Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I posted this a year ago. Still relevant. I think at this point I’d also add the revelation of Hodor’s backstory

Scottish Bookworm in Quebec

There are some critics who claim that fantasy literature is in some way a soft option; that in choosing to write in a more fantastical world, telling emotional character truths can take second place to worldbuilding. This post is my attempt to debunk that myth.  There have been several scenes in fantasy literature which had me bawling like a baby.  These aren’t necessarily death scenes, but simply beautiful writing illustrating the deep impact the situation has had on the character.

Olver’s story in A Memory of Light, the last book of the Wheel of Time.  This particular section was just so powerfully emotive.   For those of you unfamiliar, Olver is a young orphan ? around eight years old ? in the Wheel of Time universe who was adopted by Mat Cauthon and his warband.  Being brought up in a war camp, he exhibits a lot of his “uncle”’s enthusiasm…

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new kitty LuschkaGood morning fellow bookworms.  The big news in my family this week is that we adopted a cat!  Meet Pavlushka, a seven year old female adopted from the Montreal SPCA.  I have tried for many months to fill the cat shaped hole in my soul without success, and I am so, so grateful to Thad for accepting a new feline into our home.  Lushka is a curious, affectionate cat according to her profile and she was certainly happy to be petted at the SPCA.  

Lushka really enjoyed being out of the shelter and being fussed over last night.  She spent most of the evening on the sofa next to me demanding pets.  She has already worked out how to open our kitchen cupboards.  I think she’ll be a wonderful fit for our household. 

In more reading-related news, I did something I don’t often do this week – consigned a book to the did not finish pile.  This was Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch.  As I mentioned in my review of the first book Snow Like Ashes, I found the plot rather predictable, and unfortunately for book two, the interesting worldbuilding was not enough to carry me through this time.  

I’ve also been continuing with my ARC of Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin (fully as excellent as I expected it to be so far.) and Evelyn Skye’s The Crown’s Game which is improving the further along I go.  

Before the Snow, a prequel to Danielle Paige’s Stealing Snow was released this week.  I have read it and enjoyed it.  I should note that I have read Stealing Snow – I got the ARC at BEA this May.  I will say though that some of the twists of Stealing Snow were stronger to me for not having read Before the Snow.  I would suggest holding back on this and reading it afterwards as background reading.  I did really love the tie in with some of Andersen’s other fairy tales.  

This weekend, of course, sees the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  I will certainly be devouring it as soon as it hits my Kindle on Sunday morning.  I’ve heard snippets about the story, and seen the rave reviews so I Iook forward to reading it for myself.  I’m still really hoping they will film the play and show it in cinemas. 

Upcoming releases in August.

August and September are generally big months for new book releases and this year is no exception.  This August there are five books coming out about which I am super excited.

First up is Rick Riordan’s For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds.  For those of you who don’t know, Magnus Chase is the protagonist of Riordan’s Norse mythology based middle grade series.  I don’t know about you, but I’m not as familiar with Norse mythology as I am with Roman and Greek (the basis of Riordan’s other series) so I think this book will be extremely useful – and knowing Riordan, very funny too.  For Magnus Chase: Hotel Valhalla Guide to the Norse Worlds is released on August 16th.

Next up on August 23rd is Blake Charlton’s Spellbreaker, the third in his Spellwright trilogy.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series it has one of the most interesting magic systems I’ve read.  If Charlton’s world, words literally have power and take physical form.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how this series ends.  

Queen Rising is the second in Danielle Paige’s prequels to her Snow Queen retelling Stealing Snow.  As I mentioned earlier, I have read Stealing Snow and felt that the first prequel weakened some of the twists of the main novel.  I’ll be interested to see if the same is true for this one.  Queen Rising is released on August 30th.

Also scheduled for release on August 30th is Furthermore, Shatter Me author Tahereh Mafi’s first foray into middle grade.  I picked up a copy of this at BEA, but sadly it never made its way back to Montreal.  It does sound like a fun read.

Finally on August 30th we have The Bronze Key, the third in Holly Black and Cassandra Clare’s Harry Potteresque Magisterium series.  I’ve really enjoyed this series so far, mainly because of the very clever twisting of the Harry Potter tropes.  I’m definitely looking forward to continuing this.

