Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Title: On the Jellicoe Road
Author: Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 Stars
I'm dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.

Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs—the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.

And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor's only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother—who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.

I can’t write a coherent review right now. Probably ever. My mind is a tangle of thoughts and emotions. Melina Marchetta, what have you done to me?

This book is so achingly sad. This sadness seeped into my heart gradually. One drop after another, and then BAM! And it was overwhelming, and I couldn’t take it anymore, and I couldn’t breathe, and I was crying , crying…

Many reviewers mentioned that at first On the Jellicoe Road was very confusing, and that they straggled with the beginning of the book. So I braced myself for this, but it never came. I was under Marchetta’s spell from the first sentence. Opening line that gripped me right away:

"My father took one hundred and thirty-two minutes to die. I counted."

Melina Marchetta’s writing is beautiful and after I turned the last page I had a strong urge to open the book again and start from the beginning. This story has haunting quality; I can’t stop thinking about it.

And her characters, these wonderful broken characters. I loved them. Each of them has a special spot in my heart.

This book resonated with me on such deep level. There was something cathartic in reading it.

If you haven’t read On the Jellicoe Road yet, do it right now. And I dare you not to fell in love with this beautiful and heartbreaking story.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Audio Obsession #3. Favorite audiobooks

Audio Obsession is a feature where I spread my love for audiobooks around blogosphere. Here you’ll see all things audio related.

Today I want to share with you my favorite audiobooks. I also asked my blogger friends and fellow audiobook lovers to share their favorite titles.

Rachel from Reader's Den

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes narrated by: Elizabeth Bower, Ben Elliot, Nicola Stanton, and Steven France
The story is beyond amazing, and I think the narration only enhanced this beautiful story. There are four narrators all with English accents, one for each of the main characters. This is a rarity with audiobooks; most only have one narrator, so it was a treat to have one for each POV. All sounded age appropriate and just right for the character.
The Iron Druid Chronicles (the whole series) by Kevin Hearne narrated by Luke Daniels
The story is out of my comfort zone, because at first there is no romance. BUT the series is soooo good it doesn't need it. Romance junkies fear not, I did say at first. Luke Daniels nails the humor and accents and I dare you not to laugh throughout.
Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs narrated by Lorelei King
One of my favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite narrators. I love this series even more with every book I "read". Lorelei King is another narrator who has a gift with comedic timing. She also narrates the Charley Davidson series which is a laugh a minute!
It's very difficult to narrow down to three favorites because I have so many. The Others by Anne Bishop is also one of my favorite series. The best fantasy I've read, and narration is top notch. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning. After book three we get Natalie Ross and Phil Gigante. Mac and Barrons are brought to life by these talented performers! Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews narrated by Renee Raudman. I could go on, and on and on!

Arlene from Waves of Fiction

Here are some of my favorite titles I’ve enjoyed these past few months that are worth checking out!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah narrated by Polly Stone
The Nightingale was absolutely AMAZING! Kristin Hannah is a master storyteller that knows how to weave time, people, places and events in a way that creates an adventure that is hard to let go and forget. Couple that with the amazing narration of Polly Stone, and there’s no doubt that The Nightingale will remain one of my top picks for this year.
I Was Here by Gayle Forman narrated by Jorjeana Marie
This was one of the first audiobooks I downloaded from Overdrive. I was extremely excited to dive into this one because I had the chance to meet the narrator, Jorjeana Marie, at the book signing for I Was Here. She read a caption from the book to the audience, and I was absolutely hooked!! Her narration of this story makes it even more compelling and spellbinding. I believe I finished this audiobook in just two days. Definitely one that I highly recommend!
Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby narrated by Amanda Wallace
If I had to choose one final audio book to recommend, Things We Know by Heart would have to make the top three. This story was perfect for me because the narration, plot, and characters equally captured my attention and took me on an emotional roll-a-coater. Kirby’s novel has staying power with me because she knows how to tell an amazing story, and the narrator Amanda Wallace knew how to bring it to life. I really enjoyed this one!!

