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kara-karina

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  • The Lost Plot

  • The Invisible Library, Book 4
  • By: Genevieve Cogman
  • Narrated by: Susan Duerden
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 188
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 170

After being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A good entry in a great series

  • By Marcus on 02-06-18

Strong, neat series, and I loved this installment!

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

Reviewed: 07-04-18

I always really enjoy listening to Genevieve Cogman's stories. The world-building of The Invisible Library is very original, and because it's a multitude of alternative worlds, I don't imagine we, as readers, would ever tire of it.


Irene is an extremely engaging, resourceful and self-possessed heroine. No matter what circumstances throw at her, she is able to wing it in a most spectacular fashion.


Kai is coming into his own as well, and while Vale is barely here in this book, he is a fabulous character even in his cameo appearance.


There are a few things Irene and Kai have to juggle in this book, but ultimately it involves dragons, big time. A competition between two powerful dragons endanger The Library's neutrality, and Irene and Kai very much like black ops, are given the mission to rectify it. If they succeed, no one will know; if they fail, all hell breaks loose, and The Library will deny all knowledge of what was happening. This is a tangle of bureaucracy and political intrigues, so business as usual for our duo.


The setting is what makes this book so immensely entertaining. Who doesn't love the atmosphere of Prohibition era's New York? Add to it, that Irene on arrival is mistaken for a British crime lord and spends her time manoeuvring between police and local gangsters making fake deals, while Kai works in the shadows on their mission, and the reader has a fabulous time with this book!


Of course, trying to keep it all quiet doesn't work, not with two dragons trying to outdo each other to the point of destabilisation of this whole world. Irene and Kai have to bring out the big guns and answer for the showdown later.


The ending is bittersweet, and puts Irene and Kai in an uncharted territory. Overall, this felt like a transitional read to give us a breather from the overall plot arch of battle between good and evil. Strong, neat, original series, peeps. I've been enjoying it very much. Recommended.

  • The Tiger's Daughter

  • By: K Arsenault Rivera
  • Narrated by: Caroline McLaughlin
  • Length: 14 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 39
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 33
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 32

The Hokkaran Empire has conquered every land within their bold reach - but failed to notice a lurking darkness festering within the people. Now their border walls begin to crumble, and villages fall to demons swarming out of the forests. Away on the silver steppes, the remaining tribes of nomadic Qorin retreat and protect their own, having bartered a treaty with the empire, exchanging inheritance through the dynasties. It is up to two young warriors, raised together across borders since their prophesied birth, to save the world from the encroaching demons.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Writing format that didn't work for this book

  • By kara-karina on 02-24-18

Writing format that didn't work for this book

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

Reviewed: 02-24-18

2.5/5
The best thing about this book is its narrator, Caroline McLaughlin. I found her voice very easy to listen to in an otherwise pretty boring book.

It always surprises me how someone can take a sound, exciting idea and flush it down the drain with the execution. The promise of this plot sounded amazing. Two lesbian warrior queens destined to fall in love and fight demons with their special magical powers in a vaguely Asian fantasy background.

The reality is there is very little actual plot development or demon fighting or anything. Instead, the plot consists of Shefali's love letters to Shizika in which she reminisces about what actually happened to them both in a flowery prose. A lot of it happened in her head, I might add. And she felt the need to write about it.

As a consequence, what the characters know and don't feel the need to explain is not spelled to us, and a lot of possibly fascinating details and nuances are lost.

There is a whole backstory of their mothers, legendary warriors larger than life, whom are barely mentioned. There are complexities of Shizika's position as a heir to the throne to her evil uncle emperor, and the tension between them is explored on the shallowest level. There is an issue of Shefali's contamination and her early ability to speak to demons which is never explored. At last, there are magical powers both girls are born with, and author's lack of enthusiasm in using them.

At last, the heroines themselves are not likeable. Shizika is distant, angry and has a huge chip on her shoulder. Shefali is introverted and awkward with a puppy adoration she carries for her best friend, which I found slightly annoying.

