That moment when all the things you’ve requested comes in at once… yup. I have to pick up 10 things from the library today. Here we go!

What I’m picking up:
Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin
The nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Ms. Marvel Vol II
Bitch Planet Vol I
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
UnWholly by Neal Shusterman
The Princess Bride (Illustrated edition) by S. Morgenstern
The Easy Vegan Cookbook by Kathy Hester

This doesn’t include the movies and TV series I have to pick up and already have at home!

What are you picking up today? How should I prioritize my list? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

Advertisements

2015 Reading Challenge: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Series: The Magicians (#1)
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publication: Penguin Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Mark Bramhall
Awards: ALA Alex Award (2010), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction & Fantasy (2009), The Kitschies Nominee for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2009)
Fulfills: A Trilogy (1/3), A book with magic, A book by an author I’ve never read before
Finished Reading: March 19, 2015

About: “Quentin Coldwater’s life is changed forever by an apparently chance encounter: when he turns up for his entrance interview to Princeton he finds his interviewer dead – but a strange envelop bearing Quentin’s name leads him down a very different path than any he’d ever imagined.
The envelope, and the mysterious manuscript it contains, leads to a secret world of obsession and privilege, a world of freedom and power and, for a while, it’s a world that seems to answer all of Quentin’s desires. But the idyll cannot last – and when it’s finally shattered, Quentin is drawn into something darker and far more dangerous than anything he could ever have expected…”

Before we get too involved in the book. Shout out to Bramhall. An amazing voice actor. Each character got a distinct voice and their personality was easily deciphered. Enjoyable listening experience with him behind the mic.

I love magic.

I can’t believe I haven’t read this book sooner. It’s right up my alley. Magic. Magic. Magic. I love magic.

I really liked Grossman’s take on how his version of magic is different than the typical magic that we think of. There are no wands. There are insanely intricate hand and finger movements with hard to pronounce incantations. These students need to be at the top of their class and still have that child-like wonder. I love how there’s different disciplines within the overall umbrella of magic. The physical kids are able to control physical things (duh), like fire or light spectrum.

So. I know I’m not the only person fangirling about the fact that these magicians were all fans of a book that focused on magic and a whole magical world. Does this mean that there’s hope to still get my letter to Hogwarts or a comparable school? I’m thinking yes.

The characters Grossman creates are all so beautifully flawed. They have the same worries, hopes, dreams, and inner demons that we do. The relationships between each of them is more than two-dimension. They’re so complicated and built on so many different threads of awesome. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll know I get all weak in the knees for flawed characters and intricate relationships. *Swoon*

Throwing this out there: I love how Julia develops as a character. Since we’re focusing on Quentin, we don’t really get to see anything of Julia and how she’s progressing. We’re getting an outsiders’ view and it’s amazing. Each time we meet her in this book, I get more and more excited. She’s definitely the most interesting character and, for sure, my favorite.

I won’t lie, I was a little worried about the pacing of the book. They’re out of school before we’re even a quarter of the way through! There’s so much that could have been glanced over that I missed or should have been fleshed out. Never you mind, fellow reader. It all makes sense. The whole “we’re in school” section is just the basis for the actual story at hand.

HERMAHGERD.

I do have one small problem, though. Since I got this at the library, and as an audio, there were times when the disc skipped. There were several sections that I had to skip completely. Whole tracks! There was a point when I got out of the scratched up woods and all of a sudden there’s characters I don’t know. Like, who or what is Dint? Who’s Henry and Anais? I HAVE NO IDEA!

My rating and why: I gave this book four stars! I read it and super enjoyed it. At the time of writing this, I already have the second book on hold. (EEEEEEE!) Grossman’s writing is amazing. He throws in one-liners that grab at pop culture and make the read all that much more accessible as a reader. I believe this would to be real… and I’m waiting to take the test to get into Brakbills, the school (apparently that wasn’t mentioned before).

Your turn! Have you read this book and what did you think? What’s your favorite book or series with magic? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

2015 Reading Challenge: The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: The False Prince
Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen
Series: The Ascendance Trilogy (#1)
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Audio Books
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Charlie McWade
Awards: Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2015), YALSA Teens’ Top Ten (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Best Middle Grade & Children’s (2012)
Fulfills: A book by a female author, A book a friend recommended, A trilogy, A book set in a different country
Finished Reading: February 23, 2015

About: “In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Three orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.”

