Saturday, May 30, 2015

Drachengott: Wind by KJ Taylor

Rating: 3 out of 5
Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1088 KB Print
Length: 140 pages
Publisher: AUS Impulse (1 May 2015)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers (AU)
Language: English
ISBN: 9781460705339
ISBN 10: 1460705335


Rutger has always been a bit different. Wanting more than his current provincial life holds, he practices swordfighting, ensuring he's ready for ... he's not quite sure what. Until he meets Swanhild, an enigmatic young woman who knows exactly what she's training for - war. The two meet every day in the forest to practice magic and Rutger feels like he finally belongs somewhere. But Swanhild is hiding something. Will Rugter find out her secret before it's too late? Or will the battle they've been waiting for render secrets irrelevant?

 A good start to a promising fantasy series.

Proper fantasy is not really my thing especially epic. How ever I have been reading more books in that area lately, especially books about dragons. Not sure what is happening there, maybe it is a phase I am going through?

This story was not a complex story Rugter and Swanhild set out to over throw one of the most powerful baddies in the area. The reader follows the pairs adventures as they work towards this goal. The time line for this does seem to skip along pretty quick but it doesn't feel to rushed. However despite the simple story and motivations the world building was not lacking

There are dragons but they are the bad guys and pretty simple creatures. But there is an interesting part to the dragon story in this world with a head dragon who controls them all. Reminded me of a beehive. I would be interested to see how the dragon's story evolves through the book and we learn more about their story.

Drachengott does have a book one feel about it. The story is just starting and I supect there are going to be at least four books. The pacing of the book fits a story based in a series. It is slow paced for roughly half of the book but it does build up to a fight scene.

I liked Swanhild the most as I felt we got to learn more about her and her motivations the most.  She is the main character the reader will follow through the series. As we learned about her then her character and motivations were pretty clear. Rutger felt a little too simple in his motivations and personality. However I suspect next time we meet him, he will be a far more complex character.

While I wasn't the  blown away by the book, as previously mentioned it was the start of a longer series that was obviously the first stepping stone in a bigger series. The overall series I think has potential to be a good fantasy series over all. I could see this being a series that has the potential to be very addictive. However with the book currently being listed at $2.99 there is no real reason to not give this book a try.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Love in a time of Monsters by Teresa Yea

Rating 3 out of 5
Publisher: Broken E Publishing (March 31, 2015)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English

He has a monster problem Scotland, 1867. When Rob Stevenson’s brother is killed—and eaten—in the forest outside their estate, Rob’s sheltered world is shattered by a monster infestation. Determined to keep his village safe, Rob's first duty as laird involves hiring a professional hunter. She kills monsters The sole survivor of a massacre in the Congo, Catriona Mornay is rumored to have lost her mind in the jungle. In Edinburgh’s gas-lit streets, Cat’s skill as a hunter is unmatched. Her reputation as a killer of unnatural creatures, legendary. Two worlds collide Faced with a rising body count, Rob takes a chance on Cat, hoping that somewhere inside this tortured yet charismatic girl is the hero he’s been searching for. But in this shadow realm of secrets, lies, and underworld crime, their lives overlap in more ways than one. And in an age where harpies flock the sky and serpents rule the sea, it’s even possible for a boy and his hunter to fall in love. But can their love survive in a time of monsters? For fans of bestselling authors Libba Bray and Megan Shepherd, take a dark ride into a seductive New Adult fantasy filled with magic, intrigue, adventure, and action packed romance.
Not a bad book but not I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I liked the writing and the clever mix of history, literature and fantasy as well as the story itself. On the other it was a little too gothic for me.

I really liked that the author tied the characters to the real life author Rob Stevenson and his stories. However the story is almost purely fictional with only some things (like his illness and living in Scotland) tying him to his real world counterpart. Though it is fun to think the real Stevenson had done a spot of monster hunting in his youth before writing a best seller book.

 Cat is an interesting and broken character. She is strong willed and independent yet she is a drug addict who has suffered through a major trauma. She makes some pretty stupid decision which have terrible consequences. However sometimes she is very insightful and knows the right thing to do that saves everyone.

As previously mentioned a smidgeon dark and serious for me. There is a bit of gore and violence (hello she is a monster hunter not sure why I expected it to be more like skipping through the tulips and less skipping through the graveyard).

There is also romance element and a love triangle which plats into the story line and creates tension between the main characters.

An interesting book with lots of different elements that would make it enjoyable to lots of different readers.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Blood Queen (Lharmell Series book 3) by Rhiannon Hart

Rating 4 out of 5
Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Curtis Brown Unlimited (21 March 2015) Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
Language: English
Series: Yes

Release date 21 April 2015 through Amazon Kindle initially and paperback later.

