Posts Tagged ‘fantastic beasts and where to find them’

Hello, and yes I am still here.  It’s been two months since my last post.  It’s been a challenging couple of months both at work and at home, and so my blogging has very much suffered.  Things aren’t going to quieten down in the foreseeable future, so I’ll blog when I can, making no promises.  I sincerely apologise to the publishers who have been kind enough to send me ARCs – I suspect that I will not be able to meet my commitments to review these books, but my responsibilities to my employer who pays our bills and family must come first.  At this point in time, reading needs to remain an escape without pressure to review.

So onto the books I’ve read in the last couple of months.

REadinYes, I am still here…Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, Newt Scamander
Series: Hogwarts School Books
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1 hr and 40 mins
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

five-stars

One of the pure joys of my reading/listening time recently has been the audiobook of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them narrated by Newt Scamander himself, Eddie Redmayne.  This was a wonderful surprise – I really wasn’t expecting it to be as entertaining as it was.  This is a “revised edition” film tie-in, to include an additional footnote by Scamander commenting on the events of the film and implying more editions will be released as more Fantastic Beasts films are released.  It certainly whetted my appetite for more of Mr Scamander’s adventures.  The audio edition is described as enhanced for audio with original sound design. This audiobook includes “audio footnotes” which have been treated with a sound effect to differentiate them from the main narration.  These includes very subtle sound effects of the various creatures about which Scamander is talking, which really added a lot to the listening experience.  What I hadn’t expected was just how funny it would be.  I regularly found myself laughing out loud.  Who knew that the Loch Ness Monster was actually a publicity hungry kelpie?  I suspect this will be a go-to book to put a smile on my face for a long time to come.

As a bonus, proceeds from the sale of the books go to Rowling’s Lumos charity and also the UK’s Comic Relief.  A wonderful listen and definitely worth the five stars I gave it.

REadinYes, I am still here…Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Stephen Fry
Length: 71 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Mystery
Buy from iTunesAudible
Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection narrated by Stephen Fry was somewhat of an impulse buy for me.  Audible just happened to announce the publication on Facebook at a time when I happened to have a spare, unspoken-for Audible credit (a rare occurrence.)  I don’t regret it at all.  As it happens I don’t have a Sherlock Holmes collection in my library and Stephen Fry’s introduction and narration adds a lot to the stories.  His passion for the source material really comes across and who could complain about listening to Fry’s melodious voice for 72 hours?  I can’t say I’ve listened to all the stories, but I’ve loved what I’ve listened to so far.

I gave Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Collection 4 stars.

REadinYes, I am still here…Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Format: ARC
Pages: 513 pages
Genres: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
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Hachette was kind enough to send me an ARC of Claudia Gray’s upcoming YA sci-fi novel Defy the Stars.  Now, I’ve read quite a few of Ms Gray’s novels and really enjoyed them, which is why it’s a real shame I’m having to consign Defy the Stars to my didn’t finish pile.  See: introductory remarks.  It took me at least three attempts to get beyond the first few chapters of Defy the Stars, and I’m giving up at 50% or so through.  Maybe later I’ll be able to pick it up and enjoy it more.

Several choices made by Gray contributed to my struggles with this book.  She starts off the book with the sucker punch of stating that the main character will be dead in two weeks.  However, she didn’t provide a strong enough reason for me to really care about that.  Our protagonist, Noemi, is not an immediately sympathetic character;  interesting, sure, kick-ass certainly, but not a character you can root for at least in the beginning.  She is first and foremost a soldier.  Too many times Gray asked me to suspend my disbelief more than I was prepared to do.  Not disbelief in a situation but in how a character would act.  

On a positive side, the relationship developed between Noemi and the AI Abel was very well done and I would have enjoyed watching it develop as well as Abel’s growing humanity.  The world created by Gray was also – as usual for her – richly detailed and fascinating.  These were not enough to convince me to continue the story at this time.

As I did not finish it I will not assign any rating.

REadinYes, I am still here…Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Neil Gaiman
Length: 6 hrs and 29 mins
Genres: Mythology
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Evelynne’s rating:

four-half-stars

Norse Mythology, written and narrated by Neil Gaiman, was another book I specifically chose to experience in audiobook format, a choice I would wholeheartedly recommend.  In his introduction to the audiobook Gaiman speaks of the oral tradition through which much of the Norse mythology has come down to us.  This is clearly something that the production team bore in mind when making the audiobook and I really had the impression of listening to Mr Gaiman narrate his tales around a blazing hearth in the dark of winter.  

The tales themselves are fascinating, even though I understand they are somewhat sanitised by Mr Gaiman.  Readers of my blog know that I have been following Rick Riordan’s series Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, also based on this set of mythology.  It’s been a real treat to see how the same tales have been handled by two extremely talented and very different writers.

I gave Norse Mythology four and a half stars out of five

REadinYes, I am still here…Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb
Series: Rain Wilds Chronicles
Format: eBook
Pages: 500 pages
Genres: Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

three-half-stars

In my intense anticipation of Assassin’s Fate, the final book in Robin Hobb’s Fitz and the Fool trilogy, I realised that there was a whole section of Hobb’s world about which I’ve not read.  i’m talking about her Rain Wild Chronicles.  I hope to read all four books before Assassin’s Fate is released on May 9th. If you’re interested, check out my initial reread of the Realm of the Elderlings.

