Friday, June 21, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Title: The Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Genre: Teen Fiction, Fantasy Fiction
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
ISBN Book: 9781455857340
Narrator: Elizabeth Jasicki
Length: 7 hours 33 Minutes
Format:  CD Book (7 CDs)
Disclosure: I checked out a copy of this audiobook from my public library. This is my honest review!

The Last DragonslayerThe Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fifteen year-old foundling, Jennifer Strange lives in the Ununited Kingdoms and works for Kazam Mystical Arts Management. Magical power has been drying up for years, but suddenly predictions of the last dragon’s death at the hands of a Dragonslayer are happening all over the world. The predictions aren’t the only odd thing happening. Suddenly magic is getting stronger, and that can only mean one thing: Big Magic. A magic so big it will change the world and Jennifer forever.

Hmmm…where to start??? This book is a complex story full of intricate threads that are only really tied together at the end. Sometimes, though, there were too many balls in the air if you catch my meaning. (Bad pun intended.) I really don’t know what to say about this one simply because it really wasn’t the book for me.

The world Fforde has created is so strange I had difficulty getting into the story. As I progressed through the book, I began to understand more about the world and the characters. So many of the characters were tongue and cheek stereotypes purposely created as your traditional bad guys. At times the sheer number of characters were daunting and as a listener it became difficult to keep track of who was who—I think I would do better with this visually than with the audiobook.

My biggest problem with the story is that I really didn’t connect with it. I loved that the main character had strong beliefs and morals and that she wanted to do what was best, but for me that wasn’t enough to carry the story and keep me invested. I think I was bogged down in the exquisite detail Fforde put into creating this world that I couldn’t connect to the story.

My friend who loves Fforde’s work said many of his novels are like this one. If that is the case, I should probably avoid them in future. The problem with this book isn’t with the writing—Fforde is clearly magnificent with that. The sentences and descriptions are beautiful and unique. I loved one thing about this story and it was the Quark Beast. I loved that animal. The world building was well done, and detailed, but I couldn’t see myself in that world. It was probably more my impatience and failure to connect.

This book definitely has an audience. Many people love Fforde’s work and his unique approach to storytelling, but unfortunately this wasn’t the book for me. Scoring a book like this is hard because it is not the book or the author’s fault I couldn’t get into it. If the scores were on writing and artistry, you could expect 5 out of 5, but because my ratings reflect my personal feelings for the book, I couldn’t do better than a 3. So my apologies to the readers out there that loved this book, but it really didn’t hook me the way I hoped it would.

Audiobook Review:
This is one of those times when I am immensely grateful for audio. I could not have finished this book if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was listening to the book in my car. The audio quality is great and the Brilliance Audio production is perfect. The book is performed by Elizabeth Jasicki who does an excellent job reading this novel. Her remarkable performance kept me listening. This isn’t a long book at 7 CDs (approximately 7 hours and 33 minutes) but when you don’t enjoy a book, it seems to go on forever. If you are going to read this one, I do recommend audio—it was superbly done.

Every now and then, we come across books that just aren’t right for us as readers. Most of the time I put these down and don’t finish them, but I made a commitment to read this particular book. It is very well written, and extremely imaginative, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the book for me. I know there are people out there who love this book—my friend who explained Fforde’s style to me is one of them and she seemed to like this one. This book will definitely find its audience and its admirers; I just won’t be among them.

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Learning About Audiobooks – Audiobook Week Discussion

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Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.  
Visit her website to find out more or to participate in Audiobook Week 2013.  

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us! We’d particularly love to know what narrators or publishers are active in social media or do a great job communicating with listeners.

Because I do book ordering for my library I see a lot of publisher catalogs and review journals.  This is one source for finding the audiobooks I will later be listening to.  One of my favorite sources for audiobooks though is Audiobook Jukebox.  I love the reviews that they collect from all over the internet, which makes them an amazing source for audiobooks.  I also get an email each week from Any New Books that includes a list of new audiobooks each week.  If you don't subscribe to this free service I recommend it.  You can get updates on new books in various genres and categories--it is a great way to stay up to date.

This past year I finally broke down and purchased a subscription to Audible.  This has been both good and bad for me.  I love Audible and adore the selection, but I have noticed that I am spending a lot more money on audio than I used to because they have these amazing member sales--and the member discounts are amazing.  Still it is a great source for audiobooks that I can't find elsewhere.

