Monday, February 27, 2012

Audio Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer [Audiobook Review]

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Science Fiction, Teen Fiction
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
ISBN-13 Book: 9780312641894
Publisher Audio CD: Macmillan Audio
ISBN CD: 9781427215000 (Unabridged)
Length: 8 CDs (Approximately 540 minutes)
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of the audio book from my public library for review. This is my honest review!

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)Cinder by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Cinder is probably one of the best mechanics in New Beijing. She is also a cyborg, who has no memory of her life before her operation. The ward of a woman who despises what she is Cinder makes the best of her life. When her sister gets the incurable plague, Cinder’s guardian turns her over to the cyborg draft to become a test subject for the scientists trying to cure the plague. Meanwhile, a hostile lunar queen watches the Earthen’s struggle against this deadly disease, while trying to manipulate her way into becoming the next Empress.

Let me first start out by saying that no book blurb seems to do this book justice. I wrote my own, and still find it lacking. If I were base my decision to read books solely on the blurb I think I would have passed on this one. It just didn’t catch my attention. I was also afraid that with all the hype the book was getting it was going to be one of those that was over hyped and I would be disappointed. In the end I ignored the hype. The rave reviews from my fellow book bloggers, was what ultimately convinced me to read this novel, and I am so glad that I listened to all of you.

Cinder is a unique retelling of the classic fairytale Cinderella. It has given new life to an old story, and I love fairytale retellings. I was afraid when I started this novel that I would have difficulty relating to Cinder who is a cyborg. I was afraid that the narration would be distant and I would have difficulty connecting to the character. I can honestly say that I had no difficulty connecting to Cinder as a character. Meyer makes her believable and very compelling. You can empathize with her, and you honestly want her to succeed.

Meyer has done a wonderful job making the characters well rounded and believable. You could see more than one side of all of them (except for maybe the Lunar Queen). I loved the doctor, and absolutely adored Iko. These characters just captured my attention and imagination.

The audio version of this novel is produced by Macmillan Young Listeners and read by Rebecca Soler. Soler does a wonderful job with this book and the characters--even making the male characters voices sound believable. I adore the voice she uses with Iko. The production is clean and very well done, making audio a good way to experience this amazing novel.

I could go on for hours about how much I enjoyed this novel, and how much it really surprised me. I think it is enough to say that I will eagerly await the next installment in this series, and it can’t come soon enough. Book two in the Lunar Chronicles is currently titled Scarlet and due out sometime in 2013. I can tell you I will be anxiously awaiting its release!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Review: Pure by Julianna Baggott

Title: Pure
Author: Julianna Baggott
Genre: Adult Fiction, Teen Fiction, Science Fiction, Dystopias
Publication Date: February 8, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-13 Book: 9781455503063
Disclosure: I received access to this book through NetGalley. This is my honest review!


Pure (Pure, #1)Pure by Julianna Baggott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Pressia lives in a world where scars are commonplace; everyone has them.  She longs for the time before the detonations, though she remembers little of what it was really like.  She only has the stories her grandfather has told her.  Hers is a world of tragedy and survival, where scarred survivors are fused with inanimate objects, and sometimes even animals or other people.  When Partridge, a Pure who escaped the consequences of the detonations because he was safe in the dome, crosses Pressia’s path her life changes forever.  Suddenly people are interested in Pressia, her future, and her past.  Will she be able to help Partridge, or will she be betrayed first?

There was a lot of complexity to this novel. The earth in this novel is one where people set off massive detonations, wreaking havoc on the world in the hopes of one day starting over.  While Partridge was one of the lucky ones, safe inside the dome, Pressia and her grandfather were not.  Their bodies were fused with items close to them at the time of the detonations, they are scarred and burned, and have had to struggle to survive.  The Operation Search and Rescue team that was supposed to help survivors, is now ruling them. This is a world destroyed; a world in chaos.

Partridges’s life in the dome is something else entirely.  Here there is order, and law.  Teens are schooled, trained, and prepared for the day they will step outside the dome and reclaim the world.  Partridge knows that behind this façade there is an ugly secret, and when he finds out that his mother may be alive, he will risk everything to find her.

