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review 2014-07-23 08:00
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins | Audiobook Review
Catching Fire - Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games #2

Narrated by Carolyn McCormick

 Scholastic Audio Books

 9/1/2009

 Audiobook | Hardbound

 Los Angeles Public Library | Purchased

Originally Posted on my blog I Heart Romance

 

“Let the 74th Hunger Games begin!”

 

There is a lot to say about Catching Fire that I do not know where to begin.  This book is a precursor of the things to come in the next book, Mockingjay and it also lays the groundwork for the rebellion.

 

I could not stop listening to this book.  Not only is it amazingly written, I get to know all the characters more.  Katniss, Peeta, Gayle and Haymitch all reveal their characters here.  I also love the little hints sprinkled throughout the first part of the book, giving us a hint of what would happen in the arena.  We meet a lot of interesting characters and despite most of them dying or just having bit parts in the book, they make this read very interesting.

 

As I’ve said in my Hunger Games review, I love Katniss Everdeen and I think she is one of the most iconic characters in YA literature.  I absolutely love that she is NOT at the forefront of the rebellion.  And although a lot of people see her as a passive heroine, I do not.  Her defiance towards the Capitol is subtle and I love that she does not become a rebel leader.

 

In this book, I also see a different side of Peeta and Gayle.  Again, their love triangle is really unique in that Katniss is not really driven by love/lust that most YA books have but it is mostly driven by her fears.  With Gayle, she sees him as one of her best friends in a time where she just lost her father and had been struggling to feed her mother and Prim; with Peeta, she see’s him as someone who can relate to her experiences in the arena.  Because, let’s face it, surviving The Hunger Games was really traumatizing.

 

The changes that happen to the characters are just genius!  I like that Katniss feels like she is slowly losing her humanity.  Again, this is very unique nuance of her character because I feel that it is a realistic change from the trauma that she had experienced before.  While I like that Katniss feels like she is all negative, the balance that Ms. Collins added with Peeta was just genius!  Peeta now stands out as a representation of all that is good in Panem and he rises to the challenge, most especially in the arena.

 

Catching Fire is a must read.  It is an edge of the seat read that you just cannot put down once you start reading (or listening) to it.  I recommend reading this book right after reading The Hunger Games (if you haven’t already read it).

 

THE AUDIOBOOK

This books is again narrated by Carolyn McCormick and as I’ve said in my review for the Hunger Games, I felt like she was reading to a child.  Again, her narration did little to enhance the book at all and I still had to force myself to continue listening.  She still used the annoying voices for Effie, Prim, and other Capitol characters and I could not help but cringe!

 

5heartssweetCRB

audiobook2narration

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review 2014-07-15 08:00
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins | Audiobook Review
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins

 The Hunger Games
 Suzanne Collins | Narrated by: Carolyn McCormick 
 Young Adult Dystopian 
 Scholastic Audio Books 
 10/1/2008 
 Audiobook | Hardbound 
 Los Angeles Public Library | Purchased

 

I don't know how to start reviewing this book at all!  I have been putting off reading this book since - well, forever and I regret it!  It was a few years ago when I started reading this book but did not finish it and last Christmas, I actually bought a hardbound set of the Trilogy.  It wasn't until last week (YES LAST WEEK!) that I decided to try it in audiobook format.  I wasn't disappointed.

 

Although I had seen the movie before, it hadn't ruined my reading Hunger Games.  The book feels more raw than the movie ever did (movie review soon).  I love Suzanne Collins' writing.  The first person narration was not annoying to read and I love reading Katniss' thoughts.

 

Katniss Everdeen is a very unique heroine.  I absolutely love her.  And since I have read all three books, I love her all the more.  Her multidimensional character is very unique, especially in the saturated YA genre with female heroines.  In fact, I have never read about any YA heroine that can match her.  I struggled with her and rooted for her throughout the Games.

