A Tale of Two Audiobooks: Paranormalcy

I didn’t find a new audiobook today before work, which made me sad.  I miss this book I’m about to review 😦

This is a continuation of the post below, which reviewed Beautiful Creatures.  I don’t think there are many book reviews that cover the audiobook, which made it really hard when I was looking for good audiobooks.

Paranormalcy

I’m going to be honest with you.  I wasn’t thrilled by the book’s description on iTunes.  So why did I listen to this book?  Well, it started with me finishing Beautiful Creatures and wanting something similarish for my next audiobook.  I went to a recommended book on the BC page, then to another one, then another, rejecting novels for their premise, ratings, or preview.  If a narrator was one I couldn’t listen to for 8+ hours, I wouldn’t get it.  But finally I happened upon Paranormalcy.  I have already lamented the coincidences, including the MC’s name, on this blog, but I think her name was what made me try the preview even though the blurb didn’t catch my attention.  I previewed on iTunes, then on audible.com (which is longer).  And I loved it.  I loved the voice and the narrator.  I was a little iffy about the beautiful fairy ex and her starting the book with a vampire (over vamps of all kinds, sorry), which seems to be the in thing to do when working with paranormal hunter of any kind, but the voice made me want to listen more.

Let’s talk about the narrator.  Anyone who’s watched Veronica Mars probably knows about when Veronica acts like she’s super-girly and loves unicorns and pink.  Well, Evie, the MC, is actually sort of Buffy meets pretend-super-girly-Veronica-Mars, and Emily Eiden, the narrator, sounds exactly like Kristen Bell during those moments.  In fact, I totally pictured Kristen Bell as Evie, and that raised my enjoyment of the novel.  Furthermore, as a single reader, Emily Eiden does a pretty good job of giving each character different enough voices, which is HUGE for me when listening to audiobooks.  Reth sounded nothing like Lend.  Evie sounded nothing like Raquel.

The story itself is lots of fun.  I was a little iffy on the whole “I work for a paranormal hunting agency” beginning, but once Evie started connecting to Lend (I could be misspelling his name, since it was an audiobook), I was completely engrossed.

The romance was adorable.  There was no love at first sight or destiny bringing Evie and Lend together.  She got to know him, they flirted little by little, and after a while she realized… she liked him *gasps*.  And Lend was a perfectly normal guy, except for that shapeshifting thing.  He didn’t stalk her (Kiersten left that for Reth, the fairy), he flirted with her, and worked his way up to an awkward asking her out on a date.  So cute.

All coincidences aside, Paranormalcy is totally the type of book I would write, yet different enough from my own stuff (except for those three details), that I could just sit back and enjoy it.  And I did.

My favorite part: I loved so much of the book, but any part with Evie and Lend teasing each other is high on my list.  But I think my absolute favorite part is when Evie cheers herself up by rolling around IPCA in her desk chair.  The image of it cheered me up too, lol

My least favorite part: Okay, so she’s being stalked by a fairy who’s trying to force these “liquid flames” from his body to hers.  This seems like it’s a big rape analogy to me, but in the end that analogy gets convoluted.

Favorite character:  It’s… Evie.  It’s amazing.  My favorite character is the main character.  That almost never happens.  And Lend, the love interest, is a close second.

Pros of the audiobook: The narrator was perfect.  Tracks were actually broken up at the chapter breaks, which doesn’t always happen in audiobooks I get from iTunes.

Cons of the audiobook: Okay, so this is a tiny nitpick.  At first the different accents at IPCA, though they made sense, were a little annoying to me, but I think it was mainly because there were a few scenes with Raquel and Jacques together and they both had accents.  It didn’t matter for 99% of the book, it just happened that it was the beginning.

That’s it.  That’s my review of Paranormalcy.  I recommend it for anyone looking for a fun contemporary fantasy.  I recommend it in audiobook form, but I’m sure it’s a great read as a normal novel too.

Currently on new iPod: A Noble Girl About Town from Doctor Who

Lots of love,

Sage

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A Tale of Two Audiobooks: Beautiful Creatures

So I just listened to a couple of audiobooks that I enjoyed.  The first was Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, and the second was Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  In both these books, I’m not sure I would have liked them as much if they had been in book form instead of audiobook form, but the way I experienced them worked very well.

I’m going to write this as two posts, I guess, since I’m starting late.

