All posts by S.W.Lothian | Author

YA Book Review | The Throne of Fire (Kane Chronicles #2) | Rick Riordan

The Throne of FireTHE THRONE OF FIRE
 (KANE CHRONICLES #2)

by Rick Riordan 
Kindle Edition purchased from Amazon

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EVER since the gods of Ancient Egypt were unleashed on the modern world, Carter Kane and his sister, Sadie, have been in big trouble.

As descendants of the magical House of Life, they command certain powers. But now a terrifying enemy – Apophis, the giant snake of chaos – is rising. If Carter and Sadie don’t destroy him, the world will end in five days’ time. And in order to battle the forces of chaos, they must revive the sun god Ra – a feat no magician has ever achieved. Because first they must search the world for the three sections of the Book of Ra, then they have to learn how to chant its spells . . .

Can the Kanes destroy Apophis before he swallows the sun and plunges the earth into darkness . . . forever? – GOODREADS


My Review

It’s been a long time since I read The Red Pyramid, which I’m sorry to say I didn’t enjoy as much as I had expected. Hence, it was quite a period of time until I decided to read this second book, Throne of Fire. I was pleased when I started reading and found that I was enjoying it more than the first. I wasn’t sure if it was because I already had knowledge of the characters, or if it was just that it was the type of book that suited me at the time. Who knows? It was enough incentive for me to continue.

RR included plenty of recaps that brought back sufficient memories of the story so far. It made it easy to catch up after such a gap in time from the first book. It was very obvious that Carter and Sadie were still learning. I liked that element of the story, it made them more real, and I really do like Sadie’s sense of humour. Even though they are on separate paths at times, it’s very clear that Sadie and Carter are there for each other.

IMO, this series is very heavy on the mythical elements, far more than I originally expected, but RR has a way of presenting it in a fun way that doesn’t bog the story down. As with all RR books, this one is quite light-hearted in places too. He has a wonderfully humorous interpretation of the twelve rooms, and who would have thought old Ra would be such a character?


In a nutshellI felt that the Throne of Fire was a more enjoyable read than The Red Pyramid. It’s filled with that typical RR mix of mythology and humour, and has perked my interest to read on to book three. I’ll try not to leave it as long before reading the next book.

Check out my review of The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1)


Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.


Here is The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) book trailer.


Want to know more?
Click below to check out more information about
The Kane Chronicles series.

Kane Chronicles


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New Kids Movie Trailer | Hotel Transylvania 2 | 2015

This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 (2015)

When the old-old-old-fashioned vampire Vlad arrives at the hotel for an impromptu family get-together, Hotel Transylvania is in for a collision of supernatural old-school and modern day cool. (IMDB)

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Writers: Adam Sandler (screenplay), Robert Smigel
Stars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Mel Brooks

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


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YA Book Review | Enclave (Razorland #1) | Ann Aguirre

EnclaveENCLAVE (RAZORLAND #1)
by Ann Aguirre 
Kindle Edition purchased from Amazon

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Add to Goodreads

 


New York City residents, decimated by war and plague, live underground in Enclaves, barely past age 20. Deuce 15, trained as Huntress, pairs with odd Fade, who was boy Topside. Elders ignore warning, exile both. Monster Freaks, more organized, killed nearest Enclave. Guided by old memories, in gang-infested ruins, pair face apocalyptic world with new dangers and feelings. – GOODREADS


My Review

I was drawn to this book, because it sounded like a promising plot. I was keen to get my teeth into a new YA series that had some grit. The Enclave is a horrible place where people have lived for longer than the memory of those who are there. Customs are ingrained into their being, learned from one generation by the next. It’s a tough life in a world of darkness that is deep underground after the downfall of society. Life expectancy is very limited. Breaking twenty is a feat, and anyone who reaches twenty-five is considered an elder. Society is composed of Breeders, Hunters and Brats. Each tribe member has their place. Dark tunnels beyond the settlement are full of stinking hungry Freaks who have a hunger for meat that will never be met. They sound absolutely horrible, I’m glad they’re not real. The motto of life in the Enclave is ‘Only the toughest survive’.

