Category Archives: Book reviews by me

Book Review | The Camelot Kids (Part 2) | Ben Zackheim

Camelot Kids 2THE CAMELOT KIDS (PART 2)
by Ben Zackheim  ★★★★★
Kindle edition purchased from Amazon

Simon Sharp just got kidnapped by a troll on the shore of Scotland’s Loch Duich. But before he can get his head around that incredible fact, he’s saved by a 7-foot tall elderly man who calls himself Merlin. It’s hard to deny that something odd is going on.

But what?

Join Simon as he takes his first steps into New Camelot, a castle city of unparalleled beauty. But his stay won’t always be a pleasant one as he trains to become a warrior side-by-side with 149 other kids… all descendants of the original Knights of the Round Table.

The Camelot Kids: Part Two answers many questions from Part One, and adds a few more that will keep you guessing until the end! (Goodreads)


My Review

Part 2 of this series picks up at the same point part one finished. Simon, Merlin and Maille (carrying an ugly troll on her back) are on their journey to New Camelot, a place where Simon soon learns that has a huge relevance. Apparently, he has some very important and famous family links. This means that it’s impossible for his arrival to go unnoticed and he is completely taken by surprise at the reactions towards him. Think Rock star/Hero/Amazing Person just arrived.

Ben Zackheim has created a wonderful setting known as New Camelot, which I’m sure will build and grow as the story progresses. It’s a setting that’s full of magic, amazing creatures and interesting characters, where Simon learns that he is a descendant of someone very very famous (I won’t let on who), and his arrival at New Camelot is seen as a very significant event.

Enter a rival, who happens to be a long-forgotten apprentice of Merlin. This rivalry will no doubt feature more later in the story.
Simon is guided by Merlin, who is mysterious and moody, and Maille (who is Merlin’s new apprentice). This part of the story is where we follow Simon as he learns his way around his new surroundings, discovering it’s secrets and traditions. Destined to lead, Simon embarks on a training regime with a bunch of descendants of the Knights of the Round Table. I get the feeling that he’s not too thrilled about it either.

The frequently grumpy Merlin seems to be in control and we are teased with glimpses that he has a bigger agenda on the go. It will be interesting to see what eventuates. I really enjoy Ben’s writing. It is clear and easy to follow. He has created a character in Simon that I’m sure readers can relate to and barrack for.

In a nutshell

This is another great instalment in the series. Part 2 is an entertaining read, which has left me eagerly awaiting Part 3. Be warned, there is an unexpected twist at the end of this one.


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 Ben’s website.

Ben Zackheim Blog


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

4 books

Double Vision Series | F.T. Bradley

The Double Vision series grabbed my attention the first time I saw the  cover, then when I read the blurb it had me, so I added it to my ever  growing TBR list. Finally, after lingering at the edge of my mind I looked  into grabbing a copy. Unfortunately, the ebook wasn’t available to me in Australia via Amazon, but I wasn’t going to let go. So I tracked down a  paperback version at The Book Depository in the UK and ordered myself a  copy.

The verdict – I loved it (see my review here). Not only is Double Vision a great series full of cool action and characters, but book 1 is set in one of my all time favourite cities, Paris. My plan was to order a copy of book 2 and continue the series, but over time my TBR got the better of me … yes, I have to admit that I lost control. Fast forward to October 2014 and you can imagine how I felt when I heard that book 3 was released. “Doh!” to quote a famous American. Now I not only have to read book 2, but also book 3. Both are still blipping away on my radar, and I know that the next couple of months are already packed full. DING! I’ve just had a great idea! I think I’ll look for them in bookstores during my US travels in November/December, I think they’d be a great souvenir.

Anyway, back on subject … I decided that I wanted to share the series with visitors to my site even before I’ve read them, as I feel they’d be a great idea for Xmas gifts. Given that I won’t post my own reviews for books 2 & 3 for a couple of months, I thought it may be a good idea to create a post with links to some Amazon and Goodreads reviews.


