Again, the narration by Khristine Hvam, was absolutely excellent. Her inflection and character voices are absolutely amazing. I have zero negative comments when it comes to the audio portion of this book.
I had been apprehensive to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone but ended up truly loving it and was excited to continue on with the series. However, as much as I hate to say this...Days of Blood and Starlight did not live up to book one.
The writing is still beautiful and poetic, Taylor writes with a style so rarely found. It's musical and mesmerizing. I can't fault the writing style for my unease over this book.
It was the story itself that fell flat for me. It is not a short book by any stretch and there is an enormous amount of detail written in. Yet, the story did not progress as much as I had hoped for.
Karou falls into a huge responsibility. She is the only one with the knowledge of resurrection and it falls on her shoulders to re-create a Chimera army. She is a constant state of fear, longing, confusion and pain. She has no one to trust or confide in and wakes in torment over dreams of Akiva.
Akiva, on the other hand, has direction and purpose. He's determined to find a way to bolster the dreams he once shared with Madrigal and found an army and life of his own. Though he too is tortured by the thoughts, memories and beliefs he has of Karou.
“I am one of billions. I am stardust gathered fleetingly into form. I will be ungathered. The stardust will go on to be other things someday and I will be free.”
The story bounces from place to place and person to person, some of who I still don't fully understand their placement in the story. There was just too much extraneous content and that is where my issue lies.
I love the world that Taylor has created and the characters within it. They are both truly masterful, but I think she always seems to take the longest road to get to the point. It isn't always a bad thing, sometimes the long journey is gorgeous and a place you want to spend time in. Other times, you just can't get to your destination quick enough.
Also, the level of despair in this book is almost too much. Of course, I knew going into it that it wasn't going to be a light, fluffy and happy story. There was no way it could be, but Daughter of Smoke and Bone had so much fun and playfulness in it and it was missed here. Almost completely.
I will still be continuing on with the series, I absolutely have to know where it goes and how it ends. I just wish this installment had bit more of what the first book had and hope it comes back in the next book.
I probably would listen to Through the Lens again. It was a somewhat light read. There is drama but it isn't full of heart-wrenching, soul-breaking turmoil. Yet, there is intrigue and excitement.
I really enjoyed being in Jessa's head. She's a pretty down to earth girl with a good sense of right and wrong. She is not the typical YA chic and it was refreshing. There is a bite of angst but she does not over dramatize every little detail of her life.
On the other hand...I wish she would have had more conversation with Ethan. I didn't particularly like how the relationship between them developed. She was so meek and quiet that I didn't feel the connection until much later in the book.
Erin Mallon gave a good solid read. Proper inflection, enough emotion...she was never boring or droll, nor was she immature.
What I loved most about Through the Lens is the air of mystery, the thread of the unknown. Even though I pegged the situation fairly early on, I was still interested in how it would all play out.
Shannon Dermott delivered a mature YA story with a level of responsibility and respect. Giving characters with strong moral convictions and pride. She dealt with a few touchy subjects with great maturity.
Miranda Puckett is a class A screw up. Not for lack of trying to be something better, she just seems to have the most impossible luck. Ever. Taking on a new job doesn't change her luck. Not even remotely. It does, however, make for quite an interesting and entertaining ride.
Driving Mr. Dead is a very short read, or listen in my case. It was only about 5 hours long and it is listed as 160 pages. More of a novella, in my opinion. Even with it being so short, you get a good feel for who Miranda is and what her life has been up to the point of picking up Collin.
Collin is like an extreme case of anal retentiveness. He's super particular, uptight, starchy and kind of just dickish. At first. But, spend a couple of days with Miranda and her knack of finding herself in the oddest of situations and Collin can't help but loosen the stick in his ass and the cage around his heart.
I had read Harper's Jane Jameson series and liked the humor in it. She delivers once again with Driving Mr. Dead. I giggled through a good portion of it and my only complaint would be the length. I would have liked to see more of the developing relationship between Miranda and Collin.
If you're looking for a super quick, fun, witty read complete with pink boobs, exploding cars and stolen spiced peaches...as well as interesting characters and a sweet romance...look no further.
Quick note on the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, she does a fairly decent job overall. Though her voice for Collin was a tad odd. Yes, he's stiff (ha!) but it was a little much at times.
