Publishing Date/Publisher: July 20, 2021/Tor Books
This was a highly anticipated book for a lot of readers and reviewers, and it did not disappoint. It is advertised as Mulan meets Song of Achilles, and even knowing that did nothing to prepare me for exactly what this book contains.
Full of morally grey characters whose fates and desires are interwoven, this book had me hooked form the start. I was thinking about it any time I had to put it down and found myself reading slowly so I could savor it.
Publishing Date/Publisher: September 29, 2020 by Penguin Audio
Review: This book had good pacing and although predictable, had a great message. Life is full of choices, and it is easy to get bogged down with regrets. Perhaps we could have had a “better” life if we made different choices, but ultimately this may have resulted in unexpected outcomes. Outcomes that would not necessarily be good. Keeping this in mind, I think this book gives the reader a healthy dose of perspective. We all occasionally have “what if” thoughts, and sometimes we need to reframe our way of thinking to see things in a more positive light. In some respects, this almost felt like a self-help book and it serves as a gentle reminder that we can all be kinder to ourselves.
Performers: Lauren Fortgang and Michael David Axtell
Length: 16 hr, 29 min
Series: Alex Stern, Book 1
Publishing Date/Publisher: October 8, 2019 by Macmillan Audio
Review: Grishaverse fans beware…this is a complete departure from Bardugo’s previous work. Luckily for me, I am also a fan of the paranormal/urban fantasy genre, so there is some crossover appeal for me. This book was a little too gritty for my personal tastes, but the character development really impressed me. Alex’s character in particular is incredibly complex and multi-layered. People who enjoy stories about secret societies are especially in for a treat because Bardugo really has a knack for the intricacies of incorporating the paranormal into realistic settings. She makes it completely believable that this type of world could exist within the shadow of our own.
The dynamic between Alex and Darlington was a bit confusing to me, so I am really hoping for more page time with them in future books. I liked the readers chosen for both of their characters, so I will probably try to continue forward with the series in audiobook format.
Publishing Date/Publisher: February 20th, 2012/Audible Studios
Review: This was a fun listen and the cast brought the characters to life (with the exception of Lucy’s, which was just very annoying, to be honest). The classic was enhanced by an all-star cast and unique storytelling method Stoker used was perfect for an audiobook.
Dracula is a classic for a reason, but I wasn’t completely blown away by it. I think that might be because I’ve watched too many film and tv adaptations that the original just felt a bit ‘been there, done that’. I still recommend it for a fun way to escape for a bit, or to have on in the background while working or cooking.
Review: Going to start this one off with just ‘wow’. I love fantasy but sometimes high fantasy can be dull and take ages to get anywhere (both in reference to the plot but also they always have to walk everywhere, which annoys me- buy/steal a horse) but this one starts off strong and that carries throughout the whole 800+ pages. Even following the one character I wasn’t super invested in, it was fast and interesting.
The writing was superb, the plot was so engaging, the characters were so well thought out and developed, the magic system was unique, and the relationships? Chef kiss. And dragons. Come on. I would give this book seven stars out of five if I could. Ten maybe. I just really loved it, plain and simple. It was one where I wanted to stay within its pages and world for as long as possible, and since it’s a mammoth book, that was pretty easy.
BRB, I’ve just convinced myself to go re-read it while writing this.
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by MacMillan Audio
Review: I didn’t dislike this book, but for some reason I could not fully connect with it. I finished it a couple of months ago and for some reason I have been dragging my feet in reviewing it. Perhaps it is because I have had a hard time pinpointing just what it is that didn’t jive for me. To be honest my memory has already started to erase the finer details of the story. There was nothing particularly memorable that stands out to me about the storyline, but I do remember feeling a sense of anxiety regarding many of the choices that the characters made. I found the villain to be flat, and his motives unclear. One storyline was dropped completely, which I thought was odd until I read the synopsis for the second book in the series and realized this plot point is the basis of a concurrent storyline. I liked the concept of the Rome influenced setting and the Maarin as a seafaring people who act as the go between for the East and West. I don’t regret taking the time to finish this book, but I probably won’t continue with the series.
