📚 The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

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Fire and Thorns #3

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2015

Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda, Luis Moreno
Length: 12h 58m
Publisher: Harper Collins⎮2013

5 ★ Audiobook⎮I started this series a couple of months ago when I was reading several popular fantasy stories and this one was my favorite out of all of them. I loved the character of Elisa from the very beginning. She is beautifully written and so relatable that you can’t help but adore her. In a world of Bella Swan’s, it is incredibly refreshing to read a female character like Elisa (that’s not a knock against Twilight; I’m just contrasting). It’s appropriate that I wrapped up this series while #ReadWomen is trending, because Elisa is not the typical YA female character, mentally or physically. Her character development throughout the series is a beautiful thing to watch. I felt as if I were being vicariously empowered through her as she came into her own.

Needless to say, this series satisfied all of my feminist desires for a YA character, but not in an over-the-top way. It really was beautifully done. I especially liked how the author gently wove spirituality and religion into the story line without ever singling out a particular religion. All the better to please everyone with, I suppose. There was always enough action in The Bitter Kingdom to keep me interested, but not never too much to overwhelm me.

Narration Review: This freaking narrator (Jennifer Ikeda) has the voice of an angel. Her soothing voice nearly lulled me to sleep more than once. She instantly made it onto my favorite narrators list. Without this particular narration experience, I am not sure I would have enjoyed The Bitter Kingdom to the degree that I did. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.com and Audible

📚 The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

10816908Fire and Thorns #2

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2015

Narrator: Jennifer Ikeda
Length: 11h 41m
Published: Harper Collins⎮2012

3.5 ★ AudiobookThe Crown of Embers was a very solid 3.5. I definitely enjoyed it, but not quite as much as the first. At times, my interest seemed to lull a bit. I ended up reading 75% of it and then being tempted away by something else, as opposed to my not being able to put the first book down. However, I’m glad to say that when I eventually picked The Crown of Embers back up nearly a month later, it was very easy to jump back into and my interest was renewed almost immediately. I’m really enjoying this narrator and I’m excited to wrap up this series next month! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

20613491The Worldwalker Trilogy #1

Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2015

Narrator: Emma Galvin
Length: 12h 23m
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2014

3.5 ★ Audiobook⎮It really bums me out that Trial by Fire was just “okay” for me overall since it started out so well! Josephine Angelini’s Starcrossed series is one of my favorites and I think this book could have been too if it hadn’t taken such a drastic (in my opinion) genre turn. It seems like it started out as a scifi/paranormal story (alternate universe), which I was really into, and then took a sharp turn into what ended up being basic fantasy to me (nothing extraordinary). I was hoping there would be more similarities between the two worlds so the reader could compare and contrast, but instead it seemed like Angelini only marketed this book as AU to attract readers when all she really wanted to do was write high fantasy. I was really bored with the “other Salem” which translates into being bored with 75% of the book. I kept hoping it would returned to the original setting, but apparently that’s only happening in the sequel, which I may or may not get to (probably won’t anytime soon). ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Winter by Marissa Meyer

132069001

The Lunar Chronicles #4

Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 23h 30m
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2015

4 ★ AudiobookThis is hard for me to objectively rate. I enjoyed this series, but can’t bring myself to gush over it like everyone else seems to be doing. I’d say this was probably my second favorite installment after Cinder. I feel like I would have likely enjoyed it a much greater amount had I been a few years younger. I would definitely recommend it for teenagers and possibly even preteens. I’m not saying it was written in a juvenile manner, but I feel like my age (28) held me back from being able to fully enjoy this series. It just didn’t hold the same appeal to me that it could have if I were just a few years younger. With that said, I did find it really adorable. This series would definitely make a great movie/movies! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Fairest by Marissa Meyer

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The Lunar Chronicles #3.5

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2015

Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 6h 36m
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2014

4 ★ Audiobook⎮I’m so glad I decided to give this is a chance. I usually think of novellas (or .5’s) as marketing ploys that don’t add much to the overall series or move the main plot line forward. But this one greatly enhanced my understanding of The Lunar Chronicles. Its pace and smaller cast of characters actually made the story much easier to keep up with than Cress! ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Cress by Marissa Meyer

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The Lunar Chronicles #3

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2016

Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Length: 15h 40m
Publisher: Macmillan Audio⎮2013

4 ★ Audiobook⎮I feel exhausted after completing this book! It’s so full of action that reading it felt like trudging through knee-high snow. It was kind of difficult to get through because of the carousel of POV and geographical changes. Meyer throws so much at the reader that not even the enormous length of this book could make up for its whirlwind of a storyline. It probably should have been split into two volumes to give the reader time to digest it all. I’m still experiencing severe reader’s overload… With all of that said, this book was still very exciting. But I’ll need a lot of time to process its events before even considering starting Winter. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2015

Narrator: Kristine Hvam
Length: 15h 21m
Publisher: Hachette Audio⎮2012

4 ★ AudiobookI thought the story itself was good, but not great. I definitely did not enjoy it as much as its predecessor, largely due to the new setting and and cast of characters. I can’t even tell you the number of times I had to refer to this book’s wikia page to keep characters/chimera races straight in my mind. The total plunge into the chimera world was a bit overwhelming. I did find myself liking Zirri quite a bit, though. And I really appreciate the way this author writes her female characters. They all have spunk. 