The Darkest Minds was a much more emotional read for me than I initially expected. I went into it thinking it would be a X-Men type story full of action and excitement. What I found was something much more human. Alexandra Bracken evokes so many feelings throughout this book that you almost feel light headed at times.
I can't say what drove Ruby's parents to lock her in the garage and call the authorities to come pick her up. It would really be too spoilerish. But imagine this scenario, if you will. Children all over are hitting puberty and developing strange, powerful and sometimes deadly abilities. Maybe not the most unique idea, it's been done...but not quite like it has in The Darkest Minds. I digress. Parents are being conditioned to fear children and are told to turn them in for 'rehabilitation'. Not all parents go along with this idea, but most do.
Rehabilitation is really no more than imprisonment and the kids with the most dangerous abilities, coded by the colors 'Reds' and 'Oranges' , are quickly disappearing from these kiddy prison camps. When Ruby is picked up she manages to skate by and be coded as a 'Green', one of the least dangerous. However, eventually someone catches on and wants to use her abilities for their own profit and helps her leave the grand daddy of all camps. But Ruby escapes this second custody and hooks up with three other kids on the run. Liam, Chubs and Zu. Eventually, they find a haven for kids like them and a mastermind of an Orange named Clancy who wants to help Ruby develop her powers.
Ruby starts off as a fairly meek heroine. She hides behinds others and is terrified of herself. She eventually comes to use her powers when trying to protect others but still has this fear of them throughout the book. Towards the end I was mentally screaming at her to just let them loose already! Though, you absolutely have to feel for Ruby, she's spent six years at Camp Thurmond and knows really nothing of the outside world or human behavior. She's basically a ten year old in a sixteen year old body. Not to mention she is terrified to even touch anyone else because of her brains powerful ability to force its way into anyone's head and see all their memories, good or bad.
The relationships she slowly forms with Liam, Chubs, Zu and eventually Clancy change everything about Ruby and how she views herself and her life. She comes to realize that there are bigger threats than herself for those she cares about and they aren't all coming from obvious places. She learns how to love, how to be in control, how to be controlled and how much she is willing to sacrifice to protect others like her.
Now, there is some of X-Men type action, it's not chalked full of it, but there are some scenes and they are pretty fricking cool. I'm hoping for much more of them in the books to come, because they really are very exciting and kids kicking ass is just fun. There is also a large amount of humor. Liam and Chubs are both great characters with smart mouths and tender hearts. Zu is a total sweetheart that I dare anyone not to love.
The relationships in The Darkest Minds will tickle your heart, the action scenes will jump start it, the mystery and intrigue may cause it to skip a beat here and there and the ending will threaten to stop it for a second or two.
The pacing was just so slow. I realize not a lot of action can happen during a (realistic) road trip, but even the conversation was at a snails pace. They played 20 questions a lot, too. Uh, yeah...no thanks.
This is going to be quite a short review, I fear. I am having difficulty coming up with words for my opinion on Amy & Roger's Epic Detour.
Amy Curry was in a car accident several months before the start of this story. An accident in which her father died. With her brother, Charlie, shipped off to rehab and her mother across the country setting up a new house...Amy is alone. She is waiting out the end of the school year then will be transported from California to Connecticut. Transported by a virtual stranger. Roger.
Roger is on his own journey of sorts. Recently the victim of a breakup, he hopes to track down in ex-girlfriend in the hopes of winning her back. Driving Amy cross country is a means to an end.
What they each find on this trip was and unexpected bond, unexpected feeling and an eventual healing. The healing of Roger's broken heart and Amy's broken soul.
Amy & Roger's Epic Detour should have been a great story. It could have been filled with great moments, fun filled adventures and heart breaking confessions. Unfortunately, it was filled more with boredom than anything else. The pacing was entirely too slow for me and the playlists at the beginning of most of the chapters had me rolling my eyes. No college kid would have all those songs on his ipod. I'm being nittpicky, I know. Sue me.
There were a few smiles to be had and a couple of sweet moments but they were far too few. The narrator, Suzy Jackson, did a fine job though...so, there is that.
Listening to the audiobook of Feed by Mira Grant left me with a most unexpected experience. I've read my fair share of zombie books from horror to humor, but none have left me feeling the way Feed did. I'm not even sure how to review it but I'll give it a shot.
