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Anya

Grinnell, IA

82
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 13 reviews
  • 18 ratings
  • 73 titles in library
  • 0 purchased in 2018
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10

  • Dreamer's Pool: Blackthorn & Grim, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Juliet Marillier
    • Narrated By Scott Aiello, Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1763)
    Performance
    (1649)
    Story
    (1643)

    In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help. Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais.

    Anya says: "Beautiful story, pretty solid narration"
    "Beautiful story, pretty solid narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier is a beautiful fairytale full of broken characters and a disturbing mystery. If you are tired of worrying about romance ruining perfectly good friendships, but also kind of like the sweet naïveté of the adorable secondary characters sometimes, Dreamer’s Pool is probably your book. Dreamer’s Pool is also your book if you love writing that just keeps pulling you back in and character development that wrenches your heart but makes your proud at the same time. Basically, Dreamer’s Pool is rockin’ and the narration of the audiobook is pretty darn good as well!
    Note: I received an audiobook copy of Dreamer’s Pool from the publisher. Audiobooks change my experience with the story.

    Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier
    Narrated by Natalie Gold, Nick Sullivan, Scott Aiello
    (Blackthorn and Grim #1)
    Published by Roc on Nov. 4th, 2014
    Genres: Adult, Fantasy
    Length: 448 pages
    How I got my copy: Publisher

    In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

    Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

    With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

    Strengths:
    Blackthorn and Grim are both very troubled and broken main characters (so of course I adored them to no end), but they are balanced well with our third main character, Oran, who is such a hopeless romantic that I probably wouldn’t have been able to tolerate him without Blackthorn’s amusing assessments. Oran is not just a naive prince though, he is knowledgeable about the law and cares for his people, which makes it all the more amusing when he is confronted by surly Blackthorn and silent Grim ;-).
    You’d think that three points-of-view would be too much, but it worked quite well, with each character having a very distinct voice. The audiobook has three narrators, too, so that helped a lot. Each of the narrators portrays their character very well and I kind of want to find Grim’s narrator and just give him a hug!
    I can’t tell you the last time I came across an adult story with a man and a woman being JUST FRIENDS! Blackthorn and Grim are very clearly just friends from the start and it was so refreshing to see their friendship and trust develop without any worry about relationship angst.
    The writing and mystery of Dreamer’s Pool is so addicting. I found myself doing extra chores around the apartment, listening while walking and driving and any other excuse I could find. I even kept listening while icing my forehead from eyestrain! I just had to know what happened next!!!
    You find out very quickly that Blackthorn and Grim are in prison and it has been a very tough prison sentence. Thinking back on where they both were at the start of Dreamer’s Pool now that I know how much they grow and recover from their trauma, I can’t help but be impressed by the character development that Marillier smoothly pulls off.
    There are some seriously hairy issues in Dreamer’s Pool and I applaud Marillier for not shying away from them and giving Blackthorn a voice to shout what so many of us wish we could. I don’t want to give anything away, but there were definitely times when my eyes got quite big because I just didn’t expect Marillier to pull it off but she does!
    Dreamer’s Pool is the start of a series but stands alone quite well. You’ll be relieved to know that there will be more Blackthorn and Grim adventures though as soon as you’re at the end of Dreamer’s Pool. I certainly can’t wait to hear what they’ll be up to next!

    Weaknesses:
    Oran’s narration is the one exception to the otherwise excellent narration choices. He has some quirks such as a very strange and rather annoying voice for Oran’s manservant and close friend. I was kind of relieved when that character faded to the background because he was so annoying to listen to at first.
    Major trigger warning for sexual violence in Dreamer’s Pool. Those tough issues I mention above? Yeah, they involve some pretty horrible things done to innocents. Nothing is graphically depicted, but I got sad just thinking about it myself so I want to make sure others are warned in case you’re more sensitive to those subjects.

    Summary:
    Dreamer’s Pool is an excellent choice for fantasy fans and promises to be just the beginning for a great series. I was guessing right up until the end and am thrilled to have been able to listen to the audio version so I could fit in lots of extra reading time ;-). I am now quite convinced that I need to go read everything else Marillier has written because there is just something downright addictive about her storytelling!

    56 of 57 people found this review helpful
  • The Girl with Ghost Eyes

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 51 mins)
    • By M. H. Boroson
    • Narrated By Emily Woo Zeller
    Overall
    (91)
    Performance
    (81)
    Story
    (80)

    It's the end of the 19th century in San Francisco's Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes - the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring shame to Li-lin and her father - and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

    Misha says: "a must listen "
    "Fresh fantasy, narration not perfect"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Girl with Ghost Eyes to be better than the print version?

