Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Books Pairings : Podcasts

 Every now and then I'll hear a podcast episode and think "THIS IS JUST LIKE THAT ONE BOOK" So, today I'm pairing amazing podcast episodes with some of Books and Sensibility's favorite books.

Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
Radiolab: Ally's Choice
In Jenkin's Forbidden Rhine Fontaine, a former salve, is passing as white in the American Wild West. If you think passing  is a thing of the past then you need hear this story from this Peabody Award winning science podcast about the residents of East Jackson, Ohio.

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Snap Judgement Episode 519: End of The Line "Bandoola"
Water For Elephants explores the idea that  animals and humans are more connected that we think. The podcast Snap Judgement is storytelling with a beat and in the episode we learn about a what happens when Burmese refugees, an elephant tamer and elephants reach a literal rock and hard place. The bond between man, animal and nature is put to the test. Sometimes you just have to trust the elephant in the room.

Fresh Off The Boat by Eddie Huang
99pi  Episode 192: "Pagodas and Dragon Gates"
Hosted by Roman Mars 99pi looks at the invisible parts of design. This episode explains how Chinese Americans neighborhoods in the early 20th century were made to appeal to White America's nostalgia and exoticism of ancient China. In the same vein Eddie Huang's memoir looks at the modern day problems of Asian Americans who resist White washing.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Tanis Podcast
What's real and what's not real ? Both of these fictional tales are about heroes searching for something mystical and intangible. While Gansey from The Raven Boys  is obsessed with a mythical ley line, Tanis host Nic Silver searches for a mysterious presence in the Pacific Northwest  that could explain everything. . . and nothing at all. And I'm sure Gansey would love what  Nic says at the end of each episode: don't stop looking.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Winter by Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles #4)

The Lunar Chronicles series is like a snowball rolling down a hill. We start off with the singular story of Cinder, a plucky cyborg mechanic. Cinder discovers she might be something more and soon a viscous plague, the future of the empire and the fate of a moon kingdom might be in her hands

As we roll down the hill with each book in the series we pick up new characters and story lines that are all incorporating and mixing together to form the giant snow ball finale that is Winter, which comes in at 900 pages or 23 hours of audio. 

While the sweet and quirky Princess Winter is our titular character this book brings the entire gang together (Cinder, Thorne, Iko, Cress, Scarlet, Wolf and Kai) for one last mission to overthrow Queen Levana. Meyers just knows how to juggle a cast of characters. But she probably didn't need to do it in so many pages. There were a lot of section I felt weren't necessary.

At some point I forgot this series was based on fairytales because of how original Meyer's world building is. Sometimes I would catch glimpses of the original tales and  it really shows how a good  adaptation can work, especially with Winter's story. Can I just say Winter has the designation of being the character most Disney Princess-like ? Right down to the loving animals and breaking out into song.

My final note on this series is that I really zeroed in on how Meyer's played with inverting the damsel in distress role. I mean Kai really takes on a lot of roles generally assumed by female characters.

As always Rebecca Soler did an amazing job on the audio and if you grab the audiobook there is an interview with Soler and Meyer at the end. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Audiobook Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

 So, you know how people think most fantasy/dystopian  YA is just a  thinly veiled allegory for high school ?  Well the Red Queen on it's surface is pretty much that.

We've got Mare Barrow another brunette YA heroine who hates her hair and wishes she was more like her sister Gisa who is pretty, talented and basically put up on a pedestal.

In Mare's world what separates the oppressed Reds from the elite  Silvers. . . is their blood. The Silver's blood silver blood gives them abilities like controlling elements, strength and mind control.

Mare soon discovers that even though she is Red, she has abilities like a Silver. A threat to the Silver way of life, The Silvers  whisk her away to live among them until they can figure out what she is.

On the flip side The Scarlet Guard, a resistance group fighting the Silver's oppression, is starting to rise and Mare just might be their way to victory.

Living among Royals, Mare is basically a  fish out of water trying to fit in with all the cool Silver kids while avoiding the mean girl whose boyfriend she is crushing on.

One more thing about this book:

I mean there are so many to choose from. We have the fierce warrior and future king, Prince Cal,  Or the reserved and charming second son, Prince Maven. Plus there's Kilorn,that guy-next-door-best friend AND Lucas the understanding bodyguard.

One of the things that bothered me about this novel is that the women characters were either Mare's enemy or put on a pedestal. There wasn't a rang there. I would even argue this for the character of Farley, the female leader of the resistance.

This was my first Amanda Dolan audiobook and she is a very subtle narrator who lets the story come through. She's not obtrusive with her performance.

With all that said I found this to be a popcorn audiobook for me. Yes, it's cliched, yes we've seen it before but Aveyard throws in a few plot twist and leaves the ending open to new adventures. This kind of feels like it could be more than a trilogy.