The story is about a Brat (what we call a kid), who reaches her naming ceremony and becomes a Hunter. She is named, Deuce, and we follow her battles to live up to her dreams. To become a trusted Hunter and provide the food and protection for the tribe. She is paired up with a partner named, Fade, who is also trying to prove his worth, given that he was born somewhere else and taken into the tribe because of his strength. In order to survive, the Enclave elders have set rules in place. They aren’t always fair, they aren’t always logical, and they aren’t always tasteful. The rules are black and white. You either follow them, or you break them. And if you break them, the punishment can be extreme.

Needless to say, some rules are broken, and Deuce and Fade are exiled from the Enclave. We follow the trials of this unlikely duo as they fight against the deadly threats that live underground, and watch as their trust and friendship grows. Deuce is caring and considerate, it’s no wonder that she dreamed of being a Hunter, to care and provide for others. Their journey leads them back to the surface, where they find that there actually are other survivors, themselves caught up in their own nightmarish society that has also evolved in isolation.

The big message I got from this book was that humans grow into what they see. It shows how we can grow and believe things based solely on what we learn, whether it’s right or wrong. If elders tell us something is blue, we believe and it becomes fact. If they tell us that no one else survived the end of the world, we believe and it becomes fact. Like, Deuce not knowing what a shop was, but upon seeing one, learning that it is a good idea. Or, when Twist secretly helped them with food and water when they were exiled, and Fade wondering why he would do such a thing. Fade’s life had never experienced one person helping another, it was always just ‘the strong survive’, so it seemed like such a strange thing for someone to do.

Along the way Deuce and Fade are joined by two from topside. Stalker and Tegan are characters at extreme ends of their own tragic society. Stalker, the brutal leader, and, Tegan, the worthless weakling. Necessity brings the four together and they embark on a journey to a legendary safe place in the north, borne from distant memories of Fade’s childhood.

Finally, they reach a place called Salvation, and I was gearing up for some answers and perhaps a climactic event with the Freaks. My Kindle book showed a little over 60%, so I read with an air of anticipation. Tegan was at the doctor, I was concerned for her wellbeing, given her injuries. The others sought refuge, I wanted to see them safe and planning their next move. I turned the page and then the blood drained from my face. The book finished. There was no more story to read. The end hit me in the face, it was completely unexpected. Bummer. I know that it is a series, but I have to say I was a tad surprised with its end.


In a nutshellThis book is great at showing that society is built on what one generation passes on to the next. It clearly shows the paths taken by different isolated groups can make them so different, but yet so similar. It’s a good read, but be warned about the sudden ending. It’s an incentive to move onto the next book in the series.


Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.


 Want to know more?
Click below to check out more information about
Ann Aguirre and her books.

Ann Aguirre


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New Kids Movie Trailer | Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip | 2015

Hiya, This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS | THE ROAD CHIP (2015)

Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in New York City – and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal.. (IMDB)

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


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YA Book Tour| Sons of the Sphinx | Cheryl Carpinello

Sons of the Sphinx - New Banner

I am very pleased to be part of a wonderful book tour organised by My Family’s Heart. I read this book late last year and would love to share my review. As a thank you for dropping by, My Family’s Heart and Cheryl Carpinello are offering a great prize of a $50 Amazon/ PayPal Gift Card in an exclusive giveaway. Look for the ‘enter to win’ button after my review.


Sons of the SphinxSONS OF THE SPHINX
by Cheryl Carpinello
Kindle edition supplied by author

GENRE | YA Historical Time Travel
PUBLISHED | Oct 10, 2014
LENGTH | 192 pages
PUBLISHER | Beyond Today Educator
COVER ARTIST | Bernistevens Design

The Prophecy: Behold, when the last boy pharaoh is awakened, he will have one chance to right the wrong. United with a spirit vessel from the future, he must seek to find the one robbed of his reign, who will lead the way to the tomb of the boy pharaoh’s lost queen.

There must the confrontation with the usurper be held and the presentation of his confession to the old priests be given. If the usurper holds his tenth Jubilee and is allowed to acknowledge his son as his successor, the wrong will not be righted, and the queen will remain lost to her pharaoh forever.

