Just One Damned Thing After Another – A Book Review

What a fun ride! My first read of the year. Just One More Damned Thing After Another is a book by Jodi Taylor (book 1 in the Chronicles of St. Mary’s) that has historical facts, time travel, interesting characters and a lot of humor. Yes, you’ll be laughing out loud. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon this book and added it to my to read list but when Audible had an offer on it, I didn’t hesitate. 29661618

The book follows the story of a historian named Madeleine Maxwell “Max” in an unknown time period (maybe it’ll be mentioned in later books, but I believe it’s near the current time). Max works in a secret agency called St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research, where the historians time travel back to historical events to fill in the gaps or correct any incorrect information they have of the event. Since I read it in audio, my review will reflect my experience listening to the book which could differ from someone else who read it.

This book was fast paced, well, maybe too fast paced. The narrator Zara Ramm read quickly which was good sometimes but didn’t pause at places I believe she should have paused. Some scenes just changed all of a sudden and I had to go back sometimes to make sure I understood what happened. The storyline was entertaining and unpredictable, there wasn’t a dull moment and whenever I think that “oh, this is going to happen” I get completely thrown off by something else. The main character was fun, witty and headstrong, she would do what she wants and without any consideration to the consequences, which worked, some of the times. The dialogs were fun and would make you pause and laugh. And, I loved the historical references — visiting the Cretaceous period, 11th century London and the Great Library of Alexandria — but don’t expect too many historical details.

I loved the narrator’s British accent, it was fun listening to it, but I had a hard time following up on which character was talking and there was a lot of characters. I couldn’t memorize all their names and because it’s an audio book, it was hard to go back and check who the character is, so I had to try to figure that out through the context.  I also noticed some discrepancies with the author’s time travel rules. Without spoilers, some things that should have been prohibited when a person travels back in time were somehow happening. I am not sure what the author’s intentions were but as a reader, it was obvious that something was inconsistent.

Overall, I still enjoyed this book a lot and highly recommend it if you are looking to have a good time.

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My Book Year in Review – 2016

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Happy New Year Everyone!

It’s December again and time to reflect on what I have read this past year. It was an interesting reading year for me. I read around 25 books, and some of them from authors and genres that were new to me. I also became more addicted to listening to audio books and noticed that I couldn’t get myself to read ebooks as much as I use to. Also, the number of books I couldn’t finish this year were high, so I guess I need to amend my book selection methods.

Last January I made a book reading plan — which you can check out here. And as I anticipated, I didn’t follow the list much. I read only 4 of the books in the list and one of them I couldn’t finish. What was new this year was my discovery of The Great Courses series on Audible — they offer many courses in many topics which I highly recommend checking out. I also started learning the German Language through courses offered by Pimsleur also on Audible. This year I decided not make a reading plan, as it’s obvious I will not stick to it.

Here are some of my favorites books of this year:

This was one of my top favorite reads this year. I was very surprised of how much I loved them. The writing style and story line was engaging and intriguing. It was very fast paced, filled with events and action so you won’t get a dull moment. The characters were well defined and interesting and the author did a good job making the reader intrigued to what happens to them next. I got these books in audio format and the narrators did an excellent job. Definitely looking forward to the rest of the series.

                               ember        torch

Another surprisingly interesting book. Here is my full review. As much as I liked this book, the sequel didn’t match up to it unfortunately.

A Darker Shade final for Irene

  • Magic 2.0 Series –  Scott Meyer

I cannot recommend this series enough. I loved it. Here is my full review of the books. If you do plan to get it, get it in audio, Luke Daniels is one of the best narrators out there.

 

This was my first read from this author. Here is my full review. I loved his writing style and after reading this one I also read the first book from his first series The Broken Empire: The Prince of Thorns.

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This was one of the intetesting autobiographies I listened to this year. The book talks about the actor Alan Cumming’s relationship with his father. Here is my full review .

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This was one of the courses I listened to this year. If you’re interested in learning about the universe, I highly recommend you check this one out.

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If I make a plan for next year it’ll only be that I want to read more books than my average 20-25. I have about 200 books in my to read list (and increasing faster than I can read) and with this pace I will never get to them. So this year I’m planning to read 30 books and see how it goes.

How was your year? Any surprises or disappointments?

Wizard 2.0 – A Book Series Review

I convinced a friend of mine to read the book Off to be the Wizard, the first book in the Wizard 2.0 series by Scott Meyer. He’s enjoying it a lot and asked me if I wrote a review about it, I thought I did but it turned out that I didn’t. So, last week I finished listening to the third and final book An Unwelcomed Quest and decided that a full review of the series should be done. [No spoilers below].

