My Audiobook Adventures #5: August 2022 – February 2023

Usually I blog my audiobook adventures approximately once every three months but in October last year, my Dad suddenly died. My thoughts were completely full of Dad and only Dad; my brain was in a shocked and traumatised paralysis. I wasn’t able to listen to any audiobooks again until mid-December when I comfort-listened to all the Harry Potter books. I enjoyed them even more than usual, though the deaths in those books have a whole new impact when you’ve lost someone you love. Towards the end of December, I was able to start listening to new books again.

Due to increasing neck damage from not getting the neurosurgery that I desperately need, the things that I have to do medically to stay alive take longer. As a result, my “day” has turned into a 48-hour period of time instead of a 24-hour one. This leaves me constantly in a state of extreme sleep deprivation, which greatly alters my cognition and thus my ability to write reviews. It has taken me months to write this blog post, tiny bit by tiny bit. It’s an act of defiance, saying I’m a human being and I’m here. I have thoughts and opinions. I exist.

These reviews have come to mean a lot to me. I know that nobody else cares much about my reviews but I don’t mind; I do them for myself because I enjoy writing them so much, even though I don’t have the cognitive capacity for them often.

It’s going to be difficult to press the ‘publish’ button on this blog post because it will be my first batch of reviews without my Dad here to read them. I loved getting his thoughts and reactions to what I wrote.

I continue to decline and we’ve been desperately trying (and failing) to think of another fundraising idea for my life-saving surgery ( ). Mum and I are working hard to stay afloat and keep me alive but that takes up more time than we have as it is. Really we need some people to help with fundraising, now that Dad is gone and Mum is having to effectively do two people’s jobs.

I hope that you enjoy the reviews below. Let me know your thoughts about them in the comments. Leave a comment telling me what books you have been reading/listening to lately; I’d love to hear about them. I always love getting more book recommendations too, as long as they’re available on Audible.
If you’ve read any of the books that I review below, do you agree with my assessment of them or do you have a different opinion?

NB I’m only able to listen to audiobooks; I’m unable to read physical books or ebooks because of my neck.


‘Spectacles’ by Sue Perkins

Before this, my experience of Sue Perkins was from her stellar performances on ‘Just A Minute’, her travel documentaries (the Mekong River, the Ganges and Japan), as well as ‘Thronecast’ (the live aftershow discussion of each episode of Game of Thrones as it aired), so I was curious to find out more about her in this memoir. The book was indeed sufficiently diverting and interesting but it didn’t go all that deep or feel like she was properly opening up to lay her soul bare, which is fair enough. As a reader, we were also jumped around in time quite a bit; I would have preferred a more linear approach instead of going haphazardly back and forth in time. It was chatty and an easy listen though (and it’s impossible not to like Sue Perkins, isn’t it), which is sometimes just what one needs.

‘Midnighters’ by Hana Tooke

This is a charming and quirky story set in an alternative Prague in the late nineteenth century. Ema is the youngest of twelve children. Her parents and older siblings are academics and scientists from a young age and she is expected to follow in their footsteps and find her own field of study, her passion. She starts off as a curious child, full of questions, but gradually this spirit gets eroded over time and her questions are discouraged and silenced. When she starts noticing peculiar things about herself, this ‘Ema Enigma’ is the mystery to which she wants to devote her studies and scientific rigour. However, all these peculiarities are dismissed by everyone else and she is effectively gaslighted. Ema retreats into herself, scared of most things, especially herself, and desperately tries to do whatever she thinks will bring her parents’ approval and respect. In her futile endeavours to try to please them, she ends up feeling like a disappointment and failure by her twelfth birthday.

Being the last child left at home, Ema has to go and stay with her estranged uncle when her parents leave on an expedition. Here she meets Silvie, a mysterious girl, who, bit by bit, rekindles Ema’s curiosity and nudges her to overcome her fears and lack of self-belief. In the end, this is what builds her up and gives her enough confidence when, in order to potentially solve a murder, she faces what she thinks might be a choice between either the approval of her parents *or* accepting who she is, being herself and using her unique abilities to determine the murderer (but potentially earning the disappointment and disapproval of her parents if she fails). An unusual and well-paced story with a great message and a murder mystery included to boot.

