Monday, March 24, 2014

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

Rating: 5 out of 5
Title: The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancy
Series: The 5th Wave (Book 1)
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399162410
ISBN-13: 978-0399162411

"After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death."
Perhaps I had started one to many fizzer books before I read this one, or it was the right book at the right time. Either way this book ticked all the boxes for me and I just blitzed through the book. heck I even tweeted about it. I was sucked in and held there till the end when I finally came up for air.

The alien invasion was realistic and well thought out. I could imagine an alien race doing the "waves" of death on mankind. In fact as far as invasions go it was smart, and involved little effort on the alien's behalf. The pole being dropped from outer space was perhaps a little much but everything else was very believable.

I felt the story had the feel of a "written for movie" story. It was a bit cliched, predictable and had a few unrealistic scenes (towards the end). But hey they are action scenes, action scenes in a sci-fi book no less, they should be spectacular and totally stupid all the time exciting and fun.

I did notice some faults with the book, and I didn't care. Nope not a bit. It was exciting, interesting and an interesting take on the alien invasion young adult story. That for me is a good book, when you notice flaws and you still don't want to put the book down or for it to finish.

I enjoyed Cassie, she was quite realistic. She was strong, tough and smart; but didn't have weird skills that she couldn't possibly have. She was a teen struggling with the situation she found herself in.

I have not looked forward to a sequel for a long time in the sci-fi arena but this one had me wanting the second book straight away.

If you like young adult books, and sci-fi, I would recommend this book. Don't expect a lot from it, and you should enjoy it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Last Girl by Michael Adams

Rating; 5 out of 5
Title: The Last Girl
Author: Michael Adams
Series: Trilogy
File Size: 2398 KB
Print Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Allen & Unwin (September 25, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

Everyone looked like bad actors in a poorly dubbed movie. Their expressions didn't match their emotions and their lips didn't sync with what they were saying. But they were all so loud. God-he-looks-hot-Can't-she's-my-best-friend-How'd-she-lose-that-weight-No-don't-you-dare-Oh-no-please- The end of the world happens in the blink of an eye. When The Snap sweeps the globe, everyone can instantly hear everything that everyone else is thinking. As secrets and lies are laid bare, suburbs and cities explode into insanity and violence. What might have been an evolutionary leap instead initiates the apocalypse. Sixteen-year-old Danby Armstrong's telepathy works very differently. She can tune into other people but they can't tune into her. With only this slender defence, Danby must protect her little brother and reach the safety of her mother's mountain retreat. But it's 100 kilometres away and the highways are blocked by thousands of cars and surrounded by millions of people coming apart at the psychic seams. Danby's escape is made even more dangerous by another cataclysm that threatens humanity's extinction. And her ability to survive this new world will be tested by a charismatic young man whose power to save lives may be worse than death itself.

I had been struggling with a recent book from a favourite author. I thought my reading mojo was gone. I needed a break, read something different, so this book was sitting on the top of my bedside table so I thought "why not". It came highly recommended by Books and Musings From Downunder. So I started it one evening and finished it the next day. And it was good, oh so very good.

This book is gripping, fascinating, shocking, horrifying and intense all in one go. Unlike most post apocalyptic books, where they are set well after the main event that changed society forever; this book is set as it happens. We get to see the world as we know it completely fall apart. As you can imagine this can make for some not so fun moments.

The concept is refreshing in that its not a virus, war, or zombie apocalypse. Even though it was full on times I liked how the author explored this topic.

Danby is a believable character and her reactions to scenarios thrown at her were logical. I will be interested to see if Jack is her saviour or captor. Is he good or evil? He is definitely creepy, practical, smart and possibly crazy.

This book raises some interesting issues that people in that situation might face. Who to save and who to leave, morals and survival, where do you draw the line and where do you cross.

On a totally shallow note I didn't care much for the cover.

I would recommend this book as a good read for anyone who likes the post apocalyptic genre. I can't wait for book 2 in the trilogy to come out.

A final cautionary note, there are some very full on scenes when society is falling apart. This could be distressing to some. It definitely made me uncomfortable and teary in one case (I am sorry I do not want to say more without spoiling the story). Themes of suicide, paedophilia, terrorism, murder as well as other violent crimes do get mentioned and discussed. It only lasts really for the first 1/3 of the book but when I use the word intense I really mean it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Rating 4 out of 5
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press (May 27, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307381749
ISBN-13: 978-0307381743

This book is set in Egypt following one of the most well known Egyptian Queens Nefertiti. Told from the point of view of her sister.

