Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Audio Book Review: The Diviners

The Diviners (The Diviners #1)

By Libba Bray
Story: **
Narration: ****
“I thought research would be more glamorous, somehow. I'd give the librarian a secret code word and he'd give me the one book I needed and whisper the necessary page numbers. Like a speakeasy. With books.” 
― Libba BrayThe Diviners

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it just didn't spark for me. First thing you should know is that this book is a BEAST. It's huge! And honestly, not in a good way. It's clear that Libba Bray did a ton of research and had a lot of interesting characters and plot ideas, but it was overkill; there was just too much going on in the story to keep track of everything and everyone. I was listening to the audio book (the reader was very talented, particularly with finding different voices for each of the characters, as well as the occasional singing), and we hit the major climactic scene at the end of the 14th track, so I figured the 15th track would be pretty short for the wrap up, but NO, it was another HOUR. It also had Return of the King style multiple-ending fake-outs. You think the story's done, then WHAM!, another character gets a wrap-up. On the one hand this helped a bit with some of the story lines that were left hanging, on the other hand, just end already!

The villain and atmosphere were certainly eerie, but since I was reading this for a book group and had to rush through the audio, I turned up the speed of the audio-reading. Turns out, some of the creep factor is lost when you're listening to it at super speed. I won't say the reader started to sound like a chipmunk, but it was close.

Then there's Evie, our heroine. I'd like to categorize her as "too stupid to live." I get that she had to do certain things to move the plot along, and likewise escaped certain situations for the same reason, but COME ON. If you're in the midst of supernatural phenomena, and there's a haunted house, noise in the basement, or a sinister character doing something shady, DON'T INVESTIGATE! Particularly if you don't have mad-demon-hunting skills, a la the Winchesters, and instead just whine and pout a lot.

I know a lot of people really like this book, but it just wasn't for me. And I guess that really surprises me, because everything about this book, from the time period to the paranormal elements, are generally right up my alley. I won't come out and say you shouldn't try it, but know that if you DON'T like it, you're not alone.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Some people are born with the artistic gene. Many people in my family have this gene and have created truly beautiful works in a variety of mediums, everything from porcelain dolls to oil on canvas.

I did not get this gene.

I'm slightly bitter.

What I CAN do, however, is draw fairly decent stick figures. It's not much, but it's all I've got.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Book Review: How to Lead a Life of Crime

How to Lead a Life of Crime

by Kirsten Miller
“What would it be like to exist in a world without suffering? To have no needs, only desires? To be surrounded by so much beauty that you forget how ugly life is for everyone else? Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t be willing to fight for it? What the alumni did to get there – lie, cheat, steal, kill – I’m sure they’d all say it was worth it. And I bet they sleep soundly because they know that their nameless, faceless victims would have done the same thing.” 
― Kirsten MillerHow to Lead a Life of Crime

From Goodreads:
A meth dealer. A prostitute. A serial killer.

Anywhere else, they’d be vermin. At the Mandel Academy, they’re called prodigies. The most exclusive school in New York City has been training young criminals for over a century. Only the most ruthless students are allowed to graduate. The rest disappear.

Flick, a teenage pickpocket, has risen to the top of his class. But then Mandel recruits a fierce new competitor who also happens to be Flick’s old flame. They’ve been told only one of them will make it out of the Mandel Academy. Will they find a way to save each other—or will the school destroy them both?

From Me: 
This book wasn't what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be something with a lot of fun and snark. Um, yeah, not so much. 

There *was* some snark, but graced with a healthy dose of bitterness and anger. Flick is a kid living on the streets after escaping a lousy home life (that's putting it mildly). He's offered a chance to attend a prestigious school in NYC and get revenge on his father and he decides to take it. But this school for criminals is cutthroat (literally) and generally horrible.

While the story was significantly harsher and edgier than I was anticipating (that's what happens you make assumptions), it was ultimately very satisfying. This book is not for the faint of heart and does have mature themes and elements, so take that under advisement, but I highly recommend it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: The Heist

The Heist (O'Hare and Fox #1)

By Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg
“[The pirates] were about ten yards away, coming up the starboard side, when the men suddenly dove off their boat. Nick looked over his shoulder and saw Kate standing behind him with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher resting on her shoulder. It may have been the sexiest thing he'd ever seen.”

