Audiobook review: The Tower on the Rift

The Tower on the Rift (The View from the Mirror Series, #2)

The Tower on the Rift by Ian Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: War rages across Santhenar as Aachim, Faellem and old humans pursue the Mirror of Aachan. A desperate Tensor, leader of the Aachim people, flees with it into the wilderness, taking the brilliant young chronicler Lilan with him. Only Karan can save him, though she’s not sure that she can help herself. Tensor wants her dead, the other powers are hunting her for her sensitive talents, and Rulke the Charon broods over them all from his Nightland prison. The Twisted Mirror holds knowledge that the world can only dream about. How will Tensor use it in the final confrontation? Will Llian be seduced by it too? Or will the Mirror betray them all, in the end?

My review: Book 2 in the series. Again, I could not “read” the book, but as an audiobook, it was quite good. In fact, this volume of the series saw some action and movement in the storyline. We live in an instant world these days, and the plot for some fantasy books can be painful.

Llian and Karan’s relationship is one of those stop and go situations. Sometimes it is one of them doing the stoping. And other times it is what is happening around them. I can’t accept their relationship as being real though. Or perhaps “deep” is the word, I should have used. It feels superficial. That may be intended or not. I don’t know, but I suspect not at this stage of the story.

Thankfully, the world’s history is no longer a problem. It is assumed we know that after book one and I’m pleased to say that we do not have to read it again.

Reading over what I’ve written makes me think I’ve given the wrong star rating as it sounds like I don’t like the story or characters at all. Yet, despite all I’ve said, I have gone on and listened to book 3 and I’m halfway through book 4 so something must have kept my attention.

Audio review: A Shadow on the Glass

A Shadow on the Glass (The View from the Mirror, #1)

A Shadow on the Glass by Ian Irvine

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Once there were three worlds, each with their own human species. Then, fleeing out of the void came a fourth species, the Charon. Desperate, on the edge of extinction, they changed the balance between the worlds forever.

Karan, a sensitive with a troubled heritage, is forced to steal an ancient relic in repayment of a debt. It turns out to be the Mirror of Aachan, a twisted, deceitful thing that remembers everything it has ever seen. At the same time, Llian, a brilliant chronicler, is expelled from his college for uncovering a perilous mystery. Thrown together by fate, Karan and Llian are hunted across a world at war, for the Mirror contains a secret that offers each species survival, or extinction.

My review: I’ve given it a lot of thought and decided that I could not have finished this book if I had read it. However, for me, listening to certain types of books is different.

My biggest issue was that parts of the storyline, especially the world’s history, were drawn out. Too lengthy for me. To be honest, I didn’t want to know in that much detail. Some people do, and you can’t please everyone. I realise that typically, fantasy books are inclined to do that, but it’s not something I enjoy (any more). Lengthy descriptions of any type are boring.

That aside, after some listening, I grew attached to Llian and Karan. And to be frank, I wanted to know what adventure they would experience. Llian can be a bit annoying, but I’m sure he’ll grow into someone worthy by the end of the series. We all have our ways, and we learn from experience. Llian hasn’t had it easy, but I wouldn’t say he’s had a hard life either. At least he had a roof over his head and had some semblance of normality.

In comparison, Karan’s life was harder and lonelier, which gives her the tools to look after herself in a world about to go to war (mostly). The two together manage to figure out what to do to survive.

Of course, other characters upset their plans. Some help them, some are loyal, and others betray. The mix makes for an interesting story (once all the description is pushed aside).

I’m halfway through book 2. Persevere, it gets better.

Audio Review: Polly

Polly (Edwardian Candlelight Series, Book 1)

Polly by M.C. Beaton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Polly was a bewitching young girl, that pretty Polly Marsh, and she knew it…

Polly also knew that beauty could be her passport into the castles where she had always known she belonged. So she set her sights for a duke and joined the firm of Westerman’s as a stenographer. Surely one of that noble family would notice her and then all of her dreams would come true! The trouble with Pretty Polly Marsh was that she just didn’t know her place. But others did, and were only too happy to remind her that dashing Lord Peter was merely playing at love when he appeared to be paying her court.

My review: This is the first book I’ve read by the author, and I believe she goes by several names and I haven’t read any books by any of the them. I do, however, have a couple of cozy mysteries by M.C. Beaton on my bookshelf, so I thought I was reading a cozy mystery when I started this book. I soon realised that this was not a mystery, it is an historical romance. But that wasn’t a problem.

Polly is a social climber. She is ashamed of her cockney family. She wants more, better. And she believes she deserves it. She falls in love with a duke and sets her sights on marrying him, but is it real love. That’s the real question.

