October 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
By Gennifer Albin
Narrated by: Amanda Dolan
Audio- Unabridged 10 hours
Publisher: AudioGO Ltd
Release Date: 10/16/12
Crewel takes place in a futuristic society where people and events are woven with strands of time by Spinsters. Spinsters are generally girls chosen by their talent at weaving by the Guild in Arras. These girls are taken from their homes and families and then reside within the Guild where they practice weaving time with matter. Everything in Arras is controlled by the Guild through the spinsters such as harvesting food, childbirth, and even when and how someone dies.
Adelice is unique in Arras society in that she is able to weave the strands of time without a loom. From when, as a child, she first discovers this ability, Adelice’s parents work fervently to teach her how to cover it up so that she is not selected by the Guild who they do not trust. When, at her testing, she is among those chosen to be come a spinster, and is singled out among the others at the Guild, Adelice finds herself not knowing who she can trust.
The audio was read by Amanda Dolan who does a fairly good job narrating this rather tedious story. At times I thought she may have went a little overboard making some of the characters sound patronizing and condescending, but for the most part I enjoyed her narration.
While Crewel certainly has an original storyline even for a dystopian, there was far too much of the society that simply pushed the bounds of believability too far for me. For example, if Adelice and the other spinsters were controlled by this sinister Guild, why didn’t they just weave things differently? It was made very clear in the story that the spinsters were the only ones powerful enough to control their reality, I don’t understand the power this Guild had over the spinsters. Also, Adelice experiences some traumatic events very early on in the story, but she seems to just kind of accept them without much emotional impact and goes about her business. She put much more thought and energy into the awkwardly contrived love triangle than she did into events that would have devastated the average teen. But then Adelice is also exceptional in EVERY way, which was yet another issue I had with the book.
For the most part, I enjoyed the writing style. I didn’t have to struggle through the audio and finished fairly quickly for a 10 hour audio. But for me, the characters were flat and lacked authenticity and the world building was confusing and left more questions than answers. The sudden ending left me feeling a bit perplexed. It just sort of cut off without any resolution at all. It wasn’t so much a cliffhanger as it simply felt unfinished.
While Crewel just wasn’t for me, there are many people who really enjoyed it. Check out Sam’s review at Realm of Fiction for another perspective.
2 out of 5 stars
October 13, 2012 § 6 Comments
by: Tina Connolly
Published October 2nd 2012 by Tor Books
series: Ironskin #1
Set in a alternate-history Britain, Jane Eliot, the MC, wears an iron mask over half of her face to protect others from the curse she holds there. In the last fey war she had been hit with shrapnel from exploding fey magic, like many others, but unfortunately her injury is much more visible which causes her some social awkwardness and makes it difficult for her to find and keep a job. Jane finally finds employment with the mysterious and reclusive Edward Rochart caring for his daughter Dorie who seems to have fey magic in abundance, which is frowned upon in society. She needs to help Dorie learn how to do simple things like eat, drink, and play without using that magic. At the same time, she seems to be drawn to the secretive Edward.
Apparently Ironskin is based on Jane Eyre, which I haven’t read, so I don’t know how it compares but from the very beginning, Ironskin had my attention with the unique way fey magic was presented. The fact that Jane carried this curse on her face that, without the iron mask, would seriously affect those she came into contact with was fascinating to me. That magic also affected her moods and she had to consciously try to tamp down the emotions stirred up by the fey curse.
The way Dorie used magic was interesting as well. This small child had never learned to properly use her hands to care for herself, using magic instead. I felt so sorry for her at times, she seemed so lonely and desperate for her father’s love and attention. Edward, however, remains distant and locked away in his room of masks.
While the unique way magic and the fey were presented was what I enjoyed most about Ironskin, the alternate history and straightforward writing style also worked for me. The relationships between the characters were very subtle and at times puzzling. The slight romance between Jane and Edward felt a bit stilted but I enjoyed the way Jane interacted with Dorie, as well as the rest of the background characters. The dialog felt authentic and I enjoyed the whole gothic feel to the story as a whole. I would definitely recommend it to fans of gothic romance, alternate history fantasy, and steampunk.
