📚 Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs

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Alpha and Omega #10.5

Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2017

Narrators: Holter Graham
Length: 2h 25m
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2013

4.25★ AudiobookThis was a super quick listen and I’m so glad I started with it before beginning the regular series. When given the choice, I like to read things chronologically rather than in the order they were published. This novella ties in nicely with the first installment of the Mercy Thompson series, Moon Called.

I’ve been Netflix-style binging the Mercy Thompson series over the past week, miraculously averaging an installment today! I’ve fallen so hard for Patricia Briggs’ writing. But my ravenous devouring of Mercy Thompson has begun to wear my enjoyment thin, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to start Alpha and Omega.

This series takes place in the same universe as Mercy Thompson and its characters are often referenced. Another popular example would be Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series. There seems to be more of a focus on romance in this series, but I’m already so invested in the universe/characters/writing that I decided to just roll with it. I’m very interested to see how the expansion of Briggs’ universe develops. It seems that upcoming installments will take place in Montana where Mercy Thompson was raised and the Cornick pack lives.

Much of the Mercy Thompson series revolves around dealing with various types of paranormal species (Vampires, the fae, etc.) and I’ve recently felt that there was a gap in my knowledge concerning the werewolves themselves. Briggs aims to fill that gap through the Alpha and Omega series. Just in this 2.5 hour novella, we are given so much essential information regarding pack rules, hierarchy and etiquette as Charles explains it all to Anna.

Anna is a very different type of protagonist than Mercy. She’s more along the lines of your “typical” female protagonist, whereas Mercy is definitely an atypical heroine in the best sort of way. I’m sure Anna will continue to grow on me, as she already began to do in this short novella. I found Charles to be the most enjoyable character in this short story and I look forward to more of him in the series.

From what I can tell, it seems like you could start with either series and read them simultaneously or one after the other. They are meant to coordinate adjacently. However, I have to echo of the reviewers and recommending this novella before beginning Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega #1). The novella sets the scene nicely for the opening of Cry Wolf.

Narration review: It didn’t take long for Holter Graham to grow on me either. By the end of this novella, I was already in love with his voice. He is a *fantastic* narrator. I mean, absolutely brilliant. His character distinction was impeccable and his voicing of Charles and Bran had this Marlon Brando quality to it that made me swoon. His voice actually reminds me a lot of Will Patton’s, which can only be a good thing. I’m excited to continue on with this series and hear more from Holter Graham! ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository

 

🎁 Lucky Penny by Ellie Ashe

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Miranda Vaughn Mysteries #3

Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2017

Narrators: Teri Schnaubelt
Length: 7h 17m
Publisher: Ellie Ashe⎮2017

4.5★ AudiobookEllie Ashe has added another gem to the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series! She has also proven that a great writer can “take their act on the road”, so to speak. Each Miranda Vaughn story has a vastly different setting and premise for the mystery, but each one is as engrossing as the next.

Lucky Penny revolves around a casino and resort setting. It’s described in such vivid detail that the scenes naturally unfold in the listener’s imagination. This setting was even more conducive to the accidental shenanigans Miranda somehow always becomes involved in. Real life casinos and resorts are meant to foster feelings of escapism and excitement. Lucky Penny‘s literary versions do the same.

Each installment in the Miranda Vaughn Mysteries series has its own all-encompassing mystery that begins and ends with each novel. Unlike other mystery stories, listening isn’t only about solving the mystery before the protagonist. It’s about solving the mystery alongside the protagonist and experiencing her journey.

Miranda Vaughn is an innately endearing and relatable main character. Her personal story is the larger over-arching plot throughout the series. Her romantic life starts out as an inconvenient (to her) crush in Chasing the Dollarevolves into a will-they-won’t-they scenario in Dropping the Dime, and reaches a satisfying culmination in Lucky Penny. My favorite thing about this romance is the naturally flirtatious manner in which it is written. Throughout the series, the romance remains a subplot, never outshining the individual characters or respective mystery plots. Ashe writes it in such a way that it enhances the development of her characters, instead of hindering it, and still satisfies the [seemingly obligatory] romance requirement for Cozy Mysteries.

