TIME SQUARE | THE SHIFT is #free at Amazon this weekend

Yep … you heard right … Book 1 of my TIME SQUARE series TIME SQUARE | THE SHIFT is #FREE this weekend on Amazon. #OMG

So, if you’ve resisted the urge so far and would like to be taken on an action-filled time travel adventure, then make sure that you click the link in the tweet above or click the pic below to secure your copy before time runs out. Then, please RETWEETūüôā

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My Visit to the Brady Bunch House

One of the odd things about blogging is that you never know what will be popular with visitors. Of course, you have the core base of followers who are interested in the main subject area of the blog (books, travel, adventure), and they do drop by whenever there is something that interests them. On the other hand, there are many visitors who drop by purely by chance, following a link from another site or a search for an obscure subject.

By far the most consistently visited post on this site has nothing to do with books or travel or writing. It was a post that I did for fun a number of years ago to try to explain something that had puzzled me since childhood. I’m talking about the mystery of the Brady Bunch house, and of how it’s front facade and interior layout are at odds with each other. Every day I’m surprised by the number of visitors who still visit the original post, some 4 years after I posted it. (Jump to the original post HERE)

So, on my recent visit to Los Angeles, I decided it was time to actually see the real culprit of this long-term mystery. I was staying in an awesome retro-style hotel in North Hollywood (The Garland – it’s a brilliant boutique hotel with a unique retro Hollywood feel), and I was totally surprised when I found out that the original Brady Bunch house was located just a couple of blocks away on Dilling Street. OMG. What a hoot ! I knew I needed to go there.

It was just a matter of fitting some time into my schedule to go for a walk and find it. I didn’t expect that seeing it in real life would solve the mystery I’d pondered since childhood, but it was more about seeing this piece of my childhood memories in the flesh, for real.¬†I have to admit that I did feel a bit awkward, just standing across the street looking at a house like a crazed stalker, but I did stay long enough to grab a couple of photos as a new memory.

The pics below show how it used to look and what it looks like now – complete with a bad shot of stalker-me on the scene.

 

Over the years the house has changed a bit. A new fence and new gardens, but nothing can take away the unmistakable pitched roof over the front doorway. The house and garden were in great condition and clearly looked after and loved by its current owners. I wonder how many fans (like me) they see wander past and stop to take an awkward photo. Does it annoy them? or do they relish the fact that they live somewhere so neat? I suppose it’s just part of the price of owning a piece of television history.

Standing there, stalking, and staring, it was easy to imagine the Bradys all sitting inside at the dining table, talking over each other while being served a fine buffet of food by Alice, or hopping around the backyard in potato sacks, or Marcia getting hit in the face by a ball. Some exterior scenes flashed before me as well, Tiger running across the front lawn, and Alice popping out the front door to get the newspaper for Mr. Brady to read over breakfast.

Not everyone can say that they’ve been to Brady ground zero, but now I can. To the very Brady designed house on Dilling Street where the original modern family taught a generation some life lessons in a squeaky-clean, and quirky kind of way. LONG LIVE THE BRADYS.

As a special treat for fans … here’s a classic Brady moment.


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HaPpY HaLLoWeeN from the SpOOkieSt PLaCe oN EaRtH

While Halloween isn’t as big here in Australia as it is in the US, it’s gathering momentum and trick-or-treating is becoming a thing. Our recent trip to the US (+ the Rockies in Canada), specifically Los Angeles, included (as always) a trip to Disneyland.

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This was our first visit to Disneyland during the Halloween season. As expected, the happiest place on earth has become the spookiest place on earth. On selected nights there was Mickey’s Halloween Party.

We didn’t stay for the night party (due to our previous negative experience with overcrowding at their 2014 Xmas party in Orlando). From late afternoon, as the night guests started arriving, the atmosphere started to ramp up. To see masses of people dressed in Halloween costumes added a new dimension to the already magical feel of Disneyland.¬†Some of the costumes were incredible. I wish I’d had the cheek to ask people to stop for photos. Normal day guests were cleared from the park around 6ish leaving the Halloween party ticket holders with the amazingly decorated park to enjoy a night of special entertainment and treats.