I do work at a library and order audiobooks for my library's teen collection of both CD books and audio downloads from Overdrive so I do get a lot of my audiobooks from the library.  Still there are some titles I can only get from Audible, so I am grateful for that option.    

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Audiobook Tasks – Audiobook Week Discussion

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Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.  
Visit her website to find out more or to participate in Audiobook Week 2013.  

Today's prompt:  "What do you do while you listen? Any particular tasks or games that you find amazing for audio time?"

I do most of my audiobook listening in the car while driving.  That makes my drive time more productive.  I don't have a long drive--no more that 10-20 minutes to work each day, but that is time that I get to read.  I also listen in my car during my lunches.  I like to get out of the building for lunch, and even if I just drive home and back that amounts to some listening.  Sometimes though I will just sit in my car and listen.  It is both and quiet place, and a chance to get away for a little while.  (If I stay in the building I am too tempted to keep working--so leaving is a must!)

I have also started listening to audiobooks when my husband is watching something I am not interested in on TV.  I'll plug in the headphones and escape into my book for a little while.  This is harder though because he keeps wanting to talk to me and I can't hear him.  I don't do it often, but there has been a lot more temptation to do this lately.  :)

I will also listen while doing jobs around the home.  Anything that wouldn't distract me too much from the book is fair game. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Audiobook Week Mid-Week Meme – Audiobook Week Discussion

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Current/most recent audiobook:

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, narrated by Elizabeth Jasicki

The Last Dragonslayer



The audiobooks was the only way for me to get through this one.  The reader, Elizabeth Jasicki does an excellent job and I love her accent.  I still have 2 discs to go, but unfortunately, I am really not into the story.  I am having trouble connecting to the characters or even investing myself in their story.  My friend who has read Fforde's work before says that it is something I have to wait for, and pay off will come when I finish the book.  I certainly hope so, but if this wasn't a book I was required to read, I would have stopped long before now.

Current/most recent favorite audiobook:

A recent favorite audiobook of mine are the first two books in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost narrated by Tavia Gilbert.  I am so loving these book and I loath stopping these books for anything!

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, #2)

Favorite narrator you’ve discovered recently:

Tavia Gilbert in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost.  At first I didn't care for the voice she gave Bones, but once I got used to in (and realized it was better than the one I had in my head) it was great.  She is a superb reader and I love listening to her read these books.  Her voice is so right for the main character.

One title from your TBL (to be listened) stack, or your audio wishlist:

This is one I wish I had time to get to.  I listened to the first book, and am dying for the second.  Unfortunately, it will have to wait until I clear my obligations!

Adult Audio Book Review: Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Title: Halfway to the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Adult Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: March 24, 2010
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN Book: 9780061245084
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 11 hours and 17 minutes
Disclosure: I purchased my copy from Audible. This is my honest review!

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cat is a hybrid. She is half human and half vampire. When her mother was raped by a vampire, she was the result. Her mother hates vampires and Cat sees it as her mission to exterminate every last one of them. Then she crosses the path of Bones, a master vampire, who sees Cat as an opportunity to hunt down the vampires who are preying on women in the area. What transpires is a partnership that is more than a bit unusual.

I loved both Cat and Bones. Cat could be stubborn and pig headed and more than a little prejudiced against vampires in the beginning, but as the novel progressed she came to realize that not all vampires were evil. I enjoyed the relationship between the characters and how Cat could be all kick ass!

The book was fast paced, and I couldn't get enough of it. I was trying to do a read along, but so many times I found myself exceeding the set number of chapters because I couldn't put the book down.

I did use one of my audible credits to listen to the audiobook as well. The audiobook was produced by Blackstone Audio, and read by Tavia Gilbert who does an excellent job with the narration of Cat. I thought her narration of Bones didn't come across strong enough thought, but it didn't discourage my listening. In fact, I plan on listening to the sequels on audio as well. As I said her narration of Cat was spot on and I loved listening to this novel on audio. It is a longer title than I have been listening to lately at 11 hours and 17 minutes, but that time seemed to fly by because I was so engrossed in the story. The audiobook is free of any production flaws and a pleasure to listen to.

Overall this was a fun light read. I so seldom get to read for just the pure enjoyment of it, and this fit that bill. Halfway to the Grave is the first book in the Night Huntress series and I can't wait to read more. I will definitely be recommending this one.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Do You Choose Your Audiobooks? – Audiobook Week Discussion

Most of the books I listen to are books that I would read anyway, but on occasion I will listen to something I know I wouldn't be able to actually sit down and read.  A lot of the books I choose are ones that I am reading for work either in my position as Teen Librarian or for my various committee work.  Audio books help me get through books I normally would have trouble just sitting down and reading.

