Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Review: The Last Wish

The Last Wish By Andrzej Sapkowski
Publisher: Hachette Book Group
Release Date: May 1st 2008 (originally 1992)
Format: Kindle Book
My Rating: ★★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Geralt de Rivia is a witcher. A cunning sorcerer. A merciless assassin. And a cold-blooded killer. His sole purpose: to destroy the monsters that plague the world. But not everything monstrous-looking is evil and not everything fair is good...and in every fairy tale there is a grain of truth.

A collection of short stories introducing de Rivia, to be followed by the first novel in the actual series, The Blood of Elves. Note that, while "The Last Wish" was published after "The Sword of Destiny," the stories contained in "The Last Wish" take place first chronologically, and many of the individual stories were published before "The Sword of Destiny."
I've mentioned a few times on this blog how much I like The Witcher video game series, and how I am very interested in reading the books since the books actually came first. A lot of games especially in the RPG fantasy realm will have game tie-in books, but I find The Witcher so unique that it is a series based off a popular Polish fantasy novel series.  The book series is interesting because it actually started off as a collection of short stories and then there were novels written later. The author is one of those annoying ones that doesn't write the books in chronically order so I keep having to look the order up to figure out which one to read next. The Last Wish is supposed to be the first thing you read in the series as it sets up who our protagonist Geralt of Rivia is and introduces you to what the heck a Witcher is.

Since I'm already familiar with Geralt and what a Witcher is, I found this book to be more of a reference on his background. It gives you a lot of insight on who he was before the events of the second game, so you get to see how he gets to be where he is. The book is portrayed as Geralt retelling some of his adventures to his friend Nenneke, who is a priestess trying to heal his wounds from a bad battle with a monster. So you get to see how he destroys different monsters, and the first time he meets his lover the sorceress Yennefer. It's pretty clear that their relationship is pretty toxic, and they are one of those couples who break up and get back together constantly. When he's retelling this to Nenneke they are currently broken up.

What I really liked about this story is that we get a lot of insight on why the Sorceresses are so catty with each other. I don't think it's mentioned in the games, but the it's pretty know that the school of Sorceresses will take in any sort of girls, even those with physical deformities. They will put them through manipulations to get rid of those deformities to make them look beautiful as they will need to use both magic and beauty for their positions as advisors to kings and other politicians. I found this so interesting because the Witchers do the opposite to boys and turn them into mutants, so it is almost as if Witchers and Sorceresses are foils to each other. This also gave insight to why Geralt and Yen's relationship makes sense. Due to Geralt's Witcher Eyes he can see what Yen used to be and he still is interested in her. Geralt sees her for who she really is, and that kind of love just kills me!

I want to also point out that this book is a translation, and it's actually done really well. Translations can be hard some times, and often there can be a few moments where something gets lost or muddled in the the process. For this book I didn't really see any of this, and if I didn't know these books were originally written in Polish I probably wouldn't have known it was a translation.

If you play the games and you want a little more insight on Geralt, I would still suggest this short story collection, but it might just be background information for you. I would suggest this to anyone that likes a fantasy story in a medieval-like setting.

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Friday, May 20, 2016

Audiobook Review: The Cuckoo's Calling

The Cuckoo's Calling By Robert Galbraith
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: May 16th, 2013
Format: Audiobook narrated by Robert Glenister
My Rating: ★★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

After losing his leg to a land mine in Afghanistan, Cormoran Strike is barely scraping by as a private investigator. Strike is down to one client, and creditors are calling. He has also just broken up with his longtime girlfriend and is living in his office.

Then John Bristow walks through his door with an amazing story: His sister, the legendary supermodel Lula Landry, known to her friends as the Cuckoo, famously fell to her death a few months earlier. The police ruled it a suicide, but John refuses to believe that. The case plunges Strike into the world of multimillionaire beauties, rock-star boyfriends, and desperate designers, and it introduces him to every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.

You may think you know detectives, but you've never met one quite like Strike. You may think you know about the wealthy and famous, but you've never seen them under an investigation like this. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.
First of all let's get the J.K. Rowling discussion out of the way. Robert Galbraith is the pen name that J.K Rowling wrote this novel and its sequels under, and I completely understand why she chose to do this. This novel is a huge departure from the Harry Potter series, is it very adult and has a lot of swearing, so I get that she wanted to separate herself from this novel. I also think it was so young kids wouldn't pick up this novel after reading Harry Potter and think it was age appropriate for them, because it's definitely an adult novel.

I like a good murder mystery, so I really enjoyed the journey of this story. I did figure out who did it immediately, but second guessed myself and thought they didn't do it, but turns out in the end I was right. I could never be a detective, I would suck at it. So it may be a little predictable for readers that read a lot of mysterious, but I still enjoyed how Strike puts all the pieces together.

