An update on Scribd

I posted a few years ago about how much I was enjoying using Scribd, when I was getting through a lot of audiobooks as part of my commute.  I let it lapse once my commute changed, as I just didn’t have time for many audiobooks, and because I got a bit fed up with the bank cancelling my card every month because the payments were in dollars.  I saw Lauren’s post a while back about how much she was enjoying it, and having looked into it, I decided it was worth pausing my audible membership for a few months and seeing how the two compared now.

How it works:

  • The subscription reading service is $8.99 a month (about £6.40)
  • Unlimited audioooks and ebooks
  • You don’t own the books but borrow them

The Good:

  • Scribd is cheaper than audible, and I can listen to as many audiobooks as I want, as well as read e-books.  As long as I listen to one audiobook a month, I’m no worse off (in fact, I’m just over £1 better off) and of course I could listen to/read a lot more than that if I want to
  • I’ve found that being able to buy multiple books makes me a lot less picky: I’m no longer worrying that I need to get my ‘money’s worth’, so short stories are back on the menu.  I’d probably never get to these short-stories otherwise.
  • I don’t feel the same pressure to make sure I pick something I’ll really like – if I don’t get stuck into something, I can just start something else instead
  • Because I CAN listen to more than one audiobook each month, I’ve found that generally I do.  I always felt like one book a month was about right with audible, but actually now that I have the option to listen to more I find myself making excuses to listen more often and getting through more books.
  • The technical problems I had previously (download speeds, disappearing books) have all disappeared, and using PayPal has got round the fact the payments are in dollars.
  • You can save books for later – it doesn’t download them or take up space on your device, but means that I’ve got plenty of options lined up ready for when I finish a title.

The Things I’d improve:

  • Occasionally if I pause the app, when it starts playing again the volume has disappeared.  I’ve only noticed this on my phone, not on PC or iPad, so it’s probably a problem with my hardware, but a simple force-close has always resolved it.
  • The one thing I’d love Scribd to add would be a percentage/progress marker of some kind. Just because I’m a stats nerd and I’d like to be able to update Goodreads with my progress more easily than doing the maths to work out how far into the book I am.

What I’ve read so far (since February 1st):

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
  • The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
  • Other Minds by Peter Godfrey-Smith
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  • Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • The Serpent’s Shadow by Rick Riordan
  • Down Among The Sticks & Bones by Seanan McGuire
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (still reading)

The selection isn’t as good as audible, and you have to be careful because some audiobooks are abridged, which I personally avoid.  The books available do change pretty regularly though, so there are a few books on there that have become unavailable since I saved them, but there are other titles I’ve saved because they’ll be available from the 1st of April.  The only potential issue I can see is if you got started on a long series, and later books ended up getting removed before you’d reached the end of the series.  Personally, I haven’t found it an issue yet, because I’ve got a long list of other things I want to listen to, so I’m more than happy to enjoy those and maybe the titles that expire will come back on in future months.

The cost for what you get is excellent value – about the same as 10 months of audible, so as long as I listen to at least one audiobook a month (or more accurately 10 audiobooks a year), I’m better off.  It hasn’t been at all hard to find at least one audiobook a month I wanted to listen to, and I’ve got 30+ audiobooks and another 25 ebooks saved for future months.

 

The Verdict: Definitely sticking with!

If you’re curious, you can get a two-month trial (no affiliate advantage as far as I can tell, just a nice perk for friends!)

The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay

I knew I wanted to see The Greatest Showman as soon as I saw the adverts: I love musicals, I love Hugh Jackman, and it just looked totally up my alley.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact the story was based around P.T. Barnum, who by all accounts was pretty awful. I read a few initial reviews which objected to the fact the story had been ‘Disney-fied’, but that didn’t necessarily put me off: a truly accurate story would have been depressing!

Before seeing the film, I listened to the soundtrack once. I debated for a long time about whether to go into the film completely blind, but to be honest I just couldn’t resist listening to it!  It meant I had some idea about what the songs were saying, so when they came on in the film I wasn’t overwhelmed by the dancing and on screen action without being able to keep up with the words.

