Monday, July 29, 2013

Book Review: Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore


Title: Spirit and Dust
Author: Rosemary Clement-Moore
Genre: Teen Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
Publication Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
ISBN Book: 9780385740807
Format: Book
FTC Disclosure: I checked out a copy of this book from my public library.  This is my honest review.


Spirit and DustSpirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:
Daisy Goodnight uses her ability to speak to the dead to help the FBI solve murder cases. When she is called to Minnesota to help the FBI with a murder and a kidnapping, she finds herself over her head in trouble. When she is kidnapped and manipulated by a mob boss, she will need all her skills to solve the crime before she is the next one dead.

Review:
I love Rosemary Clement-Moore's novels. When I read Texas Gothic last year, I loved how Clement-Moore built her story and her unique family of characters. In some ways Texas Gothic reminded me of an episode of Scooby Doo. It contained a great mystery, fun characters, and a lot of sassy humor. I couldn't wait to read her next book, Spirit and Dust because it would feature Daisy, who first made an appearance in Texas Gothic.

I love the Goodnight family, and wish my family was just as quirky and fun. All the Goodnights have "talents" and Daisy's talent is speaking to the dead. Daisy is sassy and smart. I love how determined she is and how incredibly strong.

This mystery wasn't as good for me as Texas Gothic. I did enjoy this book, but it lacked some of the humor of the first. This mystery felt much more dangerous and serious. Daisy was a fun narrator, and I loved her sass, but I missed the other Goodnights.

The mystery was a little like Indiana Jones. There was archeology, history, mysterious cults, action, adventure, and a lot of paranormal power thrown in. Oh, and don't forget the numerous museums.

The pacing of the novel is great. Clement-Moore keeps the story running from one place to another on a fast paced adventures. You never know what is going to happen next, or where Daisy will end up. She keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next and loathing stepping away from the novel for even a few minutes.

Overall:
While this book wasn't as fun for me as the first, I still found it highly enjoyable. I hope she plans to write more novels about the Goodnights, because I love this quirky family. This book was a fun read and one that I highly recommend.

Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
Violence: Yep
Language: Mild
Sex: None (some references)
Drugs: None

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Audiobook Review: Star Trek Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster


Title: Star Trek Into Darkness
Author: Alan Dean Foster
Genre: Adult Fiction, Action Adventure
Publication Date: May 21, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
ISBN Book: 9781442362697
Narrator: Alice Eve
Length: 8 hrs and 55 mins
Format: Audio CD
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book on CD from Simon & Schuster Audio for review through Audiobook Jukebox.  This is my honest review.

Star Trek Into DarknessStar Trek Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary:

Based on the 2013 Star Trek Into Darkness movie, this book stays very close to the movie. The novel takes place in the same timeline as the one created in the 2009 Star Trek movie. A young Captain Kirk and his crew return to earth hoping to be sent out on a five year mission, little does Kirk know that a report of an incident by Spock would leave him demoted to commander. Before that can fully take place, star fleet headquarters is attacked and Kirk’s mentor Christopher Pike is killed in the terrorist attack. After being reinstated as captain of the Enterprise, Kirk and his crew head off to catch the terrorist, only to discover that there is more to the mission than even he has been told.

Review:
Let me start out by saying I am a Trekkie. I love all things Star Trek and I adored the new movie when it came out in 2009. I eagerly anticipated this second movie, and couldn’t wait to see it. After watching the movie I decided to listen to this audiobook because I wanted more.

I have read a number of movie novelizations in the past with mixed results. Sometimes I like them because they add detail to the story that was missing from the movie, sometimes I hate them because they stray too far from the movie or worse rewrite portions, and sometimes they come out like this one did; without really adding anything that I didn’t already know and just being mediocre. I saw the movie, and let me tell you up front, if you have seen the movie you don’t need to read the book—you already know everything.

If you like novelizations that stick close to the movie without adding any extra this is for you. I know the author tried to express what the characters were thinking or feeling with limited success. And maybe it is a credit to the actors that most scenes were much more successful on screen than they were in the book—the whole Uhura/Kirk conversation in the turbolift for example. The book had the added effect of making Kirk sound like a petulant child. Now I suppose it could be argued that he acted that way in the film to, but for some reason the book seemed to emphasize the point. He wasn’t the Kirk I knew and loved—he was for lack of a better word whiny.

