Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books That Lived Up To The Hype

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Um...so I fail at doing Top Ten Tuesday posts, like so bad. The last time I did one it still lived on The Broke and The Bookish! That was so long ago. I want to start regularly doing these again, but I just have to get better at planning. So hopefully I do these more regularly going forward.  

This week's topic is Books That Lived Up To The Hype. These are of course totally subjective, because books I thought lived up to the hype might not be the same for everyone. So take my opinions with a grain of salt.


Harry Potter Series

Okay, I have talked about this before, but my mom didn't let me read Harry Potter, but let me watch the movies??? It made no sense. I didn't read these until I was 19! I think they still hold up.


The Hunger Games

This is one that not everyone is going to agree with, but for me that very first book definitely lived up to the hype. I couldn't put this one down!


UnDivided

Okay...this one might have only been hyped up by my friend Bethany, but she sold me. This was soooooo dark, but so good. 


Grave Mercy 

I was so unsure about this one, but I LOVED it. Assassin nuns?? UM, yes please!


Ready Player One

I know that some people really don't like this book, and I think there are some fair points about why. I loved this one because Wil Wheaton narrating it sold it to me. Also, it's what made me get back into playing video games. 


Saga Comic Series

So many comic book readers had been hyping up this series for years, but once I started it I totally understood. It's amazing! 


Nimona

OMG this little webcomic turned graphic novel was amazing! I love it so much. It very much deserved all the accolades it gets. 


A Thousand Pieces of You

I've heard that the end of this series sucks, but I've only read the first book, and I know that the first book was amazing. Gray has actually become one of my favorite authors, but I read this one after I read one of her Star Wars novels. It makes total sense why they keep on hiring her.


Geekerella

OMG, I loved this book so much. It was a little too dramatic at times, but the geeky retelling of Cinderella made me smile so much.


The Crown's Game

I read this one a long time after this came out, but man it was awesome. I love Imperial Russia history, and this one was incredibly researched. I loved it!

What books lived up to the hype for you?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Monday, July 30, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: Reviewing Audiobooks Is Actually Really Hard


Today on Bookish Thoughts, I want to talk about audiobooks. I listen to a lot of audiobooks, which I think is pretty clear whenever you come to my blog. I think reviewing books in general is always really hard for me, but I especially have a hard time when it comes to audiobooks. Let's dive in!

I love, love, love audiobooks, but it has only been a recent thing for me. I think I started it because I wanted to reread books and I felt that listening to them on audio was a good way to do it. I never thought I would become such a big audiobook listener! I'm glad it happened, but now I find myself trying to figure out just how to go about reviewing these books. Here's the problem, sometimes I think I review books better when I really like the narrator! Narrators are a huge deal with audiobooks, they can really make or break the audiobook experience for me. I definitely have rated a book better because I love the narrator, because sometimes the content is just "meh". The other case is also true, the narrator has suckkkkedddd but I really liked the story so I pressed on. A lot of times in my reviews I mention that I think I would have liked this one better had I actually read the print version.

Recently, I had to ask Audible for an exchange for one of the audiobooks that I purchased from them. I love that Audible let's you do this, but I have never done it before. They usually just ask you why you want an exchange, and as long as you bought it within the last year (365 days) they will credit back to your account. So why did I exchange it? The production on the audiobook was TERRIBLE! And it was an Audible Production, which was really surprising. Like, did they phone this one in or something? It was BAD! Like so bad that I could barely hear it! It was muffled, like as if the narrator was in her car under water?!? The narrator wasn't completely to blame, and I thought she did okay voices but it was pretty clear she was reading a script and wasn't putting a lot into it. I asked some other audiobook reviewers what to do because I heard they also disliked the narration, and they recommended just buying the book. I think if I hadn't done this, I would have gone on to listen to this audiobook and then my review would have been lower because I had such a horrible experience with the audiobook.

