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Michelle @ In Libris Veritas

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  • Mass Effect™ Andromeda: Nexus Uprising

  • By: Jason M. Hough, K. C. Alexander
  • Narrated by: Fryda Wolff
  • Length: 13 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 937
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 886
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 886

They slept for hundreds of years, dreaming of a new home in the Andromeda galaxy. When finally they awake, their dreams of peace are shattered. These colonists - turian, salarian, asari, human, and more - face an uncharted galaxy and threats beyond understanding.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Five Star Review But Be Warned

  • By Lester on 03-27-17

A Perfect Companion to the Game

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-08-18

Nexus Uprising serves as a prequel to the video game Mass Effect: Andromeda, taking us to the time before your character, Ryder, arrives in the ark to find the space station badly damaged and behind schedule. We get a glimpse into what exactly happened to the people aboard and why there is so much for you to "clean" up when you get there. There may be some spoilers for the game in the following review, I will not mention any major plot points, however, some characters' and events within the book directly lead to plot points in the game. 

Right off the bat, I was intrigued with Nexus Uprising. I am a Bioware fangirl and I adore Mass Effect, however, the real draw for me was the fact that we'd be getting a chance to see Sloane Kelly BEFORE she becomes who she is within the game. The story itself spans several different characters, giving you a lot of insight into each one of them and their motivations. I think this is a pretty successful prequel novel. While it doesn't feel fundamental to the storyline, because you can piece together some of this with the in-game dialogue and 'lore', it does feel like I gain a lot of new information that broadens the overall story's scope. The story is slow to build and we get to see the Nexus the moment the first pods open, where the trouble begins immediately and people not prepared to lead are thrust forward to make decisions.

While playing the game I had mixed feelings about pretty much everyone in this book excluding a few (Kesh - Love, Tann- HATE, Spender - HATE), but Nexus Uprising really fleshes out how they became the people we interacted with. I appreciated getting to know more about Sloane, who is painted as a badass but dangerous person in the game. She is still a badass and more than a little dangerous if need be in NU, but she has a focus on getting things done the correct way. I love a woman who can talk her way out of a problem but can also punch her way out when she has to. Tann is still the same little spineless twerp we all get subjected to in the game, but we see his appointment to the director and his turning points along the way. Addison is the one that doesn't seem to get a lot of character arc development, she does grow more spine throughout everything but she remains the same, which isn't to say she's a bland character more that her inevitable strength and determination to see things to the end is something that develops early on in the story.

I was extremely frustrated in the game when I found out about the rebellion and the consequential divide between the crew, and while that frustration hasn't gone away I do understand why it occurred. A new galaxy fraught with unexpected issues and the danger of their own home failing them, it pushes people to limits that hadn't previously expected to see. On top of the issues, we also have old scars that still linger even after 600 light years are placed between them and it's origin. We have classism and inherent racism that most try to overcome in some way, though more than few fail. It kind of makes you all wonder, just what the hell all these people were thinking when they signed up to leave the Milky Way and head to Andromeda.

A small note on the audiobook, it is read by Fryda Wolff who provides the voice for the female Ryder in the game. She really does an excellent job with the range of voices and really taps into each of the races little mannerisms really well.

Overall I think that if you enjoyed the game, then this is one to check out for sure! It provides some much-needed context for the situations surrounding Tann, Spender, Clan Nakmor, and Sloane, and really solidifies what makes the ME series so strong; the relationships built between allies and enemies.

  • Contact

  • By: Carl Sagan
  • Narrated by: Laurel Lefkoe
  • Length: 14 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,613
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,392
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,398

The future is here...in an adventure of cosmic dimension. In December, 1999, a multinational team journeys out to the stars, to the most awesome encounter in human history. Who - or what - is out there? In Cosmos, Carl Sagan explained the universe. In Contact, he predicts its future - and our own.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great Story with a Few Glitches

  • By Kyle on 03-27-17

A New Favorite

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-22-18

Have you ever read a book and when you finished it you find yourself just sitting there staring at the back of the book with a goofy smile on your face? That was how Contact concluded for me. A sense of awe, wonder, and utmost appreciation.

