Top Ten Tuesday: Best Audiobook Performances

The theme for today’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, was basically DO WHAT YOU WANT! And what I want to do is scream from my blog rooftops about my DEEP AND UNDYING LOVE FOR AUDIOBOOKS! I’ll save my full rant for another post next year (yay for future rants!), but I’m just gonna throw this out there: AUDIOBOOKS COUNT AS READING!

Okay, now that that is out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff…THE LIST!

  1. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – Narrated by James Marsters
    Storm Front, the first book in the Dresden Files, was the first audiobook I ever listened to. I will admit that the first few books were a little rough with narration, but once Marsters gets into his groove it is AMAZING. His voice has always been highly pleasurable to listen to (anyone else a fan of his from Buffy?) and I will never say no to a chance to listen to a 14 book series read by him. Side note: his voice for Toot-Toot is stellar and never fails to bring a smile to my face.
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  2. Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown – Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
    The narration of this trilogy is bloodydamn brilliant! The rawness of Tim Gerard Reynolds voice brings such depth to this already fiercely beautiful story. There were moments where I had to stop what I was doing because I was so intensely drawn into the story through the narration.
  3. Iron Gold by Pierce Brown – Narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds, John Curless, Julian Elfer, Aedin Moloney
    Okay, yes…this is book 4 of Red Rising, which went from a trilogy to a saga this year. But I decided to do a separate entry because Iron Gold is told from 4 different POVs and there are 4 separate narrators. Each narrator brings a unique depth to their POV character and once again the intensity of Brown’s words are dialed up to 11 via the narration.
  4. Ready Player One & Armada by Ernest Cline – Narrated by Wil Wheaton
    I mean, was there anyone else more perfect to narrate these books?
  5. Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas – Narrated by Elizabeth Evans
    The voice of Elizabeth Evans IS the voice of Celeana Sardothian. There is no doubt in my mind. She brings to life the brash, confident, and vulnerable parts of Celeana. I intend to finish my audio reread of the series next year (I only made it through Heir of Fire before Kingdom of Ash came out and I HAD to read that book ASAP) and I am nervous about listening to the final book. Evans brings a lot of emotion to her narration and Kingdom of Ash was hard enough to read.
  6. The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli – Narrated by Pearl Mackie
    Pearl Mackie’s voice is like butter. Smooth, delicious, emotional butter. I actually couldn’t get into this book when I was trying to read the physical copy. But the moment I tried the audiobook, at the recommendation of Delara over at @bookwnoname, I was hooked.
  7. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo  – Narrated by Jay Snyder, Brandon Rubin, Fred Berman, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Elizabeth Evans, Tristan Morris
    This was the first full cast audiobook I listened to. And with the exception of the person who narrates the Jasper chapters, I was thoroughly impressed with the narration in this duology. It was surprisingly easy to track each different narrators versions of all the character voices. My one problem was the narrator for Jasper. His voice was wonderful, but there wasn’t enough distinction in his inflection when he spoke for other characters. Other than that, the performances were spot on and full of emotions that added a whole other layer of “feels”.
  8. Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – Narrated by James Marsters
    Yes, James Marsters gets two mentions on this list because he is JUST THAT GOOD. Lord of Shadows had one of the most emotionally traumatic endings in a recent YA book and it was made all the more painful with Marsters’ narration. I was full on sobbing in my cubicle. He uses his voice to evoke such emotions. I’ve been listening to Queen of Air and Darkness while waiting for my physical copy to show up and it is tearing me apart listening to the subtle dread and despair he brings to the opening of this book. Also, as always, his pixies voices are spot on and delightful.
  9. Mistborn (ERA 1 AND ERA 2) by Brandon Sanderson – Narrated by Michael Kramer
    Kramer is like a narrating god. According to my friend who got me into audiobooks, Kramer narrates a lot (and often with his wife, Kate Reading). I’ve never listened to anything by him except the Mistborn books and if those are any indication of his talent, then I consider myself a fan. I am partial to Mistborn Era 2, and Kramer really shines with the rawness of Wax and the many accents of Wayne. This is one of my favorite fantasy series, in both physical and audio form.
  10. The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff  – Narrated by Olivia Taylor Dudley, Lincoln Hoppe, Johnathan McClain
    Okay, so…this is cheating a little bit because I haven’t actually listened to these yet but I just KNOW I’m going to love them. Illuminae was my favorite book I read this year and I’ve heard the audio is beyond stellar. I also realized as I was looking up the narrators that Olivia Taylor Dudley does some of the narration and I LOVE HER (y’all, go watch The Magicians RIGHT NOW! She plays Alice!). The books are incredibly unique in their format and I can’t wait to hear how it all plays out via audio. These will be my first audiobooks of 2019.

 

Do you listen to audiobooks at all? If yes, what are some of your favorites?