The characters in this novel are complex.  While a few of the side characters lack development, the majority of the characters are well developed and believable.  You can see the motivations behind the character’s actions, and you can feel the real tragedy of their circumstances.

At its heart, this novel is a story of learning to accept your scars, your pain, and move on with your life.  All the characters are scarred, whether physically or emotionally.  The world itself has been scarred by the detonations.  All these characters are struggling to overcome their pasts and survive their future.

This novel is fast paced and action packed.  Partridge is being pursued and bugged.  For the longest time you aren’t sure who you should trust, and that uncertainty lends credibility to the story.  You can believe these are real people because you are never entirely sure of their motivations, and you can’t predict the choices they will make between saving a loved one, or doing what is right. 

I believe there is more to come with this series.  There were so many loose plot points to be tied up at the end, but the story still had a satisfying conclusion.  I look forward to the next installment. 

On a side note, Julianna Baggott’s website states that Fox 2000 has acquired the film rights to Pure.  Should they turn this into a movie, it will definitely be interesting. 

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Teenage Garage Sale with Article 5 Author Kristen Simmons


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kristen Simmons to my blog.  She is the author of the new book Article 5 which tells the story of Ember a teen living in the United States after the Bill of Rights has been revoked and replaced by new laws called the Moral Statutes.  When Ember's mother is arrested for violating the Moral Statutes by being a single mother, Ember is carted away to a reformatory school, where she will stay until her eighteenth birthday.  The school is a nightmare, and Ember is a prisoner.  Find out what happens to Ember in Kristen Simmon's Article 5.  (I can tell you I read half of this book in one sitting--I couldn't put it down until I found out what was going to happen to Ember!)

Today Kristen is sharing with us some items we might find in a garage sale of her teenage years.  Welcome Kristen!


Hi Melissa,

I’m forever in your debt! I’ve been trying to get rid of this junk for ages – thanks for posting it on your website! Remember, prices may be negotiable, but all sales are final.

Red sleeveless floor-length prom dress, handmade by my grandmother. Roomy bust has hidden pouches for which to stuff tissue.
$50

20 STEAMY Nora Roberts paperback novels, gently used. Slight cover damage from hiding books under bed to avoid parental discovery.
$8

3-inch diameter gold hoop earrings with matching bracelet. Slightly rusted. Slightly trampish.
$2

2 for 1 Special Offer! Dirty Dancing and Grease on VHS. CLASSIC COLLECTOR’S ITEMS!
$10

Yo, I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want,
So tell me what you want, what you really really want,
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna really
really really wanna SPICE GIRLS CASSETTE TAPE!
(“Be My Lover” dance track worn through.)
$1

1 pair blue suede Doc Martin boots, size 8 ½. Vintage.
$10

1 pair straight-leg jeans. Item turns any wearer into a goddess. Holes in knees, thighs. Back pockets nearly torn off. Advise: wear good underwear for rear display.
$1000

10 4-packs Cadbury Cream Eggs, circa mid-90’s. Saved in original packaging out of fear that such delicacies would no longer be manufactured in future years.
$20

One black/navy band uniform with silver sequined vest. Included: shako with plume (hat with feather). Very sexy.
$20

One 1990 Ford F-150 truck with camper shell. 260,000 miles. Gets 8 miles to the gallon. Runs at least 15 miles without stalling and shutting down. Tires are in excellent condition!
$200 or best offer.

Thank you Kristen for stopping by today!

Don't forget to check out Kristen's book Article 5--this one is fantastic for readers who enjoy dystopias and fast paced novels.

Article 5 (Article 5, #1)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Goodreads Gripes

Maybe it's my reading slump that is making me extra cranky lately, but even before that, this issue has been weighing on my mind, and unfortunately my Inbox too.  Let me start out by saying that I love Goodreads.  It is a wonderful resource that I am constantly using and constantly recommending to friends.  I love seeing what my friends are reading and what they think of the books they read.  Unfortunately, I feel like I am being swamped by Group Invites and Events, and even by book recommendations.