Armed with what she considers her grandmother’s curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemheb – who crosses mortal boundaries using Seth’s evil magic – if she is to stay alive to make it back home. (Goodreads)

2014 Literary Classics Seal of Approval
2014 Finalist in Literary Classics Book Award


My Review

I have read and reviewed the prequel to this one, Tutankhamen Speaks, and was pleased to nab a copy from the author to continue the story.  This is an original time travel adventure that gives a fresh new perspective from the view of Tut himself. The main character, Rosa, is a modern-day girl who has a gift that allows her to speak with the dead (a gift that she’s not really too thrilled about). Tut contacts her and convinces her that she has a role to play in reuniting his spirit with that of his great love, Hesena.

After a little convincing and debating within her own mind, Rosa agrees to help him. As they embark through time to find the clues she finds that Tut is at times rather cool towards her, and he never gives her much information. Just enough, but never too much.  As she finds herself falling for him, she fights the feelings as she knows that there is no future for them to be together. The thing is, that she has part of Tut’s great love’s spirit within her, so it’s a battle in her mind to know which feelings are her and which are not. Tut is very guarded and he continually switches between his ruler persona and a more personal one. This becomes quite frustrating for Rosa.

The book effectively compares old to new life, revealing that the underlying needs of the characters are the same, whether ancient or modern. They all want to be with the ones they care for. Tut with Hesena, and Rosa to return home to her family. Rosa has always been a fan of ancient Egypt and had long built up the romance of Tut’s story within her own mind. It was a dream come true for her to actually become part of his story, and to help him reunite with his wife in the afterlife, but in reality it is home she craves for.

It’s obvious that Cheryl Carpinello has great interest in ancient Egypt and a great deal of research is evident. The book contained a lot of information and I probably only picked up half of the details, but enough to follow the story. I enjoyed the plot and the original time-travel angle. The book also gave me a different perspective of a curse, by showing it from the view of the curser (Tut’s spirit in his tomb) and it’s impact on the grave robber victims. Karma comes to mind. It also provoked thoughts as to whether archaeologists are any different to ancient grave robbers. They both disturb sacred sites to fulfil their own goals. The main difference (I hope) is the archaeologist’s ultimate goal is preservation rather than instant wealth.

In a nutshell

This was an entertaining time-travel adventure with a twist. It succeeds with a nice blend of fact and fiction. Recommended for fans of ancient Egypt who like a little magic mixed in. A good story for teens and adults who are young at heart.


Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.

Buy & TBR Links

AMAZON KINDLE US | AMAZON KINDLE CA |
AMAZON KINDLE UK | AMAZON PAPERBACK |
BARNES & NOBLES PAPERBACK | GOODREADS | SHELFARI


If you’re keen to know more, then you can find more information at any of the following links.

 AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE
WEBSITE – MainWEBSITE – Shared
BLOG | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | GOOGLE+
PINTEREST | GOODREADS | SHELFARI


Giveaway

Thanks for dropping by. You could win yourself a
$50 Amazon/PayPal Gift Card
courtesy of My Family’s Heart and Cheryl Carpinello
Just click below to enter.

ENTER-NOW

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This tour has been organized & hosted by

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YA Book Review | Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix | J.K. Rowling

HP 5HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX
by J.K. Rowling
Kindle edition

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He is desperate to find out why his friends, Ron and Hermione, have been secretive all summer.

But before he even gets to school, Harry survives a terrifying encounter with two Dementors, attends a court hearing at the Ministry of Magic and is escorted on a night-time broomstick ride to the secret headquarters of a mysterious group called the Order of the Phoenix. – GOODREADS


My Review

Once a HP fan, always a HP fan. It’s one of those amazing series that has charmed the world and continues its magical spell long after the release of the final book. I think this is my fourth read of the series and I notice new details each time. The books are so rich with gems of detail that are waiting to be found. It was another great trip down memory lane, and even more vivid, given that I had travelled to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, at the end of 2014. Every HP fan should go there. The books absolutely come to life. (See some of my pics at the end of this review)

Harry is definitely a lot angrier in this one. It’s understandable, but frustrating at the same time. Sometimes I just wanted him to chill, and think things through logically. But I guess that was the whole point of this book, to explore how Harry coped with feeling that he had been abandoned. He was obviously super angry and frustrated and his feelings were mirrored by Sirius, who was in hiding and also deeply annoyed at his isolation and helplessness.

On the flipside, Ron and Hermione’s playful banter, bordering on annoyance, and tinged with a building affection added some balance. Plus there was Luna Lovegood.

“I think I’ll just go down and have some pudding and wait for it all to turn up – it always does in the end.”

She’s so cool – that’s all I need to say – fans of HP understand that she’s just so fascinating.

The introduction of such a nasty piece of work, Delores Umbridge, added another layer of opposition for Harry to contend with – right at the heart of where he felt the safest – Hogwarts. ‘I must not tell lies’ has been undoubtedly etched into the memory of all readers, along with a million opinions on how we would like to throttle her and her fluffy pink cardigan. Remember this… (Booya!)

DU “Potter, do something! Tell them I mean no harm!”
HP “I’m sorry, Professor… but I must not tell lies.”
DU “What are you doing! I am senior undersecretary Delores Jane Umbridge! LET… ME… GOOOOOOOO!”

So many things happen in this story; Hagrid returns from his giant hunt with a surprise; Mr Weasley is injured, and Harry quietly suspects that he’s Voldemort’s weapon. For some reason I didn’t remember much detail of St Mungo’s from previous reads, so those parts were like a whole new setting to behold.

It’s also a time of discovery for Harry, as he learns of his father’s school-day escapades, whilst attending his Occlumency lessons with Snape. It shows us another side of Snape and provides a window to why he’s like he is, and Harry begins to doubt his father’s character. He internalizes everything and doesn’t talk it over with Hermione and Ron. I’m sorry to say that Harry does annoy me in this book. He’s become too cocky and won’t listen to anyone else, even Dumbledore. So it’s not surprising that we see this climax in an explosive confrontation.

HP5 is a period of enormous growth for Harry. We’ve all seen how he has dealt with extreme situations since his wizarding life began in book 1. But in this book, Harry is growing up. So, in addition to the constant threat from Voldemort and his followers, he is also battling his own feelings and trying to find his way.


In a nutshellEach time I re-read these books I love them more.  A great instalment to the series that takes us through the tough personal conflicts of our hero, while he continues to battle the darkness that lurks all around. It’s a no brainer that this book would appeal to all HP fans.


Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.


Checkout my other Harry Potter reviews:



As promised here are a few of my thousands of pics from my recent visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
WARNING: There’s lots!! It was a struggle to pick favourites.

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New Kids Movie Trailer | The Secret Life of Pets | 2016

Hiya, This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (2016)

Taking place in a Manhattan apartment building, Max’s life as a favorite pet is turned upside down, when his owner brings home a sloppy mongrel named Duke. They have to put their quarrels behind when they find out that an adorable white bunny named Snowball is building an army of abandoned pets determined to take revenge on all happy-owned pets and their owners.  (IMDB)

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


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New Kids Movie Trailer | Inside Out | 2015

Hiya, This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

INSIDE OUT (2015)

After young Riley is uprooted from her Midwest life and moved to San Francisco, her emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – conflict on how best to navigate a new city, house, and school. (IMDB)

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


 Any ads that may occasionally appear below the line are not endorsed by me.


Book Review | The Great Zoo of China| Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China

THE GREAT ZOO OF CHINA
by Matthew Reilly
529 pages
Gift – Hardcover edition

Buy from Amazon
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Buy from Book Depository


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. – GOODREADS


My Review

There is no doubt that The Great Zoo of China is Jurassic World with dragons. Even Matthew Reilly notes the similarities at the end of the book, but also points out the differences. Similar, or not, I thought this was an exciting and entertaining read.

China has been quietly working for many years creating the most amazing zoo ever. It’s a place that they believe is destined to show the world that they can do anything. Given their ingenuity, I have no doubt they are really capable if creating something of such a scale.

The time to reveal the zoo to the world has come, and a group of influential VIP guests arrive for a sneak peek. These include U.S. Government officials, respected media representatives, and highly regarded animal (crocodile) experts. This is where our main characters, CJ, and her brother, Hamish, come into the story. China’s aim is to totally amaze their guests and let them tell the world about the zoo.