What books are you most looking forward to in August?  Let me know in the comments!

Reading roundup – New Kitty! was originally published on Canadian eReader

BEA 2016 Book HaulHere we go for the third and final post in my BEA 2016 book haul series.  Thank you for sticking with me.

The first book I’d like to talk about, and the obtaining of which was one of my highlights of BEA is Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven King.  This is the fourth and final volume in the The Raven Cycle of which I have read 1.95 books.  (I’m just finishing off The Dream Thieves.)  I loved having the opportunity to meet Maggie and discuss book hangovers with her, and she has said her aim with The Raven King is to leave her readers with the book hangover to end all book hangovers, so I can’t wait!  The Raven King has already been published.

Next up is First Blood by Elly Blake.  This was another of the ARCs available in a roll the dice game.  This is a YA fantasy about a young woman who has fire magic which is a challenge when living in a kingdom controlled by frostbloods, with ice magic.  It sounds intriguing and I look forward to reading it.  First Blood will be released in January 2017.

The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is a YA mystery, but I don’t know much more than that.  I’ll certainly give it a go. It will be released in January 2017.

In the genre of historical fiction one of the few books I picked up was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad, about a young slave who tries to escape from the antebellum South.  Not being from the States, this is a period which fascinates me.  I really look forward to this one.  The Underground Railroad will be released in September 2016.

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige was one of my must-have books from BEA and I was lucky enough to snag a copy – yay me!  I’ve really been enjoying Paige’s retelling of the Wizard of Oz in her Dorothy Must Die series so I am highly anticipating reading this Snow Queen reworking.  Stealing Snow will be released in September 2016.

While waiting inline for a signing, one kind person offered me a spare copy of Rainbow Rowell’s Kindred Spirits.  This is a short novella of whose existence I was unaware.  It’s about a girl who LOVES Star Wars and the people she meets while waiting in line to see the latest movie.  I adore Rowell’s writing so this will be a pleasure to read.  This book came out in February 2016.

One of the more beautifully presented ARCs of BEA 2016 was Lauren Oliver’s Replica.  It came in a plastic box closed with velcro and the ARC itself is double sided – the same story is told from two different perspectives, so you flip the book one way to read Gemma’s story, the other for Lyra’s.  Replica will be published in October 2016.

News of the World’s Amazon blurb says the following:  In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.  Should be an interesting read.  This book will also be published in October 2016.

Another middle grade story I picked up was Tracey Hecht’s Nocturnals – the Mysterious Abductions.  This tells the tale of three anthromorphised animals who must solve the mystery of the disappearance of their animal friends.  It sounds very cute.  Nocturnals – The Mysterious Abductions was released in April 2016.

The final book in my BEA book haul is The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood.  This is about a mother whose love of a special book helps her through a very difficult time in her life.  Being a booklover myself (obviously) this is one I will be checking out.  The Book That Matters Most is released in August 2016.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey through my BEA 2016 book haul.  As well as a shedload of wonderful books to read I have many happy memories of my trip to Chicago.  Roll on BEA 2017!

BEA 2016 Book Haul – part three of three was originally published on Canadian eReader

Like September, October is another big month for book releases.  Here are a few of the ones about which I am most excited.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard – The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan.  This, along with Robin Hobb’s Fool’s Quest and Marissa Meyer’s Winter are among my most anticipated books of the later half of 2015.  For those of you who don’t know, Sword of Summer is the start of a new series by the author of the Percy Jackson series which, this time, focusses on Norse mythology.  Riordan’s books are always funny, engaging and exciting and I have no reason to suspect this one will be any different.  Knowing what I know of the Norse pantheon, the opportunities for high jinx seem limitless.  

Sword of Summer will be released on October 6th and I have it preordered in both Kindle and Audible versions.

Also on October 6th Brandon Sanderson is releasing another book.  Dang, that guy is prolific.  Does he actually sleep?  This month it’s the turn of Shadows of Self, the sequel to his Alloy of Law, a steampunkesque novel set in his Mistborn world.  I love the world Sanderson created in the Mistborn trilogy and Alloy of Law, and I’m more than happy to plunk down my hard earned cash for this.

