Audio Book Review, Book Reviews, Literature

Audio Book Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, narrated by Rob Goll

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“Oliver cried lustily. If he could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of church-wardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.”

…and so it begins, OLIVER TWIST, THE PARISH BOY’S PROGRESS by Charles Dickens

This cherished novel, one of Dickens’ most popular, is here rendered in audio format by Rob Goll.

Dickens’ vast cast of characters in this novel, from the lowliest orphan to the wealthiest and most influential, is brought to life perfectly by Goll. Every distinct accent and voice is suited to the figures which run through the work. Goll  uses an interesting technique of very effectively making Dickens’ narrator  into a sort of “character” unto himself. At the proper time, witty and sarcastic and ultimately serious, making this a riveting listen on all levels. I found it hard to pause as was necessary as to its length ( a bit over 17 hours). Several characters stand out, Mr. Bumble, whose name perfectly describes his character is read with a boisterous bluster. His interactions with other characters some of the standout parts of the narration.  Goll’s reading of Fagin also shines.  At times displaying a cunning persuasiveness, at other times firm, mysterious, angry, ultimately leading to the end and his final unraveling. As with Bumble,  Fagin, and all the characters, Goll displays a true talent for dramatic narration indicative of his theatrical training. At a time when many are being asked to stay at home, this work, a true classic of British Literature, proves a wonderful distraction.

Available here:

https://www.audible.com/pd/B077PMNXWV?action_code=SNGGBWS072717001P&ipRedirectOverride=true

 

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Book Reviews, Horror

Book Review: The Reddening by Adam L.G. Neville

 

 

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We know Adam Neville can write. His novels have put him at the top of the list of modern horror writers.  With “The Ritual” he set the bar higher for all who write this genre. His newest book “The Reddening” is a tour de force of visceral horror that seals his place as the premier contemporary horror writer. 

In “The Reddening”, Neville weaves together the ancient folklore, myth and the beautiful Devon region of England with gruesome horror. The countryside of Devon, above ground, a haven for hikers, campers and the like. What lies beneath the surface, however, in the tunnels and ancient caves, is a primeval force of epic proportion. 

It is brilliant characterization (two strong female characters, something we don’t always find in horror), horrific ritual detail and the way he beautifully describes the novel’s setting that created such a disturbing atmosphere, the type of writing that takes horror over the top and makes it what so many forget it is… literature. 

The dilemma this reader faced, as someone who has studied and researched ancient religions, is an age old question. Yes, our ancestors performed sacrifices and rituals for their survival in a world they didn’t fully understand. What can we say of modern folk who discover these practices, and what affect will it have on the modern mind? Neville’s characters are changed by their exposure, and it is those changes which are the ultimate horror of this story.

I give this novel 5 brilliant, blood red stars. 

Available here : https://amzn.to/2Q7WuFG

 

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Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Ashes of the Fae by Sophia LeRoux

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Sophia LeRoux’s  “Ashes of the Fae” took me back to one of my favorite childhood fairy tale creatures, the Hag. I was both repulsed and intrigued by that figure, still am today. This different take on paranormal nightmares is one thing which made this novel stand out for me. The heartbreak of children being abducted, with a writer who does not shy away from death. This makes for an emotional ride as we meet Leila and her daughter, Iris. Iris is taken and Leila descends into a deep depression, overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and inadequacy. Her decline is written so skillfully, that I had to step back at times from the emotion. Enter Maddox, an unusual investigator who seems to have a knack for finding children. As Leila asks for his help finding Iris, a bond grow between the two adults. This is an atypical Beauty and the Beast theme. The beauty who thinks she is anything but beautiful and a man who accepts his beastly nature at the risk of denying his human needs. The characters are vividly drawn and relatable. I fell in love with Maddox almost immediately for his gruff but endearing nature. Leila is a strong female lead, even with her emotional descent, her only thought is how to get her daughter back, and willingly puts herself in danger.

LeRoux’s skill as a writer is evident, a strong descriptive writer. I could see through her words vividly, everything from a child’s bracelet to a decaying, odorous monster.

This paranormal romance is that as well with erotic, well written sensual sex scenes.

An all-around pleasure to read, I highly recommend “Ashes of the Fae” and look forward to the next installment.

Ashes of the Fae is published by Kyanite Publishing and is available here: https://amzn.to/2SNYoKA

 

 

 

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Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: River by Ryan Lesli

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A Young Adult Standout

River will break your heart, will make you cheer, and will grasp your imagination like few YA novels can. Every teen and adult, who as a teen, felt alienated, isolated, and a bit of an outcast, will see themselves in River, the main character of this novel. Although this young woman’s experience takes her on a more esoteric journey than most of us, it is still that deep inward search that connected with this reader and at times made me stop, breathe and have to check my emotions.

 

Ryen Lesli’s  writing style is so completely unique. She has a thorough understanding of how a young adult thinks. While River has to adjust to a  new world populated by the Fair, (a magical race which she finds out she is as well), she is also working through having lived a human life away from the legacy of being a reluctant Fair princess. Lesli’s worldbuilding is strong, with the world of the Fair being within the human world and yet still  separate, magical and mystical. Worldbuilding is a difficult task, to write the juxtaposition of two worlds takes an uncommon talent and Lesli does it superbly. All of that combined with well drawn characters with depth and personality round  out the strengths of this novel. 

 

Then there is River. This character shines in the YA world. Lesli shows us a young woman of strength and vulnerability. A first love, betrayal, a mother who is less than understanding, finding friends lost and unremembered for most of her life, and losing the friends from her life as a human. Her literal transformation back to being a Fair is written powerfully and will move you. 

 

Parents with children at the younger part of the YA spectrum (YA is typically 12-18 years) might need to discuss some language or situations (although it is not anything they haven’t heard in other media), it does make this a great book to read together. The issues within are relevant to today and to most pre-teens and teens.

I highly recommend RIVER. It is an important work, portraying serious themes, and I am anxious to read more in what has been promised to be a series. 

RIVER can be purchased on Amazon and other retailers.

River (Beginning of the End) by Ryen Lesli https://www.amazon.com/dp/1949645339/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_5c9iDb65BN8MN via @amazon

 

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Book Reviews, Fantasy

Book Review: The Soulweb by Steven M Nedeau

(The Soulweb is Book One of the Soulweb Trilogy)

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The Soulweb is epic high fantasy at its finest. Technically perfect, superior world building and rich characterization all round out an intricate, yet readable and enjoyable plot. The story line includes the reluctant “am I really a King?” character, battles written so superbly that you can hear the steel on steel. The banality of martial tactics and maneuvers does not appear here as Nadeau’s use of dialogue exchanged, balances nicely with characters’ inner dialogue, giving the reader a thorough understanding of what is being planned. There is a variety of characters: humans, dwarfs, mages, and a slew of horrifying creatures from the writer’s imagination. A prime example is Chapter 13, a meeting between the main character, Jaron and two undead knights builds to a dark and frightening level. 

 

World building is a challenge for any writer, but more so for this type of fantasy. High fantasy requires a writer to create an imaginary setting, yet it must also contain  a history, geography and a population as such. All written consistently and accurately. Nedeau’s writing, in this reviewer’s opinion, is on par with and in some cases superior to some others I have read including Terry Goodkind and Patrick Rothfuss. If you have read their work, you will find The Soulweb a very satisfying read as well.

 

In the world of Indie authors, we sometimes find a gem. This is one, and a work that should be considered among the classics  in contemporary fantasy. The Soulweb is part of a trilogy and this reader is looking forward to more. 

 

  

 

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