Bad Bloods: November Rain by Shannon A. Thompson

Bad Bloods: November Rain by Shannon A. ThompsonNovember Rain (Bad Bloods, #1) by Shannon A. Thompson
Format: Audio
Narrator: Jonathan Johns
Series: Bad Bloods,
Published by Clean Teen Publishing on July 18th 2016
Genres: YA, Dystopian, Fantasy
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Seventeen-year-old Serena isn’t human. She is a bad blood, and in the city of Vendona, bad bloods are executed. In the last moments before she faces imminent death, a prison guard aids her escape and sparks a revolt. Back on the streets determined to destroy her kind, Serena is spared by a fellow bad blood named Daniel. His past tragedies are as equally mysterious as her connection to them.

Unbeknownst to the two, this connection is the key to winning the election for bad bloods’ rights to be seen as human again. But Serena is the only one who can secure Vendona’s vote. Now, Daniel must unite with her before all hope is lost and bad bloods are eradicated, even if it means exposing secrets worse than death itself. United or not, a city will fight, rain will fall, and all will be threatened by star-crossed love and political corruption.

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


Review of the story:

November Rain starts off with a bang, as Serena, our main female protagonist, is being marched to her own death. A stranger sets a plan in motion for Serena to escape and she becomes the first person to ever escape this particular “Bad Blood” camp. a Bad Blood is someone who has undergone a mutation that gives them superhuman abilities (similar to X-men). The society in which this is set does not recognize Bad Blood as being equal and therefore seeks to find and eradicate all of them. 

The story is full of action while still leaving room for character development and a steady story-line progression. November Rain is told from the POV of Serena and Daniel, another Bad Blood. The book is actually set over a period of only 8 -9 days, but the multiple POVs keep the story moving. 

If you are looking for a clean YA book that has lots of action, a great story, strong and loyal characters, and is a quick read – I recommend picking up November Rain. 

Review of the audio:

Johnathon Johns does a great job transitioning between Serena and Daniel’s POV without making it seem jumpy or disjointed. He has a smooth cadence that was truly enjoyable to listen to. 

Next Books in the series:


Giveaway!

November Rain Giveaway: Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box


Author Interview

 

  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.

My favorite (and first) part about turning Bad Bloods into an audiobook was discussing my book with the narrator, Jonathan Johns. I let him know some exclusive behind-the-scenes info that never made it into the book but was essential to understanding the characters. He was really receptive to it, and he truly understood what each person and scene represented. After he recorded, I listened to each scene and provided more notes. Then he recorded more, and now, we have an audiobook!

  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?

Yes, I think it’s absolutely possible—not to mention that there are readers who NEED audiobooks in order to access novels and other pieces of text, so audiobooks are extremely important.   

  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?

Yes and no. I always loved the idea of an audiobook, but I didn’t let it change my writing style. However, I always read all of my books out loud in the last editing phase to check the sound and overall flow, so that’s very similar. Sound is important.

  • How did you select your narrator?

My publisher sent me a few auditions, but Jonathan Johns stuck out the moment I heard his voice. He captured both the dark essence of the story and the characters’ individual voices. From the beginning, I felt as if he understood it more than anyone else, and he truly brought it to life.

  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process? Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters?

Yes! I provided pronounciation for any words or names that might be difficult, but I definitely gave him insight into each character. Bad Bloods is very character heavy (and a character-driven story), and it was important to me that they were distinguishable and matched what I pictured when writing. He learned facts that will never even make it into the series. Why? Because those details often shape characters, but they might also be unseen details. I needed to know those details to create the prose, so I thought Jonathan would need to know them in order to create the audio. He absolutely nailed it!

  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?

I think there is truth in all types of writing, including fantasy. For me, I originally wrote this book shortly after my mother died very suddenly. I was eleven, so I had a lot of anger and depression and confusion about how terrible things can happen to very young people. Those feelings are scattered throughout Bad Bloods, and to this day, Bad Bloods still feels like the closest books to my heart—probably because writing these books saved me when I was young.  

  • How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?

I get burnt out all the time! I try not to, but I work full time (and often overtime). Writing books while working full time is hard, especially when you’re on a deadline, so I absolutely get burnt out. But I never lose my enthusiasm. No matter how difficult life gets, I always love writing, and I try to keep that in mind when I’m feeling down.  

  • Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?

Actually (eek), I’m not. I have a difficult time remembering anything when it’s in audio format. Even when I was a kid, I struggled to learn from lectures. I’ve always taught myself by reading materials. (Maybe my dad was right when he said I was a bad listener. Ha!) But I’m so glad it exists for those who need and love audiobooks.

  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?

Jonathan Johns added some sound effects (wheezing, sighing, breathing) that helped bring the dialogue alive in very particular spots. I loved it!

  • If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?

YES. I would love to see the Amarna Period in Ancient Egypt, mainly because my soul is submerged in that time period for research right now. But there are lots of places I’d love to see. The future would be neat, too!


Tour Schedule

Nov. 19th:

The Audiobookworm

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Crazy Beautiful Reads

Nov. 20th:

Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Books, Dreams, Life

What Is That Book About

Nov. 21st:

Chanda Reads

Hall Ways Blog

Nov. 22nd:

Buried Under Books

Jazzy Book Reviews

Nov. 23rd:

Lomeraniel

Lilly’s Book World

Nov. 24th:

Notes from ‘Round the Bend

Loves Great Reads

Nov. 25th:

The Book Addict’s Reviews

The Book Slayer

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four-stars

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn SkyeThe Crown's Game by Evelyn Skye
Format: Audio
Narrator: Steve West
Published by HarperAudio on May 17th, 2016
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters - the only two in Russia - and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown's Game, an ancient duel of magical skill - the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar's most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter - even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown's Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with - beautiful, whip smart, imaginative - and he can't stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai's best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love...or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear...the Crown's Game is not one to lose.

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


Review of the story:

This was a book I was pleasantly surprised by. I actually really hate when books are compared to best sellers like The Hunger Games or other popular books like Red Queen. I think it sets unfair expectations on what the book is about, which was the case for The Crown’s Game for me. Sometimes I feel like any book that has the word ‘game’ in it is going to be compared to The Hunger Games, but The Crown’s Game was nothing like THG, in my opinion. THG was raw, violent, and dark. The Crown’s Game has a few dark moments, but is a bit more light than THG. 

As for the competition, it was definitely not what I expected. I was expecting a deadly game of magic and sorcery, but the game in this book is slower paced, and more of a poetic show of talents. While the story did seem to creep along at some points, I was intrigued by the story-line and never felt bored. The last few chapters had me on the edge of my seat and nearly in tears, so I’m really looking forward to the next book!

 

Characters 

There is a love triangle, kind-of. I really hate love triangles, but I promise this one isn’t bad. The story is not consumed by the romance (which is actually my thing, lol, but if it’s not you’re in luck) and one part of the triangle is one-sided. I thought the theme was less about romance and more about friendship and platonic love than anything. The character development in this book was remarkable. Vika is a sassy and strong heroine that doesn’t need to depend on romance or supporting characters to shine, ad Nikolai and Pasha stand well on their own as well. I even found myself caring for (and despising) secondary characters as well and wasn’t annoyed when the POV switched to them because I genuinely cared what happened to them.

 

There is not a traditional “villain” in this book, but I think Skye did a wonderful job with the complexity of this character. I felt my heart breaking for her, even as she carried out terrible acts against some of the characters I loved. She will definitely be playing a more pivotal role in the next book so I am torn between understanding her motives, and wanting her dead before she can hurt anyone else. 

I’m including this fan art made by Charlie Bowater because she’s amazing and I’m obsessed with her art, especially her vision of Nikolai! Click here or on the picture below to be taken to Epic Reads, where this art was originally shared. 

 

Review of the audio:

Steve West was easy to listen to and did a beautiful job with voice distinctions and transitions. I would listen to another book he narrates based off this performance. 


four-stars

Top 10 Tuesday (12)

“Top Ten Tuesday” is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
Every week they pick a topic for us to do a top 10 list for and this week’s topic is…

I took this as books that just remind me of fall, whether because of the theme or just the nostalgic feeling I get when I think of the book. Brace yourselves for lots of books about witch trials, as they have always fascinated me! Some of the books I’m sure almost everyone will be familiar with, but for the ones maybe not as familiar I included a synopsis underneath.

