Category Archives: Book reviews by me

Book Review | The Martian | Andy Weir

 THE MARTIAN   by Andy Weir

 369 pages  |  Amazon purchase – Kindle edition

The Martian  The Martian v3  The Martian v2

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I’m stranded on Mars.
I have no way to communicate with Earth.
I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed. – GOODREADS

My Review

This great story of human spirit, ingenuity and never giving up is absolutely inspiring.

The fact that the movie was due for release helped this one leapfrog to the top of my TBR pile. The Martian is a tale about an astronaut who is left behind on Mars, after his colleagues believe he has perished. Imagine how isolated you would feel if you knew you were the only person on the planet and your only chance for a ride was hurtling away from you through space. I know I’d be a tad concerned. The easy thing to do would be to just give up and wait to die.

Well that’s where Mark Watney’s awesomeness kicks in. He decides that giving up is not an option and so begins his amazing story of survival. The amount of research that must have gone into writing this book is astounding. It’s not about supernatural forces, or aliens trying to destroy humans, it’s a story of survival. Think, stranded on a deserted island, then multiply by a thousand. Watney’s quest to stay alive is full of detailed explanations and his thoughts. It’s no surprise how much he thinks, given that he has so much time on his hands. I think that the author nailed the POV perfectly.

Every problem he solves creates more problems to solve. Much of this book is like reading the longest science experiment ever. Don’t be discouraged by the amount of technical detail, as long as you pick up the general gist of what he is doing, you’ll be fine. I think the level of detail was necessary to make the story authentic to portray the struggles and complexity of space.

At about the 14% mark the story switched over to earth. I liked how it gave two completely different points of view, and helped to break up the complex technical scenes. It was interesting to see that neither point of view really knew what was going on in the other location. I was hooked.

Once I reached 50%, I found myself reading it whenever I got the chance. The amount of technical detail didn’t deter me, I wanted to see what would happen. It was like I was off to Mars a few times a day. By 67% Watney’s ingenuity was astounding. Everything he did to survive and overcome problems was amazing, but I didn’t feel as though anything he did was impossible. I think the logic behind everything was sound, so it made it believable.

At 83% he was in the midst of a dust storm, and then, OMG, he says he wants to move to Western Australia when he gets back to earth (that’s my home turf) I’ll keep an eye out for any new neighbours.

Finally, after a marathon effort he… I don’t want to spoil it for you. But what I will say is that the climax of this book was brilliant and it gave me palpitations and goosebumps. It felt so real and I was gunning for Watney all the way.

In a nutshell

Don’t let all of the technical scientific explanation deter you. Some detail was hard to fully grasp, but the underlying story of human spirit, ingenuity and never giving up was absolutely inspiring.

Also, kudos and high respect to the author, Andy Weir. He has proven that an indie book can rise to the top. It’s truly inspiring for all indie authors. I’m looking forward to the movie.

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.

Movie Trailer  |  In cinemas 1 October 2015

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

Andy Weir

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MG Book Tour | Princelings of the East Series | Jemima Pett

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I am very pleased to be part of a wonderful book tour organised by My Family’s Heart. I have read two of these books, as well as book 4 of the series (not sure how I missed book 3).

For those of you who have been following the tour, you will have learned plenty about books 1-3. So, I thought it would be a little twist if I gave you a glimpse of where the series heads after these 3 books. I hope that you enjoy my review The Traveler in Black and White (Book 4 of the Princelings series).

PS: Keep an eye out for the great giveaway after my review.

The Traveler in Black and WhiteTHE TRAVELER IN BLACK AND WHITE (Princelings #4)
by Jemima Pett
Kindle edition supplied by author

GENRE | MG/Fantasy/Scifi

PUBLISHED | Nov 27, 2012
LENGTH | 193 pages
PUBLISHER | Princelings Publications



 A strange tunnel appears in the wall of Castle Hattan. Of course it must be investigated. What lies at the other end is a strangely backward land where things are not quite as they seem. Lord Mariusz adopts the pseudonym Hugo to explore the business opportunities he sees, only to be accused of murder; witness a vampire slaying; rub shoulders with ghouls, and have a close encounter with a werewolf.

