Archive for October, 2016

Hello, once again, welcome to my belated reading roundup.  My new role at work has kept me extremely busy, we had guests and I’ve been dealing with a sick, unhappy kitty.  I swear cats can smell one grain of crushed up medication in a spoonful of delicious, tasty food. I’m really sorry for the forced pill popping Lushka, but I did try it the easy way first. Fortunately, she seems to be on the mend.  Anyway, enough of the excuses.  Since my last roundup I’ve read three books and I’m part way through three others.

What I read

The first book I read was The Young Elites by Marie Lu.  This is the first book in a YA fantasy trilogy telling the story of Adelina, who, like some other young people, has been left with special powers after an illness.  Marie Lu has said her inspiration for Adelina was Darth Vader, and being aware of this helped me a lot – Adelina is a rather dark character.  While I enjoyed the book – I loved the Renaissance style setting – a lot, it didn’t leave me with any desire at all to pick up the sequels.  Strangely, I had the same reaction to Lu’s earlier trilogy Legend.  I really enjoyed Legend, but I have never had a strong motivation to read Prodigy and Champion.  While I am interested to hear if Adelina gets an Anakin Skywalker type redemption, I’m not certain that I am invested enough to want to spend my precious time reading two more books to find out.  Perhaps those of you who have read The Rose Society and The Midnight Star could let me know your thoughts in the comments.  I gave The Young Elites three stars out of five.

The second book I started was one I consigned to the Did Not Finish pile, The Jewel by Amy Ewing.  This is a young adult dystopian novel I borrowed from the library after reading the first five chapters via Epic Reads Firsts,   Further reading confirmed for what I suspected; it was an attempt to cover similar themes to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and when I hit the point where the instalove was introduced I decided The Jewel was not for me.  If the themes of female agency and ownership of one’s reproductive system are of interest to you, I’d direct you to The Handmaid’s Tale rather than The Jewel, in particular, Claire Danes’ audiobook version.  

This week I finished Rae Carson’s Like a River Glorious, her sequel to Walk on Earth a Stranger.  This is a YA historical fantasy trilogy set in the time of the California Gold Rush.  I very much enjoyed the first book and loved the second one.  Carson has done extensive research into the time period in which the novels are set, and it shows.  The books are so atmospheric and really gave me the impression I was there.  The fantasy element is very subtle, but it does add to the story.  My one comment would be that this is the second book in a trilogy, yet it felt everything was wrapped up quite well.  Hints dropped suggest the third book may well deal with California’s upcoming statehood and what that implies for Leah and her friends.  That would be interesting and I’d certainly read it.  I gave Like a River Glorious four stars out of five.

What I’m reading

Currently, I’m reading/listening to three books.  The first of these is Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  This is the sequel to Illuminae which I adored.  I received an Advance Reader Copy of Gemina at BEA, but I chose to wait for the audiobook which was released on October 18th.  The audiobook for Illuminae was a wonderful multi-voice creation which won an Audie award and the Gemina audiobook is equally as excellent so far.  I’m reading my ARC while listening to the audiobook, so I’m only able to read this when I can sit down and focus on it.

For commuting/short breaks I have And I Darken by Kiersten White.  This is an adaptation of the Vlad the Impaler storyline, except casting Vlad as a young teenage girl.  I seem to be reading books with dark characters these days!  So far I’m enjoying it.

Finally, in bed at night I’m listening to the Graphic Audio production of Brent Weeks’ The Broken Eye, the third in his Lightbringer series.  This is in preparation for the release of Blood Mirror next week.  For those of you unfamiliar with Graphic Audio these are radio play like adaptations of novels complete with a full voice cast, original music and sound effects.  Generally these are very good, although I often wish the music would be toned down somewhat.  These Graphic Audio productions do provide an interesting viewpoint on Brent Weeks’ books and I would recommend them.  However, we have the inimitable Simon Vance narrating the audiobooks which is nearly as good!

What I want to read

There are some excellent books coming out in the next month, including The Blood Mirror.  Need I say I’ll be picking up The Blood Mirror in audiobook format to hear Simon Vance’s narration?  Other books I’m highly anticipating are:

A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray.  This is the third and final book in the Firebird series which follows protagonist Marguerite as she tries to prevent the evil Triad from causing chaos across the multiple dimensions.  I’ve loved the first two books in the series and I’m looking forward to seeing how Gray ties up the story.  A Million Worlds with You is released on November 1st, and I will be picking it up in audiobook form due to Tavia Gilbert’s excellent narration.

On November 8th we have the release of one of my most anticipated releases of the year, Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  This is a standalone retelling of the origin of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland.  I adored Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and I’m excited to read this one.

J.K Rowling is releasing the script for Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them on November 18th, the same day as the film.  Words can’t describe how much I am anticipating this movie.  The Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Yes please!  I am especially intrigued by the mentions of Grindelwald in the trailer and the Deathly Hallows/Grindelwald symbol on Percival Graves’ character poster.  This sounds as if it’s a fascinating time in wizarding history and I can’t wait to find out more.

That’s all I have for today.  Have a good week and speak soon.

Reading roundup – October 23 2016 was originally published on Canadian eReader

Hello and here I am again with a reading roundup.  Yes, I know it’s been ages since I rounded up my reading.  My new role has been keeping me very, very busy, which is good, I guess.  I’d still rather be reading though!

