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.

eBook review: The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane

The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane (A fairy fantasy for kids ages 9-12)

The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane by Elena Paige

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: A magical house. A secret past. And an awful decision. Will she claim her destiny… or save her sister?
Twelve-year-old Chia is blind and toils in the mines digging up diamonds for her evil stepmother, Priscilla. Her only thought is to rescue her twin sister Viola from a life at the palace.

Everything changes when a mysterious woman transports Chia to 66 Lilly Pilly Lane, a magical house where wondrous creatures live. To her delight, she’s no longer blind! With an entourage at her side and magic at her fingertips, it’s time to rescue Viola from Priscilla’s clutches and start a new life elsewhere.

The trouble is, her new friends claim Viola is not as innocent and helpless as she seems…

Come on a magical adventure to discover The Splendid Secrets of 66 Lilly Pilly Lane, a middle-grade novel that will entertain and delight even the most reluctant of readers.

My review: This book is a story that I may have missed out on, which would have been a shame because I loved it. The characters are “different” and by that I mean you will read about people interacting with animals, trees, statues and even a house. Yet each character has a distinct personality and has a way of planting themselves in your mind so that you think nothing of a tree offering you breakfast.

The book is a magical, delightful story where the main lesson (in my opinion) is doing what makes you happy — not doing things for other people. At first, I had an issue with the premise as I believe it is important that our children are taught to be helpful and supportive of each other. It took a while for me to understand, and for the main character to understand, that the author was trying to say (again, in my opinion) that sometimes by helping ourselves, we help others. And that while we should always consider others, we must do what is right for us first. Sacrificing yourself is noble, but is it the right option to take.

And then a real-life situation occurred and I found myself saying “we can try to help her, but she needs to want to be helped”, and that’s when I realised what the author was trying to say without saying it.

Young readers will enjoy the adventure of Chia and her best friend, Pip. The story will allow their minds to open to all possibilities, but a few younger readers might find some scenes a little scary. However, the majority will love the opportunity to become lost in Chia’s world.

Recommended. I will check out other books by this author now that she’s on my radar.

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

Audiobook review: Dark is the Moon

Dark Is the Moon

Dark Is the Moon by Ian Irvine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Rulke the Great Betrayer is free at last, to use the deadly construct he has spent a thousand years perfecting. To succeed he needs just one thing Karan’s sensitive talent. Karan and her lover Llian are lost in the Nightland, in an alien palace that is collapsing around them. Only Rulke can open the gate and send them home to Santhenar, but Karan is terrified that he will corrupt Llian first. Yggur and Mendark, sworn enemies, struggle to tame the power of the rift. They must seal the gate before Rulke brings forth his construct. If they fail he will ravage the world. And if they succeed, Karan and Llian will be trapped in the Nightland for eternity.

My review: Sorry to sound like a broken record but, again, if I had to “read” the books, I would have abandoned the series. For this series, in my opinion, audio is better.

If you have read the first two books, you know what to expect and don’t need to read reviews. I guess the thing that annoys me the most is the long, dry spells in the story. You know what I mean, the long periods of time when nothing much happens. Yet I listened every day and do not regret that decision or action.

The Llian and Karran relationship seems to be smoothing out to feel more realistic now. I am not totally convinced of their feelings for each other, but they seem to be finding their way. Perhaps that’s how it is for some couples.

By the end of this book, we are getting a better understanding of the characters and how they might fit together. There are clues as to those who might have been deceitful and those who could have been wronged.

Good and evil can be a hazy business and I suspect that is the case within this story.

I don’t have much more to say, except I am going to finish the series. I’ve invested a lot of time already and want to know how it comes together.

eBook review: A Crafty Crime

A Crafty Crime (A Stoneybrook Mystery, #1)

A Crafty Crime by Eryn Scott

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Hadley James is finally living the life she’s always wanted: making jam and selling it at the local farmers market. When a cat-sitting job turns into a murder investigation, life no longer seems so perfect.

Her twin brother, a deputy sheriff, is on the case but they’ve always done everything together and she can’t help but get involved. Following a trail of crafty clues, the James twins learn that their sleepy town might be harboring more darkness than they could’ve imagined.

My review: I started reading this book in May and finished it in September. That possibly tells you everything. It certainly does me and explains the three-star rating.

I cannot put my finger on what was wrong, but I felt as if I had to drag myself through the pages. In all honesty, I did abandon it at one stage and then thought “no, I want to finish it” and returned to the story.

It’s a cozy mystery book so it makes sense that the main character, her twin brother and best friend set out to solve a murder in their town. However, a side theme in the book dealt with all things craft, such as making jam, knitting, painting. I love craft so I was fine with that too. However, the side theme wasn’t weaved into the storyline well enough (in my opinion). Because of that, I believe the craft side of the storyline distracted from the murder side. This meant that I wasn’t able to become totally absorbed by the mystery and basically I lost interest in the whole thing.

The author’s writing is good. The workings of the mystery and how it came together was good. But putting it all together didn’t quite work for me.

Book review: The Book of Three

The Book of Three (The Chronicles of Prydain, #1)

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Taran wanted to be a hero, and looking after a pig wasn’t exactly heroic, even though Hen Wen was an oracular pig. But the day that Hen Wen vanished, Taran was led into an enchanting and perilous world. With his band of followers, he confronted the Horned King and his terrible Cauldron-Born. These were the forces of evil, and only Hen Wen knew the secret of keeping the kingdom of Prydain safe from them. But who would find her first?

My review: I borrowed this book from the library. What a gem! I am a kid at heart and love easy to read, adventure-filled, “good” stories. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered this book was actually written in the 1950s. Who would have known? Not I. It felt modern and fresh to me.

I loved the characters. They felt whole and real. They complimented each other. Each had their quirks, which made them stand out and enjoyable.

The plot was entertaining with its evil twists and turns. The world, the scenery, the storyline and the characters fit together like a well-worn glove. Honestly, I loved reading this book and recommend all young at heart read it.

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.

eBook Review: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . . Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

My review: I was searching my local library ebooks and discovered this one. There was something about the cover and the blurb that pulled me in. I borrowed it and started reading immediately and read half the book in one sitting. And the second half of the book in a second sitting.

It’s the story of a china rabbit. He’s a bit stuck up, putting himself above all others. But life teaches him a lesson, and he learns what’s important in life.

I enjoyed this story. It was short and easy to read. I especially liked that it held my total attention while reading. However, more than that, it spoke to my heart and made me ‘feel’. It left me with blurred vision and the need to tell my loved ones that I love them. The author did an exceptional job writing this story. I recommend this book.