Audiobook Review – The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Narrated by January LaVoy

The Diviners (The Diviners, #1)

 

Goodreads description: 

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

Genre: Paranormal / Historical / Mystery / Thriller / Young Adult
My Rating: ***** (5 of 5 stars)

“There is a hideous invention called the Dewey Decimal System. And you have to look up your topic in books and newspapers. Pages upon pages upon pages…” ~ Evie O’Neill

First off, I have to say that I was ABSOLUTELY RELIEVED to find out that this is, in fact, the first book in a series – I did not want to say goodbye to these characters. I picked it up from the library on a whim, and was so glad that I did. I now have a hold placed on Lair of Dreams (book #2), and can’t wait for my turn to listen to that one too.

Evie O’Neill is a seventeen year old flapper with a gift – the gift of “reading” an object to discover its owner’s secrets. After an impromptu reading at a party gets her in trouble at home in Ohio, she is sent to live with her Uncle Will in New York. Her uncle runs a museum of the paranormal, and is called in by the police to help look into a string of unusual murders. Hoping to secure a permanent place in New York, Evie joins her Uncle Will’s team and helps investigate.

Libba Bray has done a wonderful job of transporting the reader back to 1920’s New York. I could almost see the flapper dresses and cloche hats, and hear the music and the clinking of glasses in the speakeasy clubs. The book would be worth reading for the glimpse into the past alone, but it has so much more to offer. Mystery, danger, secrets, powers, music, romance – I could go on and on!

I listened to this book, rather than reading a print edition, and I would highly recommend it. January LaVoy did an amazing job of bringing each character to life with his or her own voice and inflections. This was no small feat considering the size of the cast of characters she had to work with! I hope she will continue to read the rest of the books in this series as they are published.

If you’ve read The Diviners, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Audiobook Review – The Queen of the Tearling

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

The Queen of the Tearling (The Queen of the Tearling, #1)Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.

But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.

Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

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THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER Cover Reveal, Sneak Peek, and GIVEAWAY (Ended)

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever

Author: Jeff Strand

Release Date: March 1, 2016

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Jeff Strand gives readers a sneak peek at his latest novel The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever, and shares his five favorite zombie movies:

Jeff Strand’s Five Favorite Zombie Movies:

My five favorite zombie movies are very similar to many other people’s five favorite zombie movies. I could’ve gone the condescending click-bait route and written about “The Five Best Zombie Movies You’ve Never Seen!” but, no, I’m going with my five real favorites….

 #5: DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004 version). I was one of the many people bellowing, “You can’t remake DAWN OF THE DEAD! This is blasphemy! Blasphemy!!!” But somehow this remake to a sequel (but not a sequel to the remake) turned out to be awesome. Not quite as good as the original (SPOILER ALERT: That’s #3 on this list) but one of my all-time favorites. 

 #4: RE-ANIMATOR. I’ve now seen plenty of movies that are more over-the-top insane than RE-ANIMATOR, but this was the first movie where I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching. It was hard to believe that a movie so dark and gruesome could be so funny. 

 #3: DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978 version). Shameful confession: When I first saw this in high school I thought it was stupid and boring. Fortunately, I matured and accepted that it’s one of the high points of zombie cinema. It’s the reason I know to duck before walking toward spinning helicopter blades.

 #2: RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD. Fast zombies long before 28 DAYS LATER! The first time zombies ate brains! It doesn’t often get the credit it deserves, but this is one of the most influential zombie movies ever.

#1: SHAUN OF THE DEAD. The greatest zombie comedy ever. The greatest zombie movie ever. The greatest MOVIE ever.

About THE GREATEST ZOMBIE MOVIE EVER:

After producing three horror movies that went mostly ignored on YouTube, Justin and his filmmaking buddies decide it’s time they create something noteworthy, something epic. They’re going to film the Greatest Zombie Movie Ever. They may not have money or a script, but they have passion. And, after a rash text message, they also have the beautiful Alicia Howtz—Justin’s crush—as the lead.