Contact is a book that proudly dances on and across the line between logical science and brilliant wonder. It’s both realistic and hopelessly optimist about the vastness of our universe and I need that in my life as often as possible. Contact is at its heart a first contact story, that centers around a woman named Ellie as the Earth finds itself on the receiving end of radio waves from another star system. However, it actually presents a lot more than that. We get glimpses at science vs religions and how there is a possible marriage between the two, and even how when separate they can evoke the same feelings. We see detailed looks at human relationships and how we can be so busy focusing on the ‘big picture’ that we tend to forget the here and now, and how we miss out on things important to us if we don’t take a step back now and then. It holds a scope so massive and yet it spends a good deal of time showing those small important moments that really make a person. The science part of this can be dense and dry, but I honestly have a love of science so I didn’t mind it at all. I thought it was pretty fascinating. However, I think even if someone kind of zoned out during those moments the story would not be lost on you.

The plot of this was quite surprising to me. I went in somewhat blind, as I haven’t seen the movie or even looked at reviews, and I am so thankful for that. It’s such an unconventionally beautiful book. Sure it’s dry and can be very dense in areas, but it kind of wormed its way into a portion of mind devoted to childlike wonder for space. I don’t necessarily think this is an easy read, and I had to listening to the audiobook while following along in my print copy just to make sure I was processing it. It certainly has its issues, but this is one of those cases where it just pressed all the right buttons for me. The first contact storyline was compelling and interesting, full of detail and reflection, and the look at Ellie’s personal life and thoughts brought so much more to table.

Overall I think this is one to try out if you are a fellow sci-fi nerd. I do recommend trying it out first, perhaps through the library or a sample before committing to it fully.

  • Ten Thousand Thunders

  • Fiction Without Frontiers
  • By: Brian Trent
  • Narrated by: Eric Meyers
  • Length: 15 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Having just been killed in a mysterious shuttle explosion, Gethin Bryce is back to uncover what happened. An unusually gifted investigator with the InterPlanetary Council, Gethin is tasked with seeking out the truth behind unexplained anomalies that lie outside IPC control. His investigation takes him from the luxurious enclaves of Earth’s elite to the battered Wastelands beyond civilization’s protective thrall. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • A Complex Sci-Fi Mystery

  • By Michelle @ In Libris Veritas on 10-22-18

A Complex Sci-Fi Mystery

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-22-18

Ten Thousand Thunders is a complex sci-fi mystery with plenty of intrigue and action, and more than a few intensely cool ideas.

I do not find myself venturing into hard sci-fi territory often, as much as I love the genre I have my limits in terms of attention span. Thunders tested those limits quite a bit. I really enjoyed most of the set up that Trent gave us, with a very intriguing ‘solution’ to the problem of mortality. I love the idea of an ‘extra life’ where you get a second chance (or third, or fourth) to live with a new body altogether. The history of Earth, Luna, and Mars was also quite interesting and I liked seeing how things had developed and changed, even if some of it was a bit quirky. We were even treated to quite a bit of action, some intrigue, and some badass ladies to boot. The style of the book, however, is what solidified this as a 3 star read for me. It has a very cut and dry style that makes it harder to digest and for me harder to focus on. All of those really cool ideas were kind of lost in the very matter of fact way it was presented, and I had to take more breaks than I normally do with it. Much of the world building is presented very quickly, along with a whole host of characters, and with multiple story threads to follow. It can be quite overwhelming at first, but as the story moves forward and the stories start to merge a bit it becomes much easier to handle and much more enjoyable.

Our main character is Gethan, who has had a rather long and interesting life. He works as an investigator and as a result ended up dying in an explosion while on a case. He’s certainly quick-witted but found him rather bland overall. He is very much a main focal point but I often found myself more intrigued with those around him. We do get chapters that also focus on a wide range of other people, and while this is initially confusing by the end of the book I found myself sad to see some of them go. Celeste and Keiko were definitely a highlight for me, but I think my favorite character was certainly Jonas, a young boy who finds himself tangled up in the web of schemes. Where the other characters had moments where they would be lost in the ongoings of the story, Jonas stood out and felt fully realized everytime he appeared.