The character’s are humorous. And I must say at this point that the narrator, Emma Powell, certainly played a part in bringing them to life. She did an excellent job of narrating the story. I could picture this book as a romantic comedy movie, to be honest. You know the type I mean, the ones you sit and watch on a cold, rainy afternoon to cheer yourself up.

In all honesty, I didn’t find anything about the book fabulous or unforgettable, as the plot was quite simple really. Nothing spectacular there. I’m not even sure the historical parts were accurate. But all that aside, I did find the characters and storyline entertaining. I enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who wants a light read that will bring a smile to their face.

Audio Book Review: The Shack

The Shack

The Shack by William P. Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Horror of horrors, I came to the end of my knitting supplies and have nothing to fill my morning train ride hours. No, I can’t write. I’ve tried it and I’m too sleepy to be able to focus. Besides that, my eyes water like crazy, which is more than a little annoying and I was arriving at work looking as if I’ve cried all the way because my eyes were so red and puffy. Not a good start to the day, I can tell you. Yet I find I can knit and not suffer any “side affects”.

After some complaining, I woke one morning to find a small mp3 player sitting on the kitchen table, along with a spare battery. Upon querying why the device was there, I was told that an audio book borrowed from the library had been converted and loaded onto the player and that I was to take it with me on the train. I did. It’s not the first audio book I’ve listened too, but it’s the first time I’ve realised that I can listen to a book without “side affects” too. Yay!

The Shack is a story of a man whose six-year old daughter is taken and murdered, while the family is on a camping trip, and then goes on to tell the anguish that follows the tragic event – emotionally and spiritually. When G borrowed the item from the library and when I first started listening to the story, neither of us knew it was religious. By the time I did realise, I had already grown attached to the main character and his problems (I could identify with him because of my own loss) and I wanted to know more. I wanted to know if this man, this father, could get through the darkness that I knew so well…so I kept listening.

Yes, this story is highly religious and my one complaint is that at times the dialogue felt more like a sermon than a discussion, which really grated on my nerves. Yet at the same time, I was drawn in and held tight by the ideas behind the sermons. I guess I even found comfort in those ideas to a degree. So, again, I kept listening.

This book was written to get those religious thoughts across to an audience. I know and accept that. Prior to 18th May 2006, I wouldn’t have listened to the entire book because I simply don’t like being preached at and to be honest I wouldn’t have related to the characters and events at all. But I’ve changed…in many ways. I didn’t like the preachy parts, but I sat and listened and was completed absorbed in what was being said. I was touched by the emotional struggle the father was battling, enough to bring tears. I remained oblivious to the comings and goings of other passengers. I was oblivious to everything happening around me. In fact, when I turned off the player and looked around I was shocked to see so many people seated around me when I had been completely alone when I pressed play.

This isn’t a book I would feel comfortable recommending to others because not everyone will get something from it. It’s a book that the reader should read if they have experienced troubled times, if they know grief and if they want to attempt understanding just one possibility of the whole picture. It’s a book I believe will pull a reader/listener in, but only if that person can relate to profound grief and emotional stress.

Religious or not, I’m glad I listened to this audio book because I gained something from it.

Book Review: The Hobbit

Originally posted on another site on 22 April 2010.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I’ve always been an avid reader, I was not introduced to Tolkien until the Lord of the Rings series was made into movies. I watched the movies in absolute awe and rushed out to buy the books. However, the books were drab and boring in comparison. It’s not often I enjoy the movie more than the book, but in this case it was 100% true.

Tolkien’s writing style put me to sleep! I didn’t finish the books and got rid of them, vowing never to read anything else by this author…and I’ve kept that vow.

Then, last year, G arrived home from the library with an audiobook version of The Hobbit. I didn’t have time to listen to it then, and wasn’t overly keen to make time either, but he kindly converted it to mp3 so that I could listen to it when I was able.

Time became available at the beginning of this week. My thought was…I’m too tired to read or do anything else on the train in the morning, so I could sit with my eyes shut and listen to the story. If it was boring – and I was certain it would be – I could let my mind wander, just like I do any other morning. No big loss.

Early on Monday morning, iPod Touch clutched in my hand, I settled back, touched “play” and closed my eyes. Two hours later, I almost missed my stop – which has never happened before. No, I didn’t fall asleep. Yes, I was engrossed in the story…and I was enjoying it.

I wish I knew the reader for this audiobook, because he was excellent. He made the experience entertaining by using different voices and accents for different characters. He used music and some sound affects to help set the mood in certain scenes and he knew how to deliver tension and pace effectively. I also wish I knew if the reading was abridged or not. At a guess, I’d say it was but that was fine by me.

I’m glad I took the time to listen to this story, or this version of the story anyway. It surpassed my expectations. Highly recommended.