Archive for July, 2015

The next few weeks are relatively quiet in terms of upcoming book releases about which I’m excited.  I’m thinking therefore that this could be a good opportunity to catch up on my TBR pile, specifically in terms of catching up with series with which I have fallen behind.  Generally, I like variety in my reading so it’s unusual for me to marathon a whole series, even if I enjoy it immensely.  So, without further ado, here are some of the series I really should catch up on.  (NB, these are series which are not necessarily complete, but for which I’ve not read up to the latest published book.)  It goes without saying that I’m up to date on Game of Thrones and am eagerly awaiting Winds of Winter.

The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.

This series is about an ancient Druid, Atticus O’Sullivan and his Irish Wolfhound, Oberon, who live in modern times.  Each of the novels – currently seven, with an eighth due out next year – is relatively self contained, and tells of a new adventure, but builds up the world of the Druid and its inhabitants.  I have listened to books one to three, and this is one series I definitely choose to experience in audio format.  The audiobooks are narrated by Luke Daniels who does an awesome job of bringing the characters to life.  Recently I was looking for a quick listen to get me through the last few hours of a long shift at work, and picked up Two Tales of the Iron Druid Chronicles.  Listening to this reminded me of just how much fun this series is, and that I need to get onto the rest of it ASAP.  

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Another series I enjoy in audiobook format is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.  These centre on Chicago’s first “consulting magician” Harry Dresden and his adventures.  The books are narrated by James Marsters and is one of the best narrator-character matches I’ve come across so far. Marsters IS Dresden to me.  I have listened to five out of the fifteen books, so I have a lot yet to go.  Each book builds upon the previous ones.  A few months ago, Amazon had a great sale on this series so I picked up the next few books.  Yep, this is another one I must get onto.

The Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer

Yet another series I want to experience audioly.  Nathaniel Parker is wonderful with all the different characters and their voices/accents.  So far I’ve read five of the eight books in the series.  My problem is, these books are just so laugh out loud funny that I want to keep saving them as a pick-me-up for days when the world seems a blue and scary place.  That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them any other time though!  Another lot for the TBR list.

Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi

This YA dystopian series is one that, I admit, took me several attempts to get into.  It is written in a slightly unusual style which I found both intriguing and off-putting.  Once I got into it and began to bond with the characters, I couldn’t put it down.  At this point, I’ve only read book one.  I’m hearing that Mafi does some really great things with character development and the love triangle in the two subsequent books and novellas and I really should get reading the continuation of Juliette’s adventures.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon

To date I’ve read three and a half books in the series and my interest was rejuvenated by Starz’ fantastic television series.  As an aside; no Emmy nominations for Caitriona, Sam or Tobias?  Seriously?!?  Did they not watch the Wentworth Prison and To Ransom a Man’s Soul episodes?  Anyway, I digress.  I started the series several years ago, and loved it, but hit a brick wall right in the middle of book three, Voyager.  My issue was that I felt that Claire and Jamie’s adventures had come to a natural stopping point and really struggled to get past that.  I’ve got past that now, and am enjoying their adventures; I have just got distracted by other books.  But dammit, I want to know about Jamie’s ghost from book one!  

A.N.G.E. by Anne Robillard

This is a series in French by Quebecoise Anne Robillard.  It’s kind of X-Files meets the apocalypse.  There are ten books in the series of which I’ve read seven.  Robillard’s strength as a writer is her wonderful characters – you can’t help but root for them; they feel so real and human (even if they’re not, in fact, human.}  The reason I’ve not continued with the series thus far is that where I’ve stopped, the series arc is at its lowest point for our characters.  Everything they touch just seems to turn to merde, and the world is falling apart, literally, around them.  Think the end of Empire Strikes Back.  I found it a little too depressing to continue.  I really should finish it. 

Chaoswar Saga by Raymond E. Feist

Shadow of a Dark Queen was the very first book I ever bought on my Kindle, and I credit Feist with rekindling my love of reading.  He really is a master storyteller.  The Chaoswar Saga is the final three books in his Midkemia series and I’ve not yet read them, shame on me.  I suppose what’s holding me back is a reluctance to say goodbye to Pug and all the other characters I’ve grown to love.  That’s not really an excuse though.

Are any of these series on your TBR list?  Which of these should I tackle first?  Let me know in the comments!