‘The Sword of Kaigen: a Theonite War Story’ by M.L. Wang

This is a heartbreaking, unique fantasy story set in ‘the sword of Kaigen’, which is the name of a peninsula in the Kaigen Empire. The world is Japan-inspired, with elemental magic. The audiobook can be a bit disorienting at first because each person’s name seems to change to have different endings depending on the familiarity of the relationship between the people who are addressing each other. Also, there are some words that I have no idea if they are a made-up language for the book or if they are Japanese. I was hoping that there might be a glossary at the end of the audiobook but there wasn’t; you could deduce their meaning from the context for the most part though.

At the heart of the story is a mother and son, Misaki and Mamoru. Although the rest of the empire has developed to a modern level, the sword of Kaigen peninsula is mostly cut off from that and still has a traditional, old-fashioned warrior society, which is deeply sexist, oppressive and patriarchal. Mamoru’s world is changed when a northerner comes to his school and challenges his whole world view and what he has been led to believe to be true. He learns of the propaganda that his people have been fed and is shaken to the core.

Mamoru gets to know his mother more as a result. She went to school outside of Kaigen so hasn’t grown up with such a cloistered, blind view of the world. She already knew the truths that Mamoru is only just realising. Although her spirit has been beaten down over the years by her abusive father-in-law, oppression and relentless sexism, she finds the courage to speak a little to Mamoru, in a society where it is not considered her place to speak to him, in a society where her children are considered to belong to her husband but not to her. She is able to secretly teach him a little with the fighting skills that she learnt at school abroad, even though women are not allowed to fight in Kaigen.

But then disaster strikes. I don’t want to give away any spoilers because it’s an amazing story. It’s also very unusual in structure. In the middle of the book, one finds oneself at a climax that would usually come at the end of a book. You will probably cry! The rest is the devastating aftermath of the event.

I thought that this was the start of a series because the world is so rich and deep. I thought it was going to be a series about the people gradually banding together and rising up against the ruling power of the Emperor. Plus a new storyline and mystery is introduced towards the end of the book of an enigmatic new enemy, kidnapping children, to build an army with a mix of different types of magic. So I was utterly stunned to find out, after finishing the book, that this is a standalone. The author leaves lots of questions unanswered and the baffling new mystery that is introduced at the end.

The villagers decide to stay alive and survive rather than rise up and potentially run the risk of being gradually killed off by assassins of the empire. They just want to live their lives. I wanted them to rise up and overcome! They thought it was pointless and would result in more death. But they had all the strong families with secret bloodline techniques and could have banded together with others like them; they have the most powerful warriors and magic. They could have created a better world.

Some people will find the ending realistic but I was hoping for it to be only the beginning of an incredible new series. It’s still meaningful and thoughtful but I wanted more!

I hated the redemptive arc of the loathsome husband. His attitude, behaviour and sexism are barely changed by the end yet the author wants us to believe that he is now a noble character. It feels like the author is forcing it and justifying things that can’t be justified. The double standards are galling when the author not only holds Misaki just as responsible for the problems in the marriage as her husband, but also she has to perform all the emotional (and physical) labour to redeem her husband, wake him up from his coldness and indifference and bring about the change in him. It’s forced down our throats that it’s her duty as a wife to do so. Yes, both husband and wife have been mistreated by the same person, but Misaki has also been subjugated by her husband’s demand for her obedience and the systemic sexism that exists in the culture. The two can’t be compared. She was forced to give up her whole life to this arranged marriage; if she had married the man that she loved instead, she would have been shunned and never seen her family (whom she loved dearly) ever again.

It also feels odd that Misaki, who has clearly been shown to be a skilled teacher and fighter, is not allowed to play this role but her husband, who is a terrible teacher and communicator, ends up the one teaching. Much as the author wants to push the idea that this marriage has ended up a team effort, the inequality is still obvious; Misaki would have been much happier with Robin and they would have been far better suited.

‘SkyWake: Battlefield’ by Jamie Russell

This is the sequel to the brilliantly fun ‘SkyWake: Invasion’, to which I relistened before embarking on the follow-up. It introduces us to Casey, a 15-year-old girl who loves video games, especially ‘SkyWake’, which is the new phenomenon sweeping the gaming world in this story. Teenagers across the world gather in various cities for a gaming tournament of SkyWake. The only problem is that Casey has been pretending to be a boy to her online friends in her SkyWake team so that she doesn’t experience the sexism and offensive comments that are so common over the headset chatter in the online gaming world. That’s the set up and I highly recommend you read/listen to it before reading this review any further, in order to prevent any spoilers. It’s a story of first contact (sort of) with aliens and the real purpose and “people” behind the SkyWake game. It would be a great book for reluctant readers or as a starting point to introduce a young person to science fiction. There isn’t a single moment where it’s possible to be bored; it’s fast-paced and fun.

Jamie Russell is the king of the cliffhanger and although both books have satisfying, contained stories of their own, each one ends with the kind of massive cliffhanger that leaves one doing an uncannily accurate impression of Veruca Salt in our desire to have the next book in the series, singing*: “DON’T CARE HOW, I WANT IT NOW!”
*(in the film ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (1971))

In ‘SkyWake: Battlefield’, Casey has to learn to trust herself when everyone else thinks she’s going crazy (with insidious comments from the awful Xander (oh I hate hate hate that manipulative boy) getting into the heads of Casey’s team and little brother to make them think that she’s losing the plot.

In the end, Casey has to make a decision when there are no good options, when she has to choose the least worst option. Something that I’ve become very familiar with over the years. When there are no choices that are acceptable, what does one do? That’s the question that this book asks.

A hugely enjoyable, action-packed, fast and fun adventure.

‘The Books of Babel’ series (‘Senlin Ascends’, ‘Arm of the Sphinx’, ‘The Hod King’ and ‘The Fall of Babel’) by Josiah Bancroft

This has rocketed into my top 10 favourite series. I was going to give it a rave review…until the ending. So, almost a rave review. The ending wasn’t terrible by any stretch but it wasn’t great either. Considering how much I’d enjoyed the series, it felt lazy and a bit of a cop out not to give us all the answers that we wanted. Some people might like this more open style of ending but I prefer the author to have figured out and plotted meticulously so that we’re given a more satisfying end. Again, it wasn’t a bad ending, I was just hoping that we’d finally find out everything.

The first book was the weakest of the series but still good, however the story really deepened and blossomed in the next two books. I gradually got used to the rhythm of the pacing and appreciated it increasingly more as it went along. There were periods of what seemed like more slow, plodding story but actually those times were cleverly and intricately developing character and building different strands of plot, which then would all of a sudden come together in a thrilling and exciting period of action and activity. This pacing pattern happened repeatedly and one would find oneself getting more and more excited about what was to come as it built towards the next big occurrences.

I loved the family of characters that gathered together around Senlin (Iren was my favourite) and the series is a masterpiece. It’s a sort of steampunk dystopia, starting with a very ordinary and naive man coming to the mysterious Tower of Babel for his honeymoon, only to have to start on a journey, up through the ringdoms of the tower, to find his new wife (who has gone missing), discovering the shocking realities of the tower along the way.

It’s hard to say anymore without giving away spoilers (stop reading now if you don’t even want a small spoiler) but I thought the wrong two people ended up together and there should have been more of a change and revolution in the ways of the tower.

Still, these four books were outstanding and I would highly recommend them.

‘Amari and the Great Game’ by B.B. Alston

This is the sequel to ‘Amari and the Night Brothers’. I loved the parts relating to the time freeze and Amari (and her friends’) investigations into it to find who was responsible. The Supernatural Congress was vivid in my mind’s eye and I loved those scenes in that circular room with the stairs leading down to the sunken centre. I thought the final answer to the mystery of who caused the time freeze to be rather ingenious. That was cleverly done.

On the whole, I wasn’t quite so keen on ‘The Great Game’ parts of the story. I usually relish any sort of competition within a story so I was surprised that the challenges were some of my least favourite bits. They felt a damp squib and repetitious, with not enough substance to them. I wanted more of Amari having to figure things out, like in the second challenge when she had to figure out Alexander the Great’s clue, instead of Dylan just flinging fireballs at her and generally only popping up to be the designated villain. And Cosmo was infuriatingly annoying, which I guess was his part to play.

In the final challenge, an interesting philosophical point is raised, when for a moment Amari has a chance to pull out certain memories of Dylan’s from his head to make him “good” again, taking away all the bad things that had happened to him. The memories went back into him after all so we didn’t get to explore the topic, but I don’t think simply forgetting the memories and the choices that he made would have made him “good”. She would have essentially been taking away from him the person who he had chosen to be. He had chosen to go down a dark path and even though we may wish that people would choose differently, we can’t change their decisions and the consequences of what they have done. Lots of people have bad things happen to them; only a few choose to go down an evil path as a result.

I enjoyed the friendships and Lara’s redemptive arc within that. That was fun. The prejudice that magicians face within the Supernatural world continues to be a powerful allegory for racism. This book adds ‘Unwanteds’ to the mix, with a certain group of people being targeted and deported, which is particularly relevant and astute. The whole group are held responsible for any bad action of any single person within that group of people. Sound familiar?

I’ve noticed that so many fantasy stories, when the main character is female, often end with that main character losing her powers or abilities as a result of some great sacrifice for the greater good or to save someone else or to save the world. So I wasn’t pleased when this one ended the same way but I’m hoping that, since it’s only the second book in the series, Amari will get her magic back. I know that the point being made is that Amari is still just as special without her magic and that her power is not in her magic but within herself, but I do get disappointed and frustrated repeatedly in fantasy literature when a girl or woman’s power is taken away from her.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, though I didn’t feel it was as strong as the first one. However, it felt more of an ‘Empire Strikes Back’ middle of a trilogy, setting up what is to come. So I’m definitely looking forward to the next book, hopefully with the euphoric victory of ‘Return of the Jedi’ in the end.

‘Friends, Lovers and the Big Terrible Thing’ by Matthew Perry

Matthew Perry holds nothing back in this book, which is certainly what one wants from an autobiography. It’s raw and honest, accurately depicting how addiction can ravage a life.

As a two month old baby, he wouldn’t stop crying so his parents took him to a doctor who prescribed a barbiturate that would always knock him out cold immediately. The effect of such a strong drug at that stage of a baby’s brain development would have been profound and it’s sobering to think what path his life could have taken, if this hadn’t happened. Did it lay the foundations of addiction?

I don’t know how to feel about this memoir because Matthew doesn’t hide all the worst parts of himself; I admire the honesty and him not giving up but in showing those awful parts, it makes it hard to warm to him at times (although I did feel an instant affinity with him when when he says that he’s never slept more than four hours straight in his life and I immediately liked him tonnes more because, well, I hate people who are able to sleep (😛)). However, he admits at the end that he’s spent most of his life only thinking of himself and never giving a thought to others; he’s been narcissistic and selfish. He treats women terribly. Repeatedly. The amount of money that he wastes and throws away is obscene and makes one feel sick. The thing is, he’s very self-aware and realises all this, yet this awareness rarely brings about any change.

Throughout his life he’s seldom been able to stay sober for long, whether it’s alcohol, pills or cigarettes. Even though he’s in a good place when he writes this book, the fact that he’s never stayed sober for long makes one worried about him, especially when he says he’s hasn’t got another detox in him. He says if he falls off the wagon, that’s it. His desire for alcohol and drugs has gone now though because he developed such a tolerance that they no longer have any sort of desired effect on him. It’s coming off cigarettes, of which doctors say if he doesn’t stay off he’ll die in his 60s, that seems to be the bigger problem.

He does mention ‘Friends’ a certain amount but I would have liked to hear more on this topic. It was fascinating how one of his best friends was offered the part of Chandler first but was also offered the main part on another show and he took that role instead. Everything so nearly went another way.

It’s taken him a long time in life to realise that he was chasing after all the wrong things. To realise that he is enough. To begin to believe that he deserves love. He now wants to spend the rest of his life helping others, which is a worthy ambition.