While the story can be very dense I really liked the overall storyline, I just wish it had been a bit easier to digest and paced a little better in terms of information output. There are a ton of strong ideas to be had in this, but at a lower page count, it often felt like too much in conjunction with everything else. I, however, would be interested in seeing more from this author in the future as he definitely has some really intense ideas that are worth reading.

If you enjoy sci-fi and are not scared off by denser reading material, then this one is definitely one to check out! There is a fair bit of violence and some mature content as well, for those who might wish to shy away from such things.

  • Paper and Fire

  • The Great Library
  • By: Rachel Caine
  • Narrated by: Julian Elffer
  • Length: 11 hrs and 5 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 697
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 638
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 632

With an iron fist, the Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good. Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Ending is cut off

  • By Karen T on 07-01-17

An Excellent Follow Up

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-29-18

Spoiler Warning for book one! This review may have spoilers for the first book, Ink and Bone, if you are interested in starting the series I recommend checking out my review of that book instead.

At the end of Ink and Bone, we find Jess and his friends more awake to the harsh reality of the Great Library. Jess has been a sheep amongst wolves since day one, but now things have gotten worse but he finds himself with unexpected allies.

Ink and Bone focus on the group training to become Librarians, but Paper and Fire we see them in the roles assigned to them and thrown into a situation where they are trying desperately to find a way to save one of their close friends. It’s a high stakes story where it definitely seems like a cat and mouse game played by the Library and Jess. It’s incredible to see a world where books play such a large part in the power balance, but it’s chilling to see how far people are willing to go to maintain the heavier side of that balance. It can be nightmare fuel for those of us who love books and basically worship the idea of being able to share all knowledge with each other. I do love the unlying theme of hope however when it comes to the Library and the fact that this doesn’t seem to be the typical ‘destroy the government and start over’ kind of story. Many of the characters still see the good of the Library and hope to change it from the inside outward, and while we don’t see much of that story angle other than the desire for it I do really hope we get to see some of that in later books.

Jess continues to be a fantastic lead to follow, and I enjoy seeing his wit and charm as he navigates something almost impossibly large. In the first book we see him struggle against growing too close with anyone in the group of postulates, but in this one we see those relationships form up even tighter and that he grows to consider them family. His relationship with Morgan, especially after the end of Ink and Bone, is an interesting one as he feels (and is) responsible for her current predicament and their struggles to find a place of trust. I love that their relationship isn’t perfect and has small little fractures that they have to figure out if they are willing to fix or shatter completely. We also get to see him form a friendship with Glain, who in the previous book seemed to isolate herself away from Jess and now they are forced to work closely together. She is a badass, pure and simple. She’s loyal and willing to face any danger to protect her friends and charges. I love that while she has a very strict sense of duty, she isn’t unwilling to open her eyes to the horrors of the Library.

If you are considering the audios for the series I whole-heartedly encourage you to check them out. Julian Eiffier is the narrator and he does such an excellent job of presenting the story. I think I much prefer the audio experience than simply reading it, so I will most likely grab book three as an audio as well.

This turned out to be an excellent continuation of the series, and I can’t wait to dive into the third installment. It has such a wonderful mix of historical and fantasy elements that it doesn’t feel too heavy on either, while still feeling fresh and unique. It’s definitely a series to check out if you already haven’t.

  • Ash and Quill

  • By: Rachel Caine
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 9 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 275
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 251
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 253

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealousy guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny. Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the library's rule.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • too quiet

  • By T. Cash on 08-11-17

Such a Fantastic Series Thus Far

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-29-18

Spoiler Warning for book one and two! This review may have spoilers for the first two books in the The Great Library series, if you are interested in starting the series I recommend checking out my review of that book instead.

This binge read of the series has been so much fun! It is rather unlike me to consume more than one book of a series in the same month, let alone three but here we are and I’m eager to keep going.

