Monday, January 8, 2018

Audiobook Review : Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Rating: ★★★  | Hachette Audio | Fantasy | 3/28/17  | Buy Now !

*Trigger Warning : Infanticide, and Sexual Assault

If you read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bones series and said "I want more  GIVE IT TO ME NOW"---well here you go ! In this duology Taylor pits science against imagination and an a impossible future against centuries of pain.

Strange The Dreamer is the unusual tale of young librarian Lazlo Strange and how a mysterious city without a name becomes his great adventure. Strange The Dreamer  roots itself in many of the same themes from the Smoke and Bone series with  vividly imagined characters  woven out of tragic histories, blinding hope and dreams. . .literally on that last one. In a way it's a love letter to fiction and the power of stories.

Lazlo Strange's world appears to have a tenuous connection to the world of Smoke and Bone.
Laini Taylor's imagination is just plain interesting, seriously what goes on in her head ?  Is it the pink hair ? Her brand of YA fantasy is so immersive and her worlds are complicated and beautiful.

Taylor  uses this distant elegiac narrator that makes her stories feel larger than life. Audiobook narrator Steve West fits this storyteller role with ease. He takes his time with the narration and has this way of hitting the word "dreamer" that is filled with the same yearning  Lazlo Strange feels for the Unseen city.

I thought Khristine Hvam did such an amazing job with the Taylor's first series and I was ecstatic to hear that she directed the Strange The Dreamer audiobook. I think having someone familiar with Taylor's work helped  set the right tone for the narration, and the way that  musical cues are weaved in and out of the audiobook create just the right amount of tension and suspense.

Now, this book does have quite a few triggers and I did have to put the audiobook on pause every now and then. While I would have liked to see Taylor do something completely different, this is exactly what I wanted following Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

If you've ever seen the ARC of Daughter of Smoke and Bone you might wonder if that inspired Taylor in some way . . .

Also, Hollywood if you make this into a  movie I think you should cast Avan Jogia. Just saying.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Kat's 2017 End of Year Book Survey

It's  that time  of the year for the End of The Year Book Survey hosted by Jamie, The Perpetual Page Turner !  For this I'm including books from this blog and my romance blog, Romance and Sensibility.

Number Of Books You Read: 55, which is pretty good for me because I'm a slow reader and don't read everyday.
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From:  Contemporary adult romance

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

I'm breaking it down by genre

Speculative YA: This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Contemporary YA: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Contemporary Romance: Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Speculative Romance: Ruled by Elle Kennedy

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus, this book caught my eye when it was announced but it just didn't do it for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon.

I usually can't deal with anything interspecies but I gave this book a shot and ended up giving it 4 starts. I thought this romance about hunky barbaric blue aliens and humans was going to be crack-y and stupid but it was surprisingly thoughtful and well done.  I mean don't get me's still  kinda weird though. If you ever get Kindle Unlimited I would suggest checking it out.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

The Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

5. Best series you started in 2017? Best Sequel of 2017? Best Series Ender of 2017?

Best series: The Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassel

Best sequel: None

Best series ender: Midnight Star by Marie Lu, it is everything !

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017 ?

Marie Harte ! I won her book at BEA in 2016 and did a deep dive into her titles this year. She writes humorous, snappy contemporary romances with lots of blue collar heroes and heroines.

Also Mackenzi Lee, she's not new to the YA game but I feel like I'm just hearing about her. I want to go back and read her debut novel.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The last two books in the Outlaws series by Elle Kennedy, I don't typically seek out romance  with high erotic content but I couldn't get enough of the crazysauce in these books.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

It wasn't action packed but I ended up reading Eliza and Her Monsters in one day.

9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

None, I'm not a big re-reader

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

#Famous by Jilly Gagnon, This book was a total dud for me but I love the illustration style of the characters on the cover. You can't see the detail in this image, but it looks really good in person.

11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Reese from Ruled by Elle Kennedy. She was a heroine who embodied all of the characteristics usually reserved for leading men in action films. I want to know sooo much more about this character and I'm still mad there aren't any more books in this series even though she was clearly setting up for more.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?

This is probably a cop out to pick a National Book Award nominee but, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?

Also Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel,  because all I can think about now is how I'd survive in her dystopian future.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read?

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

I don't really have one

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017 ?

Shortest: Holiday Wishes, a Jill Shalvis novella that was 128 pages

Longest: Gentlemen's Guide to Vice and Virtue at 513 pages and 10 hours in audio

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

The Rose Society and Midnight Star by Marie Lu. There are just so many twists and turns, it was a journey.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Romance: Dominic and Luke from Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

YA: Rufus and Mateo from They Both Die at The End

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

I like the relationship between Rufus and his foster family in They Both Die At The End

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab, I've read The Archived by her a few years ago and thought it was pretty good but This Savage Song had some really unique worldbuilding.

21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

I only read Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon because of how much Teena talked about it on the Scandicalious podcast

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Hmm,  I don't typically read like that but if I had to pick Zachariah from Keepsake by Sarina Bowen

23. Best 2017 debut you read?

North To You by Tif Marcelo

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The many places created by Marie Lu in Midnight Star and Rose Society

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

All I Want for Halloween by Marie Harte

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?