I do both read books and listen to audiobooks.  Sometimes audiobooks give me a jump start into a book I want to read.  Once I get past the beginning of the book on audio, I will pick up the actual book to finish it more quickly.  Lately though, I will either listen to the book, or read the book--depending on what my preference is for that specific title.

I don't have any criteria for deciding what I will do on audio versus what I will read.  Sometimes it is just simply convenience.  If I have the audiobook, I'll listen to it.  If not, I will read the book.  Other times I will listen because I know there is no way I could actually finish the book if I were reading it  (I have a little attention problem with books--if it doesn't hold my interest I find myself easily distracted).  Audio books help me avoid that problem--as long as I have them playing in my car I will keep listening allowing me to finish the book.

Last year I went through a big dry spell with reading.  I could say I suffered a book burnout.  I simply didn't want to sit down and read anymore.  I lacked the time, I was stressed, and after several deaths in our family I lacked motivation.  I can't say that I know for sure what caused it, all I know is without audiobooks, I probably wouldn't have read anything last year.  Audiobooks reminded me why I love to read and got me reading again.

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Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.  Visit her website to find out more or to participate in Audiobook Week 2013.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Audio Book Review: Reboot by Amy Tintera

Title: Reboot
Author: Amy Tintera
Genre: Teen Fiction, Sciencel Fiction
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Harper Audio
ISBN Book: 9780062217073
Narrator: Khristine Hvam 
Length: 8 hours and 42 minutes
Disclosure: I purchased my copy from Audible. This is my honest review!

Reboot (Reboot, #1)Reboot by Amy Tintera
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Some times death isn't the end. Sometimes it is only the beginning. Wren rebooted after being dead for 172 minutes. The longer you are dead, the more powerful you become and Wren is the highest number in her facility. When another reboot, a young man who was only dead for 22 minutes comes along and challenges Wren's beliefs about her current life, she discovers that there may be more to life than just following orders.

It was the book trailer that really got me to read this book. I saw the trailer and couldn't help thinking I really needed to check this book out. Unfortunately, my library didn't have it yet, so I used one of my audible credits, to start listing to this book, and I was really happy I did. I really enjoyed this science fiction novel by Tintera. First, I liked the fact that the teens coming back to life weren't zombies. Second, I loved the characters. Finally, Tintera's pacing was perfect.

Death plays a big role in a lot of teen novels, but this novel takes a new look at death and life. In Tintera's novel because of a virus, some people who die don't remain dead. After a length of time they come back to life as reboots. Reboots aren't treated the same as regular humans. Humans are suspicious of the reboots and they are isolated in facilities where they are used by H.A.R.C. to enforce H.A.R.C.'s rules and regulations. They are used as soldiers to terrify the people and keep them under H.A.R.C. control. The lower the number of the reboot, the less valuable they are because they aren't as strong and fast as the higher numbers.

I loved Wren as a character. Yes, she was flawed, but she had her reasons. Because her number is so high, she believes that she is even less human than the other reboots. In many ways I felt that she was the character Katniss should have been in Mockingjay. She was a leader, and determined to do what was right to save her friends. She didn't let odds or self doubt get in the way of what she needed to do. I only wish Katniss had her strength of character in Mockingjay.

I also loved 22 because he brought out the best in Wren. He saw her for more than what she was. He made her doubt the establishment and gave her hope. I loved that he never gave up, and always kept his sense of humor. The training sessions were priceless.

The pacing of this novel was spot on. Tintera does a great job hooking you in the beginning of the novel and keeps that pace going throughout the book. She also does a great job world building. You can believe in this lost Texas that has been devastated by disease.

Audiobook Review:
I purchased the audiobook from Audible using one of my credits. The audiobook is produced by Harper Audio and read by Khristine Hvam. I loved Hvam's narration of this novel. She gave Wren the right feel of distance and coolness that we believe Wren would exhibit, and did a great job giving 22 a believable voice as well. The audio was really well done, and clear of flaws. The length of the audio was 8 hours and 42 minutes and because I enjoyed it so much, went way too quickly. I highly recommend this audio.