‘Stellarlune’ by Shannon Messenger

I love the ‘Keeper of the Lost Cities’ series; it’s unadulterated enjoyment. When you’re first introduced to the Lost Cities with their colourful crystal buildings and ridiculous clothes, you might begin to think that the books might not be for you or that they’ll be too silly but you’d be wrong. Soon the characters will feel like family, the exciting plots will transport you away and you’ll just be having fun.

‘Stellarlune’ is the ninth book in the series. This is the first time in the series where the plot is a bit too meandering and loses its way. It feels a bit bogged down, with several scenes going on for far too long; it needed more editing.

There’s still plenty to enjoy here, with Sophie coming into her own (finally!) and showing the beginnings of leadership, though still often too impatient and impulsive. It’s also gratifying to watch the clues be deciphered. Plus, we get a sweet scene for which I’m sure many readers have been waiting for ages; it was a long time coming. The author was ostensibly holding off on it as long as possible because the two characters in question are obviously endgame material and should be together so it couldn’t have happened too early on in the books. It had reached an absurd level of delay though so I’m glad it finally happened.

‘A Heart That Works’ by Rob Delaney

Since Dad died, I’ve been seeking out memoirs dealing with grief, to find people who “get it”. You think that nobody could possibly understand your own level of pain and love but you seek out others’ stories anyway to see how they got through their own personal End of The World. Although everyone will experience grief differently, there will be plenty of similarities and commonalities too, which it’s comforting to hear as you recognise them (and there were indeed plenty in this book).

‘A Heart That Works’ is about the life and death of Rob Delaney’s young son. He writes to communicate and because he wants people to understand, even though he realises most people won’t, not completely. There will be particulars of each person’s grief that no others can understand but Rob Delaney makes a raw, eloquent and unflinching stab at trying to connect and bring others into a sliver of what it’s like. It’s something that words will always fall short of being able to describe but this is a powerful and honest book.

The only thing with which I had a problem was that Rob thinks it’s harder and worse when your child dies than when anyone else you love dies. I’m sure most parents would agree with him. They probably think that I don’t understand because I don’t have a child of my own. I don’t want to get into a Suffering Olympics because that’s something that nobody wants to win. But people who don’t have children can love as hard and as strongly and it can be just as devastating to have anyone you love to that extent die, no matter their age. Don’t minimise it.

‘Bloodmarked’ by Tracey Deonn

It was always going to be difficult to create a sequel to rival the revelation of the twists at the end of ‘Legendborn’, the first book in this series, and the euphoric moments in the cave when everything came together. This series is a modern retelling of Arthurian legend in an imaginative and unusual way.

The powers that Bree discovers to be hers in the last book, one might expect to be empowering and freeing but Bree finds herself more trapped, powerless, deceived and violated than ever throughout this book, with forces from both without and within fighting for control of her. Tracey Deonn brings us as readers into this build up of injustices, of choice being taken away, of being stifled and silenced until we are boiling with frustration and rage along with Bree. Although Bree’s actions may sometimes be petulant or immature (she’s only 16 though so that’s understandable), she’s dealing with an awful lot!

There weren’t staggering revelations or surprises in this book but it was still immensely enjoyable, though not as cohesive a plot as the first. I’m glad that Nick was gone for most of the book, since his and Bree’s relationship is the most boring part, and I was gleeful to find the four most interesting characters thrust together, travelling together. Those relationships were always going to be more stimulating and zingy. We weren’t let down, with three sizzling scenes in particular stealing the show of the whole book (the sealing up of Sel’s bandage in the bathroom at the safe house scene, the scene in the corridor waiting while Alice is in the toilet at the crossroads bar, and the scene in the clearing by the waterfall). The whole book is worth those three scenes between Sel and Bree! Alice is still my favourite character though.

There were also so many powerful and profound quotes that I found myself wanting to write down to remember them. They are even more impressive in context but still are incredible by themselves. Here are a few that particularly stood out to me:

‘The unsaid thing about funerals is that directly after the communal mourning for someone you love, after everyone is gone, […], comes a solitude beyond imagining, a great gaping nothing, where a whole person and life and future used to be. The other side of a funeral is abyss.’

