in itself.  To not be able to grieve someone who has come out of the program and no longer knows you, or worse someone you love takes their own life and you cant shed a tear, but instead have to hide all emotion.  How can you not be sad and grieve, but to have that lurking horror of being thrown into the program as well makes their whole situation terrifying.  

Somehow Sloan and James seem to having been making it through.  They are such a great couple and really find strength in one another.  This was a highlight of the book for me.  They truly were each other's rock and there were times when their joy and happiness came streaming off the pages (or through the earphone in my case).  There were some other really great characters in this novel as well.  I'd like to say you were able to know many of them, but that was not always true...you did however get to experience much of their pain and sadness.  

I fear I am making this sound like a depressing book.  Yes at times it was, but it was written in a way that broke through all of that and made it beautiful.  There is hope and there is happiness.  In this book it seems that depression is an epidemic that is taking over everyone's lives, but that was not always true.  Suzanne Young bring us this interwoven and complex situation and cast of characters that will defy the odds in some way or another...or at times give in to the pain.  You never really know what's going to happen until the end.  

I don't want to tell you too much about what happens in The Program because I feel that would give away the whole novel, so you'll just have to trust me that it was a great book.  However, it was slow at times, but I'm not sure if that was the writing or just that Suzanne Young was giving us time to think things over.  This is definitely one of those books that have you ruminating and reflecting quite often on not only what is happening to the characters, but to the world and how you feel about it all.  Also surprisingly I wasn't a fan of the narration.  I usually really enjoy Joy Osmanski as a reader, but she didn't do it for me as Sloan this time.  Something just felt off with her reading.    

The Program was quite thought-provoking one of those books that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.       

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Audio Review: What the Spell? (Life's a Witch, #1) by Brittany Geragotelis

Title: What the Spell? (Life's a Witch, #1)
Author: Brittany Geragotelis
Narrator: Joy Osmanski
Published by: Simon and Schuster Audio
Length: 9hrs and 41 mins
Source: Simon Schuster Audio
Format: Audio
Rating: 2 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Almost-sixteen-year-old Brooklyn feels invisible, but she desperately wants to be pretty, to be popular, to be adored by a cute guy. Luckily for her, she’s a witch about to come of age—so she’s only a few spells away from making it all happen.

On her milestone birthday, Brooklyn’s conservative parents finally unbind her powers, which include the ability to magically match couples with a love spell. Brooklyn uses her special skills to get a makeover, new friends, and the attention of her crush, Asher. But the popular clique Brooklyn wants to infiltrate puts her in the same precarious position as her Salem ancestors: If she’s found out, she could be vilified—and lose Asher in the process. Can she make the most of her magic, or will she be luckless and loveless? Be careful what you witch for!

What the Spell? is a novel about one girl's quest for popularity with a twist of magic on the side.

I have always had a thing for witches ever since I first learned about the Salem Witch trials.  Everything about them fascinates me and when I can incorporate two things I love, witches and reading, I get really hopeful and excited.  

However, as much as I was looking forward to reading/listening to What the Spell? it fell short for me.  The main character Brooklyn left much to be desired of your main character.  She was a social climber and all she wanted from life was to be popular, mostly at the expense of others.  As soon as she came into her magic, she instantly gave herself a magical makeover.  This makeover wasn't a new hairstyle or a bit of makeup, instead she changed physical features (like her height) about herself to the point people in her school didn't recognizer her anymore.  Then her parents were all like "well just remember the Salem Witch trials."  What?  They bind her powers for sixteen years then just let her go way out of hand with this makeover and only issue a slight warning.  This just didn't make sense to me.

Then there is The Elite.  This is the popular group that Brooklyn strives to be part of because she believes that once she is one she can change the way they act towards others while still being popular.  This group seemed a little atypical to me.  Sure there are always rich and popular kids, but this group seemed to rule it all without any consequences.  They even had a raised table in the lunch room to set them apart.  At what public school is all that normal?  It just seemed like too much of an exaggeration for me.


One of the redeeming qualities of this book was Asher and his little sister.  I really enjoyed both of these characters as I thought they were the most believable and true to who they were.  I loved the interactions of these characters with Brooklyn and wish she would have seen how amazing they both really were compared to The Elite.  


As for the story is was cute at times and it kept my attention enough to finish listening, but I never really became a fan of Brooklyn until the very end.  It didn't have anything to do with Joy Osmanski narrating though.  I've listened to a couple other audios with her and I've enjoyed them all.  She has a great voice.  

What the Spell? was ok but there was a little too much drama and not enough magic for me.  Will I read/listen to the next one...probably but not because of Brooklyn.  I want to know more about that crazy ending with Asher.  Yikes!      



Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: First Frost by (Mythos Academy #0.5) by Jennifer Estep

Title: First Frost (Mythos Academy  #0.5)
Author: Jennifer Estep
Published by: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Pages: 30
Source: Bought
Format: ebook
Rating: 4.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: I am Gwen Frost, and I have a Gypsy gift.  It's called psychometry - that's a fancy way of saying that I see images in my head and get flashes of other people's memories off almost everything I touch, even guys.
My gift makes me kind of nosy. Okay, okay, maybe a lot nosy--to the point of obsession sometimes. I want to know everything about everyone around me. But even I don't want to know the secrets my friend Paige is hiding or the terrible loss that will send me to a new school - Mythos Academy, where the teachers aren't preparing us for the SATs, but to battle Reapers of Chaos.  Now I have no friends and no idea how my gift fits in with all these warrior whiz kids.  The only thing I do know is that my life is never, ever going to be the same.

What a way to start a series.  First Frost introduces the Mythos Academy series with a bang.  It was packed full of emotion and instantly set the mood for the series.

Often times many of us want a special gift, but we fail to realize the impact and burden that gift can be.  Gwen learned that the hard way when she picks up a friends hairbrush only to experience her friend's crushing reality.  This not only impacts Gwen's emotional state, but also her life in more ways than she realizes.  Gwen is a strong girl, and yet her life drastically changes because of this one event.  

First Frost introduces us not only to the series, but also to a couple of main characters.  I love that we see bits and pieces of who Gwen is and her interaction with her Grandmother. Besides the characters, First Frost also gives us our first glimpse at Mythos Academy and the mythology behind it.  Instead of vampires and werewolves, we get Amazons, Valkyries and Spartans.  It's nice to see a different side of paranormal/fantasy than the 'typical' found in many other novels.

I think Jennifer L. Armentrout really nailed it with this introduction to the Mythos Academy series.  First Frost is the type of novella you can read before you start the series or after you've already read a couple of books.  It's powerful and insightful; definitely a novella you won't want to miss.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: Elixir (Covanant, #3.5) by Jennifer L.Armentrout

Elixir (Covenant, #3.5)Title: Elixir (Covenant, #3.5)
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 80
Source: Bought
Format: Ebook
Rating: 3.5 stars


Summary from Goodreads: Aiden St. Delphi will do anything to save Alex. Even if it means doing the one thing he will never forgive himself for. Even if it means making war against the gods.

Ahh the drama.  To be young, in love, fighting to keep the ones you love themselves, and defying the gods...that is really the life.

This is everything a novella should be.  It was a complete story in itself, yet highly depended on understanding what was currently happening in the series.  I felt like Elixir really had something to add to the Covenant series instead of just telling us a back story.  It had conflict and resolution and I think was a powerful addition to the series.  However if you are not familiar with the series you could not read this novella as a stand alone.  It is highly connected to the series and therefore to truly grasp what is happening one needs to read the previous books before reading this novella.

In Elixir you get to interact on a different level than usual with the characters and understand more of Aiden's perspective.  I love that you see him lose control a bit.  Usually he is so put together and stoic and in Elixir you can see his struggle and raw emotion.   

You hear bits and pieces about the Elixir that is given to Half Bloods previously in the series, but in this novella it hits a bit closer to home.  This is something that Alex (and many other Half Bloods have feared) and yet it may be the only way to not start a war with the gods that will affect everyone.    

One thing I think was done really well was to understand how difficult a decision is.  Sometimes decisions about other peoples lives are portrayed as simple and yet Elixir really shows us the positives and negatives of a decision and how hard they are to make for another person.  Just because it is the easy way (or at times the harder way) is it the right way?  

Who would have thought a short 80 page novella could bring such a heavy topic to life?  Elixir did that and so much more.  

What are your views on novellas?  Do you love them or not really care for them?  How much do they add to a series?


Monday, November 4, 2013

Audio Review of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Title: Ender's Game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Narrators: Stefan RudnickiHarlan EllisonAmanda KarrScott Brick, and John Rubinstein
Published by: Macmillan Audio
Length: 11 hrs, 12 min
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars


Summary from Goodreads: The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Enter Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, the result of decades of genetic experimentation. 

Is Ender the general Earth so desperately needs? The only way to find out is to throw him into ever-harsher training at Battle School, to chip away and find the diamond inside, or destroy him utterly. Ender Wiggin is six years old when his training begins. He will grow up fast. 

But Ender is not the only result of the experiment. His two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Among the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

I know, I know....How could I have not read this book until now? For being a teen in the late 90s/early 2000s there were not a lot of young adult books for me to read.  I was an avid reader (no surprise there) and somehow around 3rd or 4th grade switched immediately to adult books.  I remember getting in trouble in middle school for reading a Mary Higgins Clark book during class.  I was such a rebel.  It was sad though because there was not really a market for young adult books (maybe Sweet Valley High, and R.L. Stine books, I guess).  Anyway this long, but not pointless, rant was to say that somehow I missed this priceless gem while growing up.

