Archive for June, 2015

July is quite a quiet month in terms of books about which I am excited.  There are three new releases which I am anticipating.

The first of these is Ian Drescher’s William Shakespeare’s The Clone Army Attacketh.  This is the second in Doescher’s reimagining of the Star Wars prequels (the original trilogy has already been adapted.)  Regular readers of my blog know how much I love these adaptations – they are witty, very clever and a lot of fun to read/listen to.  I am very disappointed, however, that neither The Phantom of Menace or The Clone Army Attacketh are available in audiobook format.  Random House Audio’s full cast productions of the original trilogy adaptations were nothing short of brilliant.  I have contented myself to preorder The Clone Army Attacketh in Kindle format, which is released on July 7th.

This month sees the publication of two novellas in series I am following.

Pale Kings and Princes is the next novella in the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy series by Cassandra Clare and guest authors.  This one is co-authored by Robin Wasserman. I adore Clare’s Shadowhunter world and have been loving these novellas to tide me over in the wait for The Dark Artifices.  Pale Kings and Princes promises to be be particularly intriguing as the blurb promises more information on the Blackthorns, main characters in the Dark Artifices.  This novella is released also on July 7th and I have preordered it on Kindle.

July 28th sees the release of Heart of Tin, the next novella in Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die series.  The second main novel in the series, The Wicked Will Rise, really whetted my appetite – I’m anxious to know more.  This novella focusses on the Tin Woodman, one of heroine Amy’s antagonists.  From what I’ve seen of the other prequels, No Place Like Oz, The Witch Must Burn and The Wizard Returns, it is not necessary to have read the novellas to enjoy the main series novels, but they help to add depth and context.  In any case, they are fun reads.  I don’t believe the novellas are available in hard copy, so I have preordered Heart of Tin in Kindle format.

On a slightly different note, I’m anxiously awaiting the launch of Apple Music in the next hour or so.  Now, I will not claim to be an expert in this area, but I do enjoy listening to music.  Currently, I use Rdio for my streaming needs and I really like it.  I don’t use a radio service.  I’m not too adventurous when it comes to exploring music.  Assuming the song library is the same as Rdio’s may main reason for considering switching is the fact that I am an Apple girl, living in an Apple world.  All my music is purchased from, or uploaded to, iTunes, and I listen to it purely on Apple devices.  It would be great to have my streaming integrated with my iTunes library.  I will let you know what I think.

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First of all happy St Jean-Baptiste to those of you in Quebec!  It’s the provincial holiday here today and we have great weather for it.

This week I finished Because You’ll Never Meet me by Leah Thomas.  I mentioned it in my last reading roundup – it’s the letter exchange between two young boys whose physical limitations leave them isolated.  I really loved the way their friendship was developed and a full review is coming soon.  

I know many people really enjoy the work of Guy Gavriel Kay, especially those who enjoy high fantasy.  I started reading The Summer Tree, but I just couldn’t get into it.  For some reason, the characters just didn’t click with me and I didn’t find myself drawn into the worldbuilding as I normally am.  In all fairness, I think it was probably more to do with my not really being in the mood for epic fantasy than any fault of the novel or writer.  I will likely revisit it at some point in the future.

This is borne out by the fact that the other book I read this week was Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  This is a YA contemporary romance and is the follow up to Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door.  This is a very easy read – sometimes I became a little frustrated that there was little conflict between the two lovers at least at the beginning.  I did love the setting though – what can be more romantic than Paris? – and it was great catching up with characters from the previous two books.  They all make cameo appearances.  I gave Isla and the Happily Ever After four stars out of five.

Actually, it’s fair to say I spent more time watching movies and TV shows this week than reading.  That’s not usual for me.  I watched all four Pirates of the Caribbean movies.  Yes, I think it’s safe to assume I wasn’t in the mood for any heavy drama!  Of course it helped that Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom are very easy on the eye…

I also watched Netflix’s new drama, Sense8.  This is about a group of eight strangers in eight different countries who suddenly find themselves linked with a psychic bond.  They need to work together to discover what has bound them and to ensure that they all remain free and safe.  I really enjoyed this series – it was an interesting concept with a clever script and well acted.  If you’ve not watched it yet, I can recommend it.

This week I went to see Pixar’s Inside Out.  It has been getting great reviews and so I had high expectations.  I’m happy to say it met and exceeded those expectations.  It is a wonderful, sweet movie both amusing and intelligent and should be a must see.

That’s about all I have for this week.  Talk to you soon!

One of the books I started listening to this week is Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas.  This is the story of two young socially isolated boys who become penpals.  Their respective issues – one is highly allergic to electricity and the other requires an electrical pacemaker – precludes their ever meeting.  I’m about a third of the way through it and am very much enjoying it.  It is written in the style of letters the two boys send to each other – which means it’s about as perfect for the audiobook format as you can get.  Both narrators are doing an excellent job.

I may do a full review on this later, so I won’t say much more.

Reading roundup – June 13th 2015Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
Series: Alpha and Omega
Format: eBook
Pages: 338 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible

Another book I started reading this week was Patricia Briggs’ Dead Heat, the fourth in her Alpha and Omega series.  I felt in the mood for some contemporary fantasy.  I’ve only just started, but so far, so good.  Briggs is usually a reliable go-to for this kind of good, and her characters are generally well-developed and interesting.  I’m beginning to feel though that she has just about come to the natural end of the stories she can tell about Mercy, Adam, Charles and Anna.  We’ll see.  I’ll keep you updated.