 

Collins' world building is exceptional.  She describes everything with great detail where I can imagine what everything looks like despite of seeing the movie first.  All her characters are multidimensional, unique in their own way and very very different.

 

The Hunger Games is a masterpiece.  5 FREAKING hearts!

 

I also want to add that I do not like the cover.  In fact, when I saw this at the bookstore, it did not make me want to pick it up!  Maybe the book cover influenced my decision for not finishing it?

 

THE AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by Carolyn McCormick, I had a problem with the audiobook.  For the first few chapters, I felt her narration was a little bit stiff and monotone which felt a little bit like she was reading to a child.  Well, granting that this is a YA book, but still!  The voices that she used for Prim and Effie where very annoying.  I was able to tune out on the voices that she used after that and I was very glad that her narration did not turn me off from finishing the book!

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review 2014-07-04 08:00
Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge,Elizabeth Knowelden

Narrated by: Elizabeth Knowelden
Young Adult Classic Retelling
Balzer + Bray
1/28/2014
Audiobook
Purchased at Audible

Originally Posted on my blog I Heart Romance

 

"Dark and Different"

 

I admit that I had never heard of this book before but when it was recommended at audible as something that I might like, I decided to buy it.  Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast.  I am a fan of Disney's version and I love Belle but this book is not it.  It is a classic retelling set in a different place interspersed with Greek mythology (Cupid and Psyche's story).

 

The place, Arcadia, is in a curse brought about by the selfish prince's bargain with the Kindly Ones.  Arcadia is a grey and sad place.  Crops have stopped growing, there is no sky, there is no sun.  People now rely on arcane-like magic for light and other things.  Nyx's father had bargained the Gentle Lord years ago for children and he was granted twins with the condition of giving up one when she comes of age so she can marry him.  Of course, everything you ask from the Gentle Lord has a price and for Nyx's father, it was the death of his wife in childbirth.  Because of this, Nyx blames herself and pushes everyone away, including her twin sister.

 

Why I like it:

  1. The story is odd, very odd.  The setting is different and the characters are different but I think it enhances the story.
  2. Dark.  I love that it is dark, a little bit Gothic.
  3. The world building was excellent.  Rosamund Hodge created another world and described it to detail where I can actually imagine what it looks like.
  4. It is very refreshing.  I love that Nyx, the heroine was not a damsel in distress waiting to be saved.  She was raised to defeat the Gentle Lord and save Arcadia and she tries to do it, despite knowing that she will die in the process.
  5. The mixture of the traditional Beauty and the Beast elements and Greek mythology are seamlessly written.  Although I did not see the fairy tale version of Beauty and the Beast because it was more based on Cupid and Psyche, it was mixed very well.
  6. Love that it is a standalone!  At LAST!

 

What I didn't like about it:

  1. The love triangle.  I've read a lot of long triangle stories but this just felt off and a little bit annoying at times.  When it is revealed who Ignifex and Shade are...well, let's just say that I thought it was a little stupid.
  2. I wanted the other twin sister Althea (?) to have her own story or to try to storm the Gentle Lord's castle and save her.  Or something to that effect.  She was planning to but she didn't follow through and she was a little bit selfish.
  3. The selfish father and the scheming aunt.  Need I say more?
  4. The story got a little confusing sometimes.  It was a little too much the last half of the book and if you aren't careful, you will get lost and confused.
  5. I hate the name Nyx.  Not very princess-y at all.

 

I know a few readers who didn't get it but I enjoyed this book a lot and gave it 5 stars because I listened to this via audiobook.  I might have felt differently had I read it instead.  A must listen.  Oh and yes, I had a hard time reviewing this book!

 

THE AUDIOBOOK

This was read by Elizabeth Knowelden and I liked it.  Her voice and pacing was perfect for the darker story, adding a sense of urgency to the story.  I probably wouldn't finish reading this book if I didn't listen to it in audio format because it did drag in certain parts.  However, with Knowleden's reading, it did not feel dragging at all and I did not have the urge to hit the forward button.  I give narration a 5.

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review 2014-07-01 08:00
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson

Narrated by: Cassandra Morris
Young Adult Classic Retelling
Listening Library
5/14/2013
Audiobook
Los Angeles Public Library

Originally posted on my blog I Heart Romance

 

“A delightful surprise.  Not Disney’s Peter Pan.”

 

I have heard about the book Tiger Lily last year and that it was good.  I didn’t really bother with it since I wasn’t really into reading YA back then.  When I saw the audiobook available at LAPL, I decided to give it a go and listen to it.  I was blown away.  This book was a delightful surprise!

 

This is the first book that I read by Jodi Lynn Anderson and I enjoyed it so much.  It is intelligently written and it is a good retelling of the classic story Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie told by the curious fairy Tinkerbelle!  I love this POV and was surprised when I realized that it was told by Tinkerbelle.  Of course she wrote in that Tink can listen to thoughts and feel feelings of the humans so we still got a good insight (if a little bit colored/biased) of the main characters thoughts and feelings.

 

Neverland is a different place.  I felt it was darker and more realistic than J. M. Barrie’s, and there was no “boy that can fly.”  There were the mermaids, the pirates (although more sinister and broken), the Indians, the Lost Boys, and the fairies, and everyone never grew old.  There was no “second star to the right” and you could only get to Neverland by boat.  I didn’t have any problems with this re-imagining at all.  I liked that it was realistic to a point and tells about a darker Neverland.

 

The story tells about the untold story of Tiger Lily and Peter Pan before he met Wendy.  It is a really sad story, I think, despite everyone getting their own happy endings and despite it being a love story.  Tiger Lily is a very lonely girl, who her tribe believes to be cursed and has the command of crows.  She has been bullied by the other children as a child and only has one friend, Pine Sap.  At 15, the tribespeople steer clear from her until she makes one misstep and as a result was engaged to a brute named Giant.  It is at this point that Tiger Lily meets Peter and unexpectedly falls in love with him.  The falling in love doesn’t happen right away.  And it didn’t even start out as love but as the secret meeting with Peter went on, we see Tiger Lily starting to melt and feel and love and find a kindred spirit in Peter.

 

The iconic villain Captain James Hook is still there but he is also a drunk and a broken man with a grudge to settle with Peter for kidnapping all the boys that he took from England.  It is not really explained what else the Captain has against Peter but I felt it was implied that it was very dark.  Smee, the Captain’s side-kick is sick and evil and a murderer.

 

In the end, Peter goes with Wendy and Tiger Lily is left behind in Neverland.  The reason for Peter deciding to go with Wendy is a very dark one.  I will not share it here as it is a major spoiler but it was heartbreaking to read/listen to.

 

My favorite quote would be Peter’s letter to Tiger Lily years after he arrives in England:

 

“I knew I’d miss you. But the surprising thing is, you never leave me. I never forget a thing. Every kind of love, it seems, is the only one. It doesn’t happen twice. And I never expected that you could have a broken heart and love with it too, so much that it doesn’t seem broken at all. I know young people look at me and think my youth seems so far away, but it’s all around me, and you’re all around me. Tiger Lily, do you think magic exists if it can be explained? I can explain why I loved you, I can explain the theory of evolution that tells me why mermaids live in Neverland and nowhere else. But it still feels magic.”

 

A definite must read but if you are thinking about Disney’s Peter Pan, you will be disappointed.  This isn’t pixie dust and happiness.  This is reality.  4 Hearts!

 

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audiobook is read by Cassandra Morris and it was perfect!  She used (or maybe has) a childlike voice perfect for Tinkerbelle.  The pacing that she used was perfect and I did not have any problems following through the story.  I believe that the voice she used added a different, more personal aspect as compared to reading the book.  She didn’t really use different voices for the characters because it was narrated by Tinkerbelle but I did not have any problems with it and I knew which character was speaking or thinking.

