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The Valiant (The Valiant #1) – Lesley Livingston

The Valiant (The Valiant #1) – Lesley LivingstonTitle: The Valiant (The Valiant #1) by Lesley Livingston
Publishing Info: February 14, 2017 by Penguin
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: February 18, 2016

Princess. Captive. Gladiator.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king, the sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha, and the sworn enemy of Julius Caesar.
When Fallon was a child, Caesar’s armies invaded her homeland, and her beloved sister was killed in battle.
Now, on the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is eager to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in the fearsome Cantii war band. She never gets the chance.
Fallon is captured and sold to an elite training school for female gladiators—owned by none other than Julius Caesar. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon’s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries and deadly fights—in and out of the arena. And perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her forbidden yet irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier.

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Am I in a reading slump? Am I destined to be the black sheep for this year’s popular titles? Or do I just need to wait for similar opinions and reviews to surface?

Sigh.

This one didn’t do it for me. The pacing was a little too slow and there just wasn’t the amount of action that I expected. When a book advertises female gladiators, I’m expecting quite a bit of fighting or training or… something. Fallon was awesome in the beginning, being on Team Fallon and kind of pushing the boys aside but then I just lost interest in her character. She ended up annoying me, being more stubborn than logical, and then saying some really dumb stuff of the “oh, of course he doesn’t like me” realm. Meh. Stop it.

It was almost halfway or around halfway through the book for Fallon to even get to Rome and literally 75% of the way in for a single battle to happen. And then it was a party, a bargain, and the final battle of the book. What??? Where was like… everything? Again, I don’t NEED action to keep me hooked to a book but the rest of the plot and character development didn’t do it for me. Fallon started off awesome and then I didn’t feel like her character got anymore complex. There was a whole aspect of the book (which I can’t talk about because spoiler) that I thought could really have developed the characters some more and there could have been so much more done there but wasn’t. The romance in the book was also way underdeveloped. Barely into a boy as more than a friend in the very beginning and then pining over him the rest of the book (although I can give her some of that since they were childhood friends. I’ll take that as mourning someone close to you and not mourning the romance). Then a meh romance throughout the rest of the time in Rome when there could have been an awesome slow burn, a forbidden romance, any romantic tension at all. I wasn’t feeling it.

I’m mostly saddened that the plot didn’t really go anywhere here. The book can basically be summarized as: Fallon is stolen away to Rome. Plot twist happens that changes her view of things but if it wasn’t there, the rest of the book still could have happened. Kissy things at some point. An epic battle at the very end. End book. It just didn’t feel like there was a lot of meat to the story and I felt like there could have been a lot more plotting elements that could have developed the story so much more.

I also felt weird with the way the book ended. It was so much action all at once and then I’m assuming was set up for a sequel. I would have much preferred this to be a stand alone novel and had it wrapped up in one book. It felt like it was stretched out unnecessarily and forced to continue into a sequel.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Historical Fiction. The gladiator concept and setting was a unique historical fiction (well unique to YA, I think) that I haven’t seen done often or at all! It was an interesting way to read historical fiction.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. There was one big twist and that seemed to be all of the plot. I just wished that more had been built up and developed. There was plenty that could have been but it seemed like it all just happened instead of experiencing it.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

I didn’t think this was a bad book but it really didn’t do it for me. Tons of other people really loved it so I’d recommend checking out reviews!

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BOOKS LIKE THE VALIANT

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere – Neil GaimanTitle: Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: September 2, 2003 by HarperCollins
Source: Gift
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 21, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Under the streets of London there's a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.
Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

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NEVERWHERE was such a magical experience! I have Alyssa to thank for introducing me to Neil Gaiman and telling me to listen to the audio of this book and actually buying the audiobook for me! Neil Gaiman is an amazing narrator and I always love listening to authors narrate their own story because nothing is left to interpretation. You know they’re reading it exactly the way they want it told.

As much as the whole experience was magical, the characters really made the book. I absolutely loved Richard who is a sweet little cinnamon roll and just so much fun to follow on this journey. He’s so pure of heart and gets into this whole mess because he stops to help a stranger in need. I loved his sweet disposition throughout the book and he was just so utterly charming. I really connected with his characters so much. I also loved strong yet sweet Door and the quest that she’s on throughout this book. She’s a wonderful mix of confident, independent, caring, and thoughtful. And of course I loved the Marquis de Carabas who is part slick, part mentor, part questionable, and part father-figure. He was that character that I love who seems a little bit questionable and has a lot of gray areas when it comes to morals or doing the right thing but when it comes down to it, he really ends up protecting the other characters and has a soft spot deep down.

