Review: Crewel by Gennifer Albin

October 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

Crewel

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.

Rating

2 out of 5 stars

Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang

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

Review: Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

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.

Review- The Forest of Hands and Teeth

September 18, 2012 § 11 Comments

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

                                                            by Carrie Ryan

                                                            Narrated by Vane Millon
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #1)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is reminiscent of the movie The Village, a group of people are living in a small isolated village surrounded by a high fence which separates them from the undead, or as the book calls them, the unconsecrated. The main character, Mary, is out doing her daily chores as the zombies claw at the fence trying desperately to get inside, when suddenly the sirens blare signalling an emergency, possibly a breach. This emergency begins a series of events which dramatically alter Mary and the rest of the villager’s day to day existence. While the villagers look to the Sister’s to answer their questions and explain god’s will, the Sister’s may be hiding some secrets that could endanger their very existence. Meanwhile, Mary’s main concern is that the brother that she is crushing on has chosen her best friend to marry and she might be stuck with the other brother instead.

I listened to the audio of this and I would not recommend it to anyone considering reading this. You should read it in either print or ebook format. The narrator was very lifeless and monotone and frequently used odd pronunciation. She also, for some unknown reason, used a spanish-like accent for some of the characters which just didn’t fit in a story where the characters had all lived in the same isolated village for generations. I felt like either ALL of the characters should have an accent, or NONE of the characters should have an accent.

I have such a mixed opinion about The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I really enjoyed the story but found Mary, the main character, to be absolutely insufferable. I would say that she is one of the most well written godawful characters I’ve ever read. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a more frustratingly selfish main character. I can’t even call her a “heroine” because all she really manages to do is put people in a lot of really bad situations. Apparently, throughout Mary’s life her mother had told her stories about life before the zombies and many stories in particular about the ocean. So now Mary’s only obsession, other than which brother she loves that day, is making her way to the ocean regardless of who she puts in danger to do it, even though she’s not completely sure if it even exists.

I actually found most of the players to be rather 2 dimensional and spiritless and I spent most of my time hoping one of them would be eaten by a zombie. Mary’s brother was the only one who showed a bit of personality sometimes, unfortunately it wasn’t exactly a winning personality. He was a bit of an asshat. The two brothers were equally insufferable as they constantly made long winded angst filled declarations of their devotion to Mary who couldn’t make up her mind which one she loved. I was hoping zombies would eat them too.

 ‎“He’s so tender, so eager to make me happy in ways that no one else has. Tears start to crowd in my eyes and my body begins to respond to this man as if it were his brother whispering into my ear. As if my body can’t tell the difference between the two, between their whispers and the feel of their breath on my flesh.”

The fact that she basically admitted that she was just a run of the mill ho almost made her character a little more interesting than she had been up to this point. I was still hoping a zombie would eat her though….

On the other hand, the writing and world building was wonderful and the flow of the plot was evenly paced and enjoyable. I honestly don’t understand how I liked a book so much when I didn’t like any of the people in it. Some of the instances when the villagers were going about their day to day existence and the author would describe the scene with zombies just feet away literally breaking their fingers off in the fence trying to get in and a constant cacophony of undead moans was the  background noise to the point that only its absence was notable. This world was so creepy and written in such a matter of fact way that I could really feel the hopelessness of this kind of existence. This book definitely left me with some haunting images of what unthinkable things could happen in such a world.

I don’t know if I’m going to continue to the next book. As much as I loved the writing and story, the ending left me hating the main character even more than I had through the story and I really don’t care what happens to her unless it includes being eaten by a zombie.

Review: The Immortal Rules

August 22, 2012 § 1 Comment

The Immortal Rules
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Immortal Rules is a dark, violent, edge of your seat, up all night kind of story. And it is hands down the very best book I’ve read all year. I read and loved Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, but The Immortal Rules is even better. I mean, the first line of the story starts with a public execution, and it just gets darker from there. I was 9 pages in when I knew this book would make it to my favorites list.

The world that Kagawa has created is terrifyingly brilliant with an almost post-apocalyptic or dystopian feel. The US has been decimated by a disease that almost destroyed the human race to the point that vampires, who had before hidden among humans were alarmed that their food source was being wiped out and so created cities where they ruled and kept the humans penned in like sheep under the guise of “protection”. Because outside these walled cities among the ruins of other towns and cities were inhabited by mindless scavenging “rabids” which are essentially vampire zombies. Yes, I said Vampire Zombies. So the vampires protected the humans from these things as well as provided food and necessities to the registered and in return for this protection, the humans were required to give a quota of blood every couple weeks. Those unregistered humans were not required to give blood, but they also were not given food and the penalty for stealing is death. The majority of the humans live in what is called the Fringe, outside the walls of the inner vampire sanctum, but inside the walls of the city itself and out of reach of the rabids.