There’s even the slightest teasing of a love triangle, which I cannot complain about either. Even if it had developed into a full-fledged love triangle, the excellent character development would have prevented it from becoming too obnoxious. Excellent writing can save stories from typical blunders like that. In a (sub)genre usually deficient in fully developed characters, Ellie Ashe is churning them out like a machine. Her writing style is highly enjoyable and will keep listeners invested in her series and its delightful characters.

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series. In fact, it was the first title off my tongue when making audiobook recommendations in a doctors’ office last week. Ashe really has something great going here and I hope we see much more of Miranda Vaughn in the future.

Narration review: Teri Schnaubelt deserves a lot of the credit for making this series so enjoyable. Her voice adds to the coziness factor and gives voice to the many colorful characters. She was 100% the right selection to narrate the series. Everything she does is professional-grade, from voice distinction and emotional emphasis, to timing, articulation and pacing. This is an excellent series in any format, but Teri makes it so much better. ♣︎

This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, Ellie Ashe, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, Ellie!

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📚 A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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All Souls #1

Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2017

Narrators: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 24h 2m
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2011

4★ AudiobookA Discovery of Witches turned out to be more like A Discovery of Witches and Vampires. If I had known that beforehand, I probably would have been more hesitant about starting this series, which is partially why I feel slighted by Deborah Harkness. Make no mistake, the other reviews likening this story to Twilight aren’t being dramatic. The Witch-Vampire romance threatened to overtake the storyline several times and nearly ruined my experience with A Discovery of Witches.

The thing that really ticks me off about this story is that it had so much going for it. Harkness wove a masterful tale, incorporating elements of history, religion, mythology and science. Though longwinded, the pacing was almost perfect and the action was gripping. It’s those things, along with the expert narration, that make A Discovery of Witches deserve four stars. Assuming you can bear the nauseating romance, that is.

And I do mean nauseating. Just thinking about Matthew Clairmont leaves a bad taste in my mouth. His and Diana’s (the protagonist) romance was beyond creepy, but when is vampire romance not? Matthew was an awful character and he definitely brought out the worst in Diana. The terrible development of the romance made A Discovery of Witches seem like a tale of two different stories. The first half of the book is remarkably more interesting than the second half, with the tipping point being Harkness’ heating up of the romance plot.

Alone, Diana was bearable, even pleasant. I loved hearing about her family history. In my opinion, The Bishop House was the most interesting character in the entire story and it was a house. I also loved the ghosts that inhabit the house. They made my late-night listening sessions extremely spooky and Halloween-esque, which is nice in the middle of April.

Despite absolutely loathing the romance, the plot of A Discovery of Witches was intriguing enough to make me put up with it. Harkness’ writing was methodical and detail-oriented, making the major plot points well-developed, even if the romance wasn’t. I quickly discovered that this was the perfect audiobook for late-night and even middle-of-the-night listening. Something about listening in the dark put my senses on edge, making the story even more enjoyable than it was during the daylight.

It got a little long towards the end and I think A Discovery of Witches could have easily been cut into two installments. Twilight comparisons aside, A Discovery of Witches reminded me more of the Immortal Descendants series. The presence of a vampire boyfriend was my chief complaint with that series too, but Immortal Descendants boasts a much more likable protagonist (who doesn’t lose her spunk upon hooking up with said vampire).

These two books also share the inclusion of time travel into the plot and I’m curious to see how Harkness will approach it. I tend to enjoy science fiction-based time travel more than fantasy-based, so my expectations aren’t very high in that regard. I’m also not expecting Matthew to suddenly become less “knight in shining armor” or Diana to suddenly recover her spine, so I’m not sure how soon I’ll be reaching for the next installment. Hopefully, time will help me forget some of the story’s cringe worthy moments and focus on the parts I managed to enjoy.