First the Group Invites.  I don't mind these too much unless you are sending the same group invite week after week.  I do want to hear about your group, and if it interests me I'll join, but it is somewhat irritating when you get invited to join the same group every week and every week I decline.  I don't know if there is a way to stop this, or to block the invites.  The only way I discovered to get rid of those invites permanently was to drop the friend who kept sending them.  I hated doing that, but honestly I felt like I was being spammed.

Second the Events.  These are not quite as annoying as the group invites, but when you invite me multiple times to the same event--when I have already responded, enough is enough.  Invite me to the event, I will respond, and attend should I chose.  Don't bash me over the head with multiple invites.  (I am not sure how this is happening--I thought you could only invite once, but maybe they are changing it so it appears again and again?)  All I know is there is one particular event I am about ready to say no to on principle.

Finally the book recommendations.  I love book recommendations--really I do.  Sincere excitement over a book is something I appreciate, and I can understand your willingness to share.  These types of book recommendations are not what I am referring to when I mention book recommendations.  I don't like it when I receive book recommendations from authors whose works I haven't read.  BSP anyone?  If I read your books and you want to recommend them to me, fine, but to send book recommendations to me that don't fit my interests just to promote your books is a bit irritating to someone who is getting a lot of them.

I know this isn't a big deal.  In all the cases above I just hit delete and they are gone, but still I just wish we could start putting a little more thought into those invites, and recommendations so our fellow Goodreads friends don't have a million updates to clear every day.  Part of this is due to the number of friends I have--I know this, but I love seeing all those status update and book reviews.  In someways, these are coming across as more spam to clear out of the inbox, and I notice that I am reading less and less of them.  

So the question is, if you are sending a million notices and I am deleting them all, are you really getting your message out there?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Reading Slump--I Need Help

Okay, I admit it, I have been in a reading slump lately.  It has been a rough year for our family, and I know that is what started it, but now it seems like I have lost interest in reading.  I challenged myself to read 100 books this year, and for the first half of January I was on track--even ahead.  Now according to Goodreads I am three books behind, with no prospects for catching up.  In fact, the only reading I am getting done is on audio--I love audio. 

Seriously though, I pick up a book, read a page or two, and then put it down.  I can't seem to get interested in anything lately.  I have had reading slumps before, but not this bad.  Even when I search through catalogs and buy books for the library, I haven't been excited about any of them lately.  If you ask me what book am I most excited to read, I can't answer it.  This can't continue--I need some help. 

Does anyone out there have any suggestions to end my reading slump?  Do you have any books that you think will end a reading slump?  Any suggestions are welcome...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Adult Book Review: Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorian Kelly [Audiobook]


Title: Love in a Nutshell
Author: Janet Evanovich and Dorian Kelly
Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, Mystery
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
ISBN-13 Book: 9780312651312
Publisher Audio CD: Macmillan Audio
ISBN CD: 9781427214966 (Unabridged)
Length: 6 CDs (Approximately 390 minutes)
Narrator: Lorelei King
Disclosure: I received a copy of the audio book for review from Macmillan Audio through Audiobook Jukebox (http://www.audiobookjukebox.com/). This is my honest review!

Love in a NutshellLove in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Kate Appleton just wants a chance to restart her life. Her husband divorced her, taking her beloved poodle with him, and much of her self-confidence. Movie to Keene’s Harbor, and remodeling her family’s old summer cottage, The Nutshell, into a bed and breakfast is the new start she is hoping for; until she loses her job, and she discovers that the Nutshell needs more than just a touch of paint. In a fit of temper, Kate storms in to Matt Cuhane’s office and demands a job, because she blames him for her unemployment. Matt agrees to take her on as a spy, to find out who is trying to sabotage his business, but as she gets to know more about Matt and the tiny town, she can’t help falling in love. Someone however, isn’t happy with Matt, and now with Kate.


Sometimes, old friends are the best. Janet Evanovich books are priceless, and this has to be one of my new favorites. Reading her books is like getting together with old friends. It is comfortable, safe, and best yet good for some laughs. In all honesty, I haven’t felt much like reading lately. There has been a lot on my mind and even more going on in my life. I knew that if I wanted a book to hold my attention, it would have to be one that would have humor, and a light hearted side. Love In a Nutshell is just that. Even better, it was on audio.

