Friday, July 27, 2012

The Last Queen: A Novel by C. W. Gortner narrated by, Marguerite Gavin

The Last Queen: A Novel by C. W. Gortner narrated by, Marguerite Gavin

Another fascinating book, as historical fiction I don’t know how much is true but I like that it wasn’t that Juana was really loco but that her husband & Father drove her to action and they spread the rumors that she was mad. I have read plenty of books about women being put in asylums because they didn’t act in a way their husband or fathers thought they should and this was closer to our own time than this so it is easy for me to believe that this may have been the case with Juana. Also who wouldn’t go mad when everything you know and love is ripped from you and you sent away never to see anyone again?

People romanticize royals so much but the more I read about them I think it’s really a terrible life, someone else is always running your life, there is always someone out to usurp your throne, you have to put up with all these people with their own agendas especially the religious leaders that seem to want to  rule over everything.

I read The Queen’s Vow first then this one and I’m glad I read them in this order instead of the published order because this book picks up pretty much where the Queen’s Vow leaves off so it was interesting to see the relationship with her mother before I got to the book about her, so for people who haven’t discover this author yet, I’d read them in the order I have.

This is historical “fiction” and for me when an author takes liberties I don’t mind and as I said above I liked this take on her life, even if it isn’t factual, if I wanted completely factual I would read a non-fiction. But what this does is makes me want to do more research and read up on what her life was really like and for me that’s the key to historical fiction  when it makes you want to find out more.

Audio production:
There were times when Marguerite Gavin’s voice was so breathy that it bothered me and there is one spot in the beginning of the second half where her voice changes completely in tone and volume in the middle of sentence then goes back to how it sounded at the beginning it kind of threw me and think it was some kind of editing gone wrong. ( I meant to write it down at what time but didn’t). but all in all I thought she did a pretty good job at the narration although it was uneven at times.

I am hooked on C.W. Gortner and the Spanish Royals I’ve already bought another book about Juana & Catalina/Catherine to continue my immersion into this time period. I will also be getting any other books written by this author!

4 ½ Stars

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Shadow of Night by, Deborah Harkness narrated by, Jennifer Ikeda

Shadow of Night by, Deborah Harkness narrated by, Jennifer Ikeda

I must admit I didn’t enjoy this one as much as I enjoyed A Discovery of Witches. This one bogged down big time in the middle and by the time it did pick back up I was ready for a conclusion. That being said I will read the next installment just to see how it all ends. I just hope it will be worth it.

Also I would say the ending was unsatisfactory after all the time spent in the past, then no questions answered when they got back to the present but what we got at the end was Shakespeare? Ok I will try to be more succinct. Sometimes the past story felt like a who’s who and at times it got to be a little much. Plus as I said it really bogged down and almost lost me in the middle I think if I hadn’t been listening to this on audio it would have been easy to put the book down and step away.

So my dislikes were the middle and the ending…hmm…. That doesn’t make it sound like I liked this at all but I did… I like the story, but there are hopefully going to be some answers in the next book like what happened in the present while Diana & Matthew were gone…What happened when the 16th century Matthew came back to his life? This one seems like a biggy because of all the who’s who in history they met and the changes to his own past & personality at the time Matthew made how could he not find out what happened in those months he disappeared. Where did he go? Did he just cease to exist for those months?

So hopefully the 3rd book in this trilogy will answer my questions and get back to what I loved about the first book. I will read the next one.

Jennifer Ikeda does a good job again at the narration however there was one voice that annoyed me every time and that was the Duke of Northumberland his voice was so odd it just bothered me, also she did accents for some people and no accent for others, which as a listener I found an odd choice either do all accents or none at all not just wily nilly.