I got this book because I was talking about the reading challenge I’m doing and wanted to know of any good trilogies that I could do on audio (I’m already reading a physical copy book at home and wanted something for my car. Beep Beep!). This trilogy was recommended. I thought it would be awesome! A kingdom in ruin and deceit left and right. I was intrigued and ready for action.

I was disappointed. I understand that this book isn’t for my age group, but this book was so terribly written. I was bored. Sage was one-dimensional, though Nielsen did try. I didn’t believe in any of the characters.

Things conveniently happened. Where did you get that crown? Oh, stole it several chapters ago. How handy, right? No. It’s obnoxious. It’s not coy. I get that some authors try to keep us in the dark and have things revealed as the story progresses, but this was poorly done.

The climax wasn’t very climaxy. No faster breathing. No relief afterward. I was less than impressed.

I’m unsure as to whether or not someone reading this in the correct age group would be entertained. I don’t think I would be.

Short review for a short book.

The only reprieve this book had was with the voice actor. Thank you to McWade. He played the cocky, annoying Sage very well. The voice was exactly the voice I would imagine for this character. Fitting in every way.

I’ll take better notes for books, so my reviews are flashes of what I think I remember.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars. I read it and it just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a huge fan, but it was ….. ok.

Your turn! Have you read this book? Any good trilogies you’re into lately? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophile beasties!

My Year In Books: Into The Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea – Book #64

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Into the Beautiful North
Author: Luis Alberto Urrea
Series: n/a
Release Date: June 2, 2009
Publisher: Tantor Media
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Susan Ericksen
Finished Reading: December 31, 2014

About: “Nineteen-year-old Nayeli works at a taco shop in her Mexican village and dreams about her father, who journeyed to the United States to find work. Recently, it has dawned on her that he isn’t the only man who has left town. In fact, there are almost no men in the village–they’ve all gone north. While watching The Magnificent Seven, Nayeli decides to go north herself and recruit seven men–her own ‘Siete Magníficos’–to repopulate her hometown and protect it from the bandidos who plan on taking it over.
Filled with unforgettable characters and prose as radiant as the Sinaloan sun, INTO THE BEAUTIFUL NORTH is the story of an irresistible young woman’s quest to find herself on both sides of the fence.”

I snagged this book as an audio for my car. I was standing in the library and in need of something to listen to in my car. My co-worker recommended this. She said there’s some Spanish in it and warned me that the voice actor isn’t the best. I’m inclined to agree. I’m more than inclined – I fell off the lazy boy toward she’s not the best.

This is the time where I usually rave and bow down before the voice actor, but Ericksen should not have been the choice for this book. Yes, she has a beautiful voice, but she’s not a native Spanish speaker nor has she studied it extensively. How do I know this? She mispronounced several many words wrong. I speak Spanish, but I wouldn’t say that I’m fluent or anything close to it. There are a ton of phrases and terminologies that I just don’t know. That being said, I shouldn’t be chosen for this audiobook and neither should Ericksen. When the main characters (almost all of the characters) are from Mexico, when the punchline of jokes are in Spanish, when there’s Spanglish peppered in throughout the book, I would think that the voice actor should be a Spanish-speaking voice actor. Were there none that were around? Was this a choice by Urrea? Was this a publisher choice and they had a budget or were running out of time and Ericksen was down he hall? I don’t know, but I do know she wasn’t the best.

Ok. Let me breathe for a second.

Moving on to more positive news. Urrea is a great writer; the way he goes back and forth between English and Spanish is flawless. I loved it. The idea of the story is hilarious as well. The whole concept of bringing Mexicans back home to fight the bandidos. There were several instances when La Osa would say something that we, as Americans, have said about Mexicans. I’m not sure the line exactly (*shakes fist at audiobook), but it was something about other nationalities coming in and taking their jobs or taking their cultures or SOMETHING like that. I giggled.

The characters a beautiful. They could be actual people. Their characteristics were seamless and beautifully flawed as well. Coming from broken families, broken village, poor neighborhoods – it all adds up to some amazing characters. Their willful and somehow still very innocent and pure (for the most part).

I did have an issue though. There was (I wanna say) nine discs, and by disc eight there was still a <em>ton</em> of stuff that needed to be wrapped up. I had no idea if this was a series that I was unaware of or what. The resolution was very fast and super rushed. I wanted it to be drawn out more. With that huge journey the girls go on, they deserve more than what was written as a resolution. Alas, that’s the way it is.

