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Tag Archives: Young Adult

Audiobook Review – Winter – Marissa Meyer


Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: #4 in the Lunar Chronicles
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆

Narrator: Rebecca Solar
Run Time: 23hrs and 30min
Narration Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mark her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend–the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Review:
Winter is one of the two books out of the audiobooks on my Armchair Audies list that I had previously read – going back and looking at the notes I left to myself on Goodreads last year – my summary of the book could be summed up as follows – “thank god its over, it felt like it lasted forever.” It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the series because I did – its just that I felt this last book really dragged on because there were so many loose ends that needed to be tied up – almost like it needed a 5th book that was more of pulling all the bits and pieces together, while letting the 4th book be more about Winter – because honestly, I felt like her story was subsumed by what was going on with Cinder and Cress as they tried to free Lunar and its people from Levana.

This final installation in the series was full of action and adventure – but at the same time – it just got tiring both reading and listening to what was going on – there was no break, no recovery for the main characters. And yet, they managed to pull out success after success. Yes, I know that its fiction and suspension of disbelief is a thing but I was physically tried from listening to it – which is something that doesn’t often happen with audiobooks.

Rebecca Solar is a new audiobook narrator to me but I felt like she captured the young adult voice of the characters in Winter well. Her narration of Winter’s sweet innocent voice was about as I pictured it while reading the book. She managed to bubbly personality of Iko, as well as the more down-to-earth narration of Cress and Scarlet’s French accent. On the male aspect of the narration – her voices were solid – nothing that blew me away, but I didn’t hate them either. For a 23 hour audiobook, it was a pleasant listening experience, even if, as mentioned above, I was physically tired from listening when it was finally done. I’m sad to see this series end and yet – at the same time, I was happy to see it end (if that makes any sense…).

While my rating of the book stayed at 3 stars, I rated Solar’s narration as 4 solid stars – I have to wonder how my impression of the book would have changed, if I had only listened to it and not read it previously?

 

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Review – The Valiant – Lesley Livingston

The Valiant
Author: Lesley Livingston
Series: #1 in the Valiant series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

Review:
A couple of months I received an email from Netgalley (as I do quite often) about a new young adult historical fiction book that was due to be released in February. Normally, I take a quick scroll through these emails but don’t pay a lot of mind – but this time something caught my eye – maybe it was a rather unique time period (ancient rome) or the cover that just showed a single young woman standing in a stadium – but I knew that if I didn’t request it, then I was going to ask my library to purchase it (which they so kindly did). Anyways, I had had a long week and so I curled up in bed with the pups one Saturday and pretty much read the Valiant in one sitting – which is something that I rarely do.

Ancient Rome is definitely not a popular time period in historical fiction, and a book featuring a female gladiator (gladiatrix) is even rarer (honestly – I can’t even think of a recent book featuring male gladiators). Fallon has to be one of the most kick-ass heroines I’ve read about in a long time – especially considering the time period that the book was set – where women were often seen as little more than chattle. From the get go, I knew that Fallon was a character that I was going to be drawn to – like many other well-known females in history, she bucked the traditions of her time, and pushed the boundaries of proper behavior.

While there were the undertones of a potential romance between Fallon and one of the Roman soldiers (or male of significant rank, I can’t remember exactly what his position was) – it wasn’t overwhelming (and thankfully there was no love triangle!). It was more of an adventure/coming of age than a romance – but I believe that is a second book in the works, so that could change. I know that I will be looking forward to reading it when it does come out. I wish in general there were more books set in time periods like Ancient Rome (or similar civilizations). The Valiant got 4 stars from me with a heavy recommendation for anyone who likes historical fiction with kickass female characters!

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Review – Scythe – Neal Schusterman

scytheScythe
Author: Neal Schusterman
Series: #1 in the Arc of a Scythe series
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Description:
A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery: humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now Scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

Review:
There is no doubt in my mine that Neal Schusterman writes some of the most through-provoking YA dystopia that I’ve read in recent years. It might not be as viscerally blood and gore like the Hunger Games; but he manages to impact the reader in ways that will make you cringe just from the power of the writing. There is one scene from his first book that I read (Unwind) that to this day makes me shiver when I think of it. When an advertisement for his newest book, Scythe, popped up in my Goodreads feed – it was a done deal that I was going to be getting my grubby little paws on it (and huge thanks to my local library for having such great librarians who buy awesome books like that).

What would you do in a world where there was no death? no cancer, no car accidents? where you could opt to reset your life and start over? where if you did “die” (or go splat) that your body would heal itself? that is the world that Schusterman has written about in Scythe. Yet, in any kind of world, there must be some form of population control and that is where the Scythe’s come in. Scythe’s are those special people who have been trained in the art of taking lives – do they do it by poison, or by beheading, by stabbing or some other form of death. There are even Scythe’s who specialize in mass death…The first book in the Scythe series is the story of 2 teenagers who are apprentices to become a Scythe and their journey through the process.

In typical fashion, Schusterman raises many questions – the main ones for me focused around the idea of causing purposeful death? when you don’t call it murder in the societal sense. How would you pick who to kill? and in what method? how would you ensure that you aren’t focusing too much on any specific gender/race/religion when choosing your victims? In between the training that the apprentice Scythe’s undergoing, is the hint of a revolution in the core of the Scythedom – there is a reason behind the quote – ultimately power corrupts ultimately (John Dalberg-Acton) – what is more powerful than holding the life and death of an entire world in your hands?

