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Book Review | The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner 2) | James Dashner

 


The Scorch TrialsTHE SCORCH TRIALS
(Maze Runner 2)
by James Dashner ★★★★★

The Scorch Trials picks up where The Maze Runner left off. The Gladers have escaped the Maze, but now they face an even more treacherous challenge on the open roads of a devastated planet.
And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Can Thomas survive in such a violent world?   [Goodreads]


My Review

Newsflash … This is the best book I’ve read this year … End of Newsflash.

I was a big fan of the first book (The Maze Runner) and I loved this one even more. It’s one of those series that you read and totally immerse yourself in, but there’s a constant doubt in the back of your mind as to whether you (or the characters) are being tricked and misled. Nothing is as it seems … Or is it? … I love that uncertainty.

Fresh from their escape from the Maze, the Gladers find themselves at the whim of WICKED once again. Were they ever free of them? (Read it to find out) In this book, snippets of information are slowly revealed, teasing us  with clues about the bigger picture. Who is WICKED? Who is Thomas? Where did the Gladers come from? Why are they there? Did another team survive the maze? Every clue brings more questions, so if you like to be kept on your toes from one page to the next, then you’ll love the mystery in this one.

Thomas is still the main guy, and just when he starts to relax because everything is going well, his mysterious mind link with Theresa from book 1 is suddenly broken. That’s when things start to go a little haywire and turn dangerous. Thomas is completely disheartened when he discovers that Theresa has vanished without a trace. He fears the worst. What’s happened to her? Is she still alive? And the fact that she’s been replaced by a new guy called, Aris, who can also talk to Thomas with his mind, is another great twist.

The Gladers are forced to embark on a new and even more treacherous journey known as the Scorch Trials. I won’t tell you why they have to go, or what they get if they succeed – you’ll need to read it yourself. The Scorch Trials lead them through impossibly long and dark underground tunnels, across scorching desert, and into the dangerous streets of a city in ruins. Every turn brings more danger, whether it be from deadly mechanical beasts, extremes of Mother Nature or zombie-like-diseased-human-leftovers that chase them without an ounce of mercy. There is such a constant barrage of deadly challenges in this book, that it’s not just a question of ’Who will make it to the end?’ It’s a question of ’Will they make it to the end?’

I’m literally busting to see what the next book in the series brings. If it’s as good as this one I’ll be a very happy lad. On a side note, I’m also really looking forward to seeing The Maze Runner movie (Book 1), which is due for cinema release in September 2014. I’m crossing my fingers that The Scorch Trials movie won’t be too long a wait after that. I’m sure it’ll be brilliant (fingers crossed).
FYI – As with The Maze Runner, this one definitely sits in the Young Adult bucket, not Middle Grade.

In a nutshellThis book is a full-on action packed thrill ride from cover to cover. It’s got new friends, old friends, new foes, old foes, betrayal, doubt, pain, hope, hopelessness. I could go on, but I think you get the message … it’s got heaps crammed into it. Highly recommended.

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.

Check out my reviews of other James Dashner books:


Here is The Maze Runner movie trailer.
It’s due for release in September 2014.

 For more exciting news related to the movie jump over to Mundie Kids 

If you want to take a peek at extra details and learn about the cast, click here and jump over to IMDB.


Want to know more?
 Click below to check out James Dashner’s great website.
James Dashner

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Book Review | Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire | J.K. Rowling

HP 4HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE
by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★
Kindle edition

It’s the summer holidays and soon Harry Potter will be starting his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Harry is counting the days: there are new spells to be learnt, more Quidditch to be played, and Hogwarts castle to continue exploring. But Harry needs to be careful – there are unexpected dangers lurking …

JK Rowling continues to surprise and delight with the power of her rich, demanding and action-packed storytelling. [Goodreads]


My Review

 An action packed story that’s full of great moments.

This was another great trip down memory lane. I love re-reading HP books. Harry has endured another challenging period in the Dursley household with fresh memories of Sirius from book 3 crisp in his mind. At last he had someone (besides Dumbledore) to watch over him, even if it was from a distance.

HP 4 starts with a great celebration. It’s Quiddich World Cup time and there’s a bucket load of excitement that goes with it. It’s a rare opportunity for magic folk to gather and bask in the spectacle of a major event. As with any great spectacle, there are some who see it as an opportunity to cause havoc. An evil prank by a pack of Death Eaters and the appearance of the Dark Mark demonstrate how easily things can switch from the highs of the sports field to the lows of dark magic. It’s a huge wake up call to many, but others still remain in denial of the impending return of Voldemort.

Soon after the cup, another school year begins, which promises to be full of drama and excitement. Existing bonds have grown stronger and foes have grown ’foeier’, but there is big news on the way. Dumbledore announces that Hogwarts will host the legendary Triwizard Cup, which has been dormant in the magic world for many years (due to unfortunate deaths and injuries in the past). The cup would be a good hearted battle of endurance and smarts between the three great schools of the wizarding world.

That’s where J.K. throws a spanner in the works. Instead of the expected three competitors, a fourth is thrust into the game. Harry. And he must accept his role and compete to win, whilst fighting against multiple opponents that lay within and outwith the challenges of the cup. The Triwizard Cup is a battle for Harry on so many levels. Only one competitor can win and claim victory. The plot is full of great twists that both surprise and delight.

The influx of visitors to Hogwarts brings with it a whole wave of new characters that weave into the lives of our favourite wizards. Hagrid for one shows a new side to his personality as he falls for one of the visitors. Hermione is also a little besotted by one of Harry’s opponents, as she blossoms into her teens and dazzles at the ball. There’s also the subtle beginnings of an underlying (and unacknowledged) chemistry with Ron.

This book is another wonderful tale by J.K. that builds on the previous books and sets up well for the ones that follow. She builds the threat of looming chaos and Dumbledore is worried. It’s a turning point in the series where the Ministry is starting to lose all sense of logic by denying that Voldemort’s strength is growing. There’s a lesson to be learned – don’t ignore the squeaky wheel, it’ll fall off one day and you’ll be in deep trouble.

In a nutshellEach time I re-read these books I love them more. The Goblet of Fire is an action packed story that’s full of great moments. The various paths and plots within the story converge into a wonderful and exciting climax.


