11 August 2013

Since 2013 has truly been a year of reading and listening to whatever I want, I've felt a complete lift in the pressures of blogging daily. Not to mention that I have no commitment to read a book unless I want to read it, and that's left me time to walk the shelves of my local bookstore or library, picking whatever fits my mood. 2013 has been much better for me.

So when I decided to listen to an entire series on audio and not blog about each one upon completion, yet again, more burdens lifted, therefore making the experience of not rushing to finish, to simply enjoy the story was a result that I much prefer.

The Beautiful Creatures series is one I've eyed for a while, simply because I do like Young Adult fiction, and this one seemed like a nice step into more of that power/paranormal/spells kind of feeling that is certainly very popular lately. Book 1, Beautiful Creatures (now a movie) was available for sale on Audible.com, so I decided to download it.

I must admit, while there wasn't anything particularly groundbreaking or earth-shattering to this series, I enjoyed every second of it. There is definitely a lot of gooey romance between the two main characters, but I'm not the primary audience for this tale, so it's easy to shrug it off and just enjoy the entire journey of two kids who fall madly in love in the middle of South Carolina, who really shouldn't be together.

Lena Duchannes just moved to the tiny town of Gatlin, South Carolina and is trying her best to hide her powers. When Ethan Wate sees Lena, he realizes that she is the beautiful girl he's been dreaming of for months. As he searches for the reasons why he is drawn to her, a thrilling adventure begins as they partner to uncover Lena's family secrets and curses, with Lena learning more about her own powers. Ethan finds there is much more to the world than just the tiny town of Gatlin than he ever knew before., and with dark and surprising plot twists and character developments (loved Lena's Uncle Macon and Ethan's Ama, but I especially loved Ethan's best friend, Link), along with a labyrinth of surprising tunnels connecting towns to an underground of the paranormal, the Beautiful Creatures' series is fun to spend time with and get pulled into.

With Kevin T. Collins narrating, the story is even more engaging. He was perfect as Ethan and even though I love Khristine Hvam for her work in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, it did throw me for a loop when her voice entered onto the scene in Book 3. Not a big deal at all, but after a while, you get used to one voice so having a new one in there is strange, at first. Sort of like having a friend around for hours on end, and then someone else gets dropped into the mix of it. Not bad, just different and you have to get used to the new voice.

A fun story all around, with some sad moments that came out of nowhere, but perfectly fit into the growth of the characters. A treat to listen to while doing errands around the house and driving.

Dream Dark
Book 2.5: A fun surprise, but not required for the entire series
Not listening to this short installment won't have you wondering what's going on in Book 3, but it was nice to see things from Link's perspective and his own journey into another world.

About the Authors (from their website)
Kami Garcia is a teacher and reading specialist with an MA in education, and leads book groups for children and teenagers. Margaret Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. They both live in Los Angeles, California, with their families. Beautiful Creatures is their debut novel.

Visit the authors:

About the Narrators

Kevin T. Collins is an acclaimed stage and screen actor, music composer, recording artist, and professional voice-over actor located in New York City. Click here to visit his website.

Khristine Hvam is a successful narrator with an established history of performances ranging from commercials for radio, TV, and film, documentaries, video games, audiobooks, and more. Click here to visit her website.


09 August 2013

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan

It may have been the mood I was in last month, or the fact that I love the New England coastline. Or it could have just been the continuance of books that aren't normally something I would read ultimately becoming home runs for me, but Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan was a wonderful way to spend a quiet weekend.

Maine is a multi-view story from four women in one family, the Kellehers, and dysfunctional doesn't do their family relationship justice as a proper definition. With Alice as the 83-year-old matriarch and widow of loving Daniel, she has her own demons to contend with which extend much further than just a history of drinking. Kathleen is Alice's oldest daughter who will always be in recovery from her own battles with alcohol, but also maintains a chip on her shoulder that even her daughter, Maggie, cannot stand. Ann Marie, the dutiful wife of Kathleen's brother and Alice's son, Patrick, doesn't see a day go by that one couldn't roll their eyes and scream "martyr" at her. Rounding it all out is Maggie, Kathleen's daughter, who is going through her own self-discovery and growth, and the realization that she doesn't have to settle for the wrong man.

All of these characters had aspects I completely despised, but out of all of them, my biggest dislike was Kathleen. I didn't have much sensitivity for her since I felt she was just a nasty, selfish individual with her family and while her family is much bigger than these four women, Kathleen will always live in the past and will always define every comment, look, and action from others as a direct attack. She was exhausting to read through, even though I was massively interested in her story.

Maggie was one who meant the most to me, given her situation she painfully deals with, but I admit I was surprised how much I supported and liked Ann Marie. Yes, I feel she acted the martyr every now and again, but I also felt she was sorely misunderstood by everyone else and truly taken advantage of. Kindness always seems to be looked at as a weakness in our society.

Maine is a quiet and comprehensive study of a dysfunctional family whose pain stretches much deeper and longer than the current youthful generation. The Kellehers are nasty, biting, loving, devoted, but will stab you in the back just as fast.

I know many felt that not much happened in this story, but I beg to differ. This thorough approach to the family's pain and memories has a lot happening beneath the layers. Once you fit into that groove, it's hard to put down.

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Release Date: 5/9/2012
Pages: 528

About the Author (from her website)
J. Courtney Sullivan is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels Commencement and Maine. Maine was named a Best Book of the Year by Time magazine, and a Washington Post Notable Book for 2011. Courtney’s writing has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Men’s Vogue, and the New York Observer, among others. She is a contributor to the essay anthology The Secret Currency of Love and co-editor of Click: When We Knew We Were Feminists. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Visit the author:


08 August 2013

Yes, another Stephen King readalong and I'm just not apologizing.

Listen. I'm almost seven months pregnant and everything hurts. I rarely have the energy to crack open the books I'm reading right now but of course I'm not stopping. Although I am working on Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw which easily pulls you in, I was craving more Stephen King after just finishing Under the Dome. Lo and behold, Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity posts about another fantastic readalong with Cavalcade of Awesome for The Talisman and I'm in. This time, it will be a complete listen-along for me. I've downloaded the twenty-eight hours and I'm already freaked out by the opening scenes of this fantasy tale.

A while back, the Stephen King Goodreads group run by one of our Under the Dome participants, Angela's Anxious Life, discussed what you should read before you read The Dark Tower series. I plan to read this one day, and as many may already know, Uncle Stevie's books are almost all intertwined in some way, thus creating the infamous "Stephen King Universe." A fabulous flow chart creator, TessieGirl, designed the below to show the connections characters and storylines and towns, plus more, have to each other. Crazy, huh? What an incredible job she did.

Who made this flow chart? Why, TessieGirl did.
Anyway, The Talisman is one of those books you're supposed to read before you dive into The Dark Tower series. The suggested reading list by the Goodreads' group to prep is here in several different installments.

So, I'm in! For more details, click here and here, but there is nothing formal as far as sign-ups and links, and if you want to participate in live conversations, head to Twitter and use #TalismanAlong as your net.