The fourth book in the Princelings series sees us back with Hugo—also known as Lord Mariusz—the cause of all the trouble in Book 1. In typical Hugo manner he narrates The Traveler in Black and White in a film noir style. He explains how he came to master the art of time travel and why he has been the easiest person to blame for all the assassinations, supernatural phenomena, and industrial espionage he has seen on his adventures.

The Traveler in Black and White is a fantasy mystery for ages 10 to 110. Since Hugo (or Lord Mariusz) comes from Hattan, the book is written in US English. This adventure sees the Princelings world from Hugo’s perspective as he meets younger versions of Victor, Prince Lupin of Buckmore and others for the first time. It will be enjoyed by fans of the trilogy as well as new readers. (GOODREADS)

My Review

It’s a fun read that is quite original and entertaining.

The first thing I have to say about this book is that Hugo is a very charismatic and endearing character. Hugo (Lord Mariusz) lives in the castle of Hatten and is a respected member of the community, who has a flock of staff to look after him (lucky fellow). On top of this he runs a thriving beverage business that is the underlying theme for the story.

A mysterious hole appears in the castle which proves to be too tempting for Hugo to resist. He enters the tunnel and makes an amazing discovery. For those who haven’t yet read this book, I don’t intend to reveal specifics of the discovery. But I will say that he embarks on an adventure aimed at expanding the reach of his beverage business.

This book has plenty of elements to entertain the reader. From the main character Hugo (did I say he was charming), to his efficient assistant Willow, to the shady characters he encounters. Throw in some castles, murder and vampires and I think you’ll agree its an exciting mix.

Oh, and another thing…the characters are guinea pigs! That’d be why I had visions of Beatrix Potter and Wind in the Willows while I read.

In a nutshell

This is Book 4 in The Princelings Series, and actually provides some back story on a character from the other books. So it’s probably best if you read them in the intended order. I’ll be following further adventures in the next books of 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.

About Jemima Pett

I’ve been writing since I was 8 years old. I still have a small booklet I found in my mother’s box of treasures, written in a very childish hand, entitled The Little Stream. It reads very much like the story of Smetana’s Vltava, or The Moldau as it was called when I was young, so I must have been into classical music at an early age (I blame my brothers’ influence).

My early fiction attempts failed for want of suitable inspiration: I couldn’t get characters or plot that seemed interesting, and my first attempts were derided by a ‘friend’. I had the bug for writing, though, and wrote articles and event reports for newsletters and magazines whenever I got the opportunity. My career in business and in environmental research kept me chained to a desk for many years, but also gave me the opportunity to write manuals, reports, science papers, blogs, journals, anything and everything that kept the words flowing. Finally the characters jumped into my head with stories that needed to be told….

I now live in a village in Norfolk, UK, with my guinea pigs, the first of whom, Fred, George, Victor and Hugo, provided the inspiration for the Princelings stories.




1 x $25 gift card/PayPal cash
(paypal cash is much easier for me to deliver)
1 x set of the six Princelings of the East paperbacks
5 x 1 signed print of a chapter illustration of the winner’s choice (approx. half letter-sized/A5, unmounted)


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

The Throne of FireTHE THRONE OF FIRE

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

by Ann Aguirre 
Kindle Edition purchased from Amazon

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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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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


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

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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Book Review | The Great Zoo of China| Matthew Reilly

The Great Zoo of China

by Matthew Reilly
529 pages
Gift – Hardcover edition

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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…


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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MG Book Review | Frankie DuPont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco| Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie DuPont 2

by Julie Anne Grasso
Published April 2015
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Kindle edition
Ages | 8-12

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Hot off cracking his first official case, Frankie Dupont is on the scene when his new teacher takes ill. The pint-sized detective suspects a classic case of sour grapes, but the evidence leads him to the one place he wouldn’t mind avoiding for the rest of his natural life.

Enderby Manor has a few more secrets up her sleeve, and as Frankie begins to unravel them, he uncovers a plot stinkier than a sardine sandwich.

In Book 2 of the Frankie Dupont Mysteries, Frankie will make some new friends, upset some old ones, and of course, there will be lemon meringue pie.

For ages 8-12 – GOODREADS

My Review

Frankie DuPonte returns to our shelves and ereaders in his second juicy case. This trainee private investigator is keen as mustard to earn his stripes and, as with his previous case, some sweet treats have a starring role. In this new story, a simple Lemon Pie is the starting point of a mystery that just keeps growing and growing and growing.

Every clue solved by Frankie creates even more questions, and there’s no beating around the bush with his feisty questioning technique. When Frankie is on the case, there’s only way to get to the bottom of things … accuse first, then backtrack if he’s wrong. Perhaps his biggest flaw, as with any rookie, is his tendency to jump to conclusions, and mistakenly think he has solved the case in a flash.

Even being wrong at times is something that doesn’t seem to faze him in his search for the truth. I’m sure that as he further learns his craft he will find that tact and trickery can also be a good approach, but until then, I can see his methods getting him in trouble. Even so, he always seems to walk away with some useful information.

This is a great book for would be sleuths. I can imagine young readers keenly looking for, and picking up the evidence along the way. It has a good pace for the target audience and there are plenty of good clues ready to discover. I thought that the logic behind them, and the paths on which they sent Frankie, were believable and well thought out. The plot also teaches that you shouldn’t jump to conclusions too early and highlights the importance of strong evidence.

I also liked Frankie’s recollections of his father’s advice, even if they weren’t entirely accurate most of the time. As a parent, it was nice to see that he had such belief and admiration in his father.

In the end, all of the clues and trails lead to the Lemon Festival in the grounds of Enderby Manor, which is a fitting location for the story’s climax. Then, just like the mysteries of that other (much older) super sleuth (Agatha Christie), once all the suspects are present and all the clues click into place, Frankie shines in the big reveal. It’s another case solved, and I’m sure there are many more to come.

In a nutshell

This is another fun filled Frankie mystery that will definitely interest young budding detectives.

It’s a great mystery that starts with a humble pie and ends in … I’m not telling.

Recommended for ages 8+.

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.

MG Book Review | Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes | Eleanor Coerr

Sadako and the Thousand Paper CranesSADAKO AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES
by Eleanor Coerr
Published by Puffin Books
Book Depository purchase |
Paperback edition

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‘Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is based on the life of a real little girl who lived in Japan from 1943 to 1955.
She was in Hiroshima when the United States Air Force dropped an atom bomb on that city in an attempt to end World War II. Ten years later she died as a result of radiation from the bomb. Her courage made Sadako a heroine to children in Japan.  This is the story of Sadako.’

Guest Reviewer – My Daughter, Madi.

Given her own recent battle with cancer, this book resonated with my 10-year-old daughter when she read it. So much so that she has set herself a goal of making a thousand paper cranes before the end of this year. I thought it would be fitting for this post to include her review of Sadako.

‘This book is about a Japanese girl called Sadako. On the 6th August 1954, when Sadako was two years old, there was an atom bomb dropped by the U.S.A  near her home in Hiroshima, Japan.

Sadako was very good at running at school, she hoped to get picked for the school running team. When she was 12 she started getting dizzy spells especially when she was running. One day she passed out when she was running and was taken to hospital. That’s when they found out she had Leukaemia from the radiation from the atom bomb. She needed to stay in hospital but her parents weren’t allowed to stay with her over night.

One afternoon her best friend from school, Chizuko, visited Sadako and made her a golden paper crane. She reminded Sadako about the ancient Japanese legend that if a sick person folds 1000 cranes they with become healthy again. Chizuko showed Sadako how to make a paper crane, she didn’t find it very easy at the start but after a while of practice she got the hang of it! When Sadako’s family came to visit she showed them her special golden crane. Her brother promised that he would hang all of the cranes she makes from the roof.