There was just so much unused potential and missed world-building opportunities, folks, that I ended up being disappointed and annoyed instead of enjoying The Tiger's Daughter. In all honesty, not recommended.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Firebrand

  • A Steeplejack Novel
  • By: A. J. Hartley
  • Narrated by: Noma Dumezweni
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

Once a steeplejack, Anglet Sutonga is used to scaling the heights of Bar-Selehm. Nowadays she assists politician Josiah Willinghouse behind the scenes of Parliament. The latest threat to the city-state: Government plans for a secret weapon are stolen and feared to be sold to the rival nation of Grappoli. The investigation leads right to the doorsteps of Elitus, one of the most exclusive social clubs in the city. In order to catch the thief, Ang must pretend to be a foreign princess and infiltrate Elitus.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Delightful Sequel

  • By Keri Owen on 08-12-18

A refreshing and original new voice!

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

Reviewed: 11-28-17

Firebrand gets another high rating from yours truly, because it's an exceptionally original story with a unique voice.

First, the narrator on audio, Noma Dimezweni. I adore her! She truly brought Ang and all the supporting characters to life.

Secondly, as a mystery this book truly connected to the current state of events. Sometimes it even felt like I was watching news instead of reading urban fantasy. All the indicators were there: wars, unemployment, refugee crisis and the oppression of certain races based on their skin color.

Ang continues working for the young and ambitious politician, Josiah Willinghouse and his sister Dahria, and this time her task as a detective is to follow the traces of stolen plans for a devastating war machine which lead to an exclusive private club, Elitus.

Ang's choices are to give up her promising career or wear a disguise and mix with the wealthy in order to steal the plans back or to reveal the culprits.

Enter a mysterious, reclusive Madam Nahreem who takes over Ang's training to create a disguise of an exotic visiting princess from faraway lands.

This, ladies and gents, was my favorite part of the book, because it challenged Ang's perception of herself as an inferior being and forced her to grow as a character. It was also a very tense and exciting affair, and I expect her to wear more similar masks in the future.

Otherwise, expect reckless rooftop races, a twisted mystery, an elegant villain, grisly secrets and a dark mythological creature come to life.

Much recommended to fans of YA Mystery and non - European steampunk. I am looking forward to more of A.J. Hartley's unique storytelling.

  • The Sunlight Pilgrims

  • By: Jenni Fagan
  • Narrated by: Steven Cree
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 11
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10

Set in a Scottish caravan park during a freak winter - it is snowing in Jerusalem, the Thames is overflowing, and an iceberg separated from the Fjords in Norway is expected to arrive off the coast of Scotland - The Sunlight Pilgrims tells the story of a small Scottish community living through what people have begun to think is the end of times. Bodies are found frozen in the street with their eyes open; midst economic collapse, schooling and health care are run primarily on a voluntary basis.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Beautiful writing, terrible ending

  • By kara-karina on 08-19-17

Beautiful writing, terrible ending

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

Reviewed: 08-19-17

I am actually torn about this book.

On one hand, the writing is beautiful, no question about it. It's introspective, meditative, poetic. The characters are fascinating and lovingly drawn.
The atmosphere reminded me of The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.

On the other hand, I did not like how the narration jumped through the timeline without rhyme or reason, and I especially did not like the ending.

It was like: all the build-up, and the whole thing stopped mid sentence. If I was Sheldon Cooper it would have driven me nuts.

Dylan, Constance and Stella are extremely charismatic. I especially adored Stella, a transgender teen in a small community whose dreams and plans are derailed by the very inconvenient apocalypse.

Constance who glued Dylan and Stella together, was an enigmatic woman but I couldn't understand what drove her tumultuous relationships. What such an interesting woman did with two very ordinary men ( who are actually hardly playing any roles in this book)?

Dylan with his internal strength and calm facade grounded Constance and her daughter, and I loved how drawn he was to them. It felt like fate to me.

Their mutual neighbor was a sweetheart as well, and I loved how lively and believable all his grumpy dialogues were. I could absolutely imagine this happening in real life.

Steven Cree, the narrator, did a decent job, and for me the book flowed really well.

