Monday, July 17, 2017

Three books I listened to in June

Dragon Airways Audiobook 
Dragon Airways
  • Written by: Brian Rathbone
  • Narrated by: Fred Kennedy
  • Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins 

Publisher's introduction:
Dragon Airways - One way or another you're going to fly.
Emmet is a boy with special needs and unusual talents. His ability to sense magic makes him valuable to both sides of the war. Fleeing those sent to capture him, he and his sister board Dragon Airways, not knowing friend from foe. Some betray him; others risk their lives trying to save him. Never would he have guessed the impact an aging dragon would have on his life or the adventures they would have together.

I'm afraid this fantasy story failed to really capture me. It was a cheap buy, and of course it was the dragon that attracted me... ;) However, I found the setting of this story a rather strange mix, including air balloons and air ships and propeller air crafts and dragons (used for transport by humans as well - equipped with a saddle or cabin rather like what you may have seen on  pictures of elephant rides in the Far East). And of course there is War going on, and magic involved; but I never really seemed to get a grip of who was fighting whom or why (although I suppose that could be said about most wars and power-struggles in our own world too). 

Upon further investigation it also turns out, of course, to be the first book in a Series. And by an author who has written several more fantasy series that I never heard of. Can't say I feel tempted to explore further any time soon. Perhaps it is one of those series that works its magic better on younger readers - I can't really say.

(There is tough competition in the world of fantasy... I guess not every writer can be expected to wave their wand/pen as masterfully as J.K. Rowling...)


The Bookshop on the Corner Audiobook 
 The Bookshop on the Corner
  • Written by: Jenny Colgan
  • Narrated by: Lucy Price-Lewis
  • Length: 9 hrs and 13 mins

I found the title and cover art of this book (and audio book) a bit misleading, because while it does involve a bookshop, it is not situated on a specific corner. When looking up some facts about the book and author afterwards, I find that the same book has also been published under the title The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After. 

The main character, Nina, is a librarian who is very good at pairing a reader with the perfect book. When the library she works at is closed and she is left unemployed, she ends up buying an old van and turning it into a mobile bookshop out in the countryside. There are of course a few male characters involved in the plot as well, to keep up the search of the happy-ever-after factor...

An easy read/listen; and sometimes that's what one wants. It didn't really have a "wow" factor for me, though.

A list of other titles by the same author doesn't tempt me to put any of those on my list any time soon either: ... The Loveliest Chocolate Shop In Paris, The Little Beach Street Bakery, Meet me at the Cupcake Café ... I can't help but suspect a rather high risk of repetition!


Good Omens Audiobook 
 Good Omens
  • Written by: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by: Martin Jarvis
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins

Publisher's Summary:
The world will end on Saturday. Next Saturday. Just before dinner, according to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, the world's only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655. The armies of Good and Evil are amassing and everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except that a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture. And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. Put New York Times best-selling authors Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett together...and all Hell breaks loose.

Back in 1990, when this book was first published, this summary of its contents might have made me doubt that it would be "my kind of book". (?) I don't think I ever heard of it back then, though.
Since then, I have read (listened to) all of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (40+ of them!), and some of Gaiman's stories too; and with this one I didn't have to listen long before I felt pretty sure I was going to thoroughly enjoy it through all the breathtaking and surprising twists and turns, all the way to the end - whatever that might turn out out be! The narration by Martin Jarvis is also really excellent. 

As for "understanding" the story in itself, it probably does help if you are already familiar with (and like) Pratchett's kind of humour. But there are also two or three other "classics" that I think you should be acquainted with to fully appreciate Good Omens. First of all: The Bible - especially the first book of the Old Testament, and the last of the New Testament (i.e. Genesis and The Book of Revelation) Second (perhaps not as obvious): The William series by Richmal Crompton... Also a series of 40-something books, written between 1922-1970 - and with the main character being a mischieveous, but in his own way well-intending, 11-year-old boy. (The characters in the William series never age, even though the setting does evolve to be more or less contemporary with the time when each book was written.) I did read some of those back in my childhood/youth - and actually reread two of them not long ago (the first two, which can now be found for free as e-books). (Seriously - I would recommend having read at least one William-book before you read Good Omens, or else so much will pass you by...)

I won't tell you any more about Good Omens, except that after having finished it, I added it to my own private mental list of "Books that J.K. Rowling probably read before she wrote Harry Potter".

 

8 comments:

  1. Interesting. I would think of the three, the Bookshop On The Corner/ Non-corner would appeal to me the most.

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  2. Those Crompton books sound the most intriguing in your post. The dragon on the cover of the first book might draw me in as I do like dragons and this one has an interesting expression.

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    1. I think it was partly the cover art that tempted me too with that dragon book, Terra :)

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  3. If you put "Colgan" into the seach box on my blog, Monica, you will find one or two (possibly more, I can't remember) of my reviews of her books - all of them given to me by my mother-in-law. It is exactly her kind of thing; mine only when I want VERY light reading, because, as you say, her stories usually follow the same familiar pattern, and the average reader will know by page six who the female heroine will end up with.

    Neil Gaiman is an author I admire, but I have to be in a specific mood in order to enjoy his books. I did like "American Gods", but I can imagine it is not for everyone.

    The first one with the dragons does not sound like something I'd like to read, and I am not surprised you found it uninspiring.

    Thank you for three great reviews!

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    1. Those reviews of yours in the past look familiar now that I look them up, Meike. Can't say I remembered them when I decided to read this book, though. (But who knows what goes on in the hidden depths of one's brain!)

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  4. I must get around to reading more of Terry Pratchett's books. I started with the first two Discworld novels and faltered thereafter.

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    1. The Discworld series is divided into several sub-series, Graham, and it may be better to just try one such sub-series rather than start with No. 1 and know that there are 40+ more following... Should ever want to give them another go there is a Wikipedia article to help sort things out a bit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discworld. Or I guess you could just ask CJ! :)

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    2. I should add that I started reading the Pratchett novels because my brother (at least at first) "fed" them to me as audio books one at a time. (And introducing one sub-series at a time.) I actually never read a single one of them in print, but all as audio books!

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