I have preordered Shadows of Self in both Kindle and Audible formats.  Incidentally, as usual, Michael Kramer is narrating the audiobook, which is a plus point for choosing this version.

Next up I have a couple of novellas in series I have been following.  These are The Favourite from Keira Cass’s The Selection series, released on October 12th and Born to Endless Night, the next in the Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy series of novellas which comes out on October 20th.  Both of these should be fun additions to my library.  

October 27th sees the release of The Outlandish Companion Volume II by Diana Gabaldon.  I am slowly making my way through the Outlander series – currently dropping in and out of book four, Drums of Autumn.  It goes without saying that I am in love with the Starz series.  I found the Outlandish Companion Volume I to be a wonderful, insightful addition to my Outlander library and I fully expect Volume II to be the same.  As it deals with books five – eight it may be some while before I actually dip into this.  Spoilers about I am certain.

The Outlandish Companion Volume II should hit my Kindle download queue right on schedule.

If I am being perfectly honest, though, the chances of my actually reading anything – or achieving much of anything in general – over the next couple of weeks are virtually nil.  This is because today sees the release of Lego Dimensions, the new toys-to-life gaming system from Lego and Travellers Tales games.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with toys-to-life, it means that you have to buy a physical toy for it to appear in the video game.  Combine this with Lego and your starter pack comes with a set of Lego bricks and minifigures which you have to physically put together to go through the game.  Previous Lego/Travellers Tales games have been purely virtual.  Now I’m no hard core gamer chick, but I do adore the Lego games.  I still giggle like a naughty schoolgirl at the image of Lego Boromir being shot by a garden rake!  

Lego Dimensions sounds absolutely awesome.  The idea is that the worlds of the Lego multiverse are colliding.  You are led through the adventure by Batman (from the DC Comics Batman Lego games), Gandalf (from the Lord of the Rings Lego game) and Wyldstyle (from the Lego Movie and video game) and you visit each of their homeworlds.  However, Lego Dimensions brings in a whole lot of new franchises to the genre – Back to the Future.  Ghostbusters!  Doctor Who!  The Wizard of Oz!  It should be pointed out that, to unlock more than a taster of these new franchises though, you do have to shell out hard cash over and above the initial cost of the starter pack.  Previous games allowed you to unlock characters and abilities with in-game currency.  But hey, if you’ve secretly yearned to see The Doctor drive the Batmobile through Minas Tirith this is your game.  

I am especially excited for Doctor Who, although that upgrade pack isn’t available until November.  It seems that the Travellers Tales team has added some really awesome things in this – you can play as each and every regeneration of The Doctor, including the War Doctor!  The TARDIS interior changes to reflect the current incarnation you’re playing and if you lose all your Lego lives, your character regenerates as the next Doctor.

As I say though, release day for the main game was today.  I’d preordered mine from Amazon, but, to quote Vernon Dursley, there’s no post on Sundays so I will not receive it until tomorrow.  And because I am scheduled to work very long days at the beginning of the week, I’m not going to be able to start playing it until Thursday.  Dang.  That Amazon box is going to sit and taunt me for the next few days.

Ah well.  I shall return to blog some more at some point.

Let me know if you are excited about any of these releases.

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!

Star Wars NPR productionAs I mentioned in my last reading roundup, I’ve been catching up with John  Stephens’ Books of Beginning in preparation for the release of The Black Reckoning.  As I’ve been on nightshift, I’ve listened to these books in audiobook format, narrated by Jim Dale.  I’m generally not a big fan of Dale’s narration – a personal opinion; I know many listeners value his work highly – but I did enjoy his narration for this series.  For those of you unfamiliar with this series, it’s about three sibling orphans who find that they are fated to be the Keepers of the mystical Books of Beginning.  This concluding book brings all the threads of the series together.  I did enjoy that the series didn’t end immediately after they defeated the Big Bad; it’s always interesting to see heroes try to adapt to the normal world and family life.  While no Harry Potter or even Percy Jackson, this is an enjoyable series and is work picking up.  

I gave The Black Reckoning four stars out of five.

