📚 Unhappenings by Edward Aubry

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Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Josh Hurley
Length: 12h 6m
Publisher: Audible, Inc.⎮2015

4 ★ Audiobook⎮Whew. This was a trip! And by “trip” I mean an absolute roller coaster ride. It was extremely enjoyable and fairly easy to comprehend. The author obviously took great care to ensure the story’s comprehension for all types of readers (even those not particularly scientifically-minded, like myself), while still maintaining a certain degree of plausibility. As someone who looks for the logic in all things, I greatly appreciated the detailed, yet lay explanations provided in this book. The parts of it that did feel a tiny bit far-fetched (evil mastermind Carlton) did so on their own, not as a direct result of the time travel premise. For the first 2/3 of the story, I was hanging on the narrator’s every word. Things got a little weird towards the end with all of the apocalypses and it felt like the story was in fast forward mode with so much back and forth through time. The epilogue was satisfying in a bittersweet sort of way, but I commend the author on resisting the urge to give it a “happily ever after” ending. I wouldn’t have complained if he had, but this type of ending somehow seems more appropriate for this particular story. In retrospect, this story was a lot darker than I realized whilst reading it. The somber ending definitely stayed true to the book as a whole. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as my last time travel book, Time After Time, but significantly more than The First 15 Lives of Harry August.

Narration review: Josh Hurley was a good narrator. There weren’t any special effects to enhance the experience (like with Illuminae or The Beautiful Creatures series), but I could hear the emotion in the narrator’s voice, especially in the end. It added so much to the story. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository and Audible

📚 My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 8h 14m
Publisher: HarperCollins⎮2015

5 ★ AudiobookMy Heart and Other Black Holes was a rare combination of simple and complex. The topic it addressed (teenage depression/mental illness and suicide) is definitely a profound issue, yet I was able to breeze through this story fairly easily. Warga’s writing brings a somber reverence to the discussion of life and death that is extremely thought-provoking, but I never felt overwhelmed by the subject (as can often happen when discussing something so “heavy”, such as death).

I can understand how My Heart and Other Black Holes could be triggering to certain individuals who may be battling depression and/or mental illness. I liken it somewhat to Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (which I thoroughly enjoyed, as well). Both stories tackle serious (and potentially triggering) issues, but do so in a way that is extremely realistic and compelling. I can also understand how someone would need to be in the “right mood” to read this type of story. If you are looking for a light hearted and frivolous beach read, Honey, this ain’t it! But if you want something on the more serious side to make you really think about life, then My Heart and Other Black Holes is absolutely perfect. To me, it was better than The Fault in Our Stars.

Narration reviewCoincidentally, the narrator for this audiobook (Rebecca Lowman) also narrated Eleanor & Park. Lowman’s voice lent an extra air of sobriety to the words. She was the perfect choice for narrator. Someone with a more “perky” or lilting voice would have undermined Warga’s work and been completely wrong for Aysel. Lowman is fast becoming one of my favorite narrators. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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Illuminae Files #1

Description⎮Reviewed Nov. 2015

Narrator: Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln HoppeJonathan McClain
Length: 11h 41m
Publisher: Listening Library⎮2015

5 ★ Audiobook⎮”DON’T LOOK AT ME!”
Because I’m grinning like a fool. I rated this at five stars within the first 15 minutes of starting it. Premature assumption? Not. One. Bit. This is easily my favorite book of the year. And I do mean easily. So easily, that it is actually unfair to the other 50+ books I’ve listened to in 2015. So easily, that I should probably take a little break before picking up anything else because it is already guaranteed to pale in comparison to Illuminae. As much as I thought I loved These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, it in no way can compare to Illuminae. Kaufman seriously stepped up her game. I get that this type of “space drama” isn’t for everyone, but I still think this book should be given a shot. You’ll probably know within the first 15-30 minutes if it is for you. The style of writing may get some taking used to, but I think it drastically enhances the story’s uniqueness.

Narration review: As already implied, I listened to this is on audiobook and cannot say enough about the entire audiobook experience. If it is possible for narrators to have chemistry, then these certainly do! The entire narration team did a superb job and I can’t imagine that this story would have been as enjoyable without the enhancing sound effects. This sort of story lends itself to the audiobook format better than any I have ever heard. I wholeheartedly recommend the audiobook over the physical book. It enhanced my experience with Illuminae exponentially. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book DepositoryAudiobooks.com and Audible

📚 Marking Time by April White

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Immortal Descendants #1

Description⎮Reviewed Jan. 2016

Narrator: Em Eldridge
Length: 16h 19m
Publisher: April White⎮2014

4.75 ★ Audiobook ⎮This series is such a hidden gem. I can’t understand why this series isn’t talked about at all. If I hadn’t stumbled upon it on Audible, I would have seriously missed out. Even though I’ve only read the first book (thus far), I already like this series better than 98% of the YA Fantasy/Scifi books I’ve read based purely on recommendations or social media hype (The Mortal Instruments, Delirium, Outlander, etc). For starters, this book actually had a female protagonist that I could stand. I love Saira Elian. She’s the most kick ass heroine I’ve read in a long, long time. One that doesn’t make you pull your hair out with her stupid decisions. Do you even understand how rare that is in YA?! The *only* complaint I have is with her vampire love interest, just because it’s been done (and redone) so effing much. Their romance was a tiny bit “insta-love” for my tastes, but was made palatable by the time traveling element of the story. Honestly, I’m so in love with everything else that’s going on in Saira’s world that her love life barely registered as an annoyance with me. I am much more interested in Saira’s familial relationships than romantic ones. This author obviously knows wear her story’s strengths lie and doesn’t spend an unnecessary amount of time with the mushy gushy. Believe me, it’s appreciated. For a world that is so complex, White does an outstanding job of slowly building it while distinguishing the families from one another in a way so that the reader can easily catch on. I love the writing style and fast pace. This story hit the ground running (figuratively and literally) from page one. I especially appreciate that, although marketed as part of the YA genre, it is not (or doesn’t seem to be) exclusively written for teenage readers. I think the maturity level of the main character has a lot to do with that. Saira maybe 17, but she acts a lot older.

Narration review: Great narrator. She captured Saira’s sarcasm and dryness perfectly, without being whiny or annoying. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository (paperback) and Amazon (free on Kindle)

📚 The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

106265941Description⎮Reviewed Nov. 2016

Narrator: Steve West, Fiona Hardingham
Length: 12h 6m
Publisher: Scholastic Audio⎮2011

5 ★ Audiobook⎮This book is a slow burn. I can’t recall a story that has ever touched my soul quite like this one. This story managed to get under my skin in the most hauntingly pleasant sort of way. Some may be bothered by its plodding pace, but to me it was the good kind of slow. The peaceful sort of slow, like a Sunday drive. So much of this story is devoted to character development that I feel like I know them. Fondness for the characters almost creeps up on you, even with the minor characters. The plot is not unnecessarily impeded by romance (there isn’t even a hint of it for most of the book). And the romance that does exist is the furthest thing from insta-love or the juvenile type of romance usually seen in YA stories. I’m not even sure I would classify this as YA. It’s such a mature story and a far cry from Shiver. I can’t believe this was even written by the same author as Shiver. This is the work by which Maggie Stiefvater should be judged. Her writing here is poetic. This book truly is an experience. There’s no other way to describe it.

Narration review: The audiobook narrators ( Steve West & Fiona Hardingham) did an incredible job of conveying more through their narration than was present in the author’s work. They excelled at creating an atmosphere for the story that whisks the listener away to Thisby. I get chills just thinking about it. ♣︎

$ Available at The Book Depository and Audible