eBook Review: The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules

The Princess Rules by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Princess Florizella may live in a classic fairy-tale world, but she’s no ordinary princess…

These three stories were originally published under the titles Princess Florizella, Princess Florizella and the Wolves and Princess Florizella and the Giant.

My review: I have read several books written by Philippa Gregory. I love them. When I saw this book in the library, I decided to give it a go. All the other books I’ve read were written for adults, and I realised this one is for young readers, but that never stopped me before.

The Princess Rules is three stories. A not-so-ordinary princess and her easy to get along with prince (and closest friend) tend to find trouble everywhere they go. Yes, these stories are fairy tales with a twist. They are charming and enjoyable. You’ll read about dragon, wolves and giants, and adventure at every turn. I found them to be a quick and easy read. Young children, especially young girls, will love them.

Audio: New Spring

New Spring (Wheel of Time, #0)

New Spring (Book 0) by Robert Jordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: For three days battle has raged in the snow around the great city of Tar Valon. In the city, a Foretelling of the future is uttered. On the slopes of Dragonmount, the immense mountain that looms over the city, is born an infant prophesied to change the world. That child must be found before the forces of the Shadow have an opportunity to kill him. Moiraine Damodred, a young Accepted soon to be raised to Aes Sedai, and Lan Mandragoran, a soldier fighting in the battle, are set on paths that will bind their lives together. But those paths are filled with complications and dangers, for Moiraine, of the Royal House of Cairhien, whose king has just died, and Lan, considered the uncrowned king of a nation long dead, find their lives threatened by the plots of those seeking power.

My review: My first review for 2020 and I’m happy for it to be the prequel to the Wheel of Time series, which is the series I intend to focus on this year. Of course, there will be other books read as well.

In the early 1990s, I read the first two or three books in the series (I can’t remember). To be honest, all I can remember was the name ‘Rand’ and the fact that I enjoyed them immensely.

New Spring was published long afterwards. Rand doesn’t make an appearance. However, as soon as I read two other names of characters I recognised straight away, I felt connected to the storyline. The more I read, the more that came back to me.

I was reminded that I enjoyed one of the books so much that I kept going back to it and reading sections that spoke to me. It will be interesting to see if I recognise those scenes.

The beginning of the prequel is a war scene, and I hate scenes filled with fighting. A whole chapter was not enjoyable. I had a vague knowledge of what to expect, so I kept reading. Unfortunately, some people might give up there, which would be a shame. The second chapter moved away from the war, and that’s where the story truly started for me. At that point, I was hooked. The book would have been better if it started with chapter two (and chapter one didn’t exist). But that’s just my opinion.

Besides the first chapter, the rest of the book was great. Moiraine and Lan are the two main characters. They are the two names I recognised. I enjoyed finding out where they began and how they came together. I won’t go into the storyline. Let us just say that I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the whole series.

eBook review: The Case of the Toxic River

The Case of the Toxic River (Miller's Island Mysteries, #1)

The Case of the Toxic River by Cindy Cipriano

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Grace Brooks is a total and unashamed nerd.

She loves her life, her friends, and her little dog Neutrino. That is until one day she’s uprooted to Miller’s Island, North Carolina, to start over as the new kid in school.

There she meets Jack, and they quickly bond over their love of science and all things nerdy. Together they embark on an epic adventure, travelling through time to solve the mystery of The Toxic River.

My review: My last review for 2019.

This book reminds me of a cozy mystery, but for younger readers. But this one has a twist. Time travel. I saw that mentioned in the blurb and instantly grabbed a copy. The two main characters, Grace and Jack, are right for each other. Nerds through and through. And there’s nothing wrong with being a nerd. I’m a bit of one myself, so I guess that’s why I related to them, regardless of the age difference.

I’m not much good at science, and to be frank, I have no idea if the science side of the mystery is based on anything remotely close to possible. But, I believed what I was told in the story. Not that I believe in time travel, but I don’t disbelieve it either. 😀

What I’m trying to say is that the author wrote the science part of the story in a way that sounded legit. Be honest, if you were a teenager in the 1970s and they (whoever “they” are) told you that you would be sending a letter through thin air rather than by post, would you have believed them? No way. Your looney alert would be going off, big time. But here we are in 2019, and that is precisely what we do. I don’t know anyone who posts a letter these days, we all send a text message or an email. So in another 40 years, maybe we will travel back and forward in time. Who knows!

