Sunday, March 11, 2018

Audiobook Review: Batman Nightwalker (DC Icons #2)

Rating: ★★★ | 12 hours 36 minutes | Listening Library | 1/02/18 

After getting caught playing vigilante on the streets of Gotham City, 18-year-old Bruce Wayne is sentenced to scrubbing the floors of Arkham Asylum as community service. There he crosses paths with Arkham’s newest inmate Madeline Wallace,  who is believed to be the mastermind behind the notorious Nightwalker street gang. But Bruce thinks there might be more to Madeline than meets the eye.

When DC announced it was working with YA authors to write teen versions of their superheroes I knew Marie Lu would be a perfect choice. Her books are all about super capable teens fighting the system and saving the day. She’s an auto-buy author for me, but this book was just kinda meh for me. The plot focused  so much on what is not said, that if I didn't know this was a Batman prequel I would have DNF’d it. It does find its legs in the end but the middle section just dragged.

I do like what Marie Lu did with the character of Bruce Wayne. She got rid of the billionaire playboy aspect of Bruce Wayne’s personality and made him a more well rounded inquisitive teen obsessed  with technology and understanding the meaning of justice. This book also has something to say about police brutality, street harassment and even has Bruce unpack some of his privilege. I don’t know if all the Icon books have a social justice aspect but it did make sense in this one.

I’m curious about what the rules are for DC Icons books and if they are supposed to be connecting to a bigger arc. I didn't notice any references to the last book, Wonder Woman, but we do get a few mentions of Metropolis and the Luther family.

Audiobook narrator Will Damron delivers a solid narration but there were times when I would just zone out because his voice was so one note. Also his Alfred Pennyworth is a dead on impression of the Alfred voice from the Batman The Animated Series from the 90’s.

That said, I really like that more superheroes are getting YA books, it’s a great alternative for someone like me who enjoys superhero films but isn’t into comics.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Jess' Mini Book Haul

A few weekends ago I went to my local outlet mall and had a chance to check out Book Warehouse. It was like being in a physical version of the Book Outlet. They had a ton of series titles and their romance section was well stocked and decorated with flower petals. I give them props for respecting romance. Anywho, all the books were 10-80% off and I had to limit myself.

Audiobook Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Rating: ★★★ | 8 hours 39 minutes| Hachette Audio | Fantasy | 1/02/18  

Jude and her twin sister Taryn were taken from the mortal world as children by their mother’s vindictive ex-husband and raised within the gentry of the Faerie world, where they have always been seen as outsiders especially by Cardan--youngest prince of Faerie--who delights in torturing them. Jude has had enough of being a victim and is ready to show she deserves a place in the Faerie courts. Her ambition gets her mixed up in a world of espionage, power plays,  violence and oh so many plot twists.

I just ate this story up, which is saying something because I am def not the ideal reader for a book like this. I have always struggled with fantasy and have no base for Faerie mythology,  but Holly Black draws the world so vividly I was able to put most of it together and quickly learn the rules of Faerie, If you like lush descriptions of fantastical beasts, clothes and greenery this is your book.

Jude as a protagonist worked for me because I am always here for  unlikable #sorrynotsorry female YA anti-heroes. She’s very present in her own story and yes, she makes a lot of really bad terrible impulsive choices, but you still find yourself rooting for her. I was a little nervous about what kind of relationship would develop between Cardan, the titular cruel prince, and Jude but I think Black nails it..

Audiobook narrator Caitlin Kelly is new to me and she is one of those narrators that breathes life into a  narration. She pays attention to the dialogue tags and interprets them expertly. Kellly has this great catalog of uncanny male voices, her voice of the haughty prince Cardan was one of my favorite. It just fit the character perfectly. She can even do a little kid voice that didn’t have me lunging for the fast forward button. I don’t know how she isn’t doing all the audiobooks.

This book has been a runaway hit in the YA world and I know doesn't need anymore positive reviews, but overall I was all in. That said I'm really not sure there is room for three more books in here...

According some Goodreads users this book exists in the world of The Darkest Part of the Forest and Black’s Tithe series. I've always strayed away from these books thinking the Faierie thing wasn't for me, but now that I've got one under my belt I may try it again.

Also, obligatory I would literally pay money for more Curse Workers. Is there a GoFundMe ? Patreon ?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review : Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

Rating: Unrated | 304 pages | Balzer + Bray | Contemporary | 11/07/2017 | 

Book Review

Here We Are Now is the captivating story of a family being broken apart and brought back together at the same time. At just 304 pages Warga tells this very insular story about family, loss and love. I mean once this story knows where it wants to go it hits all the marks.

Taliah Abbaldat summer afternoon takes a dramatic turn when the father she has never knew, famous rock star Julian Oliver. shows up on her doorstep. Julian is facing  the impending loss of the father he had a tumultuous relationship with. Inspired by the impending loss Julian finds himself  ready to do right by his own daughter before it is to late. Together  Taliah and Julian set off for his small hometown together as they begin to unearth the murky waters of her parent's relationship. I was very tempted to comp this to a Sara Dessen novel but there is a sense of closeness and focus on character building  to this narrative that makes it less so.

I've complained on multiple occasions about the Jerk Dad in YA. Warga really adds some nuance here.  I mean, you think when you hear a YA book features a famous dad you know what it is going to be but Warga turns it on it's head. You start to feel for the struggle Julia is going through trying to figure out being a father. Warga does a deep dive into the parent's back story in the late 90's, and I am all for YA novels that have interesting and dynamic parents. There is even some fun back and forth between Taliah being a young millennial and Julian being a Gen Xer.