Narration review: Jennifer Ikeda deserves a freaking medal for helping me through this. Her narration was easily one of the highest points in this listening experience. Each time I hear Ikeda, she moves up higher on my list of favorite narrators. The multitude of characters in A Discovery of Witches really gave Jennifer the chance to showcase her characterization abilities. Her accents were spot on and fit each character perfectly. Important: If you are considering giving A Discovery of Witches a try, do yourself a favor and pick up the audiobook. The story will be long either way, but at least you’ll have Jennifer Ikeda’s masterful narration to guide you through it. I doubt I would have made it through the story without her. ♣︎

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📚 Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

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Mercy Thompson #1

Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2017

Narrators: Lorelei King
Length: 9h 14m
Publisher: HarperAudio⎮2009

4.5★ AudiobookLet me start by saying that I will, without a doubt, be continuing on with this series. The discovery of it has made my week. The Mercy Thompson series is one of those that has been on my peripheral radar for a while now, but I hadn’t seriously considered giving it a try until just recently.

I’ve been on a paranormal kick as of late, giving a few new series a shot, and Moon Called has made the biggest impression on me. I was most taken with the main character, Mercy Thompson, and how strong of a female protagonist she is. I’m used to only seeing male protagonists written this well, which is a big reason for my general distaste of the portrayal of female main characters.

The way Patricia Briggs writes Mercy Thompson is so refreshing that I could almost feel my soul sigh with relief. Mercy has such a strong flavor of character that she effortlessly comes to life in my mind. She is strongly, richly and distinctly developed. This may be premature, but Mercy Thompson definitely has the potential to become my all-time favorite protagonist.

I’ve always struggled with Werewolf/Shifter storylines, but I have never given up on finding one that satisfies me. I nearly swore it off altogether after struggling with Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls series, despite loving all of her other work. Moon Called is much more well-developed and less trope-ish altogether. This is a story you can sink into like a hot bath.

The world of Mercy Thompson is home to several kinds of paranormal creatures, Werewolves, Demons, Vampires, Witches, Shifters, and they all have a place. Briggs saw to that with her intricate and enveloping style of world building. Still, I got the impression that she was pacing herself for the rest of the series (10+ books). Pacing is something else Patricia Briggs did exceedingly well. She magnificently combined world and character development with an action plot, leaving everything feeling perfectly balanced.

There was even a wee bit of romance, but it definitely took a backseat to everything else. In my opinion, Briggs definitely had her priorities straight and was very much in tune with who Mercy is as a character. Forcing a romance into a larger part of the spotlight would have felt untrue to Mercy’s development and what I feel Briggs was trying to accomplish by writing her in this way. There is romance in Mercy’s past (and most likely in her future), but in Moon Called, we were given the chance to become very well acquainted with Mercy as an individual. If a romance does develop in future installments (as it probably will), it will feel like a natural progression in Mercy’s life, not a plot requirement.

I’m super excited to begin the next installment in this series and fall more in love with Mercy and her world!

Narration review: Lorelai King gave an outstanding performance in Moon Called. King’s work is as new to me as Briggs’ and I’m enamored with them both. King’s narration lent an air of maturity and seriousness to Mercy’s character that enhanced Briggs’ depiction of her. Everything King did, from her timing to her characterization and tone, aided in my enjoyment of Moon Called. ♣︎

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📚 A Study In Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

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Charlotte Holmes #1

Description⎮Reviewed Apr. 2017

Narrators: Graham Halstead, Julia Whelan
Length: 8h 41m
Publisher: HarperAudio⎮2016

3.5★ AudiobookI began listening to this last year and got about a fourth of the way through it before tabling it. After picking it up a few months later, I was finally able to get through it, but I’ll always remember A Study In Charlotte for what it could have been.

Let’s start with something positive: I love the concept of the original Holmes’ and Watson’s descendents following in their footsteps. Love it. And I love it even more that the Holmes in this incarnation is a woman. Charlotte is brilliant. The parallels between her and Sherlock (her 5x great-grandfather) are fascinating, as are the rich family histories. That is an area that I wish had been more fully explored.