I know I have read Foster’s work in the past, and I don’t remember having as much trouble with it as I did this one. Maybe it was the book, maybe it was the movie. Either way this book failed to excite me. I think much of the problem with this novel is that it told, it didn’t show and as a result the writing and the novel itself fell flat.

Audiobook Review:

The audiobook version of this novel is produced by Simon & Schuster Audio. Alice Eve performs this book. Perhaps it was my own mistake listening to this title when I am such a fan of the movies. I know how Chris Pine sounds as he plays Captain Kirk and I remember the tone and inflection of the memorable conversations of the movie. Eve’s narration didn’t cut it for me. First of all I was rather surprised that this book would be narrated by a female—I think the content would have been more suited to a male voice. (I’m really not trying to sound sexist here—I have heard great performances from women, this just wasn’t one of them.) I also didn’t like how she interpreted Kirk’s voice—it always seemed so flat and/or whiny at times. She did a great job narrating Carol Marcus, and her other male voices were okay, but they were not what I was expecting. Also her slight British accent seemed a bit out of place. She is a good narrator and I would happily listen to something else that she narrates to see how I like that, but it just didn’t seem like a good fit for this particular novel. Again, this fault could very well lie with me and my own personal expectations of this audiobook.

Overall:

I had high expectations of this book and perhaps they were too high. This is a good novelization if you want something that will just tell you what happened in the movie. If you are looking for more, you might be disappointed.


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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Adult Audiobook Review: One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost


Title: One Foot in the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Genre: Adult Fiction, Romance, Action Adventure
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
ISBN Book: 9780061245091
Narrator: Tavia Gilbert
Length: 9 hours and 47 minutess
Format: Audio download
FTC Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this audiobook from Audible and also purchased a copy of the book from Amazon.


One Foot in the Grave (Night Huntress, #2)One Foot in the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. At first I had some concerns about how much I would like this book. It starts almost five years after the events in book one, and I was afraid that too much time would have past for Cat and Bones. Surprisingly, this didn't bother me as much as i thought it would and I was able to jump right in to the novel. I love both Cat and Bones as much as I did in the first book if not more. This book is great for readers who love books filled with action. Cat is just as bada$$ as she was in the first book, but now she has a badge to go with it--SEXY! I originally started reading this series as part of a read-along, but now I can't stop myself. I love this series and look forward to reading more.

In addition to getting the ebook from Amazon, I also purchased the audiobook from Audible. The audiobook is narrated by Tavia Gilbert and produced by Blackstone Audio, Inc. The audiobook is about 9 hours and 47 minutes long. I love Gilbert's narration and have gotten used to the voices she uses for the various characters. I plan on listening to the other books in the series on audio as well--this was a great way to experience this novel.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman


Title: The Book of Blood and Shadow
Author: Robin Wasserman
Genre: Teen Fiction, Action Adventure Fiction, Suspense Fiction
Publication Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Listening Library
ISBN Book: 9780670785605
Narrator: Emily Janice Card
Length: 14 hours and 17 minutes
Format: Audio download
FTC Disclosure: I purchased a downloadable copy of this book from Audible.  This is my honest review.


The Book of Blood and ShadowThe Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary:

Who knew one night could change everything? Who knew a job as a research assistant could put your life in danger? Nora was prepared to be bored with her job as a research assistant, but when strange things start occurring while she translates letters relating to the Lumen Dei she finds that history and research may be more exciting than she is prepared for. When her best friend Chris is murdered and her boyfriend Max is the primary suspect, she doesn’t believe that Max was the killer. She knows there are people out there who would kill for the power of the Lumen Dei, because if they control the Lumen Dei they can control the world. On the run, and a suspect herself, Nora knows she has no one she can trust.

Review:

I’ll admit that I am a fan of books like Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code and other novels that chase historical documents through time. I loved Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian and this book felt similar to those adult titles I loved. A book with history, action, and suspense is a winning combination for me.

