children's book

Audiobook Review: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

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Title: A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
Author: Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler)
Narrator: Tim Curry (with other actors for various voices)
Publisher: HarperAudio
Length: 2 hours and 31 minutes
Genre: Children’s book
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Like a car alarm, bagpipe music, or a doorbell ringing in the middle of the night, hearing this all-new audio edition of The Bad Beginning will only upset you. This unique multi-voice recording brings the first book in Lemony Snicket’s alarming A Series of Unfortunate Events to such terrible life that no one should really have to experience it. Unless you have an ear for such ghastly details as a tragic fire, a nefarious villain, itchy clothing, and cold porridge for breakfast, all narrated in chilly detail by the distinguished, and disturbed, Tim Curry with a team of talented readers, you would be better off listening to something else.

Review:
I read the entirety of the series when I was 12 and I loved it then. It was interesting and I enjoyed that Snicket (IE Handler) didn’t treat the reader like a child but was still able to explain the bigger words he used and the context. I think a great part of my vocabulary inauspiciously came from these books but I digress.

I decided to reread (well listen to the audiobooks) to refresh my memory on the series now that Netflix is putting out a TV show based on them. I’m super excited for that by the way. Let’s just pretend the movie they decided to make didn’t nearly do the books justice.

I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. Tim Curry has exactly the voice I imagined the narrator to have while I was reading them. I didn’t necessarily care for the other voice actors who voiced the children mostly because they all kind of sound the same and make it hard to stay immersed in the story.

The story itself is relatively simple and there isn’t much I can say on it without spoiling people. I doubt there are people who haven’t read or still want to read it but just in case. I’m excited to get to further books in the series where Snicket isn’t setting up the scene so much so it focuses more heavily on plot.

The book was very short especially since I listened to it on 1.25x the normal speed. I appreciated that. It was just as good as I remember. I’m waiting for the next audiobook in the series to become available at my library to continue my “reread.”

 

chicklit, contemporary, romance

Book Review: Neanderthal Seeks Human by Penny Reid

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Title: Neanderthal Seeks Human
Author: Penny Reid
Publisher: Caped Publishing
Length: 401 Pages, Kindle Ebook
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Chicklit
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
From the USA Today Bestselling author of ‘Truth or Beard’, this is a full-length, 110k word novel is the first book in the Knitting in the City series.

There are three things you need to know about Janie Morris: 1) She is incapable of engaging in a conversation without volunteering TMTI (Too Much Trivial Information), especially when she is unnerved, 2) No one unnerves her more than Quinn Sullivan, and 3) She doesn’t know how to knit.

After losing her boyfriend, apartment, and job in the same day, Janie Morris can’t help wondering what new torment fate has in store. To her utter mortification, Quinn Sullivan- aka Sir McHotpants- witnesses it all then keeps turning up like a pair of shoes you lust after but can’t afford. The last thing she expects is for Quinn- the focus of her slightly, albeit harmless, stalkerish tendencies- to make her an offer she can’t refuse.

Review:
This was another book I started pre-slump and just now finished. In my defense, I read maybe half of the first chapter pre-slump so I feel like I can safely say I read the majority of this in less than 12 hours. I’m not sure if it was a right book, at the right time kind of deal but I really enjoyed this book.

Janie is a hard-to-reach-emotionally woman and finds herself somehow supremely attracted to a maybe criminal. It was too hard to resist. Janie actually reminds me a lot of Lucy London from Imperfect Chemistry and I think that’s part of why I loved it so much. I like it when female characters are the ones who are emotionally distant because typically that’s a male troupe.

Quinn was an okay sexy, leading man. I did find his controlling, jealous ways a little off putting but it made sense sort of with Janie since she was kind of oblivious and needed to be taken care of a lot because of it. I wouldn’t put him at the top of a list of fictional males I want to marry but their romance was cute and sizzlely.

I liked the way the characters and their relationships were built as well. Each relationship unfolded bit by bit in a really interesting way. I appreciated that.

I probably won’t be reading any of the sequels in this “Knitting in the City” series but I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first one. Considering this is a free Kindle book, I think I’m really happy with how much I enjoyed it versus the time invested. Which I can’t say has happened with a free Kindle book before.

Fantasy, romance, steampunk

Book Review: Blameless by Gail Carriger

blameless by gail carriger

Title: Blameless
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 384, Mass Market Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Spoilers for the first and second books possibly in blurb and review!

Click to see previous book reviews for the series – First book: Soulless Second book: Changeless

Blurb:
Quitting her husband’s house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London’s vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires — and they’re armed with pesto.