<strong>My rating and why:</strong> I gave this book three stars! I read it and it was ooook. While the story idea is just what I wanted, it fell short in other aspects. I wanted more from Ericksen. I wanted more of a wrap-up. Meh. Maybe I would have liked it more if I read a physical copy – another jab at Ericksen.

Your turn! Have you read this book? Have you read anything else by Urrea or a different Spanglish book? How do you feel about different languages thrown in to books? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow.

This marks the LAST book review of 2014. Happy dance! (I really did a little awkward arm/hip/body roll thing in my chair.)

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Book #62

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Yes Please
Author: Amy Poehler
Series: n/a
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperAudio
Medium: Playaway
Voice Actor: Amy Poehler
Finished Reading: December 18, 2014

About: “In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by.”

I’m a fan of Amy Poehler. I thought she was pretty hilarious on SNL. While I’m not an avid Parks and Recreation watcher, I’ve seen several episodes and was pretty pleased. When I found out she had an autobiography coming out, I had to read it.

This is my little disclaimer. Yes, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are both female comedians. Yes, they both were featured on SNL. Yes, they both wrote autobiographies at around the same time. No, they are not the same person. No, they do not need to be compared to each other. They are different people with different life experiences – their books should be treated as such. (Getting off my soapbox now.)

I just re-wrote the beginning of this review several times. I’m having a hard time with picking a spot to begin. It’s always easier for me to talk about the bad, so we’ll do that first. Shall weee….

Things that made me “mer”

  • It didn’t so much as make me “mer”, as it did make me question why she put it in. Poehler seemed almost apologetic when saying that writing is hard. To me it felt like she was saying, if you don’t like it, it’s because it was hard. It was just an interesting choice to keep that in.
  • Seth Meyers. Meyers and Poehler became instant friends when working on SNL, so it’s only natural that he’s mentioned in her bio. He was one of the voice actors and his section seemed more like an homage to Poehler than anything else.
  • Seemed too name-droppy. Congrats on working with all these people, but quit bragging.
  • Seemed talk show-like whenever a new voice actor came on. They were introduced and, it was just weird…

Things that made me smile or nod to my stereo

  • Poehler is funny. Her presentation and timing has always made me laugh and this book is no exception.
  • It’s an autobiography. I always find it interesting to peer into others’ lives. Maybe it’s the voyeur in me. Maybe I just wanna be famous and awesome, and think these books will help. Maybe… just maybe…
  • Comedians are very dark. Tons of comedians come from insanely dark and depressing backgrounds or are dealing with addictions (or what have you). Poehler talks about the hardships with her divorce, but in a way that makes it ok. You’re laughing one second, and the next you’re realizing what she’s talking about is sad and a downer.
  • The audiobook is catered to the medium. She’s well-aware that what’s she’s doing is going to be listened to and not read. Pretty clever, Poehler

I don’t really have a lot to say about Poehler’s autobiography. It was interesting, as I said before. It was cool to have the different voice actors come on and talk about Poehler or talk about an experience shared with Poehler. ALSO – Poehler does her last chapter as a live reading. This was the best performed chapter, in my opinion. I think she did much better with an audience she could see rather than talking to a mic.

My rating and why: I gave this book 3.5/4 stars. I read it and enjoyed it. I thought it was well-done, despite some questionable additions or additives.

Your turn! Have you read Poehler’s autobiography? Do you like autobiographies? What’s your favorite and why? Let me know in the comments below! Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come tomorrow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: Champion by Marie Lu – Book #61

Photo Cred: goodreads.com
Title: Champion
Author: Marie Lu
Series: Legend (#3)
Release Date: August 1, 2013
Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Mariel Stern and Steven Kaplan
Finished Reading: December 17, 2014

About: “June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high-level military position. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. this new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has.”

**This is the third in the series, if you have not read Legend and Prodigy, there might be spoilers**

I’ve read that some people thought this was the best one. Some people thought this was the perfect way to end an awesome trilogy. I’m not so sure that I’m one of those people.

First of all, thank you to Stern and Kaplan for continuing to be the voice actors throughout this series. Awesome job in capturing the essence of the characters.

