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review 2020-05-05 04:25
Audiobook Catch-Up Quick Takes on Caliban's War by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator); Heartless by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator); Demon Born Magic by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator); Stardust by Neil Gaiman; Dumplin' by Julie Murphy, E
Funny, You Don't Look Autistic - Michael McCreary
Paradise Valley: A Novel (Highway Quartet) - C.J. Box
Dumplin' - Julie Murphy
Stardust - Neil Gaiman
Heartless - Gail Carriger
Caliban's War - James S.A. Corey

The point of these quick takes post to catch up on my "To Write About" stack—emphasizing pithiness, not thoroughness. This is a little longer than most of these that I do, I just wanted to get caught up on my Library Book Audiobooks (I'm so thankful that I can get audio downloads from my library right now—I'd be lost without them!)
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Caliban's War

Caliban's War


by James S.A. Corey, Jefferson Mays (Narrator)
Series: The Expanse, #2
Unabridged Audiobook, 21 hrs.
Hachette Audio, 2017
Read: April 6-14, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
90% of the reason I'm doing this in a Quick Take post is because if I don't cover it in a paragraph or two, I'll take 15 pages (or the equivalent). I'm kicking myself so hard for not jumping on each installment of this series as soon as it was published (although, if I did, I would be missing out on the audiobooks). I read the first book shortly after publication, but missed the release of this bookso before I realized it I was two novels and over a thousand pages behind, and I just couldn't find the time to catch up.

Anyway, this might not have been the right time to listen to a novel about an unexpected, largely unknown, biological enemy of all humanity and the inexplicable reactions of several governments to itthrough the eyes of people living in fairly enclosed spaces. Still, it's gripping, imaginative, wonderfully told and very compelling. I can't wait to see what's next (although, I'm pretty apprehensive of it, too). I loved the new characters and hope they stick around.
4 Stars

 

 

Heartless

Heartless


by Gail Carriger, Emily Gray (Narrator)
Series: The Parasol Protectorate, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 11 hrs,, 19 mins
Hachette Audio, 2011
Read: April 1-3, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
I think I'm about over this series, but maybe it was just this novel. Alexia seemed to run around oblivious to what was going on for almost the entire booksure, it's kind of explained by the effect "the infant inconvenience" is having on her mind, but I don't totally buy that. (maybe that's my maleness talking). The first couple of chapters and the little bit at the end with the newborn were the highlights for methe climactic battle sequence was fun, I just didn't like how we got there. Still, it was a fun listen and I enjoy the characters. I hope the series finale is better.

 

That said, Emily Gray is a delight. I seriously cannot listen to her enough.
3 Stars

 


Demon Born Magics

Demon Born Magic


by Jayne Faith, Amy Landon (Narrator)
Series: Ella Grey, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 8 hrs., and 52 mins.
Tantor Audio, 2017
Read: April 24-27, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
Ella now knows where her brother is, but she's been cut off from her power, so she can't move on it. Due to her lack of power (and some other stuffincluding a total and inexplicable lack of due process), she loses her job. She and Damien start a private consulting business, make a Faustian deal and will deal with the consequences over most of this book and the next. Along the way, Ella learns why her brother is off the grid.

The luster has really worn off this series for me. I think it's possible that Faith will stick the landing and I'll be happy with the set as a whole, but I think she's squandered a good start. If there was more than one book left, I'm not sure I'd bother.
3 Stars

 


Stardust

Stardust


by Neil Gaiman
Unabridged Audiobook, 6 hrs., 23 mins
HarperAudio, 2006
Read: April 28-29, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
I remember being disappointed when I read the book a few years ago, because the movie version (that I love) was such a lousy adaptation. The text eventually won me over, but it took a long time. This is backward, I realize, but what are you going to do?

Anyway, I came into this audiobook with low expectations, but I wasn't in the mood to spend money on an audiobook and everything I wanted from the library was checked out. Listening to Gaiman's always fun, so I gave this a whirl. Between Gaiman, low expectations, knowing it's not the movie, and a story that's really good when you give it a chance, I had a great time.