I really enjoyed the character development in this novel. I found that both Cormoran and his assistant Robin were pretty well rounded. Cormoran is this big physical guy so you think he's all macho, but we really get to see that even though he's a decent private eye, he is a pretty damaged character. He's a mess, and I thought that was a really nice way to show how complex a person can be. I'm really interesting to see how he develops more in this series. Robin ends up working for Cormoran by accident when she is sent by a temp agency, even though he can't afford her. I found her wit and ability to think on her feet was so refreshing. Cormoran comes to rely on her a lot, and I think the two of them need each other for their own personal development. I like that we see a character that takes a job solely because her heart is in the work and not because of money.

The narrator of this audiobook really made this book for me. He did a really good job of not only narrating this book but also using the different accents. It helped to really get a feel for all the different characters that Cormoran meets while he investigates this case. This was definitely something that made the audiobook worth listening to, because I wouldn't have gotten this feel had I just read the book.

If you're a fan of a good mystery story, I would recommend this one. I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one.

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Review: Shadows of The Empire

Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire By Steve Perry
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Release Date: January 1st, 1996
Format: Kindle edition, 413 pages 
My Rating: ★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
Here is the untold story of the events that took place between the movies The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi: a novel in which Darth Vader still lives--and battles a villain as powerful and evil as himself.

SHADOWS OF THE EMPIRE

It is a time of crisis. Han Solo, frozen in carbonite, is being taken to the vile gangster Jabba the Hutt. As Princess Leia mounts a rescue mission including Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, and a brilliant young pilot, Darth Vader pits himself against a cunning and ruthless rival. Xizor is the leader of a powerful crime syndicate who seeks to supplant Vader for the favor of their mutual master, the dreaded Emperor. Their target: Luke Skywalker. Suddenly Luke finds himself the potential prize of the two most evil entities in the galaxy--one who wants him alive...and one who wants him dead.
Shadows of the Empire is some old school Star Wars Expanded Universe (now Legends) so I had to remind myself whilst reading this that the Prequels didn't exist yet, and there weren't a lot of Star Wars novels on the market yet. So I took all of the "I have a bad feeling about this" comments with a grain of salt. In general I enjoyed this novel, and I found it as quick read but I felt at times it showed its age.

The major thing that I found interesting about this novel is that it gives us some background on what was happening in this universe in-between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. This novel is set before they go take down Jabba, and it does give a lot of insight on how they hatched that plan. If you are interested in how Leia got that Bounty Hunter outfit, that is explained in this novel. It also explains how Luke gets a new lightsaber, and it really shows the reader that Luke was pretty much winging everything. I love that about Luke because it always made him seem like such a realistic hero to me. I especially love when SW writers put him in a bind where he has to puzzle a way out without his lightsaber or the force.

This book introduces the universe to The Black Sun crime organization and its head Prince Xizor. I kind of love that his goal in this novel was to take Vader down, and I liked the fact that he just thinks Vader is such a chump. Xizor might be even more of a creep then the Emperor since he uses his weird pheromones to seduce women and he tries to use it on Leia. This was a particular part in the novel that I really enjoyed because as the reader I already knew that Leia was Luke's brother and I knew she was also force sensitive, but she didn't know any of that...yet. When Leia realizes what Xizor is doing she thinks, "Okay, I can fight this with my anger!" Oh honey, no that's the dark side of the force. I think the rhetoric in the SW's fandom has been arguing that Leia is more like Vader for a long time, so I found it extremely important that we saw a scene like this in a SW book written in 1996.

This book is good if you want some background and insight on what happened between movies, but as far as being a fan of the old expanded universe I didn't think it was something that I absolutely needed to read. I enjoyed it, and I wouldn't tell anyone not to read it, but just remember this was published in a time where there were little to no star wars books being published.


Happy Reads Everyone!
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Audiobook Review: Dark Places

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn 
Publisher: Random House Audio
Release Date: May 5th 2009
Format: Audiobook narrated by Rebecca Lowman, Cassandra Campbell, Mark Deakins & Robertson Dean
My Rating: ★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.


Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her. 

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.
This is the third book I've read from Gillian Flynn (all on audio by the way) and I have to say that this one is by far my favorite. I think what makes me like Dark Places so much was that the entire time I had NO idea if Ben actually did it. I didn't really figure it out until right up until the end. No seriously this was me reading this book: "So DID he do? I don't think he did it. Wait...Did Libby do it? Wait, what?" Seriously I could not figure out what the hell was going on in this book, and it made me compelled to just listen to it non-stop to find out.

