Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

This is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating  

Pre-order from the Book Depository
Title: Skin Game
Author: Jim Butcher
Publisher: Roc
Series: The Dresden Files, Book 15
Expected Publication Date: 27 May 2014
Hardcover: 464 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day… 
Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. 
He doesn’t know the half of it…. 
Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever. 
It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry. 
Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance… 
Why Skin Game?

I am woefully behind on this series, but it is SO good. It's one of the best blends of fantasy and magic with real life. Also, it's set in Chicago and living around the city while reading these stories adds a fun element to the reading experience. Regardless of where you're currently residing, though, Butcher is able to keep it funny while constructing rather dark, serious stories. I always look forward to another Dresden book.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Announcement - Sync YA Starts in 1 Month!

It's almost that time of year again! During the summer, Sync YA offers free downloads of two audiobooks a week -- one YA paired with one classic. Over the past couple of years, I've been introduced to some amazing titles through this program. Here are a few of my favorites: (links on titles go to Goodreads)

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (My Review)
The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
Rotters by Daniel Kraus
She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith (My Review)

This year, there looks to be a great line-up once again. There's an Eoin Colfer title being offered right away, Code Name Verity is up for grabs later, and a new Anne of Green Gables recording just a week after that. If you're an audiobook lover, or want to try out this audiobook thing, you should definitely check it out! There's not much risk to you, since they are being offered for FREE! Once this program gets started, I'll be posting weekly reminders for all of you to download these titles.

Start date: May 15

Click here to see the schedule of books being offered this year.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Audiobook Review: Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

Buy from the Book Depository
Title: Enchanted
Author: Alethea Kontis
Series: Woodcutter Sisters, Book 1
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Duration: 7 hours, 46 minutes
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
It isn't easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. 
When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.  
The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past - and hers?
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5

*I downloaded this title from Audiobook Sync during their summer program*

Sunday Woodcutter lives in a unique family that is involved with a lot of magical nonsense. Her aunts are fairy godmothers (though, one of them is not quite good), her sisters each have a special talent or gift, and her adopted brother is part fae. So, it's not quite a surprise when she meets a human-turned-frog and develops a friendship with him. Eventually, they end up falling in love and she kisses him, not realizing that he'd turn human and that her dear friend Grumble is, in fact, Prince Rumbold. The man who the family blames for the death of Sunday's older brother -- talk about a tense situation.

However, the two eventually come together to face the evil of Rumbold's seemingly ageless father and his lover, Sunday's evil fairy-godmother-aunt. They find out that not everything is as it seems in Arilland, and some events have been grossly misrepresented. In order to set things right, Sunday, her family, Rumbold, and his loyal friends come together to find out the truth about what's been going on in the kingdom for so long.

I'm a sucker for fairy tales -- even more so when they're re-imagined and put together in a new way. (Just ask about my Once Upon a Time addiction.) For a fairy-tale lover like me, Enchanted is the perfect book to escape to for a little while.

The first thing I noticed was that Kontis weaved some folk superstition into the fairy tale format. For example, Sunday is a seventh child of a seventh child, and that means she has a bit of extra magic in her. Though most of her family is magical, there are frequent mentions of Sunday's special magical abilities, though I'm not sure that those really played a huge part in the story. I'm hoping it'll be developed further in sequels. But I really liked this amalgamation of superstition from our world into this fairy tale world Kontis created -- for me, it made the story unique and interesting.

Generally, I enjoyed the progression of this story. There are quite a few twists and turns throughout the plot, and the characters are lovely. While Sunday and Rumbold are interesting in and of themselves, I loved the minor characters and hope that we get to learn more about them. (Or maybe some of them can get their own books! I vote for Sunday's sister, Thursday!)

Near the end of the middle, I scrounged for excuses to keep on listening. Everything came together so nicely, and I just needed to know what was going to happen next. I mean, what was Sunday's fairy godmother playing at? And would they save Sunday's sister from the king? And what about Sunday and Rumbold? Would they love each other again? A lot of questions, because there was a lot of drama going on. However, while I like having resolutions, the ending seemed a bit too rushed and tidy. A few things were left open to continue the series, but some things that the characters were making a huge deal about abruptly resolved themselves in an instant. Yes, this is a fairy tale retelling and those sorts of things happen in fairy tales, but I wanted a bit more build-up before getting that full resolution.

As for the format, Kellgren is one of the best narrators I've ever heard. She is incredibly expressive with her voice, and I think that I would have enjoyed this story far less if I had read it in print. There were quite a few times where she said a line with a bit of irony and sarcasm that I don't think I would have caught or put into the words if I'd been reading it myself. As a result, I thought this to be a fairly funny story, and I laughed out loud quite a bit. If you have an option to listen to the audio -- do so. It is excellent.

Overall, I would say this is good for light, fun reading. It's full of drama, fairy tale references, and has quite a bit of humor. I am looking forward to reading the sequel. Or, better yet, listening to it as an audiobook. I hope they've got Katherine Kellgren again!

*Are you an audiobook lover? Check out reviews of other audiobooks at Audiobook Jukebox. Don't forget to add your own reviews to their index!*

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde

This is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating  

Title: The Eye of Zoltar
Author: Jasper Fforde
Publisher: HMH
Expected Publication Date: 7 October 2014 (US Release)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Summary: (taken from Goodreads)
Although she’s an orphan in indentured servitude, sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is pretty good at her job of managing the unpredictable crew at Kazam Mystical Arts Management. After all, she solved the dragon problem, avoided mass destruction by Quarkbeast, and helped improve the state of magic in the Kingdom of Snodd. Yet even Jennifer may be thwarted when the mighty Shandar emerges from his preserved state and presents her with an utterly impossible task—how can a teenage non-magician outsmart the greatest sorcerer the world has ever known? But failure has dire consequences, so Jennifer has little choice but to set off on a journey from which she and her traveling companions may never return. 

Why Eye of Zoltar?

I'll read anything by Jasper Fforde, but I'm a huge fan of this new middle grade series. I like his twist on the coming-of-age orphan story, and the first two books have been highly entertaining and enjoyable.

What are you waiting for this Wednesday?