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:  (Heirloom paperback) (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.