Feed is told from the point of view(s) of a team of bloggers after the world has fallen prey to a zombie infestation. The news gets to folks more quickly and effectively through various blogger types, Georgia and her brother Shaun being a fairly successful team have signed on to caravan with a presidential hopeful during his campaign. Along the trail this team of bloggers will fall into the middle of what could be the largest most dangerous political conspiracy ever and it will put all their lives at risk.
Quite a large chunk of the beginning of the book is focused on world building told by both Gerogia's narrative and also by the occasional blog post. It was an interesting approach to writing. The world Grant creates is both fascinating and terrifying. She has put a ton of detail into this futuristic danger zone filled with brain eaters and I love what she has come up with.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the character development. There is a large cast here but it was easy to get a clear grasp of who everyone was. I had heard rumblings about the relationship between Georgia and Shaun being odd and turning some people off, but I didn't feel that. It is a very dependent relationship, they rely on each other for everything (literally) but it never felt anything other than a very close sibling bonding to me. Taken into context of what this world is like, I think it may be natural. I actually enjoyed the relationships all the bloggers had with each other.
Without giving any direct spoilers, I have to say that the bravery Grant showed at the end of Feed was amazing. Not many writers would take the leap she did, straight into the deep end of the pool, it was utterly unexpected and pure genius.
What I did not enjoy was the pacing and the lack of action. This zombie ride is a slow moving vehicle with little flesh eating outbreaks and honestly, that just isn't what I typically look for in Z books. I like the gore and blasting of brains. It's not to say that Feed wasn't a well written and enjoyable read. It is, but it isn't what I thought I was going to get.
I think I will still continue with the series, I will just be hoping Shaun will be doing a lot more poking of zombies with sticks, because that would rock!
Rarely do I come across a book that I find very little in it that I liked. Blood Red Road is an exception. There were so few elements to it that I found enjoyable that I still can not believe I made it to the end. Especially, without the loss of hair or my sanity.
I'll start with the writing style. Blood Red Road is a futuristic dystopian, yet everyone talks like it takes place in the 1800's. I was espectin (yes, that is how they would say expecting) some toothless gold miner's to come rushing into the story. It's a lot of fer (for), yer (you're), babbies (babies), britches (pants), afeared (afraid, scared)... I'm sure you get the point.
Now, I understand that Saba and her siblings are raised in a remote setting with the lack of any sort of education or influence. Therefore, it is understandable that they would have some lazy way of speaking. However, almost everyone in this world speaks this way. It was worthy of some pretty major teeth grinding on my part. It felt too contrived, too forced and really unnecessary. I don't think it needed to be such a big part of the book and I felt it took away from the story.
Saba is horrid at first and by the end only slightly better. She's stubborn in the most awful ways, she's rude to damn near everyone, she is plainly the biggest bitch ever to her little nine year old sister and is entirely too obsessed with her twin brother. She would, quite literally, abandon her sister Emmi to get her brother back from his kidnappers. I spent about 75% of the book disliking her, the other 25% scratching my head.
She, somehow, manages to rally up quite the cast of helpers. I'm still confused by what they saw in her at first. But, the gang that helps her out are pretty remarkable characters and I enjoyed them quite a bit. The girl gang who go by Free Hawks were quite fun and I would like to read more about them - assuming they learn how to speak in somewhat proper English.
The villain was not a villain, he was a joke. I don't know where the hell the idea of him came from but I did not get it what so ever. I won't say what is so clown-like about him because I like to be spoiler free, but - wow, just wow, really? He didn't even seem like a threat. I don't know, I'm starting to ramble here. I'll stop now.
As far as the audio goes, if the narrator was directed to make every character sound dull and slow-witted; job well done.
I feel like this is a about as harsh of a review as I ever post and though I am not alone in my feelings on Blood Red Road, I am in the minority.
Wow. I'll start with that. Wow.
There is just something about a good, or great, fantasy that gets me really excited. Sanderson exquisitely delivers some incredible world building skills in the first installment of the Mistborn series. I was thoroughly transported into Luthadel during each read.
I loved Vin. Actually, I disliked much about her but I think her small character flaws made me love her even more. She starts off so quiet and small and ends up as this bigger than life young woman ready to take on so much. Maybe not everything, but still so so much.
All the characters were wonderful and each so richly distinct. Some caring and humorous, some snobby and cruel, others all too arrogant but all were interesting.
"You should try not to talk so much, friend. You'll sound far less stupid that way.."