First off, I loved this series. The books were well written, engaging, humorous and easy to follow. All the characters were interesting and well defined. If you are into computers and time travel and a little bit of history then I’m sure you’ll find these books entertaining. You might be faced with a couple of computer terms from the earlier decades that are currently obsolete but that won’t matter. I listened to all 3 in audio and they were all so much fun to listen to. The narrator Luke Daniels is one of my favorite narrators. He made each character very unique, and there were a lot of characters. He portrayed them and their emotions with excellence and I was able to know who was talking just from the accent and tone of his voice. Now that I have finished the series I feel that I am going to miss those characters. That’s how good the books were and how the narrator gave each character their own unique identity.

Off to be the Wizard

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The first book was my favorite. It introduces the reader to one of the main characters named Martin and how he ends up being a wizard after finding a certain computer file. The concept of the book is very different from what I have read before and it has computer and software terms so appeals to my geeky side and is filled with humor and time travel. I was hooked from the first chapter. This book introduces most of the characters that will appear in the following books.

Spell or High Water 

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The second book was interesting. Without spoiling the series, I loved the imagination used in this book, and I would love to see it depicted on a TV show or movie. I found one concept in this book a bit confusing and up till now I still can’t grasp the idea but it doesn’t change or effect the understanding the story line. This book follows the journey of 3 of the main characters from the first book in addition to a lot of new ones.

An Unwelcomed Quest 

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This book was my least favorite. The idea for it was interesting and the imagination was good but it dragged a bit during the middle part, some of the scenes were a bit redundant. I thought it could have been reduced or have less dialogues. However, I did like the ending. It was a bit predictable but none the less better than I expected. Mainly all of the main characters from the first and second books are present with no new ones in this book.

I highly recommend you check these books out. They’re perfect for when you just want a fun, light read or listen and enjoy your time. If you decide to check it out don’t forget to get it in audio :). Trust me it’s worth it.

The Prince of Thorns – A Book Review

This is the first book in The Broken Empire series by Mark Lawrence. It has been on my to-read list for a long time. I tried to read it a while back but after the first couple of chapters I left it. It was too gruesome for me at the time. But after reading The Prince of Fools (my review) by the same author and checking out many reviews by fellow bloggers and friends who highly recommended it, I thought I’d give it another try. Glad I did. The book was still too gruesome and quite dark but as you read further you get to know more about the characters and their reasons. I’m not saying that the reasons justify their actions, I’m only saying you understand them. [No spoilers in this review].9579634

The book follows the journey of Prince Jorg Ancrath, aka the Prince of Thorns, to take revenge on his mother and brother’s brutal murder that happened when he was 10 years old. At 13, he leads a group of bandits to find and kill the person who ordered their deaths. Jorg and his bandits, whom he calls Brothers, attack villages and torture and burn everyone in their way. He is not your average teenager, he’s brutal and has no remorse for his actions. This doesn’t sound like a book that could appeal to everyone nor make you feel any empathy towards the main character but there is a lot more to this book than that.

What I liked about it

  • The author’s writing style: I don’t usually read dark fantasy like this one, but the author did a great job with the writing and after getting past the first chapters it kinds gets easier to go through once you get into the story more. The book easily flows back and forth in time describing Jorg’s past and showing the reader how he ended up the way he did.
  • Humor and wit: As dark as it was, the book also had humor and wit which are two things I really like in a book.
  • The story line: it will keep you intrigued. After reading The Prince of Fools I am already a bit familiar with the setting of the book and some of the characters mentioned so it was easy to get engaged in the world of the broken empire.
  • The magic: there is no specific magic system, but the magic in this book was more of characters who posses magic and the existence of magical creatures and the way they were portrayed was interesting.
  • The cover: what can I say I like good covers.
  • Memorable Quotes: from the many here is one

         “Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.”

There wasn’t anything specific that I didn’t like. I did get a bit mixed up with the secondary characters, Jorg’s Brothers. I couldn’t get a clear vision of who they are besides two characters; Nuban and Makin.

Jorg is a character who is confident and arrogant and has been leading a group of grown men but while I was reading there was a question that kept popping up in my head: why did the author make Jorg so young and how did he realize that this age will be appropriate for the story?

If you’re looking for a typical hero that everyone will root for, this is not that book. But even so, you’ll find yourself following Jorg’s journey, wanting to know what he will do next and maybe rooting for him just to see him reach his destination.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends – A Book Review

This is a book about the actor Rob Lowe, written by Rob Lowe and narrated by Rob Lowe. I’ve known this actor from the series Brothers and Sisters and now my favorite comedy Parks and Recreation (just started to watch it and loving it) and from his good looks, but I didn’t know much about his personal life other than he started acting in the 80’s and acted in St. Elmo’s Fire (which I haven’t seen).