Ash and Quill picks up after another stellar cliffhanger and the fight has gotten even more desperate. Jess and the group are in Philadelphia, the heart of the Burner movement, and they have a long arduous road ahead of them in their goal to reshape the library. I really wish I could pinpoint all the things I loved about this one without ruining the series for anyone, but alas I can not. I will say that I am loving where Caine is taking us on this journey! I enjoyed getting to see more of the Burners, and while I understand the ultimate cause the fanaticism is utterly terrifying. This world has two major thought groups and both can seem ideal when glanced out, but they both contain a multitude of unsettling ideas and practices…and then there is Jess and his group, stuck between two giants clashing and steadily gaining the ire of both. Ash and Quill gives us an even wider view of the madness happening in the world, and also the reach of the Library. Paper and Fire brought the country to country turmoil to the forefront with Wales and England, and this one shows us what happens when the Library finds itself dealing with dissension from once allies.

I am so glad that this book puts those odd grey areas in the spotlight. There is no good and bad movement, both have incredible goals marred by sickening practices. Our group isn’t full of people with sparkling pasts who make decisions to stand in the line of fire without a single thought, they are people who have fear and anger. They mistrust each other all while protecting each other. I think these sort of complex interworkings are why I adore these characters so much. They have all grown so much and I find myself loving characters I once felt somewhat indifferent to. Jess understands what having a family means, Dario is still an ass but incredibly loveable, and Kalila has become the quiet power of the group. And Morgan…Morgan is shaping up to be something else entirely. Her story is growing in ways I never expected and I’m both super excited and apprehensive to see where it all takes her. The relationships that have formed make me almost heartsick especially Santi and Wolfe, I absolutely live for the small scenes where we see them sharing a moment.

As usual, he narration for this one is absolutely excellent! I am almost saddened by the fact that I have an early copy of Smoke and Iron because it means I’ll miss out on Julian Eiffier reading it to me.

I am super excited to be moving on to book four!

  • Dark Mirror

  • A Tale from The Legend of Drizzt
  • By: R. A. Salvatore
  • Narrated by: Dan Harmon
  • Length: 1 hr and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 227
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 209
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 211

Dan Harmon, creator of NBC's Community and known Dungeons & Dragons aficionado, tells the tale of when Drizzt stands face-to-face with his own prejudices.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Need a introduction to Drizzt, here you go ...

  • By Dree of Charlotte on 08-17-14

Enjoyable Dip Back into Drizzt's World

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 08-29-18

I kind of read this out of order because of a reading challenge I have, but it was still really easy to follow and a great little addition to the overall series. I like the focus on being more than what people assume you are, and Drizzt's inner battle over this. I definitely need to get back into these books.

  • Homeland

  • Legend of Drizzt: Dark Elf Trilogy, Book 1
  • By: R. A. Salvatore
  • Narrated by: Victor Bevine
  • Length: 10 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,816
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,088
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,101

This stunning new release of the classic R.A. Salvatore novel recounts the origins of Salvatore's signature dark elf character, Drizzt Do'Urden. This title kicks off The Legend of Drizzt series, which will showcase the classic dark elf novels in these new audiobook editions.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Among the drow, all trust is foolish.

  • By Pi on 04-26-13

Happy to have finally gotten to this one!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-29-18

Finally! I have finally tackled the first book of the Drizzt series! After years of people telling me I need to get around to these books, I finally managed to actually do that, and I’m so glad I did.

Our story focuses on Drizzt Do’Urden, a young Drow elf and his life within the subterranean city of Menzobarranzan. It’s a story of almost innocent pure morality being placed up against ingrained corruption and maliciousness, and the Drizzt’s progress through the book is one of a tightrope walker. Always teetering on the verge of disaster despite being confident and skillful. I absolutely love the Drow society and how utterly unstable and screwed up it truly is. I don’t condone their awful behavior, but it’s so rare to find a society in fiction that is so viciously and uniformly formed that nearly every inhabitant is completely on board for the horrible things occurring. It’s so different from the baseline of all other societies that we know. The focus on the worship of Lloth was quite interesting as well, and in the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the gods/demons are very much a tangible thing to take note of. So seeing her influence on the Drow people and how she rewards them for underhanded tactics, and on the other hand how she abandons those who step a toe out of line, was quite interesting. I think Salvatore does an amazing job of building the somewhat closed-off world of Menzobarrenzan, spending plenty of time exploring all the dark little corners without getting bogged down in too many details.