Tales from the Shadowhunter AcademyEvery month in the leadup to the release of Cassandra Clare’s Lady Midnight, the first in a new Shadowhunter series, she along with co-writers is releasing a short novella set in Shadowhunter Academy following fan favourite Simon Lewis.  I particularly enjoyed this month’s entry, The Whitechapel Fiend, focussing as it does on the Victorian era, around the time of the Infernal Devices trilogy.  Personally I loved the Infernal Devices more that the Mortal Instruments, so I appreciated revisiting old friends.  Each of these novellas is self contained and takes the edge of the wait for Lady Midnight.

I gave The Whitechapel Fiend four stars out of five.

After having read so much middle-grade/YA books in the last couple of weeks, I really needed something more… adult, so I’ve picked up book four in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, The Drums of Autumn.  I’m listening to this in audiobook format, narrated by the wonderful Davina Porter.  I’m really enjoying the continuation of Claire’s and Jamie’s story.  Interestingly, Gabaldon announced this week that an audio version of her Outlandish Companion will be released later this year.  Porter will narrate the book summaries and, I believe, character lists etc, while Gabaldon herself will narrate the anecdotes.  That could be interesting.  However, I’ve been using my Kindle copy  of the Outlandish Companion more as a reference, which isn’t so easy in audiobook format.

Speaking of upcoming audiobook releases, I read today that Blake Charlton’s Spellwright trilogy is coming to audiobook.  This is a really fun series with a fascinating magic system, and is worth checking out.  Book three isn’t scheduled until June 2016, which is a bit of a wait.  You’ve time to get caught up on Spellwright and Spellbound!

Also newly in audiobook format is V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic.  I’ve already read this in Kindle format, so I will probably give the audiobook a miss.  However, if you’ve not read it, it is well worth picking up.  I was excited to see the cover and synopsis for book two in the series, A Gathering of Shadows, due in February 2016.  I have my pre-order in already.

One book which I’m disappointed is not yet in audiobook format is Ian Doescher’s The Phantom of Menace. I’ve loved, loved LOVED Random House Audio’s full cast productions for the previous books in the series.  I really hope they do one for Phantom.  I’ve been leafing through this in Kindle format and am enjoying what I”m reading.  As Doescher himself would say though, Shakespeare (even a Star Wars universe version) is best experienced in the hands of talented actors.  I’m particularly appreciating what he’s doing with Jar Jar Binks.  It may even make watching him in the movies more tolerable. In any case, you should check it out.

In a couple of weeks my husband and I set off for our trans Canadian train trip.  If anyone can recommend any good Canadian travelogues, preferably in the style of Bill Bryson, I would be grateful.

That’s all for this week folks.  Talk to you soon.

This week has been a quiet week in terms of reading.  It’s been the start of the new TV season which might have had in impact…  (on that topic, I’m watching Forever and Gotham as new shows.)  I finished Robert Galbraith (AKA J.K. Rowling’s) second mystery novel, The Silkworm and you can expect my full review next week.  Sneak preview: I liked it.

I’m also continuing with the audiobook of Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel.  It’s not grabbing me in the way that The Silkworm did, but it is very intriguing and I am enjoying it.  Also being listened to is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.  I’m just at the wedding night scene.  Yum.  Especially when you add Mr. Sam Heughan into the equation…

For once, I didn’t add any books to my library this week!  Incredible, I know.  I will make up for it next month, trust me…  I have been waiting for the next book in Anne Robillard’s A.N.G.E. series, Tribulare, to hit Kobo.  The hard copies have been out for a while, but this series is only now being released in electronic format.  I see it’s available on prologuenumerique.ca and archambault.ca, and even amazon.ca but I have the rest of the series in Kobo format so I’d like to be consistent.

Upcoming releases in October

Oh boy.  October is a whopper of a month for book releases.  There are no fewer than eight books being released next month which I am anxiously anticipating.

My most eagerly awaited release of October – on October 7th to be specific – is the finale to Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, The Blood of Olympus.  Do I really need to introduce this series?  Riordan was kind enough not to leave too much of a cliffhanger at the end of House of Hades, instead choosing to clear the stage for this final confrontation with Gaea.  There is a definite prospect that at least two of our heroes may die, but even so I am really looking forward to hearing how this ends.  I have this on both Kindle and Audible preorders.

Also on the 7th we have the release of Unraveled, the third and final book in Gennifer Albin’s Crewel World series.  This is a YA fantasy/dystopian series with an interesting magic system and politicking. I didn’t enjoy book two as much as book one in which the world building was excellent, but I am still interested enough to want to read the end of Adelice’s story.  I have this on Kindle preorder.

In a change of scene on the 7th we have the release of A Midwinter’s Tail by Sofie Kelly, the next in her series of cute cat mysteries. I am a sucker for these and this is a good series.  I have A Midwinter’s Tail on Kindle preorder.

The fourth and final book I’m anticipating on the seventh is Silverblind by Tina Connelly.  This is the third book in her Ironskin series, the first one being an excellent adaptation of Jane Eyre with fae.  The world building in this series is wonderful.  I skipped on book two, Copperhead, because it was from the point of view of a character in Ironskin whom I really didn’t like.  Book three focusses on a different character, one whom I found more interesting.  I am waiting on Silverblind to become available for preorder on Audible.  Ironskin was narrated by Rosalyn Landor and I found her narration excellent.

On October 27th we have the release of In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken, the final book in The Darkest Minds YA dystopian trilogy, another excellent one.  I particularly like the characters in this one and I can’t wait to read how their story ends.  I have preordered this on Kindle, but may add the Audible audiobook later.

Also on later in the month on the 28th we have The Slow Regard of Silent Things (The Kingkiller Chronicle) by Patrick Rothfuss.  Now, it’s been over three years since The Wise Man’s Fear, and sadly this isn’t a continuation of Kvothe’s story but rather a companion novel telling more of the story of Auri.  Sure, I’ll check it out.  I had only ordered it in Kindle format, but I see that Rothfuss himself is narrating the audiobook which sounds kind of cool, so I’ve ordered that one as well.

The first in a new series by Julie Kagawa, Talon, is released on October 28th.  I really enjoyed her writing and narrative in The Iron Fey series and this new series sounds intriguing – dragons masquerading in human form as modern teens.  I will check it out on Kindle format.

Whew, almost there!  The final book in which I am interested in October is Emma, a Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith.  This is the third in the Austen project, modern retellings of Jane Austen classics.  I’ll admit that from the snippet I read I wasn’t all that impressed.  In all fairness, McCall Smith is going to have a hard job living up to the excellence of other such modern retellings of Emma such as the YouTube series Emma Approved and Clueless.  I am happy to take a look though, and it will be downloaded to my Kindle on October 28th.

There you go!  Those are the books in which I am most interested in October.  Did any catch your eye?

Codex Born by Jim C Hines is the sequel to Libriomancer which tells of Isaac Vainio, a libriomancer with the power to access magic from within books.  If you have not read Libriomancer, I would strongly suggest you start there.  While it is not impossible to enjoy the story without having read the first book, it builds upon concepts, characters and events detailed in Libriomancer.  Codex Born continues Isaac’s story and develops what we know of libriomancy.  Feel free to check out my thoughts on Libriomancer.

What I liked

Lena’s backstory.  We learn much, much more about Lena Greenwood through brief snippets before each chapter.  For me, this was one of the most beautifully written and touching parts of the books as she learns to come to terms with her nature and the accommodations she has to make to achieve a little freedom.

The visual imagery.  Hines has a real talent for describing scenes that had me flat out giggling like a schoolgirl with the picture it evoked in my mind.  An example was “She appeared to be holding off a small swarm of bugs with a drinking straw and a yo-yo.”  I’m snickering even now at that mental image.  If you are interested in the quotes I found most amusing, feel free to follow me on my Kindle Amazon profile where I share notable quotes from the books I’m reading.

The magic system.  One of the attractions for me about Libriomancer was the magic system.  The idea that the love of books is so powerful that certain people – libriomancers – can harness that to draw magic from the book really intrigued me.  I felt it was handled slightly better in this book than in Libriomancer, where sometimes I felt that the rules and limitations weren’t fully explained before being broken.  In Codex Born I felt these were more clearly defined which meant I felt the ending was less of a deus ex machina.