Overall, despite my disappointment with the ending, it's a recommended read. Purely for its gorgeous poetic language. However, I would hesitate to pick up this author again because I hate feeling cheated by my own expectations. *grins* It's up to you to risk it or not.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Forged by Flames

  • Dragon's Breath Series, Book 3
  • By: Susan Illene
  • Narrated by: Marguerite Gavin
  • Length: 9 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 126
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 113

Ever since dragons invaded Earth, Bailey Monzac and other survivors have had to adjust to a new world order. But a new threat is emerging that could destroy everything they've been struggling to rebuild - for both man and beast. There's an artifact out there that can control dragons, and many would seek to possess it for dark purposes. It's going to be up to Bailey, her dragon shape-shifter ally Aidan, and their friends to embark on a long and arduous quest to recover the relic before it falls into the wrong hands.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • YES-YES-YES--getting better with each book!

  • By LOYL-00 on 05-31-17

A classic quest

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

Reviewed: 05-21-17

3.5/5

Damn, this book has left me restless.


Forged by Flames is a classic quest which was a nice transition book after the previous story arc ended.

Bailey, Aidan, Conrad, Miles, Danae, and Aidan's uncle and sister are travelling together to different parts of the US to reassemble a magical orb which can control dragon shifters, dragon slayers, and magic users. They have to go through a few trials, and in the process learn important things about their history and mutual origins.


You see, this part was really fascinating to me, and I wanted to know more.


I also loved Aidan's change of heart about his relationship with Bailey and their mutual character growth. Really nicely done!


Conrad was a sweetheart continuously providing comic relief but we also found out an intriguing backstory to Aidan's sister and Miles & Danae.


At the same time, the plot in parts lost focus, and I didn't feel like some storylines were wrapped up successfully. The witch or Aidan's brother, for example.


Saying all that, it was a pleasant, smooth read, and I'm looking forward to this series expanding its world-building in the future. Recommended.

  • Future Threat

  • By: Elizabeth Briggs
  • Narrated by: Erin Spencer
  • Length: 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 13
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future, from where they brought back secret information - but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena's dealing with her survivor's guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she's done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • This one is sooooo mondo!!

  • By Ryan Hooey on 03-31-17

A solid, entertaining, fast-paced listen!

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

Reviewed: 05-21-17

Surprisingly, Elizabeth Briggs did not suffer from the dreaded second book syndrome. In fact, Future Threat is even better than Future Shock. It's pretty non-stop action, breathless and tense.


Six months after their return Chris, Elena and Adam get on with their lives when Aether Corporation forces them to do them a favour. To be left alone for the rest of their lives and to be paid handsomely they are coerced to go back to the future and retrieve a new team which has gone awol.


Not surprisingly, everything goes tits up, someone ends up dead. In shock and facing their worst fears, the travellers are trying to return and fix their mistakes.


They fail. Again and again. And every time, the future twists into a darker version of itself while their window of opportunity narrows to an almost non-existent last chance.


I really liked how different the versions of future were depending on their previous choices. I also enjoyed the addition of the new secondary characters. They were crackers!


Adam and Elene made for a cute couple, but their involvement never overwhelmed the plot. I found their struggles with each other pretty realistic as well.


And I adored Chris! Pity he had so little airtime, but maybe next time?


Overall, solid, enjoyable sci-fi YA. Very well-written and superbly narrated on audio. Recommended.

  • Anno Dracula 1899

  • And Other Stories
  • By: Kim Newman
  • Narrated by: William Gaminara
  • Length: 12 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 13
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 11

A brand-new collection of chilling stories by master of horror Kim Newman, in which Jack the Ripper still stalks the streets, Frankenstein's monster rises from the Arctic ice, and the terrifying legacy of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde haunts fog-shrouded London. This volume also includes a brand-new exclusive Anno Dracula story, 'Yokai Town: Anno Dracula 1899', which sets the scene for the forthcoming novel Anno Dracula 1999: Daikaiju.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Some gems here

  • By kara-karina on 03-19-17

Some gems here

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

Reviewed: 03-19-17

I actually requested this book for review by mistake, peeps. I've wanted to read Anno Dracula for a long time and thought this was the actual novel and not the collection of stories.


Oh, well. I did enjoy some of the stories, and I did get a feel for Kim Newman's writing which is very much a mix between Justin Cronin and Joe Hill.