Top Three Thursday: Prettiest Book Covers

Hello all and Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it! I am jumping in quickly to drop some beautiful book covers on you before I am lassoed back into the kitchen to help with the cooking. The theme for Top Three Thursday, hosted by A Cosy Reading Blog, is prettiest book covers.

Damsel by Elana K Arnold (Goodreads)damsel

 

There is something about the way the title GLOWS that just draws me in (also the amazing synopsis). I’ve been wanting to pick up a copy since it came out and I think I’ll finally remember to grab one when I do some shopping at Barnes and Nobel on Black Friday.

 

 

 

unkindnessAn Unkindness of Magicians by Kate Howard (Goodreads)

 

I was first drawn to the title of this book, then the synopsis, and then HOT DAMN THIS COVER! It is even more beautiful in person. Sadly, since I am terrible with keeping up with my TBR, this book remains unread. If I don’t get to it by the end of 2018, I certainly will be reading it in 2019.

 

 

 

The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien (Goodreads)two towers

 

One of the things I love to do most is search through used bookstores for different editions of The Lord of the Rings. I’ve got quite a few editions on my shelves, about 5 different editions of each book. But when I found this copy of The Two Towers I just about died. I love this cover so, so, so much!

 

 

What are some of your favorite pretty book covers?

The Backlist: The Illuminae Files

Hello all! I’m back with another set of backlist reviews. This time around I look at The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. This trilogy was one of my surprise reads of 2018. I constantly avoided these books, honestly, because I hated the bright orange cover of Illuminae. Well, you know the saying about judging book covers and ooooh boy did my aversion to orange kick me in the teeth because The Illuminae Files are STELLAR!

 

Illuminae | Read March 1 -3, 2018 | 5 Stars

HOLY HECK I LOVED THIS BOOK! I didn’t know to expect going into this read, but a fast paced, hilarious, and INTENSELY CREEPY science fiction story that was told in an incredible and unique format was not it.

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Me for basically the entire book.

To say this book exceeded my expectations would be a vast understatement. The story stars Kady Grant, a spectacularly snarky computer hacker, Ezra Miller, her very pretty and very recent ex-boyfriend, and AIDAN, who I won’t say much about because I’m not sure if it’d count as spoilers but hot damn they are the best character. There is inaudible profanity, snark, slow burn creepiness, snark, space battles, snark, dire situations with dire consequences, and oh, did I mention the SNARK? This little quick review doesn’t even begin to describe all the awesome held within the obscenely orange cover of this book. If you like science fiction, or want to dip a toe into this genre pool, I 1000% recommend this book. Honestly, it is probably my favorite book read in 2018.

 

Gemina | Read March 7 – 16, 2018 | 4.5 stars

Oh boy, was I full of trepidation going into this one. I’m never a fan when a story suddenly shifts to the perspectives of whole new characters for large chunks of the story. What if these new characters didn’t fill the snarky, murder-y desires of my heart? But my fears were for naught BECAUSE HOLY HECK I LOVED THIS BOOK! Honestly, I have but one issue with this book and I’ll save it for the very end of this review because it is a spoiler (don’t worry, I’ll put up a warning before it hits). In Gemina, we get a new main trio to love, along with a cast of awesome and/or villainous characters. Hanna is the rich, spoiled, but well-trained daughter of Jump Station Heimdall’s captain. Nik is the attractive bad boy from the station’s crime family who supplies Hanna with drugs and snark. And Ella is Nik’s cousin who put’s Kady’s wit and hacking skills to shame. All three of them are forced to work together as a BeiTech strike team attack the jump station. But there is another sinister and creepy plot going on throughout the jump station and basically everything crescendos into glorious chaos. This book is another intense and snarky space adventure told in the same amazing format as the previous book. And now we come to the…

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SPOILER ALERT!

Literally the ONLY reason I knock this book down to a 4.5 is because of the author’s fall back on killing off a main character in an emotionally traumatic way and then bringing them right back. I LOATHE when this becomes a repeat thing. And while it was handled in a different way than in Illuminae, it still irritated me a bit.

END SPOILERS!

 

Obsidio | Read March 17 – 24, 2018 | 4 stars

I struggled with the rating of this one. Honestly, as I write this I am still wavering if I should kick it up to 4.5. Because this was a fantastic end to this trilogy. But I can’t explain much without being completely spoilery. I’ll dance around it for a bit and see if I can figure out how to say it. This book brings us yet another new set characters and I think these are the ones that deeply explore the emotional trauma of war/invasion the most. The scenes on the occupied surface of Kerenza are intense. It reminded me a lot of Season 3 of Battlestar Galactic. But even with how emotionally impactful the concept of the Kerenza scenes were, I felt like I had very little left to give the new characters. I think they were still well written and the Kerenza plot was good, but I spent most of the time waiting for scenes with the original crew. The plot is tense, and the action is superb. There are twists and turns and some damn fine writing. Certain things that are revealed in this book kinda blew my mind a little bit. As an ending goes, it was wholly satisfying.

