Review: A Thousand Piece of You by Claudia Gray

 Title: A Thousand Piece of YouA-Thousand-Pieces-of-You (1)

AuthorClaudia Gray

Audiobook Narrator: Tavia Gilbert

Genre: Fiction, Fantasy

Number of pages: 368 (9 hrs. 16 min. Audio)

Time it took me to read: 6 Days

Synopsis:

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their groundbreaking achievements. Their most astonishing invention, called the Firebird, allows users to jump into multiple universes—and promises to revolutionize science forever. But then Marguerite’s father is murdered, and the killer—her parent’s handsome, enigmatic assistant Paul— escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite refuses to let the man who destroyed her family go free. So she races after Paul through different universes, always leaping into another version of herself. But she also meets alternate versions of the people she knows—including Paul, whose life entangles with hers in increasingly familiar ways. Before long she begins to question Paul’s guilt—as well as her own heart. And soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is far more sinister than she expected.

Novel Review:

I have to admit that this book started off slow for me. It was hard to delve into the world for some reason at the beginning. Like other reviewer’s I questioned if this was something I wanted to stick with but I sure am glad that I did. Before I knew it, I was along for the ride and what a ride it was.

Think historical fiction in alternate realities. Claudia Gray takes the what if questions of history and creates her own world with them. What if the USSR was still in existence today? What if global warming happened a lot sooner? I thought Claudia’s own take to these questions very clever and was one of the main factors that had me so enthralled.

So there is your basic love triangle, well sort or. It’s more the predating run around where the girl hasn’t decided who she wants to be with. But there is none of that overly dramatic characters spurting out declarations of “I can’t live without you” type dialogue. It’s under the surface at first and lets you get into the story before… well, read it to find out.

The ending was so unexpecting for me that I woke my daughter up with a few intelligible cries. I seriously didn’t see it coming and actually loved it.  Some authors have problems with this type of plot device but not Claudia. Truly was one heck of a read and I 100% recommend it. Heck, it even made up for the beginning of the novel so 5 stars from me!

My rating:

5

More about the book and Claudia here

Follow Claudia Gray on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

 Audio Review:

As a reminder the three things I personally rate in a voice actors performance are:

(1) Transportation: how well the actors’s voice transports you into the story

(2) Distraction: things that the actor’s do/say that distract you from the story itself

(3) Different Voices: how well the actor can differentiate between different character voices.

A little about Tavia Gilbert: She has narrated hundreds of audiobooks and has earned several awards for her talented and beautiful voice. Another series I have listened to that she has narrated is the Eve Series by Anna Carey.  I have to say that I love this audiobook narrator and will definitely be checking out other books just for her voice.

Review

(1) Transportation – 5 Stars

Like I said in the book reivew I had a problem with the beginning of the book but I really think that is more the story itself. Tavia’s voice was clear and it was easy for me to just sit back, listen and become one with the story.  The tone was just right and Tavia’s voice is soothing enough to transport me into the story. Which I love!

(2) Lack of Distractions – 5 Stars

It seems like I am on a winning streak when it comes to this category. Look, when you are listening to an audiobook you are sharing an intimate exchange with the narrator. If you are like me and listening through headphones while in line for that uberly expensive frappuccino, you are going to pick up on any tics the narrator may have. Like do they moisten their lips too close to the microphone or do they sip water while reading and you can hear the moisture in their mouth? These are things that distract  from the story and can really kill it for me.

Like I said, I am on a winning streak and have not had any bad experience so far in the month. Tavia’s voice is flawless and keeps me in the story itself and that is one of the most important things for me.

(3) Different Voices – 5 Stars

This category is a little difficult for me to rate because I think anyone who does narration with different voices is already very talented. I can not even begin to understand how they do it. With that being said I have listened to many audiobooks in my time and really love when the narrator can clearly distinguish between different characters.

