Thursday, March 12, 2015

Broken Monsters

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes 
Genre: Crime, Thriller
Rating: 3, DNF

Broken Monsters was what I call “High Concept, Poor Execution.” There were two major things that caused me to decide not to finish it.

The first reason: The story was written from several different characters perspectives, and it switched almost every chapter. Some books can get away with this (generally there are two or three PoV) but this one had like 5 different voices, and it was just too much to keep track of.

The second and most important reason: The relationship between the police officer and her daughter. Seriously, no police officer is going to pick up her high school daughter and start telling her all about the secret case they haven’t yet allowed the press to get wind of, or tell her details or hunches, or—what really set me off—have her daughter help her use a search engine to find photos from nasty crime scenes. You just don’t do that.

The premise was cool and the bad-guy was amazing (his PoV was my favorite) but I just couldn’t keep going with those two factors.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King
Genre: YA
Rating: 4.5

What would you say if I told you that you could acquire psychic magical abilities by mixing beer with the powdered remains of a petrified bat and drinking it?

You heard me.

I started this book without any idea what it was about. I just started listening to it. Sometimes I do that and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised, by genre and sex of the main character and all. I instantly liked Glory and her way of thinking. Glory sees straight through modern-day brainwashed crap and hides behind the shadow of her suicidal mom that nobody talks about. She and her slutty brainwashed ditzy friend drink a bat and gain super powers. And their lives change forever.

There are a lot of things that make up a good book, and this book was made good by the main character. I loved Glory. She is exactly how I felt as a teenager; “No I don’t have any friends, no I don’t really want any, I just want to decide how I feel about this.” Glory stood up and challenged her dad on some things, Glory did what she needed to do for the people in her life, even if she didn’t always feel like it, Glory grew up. She broke out of being afraid and hiding behind a camera and set off on the adventure of her life, even though she knew it would be scary and hard.

I would definitely re-read this book, and recommend it to anyone ages 14-adult.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Silkworm

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith*
Genre: Thriller
Narrator: Robert Glenister
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Rating: 4 stars

Cormoran Strike and Robin have another murder on their hands, but this time, Strike is sure the police have accused the wrong person. Refusing to stand down and allow an innocent person to be blamed for the atrocious murder, he and Robin bend every rule in the book and use every wit they have to get to the bottom of the mystery.

I love Cormoran Strike and Robin, and I like this series so far. I read the first one right after it came out and was very happy with it. The Silkworm was an excellent piece of work, full of miniscule details, complex characters, intriguing dialogue, and an entrancing story. It was a little hard to follow because of how complex it was, and how many characters there were, but all together I was pleased with the story and how it turned out. It’s not Galbraith’s best work, but I still have high hopes for the series.

I was very happy with the narration of the book. To see the rest of Glenister’s audio recordings click here.

*Robert Galbraith is a pen name for J.K. Rowling.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Stolen Ones

The Stolen Ones by Richard Montanari
Genre: Crime Thriller
Rating: 4

A cold case comes to live with the discovery of a new body, a new murder, and multiple new connections. A two-year-old child is found standing in the middle of the street. A mysterious man in ragged clothing appears in a little girls closet completely out of nowhere. A woman disappears from her basement without having left her house. With the help of the rest of the experts in the Philadelphia Police Department, Detectives Jessica Balzano and Kevin Byrne unravel a chilling series of dream-like murders.

The Stolen Ones is book 7 of a series of detective novels. At the time of request, I was unaware of this fact, and I hoped that I would not be  confused because I hadn’t read the others. I’m happy to say that I had no trouble at all getting lost in this story. I am totally in love with Kevin Byrne and his snarky Irish attitude, and Jessica’s tough-girl-who-is-here-to-kick-ass mentality.

The story was incredibly complex, and a few times I found myself stopping and saying “wait, what? I’m confused.” I had to check to make sure I hadn’t skipped a track in the audiobook. I hadn’t, all was well… there were just some jarring sections that I think were hard to interpret because it was audio instead of printed. however all things considered it wasn’t enough to negatively affect the story.