Breakable by Tammara Webber narrated by Zachary Webber
The narrator had a sexy voice and sounded just like Lucas
Angelfall by Susan Ee narrated by Caitlin Davies


It’s hard for me to choose, because I love audiobooks and there so many amazing ones. But if I have to narrow down to three, here they are:

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater narrated by Steve West, Fiona Hardingham
It was my first book by Maggie Stiefvater and it is my favorite one. I love everything about this book: original idea behind it, unique setting, amazing characters and of course beautiful writing. Narrators Steve West and Fiona Hardingham perfectly captured mood of this story and brought to life main characters Puck and Sean.
Where She Went by Gayle Forman narrator Dan Bittner
I’ve read my first book by Gayle Forman only this year and became an instant fan. Where She Went is a beautiful heartbreaking and emotional story. Adam is one of the most genuine male voices I’ve come across. This book resonated with me on such deep level. The audiobook is narrated by my favorite male narrator Dan Bittner. His performance is amazing and he added so much to the story.
Fever series by Karen Marie Moning
Urban Fantasy is not actually my genre since I’m a contemporary girl. I’ll choose mundane problems and feelings of imperfect people over action packed paranormal book every time. But I loved this series! The author created a fascinating world full of dangerous creatures, weaved intriguing plot with mysteries, twists and turns on every page. She added to the mix alluring and sensual romance. The result was imputable. I binge listened to the whole series last year. First three books were narrated by Joyce Bean and she did a great job. But the audio version began to really shine from the forth book when we have a dual narration by Phil Gigante and Natalie Ross. Their performance of Mac and Baron is perfect.

What are you favorite audiobooks? Tell me in comments.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Audiobook review: Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1) by Karen Marie Moning

Title: Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander #1)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Narrator: Phil Gigante
Story rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 2 of 5 Stars
An Alluring Laird

He was known throughout the kingdom as Hawk, legendary predator of the battlefield and the boudoir. No woman could refuse his touch, but no woman ever stirred his heart—until a vengeful fairy tumbled Adrienne de Simone out of modern-day Seattle and into medieval Scotland. Captive in a century not her own, entirely too bold, too outspoken, she was an irresistible challenge to the sixteenth-century rogue. Coerced into a marriage with Hawk, Adrienne vowed to keep him at arm's length—but his sweet seduction played havoc with her resolve.

A Prisoner in Time

She had a perfect "no" on her perfect lips for the notorious laird, but Hawk swore she would whisper his name with desire, begging for the passion he longed to ignite within her. Not even the barriers of time and space would keep him from winning her love. Despite her uncertainty about following the promptings of her own passionate heart, Adrienne's reservations were no match for Hawk's determination to keep her by his side....

Are you a fan of Fever series by Karen Marie Moning? My advice to you: don’t compare Beyond the Highland Mist with Fever. I know, I know, it’s impossible. Oh, well… I’m a huge fun of Fever series. Before I started Beyond the Highland Mist I’ve read a lot of disappointed reviews from those readers, who wanted more Fever from the author. So I lowered my expectations, and was prepared for the worst. Or so I thought.

While reading this book I kept seeing glimpses of future Fever series (which Moning wrote seven years later). Beyond the Highland Mist reads like a draft to Fever.

I should probably tell right away that I rarely read Historical Romance; and I can count on the fingers on one hand the number of times when I picked up a Highlander Romance. It’s just not appealing to me. I prefer contemporary, but I needed a book with time-traveling for my challenge so I decided to try this book.

I can’t say that Beyond the Highland Mist is very bad. Hawk was your usual romance alpha-hero: strong, beautiful, honorable, skilled in bed and madly in love with the heroine. Adrianne however was not your usual shy virginal heroine. She was a strong-willed, outspoken and smart woman. I really liked her.

Adrienne was thrust from modern-day Seattle into medieval Scotland where she was forced to marry Hawk. While both of them went into this marriage unwillingly they felt instant attraction. I already knew that Moning can write smut. Adrianne and Hawk’s interactions were full of sexual chemistry. Moning’s writing is so deliciously sensual. But I wasn’t sold on their insta-love. Their feelings to each other progressed in such unrealistic pace

The other thing that bothered me was how easily Adrienne embraced her new life. She was so ready to leave 21 Century behind. I get that she was an orphan and didn’t have any family, but why didn’t she have any friends? With her personality I find this unbelievable. At one moment in the book she told that she didn’t want to return in future because in her time people were cruel and they killed each other. Like life in medieval Scotland was peaceful and not savage at all.

In truth I contemplated DNFing this book multiple times. The only reason I finished it was my reading challenge.

Side note: I could live without comparison of Hawk’s manhood to stallion’s one. These remarks that Hawk was hang like a stallion really grated on my nerves.

My thoughts about the audiobook

Beyond the Highland Mist is narrated by Phil Gigante who also happened to narrate Fever series. I absolutely loved his performance in Fever; I added him to my list of favorite narrators, and I actually made a shelf for him on GR. So I was really looking forward to listen to this audiobook.