So, the stories.


FAMOUS MONSTERS

A bit of a drab reminiscence of a Martian's acting career. Not an auspicious start.


A DRUG ON THE MARKET

I got a kick out of this one, peeps. Someone revises Jekyll & Hyde's formula for the mass market with all the fun in the marketing and after effects.


ILLIMITABLE DOMINION & JUST LIKE EDDY

While I listened to both of these twice, I could not concentrate on the narrative it was so boring. Verdict: skip.


AMERIKANSKI DEATH AT THE MOSCOW MORGUE

Super creepy, trippy & entertaining. A fascinating concept of a world after the zombie apocalypse in the end of the 80s - beginning of the 90s in Moscow. I got another kick out of this one.


THE CHILL CLUTCH OF THE UNSEEN

30 Days of Night but the old guy in the chair is conversing with the monster instead. Boring.


ONE HIT WANDA

As in "one hit wonder", it's a fun story about a band with a cursed hit song which they can't stop singing.


IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?.

Another fabulous concept of a medium from 1920s trolled by a modern hacker, whom she entraps like a common spirit. Really entertaining.


THE INTERVENTION

This one left me confused. Either I missed something or wasn't clever enough to understand it.


RED JACKS WILD

One of my favorites, it's about a real Jack the Ripper hunting down his copycats. It was so good, I'd have loved to read a full novel about it.


SARAH MINDS THE DOG

It starts light and cute and quickly twists into something so much darker. It made me quite uncomfortable.


THE SNOW SCULPTURES OF XANADU & THE PALE SPIRIT PEOPLE

Not memorable at all. My mind kept wandering, and I could not understand the stories, especially the first one.


UBERMENSCH!

Awesome read. This was about a German Superman who worked with Nazis and is being interviewed years after by a monster hunter after the Wall collapsed. So freaking good.



COASTAL CITY

Meh. Not worth the read.



COMPLETIST HEAVEN

Another meh. It was really tiring to listen to this one, and I'm sure the narrator didn't enjoy the mad recitation as well.



UNE ETRANGE AVENTURE DE RICHARD BLAINE

Another good story involving Nazis hunting monsters in Paris. Very atmospheric.



FRANKENSTEIN ON ICE

I loved the concept! It would have made a fab movie, and it reminded me of Justin Cronin the most.


YOKAI TOWN: ANNO DRACULA 1899

Now, this was a good introduction to the actual novel, which I now want to read. Vampires and samurai in the same script seem like a win-win scenario to me.


Overall, it's not a good collection. There are a few excellent stories hidden among average ones, which does not improve your reading/listening experience, - that's why my rating was pretty low. Choose for yourself if it's worth the read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Burning Page

  • The Invisible Library, Book 3
  • By: Genevieve Cogman
  • Narrated by: Susan Duerden
  • Length: 10 hrs and 38 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 283
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 262
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 261

Never judge a book by its cover...Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency to find both Irene and her apprentice, Kai - a dragon prince - and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle...

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Do I smell a seris?

  • By Stephanie on 02-06-17

Lost opportunities to shine, but a good read

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

Reviewed: 02-03-17

I admit that I've enjoyed The Masked City much more than The Burning Page which in comparison felt muted. Still, there was plenty going on for the reader or listener not to get bored.


Alberich is a much more prominent character in this book, and there are several confrontations between him and Irene which kept me on the edge of my seat.


Irene is still the star of the show, but she's lost some of her flair. I only saw a glimpse of her old self when she was confronting the weres, otherwise, she was keeping a fairly low profile.


Kai and Vale were more in the background to my disappointment, I felt that their brilliance could have been better used than just for the roles of Irene's flunkies. However, there is a good reason for their subdued roles. Kai is suffering from PTSD after what he went through in the previous book, and Vale is fighting off chaos infestation which tries to turn him into an archetype figure.



The foray into alternative Russian Empire with Catherine The Great's court was a lovely side story and a colourful one, but again the chances to interact with dragons who were prominent in that world weren't used.