After losing Rodden at the last Turning, Zeraphina is alone. Or she would be, if her mother and Prince Folsum would leave her in peace. The prince, blind in one eye after an attack by Zeraphina’s brant, has taken up residence in her home and is insisting she marry him. When an accident happens, Zeraphina flees – straight into the arms of a waiting harming. Now a captive, she discovers she’s being taken to Lharmell. But not to be executed. To be crowned queen. The identity of the one who has given the orders is shrouded in mystery, and Zeraphina can’t help but be suspicious. After everything she’s done the Lharmellins should want her dead. Just who is awaiting her in Lharmell?

Fall out from the events in books one (Blood Song) and two (Blood Storm) start to impact the characters in this book which culminates into an action packed show down. This was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. It kept me entertained the whole way through. There is so much that I want to write and discuss about this book, however I wont so this review will not spoil the book for those who will read it. So this review will be quite broad and general.

Zeraphina is broken in this book. She is a pretty self obsessed, miserable, addict. Consumed with grief for the loss of Rodden. But with the help of Raufo she begins to put her life back together even though she is being led to her doom.

There is a whole lot of action going on but there is a slowish start first (you know only one person died and nothing got destroyed), but from the middle of the book things start to really get moving. From there on it is action packed and fast moving the rest of the way. The slow start does make sense and it isn't frustrating.

I found a new respect for Zeraphinas mother and sister who were more then met the eye. In the previous two books her mother seemed shallow, cold, and self serving and her sister shallow and to concerned about what others thought. In this book we get to see more depth to their characters.

This was a satisfying ending to the trilogy and didn't feel rushed, forced or skipped over.  If you are a fan of the series you should like this book and be happy with the ending (though I'm really not happy the trilogy has ended).

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Rating 4 out of 5
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Publisher: Delacorte Press (June 9, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0553536516 ISBN-13: 978-0553536515
ASIN: B00QDGVFDG (June 4, 2015)

A laugh-out-loud romance from the bestselling author of the Shopaholic series. Meet Audrey: an ordinary teenage girl with not so ordinary problems. Aside from her completely crazy and chaotic family, she suffers from an anxiety disorder which makes talking to her brother's hot new best friend a bit of a challenge. But Audrey has a plan to help her face her fears and take on the world again. First stop: Starbucks.

I have to confess I am not a big Kinsella fan. I have read a few of her adult books and found them hit and miss. However I was intrigued to learn she had written a Young Adult novel and that it dealt with mental issues. For me this book was a hit and I think this is one of my favourite Kinsella books.

Personally I think mental issues is a topic that needs to be address more in the media and in publications and not in the "they are mentally disturbed so there for a serial killer" kind of way. Awareness is growing within community but there is still a lot of stigma surrounding people who suffer mental illness. Sophia Kinsella has done a good job of writing about a difficult and poorly understood issue and she made it non-threatening, light hearted and relatable to teens.

Through Audrey's eyes we learn about her life, her struggles to over come her anxiety, and accept who she is. We also learn about the impact her illness has had on her family and how they adjust to her recovery.  It is not a smooth road they are traveling. Kinsella has done a good job of showing how mental illness impacts everyone around the sufferer.

I think this is the major strength of this book. Through Audrey's eyes and her recovery she becomes aware of the impacts on her family. This in turn allows the reader to really understand how mental illness impacts everyone. We also get a good insight into how someone withe anxiety and depression thinks and its not rationally. The reference to 'lizard brain" I thought was prefect as Audrey's way of dealing with her anxiety (it is also a psychological term). I have never suffered from anxiety or depression. However a few of my friends have, and some of the ways they expressed themselves I saw written on the pages as Audrey's thoughts.

The summary makes this book sound a lot lighter then it is. However this is not a heavy or depressing book, it is a positive book, and I will confess to giggling a couple of times. The "laugh-out-loud" part comes from her families antics and dealing with the issues that they are presented with.

While there is a romance of sorts it is a very sweet element to the story. It is also not the main theme of the story but is one of Audrey's drivers. Linus is a good fit for Audrey and I liked their relationship.

I would be curious to learn why Sophie Kinsella chose to write this topic for her Young Adult debut.

This is a great book which tackles a difficult subject in a light-hearted,positive and sensitive way. I think this could be a book that all teens should read to give them a better understanding of people who live with mental illness. I do recommend this book for teenagers and anyone who wants understand mental illness a bit better.

If you would like to read an extract then head over to Sophie Kinsella's website for more.

This review book was provided to me by Netgalley.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly

Rating 4 out of 5
Publisher: Macmillan Australia (10 November 2014)
Sold by: Macmillan (AU)
Language: English

'Now, I know what you are thinking,' Hu Tang paused. 'You are thinking that there are hundreds of zoos, why does the world need another one? Indeed, what can China do with a zoo that has not already been done before? Ladies and gentleman...this is what we can do.' At that moment, the speeding bullet train burst out into brilliant sunshine and CJ found herself staring at an awesome sight. It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have found a species of animal no one believed even existed. It will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing discovery within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see its fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr Cassandra Jane 'CJ' Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that they are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong... GET READY FOR ACTION ON A GIGANTIC SCALE.