SPOILERS BELOW FOR WHY I KNOCKED THIS ONE DOWN TO 4 STAR

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The authors pulled the “dead but not dead” fake out AGAIN! I was so damn angry with this. So angry. It’s lazy and I saw it coming a mile away. It makes me even angrier considering how often Jay Kristoff harps on other writers for lazy writing (his Instagram stories are amusing AF). And now that I’m typing this out I am fully okay with a 4 star. Either kill your darlings or don’t. You shouldn’t have it both ways. Especially more than once. Ugh.

END SPOILERS

 

All in all, I am angry at myself for staying away from these books for so long (*shakes fist at orange cover of Illuminae*). While I had one consistent issue with these books, I still consider them one of my new favorite Sci Fi series. I’d give the trilogy as a whole 4.5 stars. Kaufman and Kristoff have a new Sci Fi series that they are working on and HOLY HECK I CANNOT WAIT!

 

Thanks for joining me for another Backlist post! I’m not sure which ones I’ll be doing next. I must go stare at my shelves and see what jumps out at me.

The Backlist: Weregirl Trilogy

Many moons ago, when I was first starting to gain traction in the #bookstagram community I was asked by Chooseco Publishing to review their upcoming book, Weregirl: Typhon. I got the book and then realized that it was third in a series. I managed to snag a copy of the first book in a used bookstore and then I got a copy of the second book through NetGalley. This is all to tell you that 2 out of the 3 reviews below are from books that were provided to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own and are in no way impacted by the publisher providing me a copy of the book.

 

Weregirl | Read August 31 – September 3, 2018 | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

Weregirl is not your average werewolf story. Instead of pack mentality and alpha wolves, we are given a shadowy bio-tech corporation and a newly turned werewolf who must figure out her new powers on her own. While I appreciated that the main character, Nessa, wasn’t a typical YA MC, many of the side characters were not fleshed out nearly enough and fell flat for me. There was also quite a bit of focus on Nessa’s high school struggles. While I tend to read a lot of YA, I have to be in the right mood to handle high school stories and I don’t think I was in quite the right mood when I read this. Though, I do feel that Nessa’s personal struggles make her relatable and vulnerable to the reader. The book was at time predictable, but I appreciated a different take on a “new werewolf” story.

 
Weregirl: Chimera | Read September 3 – September 5, 2018 | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

The 2nd book in the Weregirl trilogy, Chimera, takes us back into the life of Nessa and her newfound status of werewolf in the small town of Tether. If you thought Weregirl was wild, well, Chimera kicks it up a few notches. Which is both good and bad…
In Chimera we get more background into Nessa’s mother and her estranged father. All that background could be a trilogy of its own. Chimera felt at times, slow and then suddenly fast paced, because of all the plot and twists. This book is much heavier on the science side, with more exploration into hybrids and chimeras (whether or not the science holds up is beyond me). I also really enjoyed the relationships between characters in this book and how they evolved.

One of my biggest complaints is the writing style and this may come from the fact that C.D. Bell is actually a group of six authors all writing one book. I find that sometimes Nessa will realize something important, seemingly forget it, and then remember it all over again. Which really throws off the pacing. While I am all for collaboration, this is something that should have been noted and fixed in editing.

All in all, Chimera was a decent second book to this series. I truly enjoy the “evil science corporation” side of this werewolf story and this makes it stand out over more traditional werewolf books. A lot of this book felt like set up for the third book and that made it a little less enjoyable than the first book.

 
Weregirl: Typhon | Read October 19 – October 22 (ARC read) | 3 Stars (Goodreads)

From start to finish the Weregirl trilogy has been a solid and unique werewolf story. Weregirl: Typhon continues much in the same fashion as the first books: new characters are introduced, the story is intriguing, and I enjoy the science-y edge these books bring to the werewolf genre. However, like the first two books, there are times when the plot slows down and sometimes I want to yell at Nessa A LOT for her choices. Which, I get it, she is a teenager and teenagers are supposed to make stupid choices sometimes. Honestly I want to yell at a lot of teenagers for their choices (I swear, I’m not a bitter old lady AT ALL). Anyways, I do like how the friendship between Nessa and Bree stayed solid throughout the series. This is a great representation of friendship, especially female friendship and that is sometimes quite hard to find in YA books.

At the end of the day, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking in these books. I found them enjoyable enough, but they didn’t make my reread list which is a true sign to me of a great book (at least, a great book in my opinion). I would recommend them to anyone who likes werewolf stories and is looking for a slightly different take on typically werewolf mythology.