Fantasy · Fiction · Thriller

Dracula

Dracula [Audible Edition] Audiobook By Bram Stoker cover art

Title: Dracula

Author: Bram Stoker

Performer: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, plus cast

Length: 15hrs 28 mins

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 20th, 2012/Audible Studios

Format: Audiobook

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.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating:

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Historical

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Title: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Page Count: 401

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: June 13, 2017/Atria Books

Format: eBook

Review: 

This book completely broke me. I was crying at two in the morning while I finished the book, it was just so good and beautiful and well written.

It addresses some very important issues: racial prejudice, domestic abuse, homophobia, and what it was like to be an LGBTQ+ person in a historical setting. And from my own perspective, I think it was handled very well.

I typically don’t like books with multiple first person POVs, I think it gets complicated and messy and rarely works well (multiple third person POVs are great, though), however I think this worked really well in The Seven Husbands because it is as if we are reading Monique’s book in the chapters that we are in Evelyn’s perspective, or even just listening to her through the tapes or sitting down to the interview and hearing her story.

It was compelling, heartbreaking, and profound. So when I say ‘it broke me’, I mean that in the best possible way. I highly recommend it, but be sure to have some tissues handy.

Reader: Kymberly

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Contemporary · Fiction

If I Had Your Face

Title: If I Had Your Face

Author: Frances Cha

Performers: Frances Cha, Sue Jean Kim, Ruthie Ann Miles, & Jeena Yi

Length: 8 hr, 10 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: April 21, 2020 by Random House Audio

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This fascinating glimpse into Korean beauty culture immediately had me searching the internet for more information. It seems unbelievable that it would be commonplace for women, and men, to go to such drastic lengths to achieve beauty, but sadly it seems that it is true. I know very little about K-pop aside from it’s growing popularity among American youth, and it is frightening to see the dark side of this industry and how it influences the rest of Korean society.

Looking back on the length of this audiobook, it is stunning that the author was able to offer glimpses of so many different issues in such a short space of time. She tackles prostitution, high suicide rates, unemployment, and poverty – just to name a few. It is amazing that somehow all these topics seemed to circle back to beauty and the commodification of it. The characters seem to have this idea throughout the book that beautiful people get ahead in life, when in reality, beautiful people are just as susceptible, if not more so, to abuse.

In general, I thought the author did a really good job fleshing out the main characters with backstory, however, in retrospect, highlighting the lives of four characters was a bit ambitious. All the characters lives intersect in some way, but the character of Wonna seems largely disconnected from the rest. I can only assume she was included to show how the cultural expectations placed on women affect the average working class wife. All of the other characters are younger, unmarried, and childless. They have little to no interaction with Wonna at all until the very end. I did enjoy her story, but her vignettes didn’t seem to really fit smoothly with the rest of the character narratives. Even so, I liked how the author used these windows into the the past to illuminate current issues.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Contemporary · Fiction · Magical Realism · Young Adult

Home Is Not a Country

Title: Home Is Not a Country

Author: Safia Elhillo

Page Count: 224

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: March 2, 2021 by Make Me a World

Format: Hardcover

Review: I could have never predicted the direction of this story based on the cover or the synopsis. There were many aspects of the story that were beautiful – the title, the emphasis on friendship, and the mother/daughter relationship – but where it started to get a little sloggy for me was when the elements of magical realism were incorporated. There was a turning point about halfway through where the author lost me and never really roped me back. I kept being reminded of A Christmas Carol after this point, and the conclusion was about what I would expect knowing how that story ended.

The style of poetry that this author uses has recently been trendy in the YA sphere. I understand that the spacing, use of symbols, and lowercase letters are all creative choices. I assume they have a purpose, but I don’t know enough about poetry to figure out what that purpose is. Sometimes I found it distracting because I would spend a lot of time trying to glean why these choices were made. Hopefully I will find somebody who can explain it to me, because Google cannot.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Dark Shores

Title: Dark Shores

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Performers: Jeanette Illidge & Jeremy Arthur

Length: 12 hr, 21 min

Series: Dark Shores, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by MacMillan Audio

Format: eAudiobook

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.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

Soulswift

Title: Soulswift

Author: Megan Bannen

Page Count: 480

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: November 17, 2020

Format: eBook

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.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fiction · Historical · Young Adult

Rebel Daughter

Title: Rebel Daughter

Author: Lori Banov Kaufmann

Performer: Ellen Archer

Length: 10 hr, 32 min

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 9, 2021 by Listening Library

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I checked out this eAudiobook from the library primarily because I love reading about this time period in history. It’s a fictional story, but the author based much of it off of real historical events and people. It is meticulously researched, and I really appreciated the author’s note at the end that explains many of her creative choices.

Now to the story itself. I found the whole plot to be rather dry. I’m not sure if it was the characters or the author’s writing style that didn’t really appeal to me. Perhaps I compare it too much to other books I have read and enjoyed based in this time period, but I just didn’t find any aspect of it to be especially compelling. I do, however, think the right reader would really enjoy it, so I will keep it in my back pocket as a possible book recommendation.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance

A Court of Silver Flames

Title: A Court of Silver Flames

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Page Count: 757

Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Book 4

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 16, 2021

Format: Hardcover

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.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star

Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Science Fiction · Young Adult

Secrets of the Starcrossed

Title: Secrets of the Starcrossed

Author: Clara O’Connor

Performer: Jan Cramer

Length: 13 hr, 17 min

Series: The Once and Future Queen, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: January 21, 2021 by One More Chapter

Format: eAudiobook

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.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star
Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

A Sky Beyond the Storm

Title: A Sky Beyond the Storm

Author: Sabaa Tahir

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

Format: eAudiobook

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.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
All_Star_Gold
half star