Sunday, March 26, 2017

Audiobook Review: Ask The Passengers

Ask The Passengers By A. S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Release Date: October 23, 2012
Format: Audiobook narrated by Devon Sorvari
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Astrid Jones desperately wants to confide in someone, but her mother’s pushiness and her father’s lack of interest tell her they’re the last people she can trust. Instead, Astrid spends hours lying on the backyard picnic table watching airplanes fly overhead. She doesn’t know the passengers inside, but they’re the only people who won’t judge her when she asks them her most personal questions . . . like what it means that she’s falling in love with a girl.

As her secret relationship becomes more intense and her friends demand answers, Astrid has nowhere left to turn. She can’t share the truth with anyone except the people at thirty thousand feet, and they don’t even realize she’s there. But little does Astrid know just how much even the tiniest connection will affect these strangers’ lives—and her own—for the better.
Ask the Passengers was a hard book for me to get into. I've read Please Ignore Vera Dietz by the same author and that one was hard to get through too, but in the end I really enjoyed reading it. With Ask the Passengers I was left just not really sure what I felt about this novel. I didn't hate it, but I don't know if overall I really enjoyed it all that much. It's one of those books that I just don't have a lot of feelings about. I think for the most part it's because this book is not that exciting.

I was interested in reading about a person unsure about their sexuality and they are trying to figure it out. What we get in this novel is someone who is essentially bullied into coming out. I'm actually not sure if Astrid really is gay, she could be bi or asexual, but I felt like she was never able to discover that for herself because everyone in her life basically forced her to declare she was a lesbian. I'm not gay, so I can't say I understand the complexity of what it is like to figure out your sexuality or what it's like to come out to your friends and family. So I got that Astrid wasn't ready to tell everyone, because I felt like she should really do it on her own terms. In this novel, I felt like she was basically coerced into it. By her friends who are gay and had no idea she was, and by her parents that pointblank ask her and don't believe her what she says that she just doesn't know yet. 

I also didn't really like her girlfriend Dee at all! She was disrespectful of Astrid's boundaries, and I feel like if this happened in a straight romance people would be pretty pissed off, and think it was borderline abuse. It definitely read that way to me, and it really put me off. Dee wasn't the only character I didn't care for, it seemed like everyone in Astrid's life was terrible. I think the only character I actually liked was her pot smoking Dad. Dude was just trying to survive in his crazy household with his demanding wife. It felt like were were supposed to hate everyone but Astrid, and that just felt like lazy writing to me. 

This book had a lot of interludes which consisted of all the passengers in the airplanes that Astrid was sending her love to. I found these parts to be pretty useless, and just filler to make it seem like anything was actually happening in this novel. The last one we read actually made me really mad considering what the situation was. I felt like these were all trite situations that had nothing to do with the main plot.

So in the end, I was glad that Astrid came to terms with her sexuality and figured out what she wanted. That was the one thing that kept me continuing to read this novel, but it took so long to get to that point. All in all, this just wasn't my favorite thing to read.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's theme is books on my spring TBR...or more like books I am still reading and have been reading since my winter TBR because I suck. That was too long of a headline for me to include. 😝

Red Rising By Pierce Brown

Yes, somehow I am STILL reading this book. It's not bad, I just keep getting sidetracked by books I have to read for review so I always have to put it away for a little bit.

Thrawn By Timothy Zahn

This book is not quite out yet, but very soon! I am pretty excited that the Star Wars storyboard team decided to make Thrawn a canon villain. Timothy Zahn's original trilogy means a lot to me, and this villain is one of the best, so I'm really excited to read how his story is different now.

Ten Thousand Skies Above You

I adored the first book in the series, and my brother got me the second book for Christmas. I still haven't read this one, but I hope to get to it soon.

Voyager By Diana Gabaldon

I was a little disappointed in the second book in the Outlander series, but I heard the third one is better, so I definitely need to find the time to read this one. Long books always take me too long.

