Monday, September 28, 2015

Because sometimes you just want to read ALL the books but you don't have the time -- or the energy -- to review them all. Or, sometimes it's been months since you read the book, but you still have something to say about it. So, here are some short and sweet reviews that are long overdue...

Title: Lion Heart
Author: A.C. Gaughen
Narrator(s): Helen Stern
Series: Scarlet, book #3
Length: 8 hrs 7 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: July 31, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher, purchased audiobook
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
The eagerly-awaited conclusion to the Scarlet trilogy delivers another action-packed and romance-filled adventure.

Scarlet has captured the hearts of readers as well as the heart of Robin Hood, and after ceaseless obstacles and countless threats, readers will finally find out the fate of the Lady Thief.

Imprisoned by Prince John for months, Scarlet finds herself a long way from Nottinghamshire. After a daring escape from the Prince's clutches, she learns that King Richard’s life is in jeopardy, and Eleanor of Aquitaine demands a service Scarlet can’t refuse: spy for her and help bring Richard home safe. But fate—and her heart—won’t allow her to stay away from Nottinghamshire for long, and together, Scarlet and Rob must stop Prince John from going through with his dark plans for England. They can not rest until he’s stopped, but will their love be enough to save them once and for all?

Read in August.

I had an ARC of this final book in the Scarlet series, but I was still kind of devastated by what transpired at the end of Lady Thief. And it didn't help that I thought I'd do myself a favor by re-listening to the first two books prior to picking up the finale. That only broke my soul more. So, it's safe to say that I went into this book with some trepidation.

My fears weren't unreasonable. But that's what I've loved so much about this series. The author isn't afraid to test her test their loyalty, their love, and their unfailing sense of right. In the beginning, I thought our heroine might have reached her limits, but she proved to be as resilient -- and obstinate! -- as ever.

I never feared for the romance because the love between Robin Hood and Maid Marion has been tested over time. But I must admit, I did not expect the direction it took, though I'm not unhappy about it. :)

As always, Helen Stern portrayed Scarlet beautifully, both as the thief and as the lady. In fact, it wasn't just the fear of how things would end for our merry band of thieves that kept me from reading this sooner. I also just really enjoy Stern's narration, and having begun the series via audiobook, I felt it only fitting to end the same way.

All in all, Lion Heart was a fine ending to one of my favorite retellings. It may have taken me awhile to begin the series -- and awhile to finish it -- but Scarlet and company will always have a place on my shelf and in my heart.

GIF it to me straight:

If you haven't started this series yet...

Title: The Invasion of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Narrator(s): Davina Porter
Series: The Queen of the Tearling, book #2
Length: 18 hrs 4 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: June 9, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss, audio borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

Add to Goodreads
With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

Read in August.

I re-listened to Queen of the Tearling prior to picking up this audiobook, and not gonna lie, it helped immensely. I really enjoyed the first book -- and I might have been one of the only ones, if peer reviews are any indication -- but it was long and there was a lot I'd forgotten in a year's time. It also didn't help that part of the way in, I thought I was listening to an altogether different book because the narrative no longer seemed to be focused on Kelsea and the Tearling.

That being said, I think I still managed to like this sequel better, if only because we're starting to see Kelsea come into her own as Queen. She's no longer content with being the young, naive new queen, and it shows. But she's also got the Red Queen to contend with, which is no easy feat.

It's her connection to Lily that really fuels her, though. Well, that and her desire to know more about the past, about the Red Queen and the deal that was made. This book kind of brings things full circle, and though it wasn't effortless, it made sense in a roundabout way.

This series really brings past and present together. I still don't really know how to catalog it because it's got hints of fantasy that are somehow sown into our future and bits of our present that are made to feel like the past. I'm really looking forward to the next installment to discover more about this world

GIF it to me straight:
I love the combined efforts of the past and present and how they come together in this book.

Title: Magonia
Author: Maria Dahvana Headley
Narrator(s): Therese Plummer & Micheal Crouch
Series: Magonia, book #1
Length: 9 hrs 22 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss, audio borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

Read in August.

This book was not at all what I was expecting, mostly because it starts with a very contemporary story about a sick girl and then morphs into fantasy along the way. And it does it rather seamlessly. Or kind of explosively. Or maybe both at the same time, but it changes courses pretty well.

Magonia is the story of "the one". You know, the special girl who'll right the wrongs that have been done to her people and save their race or something along those lines. But Aza is rather clueless about it all when the Magonians discover rescue kidnap her, so she must become this powerful being she was fated to be, all the while wishing she could just go back to her beloved friend Jason, who she was on the cusp of beginning something sweet with just moments before the feathers hit the fan.

So, obviously, that means there's someone meant for her among the Magonian people birds bird-people. Yep, there's a love triangle of sorts, and though it seems to have somewhat resolved itself in this book, I wouldn't look for it to be completely gone yet. Aza is a part of two different worlds, and it will continue to be difficult for her to reconcile that, making it that much harder for her to know where her place is, let alone her heart.

I wanted a little more from both Magonia the book and Magonia the world. It was a quick listen -- and an enjoyable one, considering the narrator for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda was the voice of Jason -- but it just didn't have that oomph I was hoping for.

GIF it to me straight:
Birds and bird-people seem to be big this year, but so far, none of the books featuring them have wowed me.

Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Narrator(s): Khristine Hvam & James Fouhey
Series: stand-alone
Length: 7 hrs 41 mins
Publisher: Harper Audio
Publication Date: May 26, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss, audio borrowed from library
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

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From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

Read in August.

I loved Robyn Schneider's The Beginning of Everything, but once I really read the premise for this book, I have to admit that I avoided reading my review copy. I'm more than over the sick kid trend in YA. Kid deaths kinda wreck me, and I don't need that emotional suckitude in my life right now.

Or so I thought. When my library uploaded all of their Harper Audio titles, I was drawn once again to this one. I like Schneider's writing style. It's smart and clever without being pretentious. Read: it doesn't come off like a John Green. I actually think one of the main characters -- Lane -- said about the same thing regarding Sadie's group of friends.

I don't really think the fact that Lane and Sadie went to summer camp together years before factors into this story all that much because they get to know each other in the here and now, albeit reluctantly at first, at least on Sadie's part. But it's cute to know that they have that past and see how far they've come along since then.

I understand the limitations put on sick kids are there for a reason, but I also understand that they might only have this once chance...or rather, less of a chance than a non-sick person has at seeing their dreams realized. So, yeah, it bothered me that these kids were hiding things from the doctors and being altogether careless with their welfare at times, but from their point-of-view, I get it.

Which makes it all the harder when the kids do start showing signs that they're not getting any better. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, considering that they are in a special home for kids with their disease, but I was still caught off-guard. I really, really think I'm done with this type of book. My heart just can't handle it, even when the ending is tinged with hope.

GIF it to me straight:
I need some tender, loving care after a book like this. :(

Huh. I thought these were all from months earlier, but it looks like the month I was big on reading/listening but not so much for the reviews was actually just August. Figures...ITSHOTASHELLIDONTWANTTODOANYTHING is kind of my mantra at that time of year. :P


  1. I really should consider doing more of these mini reviews to cut down my to-be-reviewed pile. I have like, over 20 books I need to write reviews for.

  2. Great mini-reviews!! I ended up enjoying was sooo strange. I'm glad you liked Lion Heart. I thought it was a great ending to the series.


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