What I didn’t like

I can’t think of anything I didn’t like about Codex Born.  The plot did get a little complex at times, and it was a little tricky to keep track of who was manipulating whom and who wanted to kill whom.

I gave Codex Born a solid 4 stars out of 5.

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Get 1 free audiobook credit at audible.com!

As many of my regular readers will know, I am a big fan of both ebooks and audiobooks.  For those of you unsure about e-reading or looking to take the first step, take a look at my Newbie’s Guide to eReading.  If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

For my audiobook needs I go to Audible.  Here’s how it works.  You can either buy audiobooks at full price, with no membership or monthly commitment.  An average audiobook, say for example The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith aka JK Rowling, costs around $25 USD for non members.  A larger book, like say Fires of Heaven from the Wheel of Time may be as much as $60 USD, but most are in the $25 USD range.

Alternatively, you can choose to take a membership with Audible.  The basic plan $14.95 USD per month which gives you one credit per month to use on any audiobook.  An ideal introduction to Audible.  The Platinum plan, which I have, is two credits to spend on books a month.  That costs $22.95 USD per month.  They also have an Annual plan for which you pay $149.50 USD for 12 credits or $229.50 USD for 24.  Try Audible Now and Get A FREE Audiobook.  Monthly memberships also entitle you to substantial discounts on a la carte audiobooks over and above your one or two a month.

I understand that many of you may be reluctant to sign up for a monthly plan.  With Audible there is no term commitment.  You are free to cancel your membership at any time with no additional charges.  Audible is part of the Amazon family, which means outstanding customer service.  I can personally confirm that cancelling a membership is no problem.  I did that at one point before I became addicted to audiobooks.  If memory serves, they offered me a deal where I paid something like $10 or $20 a year, got no credits, but retained my membership discount on a la carte audiobooks, but I could just as easily have cancelled.

As I mentioned, Audible is part of the Amazon group of companies which allows it to offer the totally awesome Whispersync for Voice.  This is where the Kindle ebook and Audible are bundled together and your place is synced across all devices both for reading and listening.  You do have to buy the two separately, but the Audible audiobook is offered at a substantial discount, usually for $3.99 – $12.99 USD.  With Whispersync for Voice I might listen to a chapter or two on my iPhone during my commute, read on my Kindle during my lunch hour, switch back to Audible to travel back home and I never need to worry about keeping my place no matter what medium I’m enjoying – Amazon and Audible do all that for you.  Not every audiobook or Kindle book is setup for Whispersync for Voice, but a significant number are, and it’s growing. 

You can see what I mean by looking at my Audible library:

Audible ws library

You can see that under the eBook companion column, Knife of Dreams has Whispersync for Voice enabled.

Ws 2

Here you can see that I have the audiobook for The Count of Monte Cristo and as I don’t yet own the matching Kindle ebook it is prompting me to purchase it.  

If you’re in the US, Amazon makes it super easy for you to get setup with Whispersync for Voice.  If a Kindle book is compatible it will have the words Whispersync for Voice: Ready right at the top of the book details.  Once you’ve purchased it, you will be asked if you want to purchase the matching Audible audiobook at a reduced cost and passed through to Audible.   Conversely, if you’ve bought the Audible book first, clicking on the Buy Matching Kindle Book link will take you to Amazon where you can buy the book at a reduced price.  For example, for Kushiel’s Dart I would be offered the Kindle book at $5.99 instead of the $10.25 it would normally cost.

If you have a Kindle Fire, it’s even easier.  When buying a Kindle book you will be prompted to Add Professional Narration for between $3.99 USD and $12.99 USD.  You can then access Immersion Reading where you can follow along on the Kindle and the text will be highlighted as the audio narration progresses.

For those of us not in the US, it is a little trickier.  Whispersync for Voice isn’t advertised nearly as well as for our US cousins.  For example in the Canadian store, the one I use, the Whispersync for Voice: Ready is not highlighted in the description.  Searching for Whispersync for Voice doesn’t bring any results unlike in the US Store.  However, it does work;  you just need to be a little more creative.  

Here’s how I’ve found it working for me.  I go to Audible first and search for the book in which I’m interested.  Let’s take Knife of Dreams as an example.  