The performance by William Hope was very good. I liked his voices and interpretations of the characters a lot, especially Kevin Byrne. He has done quite a few audiobooks, and his experience is obvious; he reads with a good authority, pace, and energy.

There were some gruesome details of violence so it is not for the faint of heart or stomach. It was enough to shock me, but it wasn’t anything I would regret listening to. I’d definitely recommend it to ages 18+ who are into the crime thriller genre.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Genocide of One

Genocide of One by Kazuaki Takano
Genre: Thriller
Rating: 5

Genocide of One completely blew my mind, multiple times. The plot twists just kept happening, new characters kept being introduced and then turning out to be totally different characters than I thought they’d be, and the adrenalin was pumping almost immediately. There were so many little things that became big later, so many details, so many connections, that I feel like if I read it again, it would be just as exciting, maybe more exciting the second time, because I might actually understand it on a deeper level. The ending was fulfilling but left opportunity and excitement. I definitely didn’t want it to end and I would read a sequel or another book by Takano in a heartbeat.

The book switches from one side of the world to the other every chapter. Initially I wasn’t sure how the two totally different stories were connected, but one connection at a time the two sides became one. There was a war thriller and a medical mystery happening at the same time and they were two different aspects of the same problem.

The hardest part of the book was the technical lingo and jargon in the medical chapters. I won’t say it was unnecessary because I’m not sure how else the author could have described the specifics of what went on, and being vague just wouldn’t have worked for this kind of story, but the jargon was a little hard to follow. I got won’t say I understand genetics now, but I do have a pretty good idea of what happened (medically speaking) in the story and I think it added to the book rather than taking away from it, so I’m okay with it.

The narration was excellent and not in any way distracting from the story. Joe Knezevich did an excellent job with all the different voices and accents, American and Japanese.

The bottom line is I loved this story and recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers or adventure stories. There was some violence during the war scenes, but it wasn’t gruesome or grotesque.

 Audible | Amazon | Goodreads

The internationally bestselling, award-winning Japanese thriller about a child who may be the future of the human race--or the cause of its extinction.

During a briefing in Washington D.C., the President is informed of a threat to national security: a three-year-old boy named Akili, who is already the smartest being on the planet. Representing the next step in human evolution, Akili can perceive patterns and predict future events better than most supercomputers, and is capable of manipulating grand-scale events like pieces on a chess board. And yet, for all that power, Akili has the emotional maturity of a child--which might make him the most dangerous threat humanity has ever faced.

An American soldier, Jonathan Yeager, leads an international team of elite operatives deep into the heart of the Congolese jungle under Presidential orders to destroy this threat to humanity before Akili's full potential can be realized. But Yeager has a very sick child, and Akili's advanced knowledge of all things, medicine included, may be Yeager's only hope for saving his son's life. Soon Yeager finds himself caught between following his orders and saving a creature with a hidden agenda, who plans to either save humanity as we know it--or destroy it.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Danger is Everywhere

Danger is Everywhere by Docter Noel Zone (David O'Doherty)
Genre: Humor
Rating: DNF, 3.5 for what I did read

Danger is Everywhere was one of those books that would have been much better if I’d read it (physical or Kindle) instead of listened to it. All things considered the narrator did a good job, but there’s only so many acronyms one can keep straight without actually looking at the book. Not only that, the book had a definite voice to it, but the narration was just a little too much. It would have been much better if it had been an annoying voice in my head instead an annoying voice in my ear—and it was definitely supposed to be annoying (in a silly kind of way).

The premise of the book is clever and the examples and chapters are very funny. Part of the humor is how serious the book takes itself. But as I said earlier,the narration kind of killed it, and I couldn’t stick with it without getting a headache. Maybe one day I’ll become a Dangeroligist but I’ll have to get a paperback.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Is How You Die

This Is How You Die (edited by Ryan North)
Genre: Short stories
Rating: 4

I’m not a huge fan of short stories: I like to really get into the characters lives and the anticipation and the crescendo of a novel. Short stories, to me, feel like I’m thrown into a story, see a snippet of it, and am then jerked out. But one thing that really helped this collection not feel like that was how all the stories were about the same thing. Not the same plot, not the same people… but the same concept. A machine that tells you how you will die, and is absolutely never wrong? That’s a sticky situation. And each person had to figure out how to deal with it and it revealed a lot of humanity.

