Friday 20 November 2020

Thoughts of A Dog by Matt Nelson and Peter Pan by JM Barrie

A grown up picture book and an audiobook of a children's classic have been on my reading agenda lately!

Based on the beloved Twitter sensation, Thoughts of Dog contains never-before-seen, sweet and funny reflections on life from the pup-spective of a gooooob dog, who, above all else, loves their human.
Join a dog and their stuffed “fren” sebastian as they navigate life’s adventures through the most wholesome lens imaginable.

The mastermind behind WeRateDogs, Matt Nelson, expands the Thoughts of Dog universe born on social media with his new book for anyone looking for a smile.

I was expecting a light-hearted book of little sketches featuring a human's interpretation on, well, the thoughts of a dog... And that is in a nutshell what this book is.
The only problem is that I was expecting them to be funny and they weren't all that funny. I was expecting them to be super sweet but they were a bit blah (except the one about the Mail Man. That almost had me in tears.) However, they were super relatable if you've lived with dogs even if the representation of all the doggy-isms was pretty basic.
The entire book read like a series of sketches that wouldn't be out of place in a kid's picture book only they occasionally use vocabulary that would be a little advanced for 3-5 year olds, like benevolently.
I guess you could call this a book for all ages of dog lovers... It just falls short in that the stories aren't all that entertaining for adults. *shrug*

Journey to Neverland in a new Audible Originals drama of J.M. Barrie’s magical masterpiece.
This enchanting adaptation of the enduring story of the boy who never grows up, produced in association with Great Ormond Street Hospital, stars Rupert Everett as the villainous Captain Hook and Adeel Akhtar as his right-hand man Smee. Beloved by both children and adults alike, the entire family will be transported to a world made of faith, trust, and pixie dust.

This Audible Original Drama of Peter Pan takes listeners on a magical adventure with Peter, Wendy, Michael and John as they arrive in Neverland and take on Captain Hook with the help of Tiger Lilly and Tinker Bell.
The story begins at home in London during The Blitz and Mary Darling is planning to evacuate her children to the countryside. However, her plans take an unexpected turn when a familiar face from her childhood returns...the one and only Peter Pan, the mysterious boy from Kensington Gardens. Intrigued by their mother’s friend, Wendy, Michael and John seek Peter Pan out, resulting in them being whisked off to Neverland and setting up home with Peter, Tinker Bell and The Lost Boys.
As Peter and his gang come up against the wickedly evil Captain Hook their friendships and relationships are put to the test - can Wendy be honest with Peter about how she really feels, and will Michael and John return home without their sister?

Audiobook Performed By: 
Adeel Akhtar, Mariska Ariya, Catherine Bailey, Rupert Everett, Neil Frost, William Harper, Gerran Howell, Simon Kane, Mack Keith Roach, Rocco Padden, Richard Reed, Maya Shepelev, Louis Suc, Harry Tuffin and Eleanor Worthington-Cox.

This was the first audiobook I've ever listened to that has a full cast and presents like a full stage production for the ears - music, sound effects, the works.
I wasn't sure I liked it but once I adjusted, I loved it!
It was delightfully charming and packed full of humour and wit. The voice actors did a marvellous job of bringing Peter Pan to life but Rupert Everett absolutely stole the show as Hook! He was definitely the bad guy who you can't help but love... He was my favourite character which is unsurprising really as I've always found Wendy and Peter to be insipid characters.