It's a fairy tale that isn't. Gaiman draws on every convention, every trope and uses them the way a child uses a play-doh set.
4 Stars

 



Dumplin'


by Julie Murphy, Eileen Stevens (Narrator)
Series: Dumplin', #1
Unabridged Audiobook, 9 hrs., 45 mins.
HarperAudio, 2015
Read: April 29-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
This was just cute. Another "don't make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available" listen. A YA story about a fat girl (her words, not mine) who joins her small-town beauty pagent, and the scandal that ensues. It's almost entirely predictable, but Murphy's style makes it feel fresh, and you just don't care about the predictability. Steven's narration is spot-on, too. I had a lot of fun with this.
3 Stars

 


Funny, You Don't Look Autistic

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic: A Comedian's Guide to Life on the Spectrum


by Michael McCreary
Unabridged Audiobook, 3 hrs., 37 mins
Annick Press, 2019
Read: March 31, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
McCreary was five when he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but it had challenged him and his parents far before then. In this short memoir, he talks about growing up with ASD and finding his place in performing and comedy. This wasn't as funny as you might hope from a comedian's memoir, but given that the focus of it was on the way he got through life and learning his craft while learning how to live in a neurotypical world, it'd be hard to be funny. Still, there was a light-heartedness to the entire book that made it pretty appealing.

 

I had plenty of fun listening to this, and gained some insight (much needed, I expect) into ASD. I think the hard copy might be a bit better because there are charts, graphs, etc. he mentions throughout (yes, there are pdf versions available on the publisher's site, but who listens to an audiobook when they can stop and look at a pdf?).
3.5 Stars

 


Paradise Valley

Paradise Valley


by C. J. Box, Christina Delaine (Narrator)
Series: The Highway Quartet, #4
Unabridged Audiobook, 10 hrs., 6 mins
Recorded Books, 2017
Read: March 26-30, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


(the official blurb)
Here we go. Cassie Dewell vs. The Lizard King: The Final Battle. Kyle Westergaard comes along for the ride, toobecause we can't have a Highway novel without a young person's perspective. A lot of other characters from the entire series make appearances (important ones), too.

This was a solidhorrifying, but solidconclusion to this arc. And it does set up a way for things to continue beyond this point.

I'm really glad that I started this series (it, too, started with a "don't make me spend money on audiobooks while I wait for holds to become available" listen)
3.5 Stars

 

2020 Library Love Challenge

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2020/05/04/audiobook-catch-up-quick-takes-on-calibans-war-by-james-s-a-corey-jefferson-mays-narrator-heartless-by-gail-carriger-emily-gray-narrator-demon-born-magic-by-jayne-faith-amy-landon-narrato
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review 2020-01-26 21:43
Timeless / Gail Carriger
Timeless - Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, has settled into domestic bliss. Of course, being Alexia, such bliss involves integrating werewolves into London High society, living in a vampire's second best closet, and coping with a precocious toddler who is prone to turning supernatural willy-nilly. Even Ivy Tunstell's acting troupe's latest play, disastrous to say the least, can not put a dampener on Alexia's enjoyment of her new London lifestyle.

Until, that is, she receives a summons from Alexandria that cannot be ignored. With husband, child, and Tunstells in tow, Alexia boards a steamer to cross the Mediterranean. But Egypt may hold more mysteries than even the indomitable Lady Maccon can handle. What does the vampire Queen of the Alexandria Hive really want from her? Why is the God-Breaker Plague suddenly expanding? And how has Ivy Tunstell suddenly become the most popular actress in all the British Empire?

 

I’ve really enjoyed this series, though I think that the first book was probably my favourite of the five. I’m looking forward to reading both Carriger’s Finishing School and The Custard Protocol series. I’m glad there are more books in this alternate history to look forward to!

With this book, the Alexia/Conall storyline may have reached the end of its natural life span. Not every thread is wrapped up, but that’s not always necessary or even desirable. Things that were amusing in previous books (Lord & Lady Maccon living in Lord Akeldama’s third best closet, for instance) are becoming less entertaining. Prudence makes up for that as she becomes a character in her own right (and that will make The Custard Protocol interesting).

I must say that I was glad to see Biffy settled into his new role(s). He’s made the shift from vampire drone to young werewolf-about-town quite successfully, found a new squeeze, and shown some career potential. I’ll miss him more than Alexia and Conall, I think.

Such a fun world and I look forward to future expeditions into it!

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review 2019-10-28 20:35
Blameless / Gail Carriger
Blameless - Gail Carriger

Quitting her husband's house and moving back in with her horrible family, Lady Maccon becomes the scandal of the London season.

Queen Victoria dismisses her from the Shadow Council, and the only person who can explain anything, Lord Akeldama, unexpectedly leaves town. To top it all off, Alexia is attacked by homicidal mechanical ladybugs, indicating, as only ladybugs can, the fact that all of London's vampires are now very much interested in seeing Alexia quite thoroughly dead.