As always, click on the book cover for a link to purchase the book. 

“Chanda Reads Books” is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This is at no cost to the readers of this blog.


.1.

Title: A Storm of Witchcraft
Author: Emerson W. Baker
Genre:  Non-Fiction, History

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers–mainly young women–suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history.

Historians have speculated on a web of possible causes for the witchcraft that stated in Salem and spread across the region-religious crisis, ergot poisoning, an encephalitis outbreak, frontier war hysteria–but most agree that there was no single factor. Rather, as Emerson Baker illustrates in this seminal new work, Salem was “a perfect storm”: a unique convergence of conditions and events that produced something extraordinary throughout New England in 1692 and the following years, and which has haunted us ever since.

Baker shows how a range of factors in the Bay colony in the 1690s, including a new charter and government, a lethal frontier war, and religious and political conflicts, set the stage for the dramatic events in Salem. Engaging a range of perspectives, he looks at the key players in the outbreak–the accused witches and the people they allegedly bewitched, as well as the judges and government officials who prosecuted them–and wrestles with questions about why the Salem tragedy unfolded as it did, and why it has become an enduring legacy.

Salem in 1692 was a critical moment for the fading Puritan government of Massachusetts Bay, whose attempts to suppress the story of the trials and erase them from memory only fueled the popular imagination. Baker argues that the trials marked a turning point in colonial history from Puritan communalism to Yankee independence, from faith in collective conscience to skepticism toward moral governance. A brilliantly told tale, A Storm of Witchcraft also puts Salem’s storm into its broader context as a part of the ongoing narrative of American history and the history of the Atlantic World.


.2.

Title: How to Hang a Witch
Author: Adriana Mather
Genre:  YA, Fiction, Fantasy

Salem, Massachusetts, is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials—and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves the Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real, live (well, technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries-old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with the Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.


.3.

Title: The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege
Author:Marilynne K. Roach
Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Based on over twenty years of original archival research, this history unfolds a nearly day-by-day narrative of the Salem Witch Trials as the citizens of Salem experienced the outbreak of hysteria.


.4.

Title: ‘Salem’s Lot
Author:  Stephen King
Genre: Horror, Mystery, Suspense

Ben Mears has returned to Jerusalem’s Lot in hopes that exploring the history of the Marsten House, an old mansion long the subject of rumor and speculation, will help him cast out his personal devils and provide inspiration for his new book. But when two young boys venture into the woods, and only one returns alive, Mears begins to realize that something sinister is at work—in fact, his hometown is under siege from forces of darkness far beyond his imagination. And only he, with a small group of allies, can hope to contain the evil that is growing within the borders of this small New England town.


.5.

Title: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: Illustrated
Author:  J.K Rowling (Illustrations by Jim Kay)
Genre:   Fantasy

This is one of the times where the book just makes me nostalgic for fall. I want to be in the Great Hall having a feast  with the rest of the Hogwarts students. 


.6.

Title: Whispers in Autumn (The Last Year Book 1)
Author:  Trisha Leigh
Genre:   YA, Dystopian, Romance, Sci-Fi

In 2015, a race of alien Others conquered Earth. They enslaved humanity not by force, but through an aggressive mind control that turned people into contented, unquestioning robots.

Except sixteen-year-old Althea isn’t content at all, and she doesn’t need the mysterious note inside her locket to tell her she’s Something Else. It also warns her to trust no one, so she hides the pieces that make her different, even though it means being alone.

The autumn she meets Lucas, everything changes.

Althea and Lucas are immune to the alien mind control, and together they search for the reason why. What they uncover is a stunning truth the Others never anticipated, one with the potential to free the brainwashed human race.

It’s not who they are that makes them special, but what.

And what they are is a threat. One the Others are determined to eliminate for good.


.7.

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Genre:  Horror, Fantasy

A junior solicitor travels to Transylvania to meet with an important client, the mysterious Count Dracula. Ignoring the dire warnings of local townsfolk, he allows himself to be seduced by the count’s courtly manners and erudite charm. Too late, the solicitor realizes that he is a prisoner of Castle Dracula, his guards a trio of voluptuous young women with sharp white teeth and a taste for blood.