3 Stars- (Good Book but some things didn't connect with me)

Divergent & Insurgent by, Veronica Roth narrated by, Emma Galvin

Divergent by, Veronica Roth narrated by, Emma Galvin
This was an interesting dystopian YA book, Chicago been split into factions, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent), which were honestly a little confusing when listening on audio with no way to go back in the book to see what each of them are. I also have no idea if the entire country/world was split like this too or if it’s just Chicago , was Chicago the only place left with people I don’t know these were just a few unanswered questions I had. When you are 17 you take an aptitude test to help you decide which faction you will choose most choose the one they grew up in but some don’t as is the case with Beatrice (AKA-Tris) but she is different she has an aptitude for more than one faction which is divergent and divergent is not a good thing to be. But there seems to be things wrong with this society and the factions seem to be starting to turn on each other and in some cases themselves.

A lot of people have compared this to the Hunger Games because it was the last big dystopian book but I thought it was kind of a cross between it and The Giver, because this is supposed to be a perfect society but of course in the light of day is not.

I liked the characters, Tris was strong yet so insecure but when pushed will kick some butt, the little romance you can see coming a mile away but I did like Four because his attitude was really for his own good and the good of others. 

The ending felt a bit rushed, with everything leading up to it and then when the fight does come it all happens so fast. And what a cliffhanger, I look forward to the next book in this series.

Audio production: Emma Galvin was a new to me narrator who did a very good job at the narration of this one she sounded just the right age sometimes with a young adult book the narrator tries too hard to sound like a teenager but Emma was spot on as Tris. She reminded me a bit of Jenna Lamia which from me is a huge complement.

With all the hype surrounding this book I am happy to say I really enjoyed this one and wasn’t disappointed I may not have loved it as much as some but I still give it a solid 4 stars.

Insurgent by, Veronica Roth narrated by, Emma Galvin

In my review of Divergent I asked the question: is the whole world is split into factions or if it’s just Chicago well we get some of the answers to this in Insurgent and I cannot wait for the next book in this series to hear the rest of the story. It’s quite a revelation at the end of this book and WOW I don’t want to wait to read the next one!

I really enjoy this series, this was action packed and Tris was so guilt riddled from events in Divergent that she was even more of an adrenalin junkie than ever before. Or is she just trying to get herself killed?

We find out that Tris isn’t as unique and we thought in the first book and that causes major trouble in all the factions. We get a closer look at the factionless and there are some surprises there. Ok that’s all I can say without giving too much away.

I really enjoy this dystopian world, the factions are very interesting and we see how each one had its place and what they bring to the table. I like the relationship between Tris and Tobias (Four) they both are so flawed for different reasons and hold everything inside that nothing is easy for them including their relationship with each other. I also feel like this is a relationship not so much a romance there’s very few kissyface moments it’s about trust and respect and counting on each other , and we’ll see if in the end they can make it work or not.

Be warned the ending is a Huge cliffhanger and will leave you clamoring for the next book; Veronica Roth kept me completely fascinated throughout this book and sit in my garage so I didn’t have to stop listening because I just needed to know what happens next. Ms. Roth Please write fast because I want the next book NOW!!

Emma Galvin’s narration was again spot on she is the voice of Tris she reads this with great feeling and the emphasis is always right. One small thing was in one spot she said that Tris put her mouth over her hand not her hand over her mouth and I haven’t looked through the paper copy to find the exact spot to see if it was a typo in the book itself or if it was just a narrator oops. But it only took me out of the book for a minute or two and gave me a giggle.

This story just gets better I highly recommend if you like YA Dystopian.

4 ½ Stars

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash Narrated by Lorna Raver Mark Bramhall & Nick Sullivan

A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash Narrated by Lorna Raver Mark Bramhall & Nick Sullivan 

I maybe shouldn’t have started another southern book so soon after finishing The Homecoming of Samuel Lake which swept me off my feet and gave me a heck of a book hangover. There were times I was really into this story then it would cut back to the past and talk about something else which was somewhat related to the story being told but took me out of the present story. If you are a follower of my reviews you know I like a story that goes back and forth in time but this one seemed to do it without warning and took me a bit to catch up.

