Audiobook Review: The Hobbit

The Hobbit

The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Although I’ve always been an avid reader, I was not introduced to Tolkien until the Lord of the Rings series was made into movies. I watched the movies in absolute awe and rushed out to buy the books. However, the books were drab and boring in comparison. It’s not often I enjoy the movie more than the book, but in this case it was 100% true.

Tolkien’s writing style put me to sleep! I didn’t finish the books and got rid of them, vowing never to read anything else by this author…and I’ve kept that vow.

Then, last year, G arrived home from the library with an audiobook version of The Hobbit. I didn’t have time to listen to it then, and wasn’t overly keen to make time either, but he kindly converted it to mp3 so that I could listen to it when I was able.

Time became available at the beginning of this week. My thought was…I’m too tired to read or do anything else on the train in the morning, so I could sit with my eyes shut and listen to the story. If it was boring – and I was certain it would be – I could let my mind wander, just like I do any other morning. No big loss.

Early on Monday morning, iPod Touch clutched in my hand, I settled back, touched “play” and closed my eyes. Two hours later, I almost missed my stop – which has never happened before. No, I didn’t fall asleep. Yes, I was engrossed in the story…and I was enjoying it.

I wish I knew the reader for this audiobook, because he was excellent. He made the experience entertaining by using different voices and accents for different characters. He used music and some sound affects to help set the mood in certain scenes and he knew how to deliver tension and pace effectively. I also wish I knew if the reading was abridged or not. At a guess, I’d say it was but that was fine by me.

I’m glad I took the time to listen to this story, or this version of the story anyway. It surpassed my expectations. Highly recommended.

eBook Review: Rowan of the Wood

Rowan of the Wood

Rowan of the Wood by Christine Rose

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Rowan of the Wood is an enjoyable story about a young boy dealing with life as a foster child. He escapes his unloved life by reading fantasy stories, but one day he finds himself in a situation that is confusing and dangerous when all the elements of one of his stories finds him in real life.

Meanwhile, a second story is unfolding. A story of legends, myths, witches and vampires. We move through the centuries with another character, a woman who is desperate to find her lost love and will do anything to stay alive long enough to find him.

The story is written in a way that held my attention, but as a writer I could see its flaws. Firstly, there’s a lot of telling rather than showing. However, most of the time I was comfortable with this as the telling was mostly done in a storyline that covered about 1400 years and I appreciate how hard it would be to “show” all that passed during that time. Secondly, although the author has noted the intended audience as “young adult”, I felt the age of the young boy – a 12 year old – together with the book cover shown actually targets a younger audience…and the content is not suitable for the younger age group (in my opinion). This could have been easily resolved by increasing the age of young Cullen to about 15 or 16. Thirdly, there are many similarities between Cullen and Harry Potter – so many, in fact, that I found it distracting at times because I felt as if Harry was the model used when Cullen was created. Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know, but I think it’s a shame that Cullen didn’t come across as his own person.

These things aside, I enjoyed the story. The characters fit together well and their motivations were realistic. I found that the author’s writing style was easy to read for long periods of time without becoming fidgety. In fact, I finished the book in a very short period of time and have already started the second book.

This book is recommended to readers who have a mature mind, a young heart and enjoy books about never ending love and adventure.

eBook Review: MageSign

MageSign by Alan Baxter

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

MageSign is the sequel to RealmShift, both written by Alan Baxter.

Being the second book in a set, I expect more from the story and the author…and I got both.

We return to Isiah three years later. Nothing much is happening in his life, so he decides to check out something that had been bothering him since the death of his old enemy, Samuel Harrigan. What starts out as a simple errand type job, becomes a nightmare filled with gods, sorcerers, demons, witches and a ninja type figure that proves quite a distraction.

I was pleased to revisit the setting and find familiar faces, I was even more pleased to discover that the author’s writing style has improved tenfold. MageSign isn’t a “shoot ’em up” storyline like the first book (which, I should add, was fast paced and kept the pages turning), but a more realistic storyline with more suspense and tension (even a touch of sexual tension, which was unexpected). And…where Realmshift had a complicated religious thread which slowed the story down, MageSign doesn’t have that problem. I found the flow to be almost seamless, which means I could get into the story and stand right beside the characters and stay there. I find this experience improves everything about reading – my enjoyment triples and my reading time becomes more involved and less fidgety too.

MageSign is slower paced, but that doesn’t mean the story is lacking, because it isn’t. The suspense builds to such a degree that you can almost feel the pressure accumulating within Isiah when he finally faces the antagonists of the story. This tension is what forces the reader to keep turning the pages. It’s not only essential to find out what’s going to happen next, it is of the utmost importance to witness the final battle between good and evil — because, as I saw on a TV show recently, “Evil triumphs, when good men do nothing”. When I saw that phrase, it made me think of MageSign.

Truly a good story, written with a strong voice. Highly recommended.