Series: , The School for Good and Evil #1
I love audiobooks but I only really got into them in this last year. I just really like the idea of being able to “read” while doing something else like cleaning or driving. I like that they help me stay caught up on books and make me feel like I’m being entertained when the narrator is really good. Unfortunately, I also seem to skip reviewing them more than other books. Somehow, they just tend to slip through the cracks. Today, I’m going back to some of the audiobooks I’ve listened to and have forgotten to review. If you enjoy audiobooks too, I’d love any recommendations you have in the comments section!
Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger
Finishing School #1 and #2
YA Paranormal Steampunk
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is the bane of her mother’s existence. Sophronia is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper etiquette at tea–and god forbid anyone see her atrocious curtsy. Mrs. Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. She enrolls Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.
But little do Sophronia or her mother know that this is a school where ingenious young girls learn to finish, all right–but it’s a different kind of finishing. Mademoiselle Geraldine’s certainly trains young ladies in the finer arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but also in the other kinds of finishing: the fine arts of death, diversion, deceit, espionage, and the modern weaponries. Sophronia and her friends are going to have a rousing first year at school.
I’m including only the synopsis for the first book because I don’t want to post any spoilers. I went into these books not really knowing anything about them but hoping they were good. I really like the covers and the titles suggested an interesting mix of historical fiction and spy novel. I really lucked out because that’s exactly what the book was but it also had big helping of fun mixed in. That was my favorite part of both of these books, by far, was just how fun they were. They never took themselves too seriously and that is really what kept me reading (listening to) these stories. I definitely enjoyed the steampunk parts of the book and want my very own mechanimal. The characters are great, especially the smart tomboyish main character Sophronia, and the mysteries are done well enough but it really was the humor and dialogue that I enjoyed the most. I will say that these books seem to be geared more toward the younger crowd. The main character is only fourteen and the action and language never gets very intense. I’d say anyone over ten or eleven could read and enjoy these. But if you prefer your mysteries on the more detailed, violent side or don’t enjoy a certain amount of silliness, you will not enjoy these books. If you decide to go the audiobook route with these, I would definitely support you. Moira Quirk was fantastic. Her voices and accents were amazing. I hope to find more audiobooks read by her. Or maybe she could just come live with me and read all of my books out loud to me from now on. I would be just fine with that. I gave both of these books 4 stars.
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
YA Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Published by Atria Books
I live in a world without magic or miracles. A place where there are no clairvoyants or shapeshifters, no angels or superhuman boys to save you. A place where people die and music disintegrates and things suck. I am pressed so hard against the earth by the weight of reality that some days I wonder how I am still able to lift my feet to walk.
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.
This book is serious. And while there are some funny moments, this book is very intense and very emotional. I’m not sure I was entirely prepared for everything this book threw at me while listening to it. I had seen lots of amazing reviews for it and knew a lot of people loved it, but I wasn’t ready for so many emotions. The writing is beautiful and knew just exactly the right thing to say to really take my breath away and revealed just the right amount of information at the right times to keep me interested and wanting more. The two main characters, Nastya and Josh, were both very well developed and had great voices. Because we get to hear from both of them, we get two sides of the story, two different kinds of grief, and two different stories of healing. Both are painful but moving. The characters come together and become an escape for each from their painful pasts but eventually they must face reality. It’s been months since I read this book but I still get tears in my eyes when I think about these characters. They will stick with you and you will remember their stories. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who read YA contemporary. I will say that I liked the audio of this but I wasn’t a huge fan of either narrators. Next time I read this, and I hope to reread it soon, I will read the book version. I gave this book 5 stars.
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The School for Good and Evil #1
Published by HarperCollins
The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away.
This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.
But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are…?
The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.
I have conflicting feelings on this one. And that definitely makes me feel like the black sheep because so many people love this one. I’ll start with what I liked. I really liked how unique this story felt. I liked that the main two characters are different from most of the characters I’ve seen before. And I was really intrigued by the whole premise of the book and the idea behind the School for Good and Evil. It’s all very unique and very interesting and I enjoyed learning about it and how it all sets up the characters for futures in fairy tales. Unfortunately, I wasn’t completely sold on the execution. I’m going to be honest here (otherwise what good would this be?) and say that I thought at almost 500 pages, this book was too long. I know that size shouldn’t matter, but I felt that the pacing of this book was off and the middle of the book lacked focus. I think that had the book been pared down a bit, it wouldn’t have wandered so much and not taken so long to finally decide where the story was going. I felt like I waited so long to see where the book was finally going that I didn’t care anymore that it was unpredictable and just wanted it to end. And I didn’t want to feel like that at all. I was really disappointed. With such a great premise and so many positive reviews, I really wanted to love it. Also, because of how the story starts and the twist of each girl going to the school they didn’t believe they fit into, I thought there would be some lesson on stereotyping or some deeper meaning to the story or ultimate moral about who we really are underneath the outside or something, but nothing like that really came through in the end. And so my overall complaint for this book was just that I didn’t feel like the author really knew where he was going with the story or how to get there. Because my feelings on this book are so different from so many others’, I’m worried that maybe I lost some of the story in listening to it rather than reading it. But I also know I won’t ever pick up this book again, so I’m not sure I’ll ever really know if it did or not. I would not recommend this for younger middle-grade readers because there are some intense moments but for older readers who are really into fairy tales and fantasy, I’d let them give it a chance. I hope anyone else who reads it will enjoy it more than I did. The narrator was okay, not my favorite but definitely not bad either. It was 13+ hours, though, so it’s quite an investment! I gave this book 2.5 stars.