Kod

You see that Whispersync for Voice-ready is highlighted in red, so this book is enabled for the service.  You will see that it is showing the normal member price of $39.15.  Don’t buy the Audible book yet!  Next, I go to the Canadian Kindle store and search for the book

KoD2

Whispersync for Voice is not mentioned anywhere, so you need to take the chance and hope it’s the right version.  Once you’ve bought the Kindle book, head on back to Audible where you’ll see something like this (using The Cuckoo’s Calling  as an example here):

Cuckoo

You will see that you are now being offered the Audible book at a reduced price – $12.99 USD instead of $17.18 USD – because you own the Kindle ebook.  Buy it and you’re all set up for Whispersync for Voice.  Enjoy! I understand Audible hopes to integrate more fully for those of us in Canada at some point, but not quite yet.  I look forward to it.

If you’re interested in trying it out, check out Audible’s Whispersync for Voice information page. It will help you get setup with a classic novel to help you try it out.  I can thoroughly recommend it.

If you have any questions on Audible or about Whispersync for Voice please let me know in the comments and I’ll do my best to help out.

Some months ago a friend recommended Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series to me.  I picked up City of Bones, the first book, from Audible, and found it hard to get past the first few chapters.  In all fairness, that might have been due to the fact that it was the book I selected to listen to at the gym, and for various reasons (my lack of willpower mainly) I didn’t go as often as I should have.  It’s also true that City of Bones didn’t grab my attention immediately.  I will probably try again before the movie comes out.  Clockwork Angel is the first in Clare’s Infernal Devices series, which is a prequel to the Mortal Instruments set many years earlier in Victorian London.

Unlike Mortal Instruments, Clockwork Angel hooked me immediately from the Audible preview, so much so that I immediately invested in the entire trilogy in Kindle and Audible formats – Whispersync for Voice is available on these titles.  This is partly due to Jennifer Ehle’s excellent narration, and also that I found it easier to connect with Tessa than Mortal Instruments’ Clary.

What I liked

The setting/worldbuilding.  Clare evokes Victorian London with a twist beautifully.  I also really loved the worldbuilding – the history of the Shadowhunters, Downworlders and mundanes was very well done.  I look forward to reading more of the world in both Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices.

The characters. I connected more easily with the Tessa of Infernal Devices than Clary of Mortal Instruments.  Although they are around the same age I believe, as an adult reader I found Tessa, concerned about starting a new life in a new country, more like me than Clary who in the chapters I read was more concerned about boys and dance clubs. I freely admit that it is unfair of me to judge the characters when I’ve only read a few chapters on Clary, and I suspect my opinion may change as I get to know her better.   I will, of course, update you when I’ve read City of Bones.

The narration.  Listen to a sample.  It was partly Jennifer Ehle’s wonderful narration which drew me into this book, and I’m truly sorry she does not continue on for the next two books in the series.  She easily distinguishes between the characters, some with an American accent true to the book and others with a British one.  The emotions of the characters comes through clearly as she narrates.  I certainly found it a lot more interesting that Ari Graynor’s narration of the chapters I listened to of City of Bones.  Ms Graynor sounds considerably younger than Ms Ehle, which is probably right for the main characters they are playing, but perhaps a few years of professional and life experience are really showing in the narration.  Again, it’s very unfair of me to judge just on the chapters I heard of City of Bones, and I will let you know if I revise my opinion.

The writing. There was a lot of information about the world to get across to the reader and I thought Clare did this quite well – she managed to avoid massive info dumps and yet put across an understanding of the new world in which Tessa finds herself.

What I didn’t like

The pacing.  The book started off excellently, and I was quickly drawn into Tessa’s predicament.  I loved learning with her about the Shadowhunters, The Institute and about this whole hidden world.  However, after that, though, I found the action dragged until the last couple of chapters.  Personally, this drop in narrative tension rather spoiled the book for me.  

All in all I liked the book, but I would have enjoyed it better had the pacing been more consistent.  I gave Clockwork Angel three and a half stars out of five.

Which did you prefer, Mortal Instruments or Infernal Devices?  Let me know in the comments.

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