Although she was becoming more weak by the minute, she kept telling herself “I’ve got to keep folding the cranes!” She tried to fold as many cranes as she could before she became too weak to fold anymore. Sadly she only managed to fold 644 cranes before she died. All of her classmates completed the remaining 356 cranes and all 1000 cranes were buried with her. In Japan, there is a statue of Sadako holding a huge crane.

I would strongly recommend this book for good readers that like true stories. It is a short story so it won’t take long to read. It is very sad, although I found it quite interesting. If I would rate this book out of a 10 it would definitely be an 11/10.’

By Madi

In a nutshell

My thoughts on this book. It’s a story that highlights a dark time in history. Sadako was an innocent victim who had to make the best of the cards she had been dealt. Childhood cancer is a tough road, and every child who goes through the journey is a hero. We are so proud of our own daughter and her fight.

Thanks to the author for sharing this story with the world. It’s so great that the battle of a young girl like Sadako continues to inspire so many, years after her tragic passing.
Recommended for readers 8+.

Note: Although the book states that Sadako didn’t finish her 1000 cranes, my further research has found other sources that say she completed even more. Whether she did or didn’t, it’s the underlying message of her story that is important.

Bonus Information

sadako_statueIf you would like to see what sort of impact brave Sadako has had, then jump over to Wikipedia for more information.

A monument was built in her honour at the Hiroshima Peace Park, Japan. It includes glass displays filled with paper cranes folded and donated by well wishers and supporters.

I thought the following video about an art project by Jeff Brown to honour Sadako was evidence of the endurance of her inspiration.

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.

YA Book Review | The Death Cure (Maze Runner 3) | James Dashner | + Scorch Trailer

(Maze Runner 3)
by James Dashner ★★★★★

The Trials are over. WICKED is planning to restore the survivors’ memories and complete the final cure for the Flare.

But Thomas has already remembered more than they think. And he knows WICKED can’t be trusted…

The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine. Will anyone survive the Death Cure?  GOODREADS

My Review

The biggest theme in the third book of this series is trust. Who to trust… Brenda? Theresa? WICKED?

Is anything real? I love how this series gets me questioning every single thing I read. I got to the point where I thought, if it’s written down, it must be a trick. I had to remind myself that not everything could be a trick, and that some things had to be real. But which things? It was perpetual. Something like I imagine was happening in the minds of the characters.

Memories are being returned to the survivors so they can finish the trials and find the cure. Thomas is terrified of what else he might remember. He didn’t want to know what he had done before the start of the trials. He already knew that WICKED shouldn’t be trusted. Finally, he escapes WICKED with a small band of other munies and they flee to the city of Denver, which has resisted the spread of the Flare. They believe that the other survivors, including Theresa, have also escaped and found their way to the city.

In Denver, munies (those immune to the Flare) held jobs that others couldn’t do, but they were deeply resented by most of the population who weren’t immune. After their arrival, Thomas is approached and offered a lifeline by an underground operation called The Right Arm. It’s an operation that includes a blast from his past, Gally from The Glade.

We also learn that Denver is the one place where there is someone who can remove the tracking device that has been implanted into Thomas’s head. Of course, in the meantime, the crazy Ratman can track him, and tries to convince him to return to WICKED and complete the final stage of the trials. Naturally, Thomas resists. As the story unfolds Thomas and his fellow munies join forces with The Right Arm and set plans in place to defeat WICKED once and for all.