Despite being so busy, there are seven books I’d like to discuss with you which I’ve read since my last roundup.  I’m not sure if it was just because I was tired, but sadly very few of them really rang my bell.  More of them were good, but no cigar.  

The first book I read was Furthermore by Shatter Me author Tahereh Mafi.  This is Mafi’s first foray into middle grade and tells the story of young Alice who must venture into the world of Furthermore to rescue her father.  I really loved the writing style in Furthermore – Mafi’s descriptions were lyrical and gorgeous.  Unusually, Mafi regularly breaks the fourth wall in this novel to give the author’s viewpoint on Alice’s reactions, which I adored.  It reminded me of Noel Langley’s Land of Green Ginger which was one of my favourite books as a child because of a similar technique.  It’s worth reading this book simply for the chapter titles as well – they were a real treat.  In the end though I gave Furthermore only three and a half stars out of five for one reason alone.  The style of whimsy in this book, reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, is one that I personally really don’t enjoy.  I prefer my fantasy to have more rules.  That is a purely personal opinion and one you may not share.

One of the books that I did very much enjoy was Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One.  I really should have picked up that one sooner.  This was one I picked up the sample from Amazon and was immediately hooked.  Don’t you just love when that happens?  I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Wil Wheaton.  I loved everything about this book.  The plot, the pacing, the characters and the narration were all excellent, and I’m a sucker for a treasure hunt across virtual reality.  Some of the Eighties’ pop culture references passed me by, but it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.  I gave Ready Player One five stars out of five.

Replica by Lauren Oliver is a book I picked up at BEA earlier this year and it was moved up my TBR by the Epic Reads Firsts which gives a preview of the first five chapters.  The formatting of this book is the most interesting thing about it.  The story is told from two perspectives; Gemma’s and Lyra’s.  The hard copy is flippable with each girl’s story making one half of the novel.  You can either read each perspective straight through before swapping to the other or you can alternate, reading one chapter from each girl’s point of view.  I chose to alternate, and was very impressed by the way the two stories dovetail together.  Oliver has clearly put a lot of work into the timeline and the way the information is put across.  I understand the audiobook has a similar feature where you can choose how to listen.  I’m still considering buying it to check it out.

However, while the format was novel and well done, neither the characters nor the storyline really gripped me.  I understand a sequel is in the works and the ending is certainly open ended, but I’ve not yet decided if I’ll continue the series.  I gave Replica three and a half stars out of five.

Next up was The Swan Riders by Erin Bow, the sequel to The Scorpion Rules.  The Scorpion Rules had a kick ass ending and I was excited to find out what was going to happen next to Greta, Talis and their companions.  The complexity really ramps up in this book and it requires a fair amount of concentration to keep up with who is who, who’s in love with whom, who’s human, who’s AI and who’s a bit of both, and what a particular character’s motivation is at any given point in the story.  For this reason, I think if I’d been less busy at work and more able to concentrate on it, I’d have enjoyed it more.  This is a case where the audiobook might have helped a lot as well as I’m sure the narrator Madeleine Maby would have helped clarify what personality any given character is portraying at the time.  I gave The Swan Riders four stars out of five.

Leigh Bardugo’s Crooked Kingdom was the second book I absolutely devoured this month.  This is the second and final book in the Six of Crows duology.  I’d been looking forward to it, but not quite counting down the hours until it hit my Audible download queue, even after a quick review of Six of Crows.  That changed when I got into it.  I found myself super invested in all Bardugo’s wonderful characters and rooting for them.  Bardugo is a master of show, don’t tell when it comes to her characters.  The reader must often read between the lines for what’s really going on with them and what their feelings and motivations are.  That significantly increased my investment in their stories.  As the conclusion to the duology Crooked Kingdom was a wonderful ending.  I listened to Crooked Kingdom in audiobook format – the narrator list reads like a who’s who of YA narration and every single PoV was fantastically narrated.  I gave Cooked Kingdom five stars out of five.

Those of you who have followed my reviews know that I do enjoy Rick Riordan’s writing so I was very much looking forward to The Hammer of Thor, the second in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series.  While I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped.  Again, maybe it’s because I was tired from work, and I’m also very familiar with Riordan’s humour now.  While I found the character of Alex very interesting and nicely written, and I admire Riordan for tackling transgender issues, at times I felt I was reading A Very Special Episode of Magnus Chase.  I felt he could have got the point across in a more subtle manner.  I also didn’t feel particularly invested in the story this time around.  I gave The Hammer of Thor three stars out of five.

The final book I listened to in the last few weeks was The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne.  This is a short novella in his Iron Druid series this time told from the perspective of the druid’s Irish wolfhound, Oberon.  Now, Oberon is one of my favourite characters in the series and I was especially excited to have a novella from his perspective.  I chose to listen to this in audiobook because of Luke Daniels’s wonderful narration.  I really enjoy his Oberon voice, however I was distracted by concern that using that voice for such an extended period of time would be painful for him!  I also found that Oberon is best used as seasoning – a little of him is wonderful, but I’m not certain I’d want to hear a whole novel from his perspective again.  I gave The Purloined Poodle four stars out of five.

So here you have it, what I’ve been reading/listening to over the last few weeks.  Have you read any of these?  Let me know in the comments.

Reading roundup – October 10th 2016 was originally published on Canadian eReader