Audiobook Review: The Lost Gate

Until recently my geek card was a little lacking as I had never read anything by Orson Scott Card. I know! What?! But I found myself quite entranced with his Mither Mages series that I borrowed from the library. I read the first two books in rapid succession and unable to get my hands on a copy of the third book right now I’ve moved on to some other things. But I definitely intend to finish this series!

The Lost Gate: Mithermages, Book 1

Summary from GoodReads:

Danny North knew from early childhood that his family was different, and that he was different from them.  While his cousins were learning how to create the things that commoners called fairies, ghosts, golems, trolls, werewolves, and other such miracles that were the heritage of the North family, Danny worried that he would never show a talent, never form an outself.

He grew up in the rambling old house, filled with dozens of cousins, and aunts and uncles, all ruled by his father.  Their home was isolated in the mountains of western Virginia, far from town, far from schools, far from other people.

There are many secrets in the House, and many rules that Danny must follow.   There is a secret library  with only a few dozen books, and none of them in English — but Danny and his cousins are expected to become fluent in the language of the books.  While Danny’s cousins are free to create magic whenever they like, they must never do it where outsiders might see.

Unfortunately, there are some secrets kept from Danny  as well.  And that will lead to disaster for the North family.

There is a lot going on with this series. Surprisingly I was not at all annoyed to be reading yet another book about a young teenager. Orson Scott Card is an amazing writer and the world sprang to life as I listened to Stefan Rudnicki and Emily Janice Card perform the novel. I enjoyed that there was a mixture of old world building with the gods from the past as well as mythologies interwoven in a contemporary world. If it had just been old world mythologies I would have lost interest fast, but the contemporary world story lines kept me interested and going back for more.

I also enjoyed that the setting was Northern Virginia, or NOVA, as people from there abouts like to call it. I loved that the author used what is often seen from the highways back hollars (hollows) of that area, with a sense of dignity and reason to why some people live the way that they do instead of making fun. I enjoyed the mix of country and city living that was expounded upon and Danny’s exploration of it all. It was fun to follow his adventures.

The narrators were wonderful story tellers and I liked that there were two, with each reading distinct story lines. This back and forth made it easy to keep up with the audible story, though I sometimes got annoyed when the story lines switched. If I had been reading it via paperback I probably would have skipped around a bit. I don’t know if it is a good thing or not that I wasn’t able to. The only thing I had an issue with was the male narrator’s pronunciation of a town I grew up near. But that probably only bothered me because it was jarring to my ears and wouldn’t be to most people’s ears.

If you like high fantasy and contemporary fantasy, or are a fan of either, and want to read something that intertwines the two, in a well written story line, definitely give this series a try. I recommend the audible version because I’m obsessed with audiobooks, but I’m sure reading it hardback or paperback is just as good.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme by The Broke and the Bookish where fellow book bloggers and anyone who wants can contribute to a themed top ten list. This weeks discussion centers around Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds (love reading, are writers, work at a bookstore, etc.). If you want to add to your tbr pile here is a list of books for book nerds on FlavorWire and a long list of books about bookstores on GoodReads.

In no particular order here are a few characters that meet this weeks discussion criteria:

1. Quentin from The Magicians. Quentin’s love of a book series is the whole catalyst to his adventures with magic. You can read my review of it here.


2. Hermoine Granger from The Harry Potter series. Of course I have to include Hermoine, she loved books and studying and her book smarts helped Harry a lot! Hermoine is a great book loving heroine.

Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger

3. Danny from The Lost Gate. Danny is a book smart nerd surrounded by cousins who have magical abilities and make fun of Danny for not being able to produce a clant.  Danny loves to read up on history in order to show a way in which he is smarter than his cousins, but I think he still counts. ;)

The Lost Gate (Mither Mages, #1)

4. Jericho Barrons from Faefever. Not only is Jericho the owner of a bookstore that sounds like a place I could go to and curl up in for hours, but he is obsessed with tracking down one in particular. This series revolves around that one book. Plus, it is one of my all time favorite series! Don’t be fooled by the dime a dozen romance scifi cover. This series has read depth.

Faefever (Fever, #3)

5. Anne from Anne of Green of Gables. Talk about a book nerd! She spent one afternoon drifting down a river in a leaky boat reciting poetry to herself. I just love this character.

Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)

6. Cassia from Matched. Part of Cassia’s quest to discover the truth is also to discover all the banned literature and art that she is not allowed to read or consume. Her love of the written word is what led to her starting a movement. You can read my review of Matched here.

Matched (Matched, #1)

7. Dr. Watson from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Less we forget the only reason any of us know about the adventures of Sherlock is because Dr. Watson wrote about him. Watson’s insight into Holmes is what gave us a character that has spawned dozens of books, movies, and television series.

Lucy Liu as Joan Watson

8. Jo from Little Women. Jo was also a writer and a subplot of the book revolved around her trying to get her works published. And this was a time before there were computers and save buttons. Poor Jo.


9. Jane Austen from Jane Bites Back. In this book Jane is a vampire who runs a book store and is trying to get her second novel published in her spare time. Book nerd alert for sure! While his writing cant be compared to Austen’s herself, Michael Thomas Ford’s contemporary novel is a fun read. Read my review here.

10. Narrator from The Historian. This was a book about books and writings and letters and all things book nerdery. It is rather difficult to explain, but you can check out my attempt over here where I wrote a review.

Book Discussions, Cover Wars, Memes, and Libraries in Trees

Read or join the discussion over on io9 on what readers think will become classic books to future generations. Some people took the discussion seriously . . . and some people did not. Just like usual over here on the internets.

If you haven’t been to their blog, check out The Book Wars. I just love The Cover Wars that take place between the writers of the blog. I almost always judge a book by its cover, I wont even lie about it.

I always enjoy the various postings where bloggers join in the Top Ten Tuesday weekly meme from The Broke and the Bookish. I always mean to join, and I never remember until I’m going through my Reader list of blogs I follow. At the bottom of their posting for the week other book bloggers join in with their own links on that weeks discussion. A great way to connect with other book bloggers!

Next weeks assignment: July 28: Ten Characters Who Are Fellow Book Nerds (love reading, are writers, work at a bookstore, etc.) (inspired by my Top Ten Characters Who Love Words).

Another weekly meme that spotlights upcoming anticipated book releases and that is constantly popping up in my Reader feed, one that gets me to stop my scrolling through my never ending list of blog posts I need to read, is Waiting on Wednesday by Breaking the Spine. A fun way to find out about new upcoming books. Head on over there today for a new discussion and links to more great finds.

Public libraries in trees! This is not a joke. What a great encasement for a book sharing spot. I love it!

In fact, I recently came across a Little Free Library in a tree trunk myself. It looks like people are taking books more than they are adding to the collection. But hopefully that will change as more people in the area discover it.

tree library

Audiobook Review: The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

I was looking for something different when I came across The Chase by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg and read by Scott Brick. Recently I’ve been reading a lot of young adult fantasy and I thought and adult contemporary novel would be a nice palate cleanser. I was right. The Chase was just what I wanted to read next as I listened for 9 hours, 7 minutes, to Scott Brick tell the adventures of FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare and one time con man Nicolas Fox.

Cover of The Chase


Summary from GoodReads:

Internationally renowned thief and con artist Nicolas Fox runs daring cons, now teams undercover for FBI with agent who caught him, Kate O’Hare. Together they catch the world’s most wanted—and untouchable—criminals, next Carter Grove, former White House chief of staff, now ruthless leader of Black Rhino private security for a rare Chinese rooster from the Smithsonian.

Like all Janet Evanovich books, The Chase, which is the second book in the series, was a hilarious romp of various capers and eccentric characters. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was funny, had some clever moments, and was exactly what I expected to read when I chose the book. I didn’t have as many laugh out loud moments as in previous books. This was in part because a couple of Kate’s father’s cronies show up and they were rather reminiscent of various characters in other Evanovich books that I didn’t find their addition to the novel to be all that necessary or new. I will admit there were some tired moments in the book, but over all I found myself enjoying the adventures of Kate and Nicolas.

Part of my discontent with the book was due to listening rather than reading it myself. Maybe I read sarcasm into the characters more than is warranted, but Scott Brick’s choice of no sarcasm in the voice acting characterization of Kate and Nicolas left me a bit baffled. I think it may be because I read the first novel and had my own character voices going that Brick’s skewed slightly away from what I was expecting and that was an internal disappointment others wont experience. I’m not saying he did a bad job, because he did an excellent one, it just wasn’t what my head thought it was going to hear.

While I enjoyed listening to The Chase, if I pick up the third in the series, it will be a paper version that I’ll read quietly laughing to myself.

Audio Book Review: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor

Audio Book Review of Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor read by Khristine Hvam is the third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy. I really liked the first two books in this series and when I saw it was available as an audiobook I snatched it up and devoured it. Not as quickly as I liked though as it is a long book running at 18 hr., 08 min., 28 sec.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Book 3

Summary from Amazon:

What power can bruise the sky?

Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.

When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited–not in love, but in tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.

But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?

The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as–from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond–humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

While I really liked the first two books in the series, I am enthralled with the third book. It is of epic proportions and story telling might. You can read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone and Days of Blood & Starlight at the links provided. This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order or you will get lost. In fact I had not read Days of Blood & Starlight in quite a while and I had a bit of trouble in the beginning catching up to the story line, but I soon did and listened every chance I got.