I really enjoyed this book. The ending was a bit abrupt which hopefully means there will be a sequel. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves good science fiction and dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. I really couldn't put this one down.

View all my reviews

2012-2013, My Audiobook Year: Audiobook Week Discussion

I have been listening to audio for many years now, so my love of audio really hasn't changed.  I did start listening to more downloadable titles in the last year.  Before my primary source for audiobooks were on CD, this year I discovered that downloadable audiobooks are really more convenient.  Part of this came as a result of a new car with Bluetooth making it more accessible for me to listen from my iPod, and then later my iPhone.

I also subscribed to Audible this year because I really wanted more audio to listen to.  I love Audible's selection and have had a great time adding new audiobooks to my collection.

Some of my favorite audiobooks this year include:

Halfway to the Grave by Jeanienne Frost
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Splintered by A. G. Howard
Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Most of my listening has always taken place in the car, but this past year I found myself slipping in the ear buds and listening on my phone when ever my husband was watching something I wasn't interested in on TV.  This year I relied on audio to do a lot more of my reading.  I found myself pressed for time, and using the audio to keep reading when I didn't have time to actually pick up a book.  If it hadn't been for audio, I would hardly have read anything last year.

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Audiobook Week is hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.  Visit her website to find out more or to participate in Audiobook Week 2013.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Guest Post by Adrienne Kress author of Outcast

I have always found Jane Austen’s novel PRIDE AND PREJUDICE a really compelling story.  And not just for Mr. Darcy.  Who is, yes, rather compelling . . . rather compelling indeed. . . .

Sorry, where was I? 


I always really appreciated how Austen created a flawed main character in Lizzie.  Someone who had very strong opinions about everyone and who, over the course of the novel, realizes that maybe she wasn’t always right in these opinions (the same, of course, goes for Mr. Darcy).

I found it fascinating, because, well, I related to the experience. 

When I was in high school I had very strong opinions about others.  There is nothing particularly original in saying so, most of us tend to have such opinions.  I’d say most people on the planet often jump to conclusions about other people without really getting to know them. 

In fact this jumping to conclusions without really getting to know people thing was something I was well aware happened.  Thus I tried very hard to get to know people for who they were, not their outwards appearance.  And so it rather surprised me to learn, that, despite my noble intentions, I did have one form of prejudice I wasn’t even aware I had until toward the end of high school.  You see, I tended to have negative impressions of anyone I thought was playing up to a teenaged stereotype.  To me I could never understand, when there were all these films about teenagers and their “types”, why then someone would actually want to live up to those expectations. Further, I definitely judged those who belonged to what one would dub the “popular” or “in” groups extra harshly.

I made assumptions about anyone who lived up to such a stereotype.  And, I must admit, more often than not, negative assumptions.  But as I got older, as I got to know more and more people in my school by being put into groups for projects or whathaveyou, I realised that these folks were complicated and three dimensional (you know, like people tend to be in general).  That just because they were popular, or didn’t mind living up to the teenager role, it didn’t mean they weren’t also interesting, smart and fun.  It was a hard lesson for me to learn, that as an outsider I was just as guilty of being judgmental of those on the inside as I assumed those on the inside were of me.  Especially considering I had always thought I was quite empathetic and open minded.

So I wanted to write about that self-discovery in OUTCAST.

I created a main character in Riley who has certain opinions about certain kinds of people in her community, especially one head cheerleader.  And I wanted to show her grow and learn what I myself ended up learning. 

It’s a simple lesson, but we all need to learn it at some point.  The fact is we all do make judgments about others without really knowing them.  Sometimes we can be correct – and there are certain people that Riley is dead on about.  But sometimes we screw up.  And I think it’s important to acknowledge those moments and grow from them.

I know I certainly had to.  

While this wasn’t the main purpose of my writing the book, I think it is one of those things that I am most excited about in it.  It’s humbling for me to even write about it now.  And a little embarrassing to admit.  But I do hope others will be able to relate.

Visit these other blogs on the Outcast blog tour to find out more about Adrienne and about her newest book Outcast!

Book Review: Outcastby Adrienne Cress

Title: Outcast
Author: Adrienne Kress (
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: June 2, 2013
Publisher: Diversion Books (
ISBN Book: 9781626810921
Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher to review. This is my honest review!