    No, the audiobook has some volume issues and the voices didn't quite all work for me. It was nice to not have to figure out the pronunciation of Chinese terms and names however.


    Did Emily Woo Zeller do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Generally yes, she used different voices for each. It wasn't always consistent however.


    Any additional comments?

    This story is excellent.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Revisionary: Magic ex Libris, Book 4

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 44 mins)
    • By Jim C. Hines
    • Narrated By David DeVries
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (179)
    Performance
    (161)
    Story
    (161)

    When Isaac Vainio helped to reveal magic to the world, he dreamed of a utopian future, a new millennium of magical prosperity. One year later, things aren't going quite as he'd hoped. An organization known as Vanguard, made up of magical creatures and ex-Porters, wants open war with the mundane world. Isaac's own government is incarcerating "potential supernatural enemies" in prisons and internment camps. And Isaac finds himself targeted by all sides.

    Jayson says: "Another hit from Jim C Hines"
    "Fantastic conclusion to the series"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you consider the audio edition of Revisionary to be better than the print version?

    Yes, the narrator brings Isaac to life and helped me connect to him as a main character much better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    These characters and this world are fantastic and it was a lot of fun to see the final leg of Isaac's journey.


    What about David DeVries’s performance did you like?

    He does a great job with most of the female voices while giving everyone a unique voice so I could tell all the characters apart.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Hines' writing definitely makes me laugh and cry at times. The snarky quips are great!


    Any additional comments?

    I didn't like how DeVries did Lena's voice, she sounded rather overdone and weird, but otherwise the narration was great.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Book of Phoenix

    • UNABRIDGED (8 hrs and 50 mins)
    • By Nnedi Okorafor
    • Narrated By Robin Miles
    Overall
    (229)
    Performance
    (208)
    Story
    (210)

    Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York's Tower 7. She is an "accelerated woman" - only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix's abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading ebooks, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.

    Anya says: "Stunningly unique and beautiful story"
    "Stunningly unique and beautiful story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor took me completely by surprise in the best possible way. I went in really not having any idea what to expect, and what I got was a near future sci-fi wrapped in a post-apocalyptic sci-fi starring a Nigerian anti-heroine who I grew to love in the way only fictional characters can make us love. I also was surprised that my new favorite narrator, Robin Miles, performed this audiobook and (not surprising) she was absolutely perfect. I am now completely hooked on this author and will be promptly diving in to the companion book!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • A Crucible of Souls: The Sorcery Ascendant Sequence, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (18 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Mitchell Hogan
    • Narrated By Oliver Wyman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5062)
    Performance
    (4645)
    Story
    (4643)

    When Caldan’s parents are brutally slain, he is raised by monks and taught the arcane mysteries of sorcery. Vowing to discover for himself who his parents really were, and what led to their violent end, he is thrust into the unfamiliar chaos of city life. With nothing to his name but a pair of mysterious heirlooms and a handful of coins, he must prove his talent to earn an apprenticeship with a guild of sorcerers. But he soon learns the world outside the monastery is a darker place than he ever imagined, and his treasured sorcery has disturbing depths. As a shadowed evil manipulates the unwary and forbidden powers are unleashed, Caldan is plunged into an age-old conflict that brings the world to the edge of destruction.

    Mike says: "Took a chance, hit a home run!"
    "Interesting world and magic, okay narration"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The male narrator was good generally but did that annoying thing with female and young voices, bleck. The magic and world are really cool and there is a magic school! There are some annoying loose ends that make the ending drag and feel unsatisfactory, but the series has a lot of potential.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Prudence

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Gail Carriger
    • Narrated By Moira Quirk
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (1428)
    Performance
    (1324)
    Story
    (1318)

    When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama ("Rue" to her friends) is bequeathed an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female under similar circumstances would do: she christens it the Spotted Custard and floats off to India. Soon she stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves.

    Lisa says: "Delightful book but an audible misstep"
    "Such a fun story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    Excellent narration, fascinating world and splendid characters! I felt a little lacking background knowledge without having read the other series but still lots of fun.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Poison Study

    • UNABRIDGED (10 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By Maria V. Snyder
    • Narrated By Gabra Zackman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3451)
    Performance
    (2104)
    Story
    (2114)

    About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She'll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace, and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia. And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster.

