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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.

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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.

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


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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.

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


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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:

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Book Review | The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) | Rick Riordan


The Son of NeptuneTHE SON OF NEPTUNE (HEROES OF OLYMPUS #2)
by Rick Riordan ★★★★

Kindle edition
Purchased from Amazon.com

ONE CURSED DEMIGOD.
TWO NEW HEROES.
A QUEST TO UNLEASH THE
GOD OF DEATH…..

Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, God of the Sea, has woken from a very deep sleep and come face to face with two snake-haired ladies who refuse to die.

But they’re the least of his problems. Because Percy finds himself at a camp for half-bloods, which doesn’t ring any bells for him. There’s just one name he remembers from his past. Annabeth.

Only one thing is certain–Percy’s questing days aren’t over. He and fellow demigods Frank and Hazel must face the most important quest of all: The Prophecy of Seven. If they fail, it’s not just their camp at risk. Percy’s old life, the gods and the entire world might be destroyed. [Goodreads]


My Review

I have to be honest that when I first started reading this one I thought that I’d missed a book in the series. I nearly gave up reading it. The beginning seemed to be too random and disconnected with the previous book, but as it turns out, Percy had lost his memory. Perhaps it was RR’s intention to confuse the reader so they could empathize with Percy … or maybe I’m just not that bright, and the gap from book 1 was too long … who knows?

Anyway, as the story progressed and started rolling along I started to enjoy it. I liked the new characters that teamed up with Percy and their adventures moved along in true PJ fashion.  It’s another exciting instalment in the journey to fulfil the Prophecy of Seven. All PJ books have the same underlying theme where most characters have generally been abandoned/left/forgotten/orphaned by their parents and they’re trying to discover their past and future purpose. This is also true for the newbie characters in this one. There is plenty of action as the questing teens face many challenges on their way to and from Alaska, climaxing in the biggest challenge of all.

LOL … as usual, RR also manages to throw in a storyline that includes our modern day icons. Amazon as a mythical place in Seattle full of Amazons. The guards have cards with one-click abilities that can open cells were prisoners are held. Funny idea Mr Riordan … and the Amazons read from little black tablets too. RR must’ve chuckled as he wrote it. Once I got into the book I enjoyed it and I’m keen to see the next part of the prophecy in the book 3.


In a nutshellIt’s another cool PJ tale, which was hard for me to initially get into, but once I did, I enjoyed the read.

It’s a no brainer that it will appeal to fans of Percy Jackson.

 


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 other reviews of Rick Riordan books below:

Want to hear from the man himself?
Check out the book trailer below.


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

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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

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 | 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:



 


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

4 books