So, this is embarrassing because I read a lot of sad AF YA this year, but the book only that made me actually cry was  Before We Kiss by Susan Mallery, a contemporary romance where the heroine is planning an event for the hero's sports PR company. I was listening to the audio on my way home from work and there was this scene near the end where the characters had finally coupled up and the big event they planned was over and IDK, I just lost it for a few seconds.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

A Pleasing Temptation by Deborah Fletcher Mello. Sometimes I think Harlequin's category books get lost in the mix but this one I highly recommend.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Rose Society by Marie Lu

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness. The juxtaposition of the 'savior kids' and the 'normal kids' storyline was really well done.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Keepsake by Sarina Bowen, I hated the heroine.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?

I recently became an Avon Addicts and have enjoyed reading  fellow AA7 member Smut Matters' blog.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I didn't do a lot of discussion post

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

The  Virginia Festival of The Book in Charlottesville. This event  was a lot of fun and the atmosphere was very chill.  There was a panel with the romance audio book narrators and they were all so nice to the fans. And I got to meet  author Tom McAllister from the Book Fight podcast. When I told him I listened to the podcast he wrote a fake blurb about me in the book, which is something they used to do for donors on the podcast.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?

When we celebrated 6 years of blogging. I've been starting and abandoning blogs since I was in high school and I'm so glad I found one I could keep up with consistently. I'm not sure if I'll be doing this forever, but I'm not sure how to be a reader without it.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

For me it's taking the time to sit down and read, I always want to be doing other things.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Statcounter will only show me the last 8 weeks, so it looks like the most popular post is the 18 Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2018

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Audible romance pacakge has changed my life, there is so much good stuff on it!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 

I didn't participate in any this year

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2017 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2018?

The Hate You Give by AC Thomas...I know, I know I'm so behind.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2018 (non-debut)?

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, it wasn't on my radar but I keep seeing rave reviews online

3. 2018 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Everless by Sara Holland

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2018?

I'm excited for Rena's story in Marie Harte's Bad Boys Body Shop series. She's sort of  the Black best friend in the book, but I like that  minority best friend characters are finally getting romances too !

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

Read more midlist, lesser hyped YA novels

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I'm reading Unraveled by Lauren Dane and I'm already loving the voice and setting.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books and Sensibility By The Numbers 2017

After skipping last year, we are back with a round up of our numbers ! All year long we track our reading and reviewing habits so we can crunch the numbers and pull some stats.

Kat's Reaction
We read a lot of audiobooks, which has a lot to do with the great audiobook selection on my library's Overdrive.  I got rid of my Audible account last year so in 2017  I was using the holds and requests function to checkout new YA audiobooks.

Category Numbers

80% YA

10% Adult

10% Graphic novel, middle grade and nonfiction

Publisher Numbers
The publishers we read were pretty disparate. The most commonly read publisher was  HarperCollins, mostly from the a Greenwillow and HarperTeen imprint.

41% HarperCollins

36 % Penguin Random House

5% Simon & Schuster

2% Kondanasha

2% Algonquin BFYR

2% Hachette

2% HMH

2% Macmillan

2 % Sourcebooks Fire

2.% Time Inc.

2 % Quirk Books

Other Diversity Numbers
With so many conversations about diversity happening each year I'm not surprised we are seeing more love interests and side characters of color. One thing I've noticed this year is books with "black best friends" have the black best friend bringing attention to the white MC's privilege.

52% Featured Supporting Characters or Love Interest of Color

36% Featured Gay, Lesbian or Bisexual Love Interest or Supporting character

14% Feature Characters w/ Physical Disability

7%   Featured Protagonist w/ Mental illness

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Book Review : The Glass Spare By Lauren DeStefano

Book Review

The Glass Spare is a semi-steampunk/ fantasy  mash up othat is in many ways a retelling of the King Midas story and in other ways very similar to just about any YA fantasy you might find.

I remember when DeStefano first debuted in 2011, her Chemical Garden series was taboo, dark, creepy and IIRC very popular. DeStefano has been churning out books ever since and I hadn't really heard much about this one except I know it was featured Owlcrate.

Wil is a spare heir, only fourth in line to inherit to her father's throne. To stay in his good graces she spies for him and bends to his will.  Other than that she spends her time with her favorite brothers (One of whom I said "you gon die" out loud as soon as he started talking). One day she discovers she has the ability to turn living things to gemstone with just a touch. Chaos ensues and she finds herself exiled and  on the run. Along the way she meets Loom, an exiled enemy prince and they team up to save his kingdom. There is a rebellion, a captain of the guard in love with their charge, eyelashes that create shadows and breathe that were held and forgotten. It was standard fare.

There are some original elements like one of the character is a teen mom, can't say I've seen that a lot. Ahem, speaking of teen mom's there is something about DeStefano's writing that boggles my mind. In the The Glass Spare one of the 25-year-old brothers  marries a 15-year-old year old. And like, in the Chemical Garden series a man in his twenties gets like a young teenager pregnant ? I guess the teenagers with older men things just isn't for me.

If you are a fan of fantasy and adventure, and can forgo some loose world building--this might be the book for you.

17 Favorite Podcast Episodes of 2017

Podcasts fans and book lovers enjoy a good story, great dialogue and rememberable characters (real and imagined). So we wanted to end the year by sharing the amazing and thought provoking podcast episodes that made our 2017.


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