HOW HE KNEW by Lynda Cordova – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

  
Title: HOW HE KNEW: Short Stories For the Young and Old

Author: Lynda Cordova

Type of Book: Audiobook – Unabridged 

Narrator: Tina Strong 

Length: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories

Release Date: June 22, 2015

Publisher: Lynda Cordova 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️

* I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review. 

I actually struggled to listen to this audiobook in its entirety. The only reason that I didn’t just abandon this audiobook was because it was given to me in exchange for an honest review and I wanted to keep my word. 

However, I am glad I listened to the entire audiobook as I did enjoy a few of the stories. 

I think short story anthologies are difficult to rate because while some of the stories deserve a 4 or 5 star rating, others were not as highly enjoyable. That said, just because these stories did not strike a chord with me does not mean that other listeners will feel the same.

I suggest that if you like short stories then you should give this audiobook a try and form your own opinion. 

The narration was done well. Tina Strong was articulate and easy to understand with no distinguishable accent. I rate the narration as 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Overall I rate this audiobook as 3 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

5 Big Stars for THE END OF SEEING by Christy Collins – BOOK REVIEW

  
Title: THE END OF SEEING

Author: Christy Collins

Type of Book: Softcover

Length: 190 pages

Genre: Literary Fiction

Publication Date: August 23, 2015

Publisher: Xoum Publishing 

ISBN: 978-1-921134-62-3 (Print)

ISBN: 978-1-921134-63-0 (EBook) 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

~ I received a free copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program. A review was not a requirement of receiving this book, but authors and publishers always appreciate honest reviews. 

THE END OF SEEING is the winner of the 2015 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize. 

“The buildings rise from the rain-blackened streets and office workers slip by leaving pieces of conversation in the air…”

Ana. Poor Ana. She has to be one of the unluckiest people alive. First, she loses her daughter in a tragic accident and next her photojournalist partner, Nick, goes missing and is presumed dead. 

Everyone, including the police and the rest of Nick’s family are convinced that he perished in a boating accident off the coast of Italy. 

But, no body has ever been found. Yes, his cellphone washed ashore, but there are lots of reasons his cellphone could be there without him.

Ana is determined to find out the truth and to prove that he is still alive. She sets out to follow his path and to trace his movements.

What she discovers along the way will surprise everyone.

This book is a literary masterpiece. 

It is written in delightfully descriptive prose that will resonate with readers of all ages. 

Ana’s desire to believe that Nick is still alive is 100% believable and totally understandable. I have always wondered how a person can possibly grieve and move on if no body is found. I believe that I would be just like Ana; thinking of all the possible (even if improbable) scenarios that could lead to someone’s disappearance. This is highlighted by Ana’s thoughts at the beginning of the book:

“We’re you on that boat? Did you get off alive? Did you think: now’s my chance to disappear, to escape the grief and guilt of Mia’s death? Did you mingle in a crowd, jump on a bus, and head for the mountains, cross the border on foot, without papers, like others on board had no doubt planned to do? Maybe you were unable to resist the power of your own story, seeing how far you could get, how long you could survive – earning black money or none at all, nameless and untraceable. Or are you maddened by an ordeal at sea? Perhaps you don’t know your own name… Perhaps you’re asleep in a youth hostel, bed springs creaking above and below you. Perhaps you’re dreaming of running a very long way without anything to stop you. While I, awake in the middle of the night, am dreaming still of you.”

The subject matter may seem bleak and dark at times, but the same can be said of reality. Everyone experiences times of darkness in their lives. Christy Collins has eloquently captured both the beauty and despair of the human condition and the endurance of hope when all seems lost. 

Christy Collins has an uncanny ability to say quite a bit by using few words. For example; interspersed amongst the details of Ana’s journey are random memories that pop into her mind. Here is one such memory: 

“I remember a summer holiday: no-one on the beach but the two of us. Evening waves repeated themselves softly on the shore. Beginning with the soles of my feet, you reminded me I was alive. Later: salt and sand swilled down the drain in the cracked-tiled bathroom in a cheap hotel. You reminded me again.”

Nowhere in the above narrative does it say that Ana and Nick made love, but the reader knows that this is what occurred. Also nowhere in this description does it mention how old they were when this event took place, yet, somehow, the way it is written evokes a vision in the reader’s mind of Nick and Ana in their youthful, carefree past; before adult and familial responsibilities changed their lives. Only a highly skilled and supremely talented author can say so much with so few words. 

