Saturday, February 01, 2014

2013 - The Lost Cannonball Year, Part I

As I mentioned in my previous post, I wasn't able to do book reviews last year like I had planned, but I still read many books.

So, as part of getting organized for Cannonball 6 , here are short ratings of some of the books I read in 2013.

1. Sweep Series Books 1-15 (also known as The Wicca Series in some countries) by Cate Tiernan (audiobooks and ebooks)

Sweep: Book of Shadows by Cate Tiernan cover
I started this series in 2012 with the audiobooks (for the first couple or so) and then continued with the ebooks in 2013 to finish the whole 15 book series.  The audiobooks really set things up well for defining the characters and I continued to keep that voice in my head while reading the later books.   I'm not quite sure it would have been quite so good without those at the beginning.

These books were short on description and vocabulary, but were fun, quick reads.  For me, they blur together more like really long chapters, rather than completely separate books.  They combined the usual teen issues of fitting in and sexuality with discovering your own identity and abilities - in this case, some paranormal ones.  I liked that as the main character was discovering her witch heritage, her Catholic parents were not made out to be stereotypically stupid or rigid, nor the teenager overly rebelious and disrespectful.  It is a loving family.  And likewise, the lesbian aunt isn't the stereotypical "gay", but rather just part of the family. 

Book #7, The Calling was the weak one out of the group and really was just a set up for Book #8, Changeling.  But, I still recommend that you read them all, and in order, to fully appreciate the story.

I was sorry that they ended when they did, but glad that the last book Night's Child jumps ahead into the future to give a bit of closure...but I still would have liked more.

4 stars for the series as a whole

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2. Virals and Seizure by Kathy Reiches (audiobooks)

Virals by Kathy Reichs cover
These are Books #1 and #2 of a juvenile/young adult series about Tory Brennan who is niece of the forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan from Kathy's more adult books, her Temperance Brennan (Bones) series.

I haven't yet read any of the Bones series to compare how Kathy's style translates to a younger audience level.  Overall, they were OK.  I liked the first book better, although both got a little repetitive and fell back on the over-used idea that teens never learn and will keep doing the same thing to get into the same trouble.  Some parts were a bit too corny for my taste too and I thought that Seizure tried too hard to get into a popular theme (pirates), rather than focusing on the uniqueness of the characters.

As an audiobook, at least the first one included one of the few really good uses for sound effects that I have heard.  All too often, they are just a distraction when in an audiobook. (I think it might have been dropped for the 2nd one - I can't remember now.)

3 stars for Virals; 2 stars for Seizure



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Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip cover
3.Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip (audiobook)

I don't remember much about this now, except that it was much slower moving than many books are now and had an original take on magic/magic schools.  The pace might bother some readers, but I still enjoyed it.

3 stars

  



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4. A Conspiracy Of Genes by Mark de Castrique (audiobook)

A Conspiracy of Genes by Mark de Castrique cover
I don't remember much about this book either, except that it relied too much on scientific/technological details that are now dated.  The author seemed to dwell on these things, when it really wasn't necessary for the story and would have kept the flow and the relevance better if skimmed over instead.  I didn't find the suspense/mystery very compelling either and kept hoping it would get better since it showed promise, but never quite got there for me.

1 star


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5. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2) and Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, Book 3) by Suzanne Collins (audiobooks)

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins audio cover
 I previously reviewed The Hunger Games, Book 1, for CBR4.  I was equally impressed with Books 2 & 3.  They did not disappoint and came to a satisfying conclusion.  It is hard to separate them now, but Catching Fire was probably my favourite.  You'll want to read this trilogy in order, so if you liked Book 1, then definitely keep going.

So far, I've only seen the first movie.  I think if you liked that, you will might like the books even better.  I do.

5 stars for the series as a whole

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6. My Anecdotal Life: A Memoir by Carl Reiner (audiobook) 

My Anecdotal Life by Carl Reiner audio cover
This is more like Carl Reiner telling you a bunch of funny stories about his life, rather than an autobiography.  Since he reads this himself in the audiobook version, I definitely recommend the audiobook over a print version, if you can get it.  Some things will definitely translate much better with the audio version and it feels more like an old friend talking to you.

I was entertained.

3 stars



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 I think I'll take a break there and get caught up on some reviews that are actually for 2014, before I start forgetting those too.  Then, I'll continue with a few more brief reviews from 2013 in a Part II.

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Rating system:
1 star (didn't like); 2 stars (OK); 3 stars (good); 4 stars (great); 5 stars (favourite)

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