I think I just have a really hard time quantifying my reviews when it comes to audiobooks. Reviewing and reading are super subjective, so sometimes it is just a "me" thing, but I feel like there is a whole other aspect you have to look at when reviewing audiobooks. It's not just the text you are judging the book on, but the experience as a whole. I find it really such a mixed bad to review audiobooks, and it's really difficult for me to work out all my feelings when reviewing books on audio.

Audiobook listeners, what do you think? Do you have a hard time reviewing audiobooks too? What issues get you bogged down when reviewing?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Wrap Up!


Another month has gone by, can you believe it that we are in the last month of summer? I will believe it when my apartment is not 500 million degrees any longer. Summer is the worst when you live in the second floor duplex that was built in the '30s. It's not great.

I've also been super stressed this month, because the A/C in my car went and I have been trying to buy something new. The dealership gave me the runaround, and it wasn't until I told them me and my money were walking away that they found me the car I wanted. Imagine that! I'm supposed to get it on Monday, but I won't even get to enjoy it because I am traveling for work next week AGAIN! I was just in Florida for a couple days this week for work. I am kinda of over airplanes at this point. The only good thing is maybe I can finish reading Foundryside By Robert Jackson Bennett since I have a 5 hour flight next week!

DEANNA LISTENS

I think I am finally back on track with doing my podcast feature Deanna Listens. In July I featured Criminal. I love this podcast a lot. They are short little pieces of different crime stories. The host Phoebe is also such a great interviewer. 

DEANNA PLAYS


For Deanna Plays this month I gushed about Unravel 2, the sequel to the game I adored. I loved all the different changes they made to this game. I still haven't finish this one yet though!

BOOKS I REVIEWED







FROM THE BLOGOSPHERE

What books did you read this month?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Audiobook Review: The Alchemists Of Loom By Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Release Date: February 28th, 2017
Format: Audiobook narrated by Tim Campbell & Erin Moon
Source: Audible
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD



Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.
 
I have seen Elise Kova's name come up a lot lately in the blogging community, but I kept on being like, "yeah, yeah, I'll get to her books one of these days" and I really didn't think I was ever going to get to her books, but that's where my audible subscription comes in handy. The first in her Loom Saga series was part of one of the audible sales, that I ended up getting it and decided to finally start it. And oh man, what a fool I was to dismiss Kova so quickly! She blew me away with the first introduction to Loom in The Alchemists of Loom!

First of all, I can't remember EVER reading a fantasy that didn't include humans into the equation. I think this is the first fantasy book I have read that centered around non-human protagonists. It made the story really unique to read. The world building in this one was really amazing, and I really got a feel for how Dragons, Fenthir and Chimera all lived together in this war-torn world. Also, this book was steampunk! I haven't read a lot steampunk, but I think Kova really weaves the two genres together almost seamlessly. When listening to this audiobook, everything about this world made sense to me. It just "worked" in the contents of the story.

This story had some great descriptions so I felt like I could "see" all the different dragon characters in this one. The descriptions were done really well, and it really made me understand this world and everything that was going on in it. It really took my imagination to some great places. The story is also really rich in the history of this world, so you get a feel for why there is so much conflict between Arianna and Cvareh. We don't really get the full story for awhile why Arianna hates dragons so much, but based on the learned history in this book it is very understandable. It was so fascinating to me to read about how the Alchemists work to create a Chimera and all the different mechanical things they create.

The narrators in this book were awesome! Erin Moon who does the narration in Arianna's point of view was really amazing and had some really great range of voices. It looks like she tends to do a lot of books about dragons, so I think it makes complete sense she did this one. Tim Campbell does the narration for when we get Cvareh's point of view. I think he was good too, but I felt like there was much more of Moon that it felt like having a different narrator just for Cvareh was unnecessary. You definitely get a feeling of his superiority in Campbell's narrator, but I felt like Moon could have just done both. Not knocking Campbell's narration at all, I just wonder why they decide certain books need to have two narrators. I will probably try to do the second book in the series on audio, because I loved this one so much. The production was really good too, which I didn't used to pay attention to that much, but I have learned from listening to some really badly produced audiobooks lately. This was not one of them!

