Audio review: Loyal Creatures

Loyal Creatures

Loyal Creatures by Morris Gleitzman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Like many of his mates from the bush, Frank Ballantyne is keen to join the grand adventure and do his bit. Specially as a chest full of medals might impress the currently unimpressed parents of his childhood sweetheart. So Frank ups his age and volunteers with his horse Daisy…and his dad.

In the deserts of Egypt and Palestine he experiences all the adventure he ever wanted, and a few things he wasn’t expecting. Heartbreak, love and the chance to make the most important choice of his life.

From Gallipoli to the famous charge at Beersheba, through to the end of the war and its unforgettable aftermath, Frank’s story grows out of some key moments in Australia’s history.

They were loyal creatures, the men and horses of the Australian Light Horse, but war doesn’t always pay heed to loyalty. This is the powerful story of a young man’s journey towards his own kind of bravery.

My review: At a whim I looked for a book about animals, because I wanted to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I came across this one. Years ago I had a huge involvement with horses and decided this would be the book I would read next (or listen to, in this case). I didn’t read the blurb. I knew nothing about the storyline. I picked the book purely because of the horse on the cover.

The book turned out to be about the Australian horses sent overseas during WWI. Specifically, a breed of horse called walers, which were sturdy, hardy horses, able to travel long distances in hot weather with little water.

Loyal Creatures is about a young (under age) boy and his horse, who join the Australian Light Horse and go to Egypt, and later to Gallipoli. The boys innocence and the horse’s loyalty are touching. Their adventure together is something to be proud of and memorable, yet filled with heartbreak. The boy soon grows up as he faces the reality of war, death and having to make hard decisions.

This is a story of fiction, but it is easy to believe that it could have happened to a boy of the same age in real life. The character’s are vivid, believable, complete. The story was the same.

With ANZAC day just around the corner, I must remind everyone to remember those who gave their lives for us, including all the animals, not just the horses. Recommended.

Book Reviews: Ghosts, Plague & more

I have become slack with my reviews of late. In fact, I look back and find that I have not written a book review since August 2018. In my own defense, I have been working on releasing Domino Effect, so that is why there has been a lack of posts. However, I look at the books I haven’t reviewed and feel it’s “too hard” to write proper reviews now. Translate this to “too lazy”. 😀

So, I have decided to write a single post with mini reviews instead. Here goes:

Audio Book: Ghost Story by Jim Butcher

Ghost Story (The Dresden Files, #13)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read many of this author’s work–in fact, this is the second book. I enjoyed the first one (which was a paperback), but not enough to continue with the series. However, this time I listened to the audio book and really enjoyed it. Listening to a story unwind is sometimes much better than reading words on a page. This is especially true for me when I can’t seem to get into a story. Ghost Story was exciting. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know the back story. I could easily figure out who was who; and what was happening.

I’m not sorry I tried this author again. Recommended..

eBook Review: Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator (Gilda Joyce, #1)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoy books for younger readers. Sometimes I find I can indulge my inner child and just take it as it comes. However, whilst this book was okay, it wasn’t enthralling. I wanted it to be. But it didn’t quite make it for me. A younger reader will probably love it, but I don’t think I’ll be reading more in this series. I might, just to see how the next book goes, but not right now.

eBook Review: The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters

The Turn of Midnight (Black Death, #2)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book 2 of the Black Death duo. I loved the first book and I loved the second book. Honestly, I felt as if the author took me into the past and I was living the events I was merely reading. Even the fact that I read the first book ten months prior to the second book, did not diminish the story line or the experience for me. The fact that I have a huge fascination about the plague or black death certainly helped, but these books were more than about that. They were gritty, suspenseful and brilliant.

I cannot recommend these books enough. Read them…now. 😀

Book Review: At Home with the Templetons by Monica McInerney

At Home With the Templetons

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read one other book by this author. It was some years ago, and whilst it was okay it didn’t make me run out and buy more books by her. This one was given to me by a dear friend. My friend often gives me books, but this is the only one she has ever pointed to and said “you have to read that one, it’s brilliant”. I’ve known my friend for over 30 years, so that comment made me put the book on my reading list.