From Ice To Ashes By Rhett C. Bruno

I actually have the ARC for this and I'm a little behind on reading it, but I'm enjoying it so far. This is a spin-off to Bruno's Titanborn so I'm not 100% if it makes sense to people that didn't read that book but I'm seeing a lot of connections between the two so I'm enjoying it.

Remembrance By Meg Cabot

Uh...I suck because I still haven't read this one. I just keep pushing it to the back of my pile. Soon!!

The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

It's no secret that I love Riordan's mythology series. I really enjoyed the first book in this new one, so I'm pretty excited to see where this story goes.

The Stolen Throne by David Gaider's also no secret that I love Bioware video games, and I recently did a new play through of Dragon Age Origins so I got interested in reading the book series. I haven't started this one yet but I'm pretty excited to do so.

Catalyst By James Luceno

I was actually going to pass on this one, until a friend at work kept bugging me to read it. I still haven't, but I have it on good authority that this one is worth it. 

Blood of Elves By Andrzej Sapkowski

This is another book that I started reading, but then it got pushed to the side because of review books. I definitely want to get back to it soon.

What books are on your list today?

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Review: A Shadow Bright and Burning

A Shadow Bright and Burning By Jessica Cluess* 
Publisher: Random House Books
Release Date: September 20th, 2016
Format: Hardback, 416 pages
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Henrietta can burst into flames.

Forced to reveal her power to save a friend, she’s shocked when instead of being executed, she’s named the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and invited to train as one of Her Majesty’s royal sorcerers.

Thrust into the glamour of Victorian London, Henrietta is declared the prophesied one, the girl who will defeat the Ancients, bloodthirsty demons terrorizing humanity. She also meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, handsome young men eager to test her power and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her.

But Henrietta is not the chosen one.

As she plays a dangerous game of deception, she discovers that the sorcerers have their own secrets to protect. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book, and I think that was why it took me so long to finish it. Every time I picked it up I just didn't have the motivation to read. This book wasn't terrible, but I also wasn't completely in awe of it. This might have just been a mood or "me" thing, because I do think there are several things that worked really well in this novel, and I definitely think other readers will like this one.

I think the main thing that I really liked about this novel was the world building. I think Cluess did a great job of dropping us into this victorian England time period where sorcerers fight for the Queen against these Ancient creatures that are terrorizing the country. That was so interesting to me, and I would have liked to see more of the Ancients that are mentioned in this book. This is going to be a series, so I believe that will happen down the line.

Another thing that I think worked for me is that this story tries to subvert the whole "chosen one" trope that has become commonplace in young adult fiction. Henrietta is not the chosen one that is called to this task, but she tries very hard to convince everyone else that she is.

There were some things that just didn't work for me in this novel, one of them being Rook. I just didn't care about him at all. He is supposed to mean a lot to Henrietta but I felt like throughout her time in London she forgot about him a lot. I also just didn't understand why he needed to come with her. I think his presence actually caused a lot of unnecessary subplots in this novel.

I really liked Magnus and Henrietta's friendship. Magnus made me laugh a lot and I really did like them, until we get to the scene after the ball. I really didn't like how all of a sudden they were interested in each other. I felt like it came out of nowhere. Like it was just an excuse to have some sort of love triangle in this novel (Between Magnus, Rook & Henrietta). It was just so unnecessary, that it really put me off.

I definitely think there are some things that need to be worked on in the next book, but I think this series does have a lot of potential. I think it's definitely for fans of fantasy that are sick of the "chosen one" trope and want to see it written differently.

*I received this book from in exchange for my honest review.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Deanna Listens: Hello From the Magic Tavern

Deanna Listens is a monthly feature on the first Monday of every month (sometimes) I created to showcase some of my favorite podcasts. This month I'm talking about the podcast Hello From The Magic Tavern.

If you like improv comedy or podcasts that tell a story (like Welcome to Nightvale) I would highly recommend this podcast. I think readers would get into this podcast because although sometimes they are making stuff up on the fly there is still a core story that is happening in this podcast. I have to admit that I have only listened to a handful of episodes but the dudes that do this podcast are so funny that I just get a kick out of listening to them.