I really enjoyed the dynamic between Arianna and her apprentice Florence. I was kind of unsure of their relationship for a little while, and I'm not sure if that really matters to the story. When Cvareh gets added to the mix it shakes up their relationship and it was really interesting to see how they changed because of it. It was also interesting to note that the Fenthir aren't heteronormative, and I am always glad to see representation in fantasy books!

This book was just something totally unexpected, but a wonderful story rich in descriptive imagery and action-driven characters. If you are looking for a fresh take on fantasy, I highly recommend this one.

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Monday, July 23, 2018

ARC Review: Poppy And Sam and the Leaf Thief By Cathon

Poppy & Sam and the Leaf Thief by Cathon
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Release Date: August 15th, 2018
Format: Egalley,
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


It's a beautiful day in the garden when Poppy and her panda friend, Sam, hear a commotion. Their friend Basil--who has always been known for his elegance--is in tears, because somebody nibbled his leaves last night!

Poppy puts her detective skills to work, with help from Sam, and together they set out to find the culprit. They start by interviewing the insects, but Ms. Honeybee, Madame Ladybug, and Mr. Bumblebee all have contradictory suspicions of their own. So Poppy and Sam test some creative methods to catch the vandal red-handed. After a few misadventures, they find the remorseful nibbler--and Basil helps him understand that everything tastes better when it is freely offered.

Illustrated with charming details and lots of kid appeal, this is an easy-to-read graphic novel with friendly characters and a suspenseful story line.
 

I don't read a lot of children's book mostly because I'm an adult without any children so I don't really have a need for it. I was browsing Netgalley's catalog for comics and thought this one looked really cute so I requested it. It was definitely a really quick book to read through, which makes sense since it is geared towards children, but I found it so cute!

The book is about Poppy a little girl, no quite literally little because she lives in a pumpkin house, that lives amongst nature. The book starts with her and her panda friend Sam picking strawberries, but end up getting wrap-up in a mystery! Some one keeps on eating Basil's leaves and they set out to find out who it is. They set some traps and try to find the culprit red-handed. They have some failures along the way, but the way they end up finding the guilty party was so entertaining.

I like that this book shows some failure, because I think it shows to kids that sometimes the first solution is not the best one. Sometimes you have a fail and try again to get things right. I think it also showcases how to problem solve effectively

What I also like about this book is that it doesn't try to "punish" the guilty party. It's a lot of admitting that you have done wrong, and for the other party to accept and forgive when someone has done you wrong. Also about remembering to ask for permission first. I really like that these messages were included in a children's book, because I think they are really important.

The artwork in this is very clean, but also since it's in the grass field there is a lot of green in it. It's pretty colorful in the panels with the strawberries or the different flowers. It has a very "soft" pastel style to it that I think makes it really engaging to a kid. 

If you a parent looking for a good picture book to read to your children that has a good message behind it, I would recommend this one. 


*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Saturday, July 21, 2018

One With The Force: New Star Wars Novels Heavy on Prequel Era


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Remember when I introduced this new Star Wars feature, wrote a few posts, and then just never posted again?!? I am so bad at being a consistent blogger when I don't set rules for new features. If it's fast and loose, it takes me awhile to actually write posts. I still have a lot of ideas for this feature, and I definitely have some other topics I want to dicuss, but since SDCC is going on right now I want to talk about all the new books we heard that we are getting!