Double Vision 1Buy at AmazonI didn’t read this book, my son did. And he loved it, his nose was glued to it … It really has been, as far as I can tell, the best book he’s read. … Highly recommend, and we’re definitely getting the second as soon as it comes out.”
(See the full GOODREADS review here)

“The other day I came home from work to have my 8-year-old son at the door with this giant smile on his face. He’s reading Double Vision by F.T. Bradley, and he couldn’t wait to tell me about the mess of trouble the main character, Linc, has gotten himself into.”
(See the full GOODREADS review here)


Double Vision 2Buy at Amazon“Bradley weaves history, D.C. landmarks, the Culper Spy ring, puzzles, danger and laughs into another fun and fast thrill ride of a book.”
(See the full GOODREADS review here)

“I think what I like best about F. T. Bradley’s Double Vision series is Linc Baker, the protagonist. He’s just an average 12-year-old with an above average ability to get into trouble.”
(See the full AMAZON review here)


Double Vision 3Buy at Amazon“Double Vision: The Alias Men by F.T. Bradley is probably one of the best spy novels I’ve read, and easily one of my favorite books this year.”
(See the full GOODREADS review here)


Are you keen to see more from Double Vision star, Linc?Click here for a surprise!

Book Review | Contest | Matthew Reilly

ContestCONTEST
by Matthew Reilly ★★★★★
Kindle edition purchased from Amazon

The New York State Library. A brooding labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and spiralling staircases. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. For one night, this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete – whether he likes it or not.

The rules are simple. Seven contestants will enter. Only one will leave. With his daughter in his arms, Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight – but if he wants to live, he has to win. For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all. (Goodreads)


My Review

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Reilly for years. I love the high-speed action in his books and the heroes that we follow. I have no idea why this one (which was his first) has never crossed by reading list. I thought it was about time to get down and read it.

Wow. Given that it was his first book (which he released independently before scoring a publisher), it provides a glimpse of where he started. It’s full of the action he’s famous for, the creatures that give another level of terror to the hero, and the exciting climaxes he does so well. His action has definitely influenced my books, which I tend to think of as Matthew Reilly for kids.

In Contest, an unassuming doctor is suddenly whisked away from his normal life into the New York Library (along with his young daughter), and finds himself smack bang in the middle of a deadly contest. A once in a millennium event that is orchestrated by beings from the far reaches of space. There are seven competitors, each from different planets, who must fight to be the sole survivor. The contestants not only have to deal with their competitors, they have some nasty beasts thrown in the mix, as well as an electrified building.

As with all of MR’s books, the hero finds a way out of situations that seem absolutely impossible. Even though it’s often implausible, it’s what I love about MR’s books. I can suspend my belief and just go along for a ride that tackles the extremes of survival. Of course, there is plenty of violence, so it’s not really suited to younger readers, but the fact that it’s aimed mostly at mythical space beasts makes it a little easier to digest.

In a nutshell

Another great white-knuckle-action-packed-adventure from MR. Let’s hope that he releases some more action novels in the future. I seem to have exhausted his supply of action books now. Maybe a re-read of some of them is in order :)


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


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

4 books

Book Review | The Camelot Kids (Part 1) | Ben Zackheim

Camelot Kids 1THE CAMELOT KIDS (PART 1)
by Ben Zackheim  ★★★★★
Kindle edition purchased from Amazon

If you ask Simon Sharp how his parents died, the 14-year-old New Yorker will tell you King Arthur killed them. Obsessed with Camelot, the two scholars perished in a plane crash en route to an archaeological dig in England.

Simon spends two awful years in an orphanage before his uncle surfaces. He offers Simon residence at a creepy mansion in Scotland where every shadow hides a surprise— including a girl, Maille Rose, who flickers in and out of view like a ghost. Maille warns Simon he’s in danger and, oh yes, he’s a descendant of King Arthur’s powerful knight, Lancelot.

Uh. What?

That’s Simon’s response too.

But she’s right about the danger. Simon’s life becomes a battle for survival when his teacher is killed in front of him. Accused of murder, Simon escapes into the wilderness…

… where he gets kidnapped by a drunk troll. At this point, Simon’s tired of surprises. Which is too bad because then he’s saved by a 7-foot elderly man claiming to be Merlin. Maille Rose, Merlin’s apprentice, arrives swinging her bat-wand and leads them to a hidden castle.

This, she says, is New Camelot.

Which is when the fun begins.

Join The Camelot Kids in Part One of a four-part series. Written by the author of the Shirley Link mystery series, with cover art by Nathan Fox (Batman, Iron Man, Dogs of War). (Goodreads)


 My Review

This is part one of a new series from author Ben Zackheim (author of the Shirley Link series). The first thing that grabbed me was the cover art and illustrations – they are awesome and eye-catching.

Part one does a great job to set up the series and introduce us to the main character, Simon. He’s quite a mischievous kid, who has unfortunately lost his parents to tragedy as they chased their lifelong dream. An underlying challenge for Simon is his sense of belonging. He is pushed from home to home, and his rebellious side surfaces. Being a strong lad, he has made the decision that he can’t rely on anyone else. One day he is plucked from his troubled life by a distant uncle in Scotland, who had never really been in touch before, or approved of his parents’ career. It’s when he arrives at the ‘family’ digs in Scotland that the tale starts to move into an exciting and original setting. We are embarking on his journey to discover his past and his future purpose.

The story describes his difficulties at his new school in Scotland, and of his meeting a mysterious girl, who joins him on his journey of discovery. Simon finds himself struggling with his long-term beliefs and doubts about his parents work, and the reality of his new surroundings. Part one has many interesting characters and ends at a point in Simon’s quest, which teases with the promise of exciting adventures ahead.

In a nutshell

This is an original spin on and age-old legend, which has me hooked. I will continue to read this series of four (I think) parts. Great job. Recommended for kids (and adults) who are fans of King Arthur  and Camelot with a twist.


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 Ben’s website.

Ben Zackheim Blog


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

4 books

Book Review | Frankie DuPont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor | Julie Anne Grasso

Frankie DuPontFRANKIE DUPONT AND THE MYSTERY OF ENDERBY MANOR
by Julie Anne Grasso ★★★★★
Kindle edition
Purchased from Amazon

When his cousin Kat disappears from Enderby Manor, Frankie Dupont jumps on the case. Bumbling Inspector Cluesome is convinced that Kat is lost in Myrtle’s Mesmerising Maze, but Frankie isn’t buying it.

He follows the evidence trail to a conniving concierge, a six-fingered chef, a talking parrot, a mad maid and a shifty dwarf, and quickly finds himself in a desperate race to recover Kat before her time runs out…

An exciting new illustrated middle grade mystery series for children aged 8-12. [Goodreads]


My Review

Recommended for young readers keen to get the inside scoop on how to solve a mystery.

This is a true mystery geared towards younger middle grade readers. Frankie’s dad is a private detective and happens to be away on a case when something very mysterious happens. Cousin Kat goes missing … enter Frankie, keen to put his developing detective skills to the test.

The trail of his missing cousin soon leads him to Enderby Manor, a hotel that has a very mysterious past and is staffed by a cast of oddball characters. The case is assigned to a bumbling Inspector Cluesome, but he soon finds that he has a new pint-sized rival in the investigation stakes. There’s a classic battle of experience (Cluesome) vs young enthusiasm (Freddie) to be the first to get to the bottom of Kat’s disappearance.

Frankie’s investigations soon uncover that the hotel has loads of secrets hidden within its grounds and he collects plenty of clues along the way. Although I must admit there were some clues that I missed, it all climaxes with Frankie finding out that …(?)… did …(?)… and then …(?)…  (No spoilers from me, folks).

Julie Grasso also throws in a bit of  supernatural magic and we soon find that the mystery of Enderby Manor is much bigger than just a disappearing cousin. I expect that young readers will enjoy trying to spot the clues and solve the mystery before the end. This is the first book of a series, so it’s safe to say that there will be plenty more cases in the future for Frankie to solve.

In a nutshell

Frankie is the new sleuth on the block who I’m sure will win fans amongst younger readers. He’s accompanied by a cast of quirky characters who add some fun to the mystery. Recommended for young readers keen to get the inside scoop on how to solve a mystery.


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 Julie Anne Grasso’s website.

Julie Grasso Books

 


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

4 books

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


Book Review | Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll | Scott Peters

Mystery of the Egyptian ScrollMYSTERY OF THE EGYPTIAN SCROLL (Zet Mystery Case #1)
by Scott Peters ★★★★
Kindle edition
Purchased from Amazon

You, who have dug deep and sifted hard for a story to read, have unearthed an ancient treasure: a mystery from the dusty ages, when a boy could be a hero and fight for the good of all . . .