I was very pleased with this collection as a whole. I didn’t read the first one, and I don’t think you’d need to in order to enjoy it. I definitely liked some stories and some writers better than other, but all in all, it was very satisfying.

 

If a machine could predict how you would die, would you want to know? This is the tantalizing premise of This Is How You Die, the brilliant follow-up anthology to the self-published best seller, Machine of Death.
The machines started popping up around the world. The offer was tempting: With a simple blood test, anyone could know how they would die. But the machines didn't give dates or specific circumstances - just a single word or phrase. DROWNED, CANCER, OLD AGE, CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. And though the predictions were always accurate, they were also often frustratingly vague. OLD AGE, it turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or being shot by an elderly, bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machines held on to that old-world sense of irony in death: You can know how it's going to happen, but you'll still be surprised when it does.
This addictive anthology - sinister, witty, existential, and fascinating - collects the best of the thousands of story submissions the editors received in the wake of the success of the first volume, and exceeds the first in every way.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Rags and Bones

Rags and Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales, a compilation edited by Melissa Marr
Genre: Short Stories (supernatural)
Rating: 4.5

Rags and bones stripped down stories that were important to the author and allowed for a new telling, a blank canvas, a skeleton for new musculature. it was one of the most interesting collections I've ever read and every story had something interesting about it. The writers selected to participate in the project were all excellent. Some of the stories I was able to figure out which story they came from, but others I didn’t know, and some I intend to read. I really liked that each story had an author’s note explaining their reason for picking the story they did.

I don’t typically like short stories because I feel like I can’t get into the story until I’m being pulled out again because it’s over. And I did definitely stop between stories and think about each one for a while. But I was impressed and enraptured with Rags and Bones. It is one of my new favorites. I recommend it to anyone who likes short stories, or who needs something to think through.

The best writers of our generation retell the classics.
From Sir Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queen to E.M. Forster's "The Machine Stops," literature is filled with sexy, deadly, and downright twisted tales. In this collection, award-winning and bestselling authors reimagine their favorite classic stories, the ones that have inspired, awed, and enraged them, the ones that have become ingrained in modern culture, and the ones that have been too long overlooked. They take these stories and boil them down to their bones, and then reassemble them for a new generation of young adult readers.
Written from a twenty-first century perspective and set within the realms of science fiction, dystopian fiction, fantasy and realistic fiction, these short stories are as moving and thought provoking as their originators. They pay homage to groundbreaking literary achievements of the past while celebrating each author's unique perception and innovative style.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

It does not get easier

I’m going to post just a little tid-bit here.

I started this blog when I was in High School. I was a terrible high-schooler, I did very little work and spent most of my time reading, growing this blog, and dancing (and pretending to do homework). I thought I’d have so much more time to do blog stuff when I went to college (I had significantly less) and that I’d have even more time when I graduated (2014 had something like seven blog posts, and that’s being generous). However one thing I’ve learned is that you have to make time for something you want.

Hence the reason I’ve cut down on memes and weekly posts like Exploring Etsy and monthly review stuff. I’m less concerned about pageviews, followers, and contests. And maybe I don’t get as many visitors, but you know what?… it’s a lot more fun to listen to an audiobook and write a review on it when I get the opportunity than force myself to read fifteen books a month and have five to ten blog posts a week.

That being said, here is my advice to bloggers or people considering starting a blog:

1. You can make it whatever you want it to be, but don’t bite off more than you can chew

2. If you aren’t enjoying it, don’t do it

3. If it’s not working for you, there’s always room to make changes.

Thanks guys! hope to see more of you this year since I’ve gotten more into the habit of listening to audiobooks than anything. so many more reviews coming soon!

Waistcoats and Weaponry

Waistcoats and Weaponry, by Gail Carriger, read by Moira Quirk 
Genre: YA, Steampunk
Rating: 5

I loved Waistcoats and Weaponry as much and maybe more as the rest of the books in the series. Sophronia just keeps getting better. I won’t spoil anything, but she’s growing up, learning how serious life is, planning for her future, dealing with boys, and getting into mischief with her friends. I loved every second of it and am dying for the next one. I hope it’s the last because I want to know how it ends, but at the same time I don’t want it to end because it’s so clever and exciting.