As familiar as I am with Hobb’s writing, I knew that the first book in a new series is generally very slow, spending time introducing the characters and their struggles and motivations.  That is also true for Dragon Keeper.  It sets up the story very satisfactorily, at the expense of slow pacing.

I gave Dragon Keeper three and a half stars out of five.  Now onto Dragon Haven!

Upcoming releases

April is a very quiet month for me in terms of book releases about which I’m excited. Other than the aforementioned Defy the Stars, the other book i”m excited about is Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.  This is the first book in a new series set in a different world from The Broken Empire and Red Queen’s War.  It centres around a young female protagonist being trained as a killer in a convent.  This concept sounds awesome, if reminiscent of Robin LeFevers His Fair Assassin series.  In Lawrence’s hands I’m sure it will be wonderful and I can’t wait.  Red Sister will be released on April 4th.

five-stars

Reading roundup. Yes, I am still here… was originally published on Canadian eReader

As some of you who have been following my blog may know, the last couple of weeks I’ve been obsessed with the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  This is the latest from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling and follows the adventures of Newt Scamander, a British magizoologist (student of magical creatures) who encounters some issues when visiting 1920s New York.  As well as following Newt’s attempts to recapture his fantastic beasts, the movie also explores the challenges facing the American wizarding community of that era.

As well as seeing the film on release day, I also purchased the screenplay (available on Amazon) and the LEGO Dimensions story pack for Fantastic Beasts.  As well a six levels of gameplay taking you through the entire movie, the pack gives you LEGO bricks to build the MACUSA building.

For those who have not yet seen the movie, I’ll continue after the cut as I will be discussing spoilers.  Warning;  complete nerdout follows.

(more…)

Hello and welcome to another reading roundup.  Since my last roundup I have read two pretty good books which I’d like to share with you.

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #2
Also in this series: Court of Fives
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Georgia Dolenz
Length: 13 hours and 2 minutes
Genres: Epic Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott at BEA.  It’s been on my TBR for a while, but it’s only recently I read it.  The Poisoned Blade is the second book in a planned trilogy (I believe) and continues the story of Jessamy, a young woman caught between two cultures whose passion in life is playing the game of Fives.  In this second book, Jes is drawn into court politics and has to deal with the fallout of her decisions in book one.  I listened to The Poisoned Blade in audiobook format and very much enjoyed Georgia Dolenz’s narration.

What I liked

The characters.  I really liked our protagonist, Jessamy.  Her conflicts between her love for the Fives, her need to protect her family, the limitations placed on her by her heritage and her affection for Kal were expertly written.  

The pacing.  The Poisoned Blade didn’t suffer from middle book syndrome at all.  There were enough conficts and resolutions to keep me well satisfied.  I will certainly be picking up the final book in the trilogy.  Personally, I’ve found Elliott’s series lose steam as they go on and for that reason I’ve not finished many of them.  This one I do intend to finish.

The worldbuilding.  Continuing on from Court of Fives, Elliott has created a wonderful world for our characters to live in.  

What I didn’t like

There was little I didn’t enjoy about The Poisoned Blade.  It is my favourite of Elliott’s series.  

I gave it four stars out of five.

My review of Heartless Reading roundup – November 12th 2016Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Format: eBook
Pages: 464 pages
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy
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Evelynne’s rating:

four-stars

Probably my most anticipated release of the year, Heartless is Lunar Chronicles author Marissa Meyer’s origin story of Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts.  I really wanted to listen to this in audiobook format, however technical issues meant that it wasn’t available to Canadians on Audible.com for several days after release.  This was rather disappointing as i loved Rebecca Soler’s narration of the Lunar Chronicles.  I ended up reading it on my Kindle.

What I liked

The writing style.  I really loved Meyer’s, fresh, immediate writing style from the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless is no different.  This time it’s spiced with Lewis Caroll whimsy and the blend is magical. As a note, it probably does help if you’re familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

What I didn’t like

Somewhat predictable.  Of course, as an origin story, it’s tricky to be completely unpredictable.  There’s no escaping the fact that Catherine becomes the cold hearted Queen of Hearts.  However, certain other plot points were more easily guessed than I would have liked them to be.

Character development.  I felt this was better done in Fairest.  There was a more logical progression in Levana’s transformation to the wicked Queen than Cath’s becoming the Queen of Hearts.  Cath is much more of a positive character at the beginning, so her transformation was always going to be more difficult to plot.  At times I felt each step in Cath’s journey was a little unexpected, unearned or not wholly justified by the steps before.

In summary, I did enjoy Heartless, but I prefer the Lunar Chronicles.  I gave Heartless four stars out of five.

In other news:

I am currently obsessed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  Yes, I know, it’s not released until next week, but everything I’ve seen and heard about it indicates it’s going to be absolutely magical.  Rowling’s Wizarding World in 1920s New York?  Sign me up!  I’m especially loving all the hints about Grindelwald and his rise to power in Europe.  There must be some wonderful stories to tell there. I can’t be the only bookworm who has planned a day off work around a book release, surely?  Not only is the movie released on November 18th, but we also get a book of the script and a LEGO Dimensions Story Pack!  I can’t wait!

Also this week I have been watching Netflix The Crown, the story of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne and the first few years of her reign.  I’m enjoying it very much; Clare Foy has taken the role of the Queen, with former Doctor Who Matt Smith as Prince Philip,  Both are giving excellent portrayals and I recommend this series.

That’s all for now folks.  Back soon!

four-stars

Reading roundup – November 12th 2016 was originally published on Canadian eReader

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