Audiobook Tour and Giveaway: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1)
by Tara Sim

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible | B&N

Source: Audiobookworm Promotions

Synopsis:

Two o’clock was missing.
In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

When I first started this audiobook, I began to get really skeptical. I’m not sure why it took me so long to get into the story. Perhaps it’s just that I don’t listen to a lot of fiction audiobooks, but I’m really glad that I stuck with it. The first part of the story is relatively slow. A lot of time is spent getting to know the world and the various characters we meet support that. Everything that happened helped me with connecting with Danny on a different or new level. I appreciated getting into his story and felt like I was experiencing his anxiety right along with him on numerous occasions. I smiled every single time he used coping skills that I’ve used myself when on the brink of a panic attack.

I’m not usually a fan of romance but I really enjoyed how it played out in this book. First I enjoyed immensely that the book featured a homosexual relationship. I’ve come across a few lesbian pairings in my reading by don’t find the male side of this genre often, especially in young adult. Danny and Colton are an adorable pair and I found myself holding my breath whenever things got tense. I ended up listening to the last three hours of this straight just so I could know how things would turn out.

I won’t say too much about the ending, but I really enjoyed it. It’s a good wrap up of the situation of this story but leaves a very big opening for a continuation of the series. I’m very curious to check out the next book, Chainbreaker which will be released in November of this year. I’m hoping the same narrator will be available for the rest of the series because I really enjoyed his reading style. I admit, I especially enjoyed his different accents. This was especially true for the characters that sounded Irish or Scottish. Overall, a very good story that I really enjoyed once I got through a bit of a slow start.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Forever Young Audiobooks. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

About the Author: Tara Sim

Tara Sim is the author of Timekeeper (Sky Pony Press) and can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, clocks, and explosives. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website at tarasim.com.

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About the Narrator: Gary Furlong

Gary Furlong grew up in Wexford, Ireland. Throughout his life he has worn many a hat: He has worked as a teacher in Niigata, Japan; a puppeteer in Prague; an improv artist in Memphis, Tennessee; and as a singer and actor all over Ireland. He started narrating audiobooks in late 2015 and hasn’t looked back. Gary made his acting debut in the musical Godspell as a student. Since then he has pursued acting both on the amateur and professional circuits. Notable roles include Tom Collins in Bare Cheek’s production of Rent in 2010.Over the course of his five years in Japan, he was an actor, director, and audio producer. It was during this time that he discovered his interest in audiobooks and voice-over. He now works full-time as an audiobook narrator and voice actor from his home in Ireland.

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On the Shelf for April and an Update

I had all these plans to be caught up on reading. I was going to have at least a few weeks of pre-scheduled posts to act as a buffer. Then.. life happened, repeatedly, again. I’ve been sick on and off and dealing with a whole host of new stuff and then last week we ended up rescuing three kittens who were abandoned in front of our building. I love taking care of them, but it’s cut into my reading time as they need round the clock care. All of that said, posting is going to be a little sporadic until I get caught up and I am thinking about taking a short hiatus in order to really catch up a little. No matter what happens, reading will continue! The following is what I hope to get read in April. I’m hoping that I’ll conquer not only this list but more, we shall see!

 

Movie Review: Heaven Bound

Heaven Bound

Starring Torry Martin, Nancy Stafford, Danny Vinson, Michael Joiner

Purchase at FishFlix for $11.99 during the pre-release sale!

Official Release Date: March 31st, 2017

Source: Advanced copy from FishFlix

Synopsis from IMDB:

Ted is a successful dog food marketer until one fateful day when he accidentally kills his company’s iconic mascot and becomes the town laughingstock. Underemployed and in debt, Ted and his wife Josie are doing their best to make ends meet, but it’s not enough. Josie is unhappy, so she concocts a plan to swipe her elderly boss’ valuables in order to pay their debts. Accompanied by her lazy little brother, Ted and Josie attempt to pull off a caper but soon find that their intended victim has more in store for them than they thought.

My Review:

3.5 of 5 Stars

I was thrilled when FishFlix, a web store devoted to Christian movies, contacted me to review Heaven Bound. I’ve wanted to explore more movies in this genre but am always a little skeptical because some of them can be downright awful. After watching the preview I knew this was going to be cheesy but it looked hilarious. I’m really glad that I decided to go ahead with a review because it was incredibly fun.

I admit, in the beginning I was getting a little wary. The opening scene is a little over the top, I found myself rolling my eyes a little. I was also uncomfortable with some of the scenes featuring the dog because I’m such an animal person. It was very obvious the actual dog was never harmed but I found myself getting frustrated with the character. I was able to let this go as the movie progressed though I didn’t really begin to enjoy it until they were trapped in the doctors house.