 With only one month to complete their movie, a script that can’t possibly get worse, and the hopes and dreams of Alicia on the line, Justin is feeling the pressure. Add to that a cast of uncooperative extras and incompetent production assistants, and Justin must face the sad, sad truth. He may actually be producing The Worst Zombie Movie Ever…

About Jeff Strand:

Jeff Strand has written more than twenty books, and is a four-time nominee (and four-time non-winner) of the Bram Stoker Award. Two of his young adult novels, A Bad Day For Voodoo and I Have A Bad Feeling About This, were Junior Library Guild picks. Publishers Weekly called his work “wickedly funny.” He lives in Tampa, Florida.

Website | @JeffStrand

 Excerpt from The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever:

The vampire, whose fangs were too big for his mouth, turned to the camera and hissed.

“Don’t look at the camera,” said Justin Hollow, the director.

“I keep poking my lip on these things,” said Harold, spitting the plastic fangs out onto the ground. He hadn’t been a very frightening example of the undead before, and he was even less scary with no fangs and a thick line of drool running down his chin.

“Cut!” shouted Justin, loud enough to be sure that the command was heard by his production crew of two. “C’mon, Harold. Stay in character. We’re three hours behind schedule.”

“I don’t care. I hate this. You promised that I’d get all the girls I wanted. So where are all of the girls I want?”

Justin let out his thirty-ninth exasperated sigh of the night. “The movie has to come out first.”

“It’s not even a real movie.”

Justin bristled. It was a full body bristle, head to toe, which he hadn’t even realized was physically possible. Bobby, who handled sound recording, and Gabe, who handled everything else, both stepped back a couple of feet. Neither of them truly believed that they were about to witness a murder, but they wanted to get out of the splash zone, just in case.

Had this been one of Justin’s movies, he would have very slowly lowered his camera, stared directly into Harold’s eyes with a steel gaze, and then after an extremely dramatic pause asked “What…did…you…just…say?”

His actual response, delivered in a squeakier voice than he would have allowed from his actors, was: “Huh?”

“I said it’s not a real movie.” Harold started to wipe the fake blood off his mouth. It didn’t come off, and probably wouldn’t for several days. Justin had planned to feel guilty about this later, but now he wouldn’t bother. “Nobody’s ever going to see it. You probably won’t even finish it.”

“I finished my last three movies!” Justin insisted. “I got hundreds of hits on YouTube!”

That statement was technically accurate, though it was the lowest possible number of hits you could get and still use “hundred” in its plural form. The only comment anybody posted about his latest film had been “This twelve year-old filmmaker sort of shows promise,” which really frustrated Justin since he was fifteen.

Harold shrugged. “This is a waste of time. I’ve got better things to do on a Friday night.”

“Nobody ever said this was going to be easy,” said Justin, who had indeed said that it was going to be easy when luring Harold into the role. “You can quit now, but what are you going to think about your decision ten years from now?”

“I’m going to think, wow, it sure is nice to be such a well-paid dentist.”

Harold walked off the set. It wasn’t an actual set, but rather a small park near Justin’s home, where they were filming without a permit. Justin knew he should shout something after his ex-actor. Something vicious. Something devastating. He thought about shouting “You’ll never work in this town again!” but, no, it had to be something that Harold would consider a bad thing.

“Fine!” Justin shouted. “But when we record the audio commentary track for the Blu-Ray, I’m going to talk about how you abandoned us, and how much happier everybody was with the new actor who took your role, and how we all agreed that he should have been cast in the first place, and how he had so many girlfriends that he couldn’t even keep track of them, and how they all found out about each other and had a great big awesome catfight in his front yard! And I’ll pronounce your name wrong!”

Harold continued walking, apparently not heartbroken.

 

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Review – Blue Karma by J. K. Ullrich

Blue Karma by J. K. Ullrich

Blue KarmaDescription from Goodreads:

Water. It covers almost three-quarters of the planet, comprises more than half the human body, and has become the most coveted resource on Earth.

Amaya de los Santos survived the typhoon that left her an orphan. Now she scrapes by as an ice poacher, illegally harvesting fresh water for an always-thirsty market. But when she rescues an injured enemy soldier, she’s pulled into a storm of events more dangerous than any iceberg. After years of relying only on herself, she must learn to trust another…or risk losing all that’s left of her family…. 

Genre: Young Adult / SciFi
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Blue Karma is a young adult scifi story set in an arid future where water is scarce and most of the water supply for North America is controlled by a corporation called Nilak. Amaya is an engee, an environmental refugee, and works with ice pirates to support herself and her little sister, Sayuri. After Amaya finds an injured Nilak guard on an iceberg she is working, she finds herself embroiled in events that quickly escalate out of her control, and she has to fight to keep herself, her sister, and maybe even the world’s water supply safe from harm.

This is fast-moving novel, with a protagonist I could really root for. Amaya starts out bitter about the life she’s been given, but with reason. It takes her a while to warm up to and trust people, but she is fiercely loyal once she does. I couldn’t help but want the best for her and Sayuri. Young adult fans should enjoy this fun “cli-fi” story.

Note: I received a free review copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:
J.K. UllrichJ.K. Ullrich likes to joke that she began writing environmental fiction at age six, when she won the local library’s Captain Planet essay contest. In the ensuing 20+ years, she earned a B.A. in English and pursued a successful career in analytical writing, although fiction remains her true passion. She published her first novel, Blue Karma, in 2015. When she’s not reading or writing, you can find her running on a favorite trail, jamming with a local cover band, or yelling at her baseball team.

Connect with J.K. online: Blog | Twitter @trulyjk

Review – Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

“I have loved you all my life, Mal,” I whispered through my tears. “There is no end to our story.” -Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm (The Grisha, #2)Description from Goodreads:

Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land. She finds starting new is not easy while keeping her identity as the Sun Summoner a secret. She can’t outrun her past or her destiny for long.

The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and a dangerous plan that will test the very boundaries of the natural world. With the help of a notorious privateer, Alina returns to the country she abandoned, determined to fight the forces gathering against Ravka. But as her power grows, Alina slips deeper into the Darkling’s game of forbidden magic, and farther away from Mal. Somehow, she will have to choose between her country, her power, and the love she always thought would guide her–or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm.

The Grisha, #2

Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

This is book #2 in the Grisha series, and now that I’ve finished, I can’t wait to pick up Ruin and Rising to see how it all ends. This continuation of the story started in Shadow and Bone has Alina running from the Darkling, the Apparat, and at times even trying to run from her own power and the person she is becoming.

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Review – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone (The Grisha, #1)Description from Goodreads:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

The Grisha Series, #1

Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

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Review – The Occasional Diamond Thief

The Occasional Diamond Thief by J.A. McLachlan
The Occasional Diamond Thief

Genre: YA / SciFi
Rating: **** (4 of 5 stars)

Kia is a 16 year old girl with a troubled family life and a penchant for languages. When her father dies, leaving her with a mother who seems to despise her and a sister who won’t give her the time of day, she leaves home and starts school to become a translator. After being caught stealing to finance her new life, she is sent to Malem to act as a translator for a Select (a religious title, something akin to a nun or priest) named Agatha. This is the same world where her father contracted the illness that eventually killed him. It’s also the world where her father acquired the gem he gave her right before he died – a Malem diamond that it is illegal for anyone who is not Malemese to posses.

I really enjoyed this story. Kia didn’t seem to be able to get a break at all, and even thought being sent to Malem kept her out of prison, it still seemed like punishment for her. Once she and Agatha arrived on Malem, the story kept moving at a pace that kept me reading, wanting to know what was going to happen next. Both Kia and Agatha were well developed, likable characters who learned and grew throughout the story. Sometimes I wanted to shout at Kia for her behavior, but considering her age it was perfectly appropriate.

There was no cliffhanger ending, and it may turn out to be a standalone novel, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see more adventures for Kia in the future.

Visit the author’s website

Disclaimer – I received a free digital copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.