Not much more to add this week.   Have a good week and catch you soon!

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen – ReviewThe Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Davina Porter
Length: 18 hrs and 10 mins
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult, Young Adult
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

The Invasion of the Tearling is the second in Erika Johansen’s YA Tearling fantasy trilogy.  It continues the story of young queen Kelsea Glynn as she prepares to deal with the aftermath of her actions in the first novel, The Queen of the Tearling.

I’ll start this review by stating that I hadn’t actually intended to continue with this series, given that I had significant issues with Johansen’s worldbuilding and character development in the first book.  However, I recently read the book blurb which indicated to me that Johansen was taking clear steps to address some of the issues with the worldbuilding at least and so I decided to give the series a second chance. 

What I liked

Additional point of view character.  For this second outing, Johansen has added a second point of view character, Lily.  Lily is a woman from the pre-Crossing era who has a strange connection with our protagonist, Kelsea.  Through her eyes we learn more about the history of the Tearling’s founding and what led William Tear to strike out to begin his utopia.

I absolutely loved Lily’s story and, personally, I was far more engaged with her plight than Kelsea’s.  These sections were wonderful both from a plot point of view and character development.  Throughout, I really found myself rooting for her.  This section of the book reads more like a dystopian novel than the traditional fantasy of Kelsea’s section, but it worked very well.  

It should be noted that Lily’s section deals with some issues which are far grittier and more adult than those generally found in young adult or even new adult books, and was written in a more adult manner.  Lily is notably older than Kelsea and is in a different life stage.  It could well be that’s why I connected more with her, as I too, am older than your average young adult protagonist!

Lily’s character development was beautifully written.

Kelsea’s romantic life. Often in YA, this can be a particularly problematic area, with the romance either subjected to the inevitable love triangle or so overblown with stars and rainbows it becomes intolerable.  I get it.  First love can be awesome.  Too often though YA authors portray it through rose-tinted spectacles.  Johansen’s portrayal of this part of Kelsea’s life felt grounded in reality and was excellently written.

In general I found Kelsea more consistently written in Invasion of the Tearling than she was in Queen.  I particularly enjoyed how the connection between her and Lily played out.

The pre-Crossing history.  The promise of learning more about the founding of the Tearling was what drew me back in to give this series a second chance and Johansen certainly made good on that promise.  I loved what we got, but I’m not one hundred percent convinced, though, that she has allayed the concerns I had from the first book.  I still can’t see the logic in why Harry Potter survived the Crossing but the internal combustion engine didn’t.  We still have a lot to discover, so I’ll suspend final judgement on this aspect until after the final book.

What I didn’t like

Additional point of view.  Yes, I know I had this listed in part of my Likes; let me explain.  The two main point of view characters are in different worlds, and are at different life stages and more, importantly, are written as such.  It feels almost like two completely separate books, and I’m not certain that they are targeting the same audience.

The audio narration.  I had a bit of a problem with the audio narration.  The book is narrated by Davina Porter, who, don’t get me wrong, does a great job.  My issue is that she is best known to me as the narrator of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series.  Ms Porter has a distinctive voice and half the time I kept expecting Jamie Fraser to come sauntering into the scene.  That was my personal issue though and it may not be one for you.

In summary then, I found Invasion a stronger book than Queen of the Tearling.  That’s not to say it’s perfect by any means.  I’m still not completely certain Johansen can pull together a completely cohesive overall story arc by the end of the trilogy, but I’m invested enough that I want to read book three to find out.

I gave Invasion of the Tearling 3.5-4 stars out of five.

    four-stars

    This week I’ve been in a real reading slump.  After finishing A Natural History of Dragons, I really couldn’t decide what to read next.  I tried several books including L. E. Modesitt Jr’s The Soprano Sorceress, Star Wars: Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn and  Graphic Audio’s full cast rendition of Brandon Sanderson’s Hero of the Ages, but none of them hit the spot. I was more interested in watching Animal Planet’s Cat Daddy.  Incidentally, this week Jackson Galaxy’s autobiography, also called Cat Daddy, was one of Audible’s Daily Deals so I was happy to pick that one up.  It’s narrated by Jackson himself, so could be a very good listen.

    The Liar's KeyFinally I was able to break my slump by picking up Mark Lawrence’s The Liar’s Key.  This is the second in his Red Queen’s War series and continues the story of Jalan and Snorri.  This series is set in the same world as The Broken Empire, and I adored the worldbuilding. I’m really enjoying this book so far – I’m just under half way through.  So far I’m not seeing quite the same character development in Jalan as there was for Jorg in The Broken Empire series, but I’m still hooked on his adventures.  

    Added to my library this week

    Other than Cat Daddy, I placed a preorder for Erica Johansen’s Invasion of the Tearling.  Now, my impression of the first book in the series wasn’t very positive.  I had some serious issues with the worldbuilding and had decided not to continue with the series.  However, I recently saw some blurb/reviews which indicated that Johansen had specifically addressed these issues and in a rather intriguing way.  It was enough to convince me to give the series another chance.  Interestingly, the audiobook is narrated this time by Davina Porter, who narrates the Outlander audiobooks, so my preorder has been placed with Audible.  This will be the first time I’ve listened to a non-Outlander audiobook narrated by Porter, so it will be interesting.

    Enjoy your weekend and I’ll update you next week.