I will admit that the journey got a bit fantastical for me (which Alyssa warned me might happen because she knows my tastes so well). It wasn’t a bad thing at all, but I’m very much a rule person when it comes to fantasy worlds (which is why I get along with high fantasy so well!) so in spots where the reader is constantly learning about new places or meeting new people with no added history of what/who they are or why they’re a part of the story, my mind just begins to wander and tries to logic them into place, which isn’t the intent of the book. Again, not a bad thing and not something I mean to critique — just a point of why it wasn’t total 100% five stars for me! But when reading stories like these, I try my best just to go with the story and allow myself to get lost in it. I tried to take on Richard’s mentality of suspending the disbelief, which was fun too because it was a struggle for him!

I absolutely LOVED the ending of NEVERWHERE. I won’t spoil anything of course but it was such a wonderful way to wrap everything up. I loved being able to see Richard really figure out what he wants in the end and the final appearance of everyone just warmed my heart! I’m never disappointed in the endings of Neil Gaiman books and really, that’s such a crucial part for me as a reader. A bad ending could ruin a whole book and Neil Gaiman always wraps things up so wonderfully.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

NEVERWHERE was an amazing audiobook for many reasons. Firstly, because Neil Gaiman himself narrates it. He has such an amazing narration voice and I just love when authors narrate their own books because you know that everything is pronounced right, the inflections are all correct, and nothing is missed. It was also SO COOL because there were some neat sound effects (echoes when in a tunnel, muffled voices and static on the phone, etc) and I was just so giddy to hear them! They really made the experience so special. And if you read this, be sure to get HOW THE MARQUIS GOT HIS COAT BACK on audio too! I paid a few bucks for it but it was the full BBC production with a full cast, lots of sound effects, music — it was SO entertaining and so worth the cost of a cup of coffee for that.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fantastical worlds. I do love fantasy but I’ll admit that I’m more of a high fantasy person than books that involve creatures and things like that. I did enjoy this zany other side of London and it was so much fun to experience in this sort of setting!
Left Me Wanting More: Rules. I always love world-building that has a lot of rules. It sets up a great structure for me and I adapt better to rules than to whimsy!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan of any type of fantasy, NEVERWHERE is a great read. It’s fun and light and still maintains a world of depth and danger.

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BOOKS LIKE NEVERWHERE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE MAGICIANS

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

MINI REVIEWS

I went on a Sherlock Holmes kick around the holidays (yes, I know I’m quite behind with my book reviews) and I ended up grabbing a few audiobooks for some quick and fun reads! Sherlock Holmes novels are some of the few classics I truly enjoy and the audios were on sale and cheap! I really enjoy how clever these books are and they’re also quick!


Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Sign of Four (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 14, 2016

As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman - Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation - which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair - even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, 'Isn't it gorgeous!'

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I’m not sure if I was too distracted for this (which I was), but I just really didn’t click with it. Whereas I picked up on the writing techniques with A STUDY IN SCARLET, I either didn’t pick it up here or just wasn’t in the mood for it with THE SIGN OF FOUR. Surprisingly (for not having read much Sherlock Holmes yet), the “telling” style continues with this novel and there’s a unexpected amount of recounting stories instead of witnessing action. I love the characters as I always do but this story wasn’t a hit for me.

I also just didn’t find this story line as intriguing as I had with A STUDY IN SCARLET. I think it felt a little more “out there” and I felt some disconnect with the end game. It didn’t quite hold its appeal for me but I do always love Watson dearly. I honestly barely remember what happened (although I’m writing this months later) except for the parts that I remembered were a little strange. This one just wasn’t a stand-out for me at all, and I was really bummed because I had become so convinced that I adored all of Sherlock Holmes because I enjoyed A STUDY IN SCARLET so much and I enjoy so many adaptations so it’s kind of a let down to feel so meh about this one. I guess I need to keep reading and see if the styles change any as the mysteries continue!


Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Red-Headed League (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #2) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: November 30, 2009 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 13, 2016

In The Redheaded League, Holmes is engaged upon two seemingly unrelated cases, a daring bank robbery and the disappearance of a pawnbroker's assistant. Using minute details of the small mystery, he is able to solve the larger one. "Depend upon it," says Holmes to Watson in A Case of Identity, "there is nothing so unnatural as the commonplace." Holmes is as fascinated by the story of a common young woman whose groom has vanished on the way to the altar as he has been by the woes of kings. He sharpens his powers of detection by putting together scattered facts to form a powerful and unexpected accusation. Holmes tells Watson about one of his first cases, The Musgrave Ritual; one that helped make him famous. Two servants of an English nobleman disappear. By following a trail of obscure clues left behind in an old parchment, Holmes discovers the crown of a former King of England.


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THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was just a quick, short story but it was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the quick and concise mystery and it was a little silly in theory but of course, it all works out in the end. I like that it was wrapped up so quickly and I think I enjoy the Holmes short stories more than the full-length novels in that respect. Whereas THE SIGN OF FOUR felt a little dragged out, THE RED-HEADED LEAGUE was obviously zippy due to its short length. Even though it was also a little silly, it was also just more fun in nature.

Mini-Reviews: Sherlock Holmes | The Sign of Four, The Red-Headed League, The Adventure of the Blue CarbuncleTitle: The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle (The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes #7) by Arthur Conan Doyle
Publishing Info: December 6, 2012 by Audible Studios
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 26, 2016

In this holiday-themed short story, Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, follow the trail of a lost hat and a Christmas goose through the streets of London and into a rapidly expanding mystery.


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Another quick Holmes adventure via audio for my car ride to work. A perfect little holiday novella for the day after Christmas was a fun and festive ride. I’m starting to notice that all Holmes stories have a bit too much “tell” to them where either Holmes reveals everything through a narrative or the culprit tells all at the end, so it’s not as much fun as having some more things revealed bit by bit, but I always do love the clues jam-packed into a story that only Holmes can point out. This one was fun with holiday theme at the right time and I actually did like the Holmes reveal a bit more in this one since it was such a short story.

Six-Gun Snow White – Catherynne M. Valente

Six-Gun Snow White – Catherynne M. ValenteTitle: Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente
Publishing Info: February 28, 2013 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism, Western, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 7, 2016

A plain-spoken, appealing narrator relates the history of her parents - a Nevada silver baron who forced the Crow people to give up one of their most beautiful daughters, Gun That Sings, in marriage to him. With her mother's death in childbirth, so begins a heroine's tale equal parts heartbreak and strength. This girl has been born into a world with no place for a half-native, half-white child. After being hidden for years, a very wicked stepmother finally gifts her with the name Snow White, referring to the pale skin she will never have. Filled with fascinating glimpses through the fabled looking glass and a close-up look at hard living in the gritty gun-slinging West, readers will be enchanted by this story at once familiar and entirely new.

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I just had a serious disconnect with this book. It’s one of those where I’ve seen friends rave about it and then I feel uncouth for not feeling the same way. This is the same way that I felt about UPROOTED — I could clearly see the beauty in the words there but I just wasn’t connecting with them. To be fair to the book (and to myself, I guess), I wasn’t really expecting the book to read like it did and I think I wouldn’t have picked it up at this very point in my life because I have too much going on to really appreciate something like this. I’ve never read Catherynne Valente so I had no idea what to expect and the writing style was just so different than I thought it was going to be.

The book was true to the original Snow White tale in its adaptation but I seem to be a person who appreciates even more of an original twist with an adaption with my retellings. I like the concept of a fairy tale and the author running with their own plot, essentially, because then there’s still a plot for me to figure out. SIX-GUN SNOW WHITE, although taking place in the Wild West and having many differences in time period and setting, still remained very true to the original tale in plot so it’s not like there were really many surprises in store, and I just didn’t feel connected to the book because of that. It was also much more prosaic than action-based, which is fine — I don’t need all action, all the time — but again, it was more of an expectation and something I just ended up not being in the mood for but finished anyway.

I listened to the audiobook of this because I needed a new audio, Hoopla had it available, it’s narrated by Julia Whelan, and it was short. I knew if I put it down to continue at a later time, I likely wouldn’t pick it back up so I motored through and just didn’t really ever connect, unfortunately. Julia Whelan is one of my favorite female audiobook narrators but a good narrator can’t always make you love a book.

Overall, I think this just wasn’t my style and I wasn’t in the right place to read this style at the moment either. Such is life, though. I try to pick up what I’m in the mood for and some things just surprise me. This book just didn’t surprise me in a good way, unfortunately. I can see why so many people have loved it and I think a lot of my friends will love it if/when they read it but it just wasn’t the book for me.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique retellings. I loved the Western twist on this retelling! I’ve barely read any Westerns much less Western retellings.
Left Me Wanting More: Action. I don’t need action for a book to be good and enjoyable for me… but I did have the expectation that this book was going to be a little different.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

Literally all of my other Goodreads friends who have read this enjoyed it but it just wasn’t the right book for me, at least not at the point in time that I read it, so I may not be the only person to trust on this one! Gather up some trusted reviewers!