After reading "Sophia's Secret" I needed a break. A light fluffy but mostly fun mental break. I had heard Reilly had released a new book and thought it would be the prefect change of pace. It did not disappoint. I had lots of fun reading this book.

Really is really good at writing fast paced big action adventures. This book does have a slowish start compared to some of his other books, but it doesn't take long for action, mayhem and big explosions to start.

I don't think I can write a review with out touching on the obvious comparisons to the book and movies "Jurassic Park". I can see where the comparisons come from. A top secret park full of giant reptile type creatures and it all goes belly up. Same same right?. But this book is only on the surface similar to Jurassic Park. It would be a mistake to dismiss this book as a Jurassic Park rip off. I also appreciated that the author makes two Jurassic park jokes which to me showed he was more then aware of the potential comparison. I really think the author managed to separate his book in the end from Jurassic Park's shadow. By the end I wasn't even thinking about the comparison at all.

I must give the author credit for writing a strong, smart and capable female lead character. CJ gets stuff done and doesn't stand screaming waiting for her knight in shining armour to save her. Yes she does seem to have the best luck in the world but all action heroes do.

One last point the book has some pretty graphic violence. I mean it's dragons attacking and eating people. Just be prepared if you are perhaps more sensitive to these things. It really is violent when it happens (which is pretty regular).

If you are a fan of Matthew Reilly then you will like this book. If you are not then pass. This book is a fun read and all about the action, certainly goes by the mantra of "go big or go home".

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Rating 5 out of 5
Publisher: Algonquin Books (December 2, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616204516
ISBN-13: 978-1616204518

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means. A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. 

You have probably heard the buzz around this book and the words "must read, amazing, best book ever" thrown around. People love this book, people were raving about this book. I was suspicious but I am pleased to say that I also enjoyed this book and it deserved most of its praise.

This is a slow paced novel that builds slowly. The writing is beautiful and you are immersed in this mans world so easily and you feel like you are right there with him as we travel through his life in the book.

You will be taken on an emotional journy without even realising it. You will feel happiness and sadness while reading this book. The ending is just right for this story and leaves you feeling satisfied.

Fikry is a wonderful character to read about and go through the journey with. His view on the world is funny and unusual. But most avid book readers I suspect would have found themselves nodding to a lot of his wisdom.

“You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?” ― Gabrielle Zevin, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

It really is just a feel good novel.

The author Zevin, has written a beautiful story that is really well worth the read.

If you like feel good books and well books about books then give this one a try.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen

Rating 4 out of 5
Publisher: Spencer Hill Middle Grade (March 10, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1939392098
ISBN-13: 978-1939392091
Reading age: 11+

When you live in a volcano, ride to school in a helicopter, and regularly see your dad on the news with the caption "EVIL GENIUS" underneath his picture, it takes a lot to rattle you. Until you get a message that says: We have your father. Deliver the NOVA in 24 hours or we will kill him. What's a NOVA, you ask? It's a nuclear bomb capable of turning the city into a radioactive mushroom cloud, and ever since Fiona's dad built it, it's caused nothing but grief. But telling him to stop building weapons is like telling Michelangelo to stop painting. And that's why thirteen-year-old Fiona has a flamethrower strapped to her arm. After all, who'd mess with a girl who can throw fireballs? Apparently, these guys. Big mistake.

This was such a fun book! As Donkey from Shrek would say "let's do that again". I could easily read this book again and I really enjoyed it from start to finish. The book was is just pure fun.

The book is a short read that is easily knocked over by most readers in a day or two. However for such short quick read it is action packed and full of humour.

There was a great mix of plot development, action and humour which was set to a cracking pace. The book was fast paced but never rushed. During the entire book the authors sense of humour was always present making me giggle. Oh and how cute is the cover (I am a sucker for chibi anime style artwork)

The summary is a little vague so to expand upon it a little more, the basic story is Fiona and her dad belong to a group of three super villains and their families. They all live on an island (while it isn't directly mentioned Waikiki is mentioned so I assume Hawaii). The three families fight each other, however they mostly just thwart each other s evil plans and keep their kids (who all attend the same middle school) out of the fights. However something changes and Fiona's father is kidnapped bringing the families into full scale war against each other.

Fiona was such a sassy funny character who did not want to be a super villain. I also enjoyed reading her fathers quirky melodramatic flair for invention and Villainy. All the other super villains are delightfully weird and villainy (each seems to have a particular strength) and their kids are all trying to work out if they want to continue in the family business or get out when older.

I would recommend this book to teen girls or anyone who likes the teen superhero/villain genre. Fingers crossed this book is the start of series because I would dearly love to read more.