I will admit that I was left with many questions after finishing Scythe – but that just means, I’ll have to wait impatiently for the next installment. If you are looking for a thought-provoking dystopia with death being forefront, then Scythe might be the book for you.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2017 in Book Review, Review

 

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Wishlist Wednesday – 27 January 2016

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

My pick for this weeks Wishlist Wednesday is a book that is actually due out in less than a week and that I already have reserved at the library for when their copies come in (here’s hoping, I’ll be one of the first to get to read it).

salt to the sea
Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Release Date: Feb 2, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, World War 2 Fiction

Description:
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.

Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.

Why am I excited to read it?
Ruta Sepetys’ debut book a few years back (2011), Between Shades of Grey, told the story of a teenager displaced and sent to Siberia when Russia annexed the Baltic states in 1941. It was a unique story to me as I read it, because not only did it touch on an era in history that isn’t routinely taught in high school (or college to my knowledge), but that it was also based in part on experiences by her family members. Ms Sepetys has the ability to write historical fiction in a way that just sucks you in and if her newest is like Between Shades of Grey, I might have to plan on a sleepless night, because I couldn’t put it down…

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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Waiting on Wednesday – 20 January 2016

Wishlist WednesdayWishlist Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Pen to Paper where we post about one book that has been hanging out on our wish list (either for a long time, or not so long)

When I started to look and upcoming book releases, I came to the realization that I don’t have all that many books sitting on my new release can’t wait to read shelf. Mostly due to the lack of time to sit and browse the upcoming release websites, but also because in general, very few of the authors that I follow on facebook (or other forms of social media) have posted about upcoming new releases that have piqued my interest. But I made sure to carve out a few minutes last night, post cycling workout, pre-dinner and bed (yeah, I was eating dinner right before I went to bed), to see if there was anything that caught my eye. Thanks to FictionDB and their new release database, I found the following that caught my eye

assassin's heartAssassin’s Heart – Sarah Ahiers
Release Date: February 2, 2016

Description:
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

Why I Can’t Wait?
I’ll admit that I have a thing for novels with assassin’s as the main characters ever since I read Robin LaFever’s series with assassin nuns. Added to that, the whole secret love (or so it sounds from the description), possible revenge theme as described sounds intriguing and I’ll be interested to see how the author approaches it. I know i’m already checking my library to see if that have it on order (and if they don’t, well then, i’ll (hopefully) sweet talk my favorite librarian into getting it for them).

What about you – what book(s) are you eagerly anticipating?

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in Wishlist Wednesday

 

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The Case of the Traveling Book

hate is such a strong word 1 (1)One of the things I love about communities like Goodreads is how it can bring together people across the world over a simple topic, the love of books – (yes, I’m a dork and gushing…lol). I have made many friends over the years on that website, many of whom I have never met in person (and likely never will) and yet, I feel like I know them. Over the last few years, one of the groups I’m part of (YA Rated MA) has been doing a fun event called the traveling book.

hate is such a strong word 1 (2)The premise is simple, a group member donates a book that they think other members would be interested in reading – normally maybe an ARC of a YA book soon to come, or a book not widely released in the US (since that is where the majority of our members are from) and the book then travels from member to member. At each stop, its read (well, duh) and members are encourages to write notes in the book, highlight passages that really struck home for them (shock, horror if you don’t like writing in books) and sign their name in the front cover and leave a quick note in the back about their overall opinion. Best of all, they each include a postcard from where they live, so when the person who originally donated the book gets it back, there is like a treasure trove of gifts.

Over the last few months, my book donation of Hate is such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub has been traveling around the various members of the group and on Saturday, it arrived back home (and yes, there might have been a slight happy dance when I saw it in the mail). Hate is Such A Strong Word is a book that my mom sent me from Australia, written by a Lebanese-Australian author. The story revolves about Sophie, a 12th grader who is in a cultural clash between her Lebanese family and the more modern society she is living in (or so I have gauged from the description, because I haven’t read it yet).

I’m looking forward to reading Hate is Such a Strong Word in the next few weeks and until then, I’m going to enjoy looking through all the different postcards that i got in the package.

hate is such a strong word 1 (3)

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Reading Events

 

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Thursday Quotables – UnDivided

quotation-marks4

Thursday Quotables is a weekly feature hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies. It is a weekly feature where readers highlight a quote or quotes from their current weeks reading. Whether it’s something funny, startling, gut-wrenching, or just really beautifully written.

undivided

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do a Thursday Quotables for this week, but after finishing up UnDivided over the weekend, there were enough quotes in there that resonated with me (especially in this time of upcoming political elections) that it just seemed right. As a bit of background, UnDivided is the 4th book in the UnWind Dystology by Neal Shusterman. The premise of this dystopian series is that there was a war known as the Heartland’s War fought in the past, and as a consequence, teenagers started to run wild. So the government instituted a program called Unwinding – which was basically taking an teenager and surgically disembodying them, and the parts were then used for transplants or cosmetic desires. It is set in a time, when all body parts (including portions of the brain) could be easily divided and used. I came across this series a few years ago, when it was only one book (and hadn’t heard that there was going to be follow-on ones) and while horrified in places, also enjoyed the writing style and the questions that Shusterman posed.

“Tools are neither demonic nor divine. It’s all about who wields them.”

“…facts never prevent the ignorant from jerking their knees into the groin of science.”

“In a population of hundreds of millions, such a small number of people is a mere drop in the bucket… but enough drops can make any bucket overflow”

“We must always be careful of the actions we take, for there are always unintended consequences. Sometimes they are serendipitous, other times they are appalling, but those consequences are always there. We must tread lightly in this world…until we are sure of foot.”

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Thursday Quotables

 

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