So what exactly is this podcast about? The concept is that our protagonist, Arnie, got sucked into a portal outside of Burger King into the magical land of Foon. He conveniently had his podcast equipment in his backpack and is getting a weak wi-fi signal from the Burger King, so he decides to start a podcast to figure out this strange new land. Each week he is joined by a Wizard Usidore, who has like five million names, and Chunt a magical shape shifter currently in badger form. I'll let you figure out for yourself how that one works.

This podcast is seriously so very weird, but also so very good. It's definitely for fans of D & D or any sort of fantasy fan really. It does poke some fun at the genre, so I think basically it's for fans that don't take themselves too serious.

Usually when I recommend podcasts in this feature I also shout out my favorite episodes, but for this one I am not going to do this because I really think you should start from the beginning with this one! To really understand Arnie's story I think you need to start from the beginning of when he first landed in Foon. You can obviously jump in where ever you want, but for me personally I like to start at the beginning.

Does any one else listen to this podcast? What do you think?

Got a great podcast you love? Give me a recommendation in the comments. No serious, please help, I'm running out of podcasts to listen to!

Happy Reads Everyone!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Audiobook Review: Career of Evil

Career of Evil By Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Release Date: October 20th, 2015
Format: Audiobook narrated by Robert Glenister
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★★1/2
Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. A fiendishly clever mystery with unexpected twists around every corner, it is also a gripping story of a man and a woman at a crossroads in their personal and professional lives. 

Cormoran Strike is back, with his assistant Robin Ellacott, in a mystery based around soldiers returning from war.
One of the things that I love about these Cormoran Strike novels is that they always keep me guessing. I guessed who dunnit in the first one pretty quickly, but in the second and now this third installment I had no idea until the very end. I think this might be one of my favorite current series, and I just need to read a fourth book right now! I need to know how Strike's business will fair after the events of this novel, and I need to know what Robin's plans for her future are.

At this point in the series we know a lot about Robin and Strike, or so we think. Since the culprit of delivering the leg has something to do with Strike's past we get to dive a little deeper into his life. Strike is one of the most interesting characters I've read about as of late. For such a big lurking presence he shows everyone on the outside, he has a lot of inside vulnerabilities that we as the reader get to see all the time. He's a very damaged character, and in this novel we get to see more of how his childhood might have shaped that when he suspects his ex-step-father in this crime.

As for Robin, we finally get to find out why she left university, and why she has stuck with annoying Matthew for so long. And...honestly it made me hate Matthew even more! I know we are supposed to not like him, but we really get a glimpse at how he treats Robin and it really rubbed me the wrong way. I would really like for them to break up for good, but I don't necessarily want her to start dating Strike. I like them as a team, but I think Robin needs to separate herself from Matthew and be independent for a while. Working for Strike allows her to do that, even if the pay isn't that great.

I think I have said it in my previous reviews, but Robert Glenister does an amazing job narrating these novels. I think he does a great job with accents, especially in this novel where there were a lot of Scottish accents. Unlike other male narrators, I don't think his voices for female characters are too over the top. I don't think he tries to make them sound to high-pitched or girly, and I definitely appreciate that.

There is a lot that gets left unsaid at the end of the novel, so I don't know how much I can say without giving anything away. I know this can't be the last Strike novel, but it might be some time before we see him and Robin again. If you need a good detective story that keeps you on your toes I highly suggest this book series.

Have you read the latest Cormoran Strike Novel? What did you think? What do you think Robin should do?
Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Audiobook Review: The Scorpio Races

The Scorpio Races By Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Format: Audiobook
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★
Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

Some riders live.
Others die.

At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.

Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

This book was a hard book for me to get into. At times I found it really interesting and at other times I just had no desire to turn on the overdrive app. I'm not sure if this was a me thing, or about where I was in the book. Ultimately it was a challenging book for me but I ended up liking it a lot in the end.