What I love about the series are all the amazing and strong female characters that are quite a bit different from each other, that lean on each other for support instead of back stabbing each other, and go forth into the universe with their own path to walk, not because they are chasing after a boy. Though there are quite a few complex male characters as well, and the story does have its romances which play into the paths that the female characters choose for themselves.

Also, I’m in love with the voice over actor, Khristine Hvam. She is simply wonderful and I wish I had read all of the books via audiobook just to hear her say the words and work the character voices and accents. She told the story beautifully and captivatingly. Gah! If it wasn’t being automatically returned to the library tomorrow and the second book in my queue due back in two days, I would listen to it again! In fact, I think I need to hunt down some other series that she has read…… OK. Getting back to the task at hand.

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy is a wonderful story full of otherworldly creatures, but centered around universal themes of love, betrayal, life, death, rebirth, and hope. If you enjoy stories with strong female characters and interesting world building, check out this trilogy. And if you like audiobooks or want to give them a try I would highly recommend the audio version of this series.

Audiobook Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

In search again for a series that I could enjoy listening to, I decided to give The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Oz Series, Book 1 a radio dramatization by The Colonial Radio Theatre a try. I read the books when I was younger, but it has been a while. I remember liking the first few quite a bit, and then petering off as the author, L. Frank Baum, got heavier and heavier handed with his message to the reader. The version by The Colonial Radio Theatre was adapted for the dramatization by Jerry Robbins, performed by Jerry Robbins and The Colonial Radio Players.

Cover of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Summary from Brilliance Audio:

One of the true classics of American literature. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful fantasy, peopled with memorable characters — a cornfield scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and a humbug wizard. Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City.

Jerry Robbins did a fair job with his adaption for dramatization. I felt it closely resembled the book, at least from what I can remember. Which may surprise some people as the movie definitely veered away in some aspects. I also quite enjoyed the multiple voice over actors speaking the different parts, that is always far more enjoyable I find. I did have a hard time with the minimization of narration. Often the characters would say things I thought would be better suited for a narration. It was more like a play with a small narrator part than a book being read.

Of course as a dramatization by a theater group, I probably should have expected this. Perhaps, it is because I have Neil Gaiman’s, American Gods on constant repeat as I fall asleep, but I expect a great deal from dramatizations and voice over acting. I find very few productions live up to that particular audiobook. A book that I have found a greater and greater appreciation for the more times I listen to it. You can read my review here.

If you are looking for a family friendly fun theater dramatization of first book in The Wizard of Oz series The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as radio dramatized by The Colonial Radio Theatre is an excellent choice. Plus they did several books in the series, which I may eventually get back to when I’m done with my current selections.

AudioBook Review: A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak: The Saga of Darren Shan

I decided to listen to A Living Nightmare because the whole series is available as audiobooks from the library and I was really hoping to pick up a new series that I could fall in love with. While an entertaining frolic about a freak circus and vampires, I didn’t realize that A Living Nightmare Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan, read by Ralph Lister was about a 12 year old. Yet again, another series geared towards a younger audience than I was anticipating. But I gave it a shot because the story line was interesting and I did enjoy listening as Darren Shan (yes, it is supposedly a “true story”) recounts a living nightmare.

Cover of A Living Nightmare

Summary from

In the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot, New York Times bestseller Cirque du Freak is the first title in the popular Saga of Darren Shan series.

Darren Shan and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the Cirque du Freak, a wonderfully gothic freak show featuring weird, frightening half human / half animals who interact terrifyingly with the audience. In the midst of the excitement, true terror raises its head when Steve recognizes that one of the performers—Mr. Crepsley—is a vampire!

Steve confronts the vampire after the show finishes—but his motives are surprising! In the shadows of a crumbling theater, a horrified Darren eavesdrops on his friend and the vampire, and is witness to a monstrous, disturbing plea. As if by destiny, Darren is pulled to Mr. Crepsley and what follows is his horrifying descent into the dark and bloody world of vampires.

This is Darren’s story.

While I wish I had read the synopsis online before starting this book, I did end up enjoying the book to a degree. And unlike Salem’s Lot, which I have yet to finish because it puts me to sleep so well, I found the story fast paced enough to stay engaged.

I enjoyed that Darren had to deal with the consequences of his decisions to sneak or one night and see a freak show and then steal something he read incapable of handling. I suffered a lot of anxiety for Darren and I do wish the author had made him a little older. It’s a tad frightening the aftermath of his rebellion. I don’t think he handled things well because he was so young and I prefer to see role models than immature kids when I read young adult series. But since this is a series, I will assume Darren does some maturing eventually. I’m not sure I’ll stick with the series to see that though.

The voice acting was good. It probably was what kept me engaged enough to finish the book. So kudos to Ralph Lister.

A decent children’s book with mature themes, A Living Nightmare Cirque de Freak will be interesting to those who enjoy slow build ups, bad decisions by the main character, and frightening vampires.