Soon thereafter, the solicitor’s fiancée, Mina, visits a friend on the English coast. The town is full of speculation over a Russian ship run aground nearby, its crew missing, the dead body of its captain, crucifix in hand, lashed to the wheel. A giant dog was seen leaping from the deck before disappearing into the countryside. The ship’s cargo: fifty boxes of Transylvanian dirt. As the beautiful Mina will soon learn, Count Dracula has arrived.


.8.

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Author: Washington Irving
Genre:   Fantasy, Horror

North of New York City lies Sleepy Hollow, a secluded glen rumored to be the home of countless phantoms and specters. Chief among them is the Headless Horseman, the ghost of a Hessian soldier whose head was removed by a stray cannonball in the Revolutionary War. He rides across the glen each night and disappears in a flash of fire and brimstone at the bridge near the Old Dutch Burial Ground.

Ichabod Crane, a superstitious schoolteacher who recently arrived from Connecticut, wants to marry Katrina Van Tassel, the only child of a wealthy farmer. The locals spook him with story after story about the ghosts of Sleepy Hollow. Late one night, he spies a menacing figure at a crossroads. Worse yet, the man’s head appears to be on his saddle. Crane has only one chance to survive—he has to make it to the bridge before it’s too late.

I still think of the Sleepy Hollow animated movie and the above Ichabod every time I hear the story 😂


.9.

Title: Edgar Allen Poe The Complete Collection Tales and Poems
Author: Edgar Allen Poe


.10.

Title: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Author: Alvin Schwartz
Genre:   Children’s

Folklorist Alvin Schwartz offers up some of the most alarming tales of horror, dark revenge, and supernatural events of all time.

I’m an adult and still think of these stories around Halloween time!


Bonus:

Title: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Author: Charles M. Schulz (illustrated by Scott Jeralds)
Genre:  Children’s


See other people’s lists here!

Thanks for reading, tell me what was on your list or link it below so I can check it out!

Black Dawn by Mallory McCartney Review and Giveaway!

Black Dawn
Mallory McCartney
Published by: Clean Reads Publishing
Publication date: February 14th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Young Adult

The end of an Empire. The rise of a Queen.”

Emory Fae enjoys leading a quiet, normal life that is until two mysterious, and dare I say handsome soldiers show up at her apartment doorstep and the life she knew is instantly whisked away. Coming from the magical and ravaged world of Kiero, Emory is brought back not realizing that both men are darkly woven in her past. Discovering she is the long lost heir to the Royal Line Emory is thrown into Black Dawn Rebellion with a dynamic role to ignite the rebels and reclaim her throne. With both lives clashing Emory uncovers hidden secrets from her past, a power held long dormant, and will soon realize there are worse things than supernatural humans, love, loss, betrayal, and a Mad King.

Some things are better left in the shadows.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble


Review: 

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s pretty short at less than 200 pages so with the length and quick pace it was a pretty fast read for me. The premise really intrigued me because it’s basically every young girl’s fantasy, lol. A young woman in her 20’s is swept away with two hulking handsome strangers to a world where she is supposedly the princess and needs to help save the entire world? Uh-yes please! 

Emory was a very likable protagonist to me. She wasn’t some dim witted girl who trusted a guy just because he was smoking hot. She also wasn’t a bitter spinster who was jaded to the world and refused to believe what was right before her. I also really liked Memphis and Brokk, with each posessing a hint of vulnerability and loads of charm to make loving each one easy.

I would say the only thing that I didn’t love in this book was how often the POVs changed and that sometimes I forgot who I was reading about. Other than that I really enjoyed this book and would read more from this author based on my experience with Black Dawn. 

Rating:


Author Bio:

Mallory McCartney currently lives in London, Ontario with her husband and their two dachshunds Link and Lola. Black Dawn is her debut novel, the first in a series. When she isn’t working on her next novel or reading, she can be found dog grooming, book shopping and hiking. Other favorite pastimes involve reorganizing perpetually overflowing bookshelves and seeking out new coffee and dessert shops.

Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
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The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Title: The Star-Touched Queen
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Format: eBook
Description
(Source: Amazon):

The Star-Touched Queen by [Chokshi, Roshani]Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.
A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.