But I didn’t take into consideration one thing. In Fever we had a dual narration. Natalie Ross narrated female voices while Phil Gigante narrated male voices. Beyond the Highland Mist is narrated only by Phil Gigante, so he performs male as well as female voices. And while I love his deep rich low masculine voice, I’m not impressed by his high-pitched female voices. I know it’s probably difficult for a man with a low voice to sound like a female, but it lessened my enjoyment of the audiobook.

I didn’t like Beyond the Highland Mist, but I’m not a fun of Highlander Romance and I couldn’t help myself but compare this book to the Fever series. I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews, so probably it’s just me.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Audiobook review: Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

Title: Where She Went (If I Stay #2)
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Dan Bittner
Story rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 5 of 5 Stars
It's been three years since the devastating accident...three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future—and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Gayle Forman writes such beautiful and heartbreaking stories. I loved this book even more than If I Stay. I fell in love with Adam. I don’t remember the last time when I was so connected with a male character. I applaud Gayle Forman for creating such a strong and genuine voice.

What this book is about? I can tell you it’s about a heartbroken rock-star. And formally it is, but Adam is so far from your stereotypical hero.

I felt so much, my heart broke for Adam, and of course I cried, and I hoped… It was a very intense reading for me. It’s amazing how the author managed to pack into a short book such enormous emotional punch. It almost knocked me down.

My thoughts about the audiobook

I loved the audiobook, and I’m totally biased. You see, Dan Bittner is my favorite male narrator, and I would love anything, narrated by him. I have a huge crush on his voice. So, yes, I highly recommend the audiobook.

Where She Went is a beautifully-written emotional story and Adam is amazing character. If you haven’t read this duology yet, please, do it now.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Audiobook review: If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman

Title: If I Stay (If I Stay #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Narrator: Kirsten Potter
Story rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Audio rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Overall rating: 5 of 5 Stars


If I Stay by Gayle Forman was on my to-be-read shelf for a long-long time. Many of my friends have read and highly praised it. I don’t have a good reason why I haven’t picked it up sooner. I guess it just stayed buried under new releases. Then the movie was released, and everyone was talking about this book again. And again I stayed away. It looks like I just needed a good push to finally read it. For me such a push was a reading challenge. So I’ve finally read it. Now I’m mad at myself for waiting so long, because I loved this book. It ended up on “my-true-book-love” shelf, and I don’t give up a spot there easily.

This story is unique. What genre is it? Probably contemporary with a touch of paranormal. Such books often don’t work or me. I prefer my stories to be solid contemporaries without any paranormal distractions or paranormal novels with werewolves, vampires and other creatures. But everything worked wonderfully in this case.

Mia and her family got into a car crush. Then something strange happened, she didn’t die, she became a ghost. This book consists of Mia’s present, her memories about her parents, friends and her boyfriend Adam.

Before I started If I Stay I worried about its size. It is rather short book. It’s not an easy task to make well-developed characters, interesting plot and genuine emotions in a short format. I shouldn’t have been worried. Gayle Forman managed it all. If I Stay is so emotionally charged; I’m in awe with author’s talent. It was like I was there with Mia. I felt her confusion, her grieve, her hopes and her despair.

Gayle Forman’s writing is beautiful. Not too flourish, but easy-flowing, lyrical and emotional. I want more and more and more of her words. She takes mundane moments and transforms them into something emotionally charged and moving.

And the romance. This Romance… I loved Mia and Adam together. They are both musicians and it added something special. Music is a big part of this book. It helps us to understand characters better. Since both Adam and Mia are musicians, it’s easier for them to express themselves through music. They met thanks to music, it stayed with them, and at the end (the most crucial scene in the book) it was also music.

I planned to watch a movie, but now I’m not sure about it. I loved the book so much; I don’t think the movie can reach this level of emotions for me.

My thoughts about the audiobook

This audiobook is narrated by Kirsten Potter, and she is one of my favorite narrators. She brings so much to the story. I’m not sure she is the best choice for this particular audiobook, though. Mia is seventeen, Kirsten Potter just doesn’t sound like a 17 years old girl; her voice is older and more mature. But despite this I still recommend the audiobook, because her performance is amazing. She perfectly captured Mia’s emotions and really brought this character to life.

If I Stay is a beautiful emotional and unique story about choices, about family and friendship and love. I highly recommend it.


Monday, September 7, 2015

Review: The Mistake (Off-Campus #2) by Elle Kennedy

Title: he Mistake (Off-Campus #2)
Author: Elle Kennedy
My rating: 3 of 5 Stars


A while ago all I’ve seen in my feed was this book: updates, quotes, reviews and comments nonstop. I decided to wait until the hype would wear off a little before picking it up.