When I first started reading, I didn’t think I would get into it. But the characters drew me in. And before I knew it, I was hooked. I wanted to know what was going to happen and the pages turned quickly.

Part two of the book didn’t hold me as much, but just as I started to pull away from the story, part three commenced and I was hooked again. If you like books about family, friendship, lies and love, then give this a try. I think you’ll like it.

Audio Book Review: The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1)
by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Blurb: This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands, Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he has to decide which side he is on. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the magical fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure – based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors, depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England altogether. This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

My Review: This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by Bernard Cornwell. The reason? I’m not a great lover of “the great battle scene” and I’ve always felt the author would go there. Now I know for certain that he does. But…listening to battle scenes is much different to reading them. And listening to battle scenes in this story was a new experience for me. A good experience.

I enjoyed the story and the characters. I know it was based on history, how much so I don’t know, but it was well written. I must admit that I found it difficult to keep track of the characters because of their strange (similar sounding) names. However, I worked out the ones that matter and became totally engrossed in the plot.

The other thing that surprised me was the realisation that I don’t read many books written by men. It has never been intentional, but during this book I discovered I liked the different style of writing I found here. It’s hard to explain, but for me, it was a nice change of pace. It was gritty, no holding back, masculine. Don’t mess with me. Simply gripping. I will be listening too the next two books for sure.

Audio Book Review: 13 Treasures

13 Treasures13 Treasures (Thirteen Treasures #1)
by Michelle Harrison
Narrator: Nicola Barber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: While visiting her grandmother’s house, an old photograph leads Tanya to an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods nearby – a girl Tanya’s grandmother will not speak of. Fabian, the caretaker’s son, is tormented by the girl’s disappearance. His grandfather was the last person to see her alive, and has lived under suspicion ever since. Together, Tanya and Fabian decide to find the truth. But Tanya has her own secret: the ability to see fairies. Can it help them to unravel the mystery? Soon they are facing terrible danger. Could the manor’s sinister history be about to repeat itself?

My Review: Again, I only picked this up from the library because I liked the cover. So, yes, covers are important and will get authors new readers; or in this case, listeners.

Firstly, I want to comment on the narrator. She was excellent. Her voice suited the story and the main character. Her narration held me to the story, just as much as the author’s writing. And I think it’s important to mention that.

The main character in this book is 13, which suggests the book is written for younger readers. However, it felt to me that she was more mature and sophisticated. Half the time, I forgot Tanya was only thirteen. That doesn’t mean that I think young people are not or cannot be mature and sophisticated, it means that the story (I feel) will appeal to young adult, and even adults too.

The supporting characters are placed well and compliment the main character. The plot was well thought out and kept me guessing. The mystery was realistic and believable. In fact, I enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I would. I will definitely be looking for the next book in the series. And I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading books filled with mystery, adventure, and fantastical elements.

Highly recommended.

Audio Book Review: I’ll Walk Alone

I'll Walk AloneI’ll Walk Alone (Alvirah and Willy #8)
by Mary Higgins Clark
Narrator: Jan Maxwell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It’s strange, but the books I would not read, I enjoy listening to. I don’t get why that is the case, but I’m discovering new authors and books as a result, so it’s a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.

Blurb: Thirty-year-old Alexandra Moreland, a prominent interior designer, already heartbroken at the disappearance of her toddler, Matthew, in Central Park two years earlier, now is facing a different tragedy. She is about to be indicted for identity theft and is considered a “person of interest” in the murder of a woman she barely knew. What she cannot surmise is that she has become the target of a vicious plot to destroy both her sanity and her life.

My Review: I didn’t realise this was book eight until this very moment, as I was about to write the review. With that in mind, I have to admit that I had no idea there have been seven previous books. And to me, that is a good thing because it makes this book a stand alone story.

I listened to the audio version of the book. The narrator was excellent; easy to listen to and very clear.

This story itself was good to listen too. Predictable. Pleasant. Comfortable. Easy listening while driving to and from work. Even though I knew where it was going, I was keen to keep listening. I did feel that in all honesty, the plot was too convenient in places, but I let that go and just tried to enjoy the moment. I certainly didn’t regret picking this audio book up from the library and I would listen to more from the author.