Beneath a wealth of wonderful world building and amazing character development is an outstanding story. It's not just a tale of a young girl's journey to becoming a hero. It is that, of course. But there is so much more. It's a tale of friendship and love and lost love and pain and oppression and religion and oh hell, so much. There are some very endearing moments followed promptly by some epic fights, then some profound learning experience.
"Belief isn't simply a thing for fair times and bright days...What is belief - what is faith - if you don't continue in it after failure?...Anyone can believe in someone, or something that always succeeds...But failure...ah, now, that is hard to believe in, certainly and truly. Difficult enough to have value. Sometimes we just have to wait long enough...then we find out why exactly it was that we kept believing...There's always another secret."
I won't spend much time going into too many of the details, this is a large book. A 26+ hour audio. Needless to say, we would be here all day if I gave a thorough synopsis. However, for any fantasy lover it is well worth the time spent. There is a new take on magic that blew my mind, it involves metals and is so exquisitely developed that I actually feel smarter for having read it. Yes, I'm a dork - what? There were action scenes and plot twists that stole my breath, and just a sprinkle of a heart tingling romance...what more could you ask for? Brandon Sanderson is to younger readers what George R.R. Martin is to adult readers, a master of fantasy.
* Contains spoilers for Shatter Me ~ fair warning *
At the end of Shatter Me, Juliette seemed to be on the verge of taking control. At least, that is what it felt like for me. She had escaped to Omega Point, found refuge with others who have bizarre powers, found a safe place that was willing to help her nurture her abilities. I expected Unravel Me to start with a huge punch of power, of self awareness and control on Juliette's part.
What I found instead was the same old Juliette. Mopey, depressed, self-deprecating and annoying. There were several moments when we would see a spark, a flicker of something...something that maybe meant Juliette was finally ready to be more. All too quickly that little flicker would snuff out.
“I am nothing more than the consequence of catastrophe.”
I understand her life has been ridiculously horrible and hard but come on already. Grow a backbone and use it rationally. That's all I'm asking. I lost a bit of my love for Juliette with Unravel Me. She just got more and more ridiculous, more selfish, more ridiculous...did I say that already? Her decision making ability was non existent, she did dumb thing after stupid thing followed by moronic thing. When she should have been learning and training and working to save lives she was instead dreaming about boys and kisses and touches and ugh....just getting utterly distracted by all things Juliette, Adam and Warner.
Let's move on, shall we? We are finally exposed to the reason Adam can touch Juliette and brings on a whole new set of problems for them. While I can sympathize with the situation, Adam's reaction to it and decisions he makes because of it had me gritting my teeth in anger on multiple occasions. I'm (almost) always spoiler free so I can't go into any detail here but I can say he should be thinking a little more about her than himself at this point. Yet, he is still so sickly sweet and loveable that it tears at my emotions.
“Juliette, please, tell me what I'm supposed to do. How am I supposed to feel? It's one sh*tty thing right after another and I'm trying to be okay--God, I'm trying so hard but it's really freaking difficult and I miss--I miss you, I miss you so much it's killing me.”
I was pretty upfront in my review of Shatter Me that I was Team Warner ~ all the way. I loved him even more after reading the novella Destroy Me which is told in his point of view. However, Warner also has my emotions torn in two now. I still adore him, he's the best character in the series as far as I am concerned. But there are more and more confusing decisions made by him that make me think, yes he's redeemable but not necessarily ever will he be deserving of winning the girl.
Then we have Kenji. Kenji takes a much more prominent role, being a big wig at Omega Point he seems to be everywhere. He too is an amazing character and this book would be missing something horrible if his quirky jabs were not a part of it.
“Are you kidding?” I stop in the middle of the kitchen. Spin around. My face is pulled together in disbelief. “You’ve spoken to me maybe once in the two weeks I’ve been here. I hardly even notice you anymore.”
“Okay, hold up,” he says, turning to block my path. “We both know there’s no way you haven’t noticed all of this” — he gestures to himself — “so if you’re trying to play games with me, I should let you know up front that it’s not going to work.”
“What?” I frown. “What are you talking abou—”
“You can’t play hard to get, kid.” He raises an eyebrow. “I can’t even touch you. Takes ‘hard to get’ to a whole new level, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh my God,” I mouth, eyes closed, shaking my head. “You are insane.”