The narrator was wonderful as usual, but the book itself was a series of lost opportunities to truly shine. So, we went from spectacular book #2 to a decent book #3. No matter what, though, I'll be continuing this innovative and utterly lovely series, and hope you'll do the same.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Steeplejack

  • By: A. J. Hartley
  • Narrated by: Noma Dumezweni
  • Length: 11 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 72
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 66

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga lives repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of the city of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside each other. The white Feldish command the nation's higher echelons of society. The native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there's Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated over generations ago as servants and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm's edges.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Steeplejack Audio Climbs the Tops of Storytelling

  • By Kerra Bolton on 12-08-16

Refreshing and original with a wonderful narrator!

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

Reviewed: 01-22-17

I have to give major kudos to this book for the creativity. It's rich, full of steampunk elements and takes place on the African continent. The narrator adds to the atmosphere with the cadence of her voice, and I just loved Steeplejack on audio partly because of her!


The investigation itself is not the strongest part of the plot, and I wasn't convinced by Ang's mostly intuitive jumps to conclusions/ I don't think she made for a good detective, and she certainly shouldn't have been offered the job. There was absolutely no reason for her to be primary. It would have made more sense to have her as a consultant helping the police investigation. Having said all that, I loved this book in so many other ways.


The different cultures, skin colours and clashes in technological advances made Bar-Selehm a fascinating place.


Ang is in a difficult position from the start. She is an outsider in her own tribe, she has no influence among the ruling race to go through her investigation successfully, and she doesn't know who to trust within the other tribe, which is in even worse condition than her own. She also decides to take care of her sister's newborn, which is sheer madness if you ask me and which she soon realises as well.


Her superior and his sister, the police detective, the Mahweni girl: they are all fabulous secondary characters and make for some vivid scenes. Take the chimney episode, for example. I was holding my breath there.


Overall, despite a choppy investigation, I really loved this book. It was original, refreshing and superbly atmospheric, so I hope to read more from A.J. Hartley soon. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Iron Cast

  • By: Destiny Soria
  • Narrated by: Christine Marshall
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 29
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 27
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 27

It's Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. Onstage, hemopaths - whose "afflicted" blood gives them the ability to create illusions through art - Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny's crowds, and by day they con Boston's elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realizes how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron's hires are shot, and Johnny disappears.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Really enjoyed it, a great debut!

  • By kara-karina on 11-01-16

Really enjoyed it, a great debut!

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

Reviewed: 11-01-16

The year is 1919. Boston on the verge of Prohibition is teeming with hemopaths: people with magical talents which develop suddenly in their teens, and a strong aversion to iron. Corinne and Ada - two sixteen year-olds work in an underground club Cast Iron as its star performers, but six months ago using their talents became illegal, and they rely more and more on tricking crooks to part with their money to keep the club which is their safe haven afloat.


Both girls are very different but suit each other well. Corinne's talent is weaving illusions through reading poetry aloud. She comes from a posh family which flits from one high society event to another to strengthen their power base, and they are known for their anti-hemopaths stance. Ada can coax any emotion she wants and fog people's memories through her music. She is half-Portuguese, half Swahili and came to Johnny, their boss to keep her momma afloat while her father is serving time in prison wrongly accused of stealing the money from work. Ada is reserved and doesn't part with her own emotions easily, instead hoarding them almost to her own detriment.


When hemopaths start disappearing from the streets of Boston, rumours place them in Havesham asylum for afflicted of the blood where they are allegedly tortured and experimented upon. Corinne and Ada are forced to find out for themselves if there is any truth in it which almost costs them their lives, and soon both girls and their friends are fighting for their survival and the future of their kind while trying to keep their club from getting shut.


Iron Cast is undoubtedly character-driven book, and the girls with their supporting cast of Gabriel, Saint, Charlie, Madelaine and James are fantastic. At the same time, the world-building and the writing style reminded me of Mary Robinette Kowal's historical fantasies, and Libba Bray's The Diviners.


This is an atmospheric read, full of slang of the era and gorgeous poetry which comes to life beautifully under the narrator's touch. It also didn't shy away from the topics of violence, racism and inequality, while keeping the book clean sex-wise. It had this wry, sarcastic feel to it, and I will definitely keep an eye on this author in the future. Recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful