Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mini Reviews 5: (Mostly) Audio Fun

Here we are again! I'm starting to love these minis. They are lots of fun to write and I feel less pressure when I do write them. Three of the five were audiobooks, so I figured the title was (mostly) accurate. Enjoy!

In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce
Publisher: Various
Publication date: 1990
Pages: 256
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Fun
Series: Song of the Lioness, Book 2

Alanna's further adventures, as squire to Prince Jonathan, become even more dangerous as she continues to masquerade as a boy.  A dangerous and powerful magician is out to get not only her but those she cares about.

My thoughts: I loved watching Alanna grow into herself, accept herself as a woman, and learn to love.  She is still the same person, which I think is fabulous, but she has new parts to herself and has grown even more.  I thought it covered a lot of time in a very short book.  Which isn't bad, but it just seems like a lot happens and happens quickly.  I was also rather surprised at the direction it took. I figured the stuff that happened at the end would only come at the end of the entire series.  I'm happy to be wrong and look forward to seeing where the next books take me!  This was another audiobook and I still love the narrator.  She portrays Alanna so well and does a few accents to help me keep the characters separate.  I love the characters and the setting and just everything about this series.  This is my kind of story.  

The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley, adapted by Yuri Rasovsky
Publisher: Zorro Productions and Blackstone Audio
Publication date: April 2011
Source: Audiobook won from Devourer of Books

For: Fun
Series: There are lots of Zorro books

Don Diego, a foolish and weak but rich young man, is being forced into taking a wife by his father.  He attempts to woo the smart and independent Lolita Pulido.  But her heart belongs to the dashing, daring, brave Zorro, a masked menace to the corrupt officials in the town. 

My thoughts: This was a good old fashioned, swashbuckling story.  I love Zorro stories (though I've never read one, so I'm basing it on the movie), but this one was just perfect, complete with do-gooder outlaw, beautiful lady, and corrupt leaders.  While the story is a bit simplistic, black and white, and just plain obvious, I think it is meant to be that way.  And it still is charming.  I really liked the full cast narration (Val Kilmer was not hard to listen to).  The accents and the voices and the sound effects made the story truly come to life. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Publisher: Various
Publication date: 1962
Pages: 280
Source: audiobook from the library
For: Reread (for 50th Anniversary post)
Series: A Wrinkle in Time Quartet, Book 1

Meg does not fit in anywhere in her life, at school and even at home.  She's always fighting people and in trouble.  But when she gets a chance to find her father who's disappeared and to travel with some unusual new friends, she jumps at the chance.  And life will never be the same for her and her family.

My thoughts: I've already talked about much that I liked in my post about sharing this book.  But, I love the characters and the epic journey feel of the story.  I loved how broad and how huge its scope is - travel in space and how time and science play a huge part of it.  But I also love the religious aspects.  I know many people don't, but I am a religious person and found those parts added a layer and meaning to the book that resonated with me.  And yet, the book is still very strange, odd, and confusing even.  I wish I'd read it as a child.  My biggest complaint on this reread (er, relisten?) was that it was read by the author.  While this added another aspect of passion and meaning, I found her voice very annoying.  And I absolutely loathed Mrs. Which's voice, which had a strange echoing effect that bothered me to no end.  Definitely listen to one not narrated by the author.  She wrote interesting books, but she was not a good narrator.

Tris & Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication date: October 2011
Pages: 272
Source: e-book from NetGalley
For: Review

Izzie is content with her life, she has a sweet boyfriend and a great best friend.  But life gets turned upside down when an interesting new guy, Tristan, shows up and a mix up in magical potions leaves her feeling confused.  Even more distressing is the strange creatures that begin stalking Izzie.  Will she figure out her feelings for Mark and Tris or will she be destroyed by monsters before she gets the chance?

My thoughts:
To be honest, I've seen nothing but loathing surrounding this book. Perhaps it was best that I had low expectations.  I liked how Izzie fought the idea of being attracted to someone based only on some stupid potion.  She didn't want to have that choice taken from her, but she was also a huge jerk both to Mark and Tristan.  Izzie had some interesting things about her, but much of her was just annoying.  I was glad that she changed and grew in many ways over the course of the book, but I just didn't enjoy reading it.  None of the parts seemed to mix together well.  It felt disjointed like its parts didn't quite fit together.  And I was disappointed that it seemed to lack Harrison's unique style and writing.  I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters.  Tris and Mark were just not interesting.  The quick exchanging of affections that occurs is unreal (though possibly intentional).  The whole thing felt like it was unpolished (mind you, it was an ARC, but even for an ARC, it felt that way).  The bones of the original story were there and fairly interesting, but it just didn't play out well.


Frost by Marianna Baer
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: September 2011
Pages: 400
Source: Library
For: Fun

When Leena finds out she has a new roommate foisted on her during senior year, she is anything but happy.  But when it turns out to be Celeste, she is livid.  Celeste is eccentric, loud, complaining.  And Leena was sure this year would be perfect, since she and her friends are staying in Frost House, an adorable little house set off by itself in the woods.  But when strange unnerving things begin to happen to Celeste, Leena may discover there is more going on at Frost House than she could have imagined.  Or did she imagine it?

My thoughts: This book was very, very creepy.  The atmosphere, the small details all building on one another, all these elements made the whole thing completely horrifying (as it was supposed to).  I also really liked the teenage-ness of the characters, especially, the slow building picture of what Leena really is like, what she does.  She isn't even sure who she is herself.  There is also a Gothic undertone to the whole story that made it even more spooky and thrilling.  I was sufficiently terrified into avoiding my closet for a time.  And I have to admit, it is definitely not my kind of book.  I don't like being freaked out, and I don't like disturbing stories.  It was just not the kind of book I usually enjoy and not one I recommend, unless this is your kind of story.  But, it's a great psychological thriller for those aching to be terrorized by the mind.

Any thoughts on these books?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Frost sounds like I would like it! Thanks!

  2. K, 1 I need to read these Alanna books!

    2 I've heard Tris and Izzie wasn't great. I think I'll avoid it.

    3 I really want to read Frost. One day, right?

    1. Definitely pick up Alanna. And you can skip right over Tris. I think you'd like Frost, actually, though I could be wrong :)

  3. I have very fond memories of A Wrinkle in Time but it's been a very long time since I read it. When I saw that you listened to it, I was thinking that maybe that'd be a good way for me to re-read it. But thanks for the warning about the narrator! :)

    1. There is actually another version of the audio with a different narrator, so you can still give it a try!

  4. I haven't heard of Frost but it sounds excellent.

  5. I read A Wrinkle in Time a few years back and really enjoyed it as well. It was my first time reading it and I was surprised that I hadn't read it when I was younger. Such a good read though!

    1. It's kind of sad to think of all the great books we missed as kids, but at least we can enjoy them now :)

  6. Oh, I love the audio book version of In the Hand of the Goddess! All of the narrations for Tamora Pierce's books are great (and, incidentally, done by Meg from the Little Women movie).

    Tris and Izzie didn't work for me either. It was just a little juvenile and insta-lovey.

    1. Meg from Little Women? Crazy! I didn't know that, but I really like her narration.


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