By the time I finished this book I'd pre-ordered the next one just to see where we go next.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Audiobook Review: An Ember in The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

The popularity of this book seemed to come out of nowhere. I just remember seeing it on an endcap one day in Barnes and Nobles and the next things I knew is was blowing up.

Ember in the Ashes takes place in The Empire,  a vaguely middle ages fictional land with some vaguely Arabic influences. Elias (who by the way is 20 years old….which feels oddly old for YA) is a student at Blackcliff, a ruthless academy that trains Masks, the Empire’s deadliest soldiers. Laia is a Scholar, the conquered class, who is goes ndercover as a slave at Blackcliff for the Resistance to help her brother.

I don't really have much to say about this book, which is weird since the audiobook is over 15 hours long. It wasn't bad, it just didn't click with me. I finished this book and I wasn't amped for the next one. Thinking about the only other YA fantasies I've read; Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Young Elites, I think what this book is missing is characters with skin in the game. Elias and Laia are just kind of going with the flow all the time.

I am honestly not sure why this particular book is so popular. This world seems like the worst. I get that dark books are popular, but they always have a hero characters can root for. I don't think this book does that.

The narrators of the audio are Steve West and Fiona Hardingham, both narrators have super British voices. I mean Super British. And I do mean British because a few characters have Irish and Scottish accents. The narration added a lot to this book and I found both their voices pleasant. Although West did get a little extra in some of the fight scenes towards the end. I need West and Buckingham to do some regency romance novels--there is a flirty scene in this book that they do perfectly.

So, I guess I'll join the unpopular opinion club on this YA fantasy.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Mixed Feelings About Harry Potter #8: Gif Reaction Post

So this happened 

And the bookish Internet was like

The Cursed Child is a script book print edition of the play coming to London this summer about Harry's son. But we're all just calling it HP #8

Now, I'm a big Harry Potter fan

But. . .I feel like every time a new Harry Potter (Wizarding World) book comes out it's just about generating more revenue. Like, with The Cursed Child fans can either buy the Special Rehearsal Edition script before the play debuts or the Definitive Collector's Edition after the debut.  

On the other hand I do like that they've taken a premium product, the play, and packaged in a way where more people have access to it.

So I have mixed feelings. But I know I'll eventually read it. I really hope it lives up to the hype 

P.S  If you haven't seen A Very Potter Musical. . . The other Harry Potter musical you must ! It's a little quirky but the music, dancing and writing  is amazing. They know HP fans ! It's on YouTube. GO GO GO


Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

Release Date: May 12th 2015
Pages: 407
Genre: Magical Realism/ Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)

The Cost Of All Things exists in a world pretty much like our own except spells are real and can be created by women known as hekamists. When a group of high school students in Cape Code start buying spells to  cope with their insecurities...it doesn’t go well. I went into this book excited because it had blurbs from so many award winning YA authors and the premise sounded so fascinating. But overall this book didn’t work for me.

 The magic system never felt fully developed and it's existence within the world didn’t feel real . One thing that bothered me is that being a hekamist is illegal, but there doesn’t seem to be any illegality with buying a spell--which feels like the opposite of what should be happen.There were also very little stakes, the book sets up the death of one character , Win, as being a main plot point but he has a POV, so it takes some of the mystery out. I think what kept me reading was that I thought there would be a twist ending but there really wasn't.

Because this book has five point of views I thought I would enjoy listening to it on audio, but the narrators were really weak. Out of the four narrators (There is a third girl who doesn't seem to have a narrator attributed to her) the only ones I liked were Nicholas Dresser and  Shannon McManus. And interestingly enough their character's POVs probably could have just carried the entire story. 

The Cost of All Things has an interesting magical realism twist on the small town coming of age story, but a lot of it gets muddled in the POVs.

*Promotional copy recieved at BookExpoAmerica

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Romance Brown Bag Challenge

Last Fall I stopped by a library book sale and didn't really see anything that sparked my attention. Then under a table I noticed a brown paper bags filled with Harlequin series (or category) romances. The entire bag was on sale for three dollars.

Since we do have a romance blog and the sale was almost ending I thought. . . why not ? So, I bought
1 brown bag. 46 romances. 3 dollars.
a brown bag of 46 Harlequin categories. Now I'm challenging myself to read and review all 46 books on Romance and Sensibility !

See the full list of books here

Before I started this challenge I decided to learn more about series romances. From what I understand series romances are shorter romances usually written to specific guidelines and tropes; billionaires, cowboys, secret baby etc. Harlequin.com has info on what editors look for and what readers can expect in each series line.

Just in time for this post, Harlequin just released this fun infographic that lets you know how much each of their categories sizzles !

For more romance happenings check out Romance and Sensibility ! 


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