Ender's Game, while it was a brilliant novel, started out slow for me.  When I picked out the audio from the library, I wasn't really sure what it was about as I didn't read any reviews (or the back of the audio either); I knew I just wanted to read it before the movie came out.  However, the narrators voices were so engaging that I couldn't help but get sucked into the story.  I found myself completely enthralled with this book and would often not want to get out of my car when I arrived at my destination just to listen to a little more.


All of the characters in this novel were so complex.  They are multi-layered and you easily find yourself wanting to know more about them.  Not only what type of people they were, but what their thoughts, opinions, and motives were as well.  Ender is what I would consider a battle strategist prodigy.  He was sought out at a young age for his skills, but his passion and drive are what really made him excel far beyond what anyone imagined.  There was a lot of self-reflecting on Ender's part and that is what made me realize this wasn't just a sci-fiction novel, it was much deeper than that.  


The world that Orson Scott Card created is surreal.  The planet is getting attached by alien-type beings called Buggers, but the battle school and later the training facilities are what amazed me the most.  I could vividly imagine both of these places and let me tell you they are not places I'd like to be.  At first I kind of imagined a boarding school type environment, but instead battle school was more of a boot-camp that not only tested you physically, but also psychologically as well.    


I haven't read the other novels in this series and I don't think I will.  I liked the way this novel ended and I feel like it was a complete journey for me.  I know there are four other books in the saga and maybe after seeing the movie I'll want to read more.  


Has anyone read the entire saga?  What did you think of the later books?




Friday, November 1, 2013

Friday Night Date Night: Life of Pi

Friday Night Date Night is a feature on my blog that showcases movie reviews (mostly movies that were adapted from books). Hopefully some of these reviews will help you decide what to watch on your date night or a night of relaxing at home.

Life of Pi

I read this novel a bit ago and absolutely loved it.  They ending was perfectly complex and left me wondering for days (who am I kidding I still wonder about it).  It was the perfect little mystery at the end of a very captivating book.  One of my friends and I read this at the same time so we decided to watch the movie together.  I don't think she really wanted to but I kinda made her.


I never realized (apparently she did and that is why she was apprehensive about watching the movie) how graphic some of the scenes were going to be.  For some reason they didn't seem that way in the book, but the fact that I was able to see Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger (both real and computer-generated), and how vicious he could be.  I must admit I watched a lot of the movie with my hands over my eyes.    

That being said, the graphics and images were truly amazing.  I never once thought that the animals or the ocean looked fake or generated.  I was absolutely astonished by how real everything looked.  I was also glad that the movie stuck mostly to the novel (at least from what I remembered).

Plus the movie score and soundtrack are ridiculously good.  Seriously go check them out!  

If you are up for a great (but a little intense) movie, I highly suggest Life of Pi.  I really enjoyed it.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Audio Review of Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Title: Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, #2)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Narrator:  Rebecca Soler
Published by: Macmillan Audio
Length: 11hr., 20min.
Source: Library
Format: Audio
Rating: 4 stars

Summary from Goodreads: Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She's trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she'll be the Commonwealth's most wanted fugitive. 

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit's grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn't know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother's whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own. 

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

First Cinderella, now Little Red Riding Hood.  Marissa Meyers captivates us with her unique twist in the retellings of our favorite classics.

Of course after finishing Cinder I wanted more of Cinder and Kai's story.  How dare this new person intrude!  But soon Scarlet's story took over and I couldn't decide which story I wanted more of.  I'm glad they switched back and forth because it gave me time to appreciate each of the story lines and eventually how they intersect.  I thought this may be confusing to listen to in the audio version, but it was done really well.  Rebecca Soler was a pleasant reader and I didn't have an issue keeping the stories straight.  

Along with Scarlet, the new characters were a fun addition.  They were entertaining, especially Wolf, and at times humorous.  Don't get me wrong, I loved reconnecting with the characters from Cinder, but it's always fun to meet new people.  Scarlet is definitely my sort of girl.  She's determined, head-strong, and a bit wild.  I connected with her more than I did Cinder and that made her story more interesting for me.

One thing that Marissa Meyer does well is cliffhangers.  As soon as we get into the action and the conflict...BAM...we would change chapters.  This drove me insane (in a good way) and kept the pace of the book fast.  However, one thing I felt was lacking was the world building.  We have this new setting which is unlike any I've seen.  At times I felt lost trying to understand some of the background, and while bits and pieces were revealed there is still more mystery...not only with the chapters, but how the world around them came to be and how it works.  Cinder and Scarlet are so original and have this amazing setting and I just wish I knew more about the world they live in.

All in all, I think I may have enjoyed Scarlet more than Cinder.  *Gasp* I know, crazy right?  How did you feel Scarlet compared to Cinder?  Are there any "sophomore" novels that you have enjoyed more than the first in the series?