The series demands to be taken seriously. Looking at a summary of the series it would be hard to take it seriously (Hey I’ve been reading this steampunk series about a girl who goes to a floating finishing school that trains her to be a secret agent spy intelligencer type person, and she takes classes about taking high tea but also how to kill people with bladed fans, and she’s friends with the kids who keep the school floating, and there’s vampires and warewolves and robots and a school for evil geniuses, and she keeps getting herself in trouble with this band of anti-supernatural men who try to blow up trains with cannons…) It’s kind of hard to read or hear someone tell you all that and not raise an eyebrow (or both). But the thing is, the writing and the language takes itself seriously, and transports you into a place where you can throw yourself into the story and take it seriously, which is the only real way to enjoy it. I admire Carriger’s writing style and plan to read more of her work.

Moira’s reading was as good as always, and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. If you haven’t listened to her work, check out this link to the audible books she’s done.

Ettiquite and Espionage | Curtsies and Conspiracies | Waistcoats and Weaponry | Manners and Mutiny

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Truth and Fear

Truth and Fear by Peter Higgins, read by Neil Dickson 
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5

I was so excited about this audiobook that I went back and re-listened to the first one in the series so I’d be on top of all the details. It did not disappoint. More mystical creatures than ever, a wholly other side of the same terrifying magic, a fast-paced exciting plot that never stopped, all concluding to me absolutely dying for the next book. I cannot wait to find out what happens to all my favorite characters. I cannot conceptualize how this story will end—and that, for me, is the best thing ever, because so many stories out there are so easy to guess the plot and the conclusion but this… this is something entirely other that I cannot expect. And I’m in love with it.

I whole heartedly recommend reading this series!

Investigator Lom returns to Mirgorod and finds the city in the throes of a crisis. The war against the Archipelago is not going well. Enemy divisions are massing outside the city, air raids are a daily occurrence and the citizens are being conscripted into the desperate defense of the city.
But Lom has other concerns. The police are after him, the mystery of the otherworldly Pollandore remains and the vast Angel is moving, turning all of nature against the city.
But will the horrors of war overtake all their plans?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Parasite, Symbiont

Parasite (book 1) and Symbiont (book 2) by Mira Grant, narratred by Christine Lakin
Genre: YA, Horror, Science Fiction
Rating: 4

Here’s the rundown: I am in love with this series. I am all over this series. I love Sal, I love the characters (I even kind of love Sherman, a little), the plot is brilliant, it’s exciting, brilliant, fast-paced, and original.

But. Why does there have to be a but! I wish there wasn’t, but there is.

There is literally only one issue with this series that makes it a 4-star instead of a five-star: I call it “Jenny McGrady Syndrome.” See years ago I read this book series about a young detective that always got herself into trouble trying to be Nancy Drew. And in every single book, at least once, this phrase was present: “Jenny felt as though she’d been slugged in the stomach.” Every. Single. Book.

Now if I found a phrase in Parasite and Symbiont that repeated only once, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Even two or three times between the two books, that wouldn’t be a big deal. But the problem I have is that there is a lot of repetition of phrases. I understand what Grant is trying to do here, making the drums an important thing, seeing red, the cold gut wrenching feeling of fear and anticipation at the same time… but I don’t want to read it forty times in five chapters. It’s not necessary. It only slows down the story and frustrates the reader.

Other than that one minor flaw, it is one of the best YA novels I’ve ever listened to. The characters are full of personality and quirks, the plot is unexpected, the bad guy makes me want to punch him in the throat, and I’m dying to find out what happens in the third book. I will absolutely read (listen) to it. I am super excited. I’m dying over here. I just wish that the unnecessary and repeated words and phrases were cut out.

I love the reader for this audiobook, Christine Lakin. She adds a lot of character and emotion, and reads clearly and at a good pace. I like her voice. She’s one of those people who you’re sure that the main character’s voice actually sounds like the narrator. I loved her performance in this as well as The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and look forward to hearing her again, and am adding her to my list of favorite narrators.

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