Source: Audible

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The Girl with all the Gifts – Audio Book Review

October 12, 2015 Review 1 ★★★★

The Girl with all the Gifts – Audio Book ReviewRelease Date: January 14, 2014
Title: The Girl with All the Gifts
Author: M. R. Carey
Narrated by: Finty Williams
Length: 13 hours 4 minutes
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
4 Stars

This was one of the strangest books I’ve ever read (or “read” since I listened to it).

I had no idea it was a zombie book until a friend recommended it to me and mentioned them. I’d bought it last year, so I figured now was as good a time as any to listen.

It was slow getting started. But eventually, I became interested enough in the characters that I got sucked into this world. It was definitely a new spin on an old topic.

In this world, the zombies are called “hungries”. And the culprit responsible is a mutation of the parasitic fungus cordyceps. This is the one that takes over ants and then sprouts out of their brains. So, not entirely implausible in an alternate universe.

But something strange has happened. There are children popping up who can speak and think but clearly exhibit symptoms of infection: namely, wanting to eat people.

Dr. Caldwell is convinced that these children are the key to a vaccine or cure.

Sergeant Parks is just doing his job, though he struggles with the idea of not killing these “hungries” (because they aren’t children in his eyes). He ensures they don’t get loose in the base.

Miss Justineau is one of the teachers that have been brought to the army base to teach these children and observe their mental capabilities.

Melanie is Test Subject Number 1. Not because she’s the first one they found, but because she’s the brightest of them all.

After a raid on the army base, this cast of characters is thrown together and simply try to survive in the world when the world has ended and is overrun by a predator. Think The Walking Dead meets Mary Poppins – only there’s no singing or dancing.

My favorite thing about this books is that it kept me guessing. As I read I came up with many many theories about how it would end. I kept changing my mind because the book wasn’t predictable to me at all. I didn’t know until the end how it was going to end.

And I’m not sure at all how I feel about the ending. I don’t want to say too much so I don’t spoil anyone who hasn’t read it – but I’m struggling with the idea of a well written ending vs. the ending I’d hoped for. Don’t get me wrong – it was very well written. It really was the ending this story should have had. But it’s not necessarily the ending I would have wanted for Melanie.

Bottom line: if you want to read a new spin on a familiar topic – this is a great book.

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The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic – Audio Book Review

October 5, 2015 Review 0 DNF

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic – Audio Book ReviewRelease Date: August 1, 2013
Title: The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic
Author: Emily Croy Barker
Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: n imaginative story of a woman caught in an alternate world—where she will need to learn the skills of magic to survive

Nora Fischer’s dissertation is stalled and her boyfriend is about to marry another woman.  During a miserable weekend at a friend’s wedding, Nora wanders off and walks through a portal into a different world where she’s transformed from a drab grad student into a stunning beauty.  Before long, she has a set of glamorous new friends and her romance with gorgeous, masterful Raclin is heating up. It’s almost too good to be true.

Then the elegant veneer shatters. Nora’s new fantasy world turns darker, a fairy tale gone incredibly wrong. Making it here will take skills Nora never learned in graduate school. Her only real ally—and a reluctant one at that—is the magician Aruendiel, a grim, reclusive figure with a biting tongue and a shrouded past. And it will take her becoming Aruendiel’s student—and learning magic herself—to survive. When a passage home finally opens, Nora must weigh her "real life" against the dangerous power of love and magic.

For lovers of Lev Grossman's The Magicians series (The Magicians andThe Magician King) and Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy (A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night).
DNF Stars

Sweet jesus, when will this ever end?

I’m pretty sure if that’s your constant thought while reading and/or listening to a book… that book is not meant for you.

When I read a book, I usually become very intimately ingratiated into the life of the main character. And generally speaking, when you’re reading a book – you’ve got the MC who is strong and maybe rebellious. S/he is the type who doesn’t fall under enchantments – or if they do, they work like hell to break them. The rest of the characters in the background are the ones who aren’t special. They’re the “sheep” – those who end up not thinking for themselves or just accepting what happens to them (think early Hana in Delirium, Lavender Brown in Harry Potter, early Effie Trinket in Hunger Games, Jonathan on Buffy, etc.). You don’t want to read their stories; they’re not interesting.

This book is one of those stories.

Nora is boring. And a moron, quite frankly. I don’t care how her story ends.