Narration Review: This story felt so different than the first installment. It took place in a different world, with several new characters and new races of characters. I’d say I was probably confused 45% of the time during this. The point-of-view changes were too frequent and numerous and without any audible indication that a change was taking place. The physical book probably had a visual indicator whenever there was about to be a POV switch, but the audiobook had nothing. Other audiobooks have used some sort of sound effect to indicate a new POV. The lack thereof in this particular audiobook significantly hindered my ability to fully enjoy this story. Overall, I would say that if you are choosing between the physical book and the audiobook, definitely choose the physical book (unless you plan on paying excruciating attention to detail). ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback), Audiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

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Description⎮Reviewed Sept. 2015

Narrator: Rebecca Lowman; Sunil Malhotra
Length: 8h 56m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2013

4.5 ★ Audiobook⎮In retrospect, this was quite possibly my favorite read of September! Beautifully told; it’s amazing that a book that addresses such a triggering topic (abuse) could still give me the “warm fuzzies”. Rowell does an excellent job of using the beauty of the main characters’ unlikely friendship to balance the harsh reality of familial neglect and abuse. I liked this so much better than Fangirl. Rated 4.5 because the ending felt rushed and lacking at the time of reading (I wanted more!), but I’ve come to terms with it now. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

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The Mortal Instruments #3

Description⎮Reviewed Dec. 2015

Narrator: Natalie Moore
Length: 15h 21m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.⎮2009

2.5 ★ Audiobook⎮Let me start by saying that if you have a deep affinity for this series, you probably won’t want to read this review.—
This was very nearly a DNF (did not finish) for me. I cannot tell you the number of times I stopped listening out of pure agony and frustration, only to pick it up again later out of a compulsory need to finish something I had begun. This book was so far below my maturity level that I actually felt insulted while reading it. As a 27-year-old, I do realize that I am most likely not in the target audience for the majority of YA books. However, skilled authors often have a way of making books appeal to a wider audience than those to which it is marketed (Harry Potter, for example). This series is so annoyingly juvenile that, try as I might, I simply could not stand it. I would guess the target reading age is 11-14. I wish I had known that beforehand. I am so upset with myself for wasting such a large amount of time to get through this. For me, this entire series and author are insanely overhyped. The plot is incredibly predictable, the writing is bland (at best), the protagonist is whiny and immature, and the romance is all kinds of problematic (and icky). But the worst thing is that underneath all of that, the basic premise of the story actually had promise. There were a handful of times that I thought I saw a glimmer of hope, only for it to be extinguished by another disgustingly mushy Clary/Jace moment. I really feel like this series would have been so much better without those two characters. They are so poorly written and I can’t help but feel as if the author could not decide what to do with them. With that type of incesty storyline, the author has to really commit to it 100% (a la Game of Thrones). The way this author does it seems totally amateurish and underdeveloped. Basically, I persevered through the first two books based on the hype that this series receives and hoped that it would improve. Unfortunately, it did not and I think I would have to be truly desperate for something to read to ever give the rest of the series any of my time.

Narration Review: As for the audiobook, this narrator’s voice had very little inflection or emotion. She sounded about as bored with the book as me.♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

1582996The Mortal Instruments #2

Description⎮Reviewed Oct. 2015

Narrator: Natalie Moore
Length: 12h 20m
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, Inc.⎮2008

3 ★ Audiobook⎮I’m giving this up three stars because I didn’t exactly abhor reading it, but I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it either. I can’t seem to form an attachment to any of the characters, not even Clary, whom I’m assuming is supposed to be the main character. At times, I can’t stand Jace and I don’t think I could ever ship him and Clary, with or without the twist that everyone sees coming. Something must be wrong with me, because Valentine is the most interesting character thus far. I’m sincerely hoping that this series gets better as it goes on (it has to, right?). *Crosses fingers* The popularity of this series is basically the only thing encouraging me to continue, because the story just does not. Needless to say, I’m not itching to pick up the next installment, even if I already own it. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible