Audio Adventures Review + Giveaway: Hundred Oaks series by Miranda Kenneally

I recently binged all five of the existing audiobooks for Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oaks series, and I wanted to share some bite-sized reviews for this awesome series and host a giveaway for a copy of one of the audiobooks.

Catching Jordan Audiobook
Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Christina Delaine
Release date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Audible Studios
Length: 8 hours, 49 minutes

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: December 1, 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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On the one hand, I remembered why I love Catching Jordan so much—it's funny, it's swoony, it's realistic, it's got a badass girl who goes for what she wants, it showcases amazing platonic girl/guy friendships (sometimes it feels like this is a YA unicorn). On the other, DANG JORDAN JUST PICK ONE. On the third hand, YAY for a narrator who gives southern characters ACTUAL SOUTHERN ACCENTS. DANG, Y'ALL IT SHOULDN'T BE THAT HARD. On the other OTHER hand, the narrator's southern accent for some of the characters was whiny and cringe-worthy (here's looking at you, Kristen!).

But overall, still a great book with decent narration. I appreciate Christina Delaine's work in maintaining the southern accents and even giving each character their own unique tone and twist on the accent. I knew immediately who was speaking with every character, and that's always a plus for me.

Book vs audio: Stick with the book. Although I appreciate Christina Delaine including southern accents, I can see it grating on anyone who isn't used to a good southern twang. Readers will appreciate the humor just as much while reading as they would while listening to it.

Purchase Links:

Stealing Parker Audiobook
Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Jorjeana Marie
Release date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Audible Studios
Length: 7 hours, 7 minutes

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: October 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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On the one hand, I enjoyed listening to Stealing Parker a lot more than I initially remember enjoying the book. On the other hand, I have discovered my tastes have changed somewhat over the past few years, and part of the plot of SP is a big fat NO NO in my opinion. (man, I  just realized I have a LOT of hands!)

While Stealing Parker is not one of my favorite books in the Hundred Oaks series, I'm glad that I reread it and was able to fall in love with the story a little bit more. I definitely recommend the audiobook as Jorjeana Marie gave a wonderful performance as Parker and all the other characters as well. I'm definitely bookmarking more of her YA books to listen to in the future!

Random complaint: having a Brian and a Ryan in this book is a poor naming choice. Although it's not a problem when you read, things get a little fuzzy in the audio version. So, authors, when you're naming your characters, make sure you say them all together aloud.

Also, because of the whole changing tastes thing, and my now being an adult, I have a LOT more thoughts about the book overall so keep your eyes out because I'll have a full review of Stealing Parker to share soon.

Book vs audio: Audio. Readers might distance themselves from the emotion of Parker's story, which is a good way to become judgmental of Parker (I've done it!). Listening to the audio will keep you invested as Jorjeana Marie makes an emotional and nuanced performance.

Purchase Links:

Things I Can't Forget Audiobook
Rating: 4 stars
Narrator: Holly Fielding
Release date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Audible Studios
Length: 8 hours, 19 minutes

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: March 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Check out my review for Things I Can't Forget here.

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Definitely enjoyed this one. Not only did I love the story again, the narration was pretty dang good. Holly Fielding did a great job with all the characters, making them unique and believable. I'll definitely listen to more of her work. A couple minor narrator complaints. It really does bother me when narrators pronounce mischievously incorrectly, Holly's voice for Matt changed, and originally she used a masculine tone for Jordan before changing it mid-scene. I think that's just a bit sloppy, like when Jordan first appeared, Holly didn't know she's a female character. But overall, great performance, good book.

Book vs audio: Like with Stealing Parker, reading the book creates distance between the reader and the story. Listening really puts the audience in Kate's head, and it's easier to understand her point of view and empathize with her. Give the audiobook a go.

Purchase Links:

Racing Savannah Audiobook
Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Monika Smith
Release date: November 11, 2014
Publisher: Audible Studios
Length: 7 hours, 2 minutes

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: December 3, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Check out my review & interview with Miranda here.

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I forgot how much of a jackass Jack is in Racing Savannah. I mean, he is incredibly charming, but he's also a complete jackass. Not for the entire book or he'd be completely worthless as a love interest, but during crucial character-and-relationship-building moments, Jack shows just how much of a flawed human being he is (please don't let me scare you away. He has some really big great moments too!). Jack is definitely among my least favorite of the love interests, but his redemption arc is pretty impressive.

As for the narration, Monika Smith is possibly my least favorite of the five narrators used for the Hundred Oaks audiobooks. Her voice works for Savannah, who is pint-sized so yeah, a high-pitched, young sounding voice is believable. But her voices for Vanessa, Rory, and Jack sound little kid-ish, and that always weirds me out for a teen novel. Like, I just can't take you seriously having discussions about sex and college and relationships and careers if you sound like you're 7. Monika wasn't horrible; she just wasn't great. Hence, middle of the road audiobook for me. I've heard worse, but I've also heard a whole lot better.

Book vs audio: Mmm, this is more of a toss-up than the others. Book has a slight edge just because of Monika's young-sounding voice.

Purchase Links:

Breathe, Annie, Breathe Audiobook
Rating: 3.5 stars
Narrator: Nancy Wu
Release date: July 3, 2014
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Length: 7 hours, 41 minutes

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: July 15, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

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This is the funny thing about ratings. I originally gave the first two Hundred Oaks books 5 stars when I read them, but then I gave the others 4 stars, although Breathe, Annie, Breathe is my favorite of the series, and I like it better than Jordan and Parker. Just goes to show how books and taste can change. I definitely started rating a bit harder. But anyway. Annie is such a phenomenal book. It's very much a love story, but it's also a falling out of love story. Annie's motivations are so much fueled by the boyfriend she lost, and it's hard for her to focus on anything but him because of the depth of their relationship and the immense guilt she feels. The Hundred Oaks books all balance plenty of light fluff with the heaviness of growing up and facing adult decisions, but somehow Annie feels the heaviest, probably because it deals with death and all its finality.

That's why I'm only giving this audio 3.5 stars. Annie is a really complex book, but I didn't quite get all of that from Nancy Wu's narration. I didn't hate it, I just didn't love it. She didn't bring out all the emotions in her performance, and I really expected and wanted that.

Book vs audio: Read the book. I most definitely recommend reading the book over listening to the audio. 

Purchase Links:

About the Author:
Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Author Links:

One winner will receive a digital copy of any Hundred Oaks audiobook of their choice (Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can't Forget, Racing Savannah, or Breathe Annie Breathe) from Audible via the Send This Book feature. Open to anyone who can receive an audiobook this way. Terms and conditions of Send This Book are listed here. Entrants must be 13+ with parents' permission. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CST March 7. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. Good luck! 

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Mary's Minute: YA tropes

This isn't a discussion so much as a survey (but feel free to chat too!). I'm working on a fun post, but I need your help: what are your favorite AND least favorite tropes in YA books? These can be plot points, character traits, or just descriptions. Here are a few of the ones I came up with, but please please please share your own as well! I'm looking to make a big list.
  • Hidden royalty
  • "Secret" family (think Mortal Instruments and all its "you're brother & sister...JK!")
  • Dead parent
  • Mentioning eye color
  • Being clumsy
  • Biting lips
  • Unisex names
  • Character with many names (Jonathan "Jace Wayland" Lightwood Herondale)
  • Nicknames
  • "Not like other girls"

Please let me know in the comments, and feel free to share why you love or hate certain tropes!

Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Rating: 4 stars
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Genre: young adult realistic fiction, contemporary
Format/Source: ARC, ARC tour hosted by Stefani Sloma
Status: standalone

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Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

Blog Tour: Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones

I am SO thrilled to be part of the Wintersong blog tour and especially excited to be the stop ON Wintersong's release day! So happy book birthday, JJ and Wintersong! Readers, keep scrolling for a fantastic guest post in which JJ talks about the music that keeps her inspired while she's writing.  

Pub Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher at ALA
Status: book 1 of the Wintersong companion series

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Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.

All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.

But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.

Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world. 

Blog Tour: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

LONG WAY HOME - Tour banner

Pub Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: DRC, from the publisher
Status: Book 3 of the Thunder Road companion series

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Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

Praise for the Thunder Road series: 
"An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page."
—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author

''McGarry...creates a story that readers will not want to put down...This novel will be enjoyed by teens looking for a romantic and thrilling escape.'' —School Library Journal

"Katie McGarry is a master of her craft!  Raw emotion, pure grit, I hang on every word.  Her characters are real people with real problems and I cheer them every step of the way." 
—Gena Showalter, bestselling author


“Your car’s broke.” Chevy glances in my direction again, and there’s a softness in his eyes that I hate and love. It’s the same unguarded look as when we whispered our most intimate thoughts into each other’s ears. 

I hold his gaze for as long as he can handle. “Thanks for the update, Captain Obvious.”

Chevy mimics tipping a hat that isn’t on his head. “My pleasure.”

The right side of my mouth edges up. Damn him for being so charming. 

“Stone,” Chevy says. “Have you made big plans for tomorrow?”


“Violet turns eighteen.”

Chevy and I had so many plans for eighteen. Spent too many nights in each other’s arms planning out how we were going to celebrate this year. Dinner out of Snowflake. Prom. Laughter with friends. Midnight and dancing on a blanket in our field.

“Mom’s mad at Violet and she said we might not do anything because of Violet’s attitude,” Brandon blurts out and he scratches his chin twice. “Violet cut class and the school called Mom to tell her. Mom’s really angry. She yelled. A lot. And Violet wouldn’t yell back. Violet always yells back, but not this time.”

Chevy’s adorable smile falls into a frown and it’s really a shame. Brandon looks over at me for confirmation that I’m not mad at him for spilling about my fight with Mom, because I’ve reminded him several times that personal conversations should stay personal, and I step toward him then briefly squeeze my fingers around his wrist. 

My brother isn’t trying to tattle, he’s nervous being out in the dark and upset over the fight Mom and I had before we left for the game. He has a problem with letting negative emotions go. They circle his brain like vultures do with roadkill.

Headlights shine in the distance, and my shoulders relax. Last thing I want to do is get into a discussion with Chevy as to why I didn’t tell Mom that I handed Chevy my note. This has been an awful day, and I’m ready to pull the covers over my head and stay in bed for days, maybe weeks. 

I step out onto the road, and using the flashlight cell, wave to signal Mom. This isn’t the first time Dad’s car has broken down, and unfortunately, it won’t be the last. Mom has passed us before. Though I’m not convinced those times were a mistake as much as Mom attempting to teach me another lesson of how unsafe I am in the world. 

Footsteps against the rocks and Chevy eases beside me. The car weaves in and out of the center lane, and my arm hesitates in the air as unease tiptoes through me. 

Chevy places his hand on my bicep and forces it down. “That’s not your mom’s car.”

It’s not. Mom would never drive like that and those aren’t the headlights of a minivan. Those belong to something with some muscle. A scary sixth sense creeps along my skin. 

Growling engines, then three single beams appear. Motorcycles. Those motorcycles aren’t chasing the car, they’re following. My stomach lurches as I stumble back. Chevy steps forward and he draws his knife out of the sheath. 

LONG WAY HOME - teaser 3 Fotolia update

Purchase Links:

Don't miss the first two books in the Thunder Road series! 

About the Author:
Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, and reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, Pushing the Limits, Dare You To, Crash Into You, Take Me On, Breaking the Limits, and Nowhere But Here and the e-novellas "Crossing the Line" and "Red at Night."

