Molly Harper is one of my favorite authors. Though the titles in the Bluegrass series don't have people staring at me because I'm snort-laughing and wiping tears from the corner of my eyes like the Naked Werewolf books do, they are still authentic Molly Harper and are wonderfully light, funny, and entertaining.
Rhythm and Bluegrass follows Kentucky Tourism Commission's Bonnie Turkle as she tries to salvage historical treasures from a once famous music hall that's scheduled to be demolished (and replaced with a factory site that might just save the town). Mud Creek mayor/volunteer fireman/occasional damsel-in-distress rescuer Will McBride doesn't have much love for the music hall and what it's meant for his family, but he still doesn't mind Bonnie ... until she registers it as a historical site and halts not only the negotiations of the new factory, but also the hope of recovery for his entire town.
The story is peppered with the main character's love of history, wonderfully crafted "locals," and Harper's trademark wit, not to mention a satisfying dose of romance. You don't need to read My Bluegrass Baby first in order to enjoy Rhythm and Bluegrass, but I do recommend reading both. And everything else Molly Harper writes. I'm just saying.
P.S. Amanda Ronconi is INCREDIBLE.
I listened to this book straight through, which is probably a little unhealthy. I loved it, as I did the rest of the series, but I'm not going to do a full review because there are a few things I just haven't processed yet (I'm looking at you, last two hours). I will say that these stories have given me chills, literally, like no other books I've read. The narration is flawless, or possibly some fictional word that surpasses it. Khristine Hvam is going on my all-time favorites narrator list.
If you haven't read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, do it now.
Night of Cake & Puppets is a dreamy, adorable short chronicling the first night of Zuzana & Mik's romance, which only makes me more impatient for the next book. The narration is perfect, as always, and the story is charming and fun. While you could probably enjoy this without having read Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I can only recommend devouring the entire series in its proper order.
This Audible freebie is a fun little Christmas tale centering on Gigi that includes all your favorite Half Moon Hollow characters. I normally don't enjoy holiday shorts, but this isn't your average season-themed special. This is Molly Harper, who always manages to include some form of hi-jinks, minor disaster, untimely nudity, and a random possum or two. In this edition, Gigi comes home from college to see her newly turned vampire sister for the first time, and Iris is determined to throw a traditional "human" Christmas for her. The entire crew is called in for support, so expect a good helping of Jane's snark, Jolene's appetite, and Dick's T-shirt humor. I will say that this is a short, and as such will only leave you wanting more of Gigi's story.
As always, Amanda Ronconi nails the characters with a perfect performance. Five stars.
Ender's Game was one of my first audiobooks and I'll admit, I was a little attached to it. So I was equal parts excited and nervous to hear this new take on the story. First, let me just say that I'm one of those people who abhor sound effects in my audio. I will shut a book off and walk away. Forever. So when I read "audioplay" I was skeptical. But the effects here were perfectly done: the whoosh of a door (sci-fi doors do that) to let you know when someone is entering or exiting a room, the echo of a large space, and music between scenes or to indicate time passing. Not once did I cringe. And I truly enjoyed the way the "play" was performed, each character given their own voice by an amazing cast of talented narrators (some of whom you may remember from the older editions) seamlessly moving from scene to scene.
Whether you're a fan of the original or new to the series, Ender's Game Alive is a wonderful way to experience the story.
The Dream Thieves is the second book of The Raven Cycle series (following The Raven Boys).
In the last lines of book one Ronan says, "I guess now would be a good time to tell you. I took Chainsaw out of my dreams." It was a great teaser, and book two completely fulfills the WTF that statement left us with. You might think you don't want to read about Ronan, but he ends up being a surprisingly great character, alternately fire/danger and the boy who was crippled by the idea of this strange power and the events of his youth. I love that he's conflicted in all senses - and I love that his dreams and nightmares reveal more than he'd ever let on. There's a particular scene that gets so intense, you can almost feel him on that edge. And even though I thoroughly enjoyed it, if I'm honest, I'm in this for the story of Blue and Gansey. Fortunately, though the main plot focus is Ronan and the dreams, the story does include all of the other characters. Stiefvater's writing is beautiful and haunting and so incredibly interesting that sometimes I want to stop to write some of it down. The characters move forward seamlessly and develop subtly and then, quite suddenly, you realize that Blue and Gansey are in love (I don't really think that's a spoiler, right?) or that Adam is heading toward something great and terrible, or some such spoiler-type thing. This book didn't really "end" for me, but I'm so ready for the next in the series I don't think I mind.
Will Patton narrates.
I liked it. Harry Dresden is a wizard for hire who turns detective when a damsel in distress and a brutal murder cross his desk while his rent is past due. Already under probation, Harry's seat-of-the-pants investigative work gets him into more trouble than he can handle, even with the help of a few fairies and a skull named Bob. Read by James Marsters of Buffy fame, this is a quick and easy listen.
I think I could listen to Bronson Pinchot read the phone book. I particularly enjoyed his performance of the character Faye, who seems to take over the story despite the synopsis focusing on the main character and tough guy, Jake. But this book repeatedly surprised me, in the best way. It was nothing I expected, creating its own ninjas and zombies and zinging one-liners from nowhere. Hard Magic is an excellent read. It was just plain fun, and I think I could recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy or action or ... books. Five stars. I'm already downloading the next one.
Matterhorn is so completely not in my "usual" genre. But I like to read out of my comfort zone every now and then and when I see reviews like Tour de Force, I'll take the chance. It's a longer novel and I listened over the course of several weeks, but I was always glad when I returned to it from whatever paranormal fantasy I'd been reading in between.
Clearly it's a war story, but the characters were what made it for me. Bronson Pinchot was absolutely amazing, somehow able to master more characters than I can count, and every single one brilliantly done. This is possibly the best performance I've heard. Ever. Between that and some great writing, I think I could recommend this story anyone and they wouldn't be disappointed.
So, you know how you wait and wait for a book to come out, only to be slammed with the realization that you now want the next book even more than the one you just finished? Yeah. That.
I've enjoyed this series immensely, everything from the fresh characters and interesting plot to the epic narration. (yes, epic) This installment takes Atticus, Granuaile, and Oberon on a run for their lives as Artemis and Diana seek revenge in typical Hearne style. And all the while, Loki and Hel are working up a good Ragnarok (the burning of the world) in the background. Granuaile is not my favorite character, so I wasn't in love with the fact that she has her own first person chapters in this book, but it was nicely done and I got used to it pretty fast. Oberon, however, is one of my all time favorite characters, so I was thrilled he got to come along in this adventure. He was actually a huge player this time, and though I was right there with everyone else yelling "more Oberon," when I listened, I was seriously worried that too much of a sidekick, comic relief (and let's face it - dog) character would be too much and ruin it for me. But that wasn't the case, because all I found myself doing was laughing. I can honestly see how an Oberon led short would work now. (hint, hint)
This series gets better and better. Had I any doubts about continuing the series, the epilogue would have crushed them, promising nothing but awesomeness for the next round.
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