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:



 


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Book Review | Double Vision | F.T. Bradley


Double Vision 1
CLICK ABOVE TO FIND OUT MORE

DOUBLE VISION (Double Vision 1)
By F.T. Bradley    ★★★★★
Paperback edition

Fans of 39 Clues and Artemis Fowl will enjoy the fun, fresh thrill ride through this humorous, action-packed adventure from debut author F. T. Bradley.

In the trilogy opener, twelve-year-old Lincoln Baker finds himself in a world of trouble! First, Linc’s seemingly harmless prank on a school field trip ends in expulsion and a lawsuit. Then two mysterious figures from a secret government agency called Pandora show up at Linc’s house with a proposition for him.

Turns out Linc looks exactly like one of Pandora’s top kid agents, Benjamin Green, who vanished while on a critical spy mission in Paris. If Linc agrees to take his place, they’ll get him back in school and make that costly lawsuit disappear.

But the mission is a lot more complicated than it seems. A highly valuable copy of the Mona Lisa has gone missing and now Linc must make sure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Too bad Linc isn’t a black belt math genius who can run a four-minute mile like his double, Ben, because he’ll need those skills to make it out alive. . . . [Goodreads]


My Review

A nice mix of action and adventure.

Ever since I first saw this book I’ve wanted to read it. So, I waited for ages for the ebook to be available for me here in Australia. No such luck. I finally put an end to the waiting and ordered a paperback copy from the Book Depository in the UK (It was a great deal with free postage). And I have to say that I’m very glad that I decided to  grab a copy, because I loved this book.

Linc is a normal kid, who has a talent for causing mayhem without even trying. One day, his mayhem has some pretty serious repercussions on his family and it looks like everything is taking a dive because of him. Then, everything changes. His uncanny resemblance to a high performing kid spy becomes his ticket to an amazing adventure, and hopefully a solution to the problems he’s brought upon his folks.

Without giving away too much of the plot, Linc embarks on a top secret mission to recover a priceless piece of art that could fall into the wrong hands. Far from the quiet streets of his hometown, he finds himself on a thrilling adventure through Paris solving hidden clues with his new friend, Francoise.

In a way, this book reminded me of a Da Vinci Code for kids, without the murders and dark themes. Just an urgent mission to solve the clues before it was too late. This is one of the most enjoyable books that I’ve read this year. Great job. I’m looking forward to books 2 and 3.

In a nutshellThe plot is great. It has a nice mix of action, adventure and a likeable cast. Twists, turns and the suspicion of double agents had me changing my mind along the way as the mystery unfolded.

Highly recommended.

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 about F.T. Bradley and her books?
Click below to check out more information.

FT BradleyDouble Vision 1Double Vision 2Double Vision 3


 

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Book Review | Fizz and Peppers at the Bottom of the World | M.G. King


Fizz and Peppers
Click the book to see more of M.G.’s books

FIZZ AND PEPPERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD
By M.G. King    ★★★★★

NOMINATED FOR 2013 CYBIL AWARDS!

Everyone knows that sunlight turns trolls to stone. What most people don’t realize is that a single bubble of soda fizz wakes those violent, bickering creatures back up! Just ask Colin Colbeck.

When Colin drops through a mysterious hole under his brother’s bed, he discovers a band of smoothie drinking trolls who tell him his grandmother has been kidnapped. It’s up to Colin to journey into the deep to save her.

Followed by his ex-best friend and a reckless little brother, Colin and his companions discover a troll war about to cause a catastrophic earthquake. Scandanavian mythology meets suburbia in this perilous tale. [Goodreads]


My Review

This book has been lingering in my to read pile for quite a while and I finally took the plunge to read it. It was totally surprising to find such a rich adventure lingering beneath such an unassuming cover. It gave no indication as to the type of story or the scale of the setting within. M.G. King has created an amazing world full of great characters that could quite possibly really be underneath our noses.

Colin is the main character of the story, who finds himself in a desperate search for his missing Grand. She’s wandered off one night and gone missing. Much to his surprise, he discovers that she’s been kidnapped … by Trolls! This is where it gets complicated for young Colin. Soon enough his younger brother, Sid, goes missing too. The trouble is, who’d believe his story that Trolls live under the house and have a penchant for kidnapping. Would you?

So the adventure moves underground to an amazing place. We soon find that there’s a heap of drama going on in the world of Trolls, which will have a terrible impact on everyone above ground. There’s plenty of action, captures, escapes, and surprises lingering in this story.

In a stroke of genius, Sid had decided to bring along his spy book for reference purposes, in case they were in a jam. It came in very handy and littered the story with comical tips that often had me chuckling as I read. Another character that we meet is Pepper, she’s the mean and grumpy girl from next door, and she was my least favourite character. You’ll need to read it for yourself to see how she deals with the huge chip she has on her shoulder.

In addition to these ones, I seem to have come across lots of Trolls lately, reading Troll Mountain by Matthew Reilly, and watching The Hobbit on DVD. I’m wondering if they really do exist! I really enjoyed this book. It had an action packed climax and a clever twist right at the end.

In a nutshell

Fizz and Peppers is a great read that as I mentioned before, was a pleasant and action filled surprise.

There’s a lot more to this one than the cover suggests.


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 about M.G. King and her books?
Click below to check out more information.

MG King


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Blog Tour & Review | Mammoth Trouble (Noah Zarc 1) | D.Robert Pease

Noah Zarc Blog Tour Button FINAL

About the Book

Noah Zarc Mammoth Trouble by D. Robert Pease

Title: Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble
(Book #1)
Author: D. Robert Pease
Publication Date: July 22, 2013
Publisher: Evolved Publishing (2nd Edition)
Number of pages: 214
Recommended age: 9+

Summary: Noah lives for piloting spaceships through time, dodging killer robots and saving Earth’s animals from extinction. Life couldn’t be better. But the twelve-year-old time traveler learns it could be a whole lot worse. His mom is kidnapped and taken to Mars; his dad is stranded in the Ice Age; and Noah is attacked at every turn by a foe bent on destroying Earth… for the second time.