There is a little back story that crops up (something messy had already happened), but it has been swept under the covers. There is no way that China want the reputation of the new zoo tarnished.

It’s during the VIP visit that drama and action take front and centre stage when things start to go wrong and all hell breaks loose. We learn that dragons are actually very intelligent creatures and have their own goals. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m sure it’s obvious that there are some hard fought battles between humans and beast. In addition to dealing with cranky dragons, there’s even more danger for the VIPs. The zoo officials  are adamant that no word of the problems get out to the world.

Along the way, our heroine, CJ, befriends a yellow dragon and they work together to beat the enemy. This is the point where I had to suspend belief. A herpetologist veterinarian becoming a kick-ass action hero! Hmmmm. Talking to a dragon! Hmmmm. But, other than that it was the classic MR mix that I love, with lots of action, detailed maps, and impossible situations being overcome by sheer ingenuity.


In a nutshell

One thing to note is that it’s the first MR book with a female as the main character. Whether the main protagonist is male or female doesn’t come into my radar, but for those readers who are swayed by the gender of the book’s hero, it’s good to see :)

The Great Zoo of China is a cool book with a wild plot, plenty of action and an impressive setting on a grand scale. I enjoyed the read, but not as much as MR’s other books.


Note: I don’t claim to be a pro-reviewer, I am a reader. My reviews are based on my personal thoughts around the story that the book is trying to tell. I try to focus on the story (which is the reason I read) rather than dissect the book and pass comment on typos, writing style or structure.


If you’re keen to know more, then click below to head on over to Matthew Reilly’s website.

Matthew Reilly site


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New Kids Movie Trailer | The Peanuts Movie | 2015

Hiya, This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

THE PEANUTS MOVIE (2016)

Snoopy embarks upon his greatest mission as he and his team take to the skies to pursue their arch-nemesis, while his best pal Charlie Brown begins his own epic quest back home. (IMDB)

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


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The Quest Series | Omnibus Edition | Books 1-3 | Now Available

| THE QUEST SERIES | OMNIBUS EDITION |
| Books 1-3 |
| NOW AVAILABLE |

The Quest Series is a time travel adventure that is packed full of exciting action, adventure and mystery. Since its release, it has delighted readers of all ages and received high praise along the way. The first book, The Golden Scarab, was a finalist in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Awards. Book 4, The Missing Link, is on the way, so this Omnibus Edition (Exclusive to Amazon) lets you catch up and get ready for the series finale.

The Quest Series Omnibox 1-3

| CLICK THE BOX TO GET YOUR COPY |

PS. If you have already read the series, it would be great if you could take a couple of minutes to share your thoughts with a quick review on the exclusive Amazon Omnibus Edition :)

 


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New Kids Movie Trailer | Zootopia | 2016

Hiya, This is just a quick post to let you know that I’ve added a new kid’s movie trailer to my KIDS MOVIE TRAILERS page.

ZOOTOPIA (2016)

In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbit, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends. (IMDB)

If you liked that, then click the MOVIE TRAILERS link at the top of this page or click on the MOVIES category in the right hand margin to see all of the other new and favourite trailer links I’ve posted.


 Any ads that may occasionally appear below the line are not endorsed by me.


The Quest Series | Omnibus Edition | Books 1-3 | Now Available

| THE QUEST SERIES | OMNIBUS EDITION |
| Books 1-3 |
| NOW AVAILABLE |

The Quest Series is a time travel adventure that is packed full of exciting action, adventure and mystery. Since its release, it has delighted readers of all ages and received high praise along the way. The first book, The Golden Scarab, was a finalist in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Awards. Book 4, The Missing Link, is on the way, so this Omnibus Edition (Exclusive to Amazon) lets you catch up and get ready for the series finale.The Quest Series Omnibox 1-3

| CLICK THE BOX TO BUY FOR JUST $3.99 usd |

PS. If you have already read the series, it would be great if you could take a couple of minutes to share your thoughts with a quick review on the exclusive Amazon Omnibus Edition :)

 


Any advertisments that may occasionally appear below the line are not endorsed by me.

EPCOT | Walt Disney World | Florida | Part 2

Our recent visit to EPCOT was the first time we had been there in 15 years. It’s a big park, so we were prepared for lots of walking, and being so big, it gives the impression that the crowds aren’t as large. Make sure that you check your map while you visit, because it’s easy to miss things because many of the attractions are spread out. We didn’t realise that there was a Soarin’ ride until after we left :(

Here is a little something I tracked down while preparing this post. It’s a great video of a TV special that aired in 1982 to celebrate the opening of EPCOT. It’s very dated, but retro is ‘in’ so therefore it’s perfect to include. The show starts at about the 2 minute mark (anything before that is just opening credits etc). You may just want to skim through it, but be sure to keep an eye out for a real surprise a little past the 10 minute mark. If you do, tell me in the comments below who you see.


World Showcase

The World Showcase is a trip around the world, where you get to see the sights, hear the sounds, and taste the foods of countries from all over the world. Each of the eleven countries is a zone, all of which surround a huge central lake. It’s a great way to travel the world without the airport lines or luggage problems. We didn’t stay into the night, but there is a wonderful IllumiNations light and fireworks spectacular above the lake each night.

The detail in the buildings is brilliant (as expected from Disney), but personally I’d prefer each country to have a central ‘fun’ attraction above and beyond the food and setting. Some do, some don’t. I guess it’s just personal preference as to what you are expecting from this park. I think kids would be less interested in this section of the park than parents.

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World Showcase – Mexico.
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World Showcase – Mexico – The indoor night markets are a great first stop and we also rode on the Gran Fiesta Tour, which is a boat ride to discover the sights of Mexico.
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World Showcase – Norway
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World Showcase – Norway
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World Showcase – China
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World Showcase – Germany
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World Showcase – Germany
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World Showcase – Germany
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World Showcase – Italy
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World Showcase – Japan
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World Showcase – France
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World Showcase – United Kingdom. Disney are the masters of gardens and landscaping. The UK gardens stood out as being particularly nice.
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World Showcase – United Kingdom
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World Showcase – United Kingdom. I loved the UK buildings. The detail was amazing.
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World Showcase – Canada

The Sum of All Thrills ™

This was an unexpected find in one of the showcase pavilions. It’s a motion-simulator ride where you get to design your very own roller-coaster and then get to experience it with virtual reality. The level of thrill is based completely on your own design and the mathematics behind it. So if you like tame coasters it’s tame, but if you’re after high thrills then make sure you cram as many twists and turns into your design as possible.

Riders are strapped into seats and then a canopy is lowered over them. The only thing left visible to spectators are the dangling feet of the rider (see our video above). So, you’re sitting on the end of a robotic arm and being tipped, twisted, turned upside down and swooping from side to side. That’s what this one is all about. It’s great fun as you virtually ride the coaster that you personally designed in 3D.

You also get a link to relive your coaster online when you get home. Click the link here and then input the code 3R93UHZ if you want to see what we designed and rode.


In a nutshellEPCOT  is a great park to spend a day that’s a bit different to the other Disney  theme parks. It’s more exhibition, less fun, but worth the visit. I think that kids (and me) would love the thrill rides, while adults are more likely to drool over the details of the World Showcase.

Families need to balance the experiences to keep everyone happy (or split up for the day and meet up with each other later on).

Click here if you missed part 1 of our EPCOT visit.


Be sure to take a look at my other posts about our travels as they go live, or check my previous Travel Adventures posts for the ones already published. If you’re not a current follower, just click the FOLLOW button on the sidebar.

PS: I have no affiliation or relationship with WDW, except that I am a customer and fan.


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Help Me Choose My Next YA Read

Having read and enjoyed The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner series’ over the past year, I find myself keen to discover a new YA book or series that I can sink my teeth into. There is no doubt that there are a bazillion great reads out there, but I’m hoping visitors to my site can throw some recommendations and ideas my way.

I’ve scoured the net (well, a little bit of it anyway) and listed quite a collection of some contenders below. I would really appreciate it if you could cast a vote (or make a suggestion) at the end of this post to help with this life changing decision. (FYI – if it’s too heavy on romance, then it’s probably not what I’m looking for)


Nil | Lynne Matson

NilOn the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time. – GOODREADS.


Hungry | H.A. Swain

HungryIn the future, food is no longer necessary—until Thalia begins to feel something unfamiliar and uncomfortable. She’s hungry.

In Thalia’s world, there is no need for food—everyone takes medication (or “inocs”) to ward off hunger. It should mean there is no more famine, no more obesity, no more food-related illnesses, and no more war. At least that’s what her parents, who work for the company that developed the inocs, say. But when Thalia meets a boy who is part of an underground movement to bring food back, she realizes that most people live a life much different from hers. Worse, Thalia is starting to feel hunger, and so is he—the inocs aren’t working. Together they set out to find the only thing that will quell their hunger: real food.

H. A. Swain delivers an adventure that is both epic and fast-paced. Get ready to be Hungry.- GOODREADS


The Doomsday Code | TimeRiders 3 | Alex Scarrow

The Doomsday CodeLiam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026.

But all three have been given a second chance—to work for an agency that no one knows exists. Its purpose: to prevent time travel destroying history…

In 1993 British computer hacker Adam Lewis finds his name in a coded manuscript that is almost one thousand years old. How did Adam’s name get in there… and why?

Confronted by Adam in 2001, the TimeRiders travel back to Sherwood Forest in 1193 to discover the origins of the ancient message. But when a strange hooded man appears interested in the same thing, they begin to wonder what terrible threat this cryptic link from the past holds for the future…  – GOODREADS


After the Snow | S.D. Crockett

After the SnowFifteen-year-old Willo was out hunting when the trucks came and took his family away. Left alone in the snow, Willo becomes determined to find and rescue his family, and he knows just who to talk with to learn where they are. He plans to head across the mountains and make Farmer Geraint tell him where his family has gone.

But on the way across the mountain, he finds Mary, a refugee from the city, whose father is lost and who is starving to death. The smart thing to do would be to leave her alone — he doesn’t have enough supplies for two or the time to take care of a girl — but Willo just can’t do it. However, with the world trapped in an ice age, the odds of them surviving on their own are not good. And even if he does manage to keep Mary safe, what about finding his family? – GOODREADS


The 5th Wave : Book 1 | Rick Yancey

The 5th Wave Book 1After 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. To give up or to get up. – GOODREADS


The Compound | S.A. Bodeen

The CompoundEli and his family have lived in the underground Compound for six years. The world they knew is gone, and they’ve become accustomed to their new life. Accustomed, but not happy.

For Eli, no amount of luxury can stifle the dull routine of living in the same place, with only his two sisters, his father and mother, doing the same thing day after day after day.

As problems with their carefully planned existence threaten to destroy their sanctuary—and their sanity—Eli can’t help but wonder if he’d rather take his chances outside.

Eli’s father built the Compound to keep them safe. But are they safe—or sorry?   – GOODREADS


The Eye of Minds | Mortality Doctrine 1 | James Dashner

The Eye of MindsMichael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it’s addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he’s holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific—the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer’s motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.  And they’ve been watching Michael. They want him on their team. But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can’t even fathom—and there’s the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever. – GOODREADS


The Rule of Three | Eric Walters

The Rule of ThreeOne shocking afternoon, computers around the globe shut down in a viral catastrophe. At sixteen-year-old Adam Daley’s high school, the problem first seems to be a typical electrical outage, until students discover that cell phones are down, municipal utilities are failing, and a few computer-free cars like Adam’s are the only vehicles that function.

Driving home, Adam encounters a storm tide of anger and fear as the region becomes paralyzed. Soon—as resources dwindle, crises mount, and chaos descends—he will see his suburban neighborhood band together for protection. And Adam will understand that having a police captain for a mother and a retired government spy living next door are not just the facts of his life but the keys to his survival, in The Rule of Three by Eric Walters.  – GOODREADS


Enclave | Ann Aguirre

EnclaveNew York City residents, decimated by war and plague, live underground in Enclaves, barely past age 20. Deuce 15, trained as Huntress, pairs with odd Fade, who was boy Topside. Elders ignore warning, exile both. Monster Freaks, more organized, killed nearest Enclave. Guided by old memories, in gang-infested ruins, pair face apocalyptic world with new dangers and feelings. – GOODREADS


The Book Thief | Markus Zusak

The Book TheifIt’s just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.  – GOODREADS