While Lord Maccon elects to get progressively more inebriated and Professor Lyall desperately tries to hold the Woolsey werewolf pack together, Alexia flees England for Italy in search of the mysterious Templars. Only they know enough about the preternatural to explain her increasingly inconvenient condition, but they may be worse than the vampires -- and they're armed with pesto.

 

I can’t believe that I neglected this series for so long! It is such fun! Gail Carriger has a sense of humour that I understand and appreciate. I love her steampunk Victorian world with its werewolves, vampires, and the Soulless, like her main character Alexia. It’s this addition of a new category of supernatural which really gives her an advantage--when you create something new, you can write something original and fresh.

I’m highly disappointed that my city library doesn’t have the remaining two volumes of this series. I’ve placed an interlibrary loan request for the next one, as I know for sure that I want to read it. I’m pleased to note that she has two more related series, Finishing School and The Custard Protocol, which I also look forward to reading.

When I originally began reading steampunk fantasies, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of them. However, as I encounter more of them that are well done, such as this series, I have been converted. Now they are among my favourites. I think the modern attitudes, juxtaposed with the Victorian sensibility, makes for excellent opportunities for humour.

I’m late to the party, Ms. Carriger, but I’m enjoying myself immensely now and I’ll be staying right until the end!

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review 2019-09-26 02:08
Changeless / Gail Carriger
Changeless - Gail Carriger

Alexia Maccon, the Lady Woolsey, awakens in the wee hours of the mid-afternoon to find her husband, who should be decently asleep like any normal werewolf, yelling at the top of his lungs. Then he disappears; leaving her to deal with a regiment of supernatural soldiers encamped on her doorstep, a plethora of exorcised ghosts, and an angry Queen Victoria.

But Alexia is armed with her trusty parasol, the latest fashions, and an arsenal of biting civility. So even when her investigations take her to Scotland, the backwater of ugly waistcoats, she is prepared: upending werewolf pack dynamics as only the soulless can. She might even find time to track down her wayward husband, if she feels like it.

 

Remarkably fun! I love good Urban Fantasy and I’m coming to love the Victorian London steampunk type of that genre as well. I had to wonder at the end of the first book where there was for the author to take things--once the happy couple are married, you risk losing the tension in a series. So Carriger does the sensible thing, she devises problems for the happy couple.

What problems, you ask? Well, how about a mysterious loss of supernatural powers for vampires and werewolves? The unexplained movement of this crippling area of magical suppression. Lord Maccon sneaking off to his familial home in Scotland while his regiment lands on Alexia’s front lawn in London. Plus, Ivey Hisselpenny, Alexia’s BFF, has become engaged, but is in love with a most unsuitable man. Alexia, being Soulless, can cope with the werewolves more easily than with unrequited love.

Carriger leaves us with a mysterious ending--I will definitely be reading Blameless to see how she intends (or if she intends) to fix things up!

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review 2019-09-03 02:46
Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
Etiquette & Espionage - Gail Carriger

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

I thought that this book was just okay. This is really a pretty generous 3 stars but I am going to go with it. I have wanted to read Gail Carriger's work for a very long time and I remember being excited when I got my hands on a review copy of this book years ago. Somehow it got lost in my tbr pile but I decided that it was time to give it a go. It really wasn't all that I had hoped it would be but I am glad that I gave it a read and did find many parts of the book quite enjoyable.

This book felt younger than I expected it to feel. I do read quite a bit of YA but I thought that this story had more of a Middle Grade feel. That is not a bad thing - just an observation. My main issue with this story is the fact that I was often rather bored. For some reason, I never felt any connection to the story or the characters and often found my mind wandering. 

The story revolves around Sophronia, who is sent off to Finishing School. This isn't like any other Finishing School. While she is taught important things such as how to curtsey properly, she is also trained in the art of espionage. I thought the school was pretty interesting and enjoyed seeing all of the various steampunk elements that present. There were a few more intense scenes that I thought were really well done as well.

I thought that Moira Quirk did a good job with this book. She was able to represent all of the different characters very well with her voice. I thought that the dialogue in the story flowed quite nicely. I found that she read the book at a nice pace and had no issues listening to her narration for long periods of time.

I think that this is a book that other reader might like a bit more than I did. I thought that the book did many things quite well but I was often bored and eager to finish the book so that I could move on to something else. I do hope to read more from Gail Carriger soon but I will probably choose a book from a different series.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Little Brown Books for Young Readers via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.

Initial Thoughts
Maybe 2.5 stars but I am rounding up for now. There were parts of this story that I really did enjoy and other parts that felt rather dull. I just had a hard time really staying interested in this book but I did like the characters. I listened to the audio and thought that Moira Quirk did a great job with the story.

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