I highly recommend this book and rate it is 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Visit http://seizureonline.com/shop/the-end-of-seeing/ for more information as well as links to buy this amazing book online. 

  • FAVOURITE QUOTES FROM “THE END OF SEEING”

“Sometimes I felt like we were shipwreck survivors, washed up in Suburbia – living day to day and waiting for the rescuers to come and deliver us back to the country where our real lives were going on without us.”

“I look around the [hotel] room, not really expecting to find anything: hotel rooms like this one have no memory.”

“I’m on a mission no-one else believes in, and I’m not even sure I believe it myself. What was I expecting? Clues scrawled in blood on the hotel wall? Love letters jammed under sofa cushions: ‘Come find me, my love; we’ll both disappear’?”

“The day is clear and blue and emerald green. The smell of my sunscreen reminds me of summers past.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

  
Christy Collins is a writer, reader, film reviewer and PhD student at the University of Tasmania. The End of Seeing is published by Seizure and was a joint winner of the Viva la Novella Prize 2015.

To learn more about Christy Collins visit https://memoryanddistance.wordpress.com/ 

5 Stars for DIAMONDS FOR DINNER by Hilda Newman – BOOK REVIEW

  

Title: DIAMONDS FOR DINNER: My Life as a Lady’s Maid in a 1930s Stately Home 

Author: Hilda Newman (with Tim Tate) 

Type of Book: Softcover

Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography, Memoir 

Length: 241 pages

Release Date: September 2013

Publisher: John Blake/Trafalgar Square

Regular Price: $14.95

Sale Price: $5.99 at Chapters in the Bargain Book section

ISBN: 978-1-78219-610-5

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

Are you a fan of Downtown Abbey? Have you ever wondered if what you see on the show is historically accurate? I am, and I have. 

When browsing through the Bargain Books section at the Chapters store in Barrie, Ontario I came across “Diamonds For Dinner” and I was intrigued to see if the reality of being a ladies maid was really like the way it is portrayed on Downtown Abbey.

I expected this book to focus solely on Hilda’s time as a ladies maid, but upon reading I realized that it was much more than that. 

Chapter One begins: “I am, it is safe to say, old now. Though a more polite way of looking at it would be to say that I have seen a lot of history.” 

  
To say that Hilda “…has seen a lot of history…” is an understatement. She was born during World War I and served in World War II. In her lifetime there have been 20 (yes, 20) different British Prime Ministers and she has been alive during the reign of two (and a half) kings and was ten years old when Britain’s current Queen was born. If that is not considered seeing a lot of history, I don’t know what is. 

Hilda has lived a very interesting life and she has written this book (at the age of 97) with a wickedly wry sense of humour that makes it eminently readable. 

Hilda was born in 1916 while her father was away fighting the war in France. In fact, she would be two years old by the time she finally met him for the first time. She didn’t know it then, but she was extremely lucky. Lucky because her father not only made it through World War I alive, but that he came through it physically unscathed and arrived home without any physical infirmities. 

Hilda’s parents were never rich, and when her father returned from the war, he discovered that he no longer had his previous job as an engineer to fall back on. Hilda’s parents believed in hard work. “But we learned from our earliest years that life was a test and what mattered was the choices you made, never knowing whether you’d made the right one until it was too late: you might be right, you might be wrong but you had no option but to choose and, when all was said and done, you’d better be prepared to take the consequences.”

It was this philosophy that ultimately led Hilda to apply to be a ladies maid for Countess of Coventry, even though she had no previous experience in “service.”

  
This book is the story “…of life with the Earl and Countess of Coventry – one of the oldest and greatest families…” in England at the time. 

The details of both how the servants lived and how the family lived are fascinating. As are the details of the estate itself. In “Downtown Abbey” the story focuses mainly on the people and on the main house and rarely shows the scope of the estate’s size. In “Diamonds For Dinner” Hilda finds a guide book in the library that she follows around the grounds. Imagine having to walk for thirty minutes just to find a building that was built as a pleasure house for the residents of the main house. 

This book is completely absorbing and is so fascinating that I read the entire book over a twenty-four hour span. Because of this I have to rate this book as no less than 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

To learn more about Croome Park – the estate featured in this book, visit http://www.friendsofcroomepark.org.uk/index.html 

All pictures below were obtained from the website above. 

 Friends of Croome Court 
    
   

5 Stars for ELECTRIC BLUES by Shaun O. McCoy – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

  
Title: ELECTRIC BLUES

Author: Shaun O. McCoy

Type of Book: Audiobook – Unabridged 

Narrator: Gabrielle Olexa 

Length: 1 hour and 13 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction 

Release Date: November 2013

Publisher: Sisyphean Publications 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 
~ I received a free copy of this audiobook through AudioBookBlast dot com in exchange for an honest review. 

PA3025 is an obsolete robot who was created to be a PA (Personal Assistant). Yes, he’s a robot … and he’s depressed. 

His “therapist” – a man named Knickers tells him that he needs to volunteer his services to someone who could never afford an actual personal assistant.

This is how he meets Madelaine, a partly-senile, half blind, old-school technophobe with two arthritic cats. 

Madelaine nicknames PA3025 “Arty” and the name sticks.

Arty helps Madelaine and Madelaine helps Arty and together they try to find meaning in their lives.

This audiobook was very different from other robot/android stories that I have read and/or listened to. Yes, it is technically a Science Fiction story, but it is more a story of what it means to be “alive” and the importance of purpose rather than the action/thriller type of story that is typical of the Science Fiction genre. 

Narrator Gabrielle Olexa does a ‘spot-on’ job as the voice of Madelaine. She is very believable as an elderly woman and her performance of Madelaine perfectly captured the nuances of an aging woman. The only small issue I had with the narration was that using a female narrator as the voice of Arty was a bit confusing. Until Arty’s “gender” was revealed I believed that PA3025 was a female robot model. Gabrielle Olexa was excellent as the voice of a robot who operated on logic and lacked emotion. She was convincing in her lack of emotional inflections. 

I feel that a rating of 5 out of 5 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ is well deserved for ELECTRIC BLUES. 

I do want to comment on the audiobook cover. Cover art is the first thing a potential reader sees when deciding whether or not to pick up a book or audiobook to read the back cover. If the artwork is not relevant to the story or does not somehow reflect the audiobook’s genre, it is possible that potential readers are lost simply because they never bothered to read the book’s description. I think this could easily happen with ELECTRIC BLUES. The saxophone on the cover leads potential readers to think this book is about music.

However, on the author’s Facebook page I found an alternate cover for this book which is terrific. Here is what I found:

  
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 

  
Shaun O. McCoy is the author of the popular HELLSONG series. More info about that series can be found at http://www.hellsongseries.com 

Shaun started out as a writer at an early age. He wrote (well, probably printed) his first full length novel in middle school. 

In his sophomore year of high school, Shaun traveled with his father and grandfather aboard the research vessel World Discoverer to the far off continent of Antarctica. 

At age 20, Shaun was struck with CSD, which put him in a coma and hospitalized him for two weeks. Upon recovery, he traveled to Florida to live on his aunt and uncle’s horse ranch in the hopes of regaining his constitution. 

It was there that he was introduced to ideas like discipline and cage fighting. Shaun has since competed in two cage style Mixed Martial Arts competitions, and he is the proud victor of both events. He is an avid chess fan and active tournament player. At one time he was ranked as the 79th chess player in the state of South Carolina. 

In 2010, Shaun began to pursue his life-long goal of becoming a professional writer. Even Hell Has Knights was his debut novel.

Check out Shaun’s Facebook page at https://m.facebook.com/shaunomccoy 

ABOUT THE NARRATOR: 

  
Gabrielle Olexa received a Bachelor’s degree in English/Secondary Education from the University of South Carolina in 2004. 

She says it was during an English class that the first seeds of interest in a career as an audiobook narrator were planted. When asked to read out loud in class, someone complimented her on her mellifluous voice. 

Gabrielle taught English in China before settling down with her husband, Phil in Charlotte. They now have one child. 

To learn more about narrator Gabrielle Olexa visit: 

http://www.sc.edu/uofsc/stories/2015/08_first_person_narrator.php#.VicOPlWs_CQ 

On Twitter at: https://twitter.com/gabrielleolexa 

Zaria Fierce Series by Keira Gillett – More Info

   
 

Blurb: When her friend, Christoffer, is kidnapped by a river-troll, Zaria Fierce must team up with his three best friends and complete a quest to rescue him

Available in E-book | Print | Audio Book formats.

Author Website: http://www.keiragillett.com/ 

Visit my other blogs:

YA Book Blog: http://www.literatureyoungadultfiction.com/ 

Romance Novel Blog: http://www.loveromancepassion.com/