 

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The Martian by Andy Weir – Audio Book Review

September 14, 2015 Review 1 ★★★★★

The Martian by Andy Weir – Audio Book ReviewRelease Date: March 22, 2013
Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Narrated by: R.C. Bray
Length: 10 hours 53 minutes
Publisher: Podium Publishing
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first men to walk on the surface of Mars. Now, he's sure he'll be the first man to die there.

It started with the dust storm that holed his suit and nearly killed him, and that forced his crew to leave him behind, sure he was already dead. Now he's stranded millions of miles from the nearest human being, with no way to even signal Earth that he's alive--and even if he could get word out, his food would be gone years before a rescue mission could arrive. Chances are, though, he won't have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old "human error" are much more likely to get him first.

But Mark isn't ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills--and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit--he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. But will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?
5 Stars

A friend of mine recommended this book to me, and I saw that the movie comes out this fall so I thought why not?

Best. Decision. Ever.

I have never read a book in my life that has gotten me so emotionally invested in a character (I didn’t even cry when Dumbledore died). My whole life suddenly revolved around whether or not Mark Watney was going to live or die. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B83F13″ class=”” size=””]Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum. Duct tape works anywhere. Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.[/pullquote]

If I’d been physically reading this book, I would have finished it in a single sitting without ever getting up for food or other basic needs. Instead, I chose to listen to the audiobook, so I was limited to when and where I could listen. [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B83F13″ class=”” size=””]Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but I’m not dead, so it’s a win.[/pullquote]

And that was pure torture.

This is the first book I can ever recall wanting to give more than five stars to. And it’s all because of Mark Watney. I’m not sure I’d say this is my favorite book – but I can say without hesitation that Watney is my absolute favorite fictional character right now. His optimism and sense of humor and – well, everything about him, made me want to know more about him. Suddenly, my own emotional wellbeing was tied to the fate of a fictional character. That’s happened
before (Harry Potter, Katniss, Tris, etc.) but never to this degree.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B83F13″ class=”” size=””]I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.[/pullquote]

I honestly had no idea how the story would end. One minute I was convinced it was going to go one way, and the next I was sure it was going to be the opposite.   [pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”#B83F13″ class=”” size=””]I don’t want to come off as arrogant here, but I’m the best botanist on the planet.[/pullquote]My heart was constantly pounding, and I was in (or near) tears for the last half hour of the book because the emotional toll was showing. What’s happening? Oh my gosh, did that just happen? Wait, what? Why? How? How can that work? Will it work? What’s happening?

I laughed. I cried. Sometimes simultaneously (what is this, a Shonda Rimes show?). And now I can’t stop flailing because everyone needs to read this book. Seriously. You. Go read it.

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You’re Never Weird on the Internet – Review

August 24, 2015 Review 2 ★★★★★

You’re Never Weird on the Internet – ReviewRelease Date: August 11, 2015
Title: You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)
Author: Felicia Day
Narrated by: Felicia Day
Length: 6 hours 17 minutes
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: From online entertainment mogul, actress, and “queen of the geeks” Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiring memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn’t all cat videos. There’s also Felicia Day—violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world…or at least semi-influential in the world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.

After growing up in the south where she was "homeschooled for hippie reasons", Felicia moved to Hollywood to pursue her dream of becoming an actress and was immediately typecast as a crazy cat-lady secretary. But Felicia’s misadventures in Hollywood led her to produce her own web series, own her own production company, and become an Internet star.

Felicia’s short-ish life and her rags-to-riches rise to Internet fame launched her career as one of the most influential creators in new media. Now, Felicia’s strange world is filled with thoughts on creativity, video games, and a dash of mild feminist activism—just like her memoir.

Hilarious and inspirational, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now—even for a digital misfit.
5 Stars

Dear Felicia Day (because you’ll never be simply ‘Felicia’ to me – like Harrison Ford or William Shatner),

It would be weird for me to say that I love you. Because we’re strangers and that’s just creepy. But I do feel a certain kinship with you.

You get me.

Listening to you tell your story was like I was listening to the version of my life I wish I’d had. The version of my life that I was too scared to reach for. I don’t mean the fame and notoriety, but embracing who you are and being unapologetic for it. You had a passion and then you carved your own life and career path to match.

I wish I’d done that.