Just as I expected, this was cheesy comedy with a strange Christian twist. I enjoyed the humor even when it made me groan a bit. Overall, I recommend this if you enjoy campy humor and are looking for something that’s a fun and feel good, family friendly movie. Lots of good discussion could be had with children with some of the deeper issues that are briefly touched on including money, judgement, loneliness, grief, what it means to be a Christian, and more. If you head over to FishFlix now you can take advantage of the pre release sale going on and snag this DVD for only $11.99.

Review: We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean

We’ll Never Be Apart
by Emiko Jean

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: Library

Synopsis:

Murder.

Fire.

Revenge.

That’s all seventeen-year-old Alice Monroe thinks about. Committed to a mental ward at Savage Isle, Alice is haunted by memories of the fire that killed her boyfriend, Jason. A blaze her twin sister Cellie set. But when Chase, a mysterious, charismatic patient, agrees to help her seek vengeance, Alice begins to rethink everything. Writing out the story of her troubled past in a journal, she must confront hidden truths.

Is the one person she trusts only telling her half the story? Nothing is as it seems in this edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller from the debut author Emiko Jean.

My Review:

3 of 5 Stars

The best way I can describe this book is that I liked it but, I didn’t love it. If you don’t see the big reveal at the end, the answer to the mystery, you’ll probably adore this book. If however, like me, you can sense what’s about to happen, it kind of takes the energy out of what’s supposed to be a thriller. I enjoyed the story but I wasn’t overly surprised by any of it. Most of it takes place inside a psychiatric facility which was portrayed in certain ways with a fair amount of accuracy and in others.. dreadful. Both Alice and Chase are able to steal keycards and wander the hospital seemingly at will. In a real setting, this would never happen for any number of reasons. First, if a staff member were to ‘lose’ a key or keycard the entire hospital would go on lockdown. Second, most hospitals have cameras in all public halls which are watched by extra security. I wouldn’t say something like this couldn’t ever happen, but not as often as it does in this book. Especially not with a patient who has a history of escape attempts and would forever be marked as a flight risk. Second, they’d never be allowed electronics of any kind in this type of facility. It made absolutely no sense to take away her toothbrush (which most facilities allow) but give her an I-Pod.

The errors took away some of the credibility of the story for me but I enjoyed the characters enough to still appreciate the book. I connected to Alice in a way, mostly due to her circumstances. I had already guessed at the ending and was always looking for clues to lead in that direction. That’s what brings me to my biggest gripe about the book. I like psychological thrillers that give me enough clues to be able to figure out what’s going on my own. My assumptions with this book came not from the story itself but previous experience with this trope. It mirrored many others that I’ve come across and didn’t feel that different. That said, I wanted more clues to either lead me astray or lead me to my already formed conclusion.

Overall, as I’ve said, I liked this story. It was a fast read and stayed interesting though a little predictable. If you don’t know the way it turns out before hand you’ll most likely enjoy this much more than I did.

Review: The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

The Map of Bones (The Fire Sermon #2)
by Francesca Haig

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: ARC from Netgalley, Gallery Books, physical copy from Library

Synopsis:

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that has laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha—physically perfect in every way; and the other an Omega—burdened with deformity, small or large. With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort, Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: whenever one twin dies, so does the other.

Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side-by-side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

My Review:

3.5 of 5 Stars

I am really enjoying this series and after reading the second book, am very impatient for the third. I had a few issues with the first book and many of those continued. I connected more with Cass in this book but still found myself getting frustrated with her. I appreciate that she’s an ever growing character, that she’s deeply impacted by the events that happen. Ongoing survival isn’t just altering her mood or causing PTSD, it’s changing the way she views herself and the world around her. I loved this evolution that she went through. I also really liked getting to know the other characters more. I’m fascinated by Zoe and hope she appears more in the future.

While I relished the characters in this book, the plot was incredibly slow. Often with trilogies, I’ve found that the second book ends up being a lot of filler. This book felt like the journey we had to take to get from book one to book two. Frequently, it’s slow and scenes are drawn out with a lot of internal struggle going on for Cass. I was able to stay interested for the most part but admit that a faster pace or more action would have resulted in a higher rating.

Overall, I’m still really excited about this series. I can see where it falls into some of the cliche’s of young adult dystopia but the premise is different enough for me that I enjoy it anyway. I classify this as science fiction for sure but love how it’s different than most that I’ve read previously. I’m very curious as to where it will go in the future, especially after the ending of this one! Don’t worry, it’s not a cliffhanger but it does leave a lot of questions to be answered.

Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu

Gemina (The Illuminae Files #2)
by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff, Marie Lu (Illustrator)

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: Library

Synopsis:

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

My Review:

5 of 5 Stars

I put off reading this book for quite a while, for a number of reasons. The biggest being that I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the first book in the series. I absolutely adored that book and loved how different it was. I saw this at the library however and had to grab it, and finally, I’ve read it. Admittedly, I think I still like the first more but I still loved this book. I was more adjusted to the alternative formatting this time so it wasn’t as big of a shock. For me, the story started off a little slow. I remained confused as to what was going on and how this related to anything from the previous story. I pushed on and even though I was still a bit lost, quickly found myself getting completely immersed into the action.

I adored the characters in this story which helped with my disappointment that we didn’t hear much from either Kady or Ezra. Hanna reminded me quite a bit of Kady though she’s definitely her own person. I found myself being skeptical of her on multiple occasions but over and over again she remained an incredibly strong female character. One of my favorite aspects of these stories is the presence of an incredibly strong female lead who has romantic interests but doesn’t allow them to completely take over. I was incredibly thankful that this story avoided the many cliche’s that populate young adult, especially when it comes to romance.

This story is filled with suspense and numerous twists, all of which had me on the edge of my seat, glued to a book for hours. The alternative formatting only served to bring the story to life in a way that a regular book wouldn’t have been able to. I adored Hanna’s journal entries, especially her sketches. I wouldn’t say the ending is a cliffhanger but it’s definetly open ended and leaves you wanting more. I’m looking forward to the third and I believe final book in the series which is due to be released later this year in October.

Fast Reads and Binge-Worthy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish featuring a list based on a theme. I love to read in large chunks and can easily get sucked into a book for many hours at a time. I’m equally bad about staying up way too late finishing a book. For this week’s theme, I chose eight either short or binge-worthy books for my list.

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff 

I adored this book, largely in part to its alternative format. The entire story is told through chat logs, evidence documents, and transcribed video feed. I devoured this book and recently read the second in the series just as quickly.

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I’m not sure how old I was when I first read this book, maybe twelve? It’s still one of my favorites, many years later. It’s not a large book and would be easy to read in one sitting.

3. Meals from Mars: A Parable of Prejudice and Providence by Ben Sciacca

This is an amazingly profound book that I truly think everyone should find the time to read. It talks about race issues in a way that I hadn’t thought of before. In addition, this is a very short and fairly easy read which makes it accessible to a wide audience.

4. The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

I don’t read a lot of poetry but I really enjoyed this collection. While I’ve written a bit myself, it’s not a genre I normally explore. Even if you read through this numerous times like I did, it’s a very quick read.

5. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan (Writer), Fiona Staples (Artist)

Including graphic novels in this list seems a little like cheating but I have to include Saga. Right now there are seven volumes available and I highly encourage a binge of them all if it’s not a series you’ve read before.

6. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

I’m still surprised as to how much I enjoyed this series because it’s not something I’d normally like. I’m not sure if it was just great timing or what, but I devoured this entire series. This series is like binging on junk food but for your brain.

7. Legion (Legion #1) by Brandon Sanderson

In many ways I wish this book didn’t fit on this list because I loved it that much. The entire book is under 100 pages long and is a very quick but also very intense read. I’ve not checked out the rest of the series yet but I plan to in the future.

8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, Jim Kay (Illustrator), Siobhan Dowd (Conception)

I really enjoyed this book and read it fairly quickly, all in one sitting. Format wise it’s a combination of regular novel and illustrations. I expected it to be scary but instead it was deeply emotional and moving. If you dive into this, bring tissues!

Review: Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: Library

Synopsis:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

My Review:

3.5 of 5 Stars

I have a bunch of mixed feelings about this book and I honestly can’t decide exactly what my thoughts are. I didn’t relate to any of the characters personally but I did really like them. My stint in cheerleading was incredibly short lived and I found it hard to imagine the world this group of teens lived in since it differed so much from my own experience. That said, once I was in, I was hooked. I loved the support of the team and the common goal that linked them all together. Hermione is an incredibly strong female lead and remains so even through some intense struggles. Her friends are amazingly supportive even when they aren’t sure what to do or after having done the wrong thing.

I appreciated this book in the sense that all survivors of sexual assault experience recovery differently. Not everyone has the event completely take over their lives or consume their sanity. I enjoyed a book that looked into this serious issue in a different way than most literature. That said, there were many times it just felt a little too neat and tidy. A variety of topics came up but most issues were able to be resolved relatively quickly. Even the ending seemed to tie everything up fairly neatly leaving only a slightly open ending. It’s not that I don’t think it could play out this way in a real situation, but that it’s not likely.