I got most of the news from Bryan Young of Full of Sith and also Starwars.com live tweeting the Star Wars Publishing panel. So much news came out! It also made me feel really bad because I have so many Star Wars books from the new cannon that I just haven't really even touched yet. Like I still haven't read Thrawn, even though I preordered Thrawn Alliances! It's not that I don't want to read all the new SW books, I definitely do. I think part of the problem is that my reading time is getting eaten up by reading ARCs and so I'm not actually getting to the books I really want to read unless I do them on audio. I have two ARCs in my queue to read right now, but I think after I'm done with those I am going to take a break from requesting stuff from Netgalley and close myself off from review requests again so I can just read what I really want to -- ALL THE STAR WARS BOOKS!

Here's my current TBD of new Star Wars Books that I am shamed I still haven't read:









...you guys, I am the worst. Does this make me a bad Star Wars fan?

No, the answer is no. There is no rule about how you have to be a Star Wars Fan.

So, okay, I haven't read a lot of new star wars books, and I have a lot I still want to read, but Star Wars Publishing just made some big announcements about new novels, and a lot of them are heavy on focusing on the Prequels. I know a lot of fans don't really like the prequels, and I do like the original trilogy better, but I still love Padme and I'm still pissed about her death. Which is great, because we are getting a Padme book!!! It's going to be about her transition from Queen of Naboo to Senator, and I'm pretty stoked about that. It's going to be written by E.K. Johnson who wrote the Ahsoka novel. I wasn't that impressed with the former novel, but I am willing to give the author another go. Justina Ireland is doing Lando's Luck, a story about Lando and L3's adventures. I'm not totally sold on that one, but I might try it out. We are also getting another book from Claudia Gray!!! Who I think really gets Star Wars writing, so I am glad she keeps on getting hired. I will literally read any star wars book that Gray writes at this point. This one is going to be about Obi-wan and Qui-Gon!!!

WHAT?!? THAT'S AWESOME!!!

I know some fans don't really care for the prequel era, and that is totally okay! But for other fans that is how they got into star wars and that's what they really love. Just like how the younger generation of star wars fans cares more about Rey and Finn, rather than the original trio. Star Wars has something for everyone and that's what I like about. I suspect that the reason they are leaning into publishing content around the Prequel era is because THE CLONE WARS IS BACK!! Which was a total shock to everyone that was on the 10 year anniversary panel. I believe it will be on Disney's new subscription based platform, so I'm not actually sure when we are getting it but I actually know they will have all my money from it. 

I am pretty excited about the new content that will be coming to the books, now I just need to get to reading!

Are you excited for any of the Star Wars books or comics that were announced? Which ones are you dying to get your hands on?

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Deanna Plays: Unravel 2 has Local Co-Op!!!








Deanna Plays is a monthly feature on this blog where every third Thursday of the month I talk about something related to video games. Sometimes these are reviews of the games themselves, sometimes it's a list of books to read if you play X, and anything in between! I definitely haven't written a Deanna Plays in a couple of months, so if you were wondering if I was stopping this feature, never fear! I am just really lazy.

So today on Deanna Plays I want to talk about Unravel 2! I talked at length before about the first game in the series, Unravel. I had heard some rumors that there was going to be a sequel, but I didn't think it was official. Apparently it was announced at E3 that it was being released, so I was pretty surprised when I saw it pop up on my Xbox home screen. Of course I bought it immediately. 

Things I loved about the first game are also in this one, like the amazing music and how it uses the music to sometimes build up the plot of the game. Like the insane fiddle music when you are being chased by a wild turkey. No seriously, this was a really hard part in the game. I love the music in this one so much, that I might consider buying the soundtrack for the second game. I really like how this game tells the story, instead of a traditional plot you get pieces of images passing by you as your Yarny creature is completing levels. It's a really interesting way to tell a story. Plus the graphics on this game are so dreamy. 

There a couple things different about the sequel, that I really like. First, you can change your avatar color and tweak a little of the design. In the first game you are a red Yarny cat-like creature, but in this one you can change the head, be a blue Yarny, whatever. I have changed my avatar color three times already, because I can't decide. The other big thing that changed was that there are two Yarnys (or is it Yarnies?!?) You can either play as single-player and control both characters or you can play with a friend and you each take control of one. AND IT'S LOCAL CO-OP!!!!