Then, on February 13, 2015, I was on about page 200, when a post from James Dashner landed in my Facebook feed. It mentioned something about page 250. The post was littered with comments from readers that spilled forth information that I didn’t need to know. The timing was dreadful, so I replied to Mr Dashner with my feelings. I got no reply, of course, but at least I got to vent my disapproval. What a spoiler at the worst possible time! The Maze Runner Facebook

The Maze Runner Facebook 2

WICKED may have started off with the good of the world in its sights. But over time it morphed into something that was just as damaging as the problem it tried to solve. The lesson here is that good intentions aren’t a license to do whatever you want. WICKED’s driving ambition had been running blind and it failed to stop and take a sanity check. Janson (Ratman) had lost all sense of right and wrong. But luckily there was a light in the darkness that left a thread of hope for a future.

Finally, there was an escape, but not a cure. The world was left to self destruct while the lucky few could start afresh. It was hardly a happy ending, but perhaps the only one that was plausible.

In a nutshellI can see why this series has a huge and faithful fan base, and I’m glad to call myself one of them.
Recommended for readers who enjoy action filled with twists, tricks and lies, and relish the uncertainty of not knowing what to believe as they read.

Check out my reviews of other James Dashner 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 new trailer for The Scorch Trials.
It’s due for release in September 2015.
Here is The Maze Runner movie trailer from 2014.

YA Book Review | The Hunger Games – Mockingjay (HG3) | Suzanne Collins

HG 3 MockingjayMOCKINGJAY (HG 3)
by Suzanne Collins ★★★★

Kindle edition / Amazon purchase

My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost. GOODREADS

My Review

This final book in the Hunger Game series was full of lessons. Be careful what you wish for, because what you get isn’t always what you expect. Having fought hard and beaten her enemies twice, Katniss finds herself amongst friends with a common cause.

She has been singled out as the most valuable tool they have against the oppressive government. Even though she’s with friends, she still feels like a puppet. Just a pawn used by others to fight a bigger battle. The plot clearly demonstrates the power of information, and sadly, it’s easily relatable back to our real world. It shows the cunning manipulation of the media by each side to project a story and image to the viewers. Everything is carefully created, carefully staged and carefully packaged. How could viewers ever know the full truth? Unfortunately, this is so synchronous with real life.

Both Peeta and Katniss had a role to play in the war. President Snow seemed to have all of the power. His ultimate plan was to use each one to destroy the other, but the battle wasn’t as easy as he had predicted. Although at times it was extremely difficult for them, Katniss and Peeta’s true character refused to be defeated.

If I swing the focus away from Katniss and Peeta  for a moment, I need to mention that I was heartened when Prim showed amazing wisdom beyond her young age. Like her sister before her, Prim had to grow up fast. She was a product of the tough experiences she had endured in her short life. Her life changing nomination for the games, the distress of her sister’s sacrifice to take her place, her sudden role reversal with her mother – needing to take over whenever Katniss was away. All of her strengths had built quietly in the background of the story, while the world focussed on Katniss. But, in the end, her strength helped inspire Katniss in her fight.

This book was full of action and energy, building towards what I expected would be a major showdown between Katniss and President Snow. I’m sorry to say that I was disappointed with the outcome of her mission. I felt there was no real fitting action-filled-I’ll-show-you-who’s-bad climax before the plot’s big twists were revealed. It’s a shame, because I really love this series and do recommend it as a great read. I felt that Katniss didn’t get the opportunity to deal with what happened to Prim, when it happened. That part of the story seemed a bit rushed to me. It wasn’t until after everything was revealed that she could react. It seemed too late for me. Now I need to watch the movie.

In a nutshell

The Hunger Games is a brilliant series. I’m glad that I finally jumped on the bandwagon and joined its fans.

Even though I was a little disappointed with the outcome of this final book, I recommend it to all dystopian fans.

Check out my other Hunger Games reviews below:

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.

YA Book Review | The Fault In Our Stars | John Green

The Fault in our StarsTHE FAULT IN OUR STARS
by John Green ★★★★

Kindle edition / Amazon purchase

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love. GOODREADS

My Review

I had big hopes for this book, given that the subject matter was so close to home. But as I reached the 5% mark doubts started to creep in as to whether I would get through to the end. My first impressions of, Hazel, the main character, were that she was too sarcastic and dry. These are qualities that I normally find interesting, so I was a bit confused at what it was about her that didn’t gel with me. But I ploughed on anyway and grew to like and understand her. It was her way of coping.

As expected, I related to much of her parents’ anxiety and feelings about her health, her future, her wellbeing, and the Cancer Meetings with doctors. Having been through it with my young daughter I felt a link, and there was one quote in particular that struck a chord with me. Every time I read it , it has an almost overwhelming impact.

“…and my father was trying so hard not to sob that when he did, which was regularly, it was an earthquake.”

Childhood/Teen cancer is devastating for the whole family. It’s a journey that is tough and not chosen, but one that must be endured if it is thrust upon you. You simply have no choice but to deal with it.

The underlying story definitely had me, I could relate to it, I could feel it, I could understand it. The only thing that I struggled with was that (in my opinion) the dialogue didn’t match the age group. Would a couple of teens really banter in such an intellectual way? Maybe, maybe not. It was something that I had trouble ignoring.

The grenade. Wow, what a metaphor. It’s brilliant really. Terminal illness is just like a grenade. The illness and the patient are one, and when it goes off, the shrapnel stings everything around it. John Green nailed it.

As I reached the 25% mark I was enjoying the story, but not loving it. Probably because romance isn’t really my favourite thing and there was plenty of it brewing. Even so, there were plenty of other endearing qualities to keep me reading. In all honesty, I was quite surprised when the big twist arrived. I didn’t see it coming.  Throughout the story I had focussed on Hazel and her illness, and not so much on the other characters, so I was definitely surprised at the turn of events. And then when Peter Van Houten turned up out of the blue, I wasn’t sure whether to be pleased or angry. In the end, I look back on this one as a great read.  Now I need to watch the movie.

In a nutshell

This book rekindled things I’ve often felt during my daughter’s Cancer journey. The absolute dread, the sadness, the fear, the helplessness, the waste. And even the guilt that she survived, while others we met along the way weren’t so lucky.

It’s a book with a heavy subject, one that I hope remains just a story to most people, but one that I know is familiar to far too many.

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.

MG Book Review | Anni Moon and the Elemental Artifact | Melanie Abed

Anni Moon and the Elemental ArtifactANNI MOON AND THE ELEMENTAL ARTIFACT (AM1)
by Melanie Abed
Published September 30th 2014
by Oculus Print
Amazon purchase |
Kindle edition

Anni doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, and, least of all, Dragons. All that changes when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped and forces beyond Anni’s control trap her on a hidden, floating island in the Elemental world.

In a race against time, Anni sets out to save her friend. Along the way she finds allies among the Elementals, but she is also presented with a choice, one that might help save Lexi. If Anni agrees to an ancient, open-ended contract, will her sacrifice cost her more than she’s bargained for? Or will it land her in the middle of an age-old war between the humans, the Elementals, and the dreaded Fectus?  – GOODREADS

My Review

Anni Moon is the story of two orphan girls. They’re the best of friends, Anni and Lexi, who live together at a private girl’s school, Waterstone Academy, which has been owned and run by a family for many years. In fact, it’s the very same family who are their guardians.

Their whole life is turned upside down within a short period of time when both of their guardians mysteriously disappear and the girls learn that the school is to be sold to the mean old Mr Orge Murdrock. With no guardians around to look out for them, they are told that they can no longer live at the school. They have nowhere else to go, and the girls hope that things couldn’t get any worse. That’s where the plot thickens and their hopes are dashed.

Lexi suddenly disappears, and without hesitation Anni begins to search for her. That’s where readers are led on two separate journeys that are intricately weaved together. One follows Lexi and the other follows Anni. As the plots unfold, Melanie Abed gradually reveals details of another world that lays hidden behind the everyday. And it seems that one of the girls knows more about such a place than she had ever revealed. This secret life of Lexi is an underlying mystery that Anni learns of and tries to solve, while desperately trying to track her down.