I enjoyed The Case of the Toxic River. I enjoyed the blossoming relationship between the two main characters. And I think that if you read this book with an open mind, you will too. Recommended.

Audiobook: Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: A loving threesome, they ranged the dark hills and river bottoms of Cherokee country. Old Dan had the brawn. Little Ann had the brains, and Billy had the will to make them into the finest hunting team in the valley. Glory and victory were coming to them, but sadness waited too. Where the Red Fern Grows is an exciting tale of love and adventure you’ll never forget.

My review: Wow, I grabbed this from the library and really didn’t know what to expect. Honestly, all I knew was that the story was about a boy and his two dogs. Turns out the book was published in the early 1960s, but who would have guessed. It felt modern and timeless, even if the book was obviously set in years gone by.

The boy wanted a pair of hunting hounds and saved all the money he earned over a two year period in order to buy them. Old Dan and Little Ann became his precious dogs and the story unfolded showing how the boy trained those dogs to be the best raccoon-hunting team in the Ozark Mountains.

To be honest, I’m not a fan of hunting (hence the four stars instead of five). Some of the hunting scenes were too much for me (as in they were too long and descriptive, and I really didn’t want to know about it). However, that aside, the book is a good story. Young readers will learn that if they want something badly enough, they have to work to get it. That’s a lesson well learned in our “instant” world.

Be warned, this is a book about dogs and naturally, there will be moments that pull at the heartstrings. I found those scenes extremely difficult to listen to (I had the audiobook version); especially when I was driving. At one time, I had to turn the book off and continue later because it’s difficult to drive and cry at the same time. And dangerous.

Where the Red Fern Grows is a good story. Young boys will like it, and even young girls will enjoy the bond that develops between the boy and his hounds. Recommended.

eBook review: The Shield of Nike

The Shield of Nike (War on the Gods Companion Story #1)

The Shield of Nike by A.P. Mobley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Valeria is in love with her best friend, Greg, and has been for years. But they can’t be together, because after they graduate high school they’ll be on opposite sides of the country. This seems to be Valeria’s greatest dilemma—until a freak storm ambushes the two on a hike a few miles outside their town.

During the storm, Greg is injured, and a strange shield falls from the sky and knocks Valeria unconscious. When she wakes up, her whole world is turned upside down. Greg is missing, her town has been annihilated, deadly creatures roam, and the disembodied voice of a woman she knows nothing of talks to her from inside her own head.

The woman says Greg has been taken, but that Valeria can save him and survive the perils awaiting her if she harnesses the “gifts” she was given at birth, and if she uses the shield that fell from the sky. But how can Valeria trust a woman she’s never met?

She’ll have to rely on herself and face horrors she could never have imagined to save her best friend. And, in the process, discover her true identity.

My review: From the beginning, I was swept into the story and was eager to continue reading. A bit of greek mythology, together with an end-of-the-world theme and a touch of zombie fever, made this a good read. The writing style was easy to read. The two main characters blended well together.

My biggest dislike was the fact that the story was concise. By that, I mean extremely short. I finished it in two short sittings. I wanted more, and I guess that is a good sign.

The book is described as a companion story. I’m not sure what that means or how it relates to the War on the Gods series as I haven’t read any of the books. But, I hope Valeria and Greg take significant roles in the series otherwise I think I’ll feel a little ripped off.

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

eBook review: Camp Pain

Camp Pain (Travel Writer Mystery #1)

Camp Pain by Wendy Meadows

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Patricia always viewed the world from the end of her pen. Her feet hop from place to place; her exotic experiences are filling the pages faster than stamps on her passport. Someday, she aspires to land a big-time publishing deal.

At a stopover in Atlanta, she is shocked to discover the body of a local businessman, Peter, dumped in a camp in the outskirts of the city. For the first time, her wings are clipped as the lead detective; Brian Johnston launches an investigation into Peter’s death – firmly suspecting that cause of death was murder.

Patricia and Brian band together in his murder investigation, slowly uncovering leads to a shady underbelly behind Peter’s flashy ‘successful’ exterior, and the illicit dealings he was determined to keep from prying eyes. As the details begin to piece together, someone intends to step in and silence them. By any means necessary.

My review: This is a cozy mystery with a romantic sub-theme. I’ve been trying to mix it up a bit and felt like reading something more laid back. Strangely, something about this book appealed to me. Living in Australia, I know nothing about Atlanta, but the author gave me a good feel for the place (if what I read is true, that is). The main character is a travel journalist, who travels around the US in her RV. Sounds like a great job. But then she literally trips over a body and, hence, the mystery begins.

Two things irritated me. The first is the fact that Patricia, the writer, was invited to help investigate the murder, and that seemed rather far-fetched to me. It happened too quickly, too easily. The second thing was the lack of use of abbreviations in speech (i.e. I’m or don’t), which gave the characters a stilted, unnatural sound.

What I really liked was the romantic side of the story. In fact, I loved the attraction between Patricia and her love interest. I believe that was the storyline that kept me totally invested in this mystery book. I have my fingers crossed that the pair will find each other in future publications and find their happily ever after. I will be devastated if they don’t, but I guess I’ll have to keep reading the series to find out.

Audio review: The Way Between the Worlds

The Way Between The Worlds

The Way Between The Worlds by Ian Irvine

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: There is a dark full moon on midwinter’s day. The foretelling has come to pass. Rulke the Charon is unstoppable now. Karan is held captive in desolate Carcharon tower. Rulke plans to use her to find the Way between the Worlds. On the mountainside below, the allies await their fate. Karan’s lover, Llian, is in chains, falsely accused of betraying her to the enemy. As the dark moon rises, Rulke begins to open the Way. If he succeeds, the world will be overwhelmed by the dread armies of the void. There is only one solution. Karan must be the sacrifice…

My review: The Way Between the Worlds is the fourth, and final, book in The View from the Mirror series. I listened to the audio version of the quartet and admit that I had issues with the series, such as feeling it was too long. Still, now that I have finished it, I have no regrets investing the past few months to this story.

Being the final book, The Way Between the Worlds answers all the questions and ties up all the loose ends. This is to be expected, of course. I gave this book five stars because I enjoyed it the most. Something was nearly always happening. Wrapping up the storylines took a while, but I can walk away from the characters and the world knowing the outcome, and getting a sense of what their futures held.

The series, overall, was long. I keep saying it, too long. I believe the story could have been told in half the number of words. Then it would have been more contained, the action would have been increased, and the suspense would have been terrific. In my opinion, the perfect ingredients for a page-turner. Yet, while I feel that way, I still can’t say I didn’t like it. There was a lot to the plot, the characters, and the history that showed the author worked hard on planning the details. That’s impressive in itself.

I don’t know what else to say. I have wanted to read this series for many years, and now I have. I’m satisfied with that accomplishment. The View from the Mirror is a series that you will either like or not like. Only the reader can decide. This reader has decided that despite its downfalls, it’s a good series.

eBook review: The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)

The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Taran, the Assistant Pig-Keeper, and his friends are led into a mortal struggle with Arawn and his deathless warriors. Taran must wrest the black cauldron from them, for it is the cauldron that gives them their evil strength. But can he withstand the three enchantresses, who are determined to turn him and his companions into toads? Taran has not foreseen the awful price he will have to pay in his defence of Prydain.

My review: Like book 1 in the series, book 2 is a winner in my eyes.

It is wonderful to pick up a book and just fall into the story. The pages seem to turn themselves and the characters and plot play out in front of your eyes, with the reader feeling as if they are right there with them. This is how I see The Chronicles of Prydain books. Simply love them.

The characters are so much fun and if young readers are lost in the story, a parent can relax knowing they are being taught how to work together, be loyal, think of others and be self-assured. It’s important to recognise good and evil, but this book also reminds us that sometimes there is a grey area where we can go either way if pushed–yet we can be saved if offered help.

The author has a writing style that pulled me in and held my attention. The words flow with the storyline and characters. Highly recommended.