Rating 4 of 5
October 10, 2012 § 4 Comments
Author: Kat Zhang
Series: The Hybrid Chronicles
Published September 18th 2012 by HarperCollins
What’s Left of Me explores what it might be like to be an unwelcome guest in your own body, within your own mind. In this world, each body is born inhabited by two souls. By age 7, most children have "settled", meaning the recessive soul has faded away leaving only the dominant soul. When this doesn’t happen, those left with two souls past puberty are considered hybrid. Hybrids are considered sick and dangerous and are sought out by the government to be hospitalized and corrected.
Addie is the dominant soul in this story, Eva the recessive. They have spent the past few years pretending that Eva has faded until a schoolmate finds out their secret. The schoolmate, Hally, and her brother Devin are also secretly hybrids as well as being foreign which means they are distrusted in the current political climate. Eva wants to trust them but Addie isn’t so sure, the consequences if their secret were revealed could be deadly.
The story is told from Eva’s point of view and was at times very poignant as I was forced to consider what it would be like having to constantly live in my own head pretending that I don’t exist to the outside world. The relationship between Addie and Eva felt genuine and the feeling between the two was expressed beautifully in the dialog they shared. With two souls inhabiting the body of each of the characters, you would think that the story would be confusing. Surprisingly, it was not. Each soul had their own individual voice and were easily identified.
I think that Eva was an especially well written character. Her great longing to be acknowledged, her loneliness, and her genuine love for Addie was expressed with poignancy and emotion and I found myself continually drawn to her.
I enjoyed the unusual storyline, the relationships between the characters, and the beautiful writing that compelled me to continue reading late into the night. If I have one complaint about What’s Left of Me it is that I would have liked to have had more information about the world and why children were born with two souls and why not settling is considered so dangerous.
Rating – 4 of 5
October 4, 2012 § 3 Comments
The Casual Vacancy [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]
by J. K. Rowling (Author),
Tom Hollander (Narrator)
Listening Length: 17 hours and 55 minutes
Audible.com Release Date: September 27, 2012
Secrets, Sabotage, and Scandal or Oh the things muggles get up to…
Casual Vacancy tells the story of a small community in the aftermath of the unexpected death of one of its community leaders and council members, Barry Fairbrother. Several of Fairbrother’s peers are ready and willing to fill his empty council seat but not everyone is happy with the nominees. Suddenly this small town is like an episode of Gossip Girl as somebody claiming to be Barry Fairbrother’s ghost begins posting on the council’s website and outing all of the member’s dirty little secrets (XoXo) And while all of the adults are plotting, planning, and pointing fingers, who is watching their kids? These parents may have underestimated their teens’ resentments as they focus all of their energy on their position in the community.
I listened to the Audible audio version of this and the narration was brilliant. He didn’t really change his voice for the characters much, he simply told the story but his voice and tone was so pleasant that I was able to lose myself completely in the story. I would absolutely recommend listening to this on audio.
What’s great about Casual Vacancy is the authenticity of the characters and the way Rowling so insightfully exposes the uglier side of human nature, the fears and insecurities that sometimes motivate people to do the things they do. While Casual Vacancy is about an empty council seat, the real meat and potatoes of the story is in the interactions between these characters and the complexities of those relationships. Of all the many personalities in this story, I thought that the teenagers were written exceptionally well, not surprisingly. And although the plot revolves around the empty council seat, the children definitely play a big role in this story.
There were a lot of characters with a lot of interaction between all of them which sometimes made it difficult for me to remember who was married to who and which kid belonged to which parent but I can see that cutting even one of the many personalities would have taken something significant away from the story. The only negative about the charcaters being so genuine and familiar is that it felt a bit like spying on your neighbors. It’s all deliciously scandalous what they get up to, but only if you know them personally. Otherwise, no one really cares because they’re just like everyone else’s’ neighbors.