Tavia’s voices were clear and I can understand why she has been so successful in her voice acting career. Sometimes, the male voices are hard to distinguish between the different characters but that is not a problem with Tavia’s work. Between Paul, Theo and Marguerite’s father I could tell who was speaking and a can still do so without the necessary dialogue markers.

My rating:

5

More about Tavia Gilbert here

Follow Claudia Gray on Twitter and Facebook

Autobiography Monday

 Title: Neil Patrick Harris ~ Choose your Own Adventure

nph_cover_pb_flat_lg.jpgAuthorNeil Patrick Harris

Audiobook Narrator: Neil Patrick Harris
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography
Number of pages: 304
Time it took me to read: 5 Day

Synopsis:
Well, it’s about the life of Neil Patrick Harris as told by Neil Patrick Harris but in the form of a choose your own adventure book.
Seriously, follow the link below to get the jist of it from NPH himself. You will thank me later.

Youtube Book Trailer

 

Novel Review:

So this summer I decided to go outside of my reading box and read more genres that I normally stay away from, for one reason or another.  One such genre is the memoir and autobiography section. I have to say that starting with Neil Patrick Harris’ autobiography is both a blessing and I fear a curse. I mean, who can live up to a freakin chose your own autobiography?

If you know anything about Neil Patrick Harris, you know that he is a very fun man. He does not disappoint in this book. From alternate endings in which you die horribly (funny) to the beautiful surrogacy stories of Your’s and David’s children, you are in for one wild ride. I am not a big autobiography person but I found NPH’s book hard to put down. I have never been so eager to dive into another (real) person’s life before. Seriously, cannot say enough great things about this book.

Honestly, jump online and order your copy of NPH’s autobiography today! If you are like me, a big fan, you will be thanking me later. It is that good!

My rating:

Starhalf StarStarhalf Starhalf Star

Find it on Amazon           Audio version from Audible

More about the book and Neil here

Follow Neil Patrick Harris on Twitter and Instagram

Review: Science Fiction / Fantasy

 Title: The Mark of the Dragonfly

SmallAuthorJaleigh Johnson
Audiobook Narrator: Kim Mai Guest
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Children’s Book (age 10 & up)
Number of pages: 400
Time it took me to read: 3 Day

Amazon Synopsis:
Piper has never seen the Mark of the Dragonfly until she finds the girl amid the wreckage of a caravan in the Meteor Fields.
The girl doesn’t remember a thing about her life, but the intricate tattoo on her arm is proof that she’s from the Dragonfly Territories and that she’s protected by the king. Which means a reward for Piper if she can get the girl home.
The one sure way to the Territories is the 401, a great old beauty of a train. But a ticket costs more coin than Piper could make in a year. And stowing away is a difficult prospect—everyone knows that getting past the peculiar green-eyed boy who stands guard is nearly impossible.
Life for Piper just turned dangerous. A little bit magical. And very exciting, if she can manage to survive the journey.

Novel Review:

Picking this book up (okay audio file) was a decision I do not regret. When I read fantasy I expect to be transported into the story itself. If I have a hard time submerging myself in the story I find it is usually because some details are not flushed out enough. Jaleigh Johnson did a fantastic job with the world building in this novel. Johnson’s word transported me to the dirty, desolate place where we meet Piper, the protagonist of the story.  In fact, I was so thoroughly transported to this world that I often found myself wanting to learn more about the different settings in the novel. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Overall, the story was fast paced, and I was quite surprise to learn that it was 400 pages. It definitely didn’t seem like I was listening to a 400 page novel and I believe that speaks volumes towards Johnson’s ability to keep the pace just right for this read. There are a few areas where I found I had to remind myself that the main character couldn’t die because man does Piper get herself into a lot of trouble. Honestly, I found myself getting characters.png__550x844_q85_crop_upscale.pngmad at the author before I could read further along and find the characters safe and sound. The characters are relatable and come alive through Johnson’s prose and man do I want to spend some more time learning about Gee and his story. What a mysterious and intriguing character she has developed. The three characters (Piper, Anna, and Gee) all have their own secrets and I would love to read more in a novella about each one.