Amazon | iTunes | Barnes and Noble | Kobo
Amazon (Audiobook) | iTunes (AudioBook) | Audible

My Review

This is a story of extremes. It’s an old tale retold, with a mixture of futuristic space travellers and a sprinkling of cave dwellers and extinct animals.  A futuristic family has been tasked with collecting all the creatures from history, ready for repopulation on earth. The ARC is their mode of transportation,  and it sounds absolutely mind-blowing. I can’t imagine how long it would take to build something so huge, let alone the ongoing maintenance.

Their journey takes some of them waaaaaaaay back into the past where they meet up with a group of peaceful and friendly cave dwellers. Based on my normal assumptions about cave dwellers, I expected that they would be less civilized and quite untrusting of mysterious people from the sky. But in this story that stereotype is thrown out the window. They welcomed them with open cave. It was great to see the Noah’s new caver friend, Adina’s story unfold, and for her strengths to be an important factor in the final outcome. It just goes to show that there must’ve been some clever cavers. It’ll be interesting to see how well she adjusts to her new life in later books.

One thing that amazed me was how well the translator worked. The ease of communication between two groups of people from the extreme opposite ends of civilization was practically seamless. This was the only part of the story that I thought was a stretch, but I found the rest of it quite well thought out, believable and possible. It’s quite clear as well that there is an underlying environmental message in the story, with extremely opposite views from different characters. Each side felt that they were on the right side, but Haon (the baddie) was blinded by his opinions and wasn’t approaching it in the most appropriate way.

I think that the author has succeeded in weaving together plenty of different plot levels into a well thought out story. I haven’t mentioned it, but there is also an overarching power that is having a huge impact on everyone’s life. It was also great that a kid with his own physical challenges took centre stage as the main protagonist and overcame them. Let’s hope the technology that helped Noah really does become a reality in he future.

In a nutshell

This book was choc-full of action. I really enjoyed the story and it kept my interest from the first page.

Great climax too.

 


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.


 The Buzz About the Noah Zarc Books

Book 1: “Pease’s strength as a storyteller lies in his ability to connect multiple time periods imaginatively, as well as Noah’s excited, fast-paced narration.” ~ Publishers Weekly

Book 1: “If I had read this book at age 10, I think it would have made me love SF just as much as reading Asimov did. If you like the non-stop action and humor of Rick Riordan’s Olympians books, I think you’ll also like Noah Zarc.” ~ Sher A. Hart, book blogger and author

Book 2: “This is another great mind-bender. The wild time jump details are fabulously thought out and cause some unexpected results.” ~ Michelle Isenhoff, Children’s Author

Book 2: “A well-written, adventurous read for young readers and even adults, Noah Zarc blasts through space and into your imagination.” ~ TKristufek, Amazon Reviewer

Book 3: “I was completely captured by the characters, the action and the issues and questions: set in fantasy but integrating concepts and engaging readers with a fun tale that teaches as it entertains.” ~ Gaele, Amazon Reviewer


 About the Author: D. Robert Pease

D. Robert PeaseD. Robert Pease has been interested in creating worlds since childhood. From building in the sandbox behind his house, to drawing fantastical worlds with paper and pencil, there has hardly been a time he hasn’t been off on some adventure in his mind, to the dismay of parents and teachers alike.

Also, since the moment he could read, books have consumed vast swaths of his life. From The Mouse and the Motorcycle, to The Lord of the Rings, worlds just beyond reality have called to him like Homer’s Sirens. It’s not surprising then he chose to write stories of his own. Each filled with worlds just beyond reach, but close enough we can all catch a glimpse of ourselves in the characters he brings to life.

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Noah Zarc: Mammoth Trouble
Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

May 13
Mother Daughter Book Reviews (Launch & Review)
Desperate Homeschoolers (Review)

May 14
Cherry Mischievous (Review)
Sunshine, Bubbles & Books (Review)

May 15
My Devotional Thoughts (Review)
Mel’s Shelves (Review)
Palace of Twelve Pillars (Review)

May 16
The Reading Room (Review)
Kay LaLone, I Love Books (Review)

May 17
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock (Review)
Book Reviews & Giveaways (Review)

May 18
Stitch Says (Review)
Lakshmi Gosyne (Review)

May 19
Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys (Review)
Pragmatic Mom (Review)

May 20
The World of ContestPatti (Review)
Alwaysjoart (Review)

May 21
A Leisure Moment (Review)
Not Your Ordinary Psychic Mom (Review)

May 22
swlothian | author (Review)
Purple Monster Coupons (Review)
SoCal City Kids (Review)

May 23
BeachBoundBooks (Review)
Unschooling Momma (Review)

May 24
Jemima Pett, Author (Review)
We Are The DinoFamily (Review)

May 25
Bookworm for Kids (Review)
Musing With Crayolakim (Review)

May 26
Heart of a Philanthropist (Review)
Nanna Three and Counting (Review)
Oh My Bookness (Review)


* $25 Blog Tour Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)
Contest ends: June 11, 11:59 pm, 2014
Open: Internationally
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter button or widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, D. Robert Pease and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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More than a book review | Bully for Them | by Fiona Scott-Norman


Bully for ThemBULLY FOR THEM
(Outstanding Australians on Hard Lessons Learned at School)

by Fiona Scott-Norman

One of the most difficult things about being bullied is the feeling that nobody else knows what it’s like. Twenty-two of Australia’s most talented and successful people know exactly what it’s like. In candid and entertaining interviews, leading lights from across Australian life recount how they were bullied and shunned at school just for being different. Not only did they survive the ordeal but their experiences helped shape them into the remarkable individuals they are today.

Contributors include: Missy Higgins (musician), Hazem El Masri (NRL), Christos Tsiolkas (writer), Tiffiny Hall (TV), Alice Pung (writer), Sam Bramham (paralympian), Stella Young (disability advocate), Eddie Perfect (actor), Megan Washington (musician), Brendan Cowell (actor), Marieke Hardy (writer), Adam Goodes (AFL), Adam Boland (TV), Bindi Cole (artist), Charlie Pickering (TV), Kate Miller-Heidke (musician), Tim Ferguson (comedian), Penny Wong (politician), Benjamin Law (writer), Judith Lucy (comedian), Paul Capsis (musician), and Wendy Harmer (TV). – Goodreads 


My Review

Bully for Them is a book filled with heartfelt words from a wide variety of famous Australians. Each of them recounts their experiences at school, many of them experiencing the brunt of bullying. Personally, I have no time or tolerance for bullies. This is a direct result of my own experiences. Even to this day, when I encounter people who’s manner or actions remind me of certain people from my school days, I can’t help but judge them – the wall goes up. I know it’s not fair, but my gut instincts are more often right than wrong. They need to prove themselves to me, to earn my respect and trust.

