Audio review: Redwall

Redwall by Brian Jacques

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve meant to read this book for many years. I’ve owned the paperback (twice) and then donated them as I needed to pack up and move (and I have way too many books). But this year I’ve been scanning my local library’s elibrary for new audiobooks and came across Redwall again. This time I decided to stop procrastinating and get listening.

I expected to love it, but unfortunately, found it annoying for the most part. I didn’t like the constant joking around. I couldn’t connect with the book, or maybe the characters. The interaction between the characters felt wrong somehow. Honestly, I can’t put my finger on what I found wrong with it.

Many readers love it, and I don’t want to take anything away from the author for that. I might read the second book to see if it captures my imagination more, but don’t know when that will be.

I’ll leave you to decide if you like it or not.

Audio review: Children of the Famine Trilogy

I recently listened to all three books in the Children of the Famine trilogy, and have decided to write a review for all three in one post.

Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although this book is written for children and the main characters are children, I had trouble associating the book for children. It felt and read like a book written for adults about children.

For a classic, I wonder why I had never heard of the book, or the series (Children of the Famine) before I spotted the cover in my local elibrary for download.

Putting these two things aside, Under the Hawthorn Tree captured my attention. It’s a brilliantly crafted work set in the mid 1800s (I believe) and tells the story of the Great Potato Famine. Of course, I had heard of the famine but knew very little about it. The author painted a clear, believable image of how the people lived and suffered during what must have been a terrifying time.

Eily, Michael and Peggy are the three children in the story. They find themselves alone and desperate when their mother leaves them to look for their father. When things turn sour, the three decide to travel across Ireland to find their great aunts. It’s a story of love, courage, determination and desperation.

It is difficult not to put yourself in their little shoes and wonder if we had to do the same, would we manage, let alone survive?

It’s a heart-warming story, filled with scenarios I never hope to experience. Recommended.

Wildflower Girl by Marita Conlon-McKenna

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The sequel to Under the Hawthorne Tree, Wildflower Girl, is told from Peggy’s point of view. She’s the youngest of the three children.

Seven years have passed, Peggy is now 13 years old, and many Irish have left their country to make a new life elsewhere. Eily is to be married, and Michael has found his dream job as a stable boy. There are few jobs to be had, and Peggy fears she will always be nothing more than a helper for her older sister, Eily. So when the opportunity arrives to go to America, Peggy is keen, but her siblings are not. She wins the argument and goes on her own.

The book tells the story of hope, dreams, hardship and mistreatment. The story moves fast and gives a good account of the travel by ship from Ireland to Boston.

Once in America, Peggy is on her own and must find a way to support herself. Again, I cannot imagine anyone her age starting an adventure of this kind. I would be terrified the entire time. But, the thing is, young people of that time did emigrate to another country.

Recommended.

Fields of Home by Marita Conlon-McKenna

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fields of Home is my favourite book in the series, and as far as I’m concerned, a book written for adults about children, who are no longer children.

Six or seven years have passed, and the children have grown up. Peggy, the youngest, is around 19 and she is still working as a maid. Michael is still a stable boy in the Great House in Ireland. Eily is married with two children of her own and living on a farm with her husband and Great Aunt Nano.

While the story has heartbreak and struggling, hope is strong, and the siblings still show signs of strength. The story is told from all three points-of-view. We see how the carpet is pulled out from beneath all of them and then witness how they pull their lives back together. The siblings help each other even though they have barely anything to give. It warmed my heart to read this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it for so many reasons, but the most important is love.

Recommended.

Audio review: Esme’s Wish

Esme's Wish

Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished this book a while ago, but have had two deaths in the family in the last month. Things are a bit all over the place and writing reviews has not been a priority at the moment.

Esme’s Wish is an in-between book. It’s not really a children’s book, but isn’t fully a young adult book.

I liked the world the author created. It is fresh and different — the words clean and bright seem to come to mind, instead of dark and gloomy. And I found that refreshing.

I also liked the characters. Esme came across as confused and uncertain, but given her circumstances that was spot on. Her friends fell in beside her well, they both had their own strengths and weaknesses, and I could see that the three of them would work well together.

The author did a good job of transporting me into her world, and that is a big thing to accomplish. I could almost see and feel the water and the huge monuments. I took a walk around the market, following the three main characters, almost seeing what they saw.