Now, for a confession... I've never read Peter Pan before but I've seen it many times on stage during Panto season, and in various movies, and the story doesn't vary much. Therefore, I had a vague expectation of what would be in the audiobook but I was thrown for a loop when this version was set during the Blitz rather than Victorian London! (The bits outside of Neverland, I mean.) I thought it was Victorian (maybe Edwardian) but apparently not... After listening, I dug into Peter Pan and it turns out that it was written for stage (Edwardian era!) and JM Barrie kept tweaking it over a great number of years so good luck finding a definitive version! And if you've seen it on stage, or in a movie, then I'm pretty sure that you'll have the full story of Peter Pan for that all there is to it... Although, I found the audiobook a little more sad, sinister and, well, mean, than the versions I'd seen elsewhere.
Regardless, the audiobook was fun and it'll be a story that will continue to entertain children (and adults) for many years yet to come.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Ancient Magic, Mirror Mage and Stolen Magic by Linsey Hall (Dragon's Gift: The Huntress Books 1-3)


I listened to these on audiobook.
The narrator would be passible if she could actually do an English accent, Irish accent or a Scottish accent... OMG, her Scottish accent is the worst.
Thankfully, the story is told from the pov of Cass and Cass has an American accent so I didn't have to deal with too much blood leaking from my ears...
The stories are engaging and after a while, I become semi-deaf to the horrors being inflicted upon the accents of my home nations so I was free to enjoy the tales.

I’m good at two things: finding treasure and killing demons. Lying low is a close third—but not because I want to be good at hiding. I have to be. I’m a FireSoul, one of the unlucky few to inherit a piece of the dragon’s soul. Being born with the dragon’s covetousness should be a sweet gig - I have the power to find and steal any type of treasure, including the powers of other supernaturals.
But it doesn’t come without a price - stealing powers requires that I kill, and others would destroy me if they discover what I am. In a world full of magic, hiding my species is the only way to survive. Finding magical artifacts is the only way to pay the bills. It’s a dangerous job when you can barely use your magic, but that’s one of the things I like about it.

When Aidan Merrick, the most powerful shifter in the city, hired me to find an ancient scroll, I didn’t want to take the job. His immense amount of power reminds me of too much of murky memories from a past I can’t remember. But I don’t have a choice. The scroll reveals what I am. And if anyone finds out, I’m dead.

When Aidan Merrick, the most powerful shifter in the city, hired me to find an ancient scroll, I didn’t want to take the job. His immense amount of power reminds me of too much of murky memories from a past I can’t remember. But I don’t have a choice. The scroll reveals what I am. And if anyone finds out, I’m dead.

The first book in the series gave me Tomb Raider vibes... Probably because the first time we meet adult Cass she is fighting off bad guys in an ancient monument in order to obtain a magical artefact.
That's her job - retrieving magical artefacts that have magic that is destabilising and bringing them back to the shop she runs/owns with her sisters (of heart, not blood) where they move the magic into a new vessel and return the artefacts to where they found them. Simples. Except, nothing is ever simple in UF or it would be boring. Cass - and her sisters - are firesouls and firesouls are reviled amongst the magical community and hunted...

The book is pretty fast-paced, the world-building is easy enough to follow along with and doesn't overwhelm you and the story is interesting. There's a mysterious big bad linked to Cass and her sister's past, intrigue to untangle, an adventure to be had and a sexy, powerful, dude to catch feelings for... Basically, what's not to like?

I'm super curious to see how Cass's relationship with Aiden plays out - it's a slow burner - and to find out more about where Cass and her sisters came from and who the big bad is that stalks them.

Ancient Magic is a solid beginning to the series.

Duration: 7hrs

Cass Clereaux likes her job. It’s simple—steal the magic, don’t get killed. FireSouls like her are perfect for magic treasure hunting. Their dragon soul helps them find treasure, their wicked powers help them steal it. But there’s a big freaking downside—FireSouls are hunted. If either of the magical governments figures out what she is, she can kiss her life goodbye.
When the Alpha Council comes to her with a special job, it’s a no-brainer to turn it down, no matter how much money they’re offering. Shifters who can sniff out her weird magic are the last supernaturals she needs to be around. Worse? They have a history of hunting FireSouls. But when Cass learns that a little girl’s life is at stake and Cass is her last hope, she doesn’t have a choice.
With her sisters and Aidan Merrick at her back, she’s got a chance at saving the girl and keeping her deadly secret—until she learns there’s far more to this kidnapping than meets the eye. It’s far too similar to what happened to her as a child, and everything new that she learns scares her even more.