As with all Evanovich books you really must expect the characters to be somewhat quirky. Kate is loveable, and determined. She wants to make a life for herself and avoid future complications. Matt is strong willed, and a savvy businessman with a wonderfully large family, and a notorious history in Keene’s Harbor. Even when we go outside the main characters, we find interesting and well developed supporting characters. I loved Junior, the clueless handyman, and especially Lizzie, Matt’s police officer sister. You could easily imagine the people in this novel walking off the page, and living in this little town.

The mystery was satisfying, but I think the developing relationship between Matt and Kate is really what keeps the reader hooked. It is definitely much more romance than mystery, but I have to admit, I love my mysteries and romance together—it is a combination that works well for me.

The audiobook is produced by Macmillan Audio and read by Lorelei King. When I mentioned old friends being the best, one of those old friends would be listening to a novel read by Lorelei King. King is a stupendous narrator, and does a fantastic job narrating many of the Evanovich’s books including this one. She is a practiced narrator, and does a wonderful job with all of the voices.

This story was well suited to audio format. You can easily kick back and listen to this story. I usually listen to audiobooks in my car, but when I got to my destination, I found myself loathing to leave the vehicle. I even started taking the audiobook in with me. It is sound effect free, which tends to be my preference when listing to audiobooks, and the production is free of technical flaws.

Overall, this book was a lot of fun, and a great book to read whether you are listening to it, or reading a printed copy. Janet Evanovich and Dorian Kelly make a wonderful team, and I hope to read more books from both of them in the future.




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Saturday, February 4, 2012

Book Review: Always a Witch by Carolyn McCullough [Audio]

Title: Always a Witch
Author: Carolyn McCullough
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy
Publication Date: August 1, 2011
Publisher: Clarion Books
ISBN-13 Book: 9780547224855
Publisher Audio CD: Brilliance Audio
ISBN CD: 9781455856992
Length:  7 CDs (Approximately 461 minutes)
Narrator:  Hannah Friedman
Disclosure:  I checked out a copy of the audio book from my public library.  This is my honest review!


Always a Witch (Witch, #2)Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tamsin Greene, who believed for so long that she was the only member of her Talented family without a Talent, learned at the end of Once a Witch that she has the incredible ability to copy the abilities of other witches. Always a Witch starts where Once a Witch left off. Still worried about her grandmother’s prophecy, and the fact that Alistair Knight got away from them, Tam waits for his next move. When one of the Knight family shows up in the Greene living room, Tam is left with only one option, to go back in time and stop Alistair and save her family. Once in the past Tam is employed by the Knight family, and she watches and waits for an opportunity to find her family in the past. But time is moving quickly and soon Tamsin will have to make a terrible choice to save her family in the future.

I loved the first book Once a Witch and couldn’t wait to read the sequel, unfortunately it got buried under my extensive TBR pile. This past week I haven’t felt much like reading, so I decided that now might be the time to try this book on audio, and see how it did in that format.

I love Tamsin and her quirky family, and I really would have liked more of Gabriel in this book—he is definitely one hot ticket! It was nice though to see Tam on her own, away from her family and navigating the shark infested waters of the evil Knight family. While some of her choices made me more than a little nervous, it did keep me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen and if she would get caught.

While the Knights, except for Jessica, came across as your stereotypical bad guys, and could have used some more definition of character, they were suitably creepy enough to keep you interested. Jessica was the anomaly, a character you weren’t sure whether to be wary of her, or to trust her.

The story was intriguing and definitely kept you on the edge of your seat, and the pacing was spot on. McCullough knows how to keep a story interesting and I loved the time travel motif, though I think more could have been said about the adjustments Tamsin had to make to the time period.

The audio was produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Hannah Friedman. This book was well suited to audio, although there were times I wanted to get through the book more quickly than listening to it. While the production is good and free of flaws, I found the reading to be a bit over acted or overly exaggerated at times. It would throw me out of the story a bit. It wasn’t a bad way to experience the story, and Friedman has a nice voice, it just didn’t have the polish of other readings. When the dialogue was internal, the reading was fine, conversations, and parts that were more dramatic, felt a bit overacted.

Overall, this book was an entertaining read. I had predicted the ending long before I got there, but still the journey was worth it. I love the characters, and it definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

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