Title: A Violet Fire
Author: Kelsey Quick
Page Count: Unknown
Series: Vampire in Avignon
Publishing Date/Publisher: December 9, 2019 by Kelsey Quick
Review: I typically do not have high expectations for self-published books, but this one surprised me. I found it to be an easy read, and I enjoyed the concept of living vampires. I also enjoyed that humans could not be simply be turned into vampires. They could in theory make offspring with vampires, but they were genetically different enough that a human could not become one.
In some ways this book follows the typical tropes of paranormal romances, but it was different enough that the story kept me engaged. I felt that the weakest aspect of the story was the development of the central romance. It’s not insta-love, but not a lot of dialogue is shown between the two characters to help the reader understand the relationship. The reader is aware that time is passing, but aside from a first interaction and a final interaction, there isn’t much substance in between to make the relationship feel real. In fact, when the final twist is revealed, I was not at all affected because I was not made to be invested in the relationship in the first place.
I will say, however, that I liked the direction the story was moving in, and I would most certainly continue reading the series if it were to become available to me.
Title: Tiger Lily
Author: Jodi Lynn Anderson
Page Count: 292
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 3, 2012 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Review: I had a very difficult time rating this book because it had a lot of elements that I loved, and yet the ending did not make the impact on me that I was expecting it to.
I really enjoy reading retellings of classic tales, and this one really takes the cake for originality. I thought that the author very cleverly wove in concepts such as modernization, colonialism, and the proselytization of indigenous peoples into the narrative. She also touches upon some very difficult topics such as abuse, rape, murder, suicide, trauma recovery, and transphobia (for lack of a better word). A lot of these subjects can be gleaned through subtext, so they may not be apparent to every reader. I want to stress that this book is not at all graphic or gratuitous. It simply shows that even in a place as magical as Neverland, darkness lurks beneath the surface.
The author does a really good job of balancing the heavier content with the yearnings of first love. Tiger Lily and Peter’s love is intense and raw, but their naivety adds an element of innocence to it. It is heartbreaking as a reader to witness their struggles as they try to define themselves and what they mean to each other. This book very eloquently shows that although we may not always end up with our first love, they can still hold a special place in our hearts long after we have moved on.
The ending of this book was satisfying in it’s own way, while at the same time feeling a bit rushed. That, coupled with the slow pacing, prevented me from giving it a full four star rating.
Title: The UnTied Kingdom
Author: Kate Johnson
Performer: Julia Barrie
Length: 15 hr, 4 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2013 by Recorded Books
Review: Well I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would, but it was still an enjoyable read. The narrator was easy to listen to, and the story for the most part had a lot of action. This book was surprisingly light on romance for a romance novel. It was clear from the beginning who the fated pair would be, but the romance really doesn’t blossom until well into the last half of the book.
I am always a little leary of “time travel” books because I find the concept to be so confusing and overdone. I would consider this to be more of a “parallel universe” book with very little explanation as to how the hole between worlds works. The parallel universe Eve lands in is more of an alternate history where the trajectory of significant historical events has been changed, resulting in Britain essentially becoming a third world country that has been torn apart by civil wars. I would have liked to know more about how the rest of this reimagined world works, but you only get snippets here and there throughout the story. In a lot of ways this makes the story very insular and I was left with many questions. It is always interesting to think about how changing the past might affect the future, and it is fascinating to consider how even one decision could change the whole course of history. I suppose Johnson could write a thousand novels based on this topic and I would still have questions, so I must be content with the brief glimpse I am given in this one.
Title: Impossible Things
Author: Kate Johnson
Performer: Penelope Rawlins
Length: 13 hr, 34 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by W.F. Howes, Ltd.
Review: I decided to veer away from the realm of Young Adult fiction because most of the audiobooks I want to listen to are on hold. I browsed around for awhile and landed on this audiobook, which was immediately available through my library. I checked it out with low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised from the very first chapter. The performer was very engaging, and I was immediately sucked into the story of Ishtaer and Kael.