Book two picks up a couple of weeks after the events of Ancient Magic, so you definitely have to read this series in order, and if book one was a gentle introduction to the world and the society the magical types inhabit, book two is a crash course in shifter society as Cass takes on a mission at the behest of the Alpha Council and is thrust into their domain. She's not alone though... Aiden is with her and I loved that, for I love Aiden - he's interesting, protective and sweet - and Aiden and Cass together make one heck of a team.
We learn a lot about Aiden's past in this book, more about Cass's past returns to her and we have our first encounter with "the monster"... I.e the evil dude who abducts firesoul children for his evil ends.
The series still has Tomb Raider vibes for me due to ancient monuments and historical sites featuring predominantly in the settings, but Cass felt less like Lara Croft and more like "scared little girl" in this one than in the first.

Mirror Magic moves the series plotline on a little but not enough to stop me getting a wee bit frustrated at times with all the mysteries... There's only so much I can take before I want answers! But I didn't really get answers, just more questions.

Again, the book was a solid read. Enjoyable but not unputdownable.

Duration: 6hrs 53min
Book Three: Stolen Magic

Being a FireSoul has its perks. Cass Clereaux can find any type of magical treasure or steal any magical power. She’ll pick hunting treasure any day because she doesn’t have to kill for it, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t stolen powers before. She needs them to stay alive. A fight to the death is the least of what she can expect if other supernaturals find out what she is, so Cass has become an expert at lying low..
When her friend is sucked into a magical portal, she’s the only one with the power to help him. But what Cass uncovers is a danger greater than she’d ever imagined—and linked to her past in a way she’d never expect. Even worse, the portal puts her whole town at risk. As the threat grows, she must confront her fear of losing control over her new powers or lose any hope of saving hundreds of lives.
Sure, being a FireSoul has its perks. But a fight to the death isn't one of them.

Ah, now, this is more like it! Stolen Magic delivers every bit as much action and adventure as the first two books in the series but the stakes are higher, the entire gang is in play in order to save their city, and "the monster" now has a name! Not to mention, we now have much more info about Cass and her sister's background. Don't get me wrong, there are many questions remaining here but we have some answers and that's fantastic. I enjoyed the pace of the story, the twists and turns it took and the growth Cass underwent... Plus, Cass's relationship with Aiden takes a big step forward. *happy squeals*
Oh, and there are dragons! Little elemental dragons that I adored and want to keep for myself... But I'm getting off topic. (If I was ever on one...)
The series is teetering at the top of a rollercoaster and I highly anticipate that the downward whoosh is going to be terrifying and exhilarating! It's been a slow climb to reach this point but I'm super excited to find out what happens next! So much is on the line now... Good stuff.

Duration: 6hrs 55min

Series narrated by Laurel Schroeder.
Listening speed 1.25x


Monday 2 November 2020

Touch of Evil, Thrill of The Chase and Micaela's Big Bad

Some paranormal romance and urban fantasy for ya! After all... We're just coming out of the spooky season! 

The award-winning Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series continues to blow away modern fantasy and adventure fans with heart-stopping action and romance. Centered around four unique and powerful sisters, it’s time for Emme Wird, the youngest sister, to step into the supernatural spotlight.

Emme Wird, the healer and powerful telekinetic in the Wird family, hasn’t had the best of luck with males. While her sisters have found their mates and forever loves, Emme has found males that are better left as lost. Is a decent meal with polite conversation too much to ask for? Yes, it is.
When a pack member that Emme has dinner with is discovered dead and dismembered, it is up to Emme and her werewolf friend, Bren, to solve the murder. But spine-tingling danger and touches with evil have ways of bringing close friends closer.
Could the male that Emme searches for be right in front of her? Or will evil snatch him away from her, just as it did once before?