Gillian Flynn has a knack for writing unlikeable characters that are that way because they are disturbed, and Libby Day was no different. However, unlike Amy Dunne from Gone Girl and Camille Preaker from Sharp Objects, I actually liked Libby. I think the narrator got her sarcastic and cynical tone down really well that I felt like this was my abrasive friend telling me her life story. I kind of liked that she was kind of an asshole to everyone. Maybe because I have that tendency too, but I just felt like I could relate to her and understand why she was the way she was better than her other characters. I do really appreciate that Flynn goes out of her way to write nasty women.

This book worked well in misleading me to what actually happened by the point of view switches. The narration goes back in forth between Libby in the present trying to piece together the clues of her family's murder, to her mom's perspective before and her brother's perspective before. Since the reader gets a lot of clues out of context the writing leads you in circles until the reveal at the end of the novel. I loved that about this book, and it really made me want to read whatever Flynn writes next.

I don't know if reading the print version would make me think differently, but I really enjoyed listening to different narrators telling Libby, Patty and Ben's different stories. I think it worked really well, and it's probably one of the only audiobooks that made me want to wash the dishes!

I would highly recommend this if you really enjoy murder mysteries that really make you think.

Happy Reads!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

2 Year Blogiversary + Giveway

So guess whose blog turned 2 years old this month! It's me! I can't believe it's already been 2 years that I've been annoying you guys with all my book reviews!

A couple things have happened on the blog that were different from last year. For one the biggest change was probably that I decided a couple months ago to change my blog name from Deanna Writes to Deanna Reads. Not a huge change that I'm sure not too many viewers even noticed a difference. I just made it so my URL didn't change so it wouldn't confuse anyone that has been following me for a while.

I also changed up how I wrote my reviews on this blog so they all have a more concise look. I like having things with the same look and feel, so I think it made my blog more organized. At least I hope so.


One major thing I started this year was my podcast feature Deanna listens. I've been really enjoying featuring different podcasts. I haven't been doing it for all that long, but I hope that people are interested in this non-book feature I've included on my blog.

This year I got heavily back into gaming again so I incorporated some video game reviews in my blog posts that I wrote for Sci-Fi November this year. I really love this feature, so I definitely think I will continue to participate in this event. I am also even considering starting a video game review feature because I enjoyed reviewing Mass Effect so much. I just haven't worked out the kinks for that yet.

I definitely feel like I've lacked in my posting and reading in general in the last couple of months, but I do hope I can continue to bring great content in my next year of blogging. I also want to be better about commenting on new blogs and making new connections in the book blogging community. I've made a couple good connections with some other bloggers, but I definitely would like to meet new bloggers and experience new opinions.

To celebrate my 2-year Blogiversary I am hosting another giveaway this month. Since I'm writing this a little later than I hoped to, the giveaway will run through June. A couple things about the giveaway. As always it's only international if the Book Depository ships to your country, so please keep in mind before entering. Please do not cheat, if you don't want to do all the steps that is perfectly fine, but please do not claim that you have done them. I haven't really had this problem in my past giveways (YAY!) but I always just want to make it clear. Giveaways are supposed to be fun, so I want to make sure everyone has a fair chance.

Good Luck & may the force be with you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

April Wrap-Up


It's already May! And I'm already behind in scheduling my blog posts for the month, Ahh!! April was a pretty good month for me, mostly because I read a ton of comic books for my Comic Book Month feature. I also ran a giveaway for the feature. I will notify the winner soon, but since I'm about to go on vacation I am going to notify them when I get back. Don't worry if you missed it, because I might be doing another giveway in May. Keep a look out on that. 

I also listened to some more audiobooks this month, so I have a couple things that I have yet to review that I'm trying to get scheduled for this month. Since I'm going on vacation maybe I'll actually have finished reading some books too.

Books I Read








AUDIOBOOKS



WHAT ELSE I'VE CONSUMED




I finished the story plots of both Skyrim and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Both in the same day actually. Skyrim basically never ends, you can just continue to do fetch quests, but the main story line does come to an end, and I felt like I had done enough quests to be ready to depart from that world. I really enjoyed it a lot, but all the fetch quests did make things a little repetitive at times. I also finished Rise of the Tomb Raider, but apparently I didn't explore everything because I'm only 60% complete with the game. I don't know if I want to go back and 100% this game, but I did really enjoy it so I started playing the game they put out for 360 before this one. 

My boyfriend has been playing The Witcher 3 a lot lately and he has been trying to convince me to give the second one a chance. I hate when he is right because it has taken over my life. The story of the game is just so compelling. The games are actually based off of this Polish fantasy book series, so I actually just got the first two (which are more like short stories) and I love it! So you will probably see me talk about The Witcher a lot more on the blog. 

Since I'm going on vacation tomorrow, I think I'm going to be taking a mini-hiatius from the blog. IE. I didn't have time to schedule anything prior to my trip. Oops. I'm looking forward to actually getting some time away from my xbox to read all the books I keep buying on my kindle.

What books did you read in April? What else has been consuming your time?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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