About Nefertiti
Nefertiti has to be one of the most famous Queens through out history. Ask anyone to name a Queen from history and most would say Nefertiti and Cleopatra. Despite her fame, and unlike Cleopatra, very little is actually known about her. Her tomb has not been found, and very little information has survived to tell us what Nefertiti was like or her accomplishments. 

So it's curious to me that a Queen we know so very little about is more famous then Queens we know a lot about (for example Queen Victoria). 

The facts about Nefertiti:
  • She and her husband rules for about 12 years. 
  • They worshiped one God not the many gods that ancient Egyptians worshiped.
  • They were patrons of the art and during their life, and ushered in a new style of art for ancient Egyptians.
  • After 12 years Nefertiti disappears from history. No one knows why. There are three main theories as to what happened; She died, was sent into exile, or she assumed a male name to rule Egypt herself.
The Book
I did not find Morgan's portrayal of Nefertiti to be flattering. In fact I didn't like her "character" much at all. For Moran's portrayal of Nefertiti, I did have to remind myself though that Nefertiti was a teenager (hormonal and a know it all at best) who had been thrust into power, wealth and fame. She was deeply insecure and married to a husband who was well, for lack of a better word, bat do do crazy. I would love to know Moran's reasoning for portraying Nefertiti the way she did.

To be honest I would have preferred the story to be exclusively about her sister Mutnodjmet (Mutny). It was a bit sad to see such an interesting character relegated to be Nefertiti's assistant and story teller when her own story was fascinating. But probably not many people would pick up a book about Nefertiti's sister.

The historical accuracy seems to be pretty spot on. But some liberties with the story telling has been taken. Some things changed or assumed based on logical deduction. This is pretty normal with historical fictions.

In Summary
A good light historical fiction which is great for anyone who is starting out in the genre. Michelle Moran manages to write about fascinating historical figures and portray them in interesting ways.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Drumheller Dinosaur Dance by Robert Heidbreder

Rating: 4 out of 5
Age Range: 3 - 7 years
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Kids Can Press (August 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1553379829
ISBN-13: 978-1553379829

Another Bookaboo winner for us (if you haven't guessed by now we love this show. I only recently figured out watching the book being read totally counts as reading lol).

In short this book is about Dinosaur bones coming alive and dancing in the moonlight! Not just any dinosaur bones but Drumheller ones.

So for geeks out there or the science minded, Drumheller is a famous location in Alberta Canada for Dinosaur bones. They have discovered many species there and it has a very good museum there as well which one day I hope to get too.

The story has lots of rhyming and rhythm that is easy to groove too. It has a spooky sort of flow to it but not scary. Kids can easily get involved with it.
We really enjoyed it and Fefe Dobson who read it on Bookaboo was fantastic. A fun book for kids who are a little dinosaur crazy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sherlock BBC vs Elementary USA

This post is about the two modern tv series.

So I have never read a Sherlock book, not in its entirety. I read about 1/3 of "TheHounds  of Baskerville" when I was in my early 20's and I found it boring. Yet Sherlock in movies and shows I find fascinating.

We discovered the BBC version in 2010, and I loved everything about it. Soon after we heard about the American version and I was concerned. American adaptations of shows/stories from other countries does not usually translate well. But the female Watson drew me in. I had to see what they had done.

Sherlock BBC
Is a modern retelling of the Sherlock books. Each episode is based on a Sherlock story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyal. The writers have done a wonderful job of literally turning each story into a modern retelling and capturing the characters and also translating them into a modern world (using things like smart phones). 

The main actors who play Sherlock and Watson are amazing and their dynamic together is unbeatable. For me they literally are Sherlock and Watson. Plonk those actors playing Sherlock and Watson, into any setting modern or old and they would be perfect. I was curious to see they had turned Irene into a dominatrix Madame. But the scene where Sherlock meets her is fascinating.

A little slightly off topic moment, I found that the writers have done a really good job modernising and portraying the women and Sherlock and Watson's lives. Mary is a fantastic character. I find this curious as I believe the writers of Sherlock are currently in trouble with Dr Who fans for dropping the ball when it comes to female characters in that show.

But everything about this show is addictive and breaths new life into the original Sherlock series. 

It will be interesting to see if they continue the series once they run out of official stories. I have heard though the current season, season 3 is the last.

Elementary USA
This series is not a retelling of the books. It is Sherlock as police procedural type show, and a modernisation of the characters in an entirely new setting. One of the biggest a twists is that Watson is a woman.

I love that Watson is a woman, and Lucy Liu is perfect for the role. I think this has been a clever twist on the Sherlock fokelore. It could have been done badly and they could have made it sexual. But the writers have done a good job and their relationship is like a brother and sister relationship. The dynamic between the two main actors is perfect.

Johnny Lee Miller does an excellent job of a modern Sherlock. I like how he physically transforms his posture and with precise almost upright movements.

With each episode a new scenario is played out and the writers need to create realistic reactions and behaviours in modern situations. 

Best of all the twist with Moriarty and Irene has been really clever.

This show probably doesnt get much credit for what it has done. It really is quite a clever show that pushes the boundaries of the Sherlock mythology.

I love both shows for very different reasons.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Blood Phantom - A Story of Lharmell by Rhiannon Hart

Rating 4 out of 5
Title: Blood Phantom - A story of Lharmell
Author: Rhiannon Hart
Format: Ebook - Short story

"Life in tatters and far from home, Rodden Lothskorn struggles to cope with the harming menace and his own harming nature. When an offer of marriage reaches his friend, Prince Amis, Rodden discovers that the bride’s inhospitable homeland might contain one part of the harming poison he would dearly like to get his hands on. But if summoned northwards, will Princess Lilith bring something – or someone – he dreads most with her? Locked in a years-long struggle with the Lharmellins, Rodden senses the battle is only now about to begin."

I discovered the Lharmell series last year and I loved the first two books, Blood Song and Blood Storm.  So when I learned there was going to be a Rodden short story I was pretty excited. Then the author Rhiannon asked me if I would like to review her short story and, well, I can neither confirm nor deny, but pretty sure I squealed.

Blood Phantom is the prequel to the first book in the Lharmell series Blood Song. The story is told from Rodden's perspective and is set in the period just before, and at the start of, the events in Blood Song.

As you would expect from a short story, this is a quick read and not too in depth. There is no major plot development or story reveals here. It is short, sweet, and gives us a glimpse into the world of Rodden and Amis.

There are a couple of story nuggets revealed that help us understand Rodden better, and explains a couple of events that happened in Blood Song

I liked that we got to learn more about Amis. I got a better understanding of the Prince which I had not gotten from the main series. In the main books he doesn't get a lot of "page time" as he is not a major character (yet, maybe in book 3 this may change? who knows).

Then it finished and I am afraid to say I did a bit of a minion impersonation "whaaaattt???". I even scrolled back through the book to make doubly sure it had finished and that my down loading of the ebook hadn't got stuffed up.

So my only complaint is that it ended way too soon. I know, I know "short story" should have alerted me to the fact that it was going to end far sooner than normal. It did, I knew it was coming, I still didn't like it. I was having too much of a good time to want it to stop.

Good news is I only have to wait till April 2014 for book 3 Blood Queen to come out.

If you are a fan of the series then this is a good complimentary read and I recommend giving it a go.

Want a copy? Get your copy from Amazon.

Want to know more about Rhiannon? You can follow Rhiannon at her blog Dangers Untold and Hardships Unnumbered.

Lastly thank you Rhiannon Hart for letting me part of your blog tour.

Charity - We Give Books

Today Sheree from The Eclectic Reader told me about this wonderful initiative that donates to a charity, that focuses on literacy (different charity each time) for every free ebook you read. Of course you can also donate money if you want to.

It's easy just join and get reading!

The books are good quality, even popular books. You do have to have access to a pc or smart phone that lets you view Adobe flash as that is what the website uses.

Yesterday my son and I read: 

  • "Llama Llama mad at mama"
  • "SkippyJon Jones"
  • "The Christmas
  • "DK Reptiles"
  • "DK Butterflies"
  • "Leapfrog and the lost dinosaur"
  • "A night in Santa's great big bag"