Touch of Evil is my second book by Cecy Robson, and my first book reading about the Wird sisters, and I enjoyed it immensely!
Coming into an existing series at book 10 is cray-cray but it wasn't so bad in this particular case... Touch of Evil is book one in Emme's series which just so happens to be part of the larger series so don't be put off! Everything you need to know about the world to understand the world, and characters, and what's going on is in this book. The only thing is you inevitably get spoilers for the earlier books in the Weird Girls series from reading this one... This doesn't bother me personally but I know it will others.

I found Emme to be likeable and a bit of a contradiction. She comes across as so quiet and sweet, like someone in need of protecting, but she's really quite formidable and fierce. I adored her relationship with Bren and found myself wanting to know much more about him - he's funny - as well as her relationship with her sisters. I enjoyed hearing about Emme's sisters and their mates but I'm guessing that I'll need to read the earlier books in the overarching series to get a lot of the info I want when it comes to them all... It's a minor niggle though. I knew what I was getting into when picking the book up.

Touch of Evil is easy to devour in one sitting. The story flows smoothly, has a nice mystery to solve, some action, some romance and some laughs but it very much felt like an introduction to something bigger. It was a book that was setting the scene for the next big battle in the world of the Wird sisters as well as paving the way for Emme and Bren to have a happy ever after.

With its mix of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, Touch of Evil was a hit for me and I'm excited to see what happens next!

Up-and-coming chef Natalia Spencer has enough on her plate dealing with a struggling restaurant and a corrupt manager selling her out of pantry and kitchen. She doesn't have time for arrogant customers, even a gorgeous corporate raider in a bespoke suit with muscles that just don't stop. Until, of course, he buys her restaurant and saves her life.
Logan Chase, alpha of his lion shifter pride, is intrigued when the feisty chef kicks him out of her restaurant. He's enraged when someone attacks her. And he's intoxicated when he finally gets close enough to kiss her. But when he shifts in front of her and his lion comes out to play, he risks losing Natalia forever.
Natalia just wants to cook and snuggle with a nice guy. Shacking up with a man who's also a lion means inviting a new level of crazy into her life, along with his unruly brothers, and even her werewolf best friends warn her away. Can she and Logan create a steamy relationship from scratch, or are they a recipe for disaster?

It's been a while since I read a good old fashioned paranormal romance of the shapeshifter variety and I enjoyed it well enough but I made the mistake of choosing to read a novella and, well, we all know how they go... Not enough words to truly undertake any world building or develop any depth in the characters. It also leads to a serious case of instalust followed by fast love so, yeah. Thrill of The Chase was a perfectly acceptable shifter romance but I wanted so much more than it gave me.
There's not much more to say other than that. There was a bit of a story, there was a little bit of danger, there was chemistry between Logan and Natalia, there was an instance of shapechanging and then there was some romantic drama before romantic declarations of love. It was that simple and it was fine... It passed an hour or so pleasantly reading but I won't remember it before too long.

I found my boyfriend mid-thrust in a vampire.
Gross. WTH, right? Also, a fork might've been thrown.
I expected to spend the night commiserating with my best friend.
That didn't happen. I found myself on a mission to save her.
And somehow, I woke up in the back of a vehicle, across from a guy who could be described as literal sex on a stick.

Then I found out a few things:
He's seriously and overwhelmingly powerful.
He's hot, like holy cannoli hot.
He's the Big Bad that I've been sensing, but no one knew what kind of a Big Bad he was.

Oh, and apparently, he's kidnapped me.

This was my first experience of Tijan's writing and I enjoyed it. As novella's go, Micaela's big bad was a good one. It had an interesting premise and a satisfying romance. I enjoyed Micaela's snark and banter and I liked the mystery that was Kieran. However, so much wasn't explained! Unsurprisingly, the "threat" was one dimensional, the characters - particularly the secondary characters - needed fleshing out a lot more and the story really would have worked better as a full-length novel... But, as I said, I enjoyed it and if the author was to write more in this world, I'd be ready and waiting to dive straight in! Novellas are just tricky beasts... Especially fantasy/paranormal novellas unless they're set in pre-existing worlds.

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