A few things I struggled with in this book, included the strange ability that Piper had for not getting in trouble or angering anyone other than the villain. I mean, if she did something that did exactly what Gee didn’t want her to do (get herself in trouble and put others in harms way) then why wouldnt he get mad at her? It just was not realistic to me. I want characters that are flaw (given) and are held responsible for their actions (not always given) not a character that can do wrong and be easily forgiven. Considering this is a middle school aged book I would expect these things at the very least. Another thing I struggled with was the inclusion of King Aaron. He was an easy way out for the main character and I felt that it cheats the readers from a more developed and creative resolution. Without giving away the ending I will end with that and you can let me know what you think.

With that being said I still enjoyed this read a lot and recommend The Mark of the Dragonfly to anyone who loves steampunk meets dystopian type of worlds.

My rating:

5

Find it on Amazon           Audio version from Audible

Narrator Review:

Something new I am starting this year is a review of the actual voice actors in the audio version. Over the years I have listened to enough audiobooks to find myself hearing the same voices speaking through my headphones. Some are great and some are not the best fit for me. So today I will review Kim Mai Guest’s narration of The Mark of the Dragonfly.

When you are spending a little under 10 hours listening to someone read you a story there are certain things you pay attention to:

(1) Transportation: how well the actors’s voice transports you into the story

(2) Distraction: things that the actor’s do/say that distract you from the story itself

(3) Different Voices: how well the actor can differentiate between different character voices.

When I first heard Kim Mai Guest in her reading of The Mark of the Dragonfly I knew I have listened to her before. She has narrated the Incarceron Series by Catherine Fisher as well as Their Fractured Light, Book 3 of the Starbound Series by Aime Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. This was a positive thing and I quickly found myself relaxing and just letting her voice transport me into the story. After doing a little bit of research on Kim Mai I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of voice acting she has done in animated television series, movies, and several other platforms. I have provided a link to a wiki page on her for lack of any webpage dedicated solely to her. You can find it by clicking on her name at the beginning of this review.

(1) Transportation – 5 Stars

Kim Mai Guest voice is soothing, yet not to the point of sleep inducing. That is an important balance for an audiobook narrator to have. I have listened to other narrators and some are so jarring it takes away from the story they are reading while some try so hard to be mellow that they put me to sleep. I have no trouble with this narrator transporting me to the worlds of the different books that she has narrated.

(2) Lack of Distractions – 5 Stars

When reading (or listening) to a book there is nothing worst than distractions. When it comes to audiobook narrators it can be more of a personal taste than something the actor does in their reading but there are exceptions. For instance, if the narrator has really moist lips, I mean to the point where you can hear them smacking together, that is a major distraction. So are narrators who breathe heavily into the microphone. Like seriously, can you not? When it comes to my rating in this category those are basically my two pet peeves.

Kim Mai Guest is flawless in her narration. There weren’t any heavy breathing or smacking of lips so I gave her a 5 star. It really is that simple (at least for my ratings).

(3) Different Voices – 4.5 Stars

This category is a little difficult for me to rate because I think anyone who does narration with different voices is already very talented. I can not even begin to understand how they do it. With that being said I have listened to many audiobooks in my time and really love when the narrator can clearly distinguish between different characters.

Kim Mai Guest, overall, does a pretty good job with this but at times it was difficult for me to discern between the different characters. Sometimes Gee’s voice slipped dangerously close to being confused with Piper’s and at other times there was no problem in the distinction. Anna’s voice was a little too childish or whiny to me and that may just be my own personal preference getting in the way, considering this is a book for middle graders. Still, she is still a top narrator on my list.

Audio rating:

5

Follow Kim Mai Guest on Twitter and Facebook