From the moment the story opens with Hugh Jackman’s lone voice singing, I was hooked.  There were a few actors I was a little nervous about: I know nothing of Zac Efron apart from his High School Musical days (which I’ve actually never seen, maybe I should?), and while Zendaya is gorgeous I thought her character in Spider-Man Homecoming was just a bit boring. I needn’t have worried though: they were both fantastic.  The acting and the writing were great, and there wasn’t a single character in the film that I couldn’t empathise with in some way.  The plot is, in some ways, the weakest aspect of the film; it’s a little slow at times, and going into it blind, I wasn’t entirely sure where the story was going to go.  Looking back at it objectively, the film feels almost like it shouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is, and yet I loved every moment.

The film is gorgeous to look at, from the costumes to the sets, and the choreography and dancing are spectacular.  The scene for ‘The Other Side’ is my particular favourite, and despite being an absolute non-dancer I’m incapable of hearing it without tapping my feet at least!  As good as the acting, choreography and plot are, it is of course the soundtrack that’s the stand-out feature.  The songs range from huge, inspiring and epic group songs to softer, sadder reprises.  The vocals are just astounding, with the genuinely awe-inspiring ‘Never Enough’ and ‘This Is Me’ to the softer but no less emotional ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Rewrite the Stars’.  It’s impossible to pick a favourite, but after seeing the film, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much incessantly.  Going back to see the film a second time, more familiar with the soundtrack, I loved it even more, and despite my issues with the plot, I was still completely lost in the story.

The reviewers who said the story has been ‘Disney-fied’ are absolutely right: Barnum comes across as a generally good guy.  He’s imperfect, and he makes a few very unpleasant decisions, but the overall impression was that Barnum wasn’t a bad guy at heart, and he tried to repair the mistakes he made. In reality, Barnum was exploitative and manipulative.  The Greatest Showman, like P.T. Barnum’s circus, is a lie – and that’s okay. While not necessarily historically accurate, the way they portrayed Barnum’s story made for a film that felt uplifting, inspiring, and generally feel good.  I do sort of wish they’d chosen to just base the story around a fictional circus instead, but there’s also something quite nice and ironic about the fact such a positive story came out of something so grim in reality.

And now, I’m off to listen to the soundtrack some more and lust after these amazing custom Funko pops (Anne still being worked on at the time of writing). Also to possibly go and see it a third time, because it was awesome.

How amazing are these custom Greatest Showman pops by RudyV?

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)

The Girl with All the Gifts (M. R. Carey)The Girl with All the Gifts by M. R. Carey
Published by Little, Brown Book Group Limited on 19-06-2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, Fiction, Sci Fi
Pages: 461
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.


When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like h
er. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Readability: ★★★

The storyMelanie is a little girl who lives in a cell.  Every morning, men with guns and grim faces lock her into her wheelchair, push her down the corridor and into the classroom, where she and around twenty other wheelchair bound kids are taught lessons by a variety of teachers.  Melanie likes her classes, she loves her teacher Miss Justineau and she adores Greek mythology.  She doesn’t particularly love being strapped into her chair during classes (makes it hard to make friends), or the fact that most of the adults seem scared of her, even when she’s trying to be nice.

The jacket of the book gives very little away, so if you’d rather go into this blind as was intended, it’s probably best to stop reading here! If you don’t mind the slight spoiler/already seen it elsewhere or if you’ve already read The Girl with All The Gifts, you’re safe to read on!

The Girl with All The Gifts is not a book about a little girl with special abilites – I have to admit I was imagining an X-men style mutant or something similar.  It turns out, The Girl with All The Gifts is a book about zombies.

I’m seriously squeamish so zombie movies and TV are not my thing at all, but my few forays into zombie fiction have gone pretty well so far.  I adored Feed by Mira Grant, and I enjoyed Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (though the second book not so much).

 

The characters

Melanie is an absolutely great character, and I think without her this book just wouldn’t have worked for me.  She’s unbelievably smart, but she’s also like a puppy: she’s so eager to please, and she has questions without answers that no kid her age should have to worry about.