The experiences that are discussed by the contributors in the book are often very frank, and sometimes quite confronting. I mention this as I wouldn’t recommend this as a read for kids. It’s better suited to adults to see how school time experiences can shape an individual. This knowledge may help parents to spot troubled times for their kids along the way, so they can offer some help, and be there for them.

As a parent, one of the things that I fear most is that my kids would become victims of bullying. I dare say that I’ve brought them up to respect others and I’m extremely confident that they would never participate in bullying others.

Regular readers of this blog will know of my 9 year old daughter’s recent battle with cancer. One of the most worrying things for me when she returned to school a couple of months ago was whether her lack of hair and wearing a bandana would attract bullying or teasing.  Interestingly enough, the only confronting comments we’ve encountered (overheard) have been from a small number of teens and adults in public places. It’s extremely hard to ignore, and resist the temptation to set them straight – we don’t want to draw more attention. Thankfully, she has been welcomed back to school with open arms by her friends and teachers, and she has approached it bravely and gracefully, like the true champion she is. We’re so proud of her, and I’m proud of her friends for looking after her as well.

The common thread within the book is that the contributors have all taken strength from their past and turned it into something positive. They’ve grown and blossomed in their chosen field and are even thankful for the tough times, and acknowledged that they were the very things that built their character and made them what they are today.  I know that most readers of this blog are not from Australia, you’re mainly USA, Canada and UK, so you may not have heard of the famous Aussies in this book. The main thing is their stories. It shows that if you are determined enough, you can overcome the bullies and shine in the world.

Two standouts in the book for me were Kate Miller-Heidke (musician) and Tiffiny Hall (TV, author), both famous Australians that I’ve respected and admired for a number of years. As I read their stories I tweeted about it and was uber-thrilled to get the following replies.

Kate Miller-Heidke 1

Tiffiny Hall 1

Tiffiny Hall is a beautiful and passionate person. My kids both think she’s awesome, they’re both definitely fans of the white ninja. She is also an accomplished author and is actively involved in anti-bully initiatives. Kate Miller-Heidke is one of those rare, quirky and immensely talented musicians that come into play from time to time. I’ve been a fan for the long run. One of her songs, Caught in the Crowd, is one of my all time favourites. It’s about bullying. I thought it was the perfect bonus to add to the end of this review.

It’s also interesting to know that if you search Kate Miller-Heidke on YouTube you’ll get a load of videos of this song done by school kids as part of an anti-bullying initiative. It’s worth watching a few.

In a nutshellThis started out as a simple book review, but I think it uncovered how much this book impacted me. I’m so glad to have seen it mentioned on The Project (an Aussie TV show), at which time I immediately went online and bought it. I think this is a wonderful book.


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. 


While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat time-travel adventure series’  by clicking the pic below.4 books

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Book Review | Troll Mountain (1,2,3) | Matthew Reilly


I’ve been a Matthew Reilly fan for a number of years. Yes, his plots are over the top. Yes, the characters find themselves in impossible situations but always find a way out. Yes he’s an Aussie like me. They are all reasons that I read and enjoy his books. I love the action, the ingenuity, the never give up attitude, and the grand scale of the settings (and I think that MR’s diagrams are cool too).

For my normal followers, now is the time to warn those who haven’t heard of or read MR’s books, his books are normally written for adult readers. However, MR does state in an interview at the end of Troll Mountain, which has been released as three novellas/episodes, is targeted to a family audience. There is some violence, so it’s up to you to decide if it’s suitable for Middle Grade readers or not.

I’ve decided to write these review comments as I complete each book. I wanted to capture my thoughts on each episode before I was backed up or disproved in the next episode/s. So, you’ll either see how way off I was along the way … or be amazed at how perceptive I was ahead of the final climax (see, I’m even assuming there’s an awesome climax as I write this).


A dauntless young hero. An army of brutal monsters. An impossible quest.
Journey to the mountain …

IN THESE, THE THREE SERIALIZED EPISODES, MATTHEW REILLY TAKES YOU ON HIS WILDEST RIDE YET: A HEADLONG QUEST TO THE DARK HEART OF THE KINGDOM OF THE TROLLS. – Goodreads


Troll Mountain 1TROLL MOUNTAIN
(EPISODE I)

by Matthew Reilly

In an isolated valley, a small tribe of humans is dying from a terrible illness. There are rumors, however, that the trolls of Troll Mountain, the valley’s fearsome overlords, have found a cure for the illness: a fabulous elixir.

When his sister is struck down by the disease and his tribal leaders refuse to help him, an intrepid youth named Raf decides to defy his tribe and do the unthinkable: he will journey alone to Troll Mountain and steal the elixir from the dreaded trolls.

But to get to Troll Mountain, Raf will have to pass through dangerous swamps and haunting forests filled with wolves, hobgoblins and, worst of all, the ever-present danger of rogue trolls …

The journey to the mountain has begun.  – Goodreads


My thoughts – Episode I

This is a complete surprise from Matthew Reilly. The storyline and writing style is totally different from any other MR writing that I’ve read (that’s most of his books). The language used is quite simple, almost childlike, but that gives the book the very feeling that I’m being told a true story by some wise old man.

I may be on the wrong track, but I see the story has a much deeper meaning. My guess is that it’s really making a statement on how the real world works. It’s entertaining and the plot moves along at a brisk pace, so I’m jumping straight into Episode II.


Troll Mountain 2TROLL MOUNTAIN
(EPISODE II)
by Matthew Reilly

The only unguarded entrance to Troll Mountain is the abandoned kingdom of the hobgoblins. With no other route available to them, Raf and his newfound friends, Ko and Dum, enter the dark, dank world of the hobgoblins.

But is it truly abandoned?  – Goodreads


My thoughts – Episode II

And so … we have a cliff-hanger at the end of Episode II.