If you are wondering what the heck is Local Co-Op it basically means it's not online, which means that I don't have to buy another copy of the game so my boyfriend can play the game with me. We have been looking for a game to play together, so this was perfect. We didn't finish it, but it was really fun to play with him. He is also 100% better at video games with me. It was really sad to watch him deal with how bad I am, but I definitely had to yell "The Fiddle music didn't stop, that Turkey is still chasing us!!" I really love that they did this for this game, and the game play definitely makes it worth playing with another player. It's really about teamwork and problem solving. You have to work together to figure out how to get from point A to B, and sometime you try and have to fail. I honestly think it's a great metaphor for team building, and cooperation. It's also really fun once you get to the next checkpoint!

I love that they made this sequel Co-Op so much. Not a lot of games have Co-Op anymore and it really harkens back to old school gaming that I grew up on. I can't wait to finish this game. If you loved the first game, seriously find someone to play with you. 


Happy Reads Everyone!
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Comic Review: Aquicorn Cove By Katie O'Neill

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill
Publisher: Omi Press
Release Date: October 16th, 2018
Format: Egalley, 96 pages
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 
★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD


When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.



Okay, I have to fully admit that I was initially only interested in this one because of the cover. But come on! It's gorgeous! I am glad I shamefully judged a book by it's cover, because the art in this little comic was amazing! It was super colorful, and would have different panels using really bright pastels, and then the next using really saturated darker colors. The artwork really knew how to work the story and make you have all the feels. Seriously, I blew through this one because the art was amazing to look at. I definitely want to see what other stuff O'Neill has done, because I loved this one.

I have to admit the story was not exactly what I thought it was going to be, but I ended up really liking in nonetheless. Our main character Lana is visiting her Aunt Mae with her dad to help clean up after a particularly bad storm on the ocean village they grew up on. Having recently lost her mother, Lana is having a little bit of a hard time, but she keeps up finding things from the ocean that used to belong to the townspeople with help from the mystical Aquicorns. It's here she starts to unravel the story of her Aunt Mae and how she also interacted with the Aquicorns before Lana was born. The story also heavily talks about the effect of fishing and plastic on the ecosystem and it's a big source of the conflict. I wasn't expecting the environmental aspect of the story, but I really feel strongly about how we as humans are effecting the environment that I loved that this was included.

There is also a scene early on in the comic of how Lana has been feeling since her mother's death. From the panels it really seems like Lana might be suffering from a little bit of depression. I really like that this depicted how grief can effect a child and how for Lana she has a hard time understanding what her feelings mean. I think that is really important to show kids that it is okay to feel that way.

I also really like how the women were drawn in this comic. Aunt Mae, and Lana's mom Melody are depicted as these really muscular women. I loved that! Because fishing can be hard work, so it totally makes sense for them to have a lot of physical strength, but I feel like we never see women depicted like this.

This was such a sweet story, that I definitely want to get my hands on anything else O'Neill has done. I would recommend this one for the beautiful artwork alone, but I also think it has a great message behind the story.

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Monday, July 16, 2018

Comic Review: The Music Box- Volume 1: Welcome to Pandorient by Carbone

The Music Box- Volume 1: Welcome to Pandorient By Carbone, Illustrated by Gjie
Publisher: Europe Comics
Release Date: June 20th, 2018
Format: Egalley, 60 pages
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ 


For her eighth birthday, Nola receives a marvelous present: her late mother Annah’s music box. It has the most enchanting melody, and inside the globe… is that a little girl waving? And calling for help?! Before she knows it, Nola has shrunk down size, slipped through the keyhole, and entered the world of Pandorient, where even the most ordinary-looking citizens can have extraordinary powers—and where danger could lurk down every hallway. Nola must help her new friends save their mother from a mysterious malady—all the while making surprising discoveries about Annah’s past, and—maybe—her own future
The Music Box by Carbone is a cute, fast-paced comic for children that hints at how children understand and process grief. We start the story on Nola's birthday, where she and her father are still trying to deal with the passing of her mother. It's not explained how her mom died, but I don't think it's the point. The point, is that we get to see how death and grieving is processed in a child's mind. Nola gets a music box that was once her mother's and finds more than she bargained for. 