Review: Megan Bannen ripped my heart out in the best possible way with The Bird and the Blade, so I was very curious when I saw she had published a new novel. After reading this book, it is very apparent that Bannen enjoys breaking the hearts of her readers into a million pieces. She has a very distinct writing flow, so the tone was very similar to The Bird and the Blade though the characters and setting were entirely different. Even though the book was based in a fantasy setting, it felt like I was reading historical fiction. The author has stated that this book is not based on any existing story, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she was heavily influenced by real events in history, particularly religious crusades.
There is a lot to enjoy with this story. Gelya in particular is a smart and witty character, and I couldn’t help but like her. Her relationship with Tavik is in equal parts funny and serious. Bannen seems to have a unique gift for achieving this kind of balance, and it adds a lot of depth to her characters.
Despite everything that impressed me about this book, the story itself was not particularly compelling to me. If it wasn’t Bannen writing it, I probably would not have picked it up based on the synopsis alone. The subject matter just really isn’t my cup of joe.
Review: Though the first three books in this series were debatably young adult fiction, there is no doubt that this book is new adult/adult fiction. Sarah has turned up the smut significantly in this installment, and I really don’t see any going back for her. It is clear that new adult/adult fiction is where she really shines.
I loved Nesta’s story arc, probably even more than Feyre’s. She has a lot of inner demons that fuel her destructive behavior as she copes with the aftermath of traumatic events. Her family basically does an intervention that forces her to become introspective and re-evaluate what she truly wants out of life. In many ways it is a redemption story as Nesta comes to terms with her past and rebuilds the relationships she has shattered. As she forges new friendships and kindles a passionate affair with Cassian, she learns to forgive herself for her perceived failures and is finally able to move towards a brighter future.
I like the direction that the series is moving in, and I look forward to seeing whose story Sarah tells next.
Publishing Date/Publisher: January 21, 2021 by One More Chapter
Review: This was probably one of the most frustrating books I have ever read. I liked the author’s writing style, and enjoyed the setting – a sort of futuristic reimagining of an alternate history. I also thought the author very cleverly blended science fiction with fantasy as she pitted scientific advances against magic.
The story was good, but fell short of great. The story is told from the single point of view of a girl named Cassandra making the story entirely character driven. I really felt like I was in her thoughts, which became downright annoying when she would just have the same circular line of thinking over, and over, and over again. The actual plot could be summed up in a few minutes and was highly predictable, yet it took over 13 hours of listening time to get to the inevitable conclusion.
The romance in this story is perhaps it’s greatest failure. Cassandra harps on and on about the connection she feels to the mysterious boy Devyn, who is constantly pulling her in and then pushing her away with no explanation. Honestly I just wanted to reach through the pages and slap them both across the face, and tell them to just get. to. the. point. I really wish there had been some POV chapters from Devyn’s perspective, because his portrayal through the eyes of Cassandra was not at all flattering. Perhaps if I had some backstory and clearer motivators for him, I would have been willing to root for him.
By the end I had no answers and no clear picture of where the story is going. Considering how long this book was, I probably won’t be picking up the next one. I highly suspect that the three books in the trilogy could have easily fit into a duology if all the repetitive filler was cut out.
Performers: Fiona Hardingham, Katharine Lee McEwan, Steve West, Maxwell Caulfield & Nikki Massoud
Length: 17 hr, 9 min
Series: An Ember in the Ashes, Book 4
Publishing Date/Publisher: December 1, 2020 by Listening Library
Review: This was a highly anticipated read for me. I was extra patient waiting for the audiobook format to become available at my library, because I so enjoy the casting for this series. The cast did an incredible job again, so no complaints there.
I really hyped this book up in my mind after reading A Reaper at the Gates, so I was sorely disappointed when it didn’t quite deliver for me. There were several aspects of this book that I found frustrating:
The romance between Elias and Laia just lacked that luster that it had before.
Poor fricken Helene. She remains my favorite character in the series, but I did not like the trajectory of her story at all.
The origin of Laia’s magic is revealed, but the explanation felt convoluted.
I was surprised by how little page time any of the main characters actually had together.
Despite my criticisms, I did enjoy the book and I still loved the series as a whole. Perhaps it wasn’t the conclusion I was hoping for, but I would still recommend it.