Tag Archives: audiobooks

Audiobook Review: Firelight by Sophie Jordan

I don’t tend to like to shape-shifters*. I don’t know why, it just doesn’t scratch my itch, you know? Werewolves? Eh. Can take ’em or leave ’em, but I don’t care for the “pack mentality” that often happens. However, my knowledge of dragons is based on medieval stuff and the Slayers anime, and let’s face it, I love Filla to pieces.

So let’s talk about dragons–err… draki, which are the evolutionary descendants of dragons in Sophie Jordan’s Firelight. Draki live alone in sucluded and hidden villages in misty, forested mountains. They live in groups called “prides” (like lions). Our protagonist is Jacinda, her pride’s only fire-breather in hundreds of years. But her twin sister, Tamra, never “manifests” (turns into draki form).

Jacinda is fond of sneaking out and flying during the day, which is against the rules because someone might see them. Someone does, and naturally it’s a pack of draki-hunters. Miracle of miracles, one of them is a handsome boy her age who saves her ass by leading the others away from her. Though she survived, the stunt makes her mother decide it’s too dangerous in the pride. She packs them up and moves them to a small desert city that very night.

In the new city, of course the hunter boy, Will, is in her class at school. Of course he is. Which is fine. Coincidences happen, I can accept that. Jacinda falls madly in love him, almost on sight, because something about him draws her to him, and she knows he’s different. That’s what romance in high school is like, really, so points for that. Her sister Tamra is thrilled to be away from the pride since she was always an outcast, as is their mother who only remained for her (now dead) husband. Jacinda hates it, except for the part about being near Will. Who is from a family of hunters that will kill her and wallpaper their house with her skin if they find out.

This book is 1 part Star-Crossed Lovers, 1 Part Teen Angst At Mom, 1 Part Magic and Kissing, with a fair amount of teen angst just because she is a teen, a lot of whining, pining, and indecision. I enjoyed it (thanks in part to the narration by Therese Plummer, who did a fantastic job) but I have a lot of confusing ~feelings~. Much like Jacinda.

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Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer (with an Audiobook preview!)

Ah, the allure of the fairy tale. Cinderella has been told millions of times in thousands of ways, but it’s a story we keep coming back to because it speaks to us. It’s about someone in a shitty situation who manages to stay a good person, rather than turning cynical or bitter, who eventually finds love because she’s a good person. Also magic.

In Marissa Meyer’s novel Cinder there are plenty of elements from the familiar tale. A step-daughter (though she’s a cyborg and works as a mechanic in the vendor’s row), a handsome Prince (Kaito), and an evil Step Mother who is Cinder’s legal guardian and loathes her. There’s a ball, yes. But there is no fairy godmother. Cinder doesn’t need one, either, although there is a helpful doctor.

In the world of New Beijing where our story is set, the Emperor Rikan is sick and the prince brings his android to Cinder’s stall because he’s heard she’s the best. He didn’t expect to find a teenage girl, and she manages to hide the fact that she’s a cyborg, because that’s looked down upon as being “not fully human.” Of course they’re both smitten, though Cinder is reluctant to admit it. Meanwhile, a disease known as letumosis is running rampant and killing people. And the Lunar Queen, an evil creature, is poised to start a war with Earth and she uses her magical glamor to keep her own kingdom in line.

So: we have cyborgs, a plague, and an evil Moon Queen. This is not your mother’s Cinderella, is what I’m saying.

It’s a page-turning adventure with all of the stress of the classic fairy tale: you want to see Cinder succeed and you want things to go well, but she’s got a lot of obstacles to overcome and it’s hard to know how she’ll do it. Though one of the reveals is glaringly obvious almost from the start of the book, it’s handled well, giving Cinder half of the information about halfway in, and more or less winking at the reader as if to say, “You know it. But she does not yet. So hold your horses.” Characters are well developed and it’s impossible not to care about the good ones and loathe the evil ones.

Meyer thanks her community of fellow Sailor Moon fans in the back of the book. I wouldn’t have made the connection (Selene, Moon Kingdom, etc) but it was an awesome revelation to know she was slightly inspired by the series (of which I am a huge fan). That’s not to say she ripped it off, just that if you look hard, you could probably find a few nods and homages to it.

Cinder is also available as an audiobook. Curious about the story? Want to hear the first part? Here’s a free preview of Cinder audiobook, provided by Macmillan Audio:
Cinder Audiobook Preview (MP3)





Recommended: Even if you’ve disliked “modern fairy tales” or “twists on fairy tales” you’ve picked up in the past, this is something altogether different. It uses the original story as a jumping off point and a point of inspiration, but it’s not like Cinderella with Cyborgs, I promise.

Audiobook Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Even if you aren’t a fan of audiobooks, some stories demand to be told out loud, and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is one of them. The fact that Jim Dale does the reading is merely the icing on the cake. Dale, who recorded the Harry Potter audiobooks and served as the book-like narrator of the whimsical series Pushing Daisies, has a voice  that evokes a feeling of library story time from one’s childhood, which is the perfect frame of mind for this story.

The Night Circus is a fairy tale set in the late 1800s.  Le Cirque des Rêves shows up unannounced, opens and operates only at night, and then vanishes without warning. It is a series of tents filled with wonders unlike any circus ever seen before. Its color scheme is black and white which ads to the other-worldliness of it. Everything about the circus feels magical and surreal. No one believes there’s real magic behind it, but the illusions and effects are utterly spectacular.

Unbeknownst to its patrons, and most of the circus crew, the Night Circus is a venue for a duel between two young magicians, Ceila and Marco. Ceila works as the circus’ illusionist, while Marco is only the seemingly lowly assistant of the circus’ “creator.” The duel was instigated between their father figures for maximum tragedy points, when they were both too young and too in the dark to understand the depth of the commitment. As they hone their magical talents and play the game, they discover things about themselves and each other and the contest itself, none of which they’re told outright.

Comparisons to Harry Potter are unjustified. It’s got magic and wizards, sure, but it’s a different sort of tale. Fans of JK Rowling may appreciate the story and attention to detail Morgenstern pours into the novel, but if you’re looking for something to fill the Potter-shaped hole in your soul, this probably isn’t it.

The narration jumps around a bit in time and space. It’s mildly confusing once in a while without the visual aid of a date stamp on paper that you’d get in a regular edition, but beyond that, the audiobook is probably the best way to hear this story. Dale’s narration and character voices are flawless, and add the perfect air of mystique to the enchanting tale.

It’s clear Morgenstern has a complete, totally realized vision of the circus from the little glimpses inside tents and around corners we get to see. It’s easy to imagine her constructing paper tents to replicate it on her desk, much like Marco does in the book. She expertly employs second person in snippets interjected throughout the novel to give you a personal tour of the circus, which helps to round out the vision. Some of the images are like candy for the imagination although the story isn’t frivolous in the least.