In her grief, Nola is clinging onto the memory of her mother, so she is very excited to have received this gift. She is also given a scarf that was her mother's favorite by a woman that shows up to visit her father. It's not really explained who the other woman is, so that part was kind of confusing, but the scarf plays apart in Nola letting go of her grief in the end of the novel. 

The music box, is not quite that, it's actually another world called Pandorient, where her mother had visited but never told her about. There Nola meets two siblings who need help because their mother is dying and they don't know why. It turns out their mother knew Nola mother, so Nola makes it her job to help the brother and sister figure out who has poisoned their mother and why. 

This is a cute story, but I think it works well because it writes about grief in a way children can understand. It treats death as a natural part of life, which I think is a really healthy way to look at things. I also really enjoyed the artwork in this one. It had some really saturated colors in it, and everything we saw in Pandorient seems so bright and beautiful. It really made this new world pop out of the page, since everything was so colorful and eye-catching.

If you are looking for a comic with a good message, or you just like to read about discovering micro-worlds, I recommend this one!

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review
Happy Reads Everyone!
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Friday, July 13, 2018

ARC Review: Kill The Farm Boy By Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne

Kill The Farm Boy By Delilah S. Dawson & Kevin Hearne
Publisher: Del Ray 
Release Date: July 17th, 2018
Format: Egalley, 384 pages
Source: Netgalley*
My Rating: 


Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Once upon a time, in a faraway kingdom, a hero, the Chosen One, was born . . . and so begins every fairy tale ever told.

This is not that fairy tale.

There is a Chosen One, but he is unlike any One who has ever been Chosened.

And there is a faraway kingdom, but you have never been to a magical world quite like the land of Pell.

There, a plucky farm boy will find more than he's bargained for on his quest to awaken the sleeping princess in her cursed tower. First there's the Dark Lord who wishes for the boy's untimely death . . . and also very fine cheese. Then there's a bard without a song in her heart but with a very adorable and fuzzy tail, an assassin who fears not the night but is terrified of chickens, and a mighty fighter more frightened of her sword than of her chain-mail bikini. This journey will lead to sinister umlauts, a trash-talking goat, the Dread Necromancer Steve, and a strange and wondrous journey to the most peculiar "happily ever after" that ever once-upon-a-timed.
This book has been marketed as The Princess Bride meets Monty Python, and having finished this book I have to say that is probably a pretty accurate pitch. Dawson and Hearne take everything we know about a fairytale and spin it on it's head to create a story peppered with puns and just plain silly humor. I ended up really enjoying it, as it was a light-heartened book I felt like I needed to read right now. 

I do want to point out that even though I really enjoyed it, I don't want to recommend this book to all readers. I don't think it is for everyone, and that's perfectly okay! I liked the humor in this, and there were moments where I was literally cackling in my bed, like the scene with the "Well, actually" Troll. I don't think all the jokes hit the mark, some of them even felt like it was trying a little too hard, but I enjoyed the rest that this didn't bother me. I don't think every reader will be as forgiven as me. I think if you like a good pun and crass humor this one will be a winner for you!

So how do these two spin the fairytale trope on its head? That's a little hard to answer without divulging some spoilers. I will say that the book takes the tradition quest narrative so that there is a magic welder, a bard, a warrior, a hero, and a rogue. But the magic welder is a self titled Dark Lord named Toby who really isn't that evil at all, the rogue Poltro is really incompetent, the bard Argabella just really wants to be an accountant, and the warrior Fia just keeps on accidentally killing people. There's also a talking goat named Gustave that is just sick of everyone's BS. I loved him! Even though he just kept on pooping on people who didn't agree with him. (My dudes, I am not kidding) I really like that the authors take what we know and expect about these archetypes and just twists them to make an interesting cast of characters. It was almost like I was reading about a D&D game gone horribly awry, and that was exactly what made it so interesting to me!