ZET HUNTS FOR A STOLEN SCROLL IN HIS FIRST EXCITING ADVENTURE.

 12-year-old Zet and his sister Kat are in charge of the family pottery stall now that their father is off fighting the Hyksos. Who knew putting food on the table could be so hard?
When he hears a thief has stolen an important scroll–and that there’s a reward for the thief’s capture–he’s determined to win it.
The chase leads him into forbidden temples whispering with the voices of ancient gods, into a web that threatens to crush his family forever. [Goodreads]


My Review

I picked this book up from Amazon a number of months ago and it finally made it to the top of my TBR pile.

Set in ancient Egypt this one had my interest from the start. Zet and Kat are a brother and sister combo who have a hard life, supporting their family while their father is away at war. Then, on a normal day just like any other, everything changes when Zet gets wind of a reward on offer to catch the thief of a mysterious scroll. That’s when their lives go from selling pots at their humble market stall to being caught up in a huge mystery that threatens the very safety of the Pharaoh.

I admired these kids, they both showed great respect for others and exhibited some wonderful qualities. As the mystery deepens, so too does the severity of the situation. Poor Zet and Kat just seem to sink deeper and deeper into trouble as they try to clear the name of an innocent friend. By the climax of the story there’s a very real possibility that they will lose absolutely everything (which isn’t much).

With opponents that seem unbeatable and tension building, Zet and Kat practically need to pull a sphinx out of a hat to put things right. Do they succeed or not? …. you’ll need to find out for yourself.

It’s quite obvious from his website that Scott Peters has a great interest in Egypt. He has a lot of interesting Egyptian themed activities over there for readers who want their Egyptian adventure to go that little bit further than just reading the book.

In a nutshell

 

This was an exciting adventure that will appeal to kids who are fans of mystery, adventure and ancient Egypt.


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 Scott Peters’ website for some great Egyptian treasures.

Scott Peters Blog


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

4 books

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


Book Review | The Silkworm | Robert Galbraith

The SilkwormTHE SILKWORM (Cormoran Strike #2)
by Robert Galbraith ★★★★★
Kindle edition
Purchased from Amazon

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.  [Goodreads]


My Review

I was very pleased to see another case arrive for Cormoran Strike, the one-legged chain-smoking out of shape detective in his mid 30s, to solve. Although it took me a while to get into the story, once I was there, I was keen to see how it all panned out. I think it was probably down to the disjointed nature of my available reading time when I started. I’m not going to fill this review with a rundown of the plot, that’s what the blurb is for. The bare basics are that there’s been a gruesome murder and Cormoran is on the case.

One of the things I like about these books is that they are very dialogue driven. I find that engaging, like I’m along for the ride as an observer lingering off to the side. The style just hooks me, and I think that Cormoran’s questioning technique is great. Just like a real investigator, he collects seemingly unrelated little snippets from each encounter and stores them in his box of clues. Then we reach the point where he has an epiphany that links them all together. I love how RG (JK) doesn’t just end the story there, he (she) then goes on to find ways to prove everything before revealing it to the reader and the cast. It reminds me of Mrs Marple mysteries.

Robin is a great character as well (probably my favourite). She’s eager to hone her investigative skills, but has a constant battle with her fiancé, who doesn’t like her job, and Cormoran who she doubts really takes her seriously. She’s a bright lady, and it takes a few incidents before Cormoran finally realises what a gem she is. I really enjoy reading the discussions between Cormoran and Robin, where she is an integral part to solving clues and bringing clarity to the situation.

There were a number of nice touches in there too, which made me smile along the way. Like the mention of Emma Watson on a magazine cover. What a nice nod to Emma from JK. And the book also mentioned Cormoran going to Hamleys, which sounded familiar to me, so I Googled. It’s a toy store that I visited on my last trip to London. Coincidentally, on the Hamleys landing page there were Harry Potter toys advertised :)

In a nutshell I really enjoyed this newCormoran Strike case. The plot had me guessing along the way and changing my mind a heap of times. At first I thought it was (.) then (.) but when I found out it was (.) … I was surprised. Recommended for fans of crime solving,JK andRG.


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 Robert Galbraith/J.K Rowling reviews:

4 books