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The book is about his life growing up in Ohio and LA and his relationships with his parents, brothers and friends and later when he meets his wife and becomes a father. It also talks about how he started and pursued his acting career and his interactions with various directors, producers and other actors.

Lately, I’ve really started to enjoy listening to autobiographies on Audible and this one was no exception. The stories were interesting and engaging and some of them were quite surprising. From his roles in the series I’ve seen, I wouldn’t have assumed he had such a wild youth. What I liked about his story telling was the fact that he seemed humble and very honest. There are some things in the book that I am sure some people would have wanted to forget, but he goes on and talks about it candidly.

I highly recommend this book especially to those who like autobiographies and if you’re a fan of Rob Lowe, you’ll get a glimpse of his life behind the cameras. The writing style was good and easy to follow. The narration was excellent and he did good imitations of other actors he mentioned in the book. He has also written another autobiography called Love Life which I’ve added to to my to read list.

The book has a couple of memorable quotes, the one I liked most is:

“So I came to the realization: Nothing in life is unfair. It’s just life. To the extent that I had any inner turmoil, I had only myself to blame”

Crimson Peak – A Book Review

I’m still in a reading slump, kinda. I still can’t seem to find a book to read on my Kindle. But I did find a couple of interesting audiobooks. One of them is Crimson Peak: The Official Movie Novelization by Nancy Holder.

25241995.jpgI have never read a ghost story before (maybe as a kid but I don’t remember). I was intrigued by the movie trailer but have not watched the movie yet. I got the audiobook a couple of days ago so I decided to read (listen to) the book first and at the same time try a genre I haven’t read before.

The blurb from goodreads “When her heart is stolen by a seductive stranger, a young woman is swept away to a house atop a mountain of blood-red clay: a place filled with secrets that will haunt her forever. Between desire and darkness, between mystery and madness, lies the truth behind Crimson Peak

The book was well written, fast paced and I’m sure gives more detail on what goes on in the minds of the characters and how they feel. Having watched the trailer before I kind of had an idea of what the setting, characters and the ghosts looked like. The narrator, Imogen Church, did a good job with all the character voices and expressions, even the ghosts! I enjoyed listening to it and me being someone who does not like horror books, I thought it was good as the book was more focused on the main story line and the characters. And as my first ghost story, this was a good book to start with.

A Darker Shade of Magic – A Book Review

I woke up early last Saturday, and knowing that I had an awesome book lying around with almost 18% left, I didn’t start my day until it was finished.

A Darker Shade final for IreneA Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab is book 1 of the Shades of Magic trilogy. It follows the journey of a Red Traveler named Kell, last of the travelers who can magically travel between parallel universes. The book is based in a world that has 4 parallel versions of London where each one is named after the color it mainly projects: Red London; the bright magical city, Grey London; the dull and boring city with no magic, White London; the cold and pale city with magic, and Black London; the dark city that was consumed by magic and where no one goes to anymore.

Kell is an Antari (someone with special magical powers), and an ambassador for Red London. By using blood magic he can open a door that allows him to travel between the different Londons and carry correspondences among the rulers of these cities. However, he has a bad habit of smuggling items between them and because of this dangerous hobby he gets himself in trouble in Grey London where he meets a thief named Delilah ‘Lila’ Bard. Through various encounters, both Kell and Lila find themselves fighting to save their lives and Red London from evil that attacks them from right next door.

What I liked about it:

  • I loved this book, it’s very different from what I’ve been reading lately. Travelling among parallel universes is one of my favorite topics in Fantasy and this book covers it very well.
  • This is the first book I’ve read for this author. I liked her writing style, it’s engaging and easy to follow.
  • The new world and magic system were well built. The concept of the parallel Londons, the characteristics of the people who ruled and lived there and the way magic is used to travel among them was interesting and the author portrayed it quite well in the story.
  • I loved the main characters, Kell and Lila. Each one had their well defined personality and it was fun following their journey together.
  • I thought the plot was intriguing, it had a lot of action, magic and kept you wanting to know what happens next.

What I didn’t like about it:

  • There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. The only comment I have is one thing I thought could have been a bit better. Don’t read ahead if you haven’t read the book already. [Spoilers]
    The ending. I had a feeling that the ending could have been a bit more complex and a little left with an obvious cliffhanger, even though I know a lot can still happen in the next book from the way things ended.

    [End of Spoilers]

I’d place this book between young adult and adult categories. The second book in the series was published today, so I plan to get it sometime soon. If you’re into parallel universes and magic then I recommend you check this book out.