My only issue with this book was the "love interest" felt slightly tacked on and took me out of the narrative. I'm pretty sure if you take it out it doesn't change that much of the story. It doesn't even show up until 1/3 of the way in and I was hoping there wouldn't be one.

I hesitated to read Warga's debut novel because of the suicide aspect, but I enjoyed this one so much that I may go and revisit it.

I'm not a music person (Cause I did not know the title was a Nirvana lyric. Speaking of I guess Julian is a Kurt Cobain expy) and music serves as a bond for Julian and Taliah

Check out the audiobook review at AudioFile Magazine !

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Sidekicks by Will Kostikas

This Aussie YA follows three boys at a Sydney private school who have nothing in common except their dead best friend, Issac Roberston.

The boys in this book are labeled as the swimmer, the rebel and the nerd and they each share their unique  perspective on the aftermath of Issac’s death. Of the three boys, Harley, the “rebel”,   feels partially responsible for the death (and who is just asking to be compared to Holden Caulfield) and Miles, the loner “nerd”, have the most compelling stories  because of how Issac's death changes the way they navigate the world.

This is a full cast audiobook with each boy getting his own narrator,  it took me awhile to get used to the Australian accents and I was rewinding a lot because I couldn’t always catch what they were saying. Funny story, the only narrator I didn’t have issues understanding was P.J. Ochlan who sounded authentically Australian to me, but  it turns out he’s an American actor who specializes in accents. He has also done a boatload of audiobooks.

In YA parents have a tendency to disappear, and I liked that Kostakis wrote nuanced  adult characters in each boy's life. Although I had a real problem with Ryan, the champion swimmer’s, mom. She’s the head of the English department at their private school and she needed to seriously set boundaries between herself and her son at school. She just lets him hang out in her office in the teacher's area by himself and he just kind of watches the teachers interacting. It just seems to me the teachers should have spaces separate from students where they can "be themselves" , but like who’s going to say anything if it’s the boss’ kid.  *jumps off soapbox*

One of my oddly specific genre catnips is white dude ennui in YA.  I think it’s because it’s so far from my own lived experience and this book hit a lot of my buttons for that. It was like a reverse Goodbye Days with a dash of Catcher in the Rye.

I really like all the cover interpretations for this book. The one at the top of this post is the audiobook cover but I think my favorite is the Australian. hardcover.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Behind The Screen: A Book Blogger Tag

When did you start blogging and what was your first review? 

I started blogging about YA in September of 2011. In the beginning Jess and I did joint reviews and the first review on the blog is for City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. My first solo review was for City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare.

I started reviewing romance on a separate blog in February of 2015 and the first romance I ever read and reviewed was Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Who/what inspired you to start blogging? 

The blog started from Jess and I reading Cleolinda's series on Livejournal where she sporked Breaking Dawn. We were going to do something like that with City of Bones but then we saw a call on for book bloggers and we discovered that there were hundreds of other books blogs and fell into the entire community of  YA book bloggers.

My other inspirations would be Rebecca Schinsky.I met her pre-Book Riot in 2009 for a story I was  doing in college about the rise of ebooks (I know, how original but it was a different time) and I had never met anyone who talked about books like she did. Also, Sara Wendell and co really inspired me to read and write about romance.

What is a blog-related goal that you have? 

Like Amber I'd love to get a blurb on a book and I'd love to be on a panel/podcast where I could recommend books to people who don't read YA/romance.

What is one thing you wish someone told you about blogging? 

One thing I really wish we'd done in the beginning is not to hotlink images, which I know is Internet 101 ! So many of our early posts look off because we hotlinked all the images. 

What was your biggest blog-related accomplishment? 

Like Amber, I'd say how long this blog has been going. I have started so many blogs and this is the only one that stuck.

Also, a few years ago we pitched an idea for a back-to-school YA reading list to a local news website and they instead asked to do a profile on the blog, (likely because they didn't want to pay us to write anything) unfortunately, the local news website closed a few months later but the profile is still there.

What types of posts do you enjoy writing? 

I like making fun lists and cover posts, something I haven't done much of lately.

Where do you usually blog? What does your setup look like? 

I have a dining room table, a desk and a little reading nook but I usually just blog in my bed with my Bath and Body Works candle burning. If I have a lot of things I want to accomplish I'll usually go to Starbucks or a local coffee shop and blog.

What was your last 5-star read? 

The Young Elites series by Marie Lu, I am not a fantasy reader but this series is dark and crazysauce with antiheroes everywhere.

What was your last 1-star read? 

I don't have a 1 star but the lowest review I've ever given was a 1.5 for After by Anna Todd. I would have given it a 2 or 2.5 but the book was too damn long (600 pages) and the "reveal" ending made me rage-y. 

What are three words that make you pick up a book? 

-  Celebrity

- Twist

- Anti-heroes

What is your Hogwarts House? 

I once heard John Green use the term Ravenpuff on a vlog and that seems about right to me.

What is your favorite reading environment? 

I love listening to audiobooks when I'm on my commute or when I'm going out of town. It's a nice little transition  to and from work.

I also get a  lot of reading done when I'm eating breakfast/brunch on the weekends.

What advice would you give to new bloggers? 

You  seriously don't need ARCs to be a blogger. I feel like the ARC thing has gotten out of control in recent years what with people buying and selling them on Ebay.  I haven't reviewed a YA ARC in years and it's been some of my best blogging I've done.  You'd be surprised how many people will comment if you talk about a book they loved but thought everyone else had forgotten.

Also, it's not cool or interesting to hate on what is popular. You can have opinions or not like something without hating on others  for liking it.

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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...