I like a good quest story, it's why I like Rick Riordan's novels so much, and this story does have a natural quest plot line. I like reading about a bunch of characters that have to go through insane trials to get to the end of where they need to go. There's a lot of homage to the traditional quest story and fairytale story that it made me just really enjoy this very silly story.

If you are a fan of silly fantasy, or if you love the podcast Hello From The Magic Tavern, I think you will love this book. If you are looking for something fun that doesn't take itself too seriously, I suggest you pick this up.

*I received a free egalley copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

Happy Reads Everyone!
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Audiobook Review: Bad Bloods: November Snow by Shannon A. Thompson

November Snow (Bad Bloods, #2) By Shannon A. Thompson
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Release Date: May 23rd, 2018
Format: Audiobook narrated by Jonathan Johns
Source: Audiobook review copy provided by the narrator*
My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
When Daniel and Serena unite, their accidental relationship becomes the catalyst for a twelve-year war to continue. Exposing the twisted past of a corrupt city, Daniel, Serena, and everyone they know will come together to fight. But Serena has another battle.

After a political rumor threatens their lives, Serena must leave her family and join the political front against her will. To survive apart, Daniel has to separate his love from his hatred and join forces with his worst memory to secure Vendona’s war. But very few of them will survive to see the last day. Bad blood or human, a city will burn, snow will fall, and all will be united by catastrophic secrets and irrevocable tragedy.
 
November Snow is the sequel to November Rain, and I have to admit I liked the first book enough, but I didn't think it was amazing. I came out of reading this book with similar thoughts, but I also felt like there was an overall improvement in the story. Both in the narration and in the exposition explaining what the heck happened to the world to get to this point.

One of my complaints in the first novel was not that Johns is a bad narrator, I totally think he is great, but that I had a hard time distinguishing between when it was Daniel's or Serena 's perspective. I'm also curious if this somewhat had to do with the writing, and if how they think was just too similar. I did feel that the narrator did make an effort to change up his voice so we would know the difference. There were definitely times that I was thinking, "oh,wait...this is Serena, not Daniel." I do feel like there were more characters in this one and I think it gave him a chance to show off his range of new voices and characters. That part of this audiobook really sold it to me on his talents as a narrator. 

I was kind of lukewarm on the romance between Daniel and Serena. It just felt kind of insta-love to me, and I didn't really buy it. The book tries to explain it away because of the high risk of dying Bad Bloods fall in love easily. I was just screaming in my head, "YOU JUST MET!" It just didn't work for me.

I found myself confused for much of the first novel wondering where this book was supposed to be set and why the world had turned this way. That does get explained a little more, and you understand that really it's not so much a normal people vs. bad bloods struggle but a socioeconomic class struggle. The 1% lives up in the Highlands and they basically don't really care about what is going down where everyone else is living. That was an interesting turn for the novel, because I felt like it made it more believable to me. I could totally see that happening down the line. I think this is what made the novel so interesting to me. It felt really grounded in true in that moment.

A lot of crazy stuff happens at the end of the novel, that I was totally unprepared for, but it made listening to this audiobook all the more interesting. The author definitely threw me for a loop at the tail-end of this novel. Was not expecting what happened there. 

I liked that this series was a duology, and I like that it ends with the reader making assumptions about what will happen next. I don't feel like I need a third book to really explain it, but I like that it was left a little open-ended.

Have you read the Bad Blood duology? What did you think?

*I received a copy of this audiobook via the narrator in exchange for my honest review
Happy Reads Everyone!
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