This second part of Troll Mountain sees the return of trademark Matthew Reilly maps and traps, which I love to refer to as I read through the story. They’re a handy feature indeed.

I’m still convinced that the whole story is a reflection of modern society. Manipulative powers at the top and everyone fighting their own struggles below. On to Episode III.


Troll Mountain 3TROLL MOUNTAIN
(EPISODE III)

by Matthew Reilly

Raf’s mission to Troll Mountain is in ruins.

Having penetrated the mountain, only to be caught in the act of stealing the fabled elixir, Raf must now face the trolls’ champion in a fight to the death.

As the trolls gather to watch the fight, Raf watches them closely. If he can somehow survive this fight, his mission may not be over.

The final battle for Troll Mountain is about to begin.  – Goodreads


My thoughts – Episode III

Well, the action cranks up a notch in this one. Up to normal Matthew Reilly levels. I did enjoy reading this story, so much so, that I read all three in a relatively short time (for me).

As for the climax that I was hoping for …. you’ll need to read the books to find out. And, in case you’re wondering if my earlier ideas(in my thoughts for Episodes I and II) about the underlying inspiration and message were correct, I’d rather not reveal too much plot or detail in my review, as I’m not one for spoilers.

I suggest you read the interview with Matthew Reilly at the end if Episode III and you’ll see that his comments will either back-up or trash my thoughts.


In a nutshellAs a loyal and long term Matthew Reilly fan, I was bound to like these books. Although they were quite different to MR’s other books the story kept me enthralled and glued to them until finished. They may not be for everybody, but then again, no books are. Great job MR.


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  a little something extra that has been set up for Troll Mountain fans – Matthew tells us about Trollpedia.


Want to know more?
Click below to check out more information about
Matthew Reilly.

Matthew Reilly


While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat time-travel adventure series’  by clicking the pic below.

4 books



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Book Review | Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles 1) | by Suzanne Collins


 Gregor the Overlander - Cover 3GREGOR THE OVERLANDER
 (UNDERLAND CHRONICLES 1)
by Suzanne Collins    ★★★★

This irresistible first novel tells the story of a quiet boy who embarks on a dangerous quest in order to fulfill his destiny — and find his father — in a strange world beneath New York City.

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor’s arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland’s uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it — until he realizes it’s the only way to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever. (Goodreads).


My Review

Plenty of twists and surprises (and creepy critters)

I’d heard about this series many times and it had been bobbing away in my to-read list for a while. I finally decided to take the plunge and read the first book, Gregor the Overlander. That was a few months ago and I’ve finally found the time to post a review.

This story is a journey of an unwitting, and mainly unwilling hero, Gregor. He’s a quiet boy who finds himself in the middle of a huge challenge in a dark and troubled world.

Gregor somehow manages to tumble down a mysterious hole (the laundry grate) and finds himself in a strange and mysterious place known as Underland, which happens to be below his home city. And, to make matters a little more tricky, his 2 year-old sister, Boots, is with him. Underland is a place that’s full of giant rats, hefty spiders, sizable cockroaches and humans known as Underlanders. It’s not your ideal place to spend time, but it’s one where Gregor finds a link to the mysterious and unsolved disappearance of his father a couple of years before.

Upon arrival, he is met by Underlings who insist that Gregor is the promised one. The one who is destined to save them from a life of misery should the fragile peace be broken. Gregor isn’t so keen on his newfound importance and is torn throughout the tale. He wants nothing more than to find his father, but he’s also in denial of his new warrior status, as foretold in the Underland prophecy. Ultimately he just wants to go home, so he soon realises that perhaps all three things (dad, home, help) can be achieved and he reluctantly agrees to help his hosts. There’s plenty of twists and surprises for him along how way, which provided plenty of tension and excitement to keep my interest until the end.

If there was one thing that I wasn’t keen on, it was Boots, Gregor’s two year old sibling. I wasn’t sure what value the character added to the story, or even why she was included. I felt that she just vaguely lingered in the background and popped up every so often when there was a lull in the story. It may have been a little more interesting if the author had explored the impact that traveling with such a youngster would have on Gregor in more detail. I’ve read other reviews where Boots was a favorite character, so I guess it’s really just a personal observation, rather than a fault or flaw in the plot. But that aside, I did enjoy the book. I’ll be sure to read the subsequent books in the series, so I can follow Gregor’s journey to the end.

In a nutshellGregor the Overlander was an entertaining read, which has hooked me for the rest of the series.

It’s a great debut novel from an author who has gone on to become hugely successful.


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.


I thought it may be fun to see some of the different
book covers that are around for this one.

 Gregor the Overlander - Cover 2   Gregor the Overlander - Cover 3  Gregor the Overlander - Cover 1

Gregor the Overlander - Cover 4  Gregor the Overlander - Cover 5   Gregor the Overlander - Cover 6


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

Gregor



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Book Review ♦ Tutankhamen Speaks ♦ by Cheryl Carpinello

Tutankhamen SpeaksTUTANKHAMEN SPEAKS
by Cheryl Carpinello   ★★★★

Hundreds of years ago, scrolls that would alter the view of Ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaoh were lost. Rumors through the ages said the scrolls told of a time that the Pharaoh Tutankhamen spoke from beyond the grave. No one who heard of these scrolls believed that the scrolls had ever existed.

Then following the Arab Spring in 2011, S. L. Wood, an Egyptian scholar, made an amazing discovery in the basement of the Cairo Museum.

Read the story from the lost scrolls that recorded the Boy King’s words from beyond the grave. (Goodreads)


My Review

This was quite a surprising read. It’s a short read that has a very clever premise, in which the author has cleverly made herself part of the story.

It seems that Ms Carpinello has been lucky enough to gain access to some long lost scrolls, which are said to contain actual recollections from Tutankhamen himself.  The novella is an interpretation of the mysterious scrolls which were written long ago, but had been missing until recently.

The words are said to be from the actual spirit of the deceased Pharaoh. What I liked about this book was that it gives a glimpse into the everyday life of Tut, before and after his rise to Pharaoh. It was like a fly on the wall peek at his life without it just being part of a much larger plot. I think it’s a great way to get to know a character and there were plenty of interesting facts and cool snippets of information in there as well.

My guess is that this is a wonderful strategy by the author to familiarise readers with Tut before a full-on book is released.

Am I right? Time will tell?

My bottom line: I really enjoyed this one and I look forward to the ‘predicted’ Tut book.

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.

A free copy of this book was provided to me by the author for a fair and honest review.


Want to know more?
 Check out Cheryl’s website HERE

Here’s a little bonus for you. I’ve tracked down some extra King Tut information about his ‘unwrapping’ for you to watch.

While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat time-travel adventure series  by clicking the pic below.Q1 Q2 Q3

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Book Review ♦ The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles #1) ♦ by Rick Riordan


The Red PyramidTHE RED PYRAMID
(KANE CHRONICLES #1)

by Rick Riordan     ★★★★

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a “research experiment” at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them —Set— has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe – a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.


My Review

An entertaining book, with plenty of trademark PJ style mythology.

This is a series that I’ve avoided reading, due to my own Egyptian themed MG adventure books. I didn’t want to be influenced as my own series progressed. In saying that, I have finally given in to the temptation and read this first book.

So, in a nutshell, here’s the main thrust of the story. Sadie and Carter have spent much of their life on opposite sides of the world, so they aren’t your typical brother and sister. Each one thinks the other has a better life. They go on a day out with their dad and he releases ancient Egyptian gods into the present day. Everything goes terribly wrong and he ends up getting swallowed up by the floor of the British Museum. A bad day all round, for him and the kids.

Then, Sadie and Carter find out that they are descendants of the pharaohs and that’s where their real adventures begin. As the story progresses one of the most important things they learn is that they need each other, and they need to work together.

I have to say that although I knew this book contained Egyptian mythology, it was quite a bit heavier on the mythology and more Percy Jackson-like than I had expected (I’m a PJ fan). There’s a lot of back story to take in and I have to admit that I may not have caught on to every detail that was revealed. In some parts I thought that the kids seemed a lot older and wiser than their actual age, but this is fiction, so it’s allowed :) . One thing I noticed though, was that I never really knew who to trust and found myself constantly changing my mind about some characters throughout the story.

So, by the end of the book the journey ahead is revealed. Their ultimate destiny is to reunite the gods and magicians to stop chaos from rearing its ugly head. The journey, which includes finding other descendants of the pharaohs to help their cause, will continue in subsequent books.

My bottom line: I liked that it kept me engaged. Overall I liked the book and will read the others in the series. This book has way more mythology bound into the plot than my 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.


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


While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat time-travel adventure series  by clicking the pic below.Q1 Q2 Q3

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Book Review ♦ Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard ♦ by Lars Guignard


Zoe and Zak 1ZOE & ZAK AND THE GHOST LEOPARD
(ZOE & ZAK ADVENTURES #1)
by Lars Guignard ★★★★

Imagine you’re totally lost in a strange city with no idea where you are and no way home. Now imagine that elephants and snake charmers start telling you that you’ve been chosen to save the world.

Would you even believe them?  What would you do?

Zoe Guire isn’t sure. Having that elephant talk to her was really weird, and, as a rule, Zoe doesn’t do weird. Except the thing is, when Zoe goes along on her mom’s business trip to India, things get very weird, very quickly. Soon after she arrives, Zoe finds herself tagging alongside a kid named Zak, lost in a crazy city, with no money and no way home.

And those are the least of Zoe’s troubles. Because if she’s to believe the scary-looking snake charmer guy sitting in the corner, she and Zak have been chosen — chosen to protect some kind of mythical animal called the Ghost Leopard from who knows what.

Now, the further they get into the mountains, the more crazily impossible things get. Carpets fly and statues talk and if either Zoe or Zak want to make it back to their parents, or the sixth grade, or anything even close to normal, they’re going to have to make some new friends, learn some new tricks, and listen, really listen to that talking elephant. Because if they don’t, the world will never be the same again.

Join Zoe and Zak as they journey high into the Himalayas to a place few have been and even fewer have returned to tell about it.

Live life beyond the edge. [Goodreads]


My Review

A journey that’s full of legend and magic.

The Ghost Leopard is a story that is set in exotic India and is packed with a colorful assortment of cultural legends and customs. Zoe and Zak are a couple of teens who know each other, but have never really been close friends. Zoe is the clever, dependable one, and Zak is the carefree guy who loves a good laugh.

Early on in the story our pair of budding heroes accompany their parents on a business trip to India. I realize that the plot needed the kids to ditch the parents somehow so their adventure could begin, but as a parent I struggled with the chosen scenario (sorry Mr Guignard :^). I just couldn’t understand how a parent would take a kid to a far away place, then have to go somewhere else and leave them in the care of a nanny who was a complete stranger to parent and child. I know it’s fiction, and I soon realized that I had to let go of my own concerns and let the story flow. After that realization, I opened my mind and became engaged in the story.

It seems that Zoe has some very special abilities, which have resulted in her being ’chosen’ to embark on a journey to protect the legendary Ghost Leopard from being destroyed by its arch-enemy. She has a tough enough time accepting the fact that she is special, let alone being thrilled about the quest itself. All she really wants is a photo of something great so she can win a photo contest. But, it seems that Zak has a knack for getting them both into something up to their necks, without even trying.

It’s not long before they find themselves trapped, and ultimately stranded in a mysterious distant place. Both have very different goals … Zoe wants to return to the safety and cleanliness of their hotel before her mom finds out they’re missing, but Zak wants to track down a mysterious legend that very few have seen, and that no-one has ever photographed.

As the story evolves, the pair are mysteriously guided along on an action-packed journey by a couple of helpful allies. It turns into the adventure of a lifetime, as they search the Himalayas for the mysterious Ghost Leopard. All the while, the pair are being pursued by an army of cranky monkeys and ’humans’ who are in cahoots with the evil Monkey Man (the baddie). Our heroes bravely face plenty of danger and obstacles along the way, and prove to be formidable opponents to the Monkey Man and his dodgy mates.

The book takes the reader on a journey that’s full of legend and magic, mixed in with a decent dose of action. All of these key ingredients result in an exciting adventure for kids to feast upon. It’s a rich tale filled with exotic traditions that even teaches the reader a thing or two about Indian culture, as well.