The supporting characters mainly consist of Miss Justinea, Sergeant Parks and Doctor Caldwell which is perhaps where the story fell down a little for me.  With a relatively small cast, I expected to really connect with the characters, but although there were a few moments where I connected with the others, I didn’t really find myself drawn to any of them in the same way as I did with Melanie.  Strangely, the supporting character I found most real was Doctor Caldwell, who is less likable than both Miss Justineau and Sergeant Parks!

 

final thoughtsWith hints of the same scientific basis as Mira Grant’s Feed and moments so tense I didn’t want to leave the safety of my locked bedroom, I’m not quite sure why I didn’t click more with The Girl with All the Gifts.  It took me a while to get into, and there were few moments where I was truly hooked – I definitely enjoyed it, but The Girl with All The Gifts was probably a 3.5 star read for me.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d borrow or pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: Enjoyable, and I’ll definitely be looking out for more by M.R. Carey, but it didn’t wow me.

 

Other Reviews of The Girl with All the Gifts: Wondrous Reads | The Book Plank | The Book Smugglers

One StarOne StarOne Star

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)

No In Between (Lisa Renee Jones)No In Between by Lisa Renee Jones
Series: Inside Out #4
Published by Simon and Schuster on 19-08-2014
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Suspense
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Amazon
Goodreads

"Chris and I have faced our demons and bared our souls to one another in Paris. Now that we are back home in San Francisco, I want to believe that nothing can tear us apart. Not Ava’s accusations against me to the police, or Chris's fear that he will destroy me as he feels he did Amber. And not Mark, who was once too intimately a part of our lives, and who I can see crumbling inside out. He believes he is invincible, just as I want to believe Chris and I are invincible. We have to be invincible. We need each other too much for any other ending."

SPOILER ALERT: As No In Between is book 4 in a series, there may be some spoilers for earlier books.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★
Readability: ★★★

The story

The story picks up pretty much where Revealing Us left off – Chris and Sara are just arriving home from Paris, preparing for Ava’s trial.  Chris and Sara are trying to prepare themselves for what promises to be a nasty trial, while also balancing their relationship, issues from ther past and their worry over Ella.

No In Between is the fourth book in Lisa Renee Jones’ Inside Out series, a series I’ve been loving so far! You can read my reviews for books 1, 2 and 3, but the short version is I gave all of them four stars! Unfortunately, No In Between just didn’t live up to the earlier books for me.

No In Between is the first book of the series where I’ve found it difficult to get back into the story.  I definitely think it’d be worth re-reading at least Revealing Us before getting stuck into No In Between because at this point the mystery is getting complicated, and it took me a while to remember who everyone was etc.  I also admit that I hadn’t read My Hunger or His Secrets between going in, which may have had something to do with my slow reconnection.  However, this shouldn’t be a large influence as a note from Lisa at the beginning says “you don’t have to read [His Secrets] to enjoy this story”.

I found No In Between felt dragged out, and I honestly felt this book was largely unecessary.  At 256 pages, No In Between is quite a lot shorter than the first three books (at 384, 351 and 256 pages). Whilst the first three felt sharp, snappy and successfully built the tension, No In Between in comparison felt like it was just going over the previous ground.  Don’t get me wrong, it was full of twists and turns, but it didn’t seem to actually go anwhere.  For me, the lact of progress with the story meant that for me all of the tension that had built up and built up through the first three books, instead of being resolved, was left hanging.  I would have preferred this to be bunched together with book 5 to make a longer but satisfying read.

 

 

 

The characters

The main cast of characters are the same we’ve seen throughout the series: Mark, Sara and Chris.  Chris is great, and Mark remains the mysterious, elusive man you can’t help but want to know more about!  Sara’s vulnerability made her more relatable, and it was great to see the way Chris dealt with that vulnerability. I definitely found Chris and Sara’s relationship the hightlight of No In Between.

As well as our main three, there’s also a large number of supporting characters, including both characters from the earlier books and some new characters.  We see more of the Walker brothers from the Tall, Dark and Deadly series which I liked, and I loved seeing a tiny bit more of Crystal.  However, I personally thought there were a few too many characters for a book where little truly happens; at times it felt like some of the characters were only there to give you more possibilities for what happened to Rebecca.