    A says: "Fantasy, with a touch of romance."
    "Excellent narration and really fun story"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The narration was great and the story was a fun fantasy with a unique premise. Gets dark at times but that just makes you appreciate the happy moments.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Red Glove: The Curse Workers, Book Two

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 5 mins)
    • By Holly Black
    • Narrated By Jesse Eisenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (206)
    Performance
    (182)
    Story
    (179)

    Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth - he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything - or anyone - into something else. That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

    Jennifer says: "Heart this series"
    "Still love Cassel, boring plot"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The plot of this one was rather blah mostly because it didn't seem to matter much to Cassel. The narration is great and I'll finish the series but I wasn't compelled to listen constantly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Burning Sky: The Elemental Trilogy, Book 1

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 40 mins)
    • By Sherry Thomas
    • Narrated By Philip Battley
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (594)
    Performance
    (556)
    Story
    (551)

    Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation - or so she's been told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of the Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the most powerful tyrant and mage the world has ever known. This would be a suicide task for anyone, let alone a reluctant 16-year-old girl with no training.

    Anya says: "The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Audiobook"
    "The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas Audiobook"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas is a fantasy series that has been getting a crazy amount of hype. When the second book, The Perilous Sea, came out earlier this year, I knew I needed to find out what everyone was gushing about. Therefore, I turned to audiobooks because how else was I supposed to fit it in in a timely manner?? Fortunately, there was pretty good narration, so I now have happily started The Burning Sky series and am just one book away from being all caught up! While I wouldn't say it blew my mind, I can definitely see where The Burning Sky has the potential to begin a truly ground-breaking fantasy series, and it has that whole girl-disguised-as-a-boy thing that so many of you love ;-).

    Note: I listened to The Burning Sky which inarguably influences my reading experience.

    Strengths:

    The fantasy world of The Burning Sky is actually multiple worlds, ours as one and at least one, perhaps multiple others that have magic. The Burning Sky is one of those books that will confuse you initially because there is a lot of lingo to pick up and the characters have basic assumptions about how the world works that they don't share with you, but figuring all that out is half the fun!
    I never felt that The Burning Sky was dumping information on the reader in order to make sure we got all the details of how things work between the teleportation (called vaulting), the elemental magic, the other kind of magic, the shadow government somehow connected to the magic world which is also then connected to our world, etc. Instead, you as the reader get to discover things and slowly put the pieces of the puzzle together. Just be warned that you don't have all the pieces by the end of book one, but that just leaves more fun for book two :D.
    There was a danger to my listening to The Burning Sky because the male MC, Prince Titus, acts like a complete jackass most of the time, but very early on he makes a reference internally to having to keep up the act. If you miss that part, you'll hate him, but instead, I loved him because of the complexity of teasing out which parts are really him and which parts are him playing a part so hard his life depends on it. I'm not shipping these kids or anything, but I love their depth ;-).
    There is a chosen one trope in The Burning Sky, but the twist on it is simply marvelous. Titus has been informed by his psychic mother that he must protect the great elemental mage that will appear with his very life. Therefore, even though there is a chosen one, there is also the very painful dynamic of a second main character who knows that he is not the chosen one and will in fact someday die for the cause. There is somehow an extra edge added when your mother had a vision of your actual death over the more general "I'd be willing to die for you" sort of thing ya know?
    I love magic systems and it is a simple delight when a book presents not one, but two and possibly more magic systems! I'm honestly still a little confused about how all the different worlds/realms link together, but I'm having fun with the more traditional elements-based magic mixing and evolving with the more "handy" magic that sweeps and cleans and such.
    I'm not general a fan for relationship angst, but this complicated romance seemed minimal on the angst despite the kind of horrendous circumstances. I mentioned that Titus knows his fate early on, and so you can imagine his feelings for Iolanthe would be a bit complex, and then there is the whole they are supposed to both be straight boys at boarding school thing to add lots of laughs :-P.
    I have more to say about the narration in the next section unfortunately, but I do feel the need to say that I think the male narrator did a decent job of giving the characters each their own pretty good voices, even the female characters, so while I didn't love the audiobook more than I would have the physical, this was a convenient way to get another book in my head ;-).

    Weaknesses:

    For some reason a British older gentleman just doesn't seem like the right narrator choice for a YA fantasy with one female MC and one male MC. This narration choice completely changed the tone of The Burning Sky for me and I think it kept me from loving it as much as I might have with a narrator that fit better.
    While Iolanthe does actually train quite hard and long for her magical gains, it is glossed over for the most part, so it seems like she had an easy time learning impossible tasks. Intellectually, I know that I remember the days to weeks she spent training constantly, but I really didn't feel like a part of that struggle with her.
    I will be honest that I really wasn't sure what to make of The Burning Sky in the first half. Things seemed like they could be cool (and eventually did get very compelling), but I found myself not eager to jump back into listening in the beginning and possibly even *gasp* switched to music once!