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First of all, may I just say isn’t this the most gorgeous cover art?  I’m not certain who created them, but all three covers (four if you include the novella) in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series are simply stunning.

Days of Blood and Starlight is the second in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy which is a contemporary fantasy based on the themes of Romeo and Juliet.  We have the star-crossed lovers from different and opposing sides, faked death, boyfriend goes off the rails.  This second instalment is based on the premise of “what if Juliet woke up from her fake death and found, not that Romeo had taken his own life, but that he’d killed all her family and friends?”  

What I liked

The world.  The world that Taylor has created is wonderfully rich and detailed.  I loved reading about the chimaera and seraphim.  We learn more about their world in this book.  

The themes.  The idea of star-crossed lovers is a timeless one.  There is a reason that Romeo and Juliet is a classic, and Taylor has done a great job of interpreting that into modern fantasy.  Add into this the theme of war and peace and you have a wonderful framework for a story.

The characters.  It is very easy to become invested in Karou and Akiva and root for them.  They are likeable, engaging and you feel for their plight.  The supporting characters are also great.  Zuzana and Mik add some much-needed levity to the story.

The writing style.  Taylor’s writing style is poetic and lyrical and is beautiful to read.  Go check it out.

The audio narration.  Once again, Khristine Hvam did a wonderful job – I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of Zuze and Mik.  I really should check out the Zuzana/Mik short story Night of Cake and Puppets also narrated by Hvam.

What I didn’t like

It has to be said, I didn’t enjoy Days of Blood and Starlight as much as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I found it a little too… depressing.  After the events of Daughter of Smoke and Bone neither of our protagonists are in a good place emotionally and when you add to that the escalation of the war between the chimaera and the seraphim it doesn’t make fun reading.  Thank goodness for Zuze and Mik!

Because of this, I gave Days of Blood and Starlight three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Series: Miss Peregrine #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Jesse Bernstein
Length: 9 hrs and 41 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
Buy from AmazonKoboiTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

three-half-stars

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs tells the story of 16 year old Jacob Portman and his fascination for his grandfather’s stories of the Home for Peculiar Children in which he grew up.  This institute is home to children who have special abilities and the novel explores what happens when Jacob goes looking for this place after a family tragedy.

What I liked

The concept.  I understand the author, Ransom Riggs, has had for many years a hobby of collecting unusual – read creepy – photos and he developed the novel around a selection of them.  Riggs has done an amazing job of connecting a set of unrelated photos and weaving a darned good narrative out of them.  It should be noted, for those of you thinking of picking up the Audible audiobook, that a PDF is provided with the photos in the book.

The characters.  I liked Jacob, his grandfather and the other characters they meet, especially the Peculiars.  

What I didn’t like

The creep factor.  Some of the photos are downright creepy and the Hollowgast with their tentacles for mouths – ew.  These registered just a little too highly on my creeped out factor.

The audio narration.  I really did not enjoy the audio narration.  Much of the book is set in my country of origin, the UK, and the narrator’s attempt at a British/Welsh accent was, to be kind, all over the place.  This really threw me out of the story on multiple occasions.

Although I will check out the sequel, Hollow City, at some point, I gave Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children three and a half stars out of five.

Reading roundup – July 6th 2015Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks
Series: Night Angel #1
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Various
Length: 8 hrs
Genres: Epic Fantasy
Evelynne’s rating:

five-stars

This week I dipped into the Graphic Audio production of Brent Weeks’ Way of Shadows.  Graphic Audio’s tagline is “A Move in Your Mind” and I can see why they call it that.  Their productions are enhanced audiobooks in that they include music, sound effects and a full voice cast.  It should be noted that the text isn’t quite a faithful reproduction of the original as a normal audiobook; for example where the narrator would say “it was a dark and stormy night…” instead of the text you’d hear sound effects for thunder and lightning.  

Graphic Audio productions are also a little more expensive than audiobooks, especially if you use Audible credits.  I can appreciate though that the production costs are likely higher.

For me, personally, I found the sound effects and music almost too overwhelming.  I’m a text purist and I like to hear the author’s words as written.  Having said that, I did enjoy the Graphic Audio experience and will probably pick up the rest of the Night Angel series in this format. 

That’s all I have for today.  Have a good week!

three-half-stars