Another first for me this week, as I finished “reading” my very first audiobook. It has been a fascinating experiment and insight into my psyche!
I wouldn’t ordinarily pick to consume a book via audio, but this was offered to me and I thought I’d give it a try. People who listen to audiobooks rave about them, and it’s the growing way to get your books, apparently, so maybe I was missing something.
Maybe I still am, but audiobooks really aren’t for me. Air and Ash is a fabulous book, Kaitlyn Bellamy narrates beautifully and it’s very easy to listen to. But it took so long! I can’t remember when I started Chapter 1, but it’s probably not an exaggeration to say it’s taken 3 months to listen to it start to finish.
For comparison, when I read it on Kindle, I zipped through it in under 24 hours (it’s excellent – did I mention?).
I was fascinated by my response to it, because I can always find time to read and I get through a book usually in around 48 hours. Finding time to listen seemed to be a whole other matter. It seems that if I have a book/kindle in my hand, then I’m reading, but if “all” I’m doing is listening to something I should be doing something else as well (washing up, knitting, etc). Since I’ve usually got either the TV or radio on for those activities, it felt like a big logistic effort to get the audiobook running instead (it’s not; Audible is a doddle to use).
Several friends listen to audiobooks on their commute and rave about that to pass the time in traffic. I wondered if that might make a difference – but since my commute is 6 minutes in a car share with a colleague I couldn’t test that idea. However, if I ever return to my corporate life I’ll bear it in mind.
In summary, I’ve now “read” an audiobook, but I still don’t quite know what the fuss is about. Audiobook fans, please weigh in – how do audiobooks fit into your life?
I had terrific fun with my alphabet challenge. It made me look beyond the books and authors I always choose, with the result that I’ve found some absolute treasures that I’ll be looking out for more from.
Having to (mostly) stick to a particular letter of the alphabet provided some structure and there was a lot less dithering over what I was going to read next, which probably gave me more time to actually read. Although to counter that, there were a couple of letters where I spent far too much time trying to find something that fit the alphabet criteria but also seemed bearable to read. I admit to being fussy, but I was also surprised by how incredibly difficult it is to browse Amazon if you don’t know what book or author you’re looking for.
One book/review a week felt like a hectic schedule at times, but I managed it pretty much consistently (even if there were a couple of weeks where I needed to cheat mildly). I do read a lot and this challenge demonstrated that a book a week is more than do-able for me.
I will definitely be back with another challenge, although I’m not sure what. Shout out if you have a suggestion, otherwise I’ll think something up for myself in a week or two. Until then, though, I’m going to have fun reading more from some of the new writers I’ve discovered. Rachel E Carter and Rhonda Sermon are priorities (I’m halfway through First Year already), but I also want to find out what happens next in the Clearwater world created by Madeline Freeman, I hope David Kudler will be releasing a follow-up to Risuko soon, and I just saw on Facebook the other day that there’s a new Kitty Peck novel available.
Maybe that’s the best result of my alphabet reading challenge – it’s reminded me what terrific writing talent is out there and what wonderful worlds are waiting for me to step into them. Now, please excuse me, I have reading to get on with…
So, I knuckled down and read a Y book at last. I chose Marie Lu’s The Young Elites, and it should have been right down my street, but most of it was just … okay.
I think a big part of it was because The Young Elites is written in present tense. I read the first couple of chapters, then we changed POV and my brain jumped out of the book to say, “Hang on, this is first person, that’s tricky.” And once I’d noticed, I couldn’t stop noticing. I think I’ve said before that my view of books is that you should slip straight through the words and just be in the story with the characters. I couldn’t manage that with this because the present tense kept hauling me back to awareness that I was reading a book.
I also think there are too many POVs. They’re all interesting, but my opinion is that it’s lazy to have loads – find another way to suggest what you want us to learn about a character without dipping into their head to do so (crikey, aren’t I an opinionated know-it-all this week? I do apologise; my brain may be fried from editing, normal service should be resumed shortly).
And while the plot was strong and the characters were interesting, the story just didn’t feel particularly remarkable. Teens with powers, and our protagonist is the most powerful and dangerous of them all … ho hum.