Wasserman creates a novel with a lot going on. I love the plot here; an ancient document with ties to history that may lead to a mysterious device that holds untold power. Murder, danger, and suspense blend well into this novel. The pacing of this novel is fast and action packed—you never know what is going to happen next. The author also creates an atmosphere of mystery and danger. You are never sure what the other characters motives are or who you can completely trust. Like in Kostova’s The Historian you feel like you need to constantly look over your shoulder.

While there was a lot about this novel I really liked, I felt that the characters kind of fell flat for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the book, but I couldn’t always understand the motivations of the characters or why they made the choices they did. Sometimes I felt frustrated by their naivety. I couldn’t relate to them or really understand them.

Audiobook Review:

The audiobook version of this novel is produced by Listening Library and read by Emily Janice Card. Card does an excellent job narrating this novel and performing the voices of the various characters. The audio is a longer title at 14 hours and 17 minutes, but Card keeps the listener invested in the story the whole time. I was grateful to have the audio for this novel as it helped me through some of the slower parts.

Overall:

This is a great action packed mystery thriller. There is a lot to like about this novel including the plot and the pacing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get attached to the characters as I would have liked, but I still loved the story. A fun entertaining read.


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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen


Title: The Moon and More
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Teen Fiction,General Fiction
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ISBN Book: 9780670785605
Narrator: Allie Gallerani
Length: 11 hours 25 minutes
Format: Audio download
FTC Disclosure: I received a downloadable copy of this audiobook for review from Penguin through Audiobook Jukebox. This is my honest review. I also purchased a copy of the ebook from Amazon for my personal collection.


The Moon and MoreThe Moon and More by Sarah Dessen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:

It’s the summer before college and Emmaline thinks she has it all; the perfect boyfriend, a good job at Colby Realty, and a chance to head off to a good college. Yet somehow, she isn’t satisfied. When her father shows back up in town with her little brother Benji in tow and announces he is getting a divorce. Emmaline, who has been raised by her mother and stepfather doesn’t know what to make of this sudden visit after her father completely ignored her graduation and told her he could no longer pay her college tuition. Meanwhile she meets Theo, a young film student who is eager to please his boss, while they make a documentary film about a reclusive Colby painter. As she works her way through her last summer before college, Emmaline must face changes and choices that will change her life forever.

Review:

I love Sarah Dessen’s books. They are marvelously subtle, very real, and always end up touching your heart. Her books are some of my favorite summer time reads. I always try to read at least one of her books every summer.

I love the characters Dessen creates in her novels. They are so fully developed and real. Each character is carefully crafted full of flaws and remarkably human. Emmaline is a bit of a perfectionist, and loves to have things her way. She is faced with many changes and longs to keep things the way they are. Her parents are realistically portrayed and present in her life. They too, have to adjust to the fact that Emmaline is becoming an adult and will be leaving for college soon.

This isn’t the first time we have visited Colby for one of Dessen’s novels. I love that she keeps setting her stories in this small beach town. The setting is perfect for those looking for a great summer read, and I love finding out more about the town, and seeing familiar characters throughout her novels. Can’t get enough of this setting!

Pacing in a Dessen novel is always unique. Dessen likes to ease the reader into the story, introducing all the characters, and gradually building towards a climax. For some readers this may be difficult, because they like more fast paced novels. While I usually prefer a faster pacing, I love Dessen’s style and pacing for her novels. It feels right, and it feels like you are living the story through Emmaline.

Audiobook Review:

The audiobook version of this novel is produced by Penguin Audio and read by Allie Gallerani. The length is approximately 11 hours and 25 minutes. The production is clean and free of flaws. Gallerani does a wonderful job narrating this novel. I can believe that she is Emmaline, and her voices for the other characters work well too—even the men. I love the audiobook versions of Dessen’s novels. With a couple of exceptions, all the books I have read by her have been on audio. I love sitting in my car on a warm summer day listening to her novels of Colby and the beach—making me long for the beach! This book was a good one to listen to on audio, and I would recommend the audio to anyone who loves to listen to books.

Overall:

This is a fantastic addition to Dessen’s already great collection of novels. I love Sarah Dessen’s books and will continue to read them in the future. If you are looking for a great summer read, don’t hesitate to pick up this book, or almost anything by Dessen.


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