The book started off well. Elle Kennedy’s writing is engaging and easy-flowing. I was really enjoying the first third of The Mistake, but gradually I began to lose interest and became annoyed.

This book is about Logan, whom we know from the first book. He’s in love with his best friend’s girlfriend. He’s ashamed of it and copes with it with a stream of girls and meaningless sex. One day he stumbled into Grace’s dorm room by mistake. She is a freshman who has been worshipping hot hockey-player Logan from afar. One thing led to another and she almost gave her V-card to him. But Logan ruined the evening with his behavior. Now summer is over and with school year starting Logan has all intentions to win Grace back. Only will she let him?

I really liked Logan and Grace together at first. Their interactions were believable and the chemistry definitely was there. However when they met again after their fall out my interest began to waver.

I didn’t get why Logan was so obsessed with Grace. Why he decided that she was the one for him. It was like one moment he was hang up on Hannah, and the next it was all about Grace.

There was another thing that grated on my nerves. How Logan described himself in his POV. Here an example for you. Logan’s mother called him right after he had a shower:

“Hey, Mom,” I greet her, gripping the edge of my towel as I head for the dresser.

“Hey, Mom,” I greet her, gripping the edge of my towel as I head for the dresser.
And later during the same call from his mother:

I set the phone down and drop my towel, then yank a pair of sweatpants up my hips. My hair is still wet, sprinkling droplets down my bare chest, so I rub the towel over my head before picking up the phone again.

I found this ridiculous. I get that the author wants us to drool over Logan’s hotness, but wasn’t there another way to do it? Like maybe in Grace’s POV…

I also wasn’t happy with how Logan’s family issues were handled. Some serious topics were raised in this book, but it was like the author just used Logan’s situation at home just to make him more interesting. It all felt forced and not genuine. And this abrupt half-baked resolution didn’t help either. The last scene between Logan and his father made me roll my eyes.

The best aspect of The Mistake for me was the bromance between the guys. Their teasing and banter make me smile and laugh out loud. It’s apparent that they cared about each other and when one of them was in trouble, others were ready to help.

I realized that my review sounds more negative than I intended. It’s just that there were several aspects that annoyed me a lot, but overall my feelings after finishing this book were positive. Though The Mistake was just an ok read for me, in comparison to many bad NA it definitely stands out. This was an entertaining, lighthearted story with steamy romance and a lot of funny, laugh out loud moments. If you liked The Deal, I definitely recommend The Mistake to you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Audio Obsession #2. What stops you from listening to audiobooks? (Part 2)

Audio Obsession is a feature where I spread my love for audiobooks around blogosphere. Here you’ll see all things audio related.

What stops you from listening to audiobooks?

Today I continue discussion that I started in this post. I love audiobooks, but many readers don’t listen to audio. What stops people? I’ve come across several reasons and today I continue to discuss them.

I don’t listen to audiobooks, because I’m easily distracted. My mind wonders, and I don’t remember, what I’ve just listened.

My advice: find a book you are dying to read. A book with engaging plot, interesting characters, a book that makes you feel and think. Believe me you wouldn’t get distracted in this case.

I can’t highlight and make bookmarks.

It’s really a big issue for me. As a reader I like to highlight my favorite quotes, so I can later reread them. As a reviewer I want to be able to bookmark important scenes, so when I’m writing my review I can quickly find information. And I love to put quotes in my reviews. So if I really loved an audiobook, there are big chances that I would buy a book.

I can’t get into the audiobook, because I don’t like how male narrator performs female voices and vice versa?

Well sometimes I have this issue too. It’s especially difficult for a male narrator to pull off believable and natural female voices. I don’t like when male narrators go for a high-pitched voices in this case. I admit I had problems on several occasions. More often this happens with narrators with low, deep, masculine voices.

So my advice to you: go for a dual or multiple narrations. My latest audiobook with multiple narrations was One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. I also highly recommend audiobooks of The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater and Fever series by Karen Marie Moning (note: first three books were narrated by Joyce Bean, after that there was amazing dual narration).

I don’t have many opportunities to listen; my commute is ten minutes long.

I agree that if you only have ten minutes a day to listen it’s hard to enjoy audiobooks. To listen in small portions with long periods of not-listening is very frustrating. But ask yourself: Do you really have only ten minutes a day for audiobooks? You see, when I first started my audio journey I had a feeling that I had no time to listen. Gradually I began to find more and more opportunities to put my ear buds in. Nowadays I listen to audiobooks while I’m cleaning, cooking, ironing, even applying make-up, when I’m shopping or sitting in line to get somewhere.

So tell me, do you listen to audiobooks? If not, what stops you? Have I convinced you to pick up an audiobook?