Drizzt is an interesting main character, though I must admit to finding him a bit…obvious. A mary-sue even. The odd thing about D&D is the alignment system, which sort of pigeonholes everyone into a different morality including entire races of things. Drow are considered innately evil, which is…a bit of eye roll, BUT it works when you take in the consideration the sheer power Lloth holds over their society and the somewhat cult-like education they go through. So for Drizzt to be the one shining beacon of upstanding morals is a bit of an eye roll over all, because where does his innate ability to discern his everyday life as being horrible come from? He has no basis of comparison and the level of uniformity of the entire society doesn’t offer glimpses of other options. However, I still like him, despite his obvious heroics and his being good a damn near everything. I do think that if this had focused purely on Drizzt and less on the society I wouldn’t have been as enthused about it, but I loved how his story fits into everything as a whole.

Victor Bevine does an excellent job with his narration, and I definitely think I’ll be grabbing the rest of these books on audio as well.

If you enjoy epic fantasy on the shorter side filled with fantastic world building and prose, as well as a hero who is fighting an uphill battle against society then this one is for you! It’s certainly one to check out, even if you like lighter fantasy.

  • A Wizard of Earthsea

  • The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1
  • By: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Narrated by: Rob Inglis
  • Length: 7 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,246
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,877
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2,901

When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A little gem, excellently narrated.

  • By Marjorie on 05-14-12

Enjoyable but Missing Something

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-19-18

’ve been meaning to read a book by Ursula K. Le Guin since I first discovered her when I was about 12. I checked out a book of hers but never got around to reading it, now here I am 15 years later finally getting around to it. Better late than never!

A Wizard of Earthsea follows Ged, a young wizard who is learning the art of magic as well as the limits of the power within himself. In some ways, it’s a very typical coming of age story as Ged learns to balance his usage of magic and overcome his own arrogance. The ways in which it is not typical lies in the world itself. Earthsea is a world that is set up as a series of archipelagos. There are no large land masses where many cultures live, but instead a lot of smaller islands that can be incredibly isolated from one another. I personally enjoyed the world building, of what there is, more than the story itself. That’s not to say the story wasn’t good but it did seem to be lacking something magnetic. I formed very little personal connection with the story itself or it’s characters and felt more like a distant observer who is only getting the basic overview of events. Ursula’s writing is simple yet somewhat elegant, and I am curious to see how her writing develops over the course of the series.

Ged is a strong-willed and often times brash individual towards the beginning of the book, and I liked seeing his growth overall as he wrestles with the problems he has created. His journey to freedom from his self-imposed problem is the heart of the story and I realized that it’s actually fairly rare to have a book focus solely on the consequences of one small decision made by the main character in adolescence. However, I don’t really feel like I know Ged. The book is fairly short, but the depth of character development just isn’t there. For the first half of the book, I was severely annoyed with him as he fed into his own ego and didn’t truly care about his journey, and it wasn’t until midway through the second half that I really started to like him. The only character I really liked from the first moment was Vetch, who doesn’t get nearly enough page time. I was also thrown off by the lack of strong female characters, given that Ursula is often recommended for that exact thing. In fact, nearly all of the women in this book are either kind of ignorant or conniving. I’ve heard that she makes up for this glaring issue in other books, so there is still hope.

I rather enjoyed the audiobook of this one. I’ve listened to Rob Ingles narrate the Lord of the Rings trilogy and loved his treatment of that work, and I’m happy to say he really breathes life into this one as well. His voice work is fantastic and I love his pacing, and honestly, he made the whole thing a little more interesting.

I’m really glad that I’m reading this series with a group because while the book isn’t terrible, it doesn’t really have much that makes me want to move forward. I am curious about where the second book will go now that his major character growth is out of the way, but I’m somewhat disappointed in the rather unforgettable nature of this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • How Beauty Met the Beast

  • Book One of Tales of the Underlight
  • By: Jax Garren
  • Narrated by: Therese Plummer
  • Length: 4 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 250
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 229
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 231

The Beast Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley 'Hauk' Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He's starting to lose hope...and then he sees her. The Beauty Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn't see.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Left me wanting more...