    Summary:

    The Burning Sky is a very ambitious start to a promising fantasy trilogy. As long as I get more answers in the next book about all the awesome worlds and magic hinted at in The Burning Sky, I'll be a happy fantasy geek! While I wasn't all over the romance, I did connect emotionally with the characters individually, and I worry a bit that the narration tone influenced this. Unless you really love the narrator sample, I recommend sticking with a physical read for The Burning Sky. Now off to book two!

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  • White Cat: The Curse Workers, Book One

    • UNABRIDGED (6 hrs and 41 mins)
    • By Holly Black
    • Narrated By Jesse Eisenberg
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (282)
    Performance
    (229)
    Story
    (225)

    Cassel comes from a family of curse workers people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they'e all criminals. Many become mobsters and con artists. But not Cassel. He hasn't got magic, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail - he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago

    Dave says: "Holly Black's Next Great Trick"
    "Excellent fantasy world, fast read"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    White Cat by Holly Black is the first in the Curse Workers trilogy and introduces us to a world where everyone knows that magic is real, but generally controlled by several families mob-style in the USA. I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for over a year ever since I met Holly Black at a signing, and I’m so glad that the audiobook was available and of solid quality so that I can finally fit this great series in! If you enjoy the idea of an alternative history mixed with a dash of magic, definitely check these books out and maybe even the audio versions ;-).

    White Cat by Holly Black
    Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
    (Curse Workers #1)
    Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on May 4th, 2010
    Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, YA
    Length: 320 pages
    How I got my copy: Purchased

    Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

    But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

    Strengths:
    White Cat is told from the main character, Cassel’s perspective, so having a male narrator who mostly stuck to his natural voice worked out well. I found myself easily imagining Cassel telling me the story of this period of his life over drinks ;-).
    I looooooved the magic system since it involved some powers I haven’t read much with before and “blowback” when you use your power. If you use your power for good to give someone good luck or make someone happy, you get good luck or happiness yourself. If however, you use your death curse or physical curse to hurt others, a part of your body suffers the same consequences.
    Another cool part of White Cat that I hadn’t realized is that it doesn’t take place in some far off fantasy world, it takes place in a version of the US where curse work has always been known to exist and is currently going through various stages of being banned and tested for and unbanned as with any other cause. I am pretty in love with these sorts of “out in the open” urban fantasy settings with alternative histories and everything :D.
    The plot of White Cat is concise and flows quickly. I enjoyed the twists even though I guessed some from having accidentally read the blurb for the second book once, but I was pleased to find that I never felt things were dragging along even with some nice world-building thrown in.
    The crime family twist in White Cat is a whole lot of fun. I’ve never been that in to stories with the mob, but the idea that the mob would be run by curse workers (for very good reasons too!) instead of our world’s incarnation makes me love the twist in White Cat. I especially love that the formation of the crime families makes complete sense with the alternative history that is touched on and that the families use curse workers the same way that tough guys are used in our crime families throughout history.

    Weaknesses:
    I generally prefer narrators that have separate voices for each character since it makes it easier to keep characters straight during dialogue. The narrator for White Cat doesn’t do this, which I was generally fine to let go since like I said, White Cat is told in first person. However, it did make it a little confusing the follow the dialogue at times when he started to use a different voice and then didn’t stick with it.
    There are a lot of cool secondary characters in White Cat, but the book is just too short for them to get properly fleshed out. There are certain characters that I hope to get to know better as the trilogy goes on, but I definitely wasn’t satisfied with their portrayals in White Cat just because of the length.
    I was in a weird place mentally when I started listening to White Cat (remember that weird week where I just needed to read happy things?) and the beginning was a little too dark for me in that mind set. That darkness doesn’t continue too much though, so I ended up being fine once I got past the beginning. Just to warn you though, no pretty butterflies here ;-).

    Summary:
    White Cat is a great start to a trilogy I know many readers have loved. I’m really excited to have finally jumped on the Holly Black fan bandwagon and I highly encourage you all to do the same! If you like audiobooks and don’t mind a narrator that doesn’t do individual voices, I do recommend White Cat since it is pretty short and you could easily listen to the whole thing in a week or two!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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