Review:

First of all, can we just appreciate this cover? 😍😍😍😍😍

The Star-Touched Queen is about a girl who is cursed with a horoscope of death and destruction. This makes her a social outcast and expendable within her kingdom. The story starts out pretty quickly with not an overabundance of world building, which is helpful if you are like me and don’t want to wait 3-5 chapters to get hooked on the book. I think one of the reasons the book begins so well is because of the protagonist Maya. She struck me as immediately likable, as she is strong, independent, an quick-witted. She makes some pretty stupid decisions in the book, but they aren’t out of character and I think readers can empathize with her logic during these decisive moments. 

Although the story starts out interesting, I found most of the first half of the book went pretty slow for me, but the last half definitely made up for it. The last half was more action based and starts to wind in the plot of the next book. The action scenes were well done and the climax didn’t seem rushed, which is a huge pet peeve of mine.  

I find that I’m torn on Chokshi’s descriptive style throughout the book. Some of the metaphors used just didn’t really make a lot of sense, but there were other times that I found myself completely enthralled with the tale Chokshi was spinning. Obviously this is subjective to who is reading, but overall her writing was beautiful. 

There were two reasons this book was only 3/5 stars for me. The first was what I had already mentioned about the book moving slowly in the first half. The second is the connection between Maya and Amar. I didn’t feel the passion or love between them and would have liked to have seen their relationship grow through more interactions in the book, rather than just a few kisses here or there. 

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
– I have the next book A Crown of Wishes on NetGalley so I will be moving onto that book next. Although I gave this book 3 stars (which is still NOT a bad review) I am excited to move onto the next because I love the character the story will be surrounding. 


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Format: Audio
Narrators: Will Patton
Description
(Source: Amazon):
The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, Book 1) by [Stiefvater, Maggie]

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her.

His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She doesn’t believe in true love, and never thought this would be a problem. But as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.”


Review:
There has been a lot of hype about this series, which is why I think I was reluctant to start them, and the synopsis didn’t really appeal to me either so I kept putting it off. I ended up getting the audio from my library because it was available and I’m on the wait list for a few other things.

From the very first chapter something about this book ensnared me.  I absolutely adored this book, but I still don’t even know how to put into into words why. The writing is beautiful, the story is interesting and surprising, and the characters are well developed and complex, but I’ve read plenty of books this year that share those same characteristics. This book had a little something extra that had me feeling addicted – just one more chapter. I’d take the long way home so I can just get a few more minutes. Yesterday while listening I even moved a restoration project up (one of my hobbies is restoring antique furniture) so I could work on it while listening to this book. It had that “it factor” that kept calling me back. I had just finished ACOWAR and had a bit of a book hangover from that, which makes me even more surprised at how much I loved The Raven Boys. 

I’m not going to give away anything from the plot because I think it’s better to go in not knowing what the book is really about and without getting any of the twists hinted at. 

Review of the audio:

At first, I though Will Patton kind of sounded like Donald Trump – which had me initially:

Within the first chapter though I thought maybe I was mistaken because I didn’t notice it anymore so I was surprised that my husband commented “that guy sounds just like Trump” when he walked into the room and I had the book on speaker. Don’t let it deter you though because it seriously vanished for me as he began getting into the story more.

His southern accents were great. I’ve found that some voice actors/narrators make southern accents sound like either stereotypical red-necks or uneducated. Patton did a great job at capturing that “old money” Virginian accent. And the whispering willow trees were creepy AF with him narrating, I kept getting goosebumps and looking over my shoulder every time they “spoke”.

Side note: I can’t be the only person who pictured this at first with the tree? 😂😂

Rating:

    

Final Thoughts:
– It has got great characters, a forward moving plot, and superb writing. I’ve already purchased the next book on audio.


A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Title: A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: V.E. Schwab
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Format: Audio
Narrators: Steven Crossley
Description
(Source: Amazon):

Kell is one of the last Antarimagicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in ArnesRed Londonand officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.”