 

If you want audio, this is a very entertaining listen.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-06-19 08:00
Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd
Her Dark Curiosity - Megan Shepherd,Lucy Rayner

he Madman's Daughter
Megan Shepherd

Narrator:  Lucy Rayner
Young Adult Historical
Balzer+Bray | Blackstone Audiobooks
1/28/2014
Audiobook
Los Angeles Public Library

Originally Posted on I Heart Romance

 

Her Dark Curiosity is the second book in The Madman's Daughter series.  The first book is titled The Madman's Daughter.  The second book takes place in London and is a retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Her Dark Curiosity tells the story of what happens to Juliet Moreau after she leaves her father's island by herself (spoiler alert!).  She is rescued by Professor Von Stein, her father's old friend and he raises her like a daughter.  Unfortunately for Juliet, her father's treatment for her is failing and she is plagued by weakness and seizures.  Running against time, she is struggling to find a cure when she finds out about the Wolf of Whitechapel who has been killing people who have hurt her in one way or another.  Ultimately, she is plagued by lost loves and pain and the struggle to find a cure for her.

 

Before you proceed reading my review, I would like to warn you that there are SPOILERS.  I found it hard to try leaving out the spoilers in writing my review.  I will try to mention as little as possible, though.  Read at your own risk!

 

I love Her Dark Curiosity.  Ms. Shepherd has seamlessly combined two different classic books: The Island of Dr. Moreau and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, to tell a continuous gothic tale.  I love how she tells this story.  Very gothic and creepy and fascinating at the same time.  Naturally, Edward is the one referred to as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" as he tries to control the monster in him.  Apparently, the monster is also in love with Juliet and he is growing stronger every day.  Juliet and Edward strike a bargain and both of them try to find a cure for Edward and for her.

 

Again, the story is a page turner (if I were reading a book) but in my case, I just couldn't stop listening to it.  Everything that happened in The Madman's Daughter is seamlessly integrated in Her Dark Curiosity and I wasn't lost at all.  I did not think that both were different stories because Ms. Shepherd has added flashbacks of what happened in the island as the book proceeds further.  I was creeped out by Edward's transformation and the descriptions the author used added to the whole imagery of Mr. Hyde.  Montgomery also comes back with Balthazar (one of my favorite characters) who is trying to stop Edward.

 

I was horrified with the book as the story unfolded.  Horrified in a good way, I guess.  The choices that Juliet makes is just scary and I liked that the author added Juliet's creepy thoughts in the book.  She is still haunted by her father's legacy but the decisions that she makes are really shocking.

 

The mystery of Her Dark Curiosity is discovering who Dr. Henri Moreau contacted and shared his secrets with in London.  Apparently, this person (or persons) is trying to duplicate Dr. Moreau's research and creations.  I actually guessed right when the villain was revealed but I liked how the author built up the thrill of discovering who it really is.

 

There was a scene that I did not like, though which was the one that Juliet gave herself to Edward.  I get that this also fueled the monster's desire for her and it drove the plot a little bit but it was just wrong.  The love triangle trope here was just weird and I did not like it.  Despite not liking this scene, I still gave this book 5 hearts because the execution was just amazing.  The story was gripping and thrilling at the same time.

 

The ending was perfect.  It set the tone for the next and last book A Cold Legacy, which would be a retelling of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

 

THE AUDIOBOOK

Narrated by Lucy Rayner, Her Dark Curiosity is more riveting and thrilling.  I could not stop listening to it and I actually had to stay in the car for a few minutes just to finish the scene!  Rayner's narration is flawlessly done, accents are distinctive between characters and most importantly, the female voices are not irritating to the ears.  I love that in a narrator.  Her pacing is just right and her tone gives off an ominous feeling perfect for this Gothic novel.  5 stars!

Source: www.eyeheartromance.com/her-dark-curiosity-by-megan-shepherd-audiobook-review
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