HOWEVER, the ending was an absolute stunner. I loved the twists and turns, and narrative rules were shockingly broken (to the good). And the little epilogue piece was also smashing. I’m not going to run out and grab the next, but I’ll take a look when it crosses my path.
I’m nearly at the end of my Alphabet Challenge (wipe away that tear!). Check back next week to discover what I made of my Z book, titled simply Z (spoiler alert, I’ve started it already and I’m struggling. I’m not convinced I’m going to end on a high!).
I always knew filling the X slot in my alphabet reading challenge might be difficult, so when I spotted a book titled Xoe early in the year I grabbed it. Due to my lack of choice I wasn’t especially hopeful.
Fie on me for a cynical doubter! Actually, Xoe was mostly a fun read. The relationships between the female characters was great fun and well-depicted. The paranormal elements were good and intriguing (we had the introduction of demons to bring a different slant to the customary paranormal vampires and werewolves fare). What I enjoyed less was the romantic element which felt slightly forced and clichéd, as though the author had been told to make the romance more obvious. And there were an awful lot of fashion reports. Maybe this stuck with me because I rarely describe my characters, and never in detail (I’m often told off by editors for this). But what do you need to fix a character in your mind? I don’t think very much – maybe hair and eye colour, and then if something’s remarkable about them mention that: they might be very tall, or always wear a hat. But in Xoe we seemed to constantly get a run down of what each character was wearing when we met them, which I found unnecessary.
But maybe I’m the one out of step, reader – do you like a full and detailed description of characters, or just a broad stroke of description that you can fill in for yourself?
And it’s hard to believe I’m nearly at the end of my alphabet reading challenge! Check back next week to see what I’ve found starting with Y.
There was a bit of a wobble this week, reader, I’ll confess. I had a “T” book that was recommended by a friend whose books I love. Sadly, the book wasn’t half as good as her own and simply wasn’t for me. Referring back to my “speed of reading” measurement, when I’d been reading for 3 days and barely reached a quarter of the way through I knew we weren’t a good match.
So I shelved that and tried to find something (I was only mildly panic-stricken; no biggie). Taking what I’ve learned about searching on Amazon I picked a likely word, “Truth” and went in. Anita Oh’s The Truth Spell caught my eye. Oh, my goodness, it was a delight! It’s a first-person narrative and Lucy was so lively and spiky and fabulous the novel was a joy to read.
I zoomed through it in two evenings’ reading, it was that good!
And a first for me – this was the first book I’ve read entirely on my phone. I often have short stories on my phone in case I’ve got five minutes to fill, but I’ve never tried to read an entire novel on my phone thinking it would be annoying to be continually swiping, but not at all. Clearly, if the narrative is gripping enough it doesn’t matter how I’m reading.
The Truth Spell is highly recommended if you like a fresh and modern paranormal tale. I’m now going in to find myself a “U” book, with the keyword “Under” – check back next week to see how that goes.
Okay, that’s rather unkind, but there is a danger this post may turn into a slight rant.
My “B” book selection was BR Paulson’s Barely Alive. Now, one thing I’m loving about this challenge is that I’m finding all kinds of new and wonderful things. Barely Alive was pitched as a zombie romance – now, maybe that’s your go-to genre, but I was tickled to begin with by the idea that zombie romance is even a thing. How wonderfully diverse literature is growing, in topic if nothing else.
And actually, I thoroughly enjoyed Barely Alive. The zombie-ness was easy to suspend disbelief over (I know almost no science so I didn’t even try to pick holes in the virus that created the zombies) and the romance was low-key (appropriate when flesh-eating monsters are on the loose, I think) and convincing.
My beef came with the ending. There is a series, which is fine, but whether it’s a stand-alone book or a series in the vein of Bella Forrest with 37 books to work your way through, it is my absolute conviction that each book should tell its own story: beginning, middle and end.
I don’t even mind open endings where you have to exercise a bit of imagination about next steps for the characters as they head out of the pages and into the sunset, but Barely Alive cut off in the middle of the story with all plot arcs still underway and unresolved, which just left me grumpy, I’m sorry to say.
So am I Mrs Grumblepants, or am I right to be annoyed? Do you mind an unresolved story, or should the endings be tied up? Let me know in the comments.
Check back next week to see how I got on with my C book – Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman.