The Hunger Games


As I’ve said before, work has been crazy lately and I’ve realized that lately the only free time to relax I have is while I’m driving from one place to another. So it’s time to dust up my audiobook collection.

I’ve been thinking about the advantages of modern technology when it comes to enjoying audiobooks, and I think the best way to break in my new phone (the one I had to buy out of necessity… stupid phones that break down even when you treat them nicely!) is to start a new one.

So… Catching Fire it is. Hopefully, I can make some progress with my goal for this year and check mark another book series my list.

Advertisements

Reminiscing about my first time…

There is a saying in Spanish:

“Todos hablan de la Feria, como les va en ella”.

It means our experiences shape our opinion of things. And, apparently, audiobooks are an excellent example for this. Some time back, I stumbled upon On Trying to Love Audiobooks by accident, and it just dug into my brain and took residence there.

I simply haven’t been able to stop thinking about it, trying to remember my first experience with audiobooks. It honestly took some thinking, but I’m pretty sure it was while I was living abroad.

I used to spend a lot of time commuting, stuck inside crowded subway and surrounded by people speaking a language I couldn’t understand. At first, I tried putting some music into my phone. That didn’t work.

I had an old fashion phone that collapsed every time I tried to play some music in it. I ended up buying the cheapest MP3 player I could find. And while trying to find something interesting to load in it, I stumbled into audiobooks.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

At first, it was a matter of being stuck in a too-squished-and-uncomfortable-to-read-an-actual-book kind of situation so I would turn to my audiobook. Even so, music was the top choice most of the times.

But, then… there was Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter to me. I don’t think I have ever encountered a better narrated book since. It just made me feel like I was actually in the middle of the story!

I was hooked!

I keep searching for a book narration that drags me into a whole new world again. It is a whole other experience than when you read a book by yourself.

I guess my love for audiobooks owes a lot to the age of MP3’s. As Allison’s experience proves, things could have been very different had I tried audiobooks a couple of years earlier.

Heart & Mind

I’ve always been fascinated with the human mind and how the brain works. it is such a complex and intricate machine/organ. I’ve read many books and articles, and watched many documentaries about the brain, about brain surgeries and mind disorders. i just find it all so interesting and compelling.

One of the things that I’ve learned about this, and that has changed the way I se many things, is about the contrasting and cooperating halves of our brains. I like to think about it like a set of conjoined twins: each one has it’s own roles and jobs, but they are both always ready to pick up the slack should there be a need.

Just imagine it. At this moment, each side of your brain is doing its own thing. One side of your brain does all the math, and the other makes you cry at the end of sad movies . You use one side of your brain when you write a letter, but the other when you listen to music.

One side is linked to creativity, impulses, and emotions; and, the other one, to rational thought, and the interpretation of symbols (basic for reading and writing).

So, it came as no surprise when I realize that I feel more emotionally attached to stories when I’m only listening to them. It takes more of a toll on me, when I’m listening to an audio-book and I feel more invested in the characters and their lives, than I do when I’m actually reading the same book.

But, at the same time, I find it hard to remember where exactly in the story I was, and the precise way in which something was said. This doesn’t happen when I’m reading  book, printed or electronic. If I can see the words, I am most likely to remember it.

I guess this is way I work well with a paper planner. I always feel more comfortable with remembering things if i can write them down and see them written somewhere, no matter where… even if it is just on a post-it that i’m going to loose at any moment.

This would also explain why I like to have both, the audio and the printed version of my favorite books…

Does the same thing happen to you?

Have you notice a difference in how you enjoy books if they come in print or in audio?

 

Shades of Magic

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab

A thief and a magician…

This is the second book of the series, Shades of Magic, after A Darker Shade of Magic.

If I remember right, we are talking about a one-of-a-kind magician, with a black eye that marks him as powerful… who can travel to other worlds!

And a thief who escapes her boring grey world in search of adventure and greatness.

Last thing I remember, they managed to defeat invading magicians and vanished a powerful and dangerous magic stone to a sealed world, attached to a death body.

Am I forgetting anything? Let’s back to it, then.

A Fire Beneath the Skin

Starting with the right foot…

A Painted Goddess by Victor Gischler

A Painted Goddess by Victor Gischler

Third book in the series.

Hopefully, all the build up from the last one will finally pay out and I’ll get more action, magic and actual moving the story forward.

If I remember correctly, the last we heard, the Duchess was a prisoner of the last remnants of a defeated invading army; her wizard friend was on a mission to a magnificent library in search of magic books; the captain of her guard is on another mission to find a wizard that might or might not have more knowledge about the magic tattoos that now cover the Duchess body; and, the priest, new friend to the Duchess, was supposed to try and rescue her.