I mentioned in the first few that there was enough of a difference in this trending dystopian trilogy to keep my interest, but after reading the last one, I’m not so sure anymore. I found myself drifting in and out and not really keeping focus. I just wasn’t feeling it, which is a shame. I really wanted to like this one. The second one was so promising, but I’m afraid this last one fell flat for me.

I know I’m probably in the minority in this, but it felt old and tired. I’m not going to lie to you and say that there weren’t moments that held my interest. I’m not going to say that this series is so much like all the other ones and not worth the read. It was a good read, but perhaps this book just wasn’t for me. It’s not written for my age group (I’m an old fart now), so maybe that’s what didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat.

I didn’t mind leaving the car when I had to. I wanted to want to stay in the car even after I’ve reached my destination.

I just don’t really have a lot to say with this one. It was kind of meh for me. Wasn’t horrible. Wasn’t insanely awesome. Just somewhere lost in the middle.

My rating and why: I gave this book three stars! I read it and it was ok. I can still see the appeal for some people. I’m definitely a dystopian fan, but maybe I need to take a break for awhile and come back to this genre when I’m not tired of it. Sorry Lu, but this made me tired of dystopians. Specifically, Lu made me tired of YA dystopian trilogies.

You have the floor! Have you read this series? Have you read anything else by Marie Lu? Are there genres that you need a break from? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come tomorrow. (I promise we’re almost done with 2014 book reviews!)

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!

My Year In Books: We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver – Book #58

Title: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Author: Lionel Shriver
Series: n/a
Release Date: July 2006
Publisher: Clipper Audio
Medium: Audiobook
Voice Actor: Barbara Rosenblat
Awards: Orange Prize for Fiction (2005)
Finished Reading: December 3, 2014

About: “Two years ago, Eva Khatchadourian’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high-school students, a cafeteria worker, and a popular algebra teacher. Because he was only 15 at the time of the killings, he received a lenient sentence and is now in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York. Telling the story of Kevin’s upbringing, Eva addresses herself to her estranged husband through a series of letters. Fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son has become, she confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?”

I picked up this book because it was voted as our book club book for December. I hadn’t heard anything about this book previously, but the synopsis sounded really cool. The theme for this month was psychology, and I’m all about that. (Heck yes, Criminal Minds may or may not be my favorite show. It is.) So, I was all jazzed to read this one.

Holy crap. Slow down, we’ll start at the beginning. I really, really despised our narrator, Eva. She’s insanely elitist and pretentious and pretty much everything I don’t like in people. Everything from the way she told stories, to her word choice, to how she acted in situations just pissed me off. We know within the first few pages that Kevin, her son, has killed nine people in a school shooting. Sooo this book is basically a lead-up to that <em>Thursday</em> and everything that surrounds it.

I was so mad at pretty much all of the characters. I was mad at Kevin’s father, Franklin. I was mad at Kevin. I was mad at Eva. I was mad at pretty much everyone in this sad, little nuclear family. I was mad that Shriver tried to get me to sympathize with Eva. How dare she try and make me feel sorry for this pompous character.

Then I took a look at why I was so mad. It’s because Shriver is an amazing writer. I was connecting with all of these characters. I was so engrossed in all the anecdotes. I was right there with Eva, reliving all those years previous.

A huge, huge round of applause to our voice actor, Rosenblat. She had the perfect voice for Eva. It was elitist, it was semi-mature sounding (age-wise, not the other-wise thing… words…? what are they?). I was so pleased with Rosenblat. She, along with the story, had me wanting to sneak off to my car during lunch to have a listen. I didn’t want to get out of the car whenever I got to my destination.

Just because we’re told right off what happens on that fateful <em>Thursday</em> does NOT mean Shriver doesn’t surprise us. Holy crap, does she surprise us. So many twists and goosebumpy moments. Even in the resolution! Who twists in the resolution?! Shriver does. Oh, does Shriver twist. It’s amazing. It’s crazy. It’s so very twisted.

<strong>My rating and why:</strong> I gave this book 4.5/5 stars! It was amazing. We had so much to talk about at book club, and so much was still left unsaid. The way Shriver crafted this book was pure genius. It’s not just a fiction book, it’s a work of literary fiction and I ate it all up.

Your turn! Have you read this book? Have you read anything else by Shriver? What’s your favorite book that deals with psychology or unreliable narrators? Let me know in the comments below. Like. Comment. Follow. New book review to come tomorrow.

Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!