This was a quick, fun read. Kinda like White Collar, but with a potential for romance instead of bromance. Kate O'Hare is a former Navy Seal and currently works for the FBI. She's been hunting conman Nick Fox for years and finally nabs him. Ever the conman, Nick manages to avoid jail by working with the FBI to catch other criminals, and Kate becomes his partner/handler. Heists and hijinks ensue.

I really enjoyed reading about a heroine who doesn't need to be "saved" and is actually competent (and eats! I love a heroine who isn't afraid of eating something made with real butter, a la Agnes Crandall and Lorelai Gilmore). Even though Kate was the Fed and Nick the conman, a lot of books would have had Nick rescuing Kate at some point because she was incapable of action (scared, weak, stupid, whatever, which happens so often) and that never happened (yay!). Instead, they each had their own skill sets and used them together well, acting as a team, despite Kate's concern about partnering with the criminal she chased for years. I appreciate that.

My favorite character, though, is Kate's retired military father, who gets to leave afternoon naps behind to help Kate out in various covert operations. I've chosen to picture him as Bruce Willis in RED. Love!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Audio Book Review: Silver

Author: Andrew Motion

Narrated By: David Tennant
Story: **
Narration: ********************

Silver is the unofficial sequel to Treasure Island and follows the offspring of Jim Hawkins (his son, Jim Hawkins...Jr., I guess) and Long John Silver (his daughter, Natty). They both set off to Treasure Island decades after that infamous first voyage to retrieve the part of the treasure that was left behind.

I have to confess, I didn't actually finish this book, but I have a few things to say about it. First, it wasn't a bad read - the author is very talented, almost lyrical, in his narrative. He's incredibly descriptive, making young Jim Hawkins' world easy to imagine.

That being said, the story wasn't exactly a page turner. It's possible that I stopped at exactly the wrong time, right when they arrive at the island, but the book was due back at the library, soo... That, and I wasn't able to get caught up in the story. I was listening to the audio book, and I honestly wouldn't have gotten past the first disc if it wasn't for the fact that it was read by David Tennant.

The Doctor was reading this book. My Doctor. The ULTIMATE Doctor.

And it was beautiful.

Seriously, you know how people say they'd listen to someone read the phone book? This was miles better than hearing the phone book. DT is hands down the best narrator I've ever listened to. And his voices! Most of the story was narration, but when he got to dialog, I'm telling you: it was MAGIC.

If you read and loved Treasure Island, I would recommend this "sequel." But look for the audio edition, because that's where the magic really is! It's like buttah.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Libriomancer

Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris #1)
By Jim Hines
“Every libromancer had a first book. Etched more sharply into my memory than my first kiss, this book had been my magical awakening.”
I went into this book ready to geek out. I mean, seriously, seriously, geek out. The story opens on Isaac Vainio, a cataloger at a library in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. But he's not just a librarian, he's a libriomancer. Isaac could perform a very specific kind of magic: he could reach into books and pull out anything that appeared within the pages (restricted only by the size of the page). He got into a bit of trouble in his job as a libriomancer, so he's been benched; his only connection to magic now is cataloging books for his library, but also for the magical organization he used to work for.

Then he gets attacked by Meyerii vampires (also known as sparklers) and finds himself in a magical war between Libriomancers and vampires, a mysterious enemy, and the disapperance of Johann Gutenburg (inventor of the printing press and founder of the Libriomancer organization), with only a sexy dryad and a fire spider there to help him.

In theory, this book should have been an uber-awesome, bibliophile geekfest. I wanted to love it. It referenced some of my favorite things, like Narnia, Doctor Who, and the very idea of reaching inside of books. And while the book wasn't "bad," it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I just couldn't get engaged in the story. It did pick up toward the climax, and some really cool things happened during that part of the book, but it was a bit of an effort to get there. It's worth a look if you're a geeky bibliophile like myself, but The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is similar in theme, but superior in...well, everything.