Review:
Sigh. I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. Pretty much everyone I know told me how amazing this series was, but I hard a hard time with this one. I think there be a couple reasons for this: 1. The hype going in 2. the narration (I listened to the audio). The narrator did terrible female voices. Honestly, some of the worst I’ve ever heard. I listened to this on the heels of Illuminae, which is easily the very best audio book I’ve ever listened to, but still this was bad. His male voices were good, but maaaannnnn those female voices.

The story also moved a bit slow for me for about the first 50% of the book. There was a lot of world building and character development (the world Schwab creates was pretty amazing), but this made for a slow start.

With that being said, I did enjoy the book once I got past the halfway point. The two main protagonists are well developed and complex, and even the supporting characters are engaging.

 

Rating:

    

I rated it 4/5 stars because while it was slow moving for me, I can appreciate the incredible world building that was cause for it being a little slow to start. 

Final Thoughts:
– While it didn’t quite live up to the hype for me, I will continue the series. The second and third books have a different narrator so I would be willing to give those a shot again. 


The Barrier Between: Collector, Book 2 by Stacey Marie Brown

Title: The Barrier Between
Author: Stacey Marie Brown
Genre: NA, Urban Fantasy
Format: Audio
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Description (Source: Amazon):

As a reminder, I review sequels a little different from other reviews. I am going to hide the description from the main page so you will have to click “Read More” due to potential spoilers from previous books in the description or my review. 

My review for the first book, City in Embers, is here:

Rating:

 

Hunted by Meagan Spooner

Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Re-tellings (Beauty and the Beast)
Format: Hardcover
Description (Source: Amazon):

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones–and in her blood. Though Yeva grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them. 

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance. 

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory–a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?”


Overall Assessment:
I’m still on my Beauty and the Beast binge (and actually beginning another retelling tonight, lol). Hunted has been one of my most anticipated reads this year so I actually set aside everything else I was reading once it came in. 

Hunted is a B&B retelling, yes, but it is also different in many ways. Yeva, our “beauty”, is a hunter. Yeva’s family consists of her, her two sisters, and her father. Her father is a merchant, but lost all their fortune – not in a bad slimy way like gambling. It was just a mixture of bad business decisions and terrible luck. Immediately I loved all of them. Yeva’s father is loving and dotes on his daughters; her sisters are strong and kind, and Yeva herself is strong-willed, selfless, and intelligent. She is one of the most likable characters I’ve read in a while and thoroughly enjoyed reading about her. I don’t want to give too much away, but many of the other characters are different as well. 
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One cool feature of the book is that before each chapter we get a short journal-like entry from the Beast’s POV. We see his struggle as he continues to grapple between humanity and becoming the beast he shares a mind with. The beast’s curse is unlike any other I’ve read in these kind of retellings. Saying anything other than that might give it away, but it’s definitely unique.
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I know I’m not giving much of the plot in this review, but I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone. Just read it! And then come find me so we can talk about it!

Rating:

   

What I liked:
– Likable characters all around. There was literally not a single character that I didn’t like in the book.
– The many twists on the original tale. Even though it was a retelling, it still felt very original.
– The slow-burn romance between Yeva and the beast. It’s definitely not an insta-love situation.
– The big surprise at the end. Actually, throughout the book there were many surprises to be had.

What I didn’t like:
– I can’t think of anything I didn’t like. It was a little slow in the beginning, but it was necessary for the plot progression and character development.

Final Thoughts:
– Hunted is not just another regurgitated B&B retelling. While sticking with the common overall theme, it is filled with original ideas and characters. I recommend it to everyone in need of a refreshing B&B retelling, and anyone who loves a strong female protagonist.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas

Title: Empire of Storms
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Audio, via Audible
Narrated by: Elizabeth Evans

As a reminder, I review sequels a little different from other reviews. I am going to hide the description from the main page so you will have to click “Read More” due to potential spoilers from previous books in the description or my review. 

Also, there is some swearing in this review….just be warned. 

See my reviews for the other books in the series here:
–   The Assassin’s Blade
–   Throne of Glass
–   Crown of Midnight
–   Heir of Fire
–   Queen of Shadows —> I didn’t do one on my blog. It was my least favorite book and I would only rate it 3/5 stars. SJM turned Chaol into a complete asshole, which was so out of character for him IMO. I have some other issues with the book, but I’m not getting into them here. 

Rating: