by Madeline Miller (read by Perdita Weeks)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
Perdita Weeks does an incredible job narrating this book. It is written in prose so gorgeous it is reminiscent of poetry, and her voice beautifully captures that. There is something ethereal, and at times so poignantly melancholy, about it that brings life to this story and Circe herself. Perdita makes Circe feel like a real person.
Sometimes a book can come into your life too early, when it doesn’t quite effect you like it may later on. Others come into your life at the exact right moment, and impact you in ways you wouldn’t have expected. This book was the later for me. Circe’s persistence in the face of adversity was hugely inspiring. No matter what challenge came her way, she faced it and was as positive about it as she could be. And more than anything, she was always entirely herself, never retreating or giving up on her goals or what made her happy. Miller does an excellent job at making a multi-faceted character that is flawed and relatable. The prose is beautiful, almost lyrical in nature. Pacing is done just as well. There is a wonderful balance here of everyday life with scenes of extraordinary action. It is easily the best book I’ve had the gift of reading in almost a decade and I truly cannot recommend it enough.
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (read by Frankie Corzo)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find - her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. There are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
The narration is somewhat lacking, and maybe that had an impact on my enjoyment of the book. There isn’t enough variance is character’s voices, really any variance at all in their voices. It is so hard to tell who is speaking in scenes with dialogue. This meant having to go back and forth trying to figure out if it was Catalina, Noemí, or Florence talking during a conversation. Corzo does a great job capturing Noemí and her strength of spirit though, even if other character’s portrayals fall somewhat flat.
With October right around the corner, the inclination to read a few scary books has taken hold. Gotta get into the Halloween spirit! This was my choice for the first scary read of the season. Gothic novels are some of my most beloved tales. Horror is way too intense for me and my overactive imagination, but gothic fiction is creepy without being too much. This is absolutely a horror novel after the first half of the book. This is a slow burn, gradually building the tension and terror until it erupts into a horror filled nightmare. There are incredibly disturbing and unnerving events that happen in this novel. Usually, I like strange, dark, intense books, but there are several scenes that made me beyond uncomfortable. Something about this just didn’t sit right with me.
It’s odd to try and rate this book, because I had thoroughly enjoyed the first half. I can perfectly imagine and feel what this house is like. The moisture, the decay, the darkness and silence. It is marvelously descriptive and the house and characters are captured so well. Everyone I've heard review this book mentions the twist ending, but I got all the way to the end and was still asking what the twist was. Everything that transpired didn't surprise me at all. Speaking of the ending, there are a couple of plot holes that are still bothering me. Things that are never fully explained, we're just supposed to roll with it. However, the overall source of the issues at High Place was very creative, although I wish the source had been handled differently. In a less supernatural, more biological sort of way. Which, would have possibly made the book even more terrifying if done right. Moreno-Garcia is clearly a gifted writer, and I’m looking forward to trying one of her other novels, Gods of Jade and Shadow, even though this one wasn’t exactly what I had hoped for.
In Five Years
by Rebecca Serle (read by Megan Hilty)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan has her life planned in detail for the next five years. Having fallen asleep after accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, she wakes up in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. It’s the same night, but five years in the future. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind. That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.
Megan Hilty does a fairly good job with the narration here. While it isn’t my favorite narration of all time, it is a solid one, and captures our lead and minor characters well. My only complaint is that the voices can be too similar. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: voices that are barely different can be difficult to keep track of during dialogue. Especially when you’re in the car and on the highway. But that aside, our characters do have personality and don’t feel one dimensional, so I can’t knock her narration in that regard.
Usually, I am not a fan of anything romance or anything set in the real world. Magical places and adventures, with a tiny touch of romance thrown in, are my usual draws. But the description drew me in, what with us possibly having a vision of the future yet to come. And after reading Mexican Gothic, and thinking that something less heavy would probably do me good, I grabbed this book. Let me just say this right off the bat, I did not realize what this book was actually going to be, and I mean that in the best way possible. It is a romance, a love story for sure…just maybe not in the way you expect. It’s a very different tale than what I anticipated, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The urge to know what was going to happen kept driving me to read further. How is Dannie dreaming of the future? Is it a premonition or just a dream? Will this truly be the future or is it one possibility? If you’re looking to branch out in romantic fiction but don’t know where to start, give this book a try. It’s one of the good ones!
An Enchantment of Ravens
by Margaret Rogerson (read by Julia Whelan)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
With a flick of her paintbrush, Isobel creates stunning portraits for a dangerous set of clients: the fair folk. When she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—Isobel makes a deadly mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes, a weakness that could cost him his throne, and even his life. Furious, Rook spirits Isobel away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously amiss in his world, and they are attacked from every side.
I’ll be honest, what really drew my attention to this and made me want to read it is the cover. It’s beautiful! Much as I love fantasy, I haven’t read much if any books with fairies in them. While I know the basic fairy lore, it’s not something I’ve ever deep dived into, so I was excited at the chance.
Our narrator, Julia Whelan, does an excellent job at capturing the lovely prose of this book. She is able to portray this dreamy, otherworldly setting with ease. The Fair Folk are especially well portrayed, with their sharp, cold, and crisp way of speaking. The narration is one of my favorite things about this book!
Isobel and Rook, our main characters, really are so much fun and a joy to experience this world with. The only let down being that there’s not much to this world. The world building is underwhelming, even disappointing at times. There are so many questions that are never answered or even addressed. Humans live in a magical town where the Fair Folk come and go often, giving them enchantments in return for craft. But how exactly this came to be or how the Fair Folk picked this particular town is never explained. The plot is also surprisingly weak, because if Rook had just simply explained what was happening and asked Isobel about it calmly, instead of dragging her into the Faye Wilds without letting her even speak, this entire adventure wouldn’t have happened. Which is a good adventure after this beginning issue and a great ending, but all the same. Even with these issues, it has such gorgeous writing, well thought out characters, and enough of a twist to keep the reader engaged.
Sword of Destiny and Blood of Elves (The Witcher Saga)
by Andrzej Sapkowski (read by Peter Kenny)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (for both titles)
For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. Geralt of Rivia, the cunning assassin known as The Witcher, has been waiting for the birth of a prophesied child. This child has the power to change the world - for good, or for evil. As the threat of war hangs over the land and the child is hunted for her extraordinary powers, it will become Geralt's responsibility to protect them all - and the Witcher never accepts defeat.
If you read my previous blog entry, you’ll know I’ve started reading The Witcher series. Peter Kenny is still doing a fantastic job narrating. Each character has such a distinct voice and Kenny is a master actor. His narrations feel more like something you might hear at a play than an audiobook. There is such dynamism in these!
The Last Wish (the first book in the series) was such a strong start that the last two novels haven’t quite been able to hold up to it. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still fantastic, but the plot and pacing suffered just a little. Having started the fourth novel, it seems that things are improving in that regard, so there is hope! Sword of Destiny is a bit boring. There are some integral scenes in this book though, so skipping it didn’t even cross my mind. And the narration is capable of holding the series up when it begins to falter. It is formatted similarly to The Last Wish, so it is a collection of short stories, but these do not jump around in time. The pacing suffers just slightly, and the plot is not as well fleshed out as it could be. Blood of Elves improves significantly in both those regards. It starts a bit slow, but begins to pick up pace fairly quickly on. This book is clearly acting as a setup for the next book in the series, introducing us to new characters and the upcoming conflict. These two are not as dark as their predecessor, but they ramp up the elements of fantasy. There is not even remotely as much “A pox on it!” being used in dialogue as there was in the first book. This is a huge relief, as it had begun to border on enraging due to the frequency at which it was used. We’re moving on to better dialogue! The world building is still fantastic and characters are developed well. I love our cast of characters so much that getting to enjoy their adventures is worth the little issues. So, overall, I’m excited to continue the series. Only four more books to go!
Sword of Destiny Available on CloudLibrary
Blood of Elves Available on Overdrive/Libby and CloudLibrary