Beautiful Creatures

I once checked out BC on my Kindle (which, btw, died a sad death this week), but ended up not getting it because of one fact.   The MC, Ethan, would not stop talking about how his small Southern town was just so so so so so so Southern.  At several points during the book, I shouted, “Okay, we get it already.”  Now I realize that that was an important part of the book, but I felt there was a little too much telling in that regard and the authors didn’t trust the readers to understand that the way things were in Gatlin were “just the way things were in Gatlin” by the umpteenth time we were told that.

So when I was trying to get into the novel on the Kindle, it just didn’t happen.  But while listening to the book while at work, the first several pages of how Southern the town was seemed more palatable.

As you can guess from the above, there was quite a bit of repetition in the novel.  Basically five different things happen with variations on them:

  1. This town is Southern.  It’s really Southern.  This is how Southern it is, was, and always will be.  Everyone’s the same and never will change and don’t want change and don’t like new people.  They’re obsessed with the “War Between the States.”  Yep, we’re Southern, and that’s just the way it’s always been in Gatlin.
  2. Lena, the love interest, wants to do “normal girl things” before her 16th birthday, but they always blow up in her face, but she still wants to do them, even after being warned they’re going to blow up, and is always surprised by it.
  3. Lena is convinced that she’s going to go evil on her 16th birthday (even though all evidence says that there’s only a 50% chance that will happen), and therefore pushes Ethan and everyone away and locks herself up and ignores the fact that she wanted to do normal things before that time, even after Ethan reminds her.
  4. Ethan and Lena have intense magical experiences and are warned not to do it again by the adults who they most trust and who know more about the magic world than them, but they ignore them and do it anyway.  (And while this seems to work in their favor, it seemed to me like the adults were incredibly convincing about why they should listen)
  5. And in between all those, you have some really intense scenes, mostly magical battles but sometimes not.

#4 is interesting to me, because I wonder how much of it is that I’m an adult (sorta, kinda, not really) and so there’s some teen logic that suddenly isn’t clicking, even though I’ve never had a problem figuring out that it’s teen logic before, and how much of it is that possibly the MCs just did what the authors wanted them to for the sake of continuing the story.

Now this probably seems like I didn’t like the novel, but I actually did.  Thanks to the repetition, there were some parts that I got impatient with, usually Lena pushing people away, but I liked the characters and the story kept me engaged.

Things the book does well: The male POV. Intense scenes are intense. No skimping on the setting or descriptions. The romance is believable.

Things I didn’t like: Repetition.  Some suspension of belief over what the adults in-the-know weren’t willing to share with MCs and how the MCs reacted to the pieces of information those adults did give them.

My favorite part: The hearing to see if Lena could stay in school

My least favorite part: The chapter in Lena’s POV (see below)

Favorite character: Ridley.  I guess I like the dark characters who show more complexities than just being evil.

Pros of the audiobook:  The songs in the novel were actually sung/played.  There’s one very creepy scene near the beginning where there’s a storm, and the radio is staticky, and the song comes on.  The audiobook actually has the transition from radio to the song, and I cannot imagine that being more creepy in the book than in audio form.  This format made it easier to get through the repetition for some reason.  Ethan’s narrator was pleasant to listen to and had a very slight twang.

Cons of the audiobook: The telepathy was an annoying pseudo-whisper on the audiobook, and it was sometimes hard to tell who was “whispering.”  There was a chapter from Lena’s POV, and I really didn’t like her narrator at all.  That said, I still prefer Full Cast Audio to ones that are read (mainly) by one person doing male and female voices.  But if the entire rest of the book, including Lena’s dialogue voice, is read by a guy, why not just do that chapter with it too?  It was different when it was Will Grayson, Will Grayson and the POV alternated with each chapter.

All right, there’s my review.  Unless work goes super late, I’ll post my review on Paranormalcy as an audiobook tomorrow.

Currently on new iPod (because I’ve forgotten my old one exists, I guess): Be Our Guest from Beauty and the Beast

Lots of love,

Sage

Stupid Towel

So today I’m putting the finishing touches on cleaning for guests.  My friend is coming from the UK this weekend.  I don’t have time to clean in the morning before she comes because I’ll be working (so much for “if you need a weekend off, just ask”). But I just finished, yay.

I know some of my cleaning was kind of half-assed (“this is clean enough”), but one thing I was trying to do right was hang towels in the bathroom.  Now for some reason my mom can hang towels in the bathroom and they look nice and neat and sometimes festive.  But, me, I put them up, and, no matter what I do, it seems like they don’t want to hang right.  The back is diagonal from the front or the fold doesn’t go straight all the way or the towel is off-center.  I don’t know, it just seems to take me a long, frustrating time to make it look presentable.