As Anni’s search begins, she unwittingly enters into a contract with a mysterious hidden force that both guides and confuses her along the way. She moves from one challenge to the next and proves that she is a very strong willed girl. She never waivers in her determination to find her missing friend and I feel that Anni is a great role model in perseverance for young readers.

Being the first book of the series there was a lot of building in the first half, and I found that the storyline noticeably ramped up in the second. Once Anni had found her feet, made new friends and had set her goal, I found the journey was easier to follow. I think that came with becoming familiar with the characters and being able to focus more on the story rather than learning what’s what and who’s who in the zoo.

Some parts of this book reminded me of an Alice in Wonderland type adventure. It was full of unexpected transitions and journeys from one odd setting to another, and there was a host of weird and wonderful characters to get to know.  One thing I found was that I had absolutely no idea who to trust. The writing was easy to follow and plenty of clever twists kept me guessing and changing my mind from page to page. I was definitely hooked to find the answers about Lexi’s disappearance and of the magical hidden world in which Anni found herself.

I loved the cover of this one too, it grabbed me as soon as I saw it. The cover and other great illustrations inside were expertly crafted by Melanie’s husband, Hisham Abed.

In a nutshellAn enchanting tale, Anni Moon’s adventures should appeal to young girls that dream of magical places. Her strength of character should also teach some valuable lessons.

Recommended for readers 8+.

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.

Drop over to Melanie’s website for extra info about Anni Moon and her adventures by clicking the banner below.Melanie Abed Banner

Book Blitz Giveaway | Stellarcadia (Adventures of Caramel Cardamom #3)| Julie Anne Grasso

I’m thrilled to throw my support behind Mother Daughter Book Reviews as they host a Book Blast for the third and final book in the Adventures of Caramel Cardamom middle grade science fiction trilogy by Julie Anne Grasso: Stellarcadia.

About the Book

Stellarcadia by Julie Anne GrassoSTELLARCADIA
(Adventures of Caramel Cardamom 3)

by  Julie Anne Grasso 
Published December 24, 2014
Publisher: Independent

Pages: 128
Recommended Ages: 8 to 12

Caramel Cinnamon is one lucky elf. She can hardly believe she’s invited to attend the first Intergalactic Youth Summit, on-board the Stellarcadia.

Her friends can’t wait to go “hyper,” but even the thought of it chills Caramel to the bone. However, nothing could compare to the icy reception she receives upon her arrival. Keen to get to the bottom of it, Caramel stumbles on a dangerous conspiracy, but no one will believe her.

In the exciting conclusion to The Adventures of Caramel Cardamom Trilogy, Caramel will have to do more than outwit her enemies, she will have to convince her friends to take her seriously. For ages 8-12.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The Early Buzz

“The book is also a perfect mix of magic, science, and technology. Don’t be surprised if readers get to use their imaginations and learn something. Julie Anne Grasso has proven herself to be an original and versatile author…”
~ 5 Stars, Ilana W., Amazon

“Couldn’t put it down.” ~ Jemima P., Goodreads

My Review

This third instalment in the Caramel Cardamom series adds another mystery solving adventure to Caramel’s belt. The main plot centres around our favourite elven hero being part of the inaugural flight of the shiny new Stellarcadia space ship. Along with a group of high achieving teens, she embarks on the journey of a lifetime and takes part in an on-board conference that showcases their talents, set to culminate in the longest hyperspace jump ever undertaken. But, as usual, our Caramel just seems to look for trouble. She’s never one to shy away from her instincts, especially when they tell her that something is wrong.

As the journey unfolds Caramel spends much of her time trying to convince her friends to help her get to the bottom of her suspicions. I like her never-give-up attitude, and that she sticks to her guns, even when the odds are stacked against her. I do wish that her friends would take her word more easily though, given her record for sniffing out trouble. I suspect that the main character’s qualities would have great appeal for young girls who love a hero that portrays confidence, while having an underlying vulnerability that they can relate to.