Even though I had some misgivings about certain aspects of the book, I also really enjoyed it. I was moved on several occasions by the strength of not only Hermione but also her friends and family. I relished the idea of having two loving and fully present parents in a young adult novel. My only wish is that all teens who face an awful event like this in their lives could have the amount of emotion support found here. I’m still a bit mixed about this book but I do highly encourage it as a read, especially for book groups. It’s a fairly quick read and has plenty of discussion material.

Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

The Fire Sermon (The Fire Sermon #1)
by Francesca Haig

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: Library

Synopsis: 

Four hundred years in the future, the Earth has turned primitive following a nuclear fire that laid waste to civilization and nature. Though the radiation fallout has ended, for some unknowable reason every person is born with a twin. Of each pair, one is an Alpha – physically perfect in every way – and the other an Omega burdened with deformity, small or large.

With the Council ruling an apartheid-like society, Omegas are branded and ostracized while the Alphas have gathered the world’s sparse resources for themselves. Though proclaiming their superiority, for all their effort Alphas cannot escape one harsh fact: Whenever one twin dies, so does the other. Cass is a rare Omega, one burdened with psychic foresight. While her twin, Zach, gains power on the Alpha Council, she dares to dream the most dangerous dream of all: equality. For daring to envision a world in which Alphas and Omegas live side by side as equals, both the Council and the Resistance have her in their sights.

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

This is a series that I just kept putting off for one reason or another and I’m so glad I’ve finally started it. I was actually first interested in reading it after I heard about the second book in the series on NetGalley. The premise caught my attention even though it heavily compared itself to other dystopian novels like The Hunger Games. I chose to ignore that and I think that’s how I was able to enjoy the book more.

I really appreciated the characters that I got to know in this story, especially Cass and Kip. Cass is our strong female lead, and like most, she’s always doubtful of her own true power. She falls into several of the cliche’s that are popular in young adult but still somehow stood apart for me. I wouldn’t say I always connected with her personally but I often felt like I understood her motives and emotions. On the other side, there are numerous side characters that I still don’t fully know how to feel about. Zach is Cass’s twin and I’m so confused about him and very eager to see where his character takes us in the future.

The world building was really good in this story and at times it seemed to slow the progression of the plot. I didn’t mind this too much but admit that a more consistent pacing would have resulted in me giving this a higher rating. What really got me was the ending I didn’t see coming until seconds before it happened. My kindle nearly went sailing across the room. I’ve already got the second book waiting for me and I’m thankful that the third and final part of the trilogy will be published sometime in April.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected. Even if you are sick to death of all the cookie cutter dystopian trilogies that have trended for years now, this is different enough to be enjoyable. It falls into a few common traps but manages to stay away from some of the bigger ones which helped make it really refreshing, at least for me.

Review: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde

Queens of Geek
by Jen Wilde

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Source: NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Synopsis:

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Jason Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.

My Review:

4 of 5 Stars

I went into this story hopeful but skeptical. I can’t remember exactly what drew me to it, but when it came time to read it I hesitated. I’m not a big fan of romance or contemporary fiction so I was doubting my previous choices pretty heavily. Once I started reading I started enjoying the characters. It wasn’t a head over heels thing, but it was fun and light and a good break from the other books I’ve been reading recently. As the story progressed I just liked it more and more. Each chapter alternates perspective between Charlie and Taylor which was nice. We were able to see quite a few different perspectives of the two romantic situations happening and it gave the reader details they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I connected most with Taylor because she struggles with social anxiety and a lot of self doubt. There are some amazing passages sprinkled all through her chapters that really spoke to me. Jamie is just about the perfect boy ever. He’s cute, funny, geeky, and completely understanding of her struggles. I didn’t connect with Charlie as much personally but I still really liked her. I found myself imagining having her as a best friend, perhaps even entering this world as Taylor and taking part in it! As I said before, I’m not a fan of romance usually but this book was just worked for me, magically.

I’ve come to realize after reading this book that sometimes I need a wonderful, happy, teary, happy ending book. While each character goes through some really rough emotions and personal growth, this book wraps up very neatly. It’s the slightly more realistic version of “and they lived hapily ever after.” Usually, these types of endings turn me off, I want something to mull over or questions left unanswered. I didn’t really get either of those things but I did get a very happy glowy feeling after the last page that has lasted for hours now. Even if you aren’t a fan of romance you might just like this book!