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BOOKS LIKE SIX-GUN SNOW WHITE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER

You (You #1) – Caroline Kepnes

You (You #1) – Caroline KepnesTitle: You (You #1) by Caroline Kepnes
Publishing Info: September 30, 2014 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: December 1, 2016

When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.
There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.
As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

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Well, for all of the hype for this book, it didn’t really leave me feeling shocked or awed or super impressed, but I did find that it left a lasting impression and that I wanted to read the next book right away! I did like the things that were different about it. I really enjoyed the different narration in the second person, hence the title “You”. Main character (and super psychopath) Joe narrates the book to and about his newest obsession, Guinevere Beck. It was an interesting choice of narration and it really gets you in the head of the narrator. I did have a hard time with the book — not in a bad way, but in a way that confused me because this guy is totally nuts. He’s actually crazy and creepy and scary and does some very, very bad things… And yet I felt sympathetic at times! The form of narration really had me feeling for him even though I knew he was totally wrong and deranged. I also really enjoyed Joe’s voice in the sense that it felt more personal. It wasn’t just recounting. He often interrupted himself or interjected with more things that brought one more level to the account.

For all of the hype, I felt like there was supposed to be a twist coming and while that really wasn’t this kind of book. I think I got myself all hyped because of other people’s reactions and it didn’t really shock me like I thought it would, but instead, it was shocking in a very different way. I was so appalled at Joe’s actions and yet it was also a train wreck that I couldn’t stop watching. I really did get myself all psyched for a big twist moment, so I was a bit sad that that didn’t happen, but I also am coming to appreciate those thrillers that can wrap up without a twist because if every book had a twist, they’d all be predictable!

The book was very sexual, and I don’t have issues with sexuality in books, but it did feel overdone at times. I guess that is kind of the point of the book in a way, since Joe’s obsession is romantic on all levels. He’s obsessed with Beck emotionally, physically, and mentally. Clearly he has several psychoses so the obsession is overboard on so many levels. I am used to reading YA which really doesn’t get explicit of course, but there were points that felt like a little much for me.

YOU was interesting and engaging from start to finish and I did enjoy reading it but I think I was just let down by the hype. I kept waiting for a huge moment that didn’t really happen and I thought that’s how the book would end but was also kind of hoping it wouldn’t. Looking back on it as I’m reviewing, I really was totally engaged so that really did leave a good lasting impression! Somehow Joe came off as charismatic in a way and I wanted to pick up HIDDEN BODIES shortly thereafter!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Crazy, messed-up thrillers. I don’t know why but every once in a while, I like a good, messed up book.
Left Me Wanting More: Twists. I guess I did appreciate the lack of a big twist but I was also really expecting it so it was kind of a bummer!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you like some crazy thrillers that put you into the mind of a literal psychopath, definitely check out YOU!

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BOOKS LIKE YOU

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE GOOD GIRL

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) – Janet EvanovichTitle: Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 15, 2016 by Random House Publishing Group
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Cozy Mystery, Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 23, 2016
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1)

In the heart of Trenton, N.J., a killer is out to make sure someone gets his just desserts.
Larry Virgil skipped out on his latest court date after he was arrested for hijacking an eighteen-wheeler full of premium bourbon. Fortunately for bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Larry is just stupid enough to attempt almost the exact same crime again. Only this time he flees the scene, leaving behind a freezer truck loaded with Bogart ice cream and a dead body—frozen solid and covered in chocolate and chopped pecans.
As fate would have it, Stephanie’s mentor and occasional employer, Ranger, needs her to go undercover at the Bogart factory to find out who’s putting their employees on ice and sabotaging the business. It’s going to be hard for Stephanie to keep her hands off all that ice cream, and even harder for her to keep her hands off Ranger. It’s also going to be hard to explain to Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, why she is spending late nights with Ranger, late nights with Lula and Randy Briggs—who are naked and afraid—and late nights keeping tabs on Grandma Mazur and her new fella. Stephanie Plum has a lot on her plate, but for a girl who claims to have “virtually no marketable skills,” these are the kinds of sweet assignments she does best.

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** Mini-review for TURBO TWENTY-THREE… because once you review one Stephanie Plum book, you sort of review them all! ** 

TURBO TWENTY-THREE was another quick, easy, and fun Stephanie Plum novel! I really appreciate that Janet Evanovich has taken these books a little bit back into the realm of the plausible instead of monkeys-acting-like-humans. Of course, they’re still a little wacky because that is the way of Plum but at least it’s on a believable side again!