The character development was so “almost there, but not quite” that I found it a tad bit frustrating. There’s so much potential with these main characters and the vastness of their ancestry that it seems a shame for Cavallaro to have rushed it, barely bothering to skim the surface. I wanted to know so much more about these families, but I can understand if Cavallaro is waiting to reveal more further into the series.

What I can’t get past is the dullness of the mystery. When I think about what was missing from the story, my complaints land squarely on the mystery aspect of the plot. For a title that is labeled as a Mystery/Thriller, A Study In Charlotte was neither thrilling or particularly mysterious. Although I didn’t guess the ending, I also had no desire to even try. So much of this story was centered around driving the mystery plot forward (at the expense of other elements) that the mystery’s flaccidity caused a nearly total lack of interest on my part. In short, A Study In Charlotte  lacked enough intrigue to warrant much of an emotional investment from me.

However, the larger concept behind these characters interests me enough that I’m willing to pick up The Last of August (Charlotte Holmes #2). I’m hoping that the mystery surrounding the second book’s events will prove to be more gripping than the first’s.

Narration review: I think a large part of my difficulty connecting with the story stemmed from its narration. I have heard and enjoyed Graham Halstead‘s work before. He is a superb narrator, however, I don’t think he was the right choice for A Study In Charlotte. I just couldn’t find him believable as Jamie or Charlotte. For Jamie, Halstead sounded far too mature and his voicing of Charlotte came across as extremely awkward and unnatural. As already stated, I know Halstead is a capable narrator, but (in my opinion) this role was wrong for him.

I spent about 8 hours and 31 minutes wondering when the heck Julia Whelan would appear. When beginning this audiobook, I assumed it would be narrated in alternate chapters (Halstead as Jamie and Whelan as Charlotte) and, I have to say, I wish it had been. But that isn’t how this book was written. It’s told almost completely from Jamie’s point-of-view. However, Julia Whelan managed to steal the show in the final 10 minutes and save my opinion Charlotte Holmes in the process. That probably isn’t fair to Mr. Halstead, who performed the first 8.5 hours, but it’s still true. I’m looking forward to seeing how the POV chapters (and therefore narration) will be divided in the next installment. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository

 

📚 White Cat by Holly Black

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Curse Workers #1

Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrators: Jesse Eisenberg
Length: 6h 41m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2010

4.75★ Audiobook I’ve had my eye on White Cat since discovering my love of Holly Black’s writing while listening to The Darkest Part of the Forest. I had my mind set on saving it for October, because it gave me strong Halloween vibes. But I’ve been going through a bit a listening slump recently and that means all hands [books] on deck. Desperate times and all that…

White Cat  did not disappoint! I can’t understand why I haven’t heard more about it in the book community. I realize that it was published seven years ago, so I may have missed the hype, but this kind of awesomeness should withstand the test of time.

I can’t express to you how elated I am to have discovered this series at the peak of my listening drought. Everything about White Cat  is just so on point. But what else would be expected from Holly Black? For starters, the blending of inspirations behind White Cat  is genius. Magical mobsters, need I say more? I love reading great family development and the Sharpe family gave off this Scoundrels vibe that I adored, especially Mama Sharpe.

There was also this infusion of a Russian mafia-esque crime ring that was fortified with a legislative backstory and political inner workings. Curse working is illegal in this world, giving rise to the criminal underbelly of society to which the main character’s family belongs. Black superbly developed the concept of curse working, complete with the various types and “blowbacks” each gives off.

White Cat  was both informative, as a debut installment, and enthralling, with great action. The world-building was phenomenal and I can only see it getting better from here. But the character development takes the cake. Cassel (the protagonist) is a self-proclaimed “big-mouth” and often gets in trouble for it with his older brothers. He was endearing and relatable. Even the side characters were distinctive and well-developed. They were flawed enough to make them realistic, even in a paranormally fictional setting.

My discovery of this series has solidified Holly Black’s standing as one of my newest favorite authors. I’m bumping the rest of her work up several notches in my TBR pile and I recommend that you do the same, beginning with White Cat. 