I mean, I’m still only 32 – but that’s almost totally old. (What? No. I’m never going to be an adult.) I still have time. I have a list of things I want to do. All things that require me to join strangers or start something from scratch…while hoping that strangers come join (like a book club). Things I am absolutely terrified to do. And your book simultaneously inspires and shames (only a teensy bit) me.

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was how little it focused on your work apart from The Guild. While I loved your web series, it was your other work that solidified me as a fan – in particular Buffy and Dr. Horrible (though your work on Eureka and Supernatural was amazing too). I would have loved to have gotten more insight into how those shows influenced your career and fan base. I do, however, understand that you had to pick and choose the events that told the story you were trying to tell – and The Guild was integral to that story.

My Audible file has several bookmarks throughout because you had so many great nuggets for me to remember – those sayings you want to put on a mug.

On living life to the fullest:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#C79199″ class=”” size=””]Scare yourself good. You have a finite number of toothpaste tubes you will ever consume while on this planet. Make the most of that clean tooth time. For yourself.[/pullquote]

On following your dreams:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]No matter what you feel is holding you back in life, you can attempt anything.[/pullquote]

On mental health:

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#C79199″ class=”” size=””]My mental problems made me feel ashamed. I felt like I had to hide them until I could “work through it on my own” which I never did because I didn’t know how. I didn’t feel brave enough to make fixing my mind a priority because I didn’t think anyone would understand.[/pullquote]

And finally…

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I hope all my copious oversharing encourages someone to stop, drop, and do something that’s always scared them.[/pullquote]

There was no oversharing in this book. I’m so glad I read this book – and I’m so glad you wrote it. People like me aren’t alone. It’s okay to be a “geek” – to have passions that maybe most people don’t understand. To love gaming, or comic books, or super heroes. Or flan.

I’ve always said that the internet is full of my people – and I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one.

Mandi Kaye
xoxo

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Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – Review

August 20, 2015 Review 0 ★★★½

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – ReviewRelease Date: July 18, 2011
Title: Dragon Bound
Series: Elder Races #1
Author: Thea Harrison
Narrated by: Sophie Eastlake
Length: 12 hours 59 minutes
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Source: Audible
From the Publisher: Half-human and half-Wyr, Pia Giovanni spent her life keeping a low profile among the Wyrkind and avoiding the continuing conflict between them and their Dark Fae enemies. But after being blackmailed into stealing a coin from the hoard of a dragon, Pia finds herself targeted by one of the most powerful—and passionate—of the Elder Races.

As the most feared and respected of the Wyrkind, Dragos Cuelebre cannot believe someone had the audacity to steal from him, much less succeed. And when he catches the thief, Dragos spares her life, claiming her as his own to further explore the desire they've ignited in each other.

Pia knows she must repay Dragos for her trespass, but refuses to become his slave—although she cannot deny wanting him, body and soul.
3.5 Stars

I think this is going to be a difficult book for me to review.

I hated parts of it. I loved parts of it.

Pia Giovanni drove me absolutely nuts.

Part of me wonders if I would have appreciated the book more had I read it, instead of listening to the audio book. One minute Pia was a whiny pushover who I wanted to smack around and the next she was tossing the gryphons on their asses. Would I have been as irritated if I didn’t have to listen to the whininess? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Other irritants: this book is the very definition of insta-love. And it’s rarely (if ever) questioned. It’s just a completely natural thing for Pia and Dragos to become a couple as soon as he shows up to punish her for stealing from him. Yes, he’s intending to kill her but instead they end up together. A couple.

And the entire book is made up of obstacles that seem dire but are tidily wrapped up with no difficulty whatsover as soon as the dragon shows up. Seriously – the climax of the book is View Spoiler » That trope happened several other times too – Dragos is just too damn powerful, I guess?

But oh my goodness – the sex scenes were damn steamy. I also appreciated how Thea Harrison used anatomically correct language in many places. Yes folks, this romance novel used the word penis. And testicles. It was so very refreshing to read a story that wasn’t full of euphemisms that often make me uncomfortable. Oh! And the word clitoris was used. No pussy or cock here (shudder). Thank you for that Ms. Harrison.

In the end, despite the many annoyances and irritations that occurred I found myself invested in these characters. Even the supporting ones. I want to stay in this world a little longer, so I will read the next book in the series. And I do mean read – no audio book moving forward.

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