‘I do have an idea. But grief isn’t a competition. It’s not an identical pain that we all meet one day when death finds us. It’s a monster, personalised by our love and memories to devour us just so. Grief is suffering, tailored.’

‘Half a heart is not enough to live a whole life, is it. The clawing grief reaches for me all over again, even though I thought I’d escaped it, the fear of death hunting me, searching for the remainder of the heart it’s already broken and who it will take from me to get it.’

‘You don’t believe history is true. You won’t even admit it’s possible’
– this quote is from a potent scene that’s talking about racism and violence. Even when the truth is right in front of them and Bree is the very evidence that the events in question happened, it’s not treated as fact. It can be applied to so many different circumstances; anybody who hasn’t been believed, who has experienced people saying that something hasn’t happened when it has, that it’s impossible that what you say is true, will relate to this and punch the air.

‘Since when has a man’s title prevented his brutality instead of further emboldening it.’

‘Wanting something fiction to be fact, and having the power to convince other folks of the same; that’s how power stays put.’

‘Fairy Tale’ by Stephen King

This is the first book by Stephen King that I’ve ever read. Horror is the one genre that I won’t read under any circumstance so I didn’t think his writing was for me but ‘Fairy Tale’ is a fantasy story so I decided to give it a go. Ironically, it was the non-fantasy parts of the book that I really enjoyed. The characters, relationships and atmosphere were built up skilfully in the first third of the book (this first portion of the story didn’t really have any fantasy elements to it), and I came to genuinely care about Charlie, his father and the elderly man and his dog up the road with whom Charlie makes friends.

The writing was cinematic in the vividness of the world it conjured in one’s mind’s eye. One never felt lost during all Charlie’s travels and one had an accurate depiction of the world and the direction one was moving through it.

This book doesn’t feel like a typical fantasy novel. There aren’t lots of complicated plot threads coming together, with surprises and thrilling revelations. When it reaches the fantasy portion of the book, it’s a portal fantasy, a simple enough journey, with a series of action sequences throughout. It’s more like a thriller than a fantasy. I did really enjoy it though.

Plus, Stephen King annoyed me into looking up the definition of two words by repeatedly using them when I had no clue as to what they meant! So I’ve added two words (‘mephitic’ and ‘eldritch’) to my vocabulary, which is a bonus.

There are a few problematic themes involving disability, disfigurement and villainy, but Jen Campbell covers this topic in stories really well here:

‘The Atlas Paradox’ by Olivie Blake

This is the sequel to ‘The Atlas Six’. I actually enjoyed this book more than the first; in my opinion it was paced a lot better. The first half of ‘The Atlas Six’ was unbearably slow before properly kicking into gear, whereas the author’s progression as a writer in ‘The Atlas Paradox’ is apparent both through it being more evenly paced and also cutting down on overly long philosophical waffle. The main six characters are still resolutely unlikeable. All of them. I know this is on trend and meant to show “realistic”, three-dimensional characters but come on! Give me someone to root for please. They don’t all have to be relentlessly repulsive people. It would be more realistic if one of them showed a sign of even one redeeming characteristic. Somehow it was still enjoyable though; maybe it was returning into the minds of familiar characters that was comforting.

The ensemble of voice actors continued to be grating. Both the British accents sound fake (it definitely sounds like Americans attempting British accents rather than real British accents). At least they were understandable though; the vocal fry of the voice actor narrating Parisa occasionally made a few words unintelligible. She also didn’t enunciate well enough; I appreciate that this may have been in service of an acting decision to embody the character as being laid back and seductive but all it did was irritate me when I missed phrases here and there.

Overall, it was worth reading and I’m interested enough to listen to the next book in the series but it wouldn’t be among the first books that I’d recommend to friends.

I did however love the following reference popping up near the end of the book (‘it was ultimately a test of who could outman, outlast and magically outgun’) as a nod to George Washington’s line from ‘Hamilton’ (‘we are outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, out-planned’). That was a fun Easter Egg and made me smile. I love Hamilton.

