Saturday, June 27, 2015

People Who Should Do Audiobooks #audiobookmonth


June is audiobook month but every month feels like audiobook month for me because I listen to so many !  When I choose audiobooks I tend to look for awesome narrators. I find ones  I like and go back to them again and again.  So, every now and then I'll be watching TV or a movie and thinking... this person should totally do audiobooks.

DANTE BASCO
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Known for voicing the angsty teen prince, Zuko, on Avatar : The Last Airbender, Basco could find his niche voicing YA/NA males.

JANET VARNEY
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Also from the Avatar Franchise I think  Janet Varney, who voices Korra, could add a little variety to the usually higher pitched YA female voices.


TONI COLLETTE
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I recently finished watching United States of Tara, where Collette plays an American woman with a disorder that causes  multiple personalities.  Colletee does an impressive array of American accents (including a kid and teenagers) considering Collete is Australian She could totally handle an audiobook book with an ensemble cast. Also Australian audiobooks need narrators too !

TATIANA MASLANY
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Another actress who has to master numerous accents and inflections is Tatiana Maslany from Orphan Black, a show where Maslany  plays clones. Her accents range from Canadian, Russian and British

BRINA PALENCIA

Palencia does a lot of anime voice acting  but what makes her stand out is how she switches between high pitched girly voices and deep male voices. I've heard a few audiobooks by voice over actors and I think they are great at voicing emotions.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Audiobook Review: Insiginia by S.J Kincaid

  • Release Date: July 10th 2012
  • Genre: Sci-Fi 
  • Length: 15 hours 18 minutes
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
I was exploring Scribd in all its audiobook glory  because  I've really been in the mood for action adventure YA.  When I heard  Lincoln Hoppe's performance it instantly grabbed my ear, he has this great laid back teen voice and I jut wanted to hear more.

I knew nothing about Insignia going in and it took me a while to center myself. The book takes place in a future much like today, except virtual reality is common place for things like gaming and schooling. There is also a war brewing that is  fought in the final frontier. . . space,  with mechanized drones controlled on earth by  teen combatants who train for the war in the Pentagonal Spire.

Okay, so maybe it's not a future much like today.

I guess a way to pitch this is how side character  Eliot Ramierz, the  enigmatic public face of the teen combatants puts it, "I'm just a kid who likes to play with robots."

 I haven't read Ender's Game but I'm going to guess this book is in a  similar vein. Now  I wanted to think this book was about kids being good a video games participating in a war (and the reason only kids can do this was kind of a necessary evil) but it's not. It focuses more on the training and schooling side.

Enter Tom Raines, a self conscious teenaged boy living motel to motel with his gambling father. More than anything he wants to be somebody. As you do. His chance comes when he is chosen to train at the Pentagonal Spire to (one day) become a combatant.

So, Tom is taken to the Pentagonal Spire (I think this name is awesome and yes it is a spire sticking out of The Pentagon!!!). He finds himself in a new environment where he meets a group of friends, attends different classes,  has a teacher who has it out for him, gets separated into a division and--Harry Potter

It's Harry Potter

This book is like futuristic space-fighting Harry Potter. Like I was really thinking this the more I read. Down to him having a smart female friend who gets him out of trouble. I mean at the end of the book they go home for break.

I also picked up on a lot of spoon feeding in this book.  It was like every  classroom scene was nothing but exposition about the world. Even though Tom comes in the middle of the school year, every class explains some integral part of the world.

The more I got into this book the more it started to come apart. The teens in The Spire are implanted with neural processors so they can do the space-fighting and this is not public knowledge. But it's also explained that not all the kids will become combatants and some will take other government jobs. But why ? Why bring in a bunch of kids and implant things in their brains,  if there is no guarantee they will fight ? It seems like waste of time.

Despite all of the nitpicking, I found this book to be enjoyable. Yes, there were times when I was frustrated with the choices the characters made but that's because they are 14-years-old. Towards the end I started to get what Kincaid was doing here.  She sets up a theme about looks and trust that really comes together in the end.

Lincoln Hoppe does a great devil-may-care  voice and he has quite a handle on the Russian, Chinese and Indian accents in the novel. You may have heard his German accent on Volkswagen commercials.

I'm trying to fill the Sci-Fi and Fantasy gap in my reading and this book was a nice push-off point for me. It had some science tech-y stuff but it wasn't too over the top. I'd suggest this to a younger YA reader who enjoys the boarding school format but wants a little action.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Let's Hear it From The Boys: Shifted Perspective Romances


In a few days Random House will be publishing Grey, Fifty Shades of Grey from Christian Grey’s point of view. Maybe it’s a money grab, maybe it's fan service either way giving the narrative power over to the male love interest to re-tell the romance isn't anything new...especially in YA and romance genre.