 

final thoughtsI had very high expectations of No In Between based on the fact I thought the first three books were brilliant, but unfortunately No In Between just didn’t live up to those expectations.  It’s full of twists and turns, some steamy sex scenes and some touching moments between Chris and Sara, but the lack of resolution means that for me this would be much better if you could read it immediately before the next book, rather than alone.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d maybe buy on a deal, but perhaps after the next book is out too!
In a nutshell: Would almost certainly benefit from a re-read of Revealing Us first but unfortunately this one disappointed me.
[therating]

Other Reviews of No In Between: Sensual Reads | Page Princess | Drue’s Random Chatter

One StarOne Star

Apple and Rain (Sarah Crossan)

Apple and Rain (Sarah Crossan)Apple and Rain by Sarah Crossan
Published by A&C Black on 14-08-2014
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley, Purchased
Goodreads

When Apple's mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are.

A story about sad endings.
A story about happy beginnings.
A story to make you realise who is special.

Plot: ★★
Characters: ★★★
Readability: ★★★★

The storyApple has spent the last eleven years wishing for her mother.  Wandering why she left and why she never came back, all Apple wants is for her mum to come home.  She loves living with her nan, but she’s also beginning to chafe at being picked up from school and generally not being let out of sight.  She also wishes she had her mum to just talk to about things she couldn’t discuss with her nan, things like boys, petty arguments at school and make up.  When Apple’s mum does show up out of the blue though, it isn’t exactly the seamless family reunion Apple expected, and she has to face up to the reality of a mother she’s only ever imagined until now.

I found the story a bit predictable but very enjoyable and VERY hard to put down! Between how quick the story moves, the very short chapters and the easy-to-get-lost-in voice of Apple, I told myself ‘just one more chapter’ for far too long when reading it.  The fact that the story was a little predictable didn’t particularly bother me, because it’s just as much about the journey and the character development as it is about the end result.  In that respect, and with Apple’s clear voice, it reminded me a little of something like Thirteen Reasons Why.

Apple tries to build a relationship with her mother as she fears her relationship with her best friend is disintegrating, she goes through so many upheavals, and then on top of all that she’s also given a new English teacher, who tries to engage the class with poetry.  The poetry in Apple and Rain is used really well, and it really helps to see exactly how Apple feels – although her voice is very clear, she’s not always upfront with herself about how she feels, so the poetry gives you that little bit of insight beneath the mask.

The characters

I don’t want to say too much about the characters because learning about them was one of the highlights of the story for me and I don’t want to take that away if you haven’t read it yet!  So just a few quick thoughts from me on each of them.

Apple is great – although she’s only 13 she comes across as more mature.  At the start of the story Apple definitely comes across as younger and more naive – she idolises her mother, she worries about Nana making her look uncool etc but she grows brilliantly throughout the book.  Sure she makes mistakes, but what teenager human doesn’t?!

Rain and Del are both brilliant characters.  I couldn’t decide on an overall favourite character but it’d definitely be one of these two!

Apple’s mother Annie is really well developed.  I loved the fact that she was shown as making mistakes and having flaws without being the villain.  Unfortunately for me this was overshadowed a little by Apple’s issues with her dad, who she seemed determined to see as the bad guy and which I found a little frustrating.

 

 

final thoughtsApple and Rain was a quick, cute, enjoyable read, but it wasn’t the emotional rollercoaster I was expecting.  It can be a little bleak at times, but it’s fundamentally a heart-warming story about families, relationships, and growing up.  I’ve seen so many great reviews for Apple and Rain, and I really enjoyed it, but it wasn’t as deeply emotional as I was expecting, so I liked it but wasn’t overwhelmed unfortunately.

 

Buy it? This is one I’d borrow or pick up on a deal.
In a nutshell: All in all a good read, but didn’t have the impact I was expecting.

 

Other Reviews of Apple and Rain: Fluttering Butterflies | YA Midnight Reads | Reading Lark

One StarOne StarOne Star