Narration review: Jesse Eisenberg’s narration has really surprised me. He has a very versatile voice, making him able to sound young enough to pass as a high schooler, but mature enough to lend credibility to the high stakes storyline. Speaking from listening experience, that is a really hard balance to strike. I get the feeling that Jesse could adapt his voice to fit multiple age ranges. Even though the character voices could have been a little more distinct, I still had no trouble distinguishing them from one another, probably because I was listening so intently. It’s just that kind of story. I 100% recommend listening to this series on audiobook. ♣︎

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📚 House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrators: Brittany Pressley
Length: 8h 44m
Publisher: HarperAudio⎮2014

4★ AudiobookHouse of Ivy & Sorrow and I started out on the wrong foot, but eventually became good friends. The rocky start was mainly due to the fact that I was expecting something very different from this story, something deeper and darker. In reality, House of Ivy & Sorrow was much more flowery than it’s synopsis and [beautiful] cover initially lead me to believe.

I was in the mood for something witchy and didn’t yet feel like sitting through 30 hours of Discovery of Witches, so I started House of Ivy & Sorrow, despite the mixed reviews. I also knew that it was narrated by Brittany Pressley, a solid narrator, in my eyes. What I wasn’t expecting was how incredibly (and almost painfully) YA parts of it would be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love YA, but House of Ivy & Sorrow is on the lower end of the YA maturity scale. It reads like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but with magic thrown in. From my point of view, the characters and relationships were far too trope-ish for the plot. We’re talking basic, run-of-the-mill character stuff, which is a real shame because the plot itself deserved so much better.

The matrilineal magical families and succubi-type villains kept me listening, despite the writing only being so-so. The back stories of these families were particularly intriguing and I wish they had been even further elaborated upon. By the 40% point, I thought I could probably finish the story and by the 50% point, I knew I had to finish it.

The ending was a bit anti-climactic, but I’m still glad I decided to finish it. The further I got into it, the more I begin to appreciate the way the story was turning out, despite not being as engrossing as I had originally hoped. However, the lack of complexity made the story extremely easy to follow without becoming confused. Since most stories of this nature are part of a series, House of Ivy & Sorrow was a relatively quick and self-contained novel. It’s perfect for someone who enjoys tales of witches, but doesn’t care for anything especially dark. With that said, there were some not-quite-gripping (but almost) moments that propelled the story forward. If you go into this with the right mentality and knowing what to expect, House of Ivy & Sorrow is perfectly enjoyable.

Narration review: Brittany Pressley, whom also narrated Kiera Cass’ The Selection series, provided beautiful narration for House of Ivy & Sorrow. Her vocal distinction has always been admirable, but what really brought these characters to life was the amount of emotion Pressley infused into her performance. Such an emotion-filled reading kept my attention and encouraged me to keep listening, even when the story lulled. ♣︎

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📚 Royally Matched by Emma Chase

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Royally #2

Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrators: Andi Arndt, Shane East
Length: 8h 53m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2017

4.25★ Audiobook⎮ When I finished Royally Screwed, I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue on with the Royally series. I enjoyed Royally Screwed,  but it was still outside of my typical interests. I decided to give Royally Matched  a shot when I saw that it was centered around two completely different characters. My curiosity was piqued.

Even in Royally Screwed,  I found Prince Henry to be a much more interesting character than his brother. Emma Chase has taken a side character from Royally Screwed  and developed him into a protagonist.  I love it when authors fully developed their minor characters into main characters. The end of Royally Screwed  left Prince Henry in a surprising predicament. I’m glad that Chase allowed her readers to witness part of Henry’s journey from that point.

Henry’s romance with Sarah was definitely more insta-love than Nicholas and Olivia’s and a lot more cheesy. There wasn’t enough resistance to make Henry’s transformation seem plausible. But I still enjoyed him as an independent character and found him very funny.