Twilight & Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer


The first and probably most well known in the bookternet is Midnight Sun,which was Twilight from Edward Cullen's perspective. The manuscript was leaked online causing Meyer shut it down not publish it much to  her fans'...chagrin (Twilight jokes). Now you can read it on her website here.



Obsidian & Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout



YA / romance author Armentrout has been writing POV swapped scenes for her fans for years, but a couple months ago she announced Oblivion--the Obsidian novel from her hot alien hero Dameon's POV.


Sweet Evil & Sweet Temptation by Wendy Higgins





 In 2014, Wendy Higgins' YA paperback series hit the New York Times Bestsellers list for YA series. Soon after she announced she'd be writing the first book from  Kaiden, the male protagonists POV. #iSighforKai.



Beautiful Disaster & Walking Disaster by Jamie McGuire


Jamie McGuire's popular New Adult is about the romance between underground fighter Travis Maddox and college student Abigail. After writing a few companion stories McGuire came back to rewrite the first book from Travis' point of view. Also...I may or may not have a signed copy of this.



Every Day & Another Day by David Levithan (The Subversion)





This novel  flips the script and the new book gives the narrative over to the female love interest. Everyday tells the story of a genderless soul who wakes up in a new body everyday and one day starts to fall in love with a girl named Rhiannon. In his 2015 follow up, Levithan is telling us the same story from Rhiannon's perspective.


Is my list missing any ? Leave it in the comments below ! 

Jamie McGuire also has 3 more books in her Beautiful Disaster that are from her hero Travis' brother's perspective...Christian Grey has siblings right ? Calling it now.




Monday, June 8, 2015

Cover Wars: The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness' latest book is about  average teens who live in a world filled with the typical trope-y YA heroes constantly causing disruption. In the last few months two very different covers for this novel were released which means I'm going to pitch them against each other.




U.S.

If I didn't know any better I would think this was a graphic novel because there are so many character illustrations on the front cover. I like the diveristy on the cover how they show characters of different races and body types. Also, this cover has a super special bonus because it will glow in the dark. Which is a clever incentive to get people to buy hardcovers



U.K.  

This was the first cover I saw for this book. Like the US one it has some illustration but it's much cleaner and relies more on typography. This cover seems to be selling Ness as an author more than the US, because the cover tells me nothing about the book.


Verdict ?

I think this is a tie for me, although I would much more likely buy the US version because.... rule of cool.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Books and Sensibilty on Broadway

While attending BookExpo America last week, Kat and I got some crazy good deals on Broadway shows (TodayTix and Tkts are amazing !) . Both of which happened to fit the theme of the week. We saw the play adaptation of the novel A Curious Incident of The  Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon  and Chicago. . . which is appropriate because BEA is going to be in Chicago next year.


A Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time 

This play is all about dynamic sets and eye-catching visuals. The set features mix media and you won't have any idea what will happen next visually. It takes a rather contemporary story and transforms it into a surreal performance.

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I remember picking up the book this play is based on when I was 15 or 16. The school librarian had come in and pitched new books to us.  I really wanted another book but this was the only one left.
Since then this novel has become apart of the YA canon--despite being released as a adult fiction in the U.S.

Having read the novel helped me follow the narrative in the play. It takes a while to understand and make sense of the visual cues  so it can be jarring to try putting together the story.I'm curious to see how Lelia Sale's This Song Will Save Your life with be adapted into a play.

*We saw the Taylor Trensch production.


Chicago

Going into the this show it seemed like everyone had either come in having already seen the film or to see Brandy Norwood as Roxie Hart. The musical was high energy, sexy and funny. The story and characters clicked for me here much better than they did in the movie. I actually understood the motivation and plot devices much better.

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I never really understood what kind of character Hart was supposed to be. In the movie Zellweger plays her as an innocent and lost character and that didn't match up with the way she acts. Norwood made her silly, selfish and at the end of the day a con-woman.  Velma was portrayed as more spastic and humorous and less deadpan than in the film. Sure the production value is great in the film, but the play made a story about murder and adultery... humorous.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Books and Sensibility @ BookExpoAmerica 2015

Jess at BEA !

After attending BookCon last year and not getting what we wanted out of the show, Kat and I decided to return to Book Expo America.

We took the train up and I started reading the break out YA novel The Ember In The Ashes by Sabaa Tahir and Kat started buffeting a horde of paranormal romances including Alyssa Cole and Cynthia Eden.


BEA Bloggers Conference

The first time I went to the blogger's conference in 2012 I was really impressed. They had round tables with authors and sessions with editors. In the years since I've found the information interesting but not super dynamic. At this point I only go to this event to meet other bloggers.

Kaye (AKA @GildedSpine) and Nicole from YA Interrobang had an interesting panel about the harassment we've all seen going down on social media and I think this would have been a good keynote or topic all bloggers need to hear.

I did get some good advice at the Engaging Your Readers panel, where one panelist said to get readers to click you should  "think about what you like" what makes you want to retweet and click ? I also learned about the micro e-newsletter site Tiny Letter.