My bottom line: Lars Guignard has done a great job in blending Indian legend and tradition into a modern adventure that kids will love.

PS: I won this book in a blog giveaway (yay me!)

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.


This is where I normally try to link into a book or film trailer that relates to the book I’ve reviewed. Unfortunately I couldn’t locate one for this book :(  Much of this story is set in the beautiful countryside of India, and more precisely, the Himalayas. So, I thought I’d try to find something that would show off the book’s setting. 

Here is a clip that shows some amazing scenery (I can’t say which parts of it are the Himalayas, but I’m sure they’re featured in the first half). Please grab a coffee, relax and take a break from the chaos you endure everyday. It’s time to sit down and watch this awesome video by Robert Revol, and try to imagine Zak and Zoe racing through the mountains on their Ghost Leopard adventure.


Want to know more?
Click the books below to check out Lars Guignard’s website.

Zoe and Zak 3 books


While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat adventure series
by clicking the pic below.Q1 Q2 Q3


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Book Review | The Maze Runner (Book #1) | James Dashner


The Maze RunnerTHE MAZE RUNNER (BOOK #1)
by James Dashner ★★★★★

When the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze.

Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside.  [Goodreads]


My Review

This book has great mystery, plenty of action, and likable characters.

I first became aware of this series when I won an autographed copy of the first Infinity Ring book (WooHoo), which was written by James Dashner. Then, once I heard that The Maze Runner was to hit the big screen I was reminded that it was floundering somewhere in my to-read list. So, finally after much delay I brought it.

When I first started reading it I was reminded of a book from my school days, Lord of the Flies. I was a tad concerned that it was going to be along the same lines because it was ’required reading’ at school rather than ’my choice’, I wasn’t really keen on the thought (even though I can’t really remember the specifics of LOTF).

But, I’m pleased to say that after the first few chapters I became captivated by the story and its characters. Thomas is our main guy, he’s sort of been mysteriously embedded into a settlement (The Glade) populated by other boys his own age. He has no memory of who he is or where he came, which he soon finds is common for all ’greenies’ that arrive in the Glade.

The Glade is a sanctuary of sorts, which is at the centre of a huge maze that changes its shape every day. We follow Thomas as he works through the many struggles of adapting to his new life and learns about the ways of the Glade. He finds that every kid has a role, and every role is just as important as the next. Life in the Glade can be quite tough, but the Gladers have created a society that has rules and runs well.

Every day, a team of Runners enter the maze to try to find a way back to the real world. But, the maze is full of hidden dangers and all runners must return to the Glade before the huge doors close at the end of each day. Anyone unlucky enough to be trapped in the maze overnight is in big trouble.

Soon, the arrival of another mysterious ’greenie’ sets the wheels in motion for Thomas and the other Gladers to go for broke, and try and find the answers they all long for. Who are they? Where are they from? How do they escape? Who can they trust?

There’ll be no more details on the plot from me. I’ll just say that this is an exciting book, so I suggest that you grab a copy and read it for yourself.

My bottom line: This book has great mystery, action, and likable characters. I can honestly say that this is a series that I’m keen to keep reading. I’m looking forward to getting into the next book …. and the movie too.
PS: I’d put this book and movie in the YA category rather than MG.

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 Maze Runner (Book #1) book trailer.

Here is The Maze Runner movie trailer.
It’s due for release in September 2014.

The Maze Runner cast 2 The Maze Runner cast 3 The Maze Runner cast

 If you want to take a peek at a few more and learn about the cast, click here and jump over to IMDB.


Want to know more?
 Click below to check out James Dashner’s great website.
James Dashner

But before you go, please check out my edge-of-your-seat adventure series by clicking the pic below.Q1 Q2 Q3


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Book Review ♦ Janitors (Janitors #1) ♦ by Tyler Whitesides


Janitors #1JANITORS (JANITORS #1)
by Tyler Whitesides ★★★★

The magical, secretive society of JANITORS swept the country in the fall of 2011. Have you ever fallen asleep during math class? Are you easily distracted while listening to your English teacher? Do you find yourself completely uninterested in geography?

Well, it may not be your fault. The janitors at Welcher Elementary know a secret, and it s draining all the smarts out of the kids. twelve-year old Spencer Zumbro, with the help of his classmate Daisy Gullible Gates, must fight with and against a secret, janitorial society that wields wizard-like powers. Who can Spencer and Daisy trust and how will they protect their school and possibly the world? Janitors is book 1 in a new children s fantasy series by debut novelist Tyler Whitesides.

You ll never look at a mop the same way again.  [Goodreads]


My Review

Janitors is original and entertaining.

The first thing that attracted me to this book, and (in due course) the others in the series, was the cover. I think it’s awesome, and it successfully grabbed my interest in the ocean of books that circle the globe. Janitors is a story that I find very original. It takes an occupation that we all know exists, that we don’t take much notice of, that we all take for granted, and turns it on its head and presents it in a way that I would never have imagined.

Armed with some quite traditional cleaning tools, three teens (Spencer, Daisy, Dez) become embroiled in a bitter battle between two opposing teams of Janitors at their school. One side trying to ensure the kids have the best chance of learning, and the other trying its best to stop them from learning.

Each of the main kid characters are unique, they have their own set of struggles to deal with from day-to-day. None of them are friends with each other – quite the opposite, actually. They are brought together following Spencer’s discovery of some rather creepy critters that inhabit the school, sapping the thoughts from the kids.

Notice to parents: This book reveals the truth behind why many kids don’t learn to their full potential. Parents who read this will learn something – it’s not the kids being lazy at all, it’s actually invisible pests called Toxites (Rubbish, Filth, Grime) that are the problem. I bet that until now, you all thought it was the kids’ fault.

Who ever thought that the humble school Janitor could actually be a magical wizard who is protecting our kids from harm. This book reveals that Janitors are actually like silent superheroes that linger in the background stopping the baddies. Sadly, it also demonstrates that they never get any credit for their heroics against the Toxites (it must be hard to be taken for granted). This is the very original and amusing concept of this book.

The plot has a few twists that may catch lazy readers out if they aren’t paying attention, but there’s plenty of action to keep the reader engaged. Some unanswered questions will undoubtedly be expanded upon in plots for subsequent books for the series.