  • By Sharon on 06-02-13

Familiar Fairy Tale with a Unique Twist

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-15-17

How Beauty Met the Beast is the first in a series that takes the familiar fairy tale and gives it a little urban fantasy twist.

The story itself is a mix of a contemporary thriller and a mysterious paranormal novel. It’s light on the fantasy and light on the steampunk, though they do play big roles in the novel but it doesn’t weight the story down any. It deals with some tougher topics like having a visible injury and the social impacts of that but stays light and fun. We even get some odd little hints that there is a lot more going on in this world than Jolie ever knew, maybe more than Hauk knew and he is more privy to the weird than normal. I really dig the background power struggle between the Underlight and those in the Order of Ananke. I do wish that we got a little more info on the Underlight as it seems really amazing, but I really look forward to seeing it explored more in the next book as Jolie becomes more acquainted with this hidden society.

While the setting and world might be a little gritty, the romance is super sweet. I love Jolie and Hauk together, and their banter, once they let go of their nerves and insecurities, is perfect. It starts out steamy but after that’s it’s a bit of a slow burn as they work up actually getting to know each other and figure out exactly how they feel, even by the books end they are still testing the waters. I read so many romance novels that all have their relationships’ beginning and end all in less than 400 pages, so it’s incredibly nice to find one that’s highly entertaining and paced in such a way that it draws out the romance just so.

Therese Plummer is a ‘new to me’ narrator and I think she did a wonderful job with Beauty. She has wonderful pacing and brings an energy to the reading that really hones in on those feel good moments.

  • Curiouser and Curiouser: Steampunk Alice in Wonderland

  • Steampunk Fairy Tales
  • By: Melanie Karsak
  • Narrated by: Lesley Parkin
  • Length: 5 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 52
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 48
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

To save the Hatter, Alice must work with the one man she despises so much that she might still love him. Alice thought she'd turned over a new leaf. No more working for Jabberwocky. No more making deals with the ruthless Queen of Hearts. No more hanging around The Mushroom with tinkers, tarts, scoundrels, and thieves in London's criminal underbelly. But she'd been bonkers to dream.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • this book is a masterpiece in itself

  • By AudioBook Reviewer on 01-29-18

Another Excellent Novel by Karsak!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-25-17

Curiouser and Curiouser is yet another hit from Melaine Karsak, one of my favorite authors. In this she takes the story of Alice in Wonderland and turns it on its head, adding something altogether new to a story very familiar with retellings.

Most readers are familiar with Alice in Wonderland, and it’s tale of whimsy. It’s off the charts strange at times, and full of characters that fit the definition of unique. Curiouser and Curiouser actually turn that tale of fantasy into something a bit more contemporary. Instead of journeying into a dream world we are treated to a story that stays in Victorian London. There are still some fantastical elements that I think were really well done. The world building is light but rich enough that I fell in love with the steampunk additions and the world of back-alley deals. I never knew an I needed a heist novel version of Alice until now, and it really makes me thirsty for even more unique retellings like this.

Alice is a young woman with a checkered past but desperately wishes to build a life outside of her former life of crime. She’s walked away from all that she knew to prove a safer life for her sister but finds herself pulled back in to protect dear friends. I love the clever way that our favorite Wonderland characters are portrayed in Curiouser, from a clockwork smiling cat to a mysterious and cruel woman obsessed with remaining young. I think James did an excellent job of paving her own way through the Wonderland mythos without losing her own style in the process. I loved that despite having the backdrop be London full of steam engines there is still a touch of the unusual in the story, which turns it darker and a tad more dire.

I have listened to Lesley Parkin in one other audio, Highland Raven, also a Melaine Karsak book and loved her work then. Curiouser and Curiouser is no exception. She does a plethora of accents and different pitches for the assortment of characters and reads through smoothly. As someone who frequently hits the 2x speed option to move things along, I am always surprised to find narrators that I simply want to enjoy. I will certainly be adding more of her work to my TBR in the future.

If you enjoy retellings, especially Alice In Wonderland ones, then this is a novel for you! In fact, this is just the start of a series of steampunk retellings with the next one being Beauty and the Beast! I’m super excited to see what Karsak has planned for my favorite tale!

I received this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.