There was also this bit of awkwardness during the blogger networking celebration where they announced that there was a limited number of galleys for each blogger. Before they allowed people to come up to the table they had to bring out the men in suits to do. . . ARC security ? IDK they seemed to not know what to do and probably thought we were all crazy book people.

BEA

I won't go into a day-to-day recap, but during the show  Kat and I wanted to be very selective over what we chose to pick up.The enthusiasm for YA is still present. . . but I did notice a bit less on the YA front.

Patrick Ness

It's still so hard to go up to publishers and ask questions because they are all so busy, but everyone was so gracious about directing me to the right person. I even did the thing I don't like doing and asked a Simon and Schuster publicist about getting a Zebulon Finch galley.

A member of the editing staff at  Sourcebooks Fire showed us some of their new titles. They have the best booth because they keep everything on display for you to see.

Kat went to the notorious Harlequin teen signing and after an hour wait was able to get a signed copies of 4 Harlequin titles--including Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry--which was one of her 15 Books We Can't Wait for in 2015. They were also great about helping us connect with the romance publicist for our new romance sister blog Romance and Sensibility.

Kat's BEA

Lex Luthor Jesse Eisenberg ! ! ! !
Figuring this is something I can only do once, I decided to go to Jesse Eisenberg's signing. I won't lie I didn't know much about his book aside from the fact that it is a short story collection. But this year I'm looking to read more literary material. Eisenberg narrates my favorite audiobooks. Which yes, I told him. It was funny, one of the women in line was turning red and close to tears of joy after meeting him.
The Harlequin Teen Signing

I also grabbed signed titles from I. W Gregorio and Lamar Giles, it was so awesome to see the crew from We Need Diverse Books with a long line of excited readers.

2015 YA Buzz Book Authors

 Since I missed the YA Editor's Buzz Panel I went to the Meet the YA  Buzz Authors.  Everything, Everything seems to be getting the biggest push, it had 3 separate drops and tote bags.

In Conclusion

Overall I wasn't sure if I wanted to go to BEA again this year, but it's always so great seeing and meeting other people who care about YA, it's like we have our own language and shared experiences. After going my blogging battery has been recharged

Margaret Stohl signing
Black Widow Forever













At the Harlequin Adult signing they ran out of books, which was fine with me but Jodi Thomas got up from behind the table, apologized for being out of books and introduced herself to those in line which I thought was super gracious.

P.S I also stopped by M&M World and made blog-inspired M&Ms. Because. . . reasons.




Check out these blogs and websites


I met Angela from Angela's Library on the floor before BEA Bloggers. Thanks for introducing yourself !

At breakfast we shared a table with Carrie and her mom from The Mad Reviewer

For lunch I met some women from local book review websites and Becoming Books

Read This Eat That was the first person I saw with the nifty look Illumine ARC.

In the line for coveted Alexndra Barcken Passenger I met Tiffany, an artist musician and writer check her out at ariestrash.com her site is so pretty !

Editor, Feliza and her crew over at  Girls In Capes  discuss women, men & minorities in geek culture.

I met booktuber Tiffany from About To Read.

I creeped up a little on Jess  Martinez Gone With The Words at bag check, I remembered her name from an ARC swap Kat did.

I also met Kel from Booked Til Tuesday and Mandy from Forever Young Adult  in the Gwenda Bond line

I feel like I''m forgetting someone, let me know  !



Sunday, May 31, 2015

Audiobook Review : Dreams Of Gods and Monsters



  • Release Date: April 8th 2012
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Length: 18 hours 11 minutes
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio



IT IS  FINISHED. I started listening to this series 3 years ago  and  have finally finished this sweeping epic fantasy and love story. Taylor's use of language and creativity have me left waiting eagerly to see what she will come up with next.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series starts off with a whimsical art student in Prauge and free falls to a fantastical epic conclusion. While I enjoyed the world-building and conflict Taylor created the ending fizzled just a bit for me. It wasn't that I didn't like it;  it just came and went just a little to swiftly. But despite this, all these book have me sold. They are all plotted perfectly and follow an even pace.

The performance of the audiobook narrator Khristine Hvam was amazing as usual. Her performance is what really got me into audiobooks. I've  heard Hvam in Reboot and Pure and to me her performance is the strongest in this series. She is probably doing over 20 different  voices and fictional accents. Although  I did notice she did start switching some of the name pronunciations...which threw me off.

I'm always going to remember this series fondly. It was what I was listening to when I first discovered the world of YA book blogging. I looked back on Twitter and it turns out I started this on May 2012 and finished it May of 2015 ! I've listened to the story of Karou and Akiva on repeat through several different jobs, commutes and apartment cleanings and I look forward to re-listening to this soon.

Also, also, also . . . . Laini signed a new three-book deal. It   sounds a lot like the Smoke and Bone series but . . .


. . . seriously just the title or a cover. . .

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