Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mini Reviews 7

I'm still trying to get back into blogging, but it's hard.  Bear with me as I try to get back into the swing of things.  And thank you again to everyone for your kind comments regarding the death of my nephew.  Know they are very much appreciated.

Two of these are audiobooks, which makes me happy because June is audiobook month and there are a number of celebrations going on (check those out at ReadingTeen and Devourer of Books).  Yeah for hands-free, commute-saving books! :)

Under the Jolly Roger: Being an Account of the Further Nautical Adventures of Jacky Faber by L.A. Meyer
Publisher: Listen & Live Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 2005 (HC)
Length: 14 hrs, 43 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Fun (and to make my commute bearable)
Series: Bloody Jack, Book 3

Jacky is back with more adventures and finally back at sea.  As she leaves the girls' school in Boston to find her way back to Jaimy, she little expects to find things just as messy in England as they were in America.  When things don't go according to plan, she ends up back in the navy's service and in danger once again.  Will she ever get out of trouble or will she have to fight for her life again?

My thoughts:
Ah, Jacky.  You never change.  Except when you do.  I love this series and this book just fed that love.  Jacky kind of comes into her own a bit in this one and truly has chances to shine.  I love how confidently she acts, yet how vulnerable she feels.  Despite defying convention, she does want to fit somewhere in the world.  And I do just love (sometimes) how she can't make herself behave, even when her head is telling her what she's doing isn't smart.  The adventures are fun, if slightly unbelievable, and Jacky always inspires laughter with her antics and trouble-making skills.  Highly enjoyable, particularly in audiobook form, as I've recommended before.  I don't recommend listening to or reading them all at once, because I got a bit burned out on Jacky adventures.  The adventures all start to be the same and they also are getting progressively more bawdy and full of cussing.  It's not exactly a younger teen series, but will be fun for fans of historical fiction that makes you laugh, along the lines of Karen Cushman.  And I would be remiss without mentioning Katherine Kellgren, who seriously makes these audiobooks so much fun to listen to - voice inflections and accents and singing?  She does it all and does it well.   

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
Publisher: Full Cast Audio
Publication date: 2003 (HC)
Length: 10 hrs, 7 min
Source: Audiobook from Library
For: Book Group
Series: Books of Bayern, Book 1

When Crown Princess Anidori is sent to a distant kingdom to marry an unknown prince, she is surprised, sad, and more than a little lost.  But when her lady in waiting does the unthinkable on their long journey, Ani is left wondering just who she is and if she can be a princess anymore. 

My thoughts:
This was a reread (relisten?) for me and I just love the story every time I pick it up.  I marvel at the beautiful writing Shannon Hale crafted and the way the story seems predictable, but also isn't.  The world is so vivid that you feel you are a part of it, like you can hear the wind whispering and the animals speaking.  Just a beautiful story.  It translated really well to audio, especially with the full cast that was used - each character having their own unique voices.  Erica Lustig (Ani) was excellent, as was Anna McGee (Selia) and a number of other smaller characters like Seth Jackson (Razo) and Emily Holden (Enna).  I think they really brought the story to life.

Northanger Alibi by Jenni James
Publisher: Brigham Distributing
Publication date: February 2012
Pages: 243
Source: Won from Goodreads First Reads
For: Fun
Series: The Jane Austen Diaries, Book 2

When Claire gets a chance to visit her favorite place on earth - Washington State - she is certain going to Edward Cullen's home will be perfect.  But she's even more surprised when she discovers Tony Russo is undoubtedly a vampire too.  When her sister doesn't believe it, she sets out to prove it's true.  

My thoughts:
This is a fun, fluffy, light book that plays the Twilight-obsessed game quite well.  I loved how ridiculous Claire was and how funny it was to see her turn her Twilight obsession to reality.  I think the idea of a Twilight groupie's fascination with vampires and werewolves lends itself very well to a retelling of Northanger Abbey - the heroine with too much imagination from reading too many Gothic novels.  The story verges on the ridiculous at times, but that is part of its charm.  Despite the rough writing and sometimes odd dialog (this is not what I'd call literary), it was a quick and fun beach read.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: May 2012
Pages: 544
Source: Library
For: Dystopian Challenge (and fun, of course)
Series: Divergent, Book 2

In the aftermath of the unrest from the Erudite attack, Tris is dealing with unimaginable grief and guilt.  She and her friends from Dauntless and her brother are hiding from those who might try to kill them.  But when the fractures in the factions leads to more violence, she must make more choices - ones that could destroy all that she loves or save them.  

My thoughts:
I think everything that could possibly be said about this has been said - both the good and the bad, which is why I chose to do it in mini form.  I'll just indicate that I liked it, it had some very exciting and heart-pounding parts (at least, at the end) and I like the direction the ending is headed.  All that hype and the rave reviewing left me feeling a bit wary of this book, so I was perhaps more prepared to be annoyed by it, but I still found the first half to be a bit dull - especially in comparison to the non-stop action of the first book.  I was also a bit annoyed by the Four and Tris's back and forth and trust and lies thing, but it was a pretty realistic relationship issue.  Despite not guessing exactly where the story was going, and being frustrated that it took so long to get there, the ending didn't surprise me.  I think she introduced it slowly enough that it made sense to me more than surprised me.  My biggest complaint (and it was mostly my fault) was the numerous side characters whose names, relationships, and former and current factions I couldn't keep straight.  There were just too many and they distracted from the main characters importance at times.  Roth does write quite well and her action and exciting story kept me reading through all 500+ pages (a bit over the top, I think, but not unusual).  I eagerly await the last book, along with everyone else.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
Publisher: Flash Point
Publication date: November 2010
Pages: 352
Source: Library
For: Fun

Most people know next to nothing about Benedict Arnold - except he was a traitor to the country during the American Revolution.  This book brings to life the fiery character who played many important roles in the revolution - most of them before he became a traitor.

My thoughts:
Despite everyone knowing the name Benedict Arnold, I think few of us know much about this historical figure.  I certainly didn't.  And boy, does that title truly describe what the story was like!  He really did do a lot of adventuring and the good things he did for the country are very worthy of note.  The book itself is actually very readable for non-fiction and I think would be a good hit especially for boys interested in history and adventure.  Despite it having taken me nearly a month to finish, I think it is a fast read.  There were chapters about side characters that didn't interest me as much, but I don't think it was the fault of the book.  It was interesting to read of his downfall and possible reasons why he would betray the country he fought so hard for.  I didn't know anything about what he actually did to betray the US, but it was a truly interesting story.  I was impressed by just how many events had to fall into place in order for everything to work out as it did for our country.  Another unique piece in the puzzle of our history.

Have you read any of these?  Which sounds the most interesting to you?

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


  1. I was wondering about Northanger Alibi. If I ever read it I'll keep in mind that it's just fluff. Otherwise I might be disappointed and get mad. ;)

    1. Definitely it's pretty light - something to read on a summer afternoon.

  2. I really liked GOOSE GIRL and, of course, I'm in love with anything Jacky. I listened to a clip of BLOODY JACK on audio and now I'm going to have to hear the whole thing just because it sounds SOOOO fun.

    1. It really is one of the funnest audios I've had the pleasure of listening to :)

  3. I've been meaning to get to The Goose Girl for a while now. Maybe I'll give the audiobook a shot. I love it when they have a full cast telling the story.
    And I agree about the characters in Insurgent. Half the time I couldn't remember who anyone was. I thought the end was a little weird, but not shocking, either.

    1. I loved your review of Insurgent - and I'm glad I wasn't the only one totally lost on the characters :)


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