Where Casual Vacancy didn’t work for me was in the plot. It’s almost as if she created these complex, multi-faceted characters and then threw together these unexceptional circumstances so they could interact. For most of the book, I was honestly pretty bored with the storyline. But about 2/3s of the way through, I began to really enjoy the story. Just getting there as a bit slow. The complex characters and wonderful writing might be enough to pull a reader through a plot that is like slogging through quicksand. The question is, was the payoff at the end enough to make that tedious journey worth it. Ultimately, for me it was.
It’s JK Rowling so it is no surprise that the writing was stellar. At one point, when I complained about how slow moving the story was, a friend asked me if I would have even kept reading if it would have been any other author. My reply was, if it had been any other author, I would have never picked this book up. I had to keep this fact in mind when listening to Casual Vacancy because I thought maybe that is why many people are having such an issue with this book. A book like this might not appeal to many of Rowling’s fan base being so far from what they enjoyed about the Harry Potter series.
There were several laugh out loud moments and I especially enjoyed some of the eccentricities of the characters. The pacing of the story was slow and steady, with emphasis on the "slow". I did like that Casual Vacancy wrapped up all the loose ends by the end even though some of those loose ends seemed like they were tied up a little too conveniently to feel genuine. Overall, it was a lot darker than I expected which certainly increased my enjoyment of it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for fans of Harry Potter, but perhaps for fans of General fiction.
October 2, 2012 § 6 Comments
Scott Nicholson does spooky like no one else I know, so what better way to kick off the month of Halloween than with his novel-The Home and an awesome giveaway!
Enter the Rafflecopter to win your choice of a Kindle Fire, Nook HD, or Kobo Glo, as well as signed books and audiobooks in the Home for Halloween giveaway from author Scott Nicholson.
The giveaway celebrates the launch of paranormal thriller The Home. Experiments at a group home for troubled children lead to paranormal activity—and the ghosts are from the home’s dark past as an insane asylum. In development as a feature, it’s available in ebook at Amazon US, Amazon UK, BN.com, Kobo, and Smashwords.
EXCERPT: THE HOME
By Scott Nicholson
(From Chapter 10)
Starlene loved Group. The setting was perfect for teaching socialization skills while also gaining the children’s trust. In group therapy, she could be a “facilitator,” though she hated that word for it. A facilitator was someone who was structured and inflexible, who “empowered” others while not taking much personal risk. She thought of her job as more like “witnessing,” showing others the blessings she’d discovered and which all could share in.
“Hey, guys,” she said, looking into each face in turn.
“You’re late,” Deke said.
“And I apologize. Adults have to apologize sometimes, too, don’t they, Freeman?”
Freeman winced, twitched one corner of his mouth, and said nothing.
“You going to make us talk about something, or do we just got to sit here for an hour?” Deke said.
“I think it’s better when we get things out in the open,” Starlene said.
“Because sharing is caring,” Freeman said.
She ignored his sarcasm. Many placements came to Wendover with a wall around their hearts. You couldn’t hammer through the wall; battering at it only made the wall stronger. Love was better. Love seeped through the cracks and melted the wall away, eroded its base until the stones crumbled. “We do care, Freeman.”
Deke glowered at Freeman, then at Starlene. He looked around the circle, at the children sitting in their straight-backed chairs, making sure he had an audience. “Not all of us care, Freaky Freeman.”
Starlene was about to quiet Deke, then decided the group dynamic might be more interesting if she let the children lead the discussion themselves. If only Deke’s natural leadership skills didn’t turn nasty so easily. Six years in therapy, according to the case file, and Deke was no closer to adjusting to society than he’d ever been. Still, the Lord and her professional obligation required her to have hope for him.
But patience was a demanding virtue. That was one of the warnings that her Psych teachers had burned home, that occasionally you’d feel like slapping little Johnny across the face. No matter that he had been abused and suffered a neurochemical imbalance and was diagnosed with an adjustment disorder, you sometimes had to wonder if a particular brand of vermin was, and always would be, a rat.