The concept is hard to get your head around, but if you think about the Kelpie myth then it makes it easier to accept The Water Horses that appear on this little Island every year. I haven't read any books that deals with this myth so I thought it was an interesting and complicated topic to tackle, and I think Stiefvater does a good job with it.

I listened to the audiobook for this one, and I ended up really enjoying the narrators. I was really glad that they chose to do a male and female narrator to voice the perspectives of Puck and Sean. I think for me it really helped me to get into their heads and really understand what they were about. It really helped to understand why they both were willing to risk their lives to compete in these races.

Even though the title of this book is called "The Scorpio Races" the book isn't really about the races themselves. They are only really in the very end of the book. It's more about preparing for the races and what forces people to do desperate things when they are in bad situations. It's really about the human condition, and how everyone on this island has everything to lose.

There is a little bit of a love story between Puck and Sean. I thought it was pretty obvious that these two would wind up together, but it was written as a slow burn love story that I really enjoyed. There was not a lot of setup to get these two together and Sean is a man of few words, but I loved how it was subtly written, and not kisses every two pages.

Stiefvater has been a hit or miss author for me. I loved The Raven Boys, but hated Shiver, so I took a chance on this one and ended up really enjoying it. I think I also liked that it was a standalone story that I could enjoy and not have to read any more books. She definitely has a way with words and I do enjoy her writing style. If you are looking for a standalone book or you enjoy Stiefvater's work and haven't read this yet, I would recommend it.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?
Happy Reads Everyone!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

ARC Review: Soulmated

Soulmated by Shaila Patel
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Format: Egalley
Source: copy provided by publisher for review
My Rating: ★★

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Two souls. One Fate. 

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family's standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother's ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage. 

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart. 

Liam's father isn't convinced Laxshmi is "The One" and Laxshmi's mother won't even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one's own fate too great a price for the soulmated?
This was a hard book for me to get through. It was one of those books that I wanted to like way more than I did. There were parts of this book that I thought worked really well, and parts that just missed the mark for me. I find sometimes I just can't get over things that don't work for me and it ends up souring the rest of the book for me. Soulmated unfortunately was a book that was okay, but I just didn't totally love.

So what I think worked the best in this novel was Laxshmi. This book was about an Indian-American girl written by an Indian-American woman, and that was pretty clear. Which means it was awesome! This was an Own Voices novel, and I was really glad I was able to read accurately about a culture that was not my own. With Laxshmi's point of views I really got a feel for her struggles with identity and her strained relationship with her mother. This part of the novel felt so real, and I loved reading about the story in her point of view. I was actually more interesting in learning how the conflict between her and her mother was going to be resolved. I was kind of disappointed we don't see a resolution in this novel, but I believe this is going to be a series so I am assuming this will be addressed later. 

I initially was intrigued by this novel because it was Urban Fantasy, and I would like to read more books from this subgenre. The plot of the novel is that Liam (an Irish Royal Empath) is looking for his soulmate. The concept of him searching for her was interesting, so there is definitely instalove in this novel. Since this is pretty much the point of the plot I didn't mind that at all. What I did mind was that I still have no idea what an Empath is or how this ability that Liam has is really about. I felt very lost when there was talk about Liam being a "threat" because I didn't really understand how this hidden society works. I felt very lost with all this, and it made it harder for me to enjoy this book. 

Another thing that just didn't click with me was Liam's voice. I loved reading from Laxshmi's point of view, I really got a feel for who she was and she felt real to me, but I could never really feel that from Liam. They way his viewpoint was written felt awkward to me and the aggressive use of Irish slang was a little distracting. The dialogue from him felt very two-dimensional and it was almost as is the order of words were mixed up. It was too distracting for me to really care about his side of the story. I recommend this book? I would.  There is definitely a market for this novel and I know there are other readers that will swoon over the love story between Laxshami and Liam. I think readers will enjoy the soulmate concept in this novel and be intrigued by the empath society.

Have you read this book yet? What did you think? Did you struggle with Liam's point of view like I did?

Happy Reads Everyone!