Audiobook: The Wizards of Once

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure …

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn’t, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he’s got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods.

Xar doesn’t realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds collide and the fate of the land is changed forever.

Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring …

My review: WOW. This is such a good story. From the first page, I was totally in. In fact, I was so taken by the plot and the characters, that I simply couldn’t stay away from the book for long periods. That doesn’t happen often, and is certainly a positive sign that I loved the book.

The world the two main character’s live in is dark. Wish is a warrior girl with a secret. Xar is a wizard boy with attitude. They come from different sides in a world where they are taught from birth to hate the other side. But these two are thrown together and must conquer all. (I know that’s a pretty general comment, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they have to conquer.)

I love the two main character. And I have to say that Squeeze Juice is also a favourite of mine. The characters are so different, but so likeable. The story is so action-packed. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book.

I listened to the audiobook and I feel compelled to mention the narrator, David Tennant. He gave life to the characters and storyline. His reading was fantastic and I believe that added to my enjoyment of the book ten-fold.

This is the first of three books, I believe. I definitely will be listening to the rest of the series.

Highly recommended.

Ebook review: Windrider

Windrider by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: This story centres on Princess Betony, half human , half dryad. When the great dragon Windrider bewitches her father, King Max, she journeys to the high country to obtain his release. With the help of her friends, Basil and Clover, she tries to achieve her aim without changing into a wood-nymph.

My review: Book 2 in the Floramonde series for young readers (or the young at heart, like me).

The first book had a magical feel to it, that didn’t cross over to this book. However, that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t any good, because it is. This time, instead of the chapters telling many stories to make a whole, the entire book told a single story. Betony sets off to save her father, while her two best friends set off to save Betony from making a bargain she may regret.

In this book there is a dragon, magic, dealing with relationships (good and bad), and love. But the most important thing, in my opinion, is the theme that deals with the lengths we will go to to save those we cherish.

Recommended.

Ebook review: The Willow Tree’s Daughter

The Willow Tree’s Daughter by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: With a king for a father and a tree spirit for a mother, Betony is a reluctant princess who prefers the simple, outdoor life. This is the story of her life at the palace, her adventures with wizards, hobgoblins, unicorns and dragons, and her love for the gardener’s apprentice.

My review: A delightful story told in a fairy tale way, but with a twist. Each chapter felt like a stand alone story, but all the chapters together told the full story. The book is funny, moving and easy to read. There was a bit of everything, and something was always happening. It drew me in, and held me captive.

The characters are charming. I especially liked the main character’s strength. It’s good to find a princess who doesn’t need saving, and has a genuine connection with the people around her.

And there was even a bit of romance.

I’m glad I took a risk with this book. I’ll be reading more in the series. No doubt about that.

Recommended.

Audiobook: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Harry Potter has never even heard of Hogwarts when the letters start dropping on the doormat at number four, Privet Drive. Addressed in green ink on yellowish parchment with a purple seal, they are swiftly confiscated by his grisly aunt and uncle. Then, on Harry’s eleventh birthday, a great beetle-eyed giant of a man called Rubeus Hagrid bursts in with some astonishing news: Harry Potter is a wizard, and he has a place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. An incredible adventure is about to begin!

My review: I read the Harry Potter series many moons ago. I’ve seen the movies umpteen times. So why go back to Hogwarts again, after all these years? My response is, why not?

I’ve read, and I’ve watched the series. Now I intend to listen to it. At the risk of sounding tedious, I was looking for an audiobook from my local elibrary and couldn’t find anything that appealed to me. Then Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone magically appeared, and I made my decision.

I won’t tell you what the story is about, as I’m sure you already know. If you don’t, then I’d like to ask what deserted island have you been living on over the last two or so decades? Anyway, what I will tell you is that the movies pushed the details in the books to one side and I was amazed to discover all those little details that I had forgotten.

Stephen Fry reads the version I am listening to. He is excellent—top marks to Stephen.

I’m enjoying revisiting the world of Harry Potter (I’ve almost finished book 2). Recommended.

Audiobook: Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds

Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Step inside. Don’t look back. Forward is the only way. Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights meets Mad Max in this unforgettable blockbuster adventure about the world between worlds.

When a fierce quake strikes the remote island of Bluehaven, and her father disappears, Jane Doe is thrown headfirst into an epic quest to bring him home. 

But this ain’t no ordinary rescue mission. Her father is lost in a place between worlds; a dangerous labyrinth of shifting rooms, infernal booby traps and secret gateways. And Jane has to find him fast, because someone else is searching for him, too. A man who knows her father’s secrets. A man who has an army. 

With a pyromaniac named Violet and a trickster named Hickory by her side, Jane is about to discover that this adventure is even bigger on the inside than it looks… 

My review: Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds is another audiobook I found through my local library. Judged on the cover alone, I was intrigued enough to borrow the book. Then I discovered the author is Australian, which was a pleasant surprise. However, where the author is from actually doesn’t make a difference to me at all. A book is a book. A story is a story. But a good book with a good story is like finding gold.

And this is a good book. I enjoyed it from the first chapter.

Jane Doe lives in Bluehaven, and from the beginning, it’s clear that something is amiss. Jane and her dad, John, are treated poorly by the community. And there’s something peculiar about the Manor. Everyone is hiding something. Secrets are big in Bluehaven.

After a massive earthquake, Jane enters the Manor to save her father. She meets up with Hickory and her one and only friend, Violet. The trio is an awesome combination. But again, there are secrets and half-truths every which way Jane turns. Who can she trust, and can she locate her dad?

Of course, the Manor is no ordinary place and does not have regular occupants living there. Far from it. Jane must learn how to navigate the Manor without setting off the traps, and without being caught by creatures that want to kill her.

There’s lots of action. The three main characters are a strange combination, but they have their funny moments and are as crazy as anything. Something is always happening. Yet as the story progresses, the author allows the reader to find out bits of information to keep them anchored in the plot.

Male and female readers will enjoy this book. There’s something for everyone. I’ll be watching for book 2. I hope my library gets a copy soon.

Ebook 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.