The main character, Allison, was basically a street urchin, living in abandoned building, eating garbage, bugs, rats or anything just to stay alive. Allie’s bravery, loyalty, and wit quickly endeared her to me. She seemed to be always struggling with a balance between self-preservation and the need to protect those she cared about. Kagawa certainly wasn’t kind to her, this poor girl, throughout the story gets the crap kicked out of her both physically and emotionally as she attempts to hang on to her humanity. While Allie was a kick-ass main character, everyone in the story had a depth and background that made the entire story just come to life. I was drawn so deeply into this story that there were several times that my husband spoke to me from right in front of me that I didn’t even notice him standing there. (He so loves when I do that :P)

And yes, there is a bit of romance between all the blood and starvation. Vampire Zombies be damned, teens will insist upon falling in love, no matter how hopeless it seems. In this situation, however, the romance was absolutely fitting. It built so slowly from them beginning to trust one another based on their actions, then coming to understand one another’s differences. It added yet another poignant element to the story and it definitely worked, despite their differences and despite how impossible things may seem.

The writing was stellar, flawless. Kagawa effortlessly built this bleak and frightening world populated with terrifying creatures, a broken society, and a heroine with a strength built on years of pain and disappointment and yet a capacity to love that almost defies that world she grew up in. I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked up The Immortal Rules, but I know I had no idea I would be so completely blown away by this incredible story. If you haven’t read this yet, you should do so immediately.

View all my reviews

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

October 24, 2011 § 101 Comments

Spooktacular

Welcome to my stop on the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy at I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Rhiannon from The Diary of a Bookworm ! I have a couple prize packs that I’ll be giving away to celebrate Halloween, though not all of the books are Halloween related!

Prize Pack 1

The Spooktacular NOOKtacular! INTL
This prize pack features 4 incredible eBooks from 4 amazing authors plus a $20 Barnes and Noble Gift card! The eBooks can be in the eBook format of your choice.

 
1. $20 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
5. Founder by LM Long (eBook)

Prize Pack 2: US Only

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble – Young Adult

I seem to have acquired double of several books, so what better to do than give them away as Halloween Treats!! There will be 3 books in the YA Double Double Toil and Trouble Prize Pack and 3 in the Adult Pack.

1. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Hardcover)
2. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (Hardcover)
3. Glow – by Amy Kathleen Ryan (audiobook)


Double, Double, Toil and Trouble – Adult – US ONLY


Prize Pack 3


1. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex (Softcover)
2. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (ARC)
3. Death in the City of Light by David King (ARC)


To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter. eBooks are INT, others are US only. Following my blog is not required but it is appreciated, as are comments!! Last day to enter is Oct. 31. Winners will be selected by Rafflecopter on Nov 1. Winner 1 will get their choice of Prize pack, Winner 2 will select from the remaining 2 prize packs, Winner 3 will get the remaining Prize Pack. Thanks so much for stopping by, Happy Halloween and Good Luck!!

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Whisper Stories in My Ear 2011 Audio Book Challenge

December 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

As I’m sure I’ve stated many times before, listening to audio books has been my preferred way to read ever since listening to the Harry Potter series read by Stephen Fry. I find it to be so relaxing after working my regular 9-5 to relax with an audio book. I listen while laying in bed, while in the tub, while sitting at my computer playing Zuma. Stephen Fry is just one of the amazing narrators I’ve enjoyed, some other of my favorite narrators have been Tavia Gilbert who does such an incredible job with Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series, Bahni Turpin who brings Stacia Kane’s Downside series to life, and of course Neil Gaiman’s own narration of his novel The Graveyard Book. 
So all of this being said, I am excited to join Bewitched Bookworms 2011 Audio Book Challenge and hope that many of you join me. I would love to see even more audio book reviews around the book blogs. If you’re interested, head on over to Bewitched Bookworms and link up. There’s plenty of prizes to be had throughout the year as well as being able to share our reviews with one another! I look forward to having fun with this challenge. I don’t have my list ready yet, but I will update this post later with my potential 2011 audio reading list. 
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