Ok. I think that’s it. Lets dive in.

 

Technicalities

Definitely! There are some books that are more suited for listening to than others, and that’s just a fact.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Most of the times, I can let my mind wander about through the eyes of a main character, across strange lands, meeting interesting people and living a completely different life. And that’s my thing… Let my mind fly away while my body is stuck here doing monotonous and boring chores.

But 2312, has way too many new words, easily mixed up names, too long words that I had never heard before, and strange and bizarre places that bring up concepts that require all of my attention and maybe a dictionary on hand. Maybe not the most appropriate book for listening to.

And I do find it quite interesting, and I’m looking forward to know what Alex was working on that was such a secret…

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

The search for the print book has already begun. Hopefully, it won’t take more that what’s left of the year.

In the meantime, let’s try some magic. Witches to be precise.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

How cool would it be to always know when someone is lying to you? I think that would be a superpower that could be very useful.

… On second thought… I think I would rather believe it when people tell me I don’t look fat wearing my most comfortable pair of jeans, regardless of what the truth actually is.

Back to the future 

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

I insist! Audiobooks are the best company you can get while you’re doing all the household chores. You need to dust? Mop? Clean the bathroom? Plug on the headphones and let your mind flow away from you to a whole different world!

This is my life philosophy.

So, while I do all the chores that have been pushed and dragged to the weekend, let my imagination take me away to the future, when I won’t have to do any of this again and we will all have self-cleaning houses, bathrooms, clothes and even pets!

I don’t know if 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson will take me quite there, but I’m always intrigued by the future and all the things and event our imaginations foresee for the decades to come.

The Build-Up

3/5
The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

This was the second part of the series, A Fire Beneath the Skin, after Ink Mage… and while the story does move forward a little, it felt much like prep work.

There was a lot of setting the stage happening, from meeting the Empress who cannot back up from the already-laid invasion plans, to the cith and soldiers preparing for the expected siege. It all felt like a big long prologue.

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

There was even a considerable part of the book where the fate of the Duchess was unknown!

And don’t get me started on Alam and his thoughtless fleeing. It gave the story a sense of going backwards. The Duchess is again on the road, looking for the tools she will need to fight her enemies, whoever they may be; Alam and the gypsy girl are again getting involved behind Rina’s back; the the girls from the whorehouse and their madam seem to be the only ones truly involved in saving the city from within; and, the enemy army prepares for a full-on invasion. It all feels too much like what was happening in the first book, just slightly bigger. And throwing some battling Gods into the mix…

I want to think that all off this anticipation and build-up will be worth it for the last part of the series, A Paintes Goddess, because if it isn’t I’ll be terribly disappointed.

Sooner rather than later

ttd

The Tattooed Duchess by Victor Gischler

 

I got lucky, and was able to find part two of A Fire Beneath the Skin series: The Tattooed Duchess. I’m really looking forward to know more about Rina Veraiin and how she manages her newly acquire powers. Maybe she’ll get more tattoos and rub her power on the face of the King who refused her help.

Or maybe she’ll just squash her enemies and go back to her everyday life as the new Duchess.

Let’s find our, shall we?

 

Recap: Last we knew, Rina had taken back her castle with the help of the Gypsies and almost died in the process. With a couple of debts owed for the tattooed she got, she is now and Ink Mage.

Pleasantly surprised

4/5

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

I’m not sure what I expected when I started this book, but this was a great story.

There was magic and tattoos, yes… But there was also political maneuvering, gypsies, murdering whores and tragic love stories. There were powerful enemies and allies, and there was a good dose of fighting and gore.

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

It honestly has everything it needed to be an amazing mindblowingly fantastic book, but it isn’t. I’m not sure I can tell you what’s missing, but I know there’s something lacking.

I think it might have something to do with the details. The strange thing is that there’s so much going on, and so many different points of view… And still I felt like I missed more than one thing and that the important things were being left unsaid.

SPOILER ALERT

For example… We met the commanding officer in charge of pursuing the young Duchess, Rina Veraiin, and while I always appreciate the point of view of the enemy… We never know what he thought of his supposedly hapless quarry after the slaughter at the temple. That would have been an awesome insight.

And then, there was the mysterious third Mage to arri pave from the enemy’s land. We get a small glimpse, meant to build him up as the ultimate opponent. Powerful, knowledgeable and greedy. And then, it took one chapter to see him in action and get rid of him all together. That was a bit anticlimactic.

Like they say… It is all in the little things. There are little things that make this story awesome, like the magic tattoos that can be collected, the loyal friends/subjects that follow and support our main character, the different perspectives from the same conflict that help you see the bigger picture… But it was also the little things that keep this story form being all it could have been.