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. I believe it’s enough to say that I enjoyed the book and will be looking for the next one soon, after things have settled down on the home front. Recommended.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Audiobook: The Testaments

The Testaments (The Handmaid's Tale, #2)

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is Book 2 in The Handmaid’s Tale. Book 1 had a voice that drew me in and kept me spellbound. Book 2 has a different voice, which I readily accepted because different characters tell the story.

I read some bad reviews before reading Book 2. Terrible reviews. However, I must disagree with them. The Testaments revisit some well-known characters and introduces new ones. It provides more back story and fills in blanks left at the end of Book 1.

For me, the book beckoned me back to it during the hours that I could not return to Gilead. Surprisingly, I identified with the story because of what’s happening in the world right now (COVID-19).

I guess, for me, Book 1 felt as it if was seeing Gilead from the inside, leaving me feeling oppressed and worthless. Offred had no hope and surrounded the reader, me, with that same feeling. The words must be powerful to have that effect.

However, Book 2 felt as if it saw Gilead from the outside looking in. By this, I mean we approach the story from a different angle. We see how a person can appear mean and nasty but are fighting the fight behind closed doors. We witness Gilead official’s weaknesses and their enemies. And, like in every down-trodden era, we discover brave people who are willing to stand and fight against the powers of the world.

What I’m trying to say is that Book 1 took hope away and Book 2 gives it back.

Personally, I think both books are brilliant, and I highly recommend both of them.

Audiobook: Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball: 1

Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball: 1 by Laura Ellen Anderson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My local library has added a heap of new content to their elibrary and I’ve been taking advantage of this.

The Amelia Fang series is written for the younger audience of 9+. Typically, I stay away from vampire stories but decided to give this one a go to see what I thought.

I admit the story is fast-paced. However, the characters and storyline didn’t appeal to me. Yet I believe the target audience will love the quirkiness and wit behind the main characters, as well as their crazy adventures.

I didn’t dislike the book but I’m not eager to search out the remaining books in the series. As I don’t have much else to say for this book, I’ll leave it for you decide if you like the series or not.

Audiobook: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written in the 1980s. Strangely, I had never heard of it until last year when some women at work were talking about the TV series. Their chatter caught my attention. I looked it up and discovered a book existed. I have not watched the series, but now I have read the book.

The book is brilliant.

The storyline is set in a possible near future when the world goes crazy, and instead of moving forward, we go sidewards and backwards.

The main character tells us about her life, then and now. The difference. The confusion. The wanting. The uncertainty. And the fear. I believe each reader will take from this book something different. For me, it told of a woman who beyond all else wanted to survive–and would do anything to achieve her goal. Yet she planned for failure too. She thought of ways to “escape”.

In her new world, who could be trusted? What was the truth? It would be scary to live her life.

Honestly, this book is worth reading. It makes you think long and hard about the world around us, about ourselves, and whether or not the author had a crystal ball. Unfortunately, I can see the handmaid’s life becoming real in some ways if we are not careful.

Recommended.

Audiobook: The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the early 1990s, I read the first three books of the Wheel of Time series. That’s almost 30 years ago, so I was not surprised to find I didn’t remember much. I did remember names and a basic storyline, but no details that scream at me while reading (or in my case, listen).

Back in the day, the thicker the book, the happier I was. However, these days, thick books turn me off reading them. Hence, the decision to revisit this series via audiobook. Audiobooks rock!

The Eye of the World has many characters. It can get confusing remember how they all fit together. I know the characters (as already mentioned), but if I didn’t, I believe I’d be craving more character development. Maybe, if this were the first time I’d read the book, a connection to the characters wouldn’t have taken place. Yet, a link must have taken place 30 years ago, or maybe I just made up my own characteristics for them (it’s a huge possibility). Who knows?

Anyway, I feel as if I know the characters and the rereading of this book was to reintroduce myself to the storyline, of which I remember very little. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it again now. It’s a typical fantasy story which moves the characters over vast continents of land looking for something or fleeing from someone (or both). The world is built on a strong foundation.

I look forward to finding out more in future books.

Sorry, this isn’t much a review. It’s more of a pouring out of thoughts that won’t make sense to you. But it makes perfect sense to me. 😀

I am going to listen to the entire series. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for some years and have now started on the journey. As I type this, I’m already twelve or so chapters into the next book.