#ThrowbackThursday ~ More Than This by Patrick Ness #YA #SciFi

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that have been waiting on the ‘to be read’ pile for however long, and are finally getting an airing.

This week I’m showcasing More Than This by Patrick Ness. The audiobook was narrated by Nick Podehl and was released in 2013. 

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Dead Set by Richard Kadrey #YA #Fantasy #Paranormal

Renee at It’s Book Talk began this meme as a way to share old favourites, as well as books that were published over a year ago. Not to mention those that are languishing on the to be read pile for whatever reason.

This week I’m looking back at Dead Set by Richard Kadrey, author of the Sandman Slim urban fantasy series. Dead Set is a stand alone young adult paranormal fantasy. I listened to the audiobook. 

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Fair Coin/Quantum Coin ~ the #audiobooks #SundayBlogShare #YA SciFi #BookReview

 

  • Fair CoinFair Coin ~ Book 1
  • Author: E C Myers
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • November 2013 by Audible Inc
  • Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  • four-stars

After Ephraim’s mother believes she has identified his body after an accident, she’s grief stricken and attempts suicide. Ephraim finds her unconscious and slumped over the kitchen table when he gets home from school.  

While in the hospital with his mother, the boy’s belongings are inadvertently given to Ephraim and among them he finds a strange coin that can grant wishes….except it doesn’t grant them in quite the way Ephraim expects and before long Ephraim realises the coin is much more than a ‘genie’ type object, it’s something a lot more sinister and convoluted. And he’s unable to control what happens after he’s made a wish. He’s the only one who knows he’s wished for something to change and the only one who remembers what it was like before.  Continue reading

Calamity ~ Reckoners #3 by @BrandSanderson #Sci-fi #YA @MacLeodAndrews

  • CalamityAudiobook Review
  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: Orion Publishing Group, released February 2016 on Audible 
  • Category: Sci-fi, Young Adult Fantasy, Alternate Reality
  • four-half-stars

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand.
Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs. He found some of those answers in Firefight. Now he has to decide what to do with them….
Calamity is about what you do to fill your heart once you have vengeance.

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HellHole

AudiobookReview

  • HellholeAuthor: Gina Damico
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: Audible Studios; released January 2015
  • Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
  • four-half-stars

There was a time when geeky, squeaky-clean Max Kilgore would never lie or steal or even think about murder. Then he accidentally unearths a devil, and Max’s choices are no longer his own. The big red guy has a penchant for couch surfing and junk food—and you should never underestimate evil on a sugar high.

Max is the quintessential awkward teen who has zero luck with girls, loves crosswords and digging for fossils on Ugly Hill. He cares for his sick mother who’s waiting for a heart transplant as well as attending school and working long hours at a convenience store. One day at work he steals a cat statue for his mother, who loves sparkly junk. He can’t afford to buy it but wants to give his mother something he knows she’ll appreciate. Max is terrified the security camera will pick up his theft but little does he know getting caught is the least of his worries.

Max had been up on Ugly Hill hundreds of times, alone and in the dark, but this was the first time he’d ever been truly scared. “What the hell?” his voice quivered. Just then an air pulse sent up a small fleck of ash – black, light as air, a gothic snowflake. It floated out of the hole, then descended and landed on the back of Max’s hand. He tried to wipe it off, but all that did was create a black smear across his skin.

Max’s problems begin in earnest when he unwittingly releases one of the 666 Satans from hell during a dig for fossils on Ugly Hill. Burgundy Cluttermuck, or Burg as he prefers to be known, takes up residence in Max’s basement. Now he’s above ground he’s here to stay and Max has to keep him happy and supplied with stolen junk food, beer and video games…or else! After several unsuccessful attempts to get rid of his houseguest, Max and Burg strike a bargain. Max agrees to find Burg a house with a hot tub, plus a string of other requirements, and Burg promises he’ll cure Max’s mom. But trying to bargain with a devil is not a wise move and one that’s more than likely not to end well. 

Max enlists the help of new friend, Lore, who had a similar experience the previous year, and together they try to rid Max of his problematic ‘guest’, with help from Max’s cat, Ruckus, who plays an unusual part in the drama.

This is an entertaining, offbeat and comedic story. Very clever too, even though it does have its heavy moments. The humour for the most part is quite dark but nevertheless laugh out loud in places, due in no small part to MacLeod Andrews’ superb narration and wonderful characterisations of Max and Burg, among others.

Burg is loud, brash and cunningly manipulative, knowing exactly how to get Max to do his bidding. Max’s intentions are all good but every action taken has consequences, which Max realises too late. A cautionary tale of how one small error of judgement can snowball into a gigantic and terrible predicament in no time.

There’s a wealth of unique and individual characters including Max’s best friend, Audie, his boss at the convenience store, Stavroula, and Lore, with her trusty ‘Russell’ crowbar with its stick-on googly eyes. I love that Max and Lore are not the usual protagonists found in a YA novel. Max has never had a girlfriend, although Audie tries her best to help him out in that area. After a rocky start Max and Lore’s developing relationship is quite touching and the humorous observations and exploration of their characters is enjoyable and extremely well done.

Book links ~ Amazon UK Amazon US

About the author

GDI grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, and I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. I am the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (Croak, Scorch, and Rogue), published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the upcoming Hellhole (January 2015). I live in Western Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, one dog, and while I have never visited hell in person, I have spent countless waking hours at the Albany Regional Bus Terminal, which is pretty darn close.

Author links ~ www.ginadami.co, Twitter, Facebook

Firefight (The Reckoners #2)

Firefight

  • Audiobook Review
  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published: Orion Publishing Group – released on Audible January 2015
  • Category: YA, Post Apocalyptic, Sci-Fi
  • five-stars

They told David it was impossible – that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet, Steelheart – invincible, immortal, unconquerable – is dead. And he died by David’s hand. 

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life more simple. Instead, it only made David realise he has questions. Big ones. And there’s no one in Newcago who can give him the answers he needs.

Firefight continues the story of David Charleston and The Reckoners, the group of resistance fighters sworn to rid the world of as many Epics as possible. Epics are humans endowed with super powers, who use those powers to subdue, control and kill the human population. 

Following on from Steelheart (and a novella, Mitosis) Newcago is a free city now that David defeated and killed Steelheart, avenging his father’s death. David had been working towards this goal exclusively for all the years since his father’s murder. But now the Reckoners have another problem…

Sourcefield had come to Newcago earlier in the week. She’s started killing immediately – random people, no perceivable purpose behind it. Just like Steelheart had done in his early days. Then she’s started calling out for the citizens to turn in the Reckoners, so she could bring us to justice.

A twisted brand of Epic justice. They killed whomever they wanted, but to strike back was an offence so greatly could barely conceive it. Well, she’d see soon enough. So far, our plan to bring her down wasn’t going terribly well, but we were the Reckoners. We prepared for the unexpected.

Regalia, a very powerful Epic, who controls Babylon Restored, previously known as Manhattan, has been sending lesser Epics to Newcago to kill the Reckoners in retaliation for the death of Steelheart. So David, Prof and Tia, along with new team members Exel, Val and Mizzy journey to Babylon Restored to eliminate Regalia. Killing Steelheart might have solved an immediate problem but ultimately has created more. The Reckoners find an assortment of Epics in Babylon Restored including Firefight, which causes a huge dilemma for David and a division in the team.

David has spent forever studying Epics, their superpowers and trying to find their weaknesses. Although he is no longer fuelled by the need for revenge, he condemns the Epics for killing innocent people. At the same time his views are not as straightforward as they once were. Realising all Epics aren’t bad David wants to understand why their powers corrupt, and if it’s possible to reverse them. He hopes so, more than anything. 

There’s lots of action, challenges and a good deal of new information about the Epics, what drives them and how their powers manifest. Surprise and dramatic reveals arise throughout and the stakes increase hugely towards the end. 

The characters are strong, realistic and well-developed; David’s growth is noticeable and I like the fact he can admit to his mistakes and is willing to rectify them. He’s still impulsive and acts without thinking on occasion which tends to cause problems for everyone, himself included. But he’s also reflective and thoughtful in equal measure as he works things out, even though he doesn’t always want to go in the direction his logic takes him. There’s more background relating to Prof, Megan and Tia, too. The plot flows incredibly well with perfect pacing and lots of unexpected revelations.

The world building is so very imaginative and descriptive. A colourful (literally!) story full of fun, romance, fights, friendship and deception but also addressing serious subject matter and ethical concerns. And the ending! What a twist that is!

MacLeod Andrews is the perfect choice for narrator, David’s teen ‘voice’ is just right, Prof’s (my favourite) too and all the other characterisations are extremely well done and have distinct personalities. 

About the author

BrandonSandersonI’m Brandon Sanderson, and I write stories of the fantastic: fantasy, science fiction, and thrillers.

January 2015 marks the release of Firefight, the sequel to Steelheart. When only evil people gain super powers and become tyrants, it’s up to normal people to hunt them down. There is a free 5-chapter preview ebook of Steelheart here on Amazon that you should check out, with a corresponding sampler audiobook on Audible. My Firefight book tour in the US lasts throughout January.

Recent short releases are Legion: Skin Deep (sequel to Legion), the further investigations of an average man whose many hallucinations are all experts in their own fields, and also my novella Sixth of the Dusk, set in the same universe as Mistborn and Stormlight, revolving around an attack on an island trapper’s way of life.

My biggest recent epic fantasy is Words of Radiance, written as a love letter of sorts to the epic fantasy genre. It continues the story of the Stormlight Archive that began in The Way of Kings, and it’s the type of book I always dreamed epic fantasy could be. October 2015 and January 2016 will also see the release of two new Mistborn books, Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning.

Mistborn and the Stormlight Archive are among my most popular works, as are my concluding volumes to Robert Jordan’s epic series The Wheel of Time. My novella The Emperor’s Soul won a Hugo Award in 2013. That year also marked the release of my first young adult fantasy, The Rithmatist.

Sample chapters from all of my books are available at brandonsanderson.com/library — and check out the rest of my site for chapter-by-chapter annotations, deleted scenes, and more.

Brandon can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Please click on the book cover for Amazon UK and here for Amazon US.

More Than This

AudiobookReview

  • 17870216Author: Patrick Ness
  • Performed by Nick Podehl
  • Released: by Candlewick on Brilliance Audio, November 2013
  • Category: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
  • four-half-stars

A boy drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments. He dies.

Then he wakes, naked and bruised and thirsty, but alive.

How can this be? And what is this strange deserted place?

As he struggles to understand what is happening, the boy dares to hope. Might this not be the end? Might there be more to this life, or perhaps this afterlife?

Seth wakes up not knowing where he is or how he got there. He can’t remember anything…except dying. That, he does remember. But he couldn’t have died, could he? He was here, wasn’t he?

The opening pages are so descriptively graphic and yet leave room for doubt as to what actually happened. Things get quite frightening for Seth as he realises how familiar, and yet at the same time, different, this place is. It seems deserted, almost post apocalyptic. The terrible feeling of aloneness and the devastation around him are penned in such a way as to be tangible.

 ...it’s also a world that only seems to have him in it, so how real can it be? If this is just a dusty old memory that he’s trapped in, maybe it isn’t really even a place at all, maybe it’s just what happens when your final dying seconds turn into an eternity.

The so very sad flashbacks of Seth’s memories piece together the events that lead to his ‘death’, if that’s what it was. His relationships with his parents, his brother, Gudmund and his friends capture the uncertainty and confusion of youth.

Everything in this world in which he finds himself is always on the edge of unknown, what’s real or not real. As the story unfolds Seth finds he’s not alone after all, there’s Regine and Tomasz, great characters who have also have stories to tell. Their search for answers, of which there are no easy ones, and trying make sense of where they are and how they got there leads them into unprecedented and bizarre situations. Then they begin to discover the shocking truth. There’s lots of action, mystery, suspense and a very ominous antagonist they have to deal with, several times.

The story is challenging in the extreme, it’s intense, dark, sad but at the core is hope, and I felt like I was being pulled one way, thrown back and pulled in a completely different direction again and again. It’s imagination running riot and running through is the premise that whatever is going on there must be More Than This. It raises some questions about life, relationships, of how they’re dealt with and the consequences of the decisions made. There are so many layers in this book and it leaves a lasting impression.

Haven’t you ever felt like there has to be more? Like there’s more out there somewhere, just beyond your grasp, if only you could get to it…

And the ending…….thought-provoking and ambiguous. The writing is amazing and the story so well crafted and totally gripping.

Nick Podehl did an impressive job bringing the story to life and giving the characters their individual voices and personalities.

tt10407952fltt Amazon US Amazon UK

Dead Set ~ the audiobook

 

  • 51xag+e+GRL._SL175_Author: Richard Kadrey
  • Performed by Kate Rudd
  • Released: October 2013 by Harper Audio
  • Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  •  three-half-stars

After her father’s funeral, Zoe moved to the big city with her mother to start over. But change always brings trials, and life in the city is not so easy. Money is tight, and Zoe’s only escape, as has always been the case, is in her dreams—a world apart from her troubled real life where she can spend time with her closest companion: her lost brother, Valentine.

After her father’s death Zoe and her mother moved into a small apartment in a run down area of San Francisco.  It’s tough for both of them, Zoe misses her father terribly, has become withdrawn and has conversations with her dream brother, Valentine. Her mother is struggling emotionally too and is worried about finances and how they’ll cope.  

One day Zoe comes across an old record shop with a strange owner called Emmett. Emmett has a secret room where the vinyl records hold not music but the souls and lives of people who have died. Zoe’s father is there, Emmett lets her see him for a price…a lock of hair, maybe he’ll let her speak to her father for a tooth.

Zoe can’t refuse and is transported to Iphigene, the city of lost souls, ruled by Hecate and her ‘children’, creepy black dogs and scary snakes.  She’s determined to see her father again but the record shop is closed and so in desperation she follows Emmett down the sewers and back into Iphigene.

Will Zoe find what she’s looking for and will she ever find her way back…Once Hecate discovers there’s a living soul in her kingdom all hell (sorry ^_^) breaks loose.

A dark and menacing fantasy, quite disturbing and eerie in parts but nevertheless an intriguing story. I thought Richard Kadrey did a great job of capturing the teenage ‘voice’ of Zoe.  From her grief and confused loneliness to the desperate attempts to get to her father, she carries the story and keeps the impetus going.  

The writing is very expressive and detailed with an original storyline which begs the question, how far would you actually go to see and talk to a loved one again.

For all that, though, I didn’t really engage with the characters completely. I’m not sure if it was the narration.  I’ve listened to Kate Rudd before and enjoyed her performance but somehow this narration didn’t do it for me. Maybe in this instance, the book might have been a better choice.

Buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Truesight Trilogy ~ the audiobooks

 

In the first of this futuristic trilogy we’re introduced to 12-year-old Jacob. He lives with his family on a space colony, Harmony, where everyone is born blind.  The thought of sight is almost an abomination and the belief is ‘true sight’ leads to crime and dishonesty. Little do they know! Jacob finds out a lot about the people in his community when inexplicably he begins to see.

 Shocked and horrified Jacob hides the fact of his sight and tries to carry on as he would normally, which becomes increasingly more difficult. He is hit by another bombshell when he is told his best friend, Delaney, has committed suicide.  

 Eventually Jacob is found out and the leader of the community’s ‘solution’ to Jacob’s newly acquired sight is a terrible one. Jacob has some serious decisions to make about which life he wants, the one he’s always known and been comfortable with or the one he now sees is the real one.

  • The SeerThe Seer ~ book 2
  • four-half-stars   

Now Jacob is a seer he is trying to get to grips with the new, unknown and incredible world he finds himself in. He has left Harmony to save his sight and is befriended on his travels by Xander, a great character who has his own troubled and sad past.

Jacob misses his family and Delaney, who he found out hadn’t committed suicide but was banished from Harmony by her father and Jacob wants desperately to find her.

Jacob needs to find his place in this new world and deal with what’s happened to him.

The pace and tension are upped in this book, especially with Jacob’s visionary dreams giving him a fore warning of things to come.

  • OtherspaceOtherspace ~ book 3  
  • four-stars  

A very good ending to this trilogy with lots of engaging characters.  Jacob learns more about himself and finds the place he’s been drawn to in his visions after a long and arduous journey. He finally arrives at a colony on a distant planet for people like him who have gained sight.

This isn’t the end of Jacob’s adventures as he is instrumental in bringing more people to the safety of the new colony. He has finally discovered who he is and what he needs to do.  And Jacob’s visions of himself as a man returning to Delaney and Xander comfort him with the knowledge he will see them again.

 Performance

Once again MacLeod Andrews’ considerable talent and ability with young adult fiction come to the fore in a superb narration.  

Thoughts

An extremely creative storyline with a distinctive protagonist emerging and growing as he turns 13 and his world changes irrevocably.

As a young adult series I think it would raise questions for the reader, the issues of extremists and friendships, good and evil are not glossed over.

The descriptions of space travel are fantastic.

Buy the books Amazon UK and Amazon US

Steelheart ~ the audiobook

 

  • cfa0d67825b34bff42772d35239e17e7The Reckoners ~ Book 1
  • Author: Brandon Sanderson
  • Performed by MacLeod Andrews
  • Released: September 2013 by Audible Frontiers
  • Category: Young Adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Apocalyptic/Post Apocalyptic
  • four-half-stars

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

A very descriptive and sad prologue sets up the storyline, the trauma suffered by David and how that affects the choices he makes.

In a post Calamity world ruled by dark and chilling Epics, humans who gained fearful super powers, a small group of resistance fighters, The Reckoners, are killing Epics to try to undermine their hold on the world. 

David wants revenge against the most powerful ruling Epic, Steelheart, for the murder if his father 10 years ago. He joins The Reckoners (great characters) and they devise a plan.

David knows Steelheart has a weakness, he saw him bleed, but he doesn’t know for sure what the weakness is or how to utilise it to The Reckoners’ best advantage.

A good narrator makes all the difference to an audiobook but an exceptional narrator takes it to a whole new level. MacLeod Andrews comes into the latter category. He brings David to life and gives him personality and moves easily between each of the characters giving them all distinctive ‘voices’ and emotional depth as well as intenseness to the whole of the story.

Although this is classed as a young adult title it kind of hovers on the mid line between YA and adult.

There are morality issues to confront and lessons to learn, several unexpected twists and revelations turn things upside down. The characters are solid and likeable and I love how David is portrayed. He’s had to grow up fast but still has teenage moments of impulsiveness and acting without thought of the consequences. The banter between the group is appealing and comical at times.

Imaginative storytelling, which leaves enough unsaid to make me want to follow on with the next book, lots of fast paced action and suspense. In the Epic world superpowers are used for destruction and corruption but the Reckoners have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

The writing style appealed to me, very well done with vivid imagery and clever world building and I liked that there’s a darkness to the story. 

The book is available at  Amazon UK and Amazon US