Although we meet a few new acquaintances in this book, the core cast remains the same as the previous books. At 128 pages it’s not a long read, but I imagine it’s perfect for the target readers. A not too long, not too short read with mystery and excitement rolled into a neat package. It has a great looking cover too that just pops.

In a nutshell
This is a fun adventure that Caramel Cardamom fans will lap up like a trough of cupcakes.

Recommended for 8+ readers who like a good mystery.

About the Author: Julie Anne Grasso

Julie Anne GrassoWith a background in paediatric nursing, Julie Anne Grasso spent many years literally wrapping children in cotton wool. Every day she witnessed great courage and resilience from the tiny people she cared for, which inspired her to write stories to encourage and entertain them.
She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Danny and their little girl, Giselle.

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter |  Goodreads

* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card

Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice)

Contest ends: March 25, 11:59 pm, 2015

Open: Internationally


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, Julie Anne Grasso 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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YA Book Review | The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (HG2) | Suzanne Collins

HG 2 Catching FireCATCHING FIRE (HG 2)
by Suzanne Collins ★★★★★

Kindle edition / Amazon purchase

Against all odds Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and its harsh rules.

Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have secured, for themselves and their families, a life of safety and plenty. They will live in fancy houses in Victory Village, their families will never be hungry again, and the cruel games are behind them. But there are rumours of rebellion among the other districts, and to Katniss’s horror, Katniss and Peeta are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. The Capitol will not be fooled again.

Suzanne Collins continues the amazing story of Katniss Everdeen in this second novel of the phenomenal Hunger Games trilogy. GOODREADS

My Review

Catching Fire is another great instalment in the Hunger Games Trilogy. It picks up not long after the surprise result of the 74th Hunger Games, with Katniss and Peeta settled into their new lives at the Victor’s Village in District 12. They are soon to embark on a victory tour of the districts to reinforce the strength and domination of the Capitol, and remind the people of their place in the pecking order.

With her success in the Hunger Games, Katniss has unwittingly created more of an impact than she realises and the rumblings of a rebellion are coming to the boil. As the name of this book suggests, the spark of defiance that she showed during the games is slowly but surely catching fire across the districts. Katniss has become the symbol of defiance and hope.

President Snow (what a shifty guy) is keen to keep his hold on power and makes thinly veiled threats towards Katniss to ensure that she doesn’t promote any thoughts of uprising  during the tour. She needs to tow the line to keep her family and friends safe, and continue the on-camera romance with Peeta. It’s a tough gig, but she has no choice.

Suzanne Collins really captures the extremes in Katniss’s thoughts, and does a great job of enabling the reader to relate to her constant struggles with her conscience. It seems that the more Katniss tries to remain cool and calm, the more her charisma gives courage and hope to the downtrodden.  The fate of the old man who saluted her from the crowd gave warning of worse things to come.

Once the big twist is revealed and the victors find themselves heading off to the arena again, the pace and drama picks up. I had hoped that there would be some sort of united stand and refusal to play the game by the contestants. Without giving anything away to those who haven’t read the book I can at least say that I was satisfied with how things panned out in the end. This series is full of surprises and Johanna’s final act teaches that things aren’t always as they seem.

I watched the movie after reading this book, and easily spotted the sections that had been dropped (eg. Katniss meeting some runaway girls in the cabin who were searching for the fabled District 13). So, which one did I like the best? Well, I try not to compare books to movies, and to just accept them as different ways of telling a story. Yes, books give more details of thoughts and settings and decisions than a movie, but a movie can show so much in an instant that would have taken a lot of explanation in a book. The main thing for me is enjoying the story. Each medium gives a slightly different perspective of the story, which I like. They both have strengths, they both have weaknesses. So, my favourite out of book and movie is… a tie.

In a nutshell

A great second instalment in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I loved this one as much as book 1. It held me captive from start to finish.

Recommended for anyone with a love of characters who overcome hopeless situations and exciting plot twists.

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.