Audiobook: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale (The Handmaid's Tale, #1)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was written in the 1980s. Strangely, I had never heard of it until last year when some women at work were talking about the TV series. Their chatter caught my attention. I looked it up and discovered a book existed. I have not watched the series, but now I have read the book.

The book is brilliant.

The storyline is set in a possible near future when the world goes crazy, and instead of moving forward, we go sidewards and backwards.

The main character tells us about her life, then and now. The difference. The confusion. The wanting. The uncertainty. And the fear. I believe each reader will take from this book something different. For me, it told of a woman who beyond all else wanted to survive–and would do anything to achieve her goal. Yet she planned for failure too. She thought of ways to “escape”.

In her new world, who could be trusted? What was the truth? It would be scary to live her life.

Honestly, this book is worth reading. It makes you think long and hard about the world around us, about ourselves, and whether or not the author had a crystal ball. Unfortunately, I can see the handmaid’s life becoming real in some ways if we are not careful.

Recommended.

Audiobook: The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the early 1990s, I read the first three books of the Wheel of Time series. That’s almost 30 years ago, so I was not surprised to find I didn’t remember much. I did remember names and a basic storyline, but no details that scream at me while reading (or in my case, listen).

Back in the day, the thicker the book, the happier I was. However, these days, thick books turn me off reading them. Hence, the decision to revisit this series via audiobook. Audiobooks rock!

The Eye of the World has many characters. It can get confusing remember how they all fit together. I know the characters (as already mentioned), but if I didn’t, I believe I’d be craving more character development. Maybe, if this were the first time I’d read the book, a connection to the characters wouldn’t have taken place. Yet, a link must have taken place 30 years ago, or maybe I just made up my own characteristics for them (it’s a huge possibility). Who knows?

Anyway, I feel as if I know the characters and the rereading of this book was to reintroduce myself to the storyline, of which I remember very little. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it again now. It’s a typical fantasy story which moves the characters over vast continents of land looking for something or fleeing from someone (or both). The world is built on a strong foundation.

I look forward to finding out more in future books.

Sorry, this isn’t much a review. It’s more of a pouring out of thoughts that won’t make sense to you. But it makes perfect sense to me. 😀

I am going to listen to the entire series. This is something I’ve been meaning to do for some years and have now started on the journey. As I type this, I’m already twelve or so chapters into the next book.

eBook Review: Spooky Magic

Spooky Magic

Spooky Magic by Elena Paige

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Being the only witch at my school is the best thing ever! So when the new girl turns out to be a witch too, someone awful and horrid from my old life, you know there’s going to be trouble.

My review: I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first book.

Spooky Magic is the second book in a series for young readers. It is quick, fun and quirky. I especially liked the beginning and the end, but the middle felt chaotic to me. I found that when I put the book down, I procrastinated about picking it up again. But I eventually did and finished it today.

While the storyline was chaotic, I appreciated the lessons the book presented to the reader — friendship, jealousy, selfishness. I guess the author attempted to show that when we are focused on what’s happening to us, with no thought of others, then we can say and do wrong things. We can try and justify our actions, but it doesn’t change the fact that we were selfish. Anyway, I liked the way the author resolved the issues the main character was having. It made the book worth reading.

Young readers will enjoy the colourful main character and her offsiders, and the situations they find themselves in.

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

eBook Review: Secret Magic

Secret Magic (Evie Everyday Witch #1)

Secret Magic by Elena Paige

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: My name is Evie Everyday and I’m a witch. But all I’ve ever wanted is to be a Lamron. That’s the word normal spelled backward. Anyways, now I have the chance to go to a regular school and be a regular girl I’ll do whatever it takes to fit in.

Fitting in is easy. All I have to do is:

Keep my magic a secret Swap my favourite colourful clothes for boring black ones Suck up to scary Mrs Rogers, the school principal Keep my pet cat, bat and corncob from causing any trouble And stay away from Izzy. She’s all colourful and funny and awesome…. and not helpful for fitting in.

But when everything starts to go wrong, there’s only one way to save my new school…use magic. And only one person who can help me…Izzy!

My review: Books about witches are generally something I avoid. But this book is different because it’s for young readers. I knew it would be light-hearted and fun. Besides, I loved the colourful cover.

Young readers will love the mayhem of the main character, Evie. She’s different but doesn’t want to be. She wants what most of us want–to fit in and be accepted. As a result of this strong desire, Evie allows herself to be moulded into someone she’s not, at a significant cost to herself.

There is often a lot happening in this story. The terms weird, fun, and mayhem describe the characters and storyline the best, in my opinion. I believe young readers will enjoy what they read and will want to return to Evie’s life to see what she gets up to next.

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

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.