However, I never quite warmed to Sarah. Her character didn’t feel as fully formed as Olivia’s, possibly because she wasn’t as relatable (being of noble birth). We are only ever told of Sarah’s family and don’t meet them as we did with Olivia. And this entire story takes place in one setting, the palace, and it was a setting that didn’t exactly bring out the best side of Sarah. She is always on Henry’s turf.

It felt like Sarah’s disabilities were used as convenient ways to make her stand out as an even more “unlikely” choice for Henry, when the emphasis on her shyness, love of books, and relationship inexperience already did that. In my opinion, Sarah’s abusive background and her disabilities should have been given more weight (further development) or left out altogether, not treated as convenient character “traits”. There’s a deepness there that wasn’t realized.

Again, I found myself drawn to a sibling in the story. In this case, it was Penelope, Sarah’s younger sister. Penelope’s character felt full of potential and I’m hoping Chase will explore it at some point. I know the next installment is centered around Olivia’s younger sister, but maybe there will be a Penelope story somewhere down the road.

Royally Matched was basically a naughtier version of Keira Cass’ The Selection. It was romantic, sexy, and funny, but it still didn’t pack the emotional punch of Royally Screwed. Even though Royally Matched  has a slight case of the “second book slumps”, it’s still an easy and worthwhile read (or listen), especially for those committed to the series.

Narration review: What is there left to say about Andi Arndt and Shane East that I haven’t already said in my review for Royally Screwed? They were excellent. Although I did initially have slight problem removing Shane East as Prince Nicholas from my head in order to wrap it around Shane East as Prince Henry. But that was nothing that a few weeks in between installments didn’t fix. I think Shane may have out-edged Andi in this one, but only because Andi’s prolonged accent sounded slightly strained the more I listened. But honestly, I shouldn’t even complain. This production was very well done with two top narrators. ♣︎

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📚 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)

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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrator: Eddie Redmayne
Length: 1h 40m
Publisher: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling⎮2017

4.5★ Audiobook You know how eating something sweet is a delightful but short-lived treat for your tastebuds? Listening to the audiobook of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a similarly delightful but short-lived treat for my ears.

After seeing that it was only one hour and 40 minutes long, I almost didn’t buy it, especially because I read the original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  when it was first published in 2001. But the temptation of having Eddie Redmayne read to me for a period of time (no matter how short) was too much to bear. I gave in, paid the $10 and immediately thanked myself after pressing play.

Another contributing factor in my decision to purchase this audiobook was my new-found love for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them  film, starring Eddie Redmayne. Not to go off on a tangent, but I actually think I enjoyed that film more than all of the other Harry Potter movies. Everything in it was new to me because it wasn’t based on a pre-existing novel, unlike the Harry Potter movies. There is a screenplay of the movie available for purchase, with the same title and written by J.K. Rowling, but it isn’t yet available on audiobook (*fingers crossed*).

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is formatted as a Hogwarts textbook. Hogwarts is the wizarding school Harry Potter attends in Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels. It alphabetically lists magical creatures and gives a brief description of each of them. In that respect, it wasn’t very different from the originally published version. New to this edition, was an extended forward and more in-depth background information about wizarding legislation regarding magical creatures. I found those bits of history most interesting.

This newest addition was also updated with a few magical creatures who were not included in the original publication, but were featured in the recent film. It was particularly interesting to learn about the Horned Serpent, Thunderbird and Wampus, whom provide three of the four house names for Ilvermorny (the North American wizarding school). This information corresponds with fairly recent information given on Pottermore regarding Ilvermorny and the American wizarding community.

One of my favorite things about this book is the lengths to which Rowling went to preserve the reader’s suspension of disbelief. For a prime example, take a look at Audible’s page for this title. Newt Scamander is credited as the author (alongside Rowling). Within the book, there is an even more consistent effort to represent it as a work of the wizarding world. It is written as if the reader is part of that world and it’s assumed that we are all in on the secret. This is done with unwavering aplomb and gives the reader the wonderful feeling of “being in on” something very special (almost like an inside joke).

The only reason I’m not giving Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them five stars is because I greedily wish there had been more of it. The beast descriptions seemed a little on the short side, especially considering the entire audiobook only ran for 100 minutes. I’m still grateful that this edition was expanded from the original, but I’m a greedy and selfish Potterhead who always wants more from Rowling.

Narration review: Before I begin fangirling over Eddie Redmayne, let me mention that there were sound effects. So many sound effects. I laid down one night listening to this, closed my eyes and the material absolutely came alive inside my head. This type of audiobook is fuel for an active imagination. Coupled with the beasts’ vivid descriptions, the sound effects created a movie in my mind.

Because it is a work of fiction being masqueraded as a work of nonfiction, this type of book didn’t require Eddie to provide vocal distinction between characters. However, that’s not to say that there wasn’t a character present. The sheer brilliance of having Eddie Redmayne, who portrays Newt Scamander in the film, read out loud Newt’s best-selling work blows my mind. That’s some intricate mind manipulation right there. To feel the full impact of it, I suggest watching the movie before listening to this audiobook (to cement the Eddie = Newt association in your brain). And I definitely recommend listening to the audiobook. Although, it would be neat if you had the print version to follow along with while listening. Layers upon layers of awesomeness. ♣︎

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📚 Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

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Description⎮Reviewed Mar. 2017

Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Length: 16h 21m
Publisher: Penguin Audio⎮2017

4.5★ Audiobook⎮ I should hire heralds to sing this: The Others will go down in history as one of my favorite urban fantasy series ever. That realization was made a couple of books before Etched in Bone, but this was a satisfying and resolute ending to an impeccably written series.

Anne Bishop has found a diehard fan in me. Throughout this series, Bishop’s authorial skills have consistently blown my mind. On few occasions have I been so utterly consumed and immersed in a fictional world as I was in that of The Others.  Bishop left no detail untouched. She created such a consuming fictitious climate that I became wrapped up in the politics of Lakeside and beyond, finding startling parallels between Bishop’s world and my own.

In specific regards to Etched in Bone, the story arc felt very similar to previous installments, albeit with a different villain. But I definitely can’t accuse Bishop’s writing of being formulaic. Her world is far too intricate for that accusation to stick. At any given point, Bishop could have taken the story in a number of directions and the reader would have never been sure of what to expect. I’ve noticed that Bishop is fond of “red herrings” which often start to lead the reader down one path before quickly making a dramatic turn. I was hardly ever able to guess where the story was truly headed.

The vividness of Anne Bishop’s writing does not only extend to world development, but also to character development. In Etched in Bone,  Bishop introduced a new antagonist and one for whom I had an immediate loathing. Cyrus Montgomery was mentioned in Marked In Flesh and I already knew I would dislike him, but I had no idea how much. No other antagonist in recent memory has produced such strong negative reactions in me. There were a handful of times when I actually had to momentarily stop listening to the story in order to bring my heart rate down after becoming so angry at Cyrus Montgomery. To be able to produce such a physiological reaction in a reader is a testament to Bishop’s abilities as a storyteller.

As you can tell, I’m totally in love with this series. It’s a sociological experiment in the form of urban fantasy literature. However, that does not mean it’s for everyone. There is material throughout the series that would definitely be rightfully disturbing to a number of folks. Parts of it were upsetting to me and I don’t consider myself to have very many reading sensitivities. Self-harm is a key theme in The Others. It also occasionally features several types of abuse and I especially don’t recommend it to anyone sensitive to reading about sexual abuse. I strongly suggest knowing what are you are/aren’t comfortable reading before giving The Others a try.

Narration review: When I first started this series, I was a bit put off by Alexandra Harris’ style of narration. Since then, I have come to regard her as one of the top characterization specialists I’ve ever heard. Her ability to provide vocal distinction between characters is the number one reason I recommend the audio version of The Others  over the traditional book format. Harris puts on a one-woman play in the minds of listeners. ♣︎

$ Available at Audiobooks.comAudible/Amazon, and The Book Depository (hardback)