Review:
While this book didn’t live up to Soulless, it was better than Changeless. I feel like this says a lot but Changeless was really good until the last five pages or so. (sorry I’m saying this again but I’m still not over it.)

I liked that there was more action. I liked that Alexia’s views on life and herself didn’t change because of the baby but I also liked that she was emotional. Well, as emotional as Alexia can get. She cried and was upset about what happened with Conall but she was still practical and independent.

As usual I loved all the side characters. Madame Lefoux was hilarious and charming but still a bit mysterious. I also hold that Floote is still by far my favorite character in the series.

The plot was better this time and I definitely liked this ending more than the last one. I can’t really complain about much.

Then why only a four folded page review you ask??

That’s because something just felt kind of off for me. I liked the plot more. I liked that Alexia had more action but it also felt slow. Overall the characters were still mostly themselves but I think some of the characters had minor out-of-character (OOC) moments mostly stemmed from the OOC moments in Changeless and I didn’t enjoy that.

For me, this is a solid installment in the series but so far none of the sequels quite live up to Soulless.

Fantasy, romance, steampunk

Book Review: Changeless by Gail Carriger

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Title: Changeless (Parasol Protectorate #2)
Author: Gail Carriger
Publisher: Orbit
Length: 432, Paperback
Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

Review:
This book made me so incredibly angry. So angry in fact that after finishing this book at about 9:30 at night I couldn’t sleep. I dozed but woke up still super angry and unable to get back to sleep. I had to spoil the third novel in the series for myself just to get some shut eye. That’s how angry this book made me.

I won’t give any spoilers and the part that made me mad is such a shock that even though it made me incredibly angry my anger shouldn’t give an a hint as to happened. That being said, I do suggest NOT reading the blurb to Blameless unless you’ve finished Changeless because the blurb contains said angering thing.

Aside from being incredibly angry at this book I enjoyed the plot. I like the changed dynamic between characters that will go unnamed and even the character development of Alexia and other characters was amazing.

I do think this novel was a lot slower paced which is part of the reason this book didn’t get 5 folded pages. (Did I mention how incredibly angry I am??) I felt like the main action of this novel didn’t nearly equal that of Soulless and I’m saddened by it. I did still enjoy reading it though and aside from the incredibly angering part felt it was a good, solid sequel.

I’ve already ordered the ebook of Blameless from my library’s overdrive because I honestly can’t wait until I’m able to buy the paperbacks or for my library to order a physical copy from another in the system.

new adult, romance

Book Review: Stupid Girl by Cindy Miles

Title: Stupid Girl
Author: Cindy Miles
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Length: 474, Kindle book
Genre: Romance, New Adult
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Not for ye youngins under the ripe age of 18.
Trigger: Allusion to rape

Blurb:
Only fools fall in love…

After her senior year of high school leaves behind nothing but heartache, Olivia Beaumont is sure of this: She’s no stupid girl. She sets out for Winston University, promising herself that she will remain focused on her first and only love – astronomy. But all it takes is cocky sophomore Brax Jenkins and an accidental collision with a football, to throw her entire year off course.

A quick-tempered Southie who escaped the inner city streets of Boston to pitch for Winston, Brax is known to play way more fields than just the baseball diamond. So, when his name is drawn to take part in his fraternity’s hazing dare, Brax eagerly accepts the mission to take Olivia’s virginity. But he doesn’t plan on falling hard for the sweet and sassy Texas girl who sees right through his bad-boy persona.

As Olivia and Brax battle their feelings for each other, echoes of the past year begin to surface. A boy who once turned Olivia’s whole world upside down reappears, and “harmless” pranks wreak havoc. Pretty soon the aspiring astronomer is on the verge of revealing her most difficult, heartbreaking secret. All the while, Brax must wrestle with the irrevocable dare, and Olivia struggles against all logic as she does the one thing only a stupid girl would do: fall in love.

Review:
This book had a lot of ups and downs for me. Some parts I absolutely loved. It was snappy and edgy. Other parts dragged and had me wondering when the book would end. Thankfully the ups were more frequent and longer lasting than the downs.

Olivia and Brax, though not entirely believable characters, were consistent in how they acted and really enjoyed that. I couldn’t see them as people in real life but you don’t always need that in a book. Their romance was cute and fiery and had me smiling and crying. Legitimate tears rolling down the face kind of crying (try explaining that to the person sitting next to me on the Metra). Miles is good at touching emotions in her writing.