All this is not to say that I won’t be reading the rest of the trilogy. As most books nowadays, this one is part of a series… A Fire Beneath the Skin. It might take me sometime to get the other two books, but I definitely want to know how this story will end. Maybe our cool Duchess will end up with a full-body tattoo!!

Magic tattoos

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

Ink Mage by Victor Gischler

Magic?

Love it.

Tattoos?

Also love them…

Magic Tattoos?!

…Yes, please.

Add to that a good dose of betrayal, a warrior princess and a fight for the throne that is her birthright… And I’m definitely up for it.

Fey and technology

2/5

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

I’d like to believe that most women of my generation and younger, like me, enjoy and prefer the stronger take-charge can-save-myself heroines. But I just have very little patience for whining.

And the first two-thirds of this story we got nothing but whining. And this main character, Megan Chase, starts out our story just like that. And when she’s not martyring herself, she’s making half-ass decisions without considering the consequences in the slightest.  Like giving away a memory. I thought that was a terrible idea even before we got to glimpse what the oracle took.

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

By the time we get to see Megan get into the frey as an equal, there’s only a couple of chapter left in the book.

She’s supposed to be the daughter of a Fey King! She lacked a little… something… oomph, maybe.

Another thing that bothered me was how things develop between Robin Goodfellow, Megan and Ash. The girl falls in-love with the handsome an dark prince while ignoring and allowing him to override his trust for his life-friend? Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of  potentially abusive or destructive relationship to you? That is without considering that she’s all in-love with this guy, who she doesn’t even really know. That has always been a pet peeve of mine when it comes to love story plots.

Of course, she doesn’t really know her long-time friend either, but that’s a whole other thing… isn’t it?

To make a long story short, i didn’t really enjoy this book much. i think reading Empire of Storms at the same times didn’t help much. So, there’s that too. No fae prince can really measure up when compared to Rowan Whitethorn… what else can I say!

I do have the whole series, The Iron Fey. I got it in a bundle before I even started the first one. So, maybe… and let me remark on that, MAYBE… I’ll end up reading the rest of them. I understand that in the third one, Megan Chase actually becomes The Iron Queen, so that might be worth reading about. I’m not in any hurry, though.

 

Fae folk

cover-julie-kagawa-iron-fey-1-the-iron-king

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Not so long ago, I came across The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa And I loved those book cover! The are so beautiful! I couldn’t contain myself.

Of course… then there was Rowan Whitethorn, and Falin Andrews… and, somewhat, Tamlin. My recent -and not so recent- experience with the fae folk had been a really good one, so why not delve head first in a whole new fae universe.

First up, The Iron King.

Wish me luck!

Odd one out

4/5

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This might not have been my favorite among the three books that make the whole series, His Fair Assassin, but it was undoubtedly very good and a fair ending.

Ismae‘s story has much political intrigue, and a sense of  self-discovery and finding your our strength.  She’s manages to find herself and her faith, outside of the boundaries of the into tutor hat has fostered her for years. Unlike that, Sybella‘s story was more about family intrigue and the capacity of depravity mankind can reach, about finding peace and love when you have suffered much. She finds her own capacity for love, honest and devoted faith, and even manages to learn to thrust others.

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

This story though, Anneth‘s, felt completely different.

We got a completely different love story, deeper and more complex. And more family drama instead of intrigue… But here was also less action.

This story felt slower.

With Dark Triumph, I couldn’t stop. I simply couldn’t get it out of my head that something dramatic and game changing could happened at any moment, but Mortal Heart had more waiting periods when nothing happened. We even got some implied and not-so-implied time jumps!

I think I’m more a fan of stories that happen quickly with a somewhat fast pace. The times of introspection where Anneth‘s debates what she’s feeling and what could thing possibly mean, drove me a bit crazy… But it all helps to separate clearly and definitely the three girls and their distinct personalities and backgrounds.

One of he things that I definitely loved about this third and last part of the series is the presence of Death as main character. We had had glimpses of him before, when he shows himself to Ismae and the to Sybella. These ARE his daughters after all. His presence has been implied and hinted at. He was a real entity in the background for most of the first two books, but now we got to really know him and understand him. He is more than just a silent shadow, he is almost a man. That was one of my favorite parts in the whole series.

How can I not be totally intrigued and besotted with stories that give flesh, mind and heart to mysterious and incomprehensible ideas as Death itself? Right?

One more…

There’s no better time than now!

Right?

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

I still feel like I’m flying high after accomplishing this year’s reading goal ahead of time, so I think I will now try and wrap up all the series that I have been putting aside… Starting with His Fair Assassin‘s third book, Mortal Heart.

After all, I deeply enjoyed the first two, and am looking foward to seeing all of Death’s daughters find peace, as well as reading about the young Duchess success against the odds.