My bottom line: I enjoyed the originality of the story. Never before have I read about (or even contemplated) janitors having such amazing powers. I’ll never look at a janitor in the same way, I’ll always be wondering which side they’re on.

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 Janitors (Janitors #1) trailer.


Want to know more?
Click below to check out this great website for the Janitors series.

Janitors website pic


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Click the blog hop pic to check out some more great blogs.


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Book Review | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | J.K. Rowling

HP 3

HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN
by J.K. Rowling ★★★★★
Kindle Edition

Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison.

It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?[Goodreads]


My Review

Azkaban is one of my favorite HP books.

After another tough summer with the horrible Dursleys, the looming return to Hogwarts is at the forefront of Harry’s mind. He can’t wait to escape and see his friends again.

Shortly before Harry is due to return to Hogwarts, news spreads across Muggle land that there’s a dangerous escapee on the loose. Little does Harry know that he’s in grave danger. It seems that he’s actually the target of the escapee.

During a visit from horrible Aunt Marge, her nasty comments set off a chain of events that end with an angry Harry fleeing Privet Drive into the darkened night. With nowhere to go, Harry seems doomed and alone. Then, out of the blue, comes The Knight Bus which picks him up and whisks him away to the safety of The Leaky Cauldron. Much to his relief, he’s also reunited with his friends for the trip back to Hogwarts.

Throughout this book there is the lingering danger that Harry is being stalked by the mad escapee, Sirius Black.  It’s also in this book that we witness the dreadful powers of the Dementors. Much to Dumbledore’s disgust, they are stationed at Hogwarts to catch Black if he dares to show his face. Harry becomes aware of the danger and is horrified when he learns of the Black’s back story. The teachers rally around, determined to protect Harry from certain death, although they don’t realise that he actually knows of the danger.

Meanwhile, Hermione has taken on extra classes. This extra study, along with the ongoing feud between her cat (Crookshanks) and Ron’s rat (Scabbers) cause her stress levels to slowly build to breaking point. After the main confrontation and revelations in the plot have occurred, her secret is revealed. And it just so happens that it’s what’s needed to set everything straight. For me, Hermione’s secret was one of the highlights (I’m a huge fan of ’her secret’ and I loved its role in the story).

In this book J.K. reveals plenty of snippets of information about Harry’s family and it’s past. And of course, there’s the introduction of Sirius Black, who  goes on to play such a pivotal role in Harry’s life.

The first time I read this book I found some of the twists of the plot were quite complex, and each time I’ve read it I’ve enjoyed it even more.

In a nutshell: Azkaban is one of my favorite HP books. It was so good to get back to Hogwarts, catch up with everyone and learn more (again) about that fateful day in Harry’s life when he first encountered Voldemort.

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:



 


While you’re here, please check out my edge-of-your-seat time-travel adventure series’  by clicking the pic below.

4 books


 

 

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Book Review ♦ The Cuckoo’s Calling ♦ by Robert Galbraith (J.K.Rowling)


THE CUCKOO’S CALLING
by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) ★★★★★

The Cuckoo's Calling

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

A war veteran, wounded both physically and psychologically, Strike’s life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair, to the backstreet pubs of the East End, to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable debut. Introducing Cormoran Strike, it is a classic crime novel unlike any other book you will read this year. [Goodreads]


My Review

This is another great book by J.K. (aka Robert Galbraith).

When I first heard about this book I was very keen to read it as soon as possible. If the secret author (J.K. Rowling) hadn’t been revealed by the wife of someone in the know, then I’m sure that it wouldn’t have crossed my radar. Thanks so much to the lady that spilled the beans, and let the secret out of the bag. It meant that I got to read it.

The story starts with the tragic death (by suicide) of a famous supermodel, which sets London abuzz, grabs the headlines and fills the scandal-driven magazines and newspapers. Apparently living the high life and rolling in money wasn’t enough for the beautiful Lula Landry.

Cormoran Strike is a private investigator who has led quite a full and varied life. His life is at a crossroad as he finds himself in the throes of a personal crisis. To top it off, his business isn’t going so well and he’s having a bit of trouble paying his bills.

Months after the death of Lula Landry has faded from the headlines, a new client (who has a link to Strike’s past) arrives at his office with a request to investigate the mysterious death of the supermodel. After a bit of convincing, Strike decides to take on the case, after all, he has a load of bills to pay. And so the biggest case in Strike’s career begins.

We follow the case as Strike searches for clues and motive that had been missed or discounted by police months earlier. My impression of Strike was one of an unkept, untidy character, who was very clever and methodical. The story isn’t full of action scenes or alternate worlds, or exotic settings. It’s very character driven and I really loved going through the journey with Strike (as if I was sitting on his shoulder) and watching him wind his way through the investigation. He seemed to me like a modern day Mrs Marple.

I thought that Robin, Strike’s temporary secretary, was a great character as well. She was super efficient and had always dreamed of somehow being involved in the work of a private investigator. We saw her loyalty to Strike grow throughout the story, along with some hidden talents that proved very helpful. There were a couple of scenes that involved Robin, which I thought were great. One being in the dress shop change room, and the other when she attempted an Australian accent. As an Aussie (I don’t have an accent – it’s the rest of the world that has accents), J.K’s spelling of an Aussie accent made me laugh out loud (oy’m = I’m, shiz not here = she’s not here, my nem’s Annabel = my name’s Annabel) … so funny.

This book also provides a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. It shows the pressures of constant attention from the paparazzi, and also highlights the excesses that become normal to many celebrities. Many of us dream of being rich and famous, even though we constantly see the dark side of it in the news. Fame is like a moth to a flame – some who go there get burnt.

There were so many possibilities along the way, that I found myself constantly switching my suspicions from one character to another throughout the book. Once the story begins to wrap up, all of the clues along the way start to fall into place. For those of you who have kept reading my whole review, I’ve got one thing to say. At the end we found out that … read it yourself :)

My bottom line: This was another great book by J.K. (aka Robert Galbraith). She has shown again that she can write great character driven stories that engage the reader, even without a fantastic alternate world such as that of the HP books.

PS. Here’s a tip – This book is for an adult audience.

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.


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