This book was a lot of fun, actually. I enjoyed the warring ice cream factory concept and it was funny watching Stephanie try to infiltrate each one, learn the feuds behind the two, and the many different ways to get in trouble in an ice cream factory.

We sort of went backwards again with the love triangle and SIGH. I was so excited to see progress in one direction and now it’s back in the middle. It could be worse because there have been worse love triangles in cozy mysteries that still also haven’t resolved and at least I like Ranger and Morelli both… But it’s been twenty-three books! I’m ready for some resolution on the love triangle thing. I’m getting a bit tired of talking about it but such is life and being a reader of this series!

I do like that I’m really rarely guess the answer to the mysteries! I guess I probably could guess a few if I tried but I love listening to these books on audio because they’re so short and fun and easy to listen to while doing other things. I love zoning out and flowing with these books and it’s great to have a lighter audio!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Ranger. I’m personally Team Morelli in terms of settling down… but darn it, I do still love Ranger. How did I get hooked in a love triangle?
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. Come onnnn, just choose already!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

If you’re a fan, keep on going! I do like that things aren’t so silly anymore and hey, they may be all kind of the same but I still enjoy them all the time!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE TURBO TWENTY-THREE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

 size 12 and ready to rock    MURDER UNCORKED

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil GaimanTitle: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Publishing Info: June 18, 2013 by HarperCollins
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla
Genres: Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 7, 2016
Related Posts: Fortunately, the Milk, Stardust, American Gods, Neverwhere

A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

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Apparently the end of 2016 was filled with Neil Gaiman after listening to two full-length novels and one extra, all on audio. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump and was looking for something comforting and that I knew would be pleasant to listen to and it doesn’t get much better than Neil Gaiman’s stories and his own narration.

I’m really glad that I waited to read/listen to THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE and didn’t pick it up right away. Magical realism is a genre that’s been growing on me over the years and I’ve reached a point where I’ve read a few books within the genre of which I’ve grown quite fond. Usually when I experience a genre clash, it’s all about reading the right books and my latest magical realism reads have just really been clicking. I fear if I had read THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE too soon, the magical experience of everything may have been lost on me and I might not have connected well and I’m so glad that I was really able to appreciate this book!

Alyssa, my friend and master of Gaiman novels, described this one to me as a children’s story for adults, being that the narrator is an adult who is telling the story but it’s about a series of events that happened to him as a child, all around when he was about seven years old, and I think that’s a great way to describe this novel. THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE felt very much like an adult-oriented book and yet it had the younger, children’s mentality due to its time frame and focus. Despite how well I think Neil Gaiman writes for any age, I feel like I tend not to wholly connect to a book that mixes or crosses ages like that. I don’t often like when adult books dip down into a childlike focus and the mix of mentalities can be a bit too much for me sometimes, and that seems to be why I didn’t totally 100% love this story.

I really did enjoy the magic that occurred throughout the book, though! I love magical realism because it doesn’t have to play into stereotypical creatures or situations that are so often found in paranormal or urban fantasy genres and yet it still connects with real life. That slight blur between the narrator’s home life and the magic of the Hempstock family was just delightful and I love the feeling of it being right on the surface. The little beasties and dangerous magical things are that much more frightening in THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE as well because the characters don’t know or understand the rules of their world and often time can’t predict how to control, discourage, or manage them. They’re that much harder to get rid of as well when there’s a limited amount of help and not an entirely fantastical community to offer support.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE was a quick read and I loved the overall atmosphere and feel. I don’t like stories that dip into the childhood years as much because it’s just not something I connect with as much as I do young adult or adult novels but I still enjoyed it from start to finish. Neil Gaiman always creates the most wonderful atmospheres that have readers completely believing in these worlds and I loved being totally sucked into the story.

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

I borrowed this audiobook from Hoopla (bless you, Hoopla) because I was having an audiobook slump and needed a narrator I could trust who was also a male voice. I just wasn’t in the mood for a female voice after striking out a few times. I love when authors narrate their own books because I just feel you really get things EXACTLY the way they intended, especially parts that were songs (and actually sung)! Neil Gaiman has a wonderful narrating voice as well and his audiobooks are just so pleasant to listen to.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Magical Realism. This is still a new-ish genre to me and I’m finding that I’m enjoying these stories more and more!
Left Me Wanting More: Sophistication. The book was actually plenty sophisitcated, I guess, but I just don’t connect to that childlike mentality as much.

Addiction Rating
Read it

If you’re a fan of Gaiman, looking for a good audiobook, or attempting to get into more magical realism, this is a great place to dive in!

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