OutcastOutcast by Adrienne Kress
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A year ago during the Taking, Riley’s best friend Chris was one of the people taken by the “angels.” While the powerful Pastor Warren says she should be happy for her friend, she misses him and longs to have him back. When it is time for the Taking again, Riley refuses to go to the town’s celebration, and when one of the “angels” come for her, she takes matters into her own hands and shoots him. What happens next surprises her. Instead of a dead angel, she find, Gabe, a young man from 1956, who is very hot, and a lot more than Riley can handle. Can Gabe and Riley unravel the mystery of what is happening to her town, and will she ever see Chris again?

I have read many angel novels, and I must say this one is unique. The “angels” take people, but only from Riley’s town. No one can explain it and Pater Warren, the pastor at the Church of the Angels insists that their town should be honored, while he uses his place in the community to grab more and more power for himself.

The characters in this novel are great. Riley’s grief over Chris’s taking is believable. For the past year, she has given up putting forth any effort either socially or in school. She misses Chris, her first love, terribly. Then when she sees the angel waiting for her, her grief turns to rage, and she shoots him. What happens next is both humorous and weird. Eventually, Riley finds an ally in the mysterious Gabe, but it is clear she doesn’t fully trust him right away.

The story is interesting and engaging. Kress’s pacing is perfect and keeps you interested throughout the novel. This one is a quick read and very different from the other angel novels I have read. I appreciated the uniqueness of this novel. I don’t want to give too much away, but this one is definitely worth the read.

An interesting and unique approach to angels in ya lit. Pick this one up if you love the angel stories, but are looking for something different in the angel genre—this one definitely doesn’t fit the mold.

View all my reviews

To purchase a copy of Outcast visit

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble

Title: The Sweet Dead Life
Author: Joy Preble
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: AudioGo
ISBN Book: 9781482100631
Narrator:  Madeleine Lambert
Length: 6 hours 6 minutes
Disclosure: I received a copy of the audiobook from AudioGo through Audiobook JukeboxThis is my honest review!

The Sweet Dead LifeThe Sweet Dead Life by Joy Preble
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Five years ago, Jenna Samuel’s father disappeared without a trace, and for the past five years she, her brother, and her mother have just barely been getting by. Her mother won’t get out of bed and her brother becomes dependent on marijuana to get through the day. Jenna has a hard time holding it together. Not to mention the fact, she believes she is dying. When a car accident changes her life drastically, and her brother becomes her guardian angel, they begin to unravel the mystery surrounding their family. Who is poisoning Jenna, what really happened to her dad, and is her brother Casey really her guardian “A-word?”

Joy Preble’s story has a lot going for it. You have an intriguing mystery, a teen being poisoned, goofy characters, angels, and a hairy doctor. It will definitely appeal to her fans and to readers who are looking for more unique angel fare. Still, as a reader I had some qualms about the story.

To me, it seemed like the author was attempting to juggle too many elements at times, making it hard to mesh it all together. I could have let that go, but I think my tipping point was the main character’s narration in her journal. She seemed older than an 8th grader, more mature than her years. Perhaps this could be attributed to the fact that she has raised herself since she was 8 years old and her father disappeared. Still between the character’s age and the mish mash of elements, I found the novel a bit frenetic. Jenna also seemed too willing to believe everything around her and too eager to dismiss it at the same time. Sometimes she was too contradictory.

It seemed like this novel was written with older readers in mind given some of the topics it touched upon, but the main character was too young. Was this written for a teen audience looking for more angel fare, or was this a middle grade novel? If it was intending to be middle grade, it could have toned down the drugs and language a bit more. I would have been happier, however, if Jenna was a few years older and Casey in college. It would have fit together better.

I was also disappointed by how predictable the story was. I had the mystery figured out within the first few chapters. Granted I didn’t have a motive, but I had a good idea of what was going on, and found the characters to be frustratingly dense.

I do have to compliment the author for including humor in her novel. I love to see mysteries with the right dash of humor. It keeps the story light hearted.

Audiobook Review:
The audio book of The Sweet Dead Life was produced by AudioGo and read by Madeline Lambert. It is 6 hours 6 minutes in length and unabridged. Lambert does a wonderful job with the narration, but still sounds a little bit older than what I image Jenna to sound. Still her narration is great and Casey always sounds just a little bit stoned. The audiobook is clear of flaws and well done. I would definitely recommend this as a good way to experience this novel.

Overall, this is a cute but flawed story and an interesting take angel genre. I think this novel will find readers who will adore it flaws and all. I will recommend this to younger teens looking for a paranormal mystery with a dash of humor.

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