The zealous religion in this one reminded me of Rapture of Canaan by, Sheri Reynolds. The pastor is not a good man and is pretty much a psychopath. It had me thinking the old saying “Lord save me from your followers.”

There actually wasn’t many likable characters in this book because everyone seemed to be hiding something and when the big (*No Spoilers*) came I would have done the same thing as Ben did and didn’t feel one bit sorry for the other parties. My problem with the characters was if even one person who knew the truth had spoke up would events have been different? I am not talking just Jess either the midwife too if you read her first section what if she had told the truth then?

This is a very sad book without a happy ending, and as I’ve said in other reviews I like a HEA even if it’s just some kind of redemption and this book didn’t really have that or a conclusion I felt like Jess was left hanging at the end and am curious about his relationship with his mother as he got older.

This was a good story nothing really groundbreaking but a good well written story none the less and I would read other books by this author.

The Narration by, Lorna Raver, Mark Bramhall & Nick Sullivan was very well done and they embodied the voice of each characters perfectly.

If you are looking for a happy story this ain’t it but if you want a well told story about the dangers of believing that some crazy snake charmer is a man of God then you’ll enjoy this one.

3 ½ Stars

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by, Jenny Wingfield

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by, Jenny Wingfield

What a beautiful family story! I fell completely and totally in love with the Moses-Lake family, through all their hard times and happiness this story touched my heart it made me feel every emotion. Yes I cried a few times but the way they handle the hardships will make you want to be part of this family and never leave them. I was sad when this book ended.

Swan Lake the young heroine of our story will grab your heart so fast you won’t be able to quit reading. I also loved that the Lake marriage was a strong one and they were a wonderfully loving family. Also little Blade Ballenger will have you wanting to rescue him too you will find yourself wanting to plan right along with the Lake children. Blade’s father Ras otherwise known as Satan’s Son is so despicable in the way he treats everyone and everything. 

If you can’t tell already I absolutely loved this book and it will be on my best of 2012 list for sure. This book is Southern Fiction at its best.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Moses Never Closes was something folks counted on. It was a certain place in an uncertain world. Folks wanted it to stay the way it was, because once you change one part of a thing, all the other parts begin to shift, and pretty soon, you just don’t know what’s what anymore.”

“And she knew Life well enough to know that if one person in a house gets really miserable for any length of time, the misery spreads like smallpox.”

That last quote is from grandma Calla who has been through so many hardships of her own but knows you have to put on foot in front of the other and go on living life. Uncle Toy was also a favorite character the way his character grows throughout this book is amazing.

Oh heck have I convinced you to read this yet?? This book is a must read! Go on you too will fall in love with this family!

5 Stars

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Chaperone by, Laura Moriarty narrated by, Elizabeth McGovern

The Chaperone by, Laura Moriarty narrated by, Elizabeth McGovern

This book though, mentioning in the synopsis, the silent film star Louise Brooks she is a secondary character to her chaperone on a trip to NY when she is 15. Her chaperone Clara is the star of this book, she is an unfulfilled wife whose children have grown and gone off to college so she decides to become Louise’s chaperone for a summer trip to NY. Clara has ulterior motives for wanting to go to NY, she was an orphan train child and she seeks to find her parents. But what she finds in NY it something else entirely.

This was a good book, I probably didn’t like it as much as some but I did like it. There were times the story bogged a little but the things Cora lived through in her life; the historical details were fun from hemlines, to talkies, prohibition, the women’s vote, and birth control. Clara was a remarkable woman who was ahead of her time and lived quite a life.

Elizabeth McGovern’s regular speaking voice has this accent that is kind of unrecognizable to a certain part of the county or really to any particular country and it seemed even more pronounced in this audiobook. I liked her narration but Clara’s speaking voice had a Kansas accent but her inner (thoughts) voice had Elizabeth McGovern’s trademark kind of British but not accent. However, I liked her narration and thought it was well done.

All in all a good story.

3 ½ Stars