He falls to his knees. “Insane for your sweet, sweet love!”
The writing style is as strange as it was in Shatter Me, and again I have to applaud Kate Simses for her wonderful job of narrating. She is remarkable at taking me to a place I don't think I could get to on my own.
With all that I hated about Unravel Me, I still loved it. Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me. Why do I like these train wrecks so much? I love the world, I love the struggles, I love the turmoil of this stupid love triangle, I love that it makes me an emotional puddle of soupy goo. I think I am just as ridiculous as Juliette for wallowing in this misery. Or maybe I am just as insane as Kenji...insane for this crazy emotional roller coaster ride.
Let me take a quick second to gush over this cover. The original cover of Shatter Me did nothing for me and I almost passed over the book just because of it. When the cover was redone, I had to stop and take another look. It is absolutely stunning. I am so in love with it and the covers from the rest of the series.
Okay, now about what was inside that beautiful cover, or in my case...on the recording.
I think that had a read the physical copy of this book I may not have liked it. In fact, I am fairly convinced I would not have liked it. Why? Well, Juliette thinks in prose and metaphor. Almost exclusively. She also has an obsession with numbers, counting and eyes. She is always, always, always counting and thinking about eyes. Oh, and breathing. She thinks about breathing a fair amount as well. Then there is the weird striking out of thoughts. In the physical book there are lines that are actually crossed out, on audio it is just a bizarre zipper sound and I had to figure out what the hell was happening. I think all these things would truly have annoyed me if I had been reading rather than listening.
“Killing time isn't as difficult as it sounds.
I can shoot a hundred numbers through the chest and watch them bleed decimal points in the palm of my hand. I can rip the numbers off a clock and watch the hour hand tick tick tick its final tock just before I fall asleep. I can suffocate seconds just by holding my breath. I've been murdering minutes for hours and no one seems to mind.”
However, Kate Simses does such an amazing job performing this read that I easily slipped into the crazy mind of Juliette. Simses should win some sort of award for this read. Do they have audio book awards? They should, and she should win one. She took me to a place I don't know I would have gone in my own head.
Juliette has been imprisoned in a mental institution, left in solitary confinement, for 264 days. She has not spoken to anyone and she has not touched anyone. But not touching is a good thing since her touch is a killer. It's how she ended up in a small dank cell with only a tiny window to peak at the outside world. An outside world that has fallen to rot and famine and severe military control.
Juliette lives inside her mind, within this cell. Her mind and a scruffy notebook she scribbles thoughts in are her only companions here. Until Adam is tossed in the cell with her. Adam with beautiful eyes that hide from Juliette his true intentions on being in the cell with her.
Adam's arrival triggers a series of events that lead Juliette out of the institute and into the military where she is to be a weapon. A tool. A destructive and dangerous torture device. A device that Juliette desperately does not want to be.
Juliette is an interesting chick. She likes to believe she is not insane, but I kind of think she is. I love her none the less. She's caring and she's brave while she's terrifying and powerful beyond what she even knows. Her every day struggle to live without touching anyone or being touched, is one wild ride. She thinks she's a monster, she's been told she is by everyone but at her heart she is just a selfless girl trapped inside a venomous body. Mafi has done an extraordinary job of writing Juliette, the way her mind works and where it goes. Utterly breathtaking.
Adam and Warner are opposites in many ways yet completely the same in others. Yes, this does appear to be the beginning of some sort of love triangle. Adam being a sweet guy would be the obvious choice for a love interest. He would be a good pick but my money says there is much more to Warner (the bad guy) than his militant tyrant mask portrays. I think he's going to be breaking his fair share of young hearts by the time this series is over. My scales are slightly tipped in his favor.
On a side noet ~ Some of the other characters are fantastic. I'm a tad bit in love with James & Kenji.
“I’ve come to believe that the most dangerous man in the world is the one who feels no remorse. The one who never apologizes and therefore seeks no forgiveness. Because in the end it is our emotions that make us week, not our actions.”
The pacing, action, drama and trauma in Shatter Me kept me at the edge of my seat. I was constantly anxious to see what would happen next and pleasantly surprised at how I rarely saw what was coming.
I know this is a love it or hate it type of book and I would suggest that if you are apprehensive about reading it, sample the audio. I have fallen face first into this series and look forward to its future; counting, breathing and eyes eyes eyes included.
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