I know I said the book had ups and downs, what I really means is that the book had a down spot right in the middle where everything was perfect for Olivia and Brax and I thought the author should just end the book there or get one with what might break them apart. I just think that the small period of perfection she wrote on and on about could have been a little shorter so the pacing of the book was better and I probably would have given this book 5 folded pages.

I also really loved the side characters. Each had their own personality (even if a few seemed to ride a stereotype a little too close for comfort) and I enjoyed that Miles put thought into the side characters.

I’m excited to read the sequel and hope it’s just as good or better than this one!

Fantasy, historical fiction, romance

Series Review: The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

Title(s): A Discovery of Witches, Shadow of Night, The Book of Life
Author: Deborah Harkness
Publisher: Penguin books
Length: 592, 592, 576 all Kindle Edition
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Historical fiction
Rating: 5, 4.5, 4 folded pages respectively

Book 1 (A Discovery of Witches) Blurb:
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Review:
Originally I read books 1 and 2 of this about 4 or 5 years ago and I loved the first one but didn’t really like the second. In my defense I was still young, barely out of high school, and didn’t really like how sophisticated the novels felt. Now that probably what I love most about the series.

I absolutely loved marathoning this series. I was going to try and put space between each novel but after I reread the first one there was no way I was going to let myself hang on that cliff. Instead I read all three books in about a week which is no small feat let me assure you.

Deborah creates a very lively world with vampires, witches, and daemons and it’s entirely unique. I loved how she revealed the world to us through Diana who wasn’t really familiar with it even if she grew up in it.

The romance aspect of the book was a little eh if I’m to be honest. Matthew could be overbearing and over the top with cheesy things but for the most part I enjoyed it. And I definitely enjoyed watching them decide to be together. However, it was Diana and her character development that made me stay (along with the incredible world)

I definitely think the first book was the best of the three and the third book got really slow at some points. Still I loved the series and hope Deborah Harkness has something new in the works for us.

classic, romance

Audiobook Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Narrator: Juliet Stevenson
Publisher: Naxos AudioBooks
Length: 12 hours and 43 minutes
Genre: Classic, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Blurb:
When Mrs. Dashwood is forced by an avaricious daughter-in-law to leave the family home in Sussex, she takes her three daughters to live in a modest cottage in Devon. For Elinor, the eldest daughter, the move means a painful separation from the man she loves, but her sister Marianne finds in Devon the romance and excitement which she longs for. The contrasting fortunes and temperaments of the two girls as they struggle to cope in their different ways with the cruel events which fate has in store for them are portrayed by Jane Austen with her usual irony, humour, and profound sensibility.

Review:
I struggled to finish this book when I was reading it in paperback form, but there’s something about the audiobook (and the amazing narrator Juliet Stevenson), that made it impossible to stop listening to the audiobook.

I LOVED this book. I think reading Austen can be a little hard because her work is so dry but given amazing narration and the book comes to life. I absolutely fell in love with the story and the characters. I loved the contrast of Marianne and Eleanor’s personalities. I also really enjoyed how the book showed both girl’s reactions to similar situations as natural even if completely different. The sisterly love was awesome too.

If you couldn’t guess already, the narration of the audiobook version I listened to was amazing. Stevenson has a way of using slight inflections and voice pitches to give each character’s dialogue a very distinct flare. It made conversations extremely easy to follow within the text and if I had forgot to pay attention it was easy to catch on to who was currently speaking.

I’m always a sucker for a good romance, especially when it involves the intricacies of courtship in the 1800s. Pride and Prejudice is still my favorite Austen novel but I think Sense and Sensibility is pulling a close second!

Fantasy, mystery, paranormal, young adult

Book Review: The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson

Title: The Shadow Cabinet (Shades Book 3)
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Length: 385, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, fantasy, mystery
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning: Spoilers in the blurb.

Book 1: The Name of the Star Review | Book 2: The Madness Underneath Review

Blurb:
Rory and her friends are reeling from a series of sudden and tragic events. While racked with grief, Rory tries to determine if she acted in time to save a member of the squad. If she did, how do you find a ghost? Also, Rory’s classmate Charlotte has been kidnapped by Jane and her nefarious organization. Evidence is uncovered of a forty-year-old cult, ten missing teenagers, and a likely mass murder. Everything indicates that Charlotte’s in danger, and it seems that something much bigger and much more terrible is coming.

Time is running out as Rory fights to find her friends and the ghost squad struggles to stop Jane from unleashing her spectral nightmare on the entire city. In the process, they’ll discover the existence of an organization that underpins London itself—and Rory will learn that someone she trusts has been keeping a tremendous secret.

Review:
As much as I loved The Name of the Star I can’t say that the second book or this lived up to how much I loved the first one. I think both of them had sequel syndrome.

I enjoyed the overall plot but I found Rory’s personality to be kind of annoying instead of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I still really enjoyed this book. It just was a bit slower and not as good as I had hoped.

I can’t say much else without spoiling the plot of this book and the first two. I will say that so far I enjoy the series as a whole and can’t wait to get my hands on the prequel.

Fantasy, mystery, paranormal, young adult

Book Review: The Madness Underneath by Marueen Johnson

Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Length: 384, Hardback
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, fantasy, mystery
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

Warning!!: Spoiler for the first book in the blurb. Read at your own risk.

To see my review of the first book in the Shade Series click here.

Blurb:
After her near-fatal run-in with the Jack the Ripper copycat, Rory Devereaux has been living in Bristol under the close watch of her parents. So when her therapist suddenly suggests she return to Wexford, Rory jumps at the chance to get back to her friends. But Rory’s brush with the Ripper touched her more than she thought possible: she’s become a human terminus, with the power to eliminate ghosts on contact. She soon finds out that the Shades—the city’s secret ghost-fighting police—are responsible for her return. The Ripper may be gone, but now there is a string of new inexplicable deaths threatening London. Rory has evidence that the deaths are no coincidence. Something much more sinister is going on, and now she must convince the squad to listen to her before it’s too late.

In this follow-up to the Edgar Award-nominated THE NAME OF THE STAR, Maureen Johnson adds another layer of spectacularly gruesome details to the streets of London that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end.

Review:
The Name of the Star (the first book in this series) has recently gotten the coveted 5 folded pages from me and I think The Madness Underneath is a pretty solid follow up. I definitely wasn’t expecting most of what happened in the novel.

Once again, Rory completely charms me with her wit and ability to handle what comes at her. I love that we see her struggle with what happened to her and Maureen Johnson does an amazing job at representing and showing mental illness in this novel without all the stigma usually attached.

I can’t talk too much on other points without giving away important details of the first book or this book. But I didn’t really know what to expect from this novel and I definitely didn’t expect what happened in both good and bad ways (bad only because it ripped my heart out).

I do think the novel felt a little disjointed at times and I wasn’t quite sure of the point here and there but I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in two days. It kind of felt like a novella that would tie the third book to the first book but I enjoyed that.

I’ve already started the third book in the series and honestly I’m still loving the world (not unlike our own but it has differences) that Johnson has built.

new adult, romance

Book Review: Getting Lucky Number Seven by Cindi Madsen

Title: Getting Lucky Number Seven
Author: Cindi Madsen
Publisher: Macmillan
Length: 272, Kindle Book
Genre: New Adult, Romance
Rating: 4 Folded Pages

WARNING!!: This novel is not intended for audiences under 18.

Blurb:
What’s your lucky number?

Lyla Wilder is done being the shy, chemistry nerd extraordinaire. While every other college student is out having fun, Lyla is studying. With her cat. Well, she’s played it “safe” quite enough, thank you. So she creates a “College Bucket List” with item #7 being a night of uninhibited, mind-blowing sex…

But she needs some help from her man-whore best friend.

Hockey player Beck Davenport thought Lyla’s transformation would be subtle. Man, was he wrong. With every item she ticks off, Beck finds himself growing seriously hot for his sweet, brainiac best friend. And if he’s not careful, he’ll end up risking their friendship in order to convince Lyla that he might just be her lucky #7…

Review:
Finally! A New Adult romance I really enjoyed. I didn’t have many problems with this one at all and I really enjoyed the characters. The plot was also super interesting.

I think the biggest factor in me liking this book is that Lyla is a lot like myself. Except when I realized I was kind of missing out on the college experience I shrugged and went back to what Korean Drama I was watching at the moment. Lyla decided to DO something and I kind of envy her for that.

My favorite part of the book honestly was all the lame chemistry jokes Lyla and Beck would make. They made me crack up and grin like crazy. I’m pretty sure the people at my office thought I was crazy.

Their romance also felt very real. All the ups and downs felt like they would happen in life. It didn’t feel staged or unrealistic like some novels I’ve been reading lately.

That being said, I do think some parts dragged a little more than need be and some of the sex scenes felt a little unnecessary like they were just there to fill space. Aside from that I really loved this one and I’m glad I happened upon it.