Her debut YA novel Pushing the Limits was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, an RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. Dare You To was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.
Author Links:

1 winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card

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Tour Schedule: 
Check out all of the Long Way Home tour stops here!
January 23rd
Aaly and The Books – Review & Excerpt
Angel Reads – Review
Books, Dreams, Life – Excerpt
Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Review & Excerpt
Girl Plus Books – Review & Excerpt
Letter Shelves Blog – Review & Excerpt
The Book Hammock – Review & Excerpt

January 24th
Book Boyfriend Reviews – Review & Excerpt
Ficwishes – Review
Lovin' Los Libros – Review
Mrs Leif's Two Fangs About It – Review & Excerpt
Nose Stuck in a Book – Excerpt
Whatever You Can Still Betray – Excerpt
Zach's YA Reviews – Review & Excerpt

January 25th
Always YA at Heart – Review & Excerpt
Bridget's Book Bungalow – Review & Excerpt
Friends Till The End Book Blog – Excerpt
Mythical Books – Excerpt
Resch Reads and Reviews – Review
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Boyfriends – Review & Excerpt

January 26th
A Bookish Escape – Review & Excerpt
Book Sojourner – Review & Excerpt
Crazii Bitches Book Blog – Review & Excerpt
Dark Faerie Tales – Review & Excerpt
Guilty Indulgence Book Club – Review
SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews – Excerpt

January 27th
Bookshelf Adventures – Review & Excerpt
Little Read Riding Hood – Review & Excerpt
Nerdy Soul – Review & Excerpt
Random Book Muses – Review & Excerpt
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium – Excerpt
Writing My Own Fairy Tale – Review & Excerpt

January 28th
Abibliophobia Anonymous Book Reviews – Excerpt
Zili in the Sky – Review & Excerpt
Greyland Reviews – Excerpt
Brittany's Book Blog – Excerpt
Dog-Eared Daydreams – Review
Movies, Shows, & Books – Excerpt

January 29th
Book Angel Booktopia – Review & Excerpt
BookWorm221 – Review & Excerpt
Confessions of 2 Book Lovers – Review & Excerpt
It's All About the Romance – Excerpt
Milky Way of Books – Review & Excerpt
Waiting For Wentworth – Excerpt

January 30th
Collector of book boyfriends – Review
Latte Nights Reviews – Review
Margie's Must Reads – Review & Excerpt
Oh My Growing TBR – Review & Excerpt
Readers Live A Thousand Lives – Review & Excerpt
So Bookalicious – Review & Excerpt
Swoony Boys Podcast – Review & Excerpt

January 31st
A crazy vermonters book reviews – Review
Chasing Faerytales – Review
Desert Divas Book Addiction – Review & Excerpt
Little Bookworm Reviews – Review & Excerpt
What Is That Book About – Excerpt
With Love for Books – Review & Excerpt
The Cover Contessa – Review & Excerpt

February 1st
A Leisure Moment – Review
Book Bite Reviews – Review & Excerpt
I Heart YA Books – Review & Excerpt
Never Judge a Book by its Cover – Review & Excerpt
Pages to Explore – Excerpt
Red Hot + Blue Reads – review & Excerpt
Stuck In Books – Review & Excerpt

February 2nd
Actin' Up with Books – Review & Excerpt
2 girls who love books – Excerpt
Books, Coffee & Passion – Excerpt
Contagious Reads – Review & Excerpt
Go Read A Book – Review
The Book Maven – Review & Excerpt
The Heart of a Book Blogger – Review

February 3rd
A Gingerly Review – Review & Excerpt
Bookish Hollow – Review & Excerpt
G & T's Indie Café – Excerpt
Lovely Reads Publishing – Review & Excerpt
Mary Had a Little Book Blog – Excerpt
Vera is Reading – Excerpt