Ishtaer was an interesting character. She had a lot of depth and her character arc was very profound. She spends most of the book working through her traumas, coming into her powers, and finding the version of herself that was lost through years of abuse and captivity. Kael was a rather cliché character – brooding, fierce, and secretly sensitive – but, I still enjoyed him. I appreciated that this was not an insta-love story, but rather a slow build romance (my favorite kind). Although it was clear that there was going to be a romantic angle, it wasn’t very critical to the plot until the very end. This allowed for a lot more character development from Ishtaer and overall made the story feel more like high fantasy rather than a paranormal romance.
This book lost a star for me because although the author is a very talented writer, her action sequences were short on description and entirely implausible. I was glad to see representation for people with disabilities in a fantasy novel (Ishtaer was blind and her best friend was an amputee), but it almost seemed like Ishtaer’s blindness was used as a literary crutch to explain away things that should have been better described, and this was especially apparent during scenes where Ishtaer was pulling off something heroic. Even so, the book was so engaging and well-written that I was able to look past these shortcomings and love the story for what it was. I will absolutely be reading more books by this author!
Title: Running Barefoot
Author: Amy Harmon
Performer: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 10 hr, 45 min
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 26, 2014 by Tantor Audio
Review: This is a very wholesome romance about two people seemingly destined to be together. I regret that my library did not have a hard copy of this book, because I did not enjoy it in eAudiobook format. I almost didn’t finish it because I really was not feeling the performer, but I was invested enough in the story to forge ahead.
In hindsight, I found the story to be sort of dry and I found my attention drifting often. It often goes on philosophical tangents, and I was surprised by the strong religious undertones given the fact this book is not tagged in any way that would indicate that it is Christian Fiction. I’m not saying this was a problem for me, it was just unexpected.
A lot of this story revolves around waiting. Waiting for Samuel to come back and waiting for Josie to grow up. She is 13 years old at the start of the story and Samuel is 18 years old. I give the author props for managing to not make this love story creepy, but sweet.
It was incredibly difficult for me to rate this book because it was hard for me to separate my feelings about the reader from my opinion of the book. After some consideration though, I thought the story was just ok. It didn’t completely suck me in, but I still felt compelled to finish it.
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Performer: Ariana Delawari
Length: 10 hr, 38 min
Series: The Wrath and the Dawn, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2015 by Listening Library
Review: I like the story of A Thousand and One Nights, so I was excited to read this YA adaptation. I was underwhelmed. This book did not do nearly enough to develop the story or the characters before jumping into the romance. The whole time I was thinking, they have spent hardly any time together, know almost nothing about each other, and yet they are deeply in love. After so many extraordinary girls before her, it is unclear why Shahrzad is the one who gets to live. She tells stories? So what. I personally did not find the stories she told to be that riveting and I was perplexed by the rapid passage of time. She tells one short story and then it’s dawn. Hooray she lives to tell another tale! The king trusts Shahrzad implicitly, but again, why? I just didn’t buy it.
I did enjoy the imagery and I listened to the book in it’s entirety, so I didn’t hate it. I would have loved to see the magic aspect fleshed out better. I saw great potential with that particular storyline, even if it didn’t get a lot of page presence. I am on the fence about starting the next book The Rose & the Dagger.
Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Performer: Amanda Leigh Cobb
Length: 6 hr, 24 min
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 3.1
Publishing Date/Publisher: 2018 by Recorded Books
Review: I don’t know how this author churns out as many books as she does. With both her Throne of Glass series and this one, she has supplemented her series with interspersed novellas. This novella is much shorter and less action packed than the three full-length books that come before it, and it is focused on the introspection of our main characters as they deal with the aftermath of the great battle with Hybern. It reveals more insight into our main characters and offers POVs that were not present in previous books. I did enjoy the book and the reader, but I found this book to be much soppier than the rest of the series. A lot of focus is put on the mating bond between Rhysand and Feyre, and the rest of the book is more of a snapshot in time as our characters prepare to enjoy a holiday together.