Sometimes when I look at writers’ descriptions I feel the same way.  Some writers just seem to easily describe things in creative yet clear ways.  I don’t understand it.  I have to struggle for most of my descriptions.  If it goes beyond color, I’m laboring to get those words on the page.  And sometimes I don’t even realize the description is missing.

The only reason I thought to put up the guest towels was that I was washing towels anyway.  Oh well.  Same difference 😉

In other news, I keep forgetting about LoLT.  Sorry, sagelikethesister.

Currently on iPod….  I honestly don’t know, so it’s probably still “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing.”

Lots of love,
Sage

Coincidences

So it never fails.  As soon as I finish a book, I beta for someone and, whoa, some of their details look similar to some of the details in my book.  Now sometimes, this is slightly expected.  “You have a robot book, I have a cyborg book, let’s trade.”  Sometimes it hits me out of left field.  For example, robot and cyborg books both have the robot and cyborg breaking down directly or indirectly out of their love for a girl, both have important scenes on roofs, etc.  Or my book about the spirit of trouble and your book about Egyptian gods both have similar climax scenes.  That kind of stuff.  It never fails.

When I finished Hero/Villain, I expected that.  Especially when I read Perry Moore’s Hero (not a beta read, obviously).  But there were very few similarities beyond superheroes and Leagues between Hero and H/V.

So imagine my surprise when I start listening to Paranormalcy by Kiersten White.  I chose this book in a line of books I previewed starting from Beautiful Creatures (which I just listened to) and going to the next recommended book that looked sort of interesting, and then the next, and then the next.  When I got to Paranormalcy, I pictured the narrator as Veronica Mars doing her fake extra-girly act, and… that’s pretty much what the MC in Paranormalcy sounds like.  The reader even sounds like her vocally.  I decided to listen to this book, even though I was iffy on the book’s description the first time I heard it, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by it so far.

Except for a couple of things.  The MC is named Evie.  The LI is a shapeshifter (and invisible in his natural form for most people).  And the kicker for me, Evie is obsessed with a show called Easton Heights.

Now let’s review Hero/Villain.  One MC is named Evie.  One MC/LI is a shapeshifter and the other MC/LI is invisible.  And Evie and Ace are obsessed with Apollo Easton and Dr. Easton.

Now, I’ve noticed that Evie is a pretty popular name lately in queries.  And since every fantasy creature is in this book, the fact that there’s a shapeshifter isn’t too surprising (although bummer that he’s so important).  But I think that Easton thing is just one coincidence too many.  What were the chances?  I mean, it doesn’t seem to be used as daylight imagery like my Eastons are (Apollo Easton vs. Evie Dark?)

But I think I’ll keep it as it is, and if an agent or editor has a problem with it, I’m totally willing to change Evie’s name.  Well, maybe “totally” is a bit much or I’d be doing it now, but I’m willing.  For now I’ll keep it.  I might change Easton to something else East-y.

But I wonder what the source of these coincidences are.  I can understand how certain trends become trends before people even start talking about “the next trend.”   Several writers read a book, watch a movie, hear about an event, and it inspires us to write something related.  (“Sigh, I want to write about a dreamy fantasy creature love interest too.”  “Down with the Capitol.  I want to write about overthrowing authority too.”)   But what about the ones that seem to come from nowhere?  I know that when I wrote DownLoad (the aforementioned cyborg novel), it started out as a dream, and much of the inspiration came from two animes.  But the writer who wrote the robot book hadn’t watched those animes and certainly hadn’t had that dream.  Why do we both have emotions breaking down our mechanical or semi-mechanical people?  Why are there romantic scenes on the roof?

Why did Kiersten White and I name something “Easton”?  I doubt it came from the same source.  I needed “East” in the name, and there’s a nearby place called Easton.  Maybe there’s an Easton somewhere near her too.  Maybe she knows someone in Easton, MA or Easton, PA.  Maybe she does archery and gets her bows and arrows from Easton Archery or she gets baseball bats from Easton-Bell Sports.  (Yes, Google is fun :))

Well, guess I’ll just chalk it up to one of life’s little coincidences.  Er… three of life’s little coincidences.

Currently on iPod: I Don’t Feel Like Dancing by Scissor Sisters

Lots of love,
Sage