The first 3 books of ‘The School for Good and Evil’ series (‘The School for Good and Evil’, ‘A World Without Princes’ and ‘The Last Ever After’) series by Soman Chainani

These may be the silliest books I’ve ever read! If you think about any part of them (plot, concepts, characters) for more than a couple of seconds, it all falls apart. Best to disengage the brain if you just need a bit of escapist fluff. It’s never a good sign when a little way into a book you think ‘this was definitely written by a man’. Sure enough, I looked it up and the author is a man. It’s full of things that girls/women would never do or say. There are lots of lazy stereotypes too and some inappropriate descriptions of girls.

Most of the children who are sorted into The School for Good almost all seem to be awful people – vain, vacuous bullies – who are terrible to Agatha. It makes no sense that they’ve been deemed “good” compared to the children who have been sorted into the School for Evil, many of whom are loyal friends and far better people. Hester is the best character in the whole series.

The books seem to rehash the same things over and over (is Sophie good? Is she bad? Is she good? Is she bad? On and on and on). It’s obvious to the reader from the start that Sophie is not a great person; she’s unbelievably selfish and willing to use people then discard them. It’s utterly bizarre that after she murders a whole bunch of wolves and fairies (who are actually humans who have been turned into these creatures) at the end of book one, it’s basically never mentioned again and has zero consequences. I know Agatha is a faithful friend but there’s no reason why she would continue on insisting that Sophie is Good, after these murders and all her betrayals.

It’s clear that there shouldn’t be a division into Good and Evil. At the end of book one, Agatha gives a speech about how nobody is fully good or evil but that everyone has both good and bad inside them. Finally some sense…which is then entirely disregarded and forgotten as if it never happened for the rest of the series.

In the second book, the author is clearly trying to say something about feminism, or at least his warped idea of what it is. The second book seems to be a weird, derisive view of what the author thinks that women think of as empowerment and equality. It’s a truly bizarre read. He definitely seems to be saying something, I’m just not entirely sure what that something is. I don’t think he knows either.

It only gets more creepy, when in the third book, a two hundred-year-old man (who conveniently has changed to look like a teenager) is cast as the supposed “true love” of Sophie, a young teenager, whom he first picked out and kidnapped when she was twelve years old. Twelve.

I don’t know why I’ve continued to listen to this rubbish. There are three books left in the series. If you’ve read them, does it get any better? Does the author finally work out what he’s trying to say? Does the story arc around and redeem itself at all?


Links to my previous Audiobook Adventures:

My Audiobook Adventures #1

My Audiobook Adventures #2

My favourite books (this is essentially My Audiobook Adventures #2.5!)

My Audiobook Adventures #3

My Audiobook Adventures #4

3 thoughts on “My Audiobook Adventures #5: August 2022 – February 2023”

  1. My dad died suddenly when I was 23 so I get the devastation, the needing to stick with comfort reading etc. I remember often coming across an attitude that it was the ‘right’ order that your parents died but I never felt it because like your dad, it was far too early for the ‘correct’ order so I suspect the Rob Delaney book would irritate me a little too! I keep meaning to listen to The Grief Cast and read Cariad Lloyd’s book related to it. Not sure if it’s any good but maybe worth checking out? I’m so sorry more funds haven’t been raised lately and you’re getting such a raw deal in life. It’s truly not fair.

  2. Jenny, I always enjoy your reviews! I don’t really listen to audiobooks myself so I don’t have any to recommend, I’m afraid. I wish I did.
    I didn’t know The School for Good and Evil was a book series. I watched the film a while back and felt the same way about it as you did about the books. It was awful!
    P.s. I can’t stand people who are able to sleep either 😉.

  3. Hey there Jenny, I have ME too and have been following your journey and fundraising efforts. I just wanted to say that I’ve really enjoyed reading your book reviews, you’re a good writer. I also love your honesty “I don’t know why I continued to listen to this rubbish” 😂 So good!

    I’m just getting into audiobooks and recently listened to this one – the first part of the book is truly remarkable & could be made into a movie. Overall I found it to be a pretty captivating listen and it was extra enjoyable because the author Anh seems like a very nice human.

    I love Harry Potter and the Hunger Games series too and so am now looking forward to checking out some of the other fave books in your list.

    I hope that you are somehow able to keep finding the strength needed to continue hanging in there in such unimaginably hard circumstances.


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