As a consolation prize for those of you who can’t get there to see it for yourself, I hope you enjoy the pics below of some of the incredible Halloween decorations (by day).

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Greetings from Hogsmeade

Just a quick post today from charming Hogsmeade. Having a blast. The weather is great and the air is full of magic. Muggles and wizards everywhere.

The Golden Scarab is on sale this weekend | #OMG

Here’s some brilliant news that will knock your socks off.

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The first book in my Quest series, The Golden Scarab, is on sale this weekend. If you want to escape into an amazing adventure¬†and haven’t already grabbed a copy then this is the perfect time to do so.

To get your own copy at this special price of US$0.99 or UK¬£0.99 just click on this special link. You may also find some bargain books from other great authors while you’re there.

Mini Review | The Paladins of Naretia | T.P. Keane


TP Keane The PaladinsTHE PALADINS OF NARETIA
(Naretia book 1)

by T.P. Keane

Young Adult | Fantasy
330 pages
Published February 28th 2016

Kindle edition
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Olórin’s adopted son, Aramus, is a creature unlike any in the kingdom of Naretia. He is feared by all, and holds a darkness inside that is said will end all life by his eighteenth birthday. Olórin must scour the kingdom for godly ingredients to make a potion for Aramus that will save them all. He is hoping his son’s human side will prevail over the rising darkness within him, for long enough to outrun their enemies.

But Aramus’s real father, the dark God Dantet, desires his son’s powers so he might, once again, walk on mortal soil. His legion of dark creatures follow Olórin and Aramus at every turn, trying to kill them. Dantet’s army, however, is not the only one wanting Aramus dead. Something, or someone, changes fate’s hand. Neither Dantet, nor Olórin, can see the terrible future that threatens them all. Even the traitors within the wizard caste are blind to what is coming.

But it is coming. GOODREADS


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THE PALADINS OF NARETIA¬†is a debut novel from author T.P. Keane, and is the first book in a series. It centres around three main characters, The blood queen (a 17 yo nasty piece of work who has sworn to avenge the death of her parents), a winged descendant of a dark god (who is subject of a prophecy that could destroy Naretia), and a wizard, Olorin (who is charged with making sure the prophecy isn’t fulfilled). And so, the foundations are laid for an epic fantasy tale.

The world building is done well, and there was enough detail to clearly picture the settings as I read. We follow the journey as Olorin leads the quest from one far corner of Naretia to the other, all in the name of a mysterious prophecy. The underlying dark history behind it provides plenty of twists and questionable characters along the way.

My favourite character was definitely the Scottish troll, Bernard. What a funny guy. Perfectly done. His reactions and banter were priceless. There is a lot of change and growth in the main characters as they learn about themselves and each other. The many hardships they face bring out friendship, loyalty, and at times, surprises.

I found that the mood and tone softened as the story progressed, there was definitely more humour in the second half, probably due to the increased involvement of Bernard.

In a Nutshell |   A very good read for fans of wizards, trolls, creatures and fantastic settings. Bernard the dwarf is a scream, undoubtedly my favorite character. I am definitely interested in reading the next book.

Please click here to see my Review Policy


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Mini Review | The Infinite Sea | 5th Wave #2 | Rick Yancey


Rick Yancey The Infinite SeaTHE INFINITE SEA
(5th Wave #2)

by Rick Yancey

Young Adult | Dystopian |
Science Fiction
388 pages
Published September 9th 2014

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The Infinite Sea is the hugely anticipated follow-up to the phenomenal – and bestselling – The 5th Wave by Carnegie-shortlisted Rick Yancey.

‘Remarkable, not-to-be-missed-under-any-circumstances . . . JUST READ IT’ Entertainment Weekly

THE 1st WAVE –¬†Took out half a million people.
THE 2nd WAVE –¬†Put that number to shame.
THE 3rd WAVE –¬†Lasted a little longer. Twelve weeks . . . Four billion dead.
IN THE 4th WAVE –¬†You can’t trust that people are still people.

AND THE 5th WAVE?¬†No one knows….¬†But it’s coming.

For Cassie Sullivan and the rest of Earth’s remaining human survivors, the situation was already desperate when the 5th Wave hit. It’s about to get worse.

No one yet knows the depths to which Earth’s conquerors – the Others – will sink in order to rid the Earth of the human infestation, nor have they guessed the heights to which the human spirit can reach. Characters introduced in Book One will come to the fore – and others will face the ultimate test.¬†GOODREADS


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The 5th Wave saga continues in this wonderful book about the continuing decline of Earth at the whim of the Others. THE INFINITE SEA follows Cassie Sullivan and a small group of survivors who must find a way to continue to evade the Others and make some sort of future.

The plot is full of twists and every chapter brings new questions. It seems that the Others will stop at nothing to wipe out the last remnants of the human race. They have no conscience and stoop to new lows. How this series is going to pan out, I have no idea. Anything seems possible at this stage.

Ringer has a higher profile in this book, with her story becoming one of the main focus areas. She’s tough, she’s damaged and she’s enhanced. I can’t wait to see where her story goes. Overall, the characters are varied and deep, the plot is multi-layered, the tension is intense. There’s so much to like.

The only thing that bothered me was the changing POV. I know this happened in book 1 as well, but it did take me time to switch my mindset and understand which character was the focus of the chapter.

In a Nutshell | What a great follow-up to THE 5TH WAVE. I loved this book and I’m looking forward to reading book 3, THE LAST STAR.

Check out my review of book #1 – THE 5TH WAVE¬†… here.

Please click here to see my Review Policy


Movie Trailer of The 5th Wave movie that hit cinemas 15 January 2016

Starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Nick Robinson


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

Rick Yancey


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Mini Review | Fireflies | Bree Wolf


FirefliesFIREFLIES

by Bree Wolf

Upper Middle Grade/YA | Growing Up
161 pages
Published September 2013

Kindle edition
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In the buzzing city of New York, 12-year-old Gabriel Scott retreats from his parents’ constant arguing into a virtual world of adventure and companionship. Unfortunately, as summer comes along, his parents ship him off to Kenton Woods to stay with grandparents he hasn’t seen in years. Trapped in a world of small town life, Gabriel suddenly finds himself cut off from the only friends he ever had when he discovers that his grandparents don’t even own a computer.

After sulking in the house for a few days, his grandfather drags him outside and Gabriel takes his first steps into the real world. Gathering all his courage, he talks to Liam, their neighbors’ son, who hands him a small sheet of paper and asks for his help. From that day on, Gabriel follows Liam and his friends on a treasure hunt across town. With the entire school on their heels, they rush to solve riddle after riddle, slowly closing in on that which no one has ever found before. Along the way, Gabriel meets the head-butting twins Jack and Jordan, their dog Cat, the insane story-teller Eddie and Hannah, a young girl locked up in her room.

Hand in hand, they work to help Hannah escape and take her along on their adventure. Having spent her entire life cut off from the rest of the world, Gabriel finds a kindred spirit in the red-haired girl with the glowing eyes. But one day, a secret Hannah has been carefully hiding from the group rears its ugly head and threatens to shatter Gabriel’s new life and the place he thought he’d finally found in the world. GOODREADS


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The early part of FIREFLIES portrays the contrast between a boy’s reality and a game. I thought this was a clever idea to explore what the game world meant to him, compared to his real-life. As the story progressed, the game took a back seat, so it was a storyline that never really was completed. Looking back, I understand that was the whole point. Gabriel’s real life became more important than his game life.

Gabriel is shy and inexperienced at social interaction, he’s an introvert that struggles with making new friends. There are troubles at home, so he moves away to stay with his grandparents, and that’s where the real story begins. His new life is blessed with the old-fashioned calmness and love of his grandparents, which is a stark contrast to life with his parents.

He soon meets new friends and we watch his confidence grow and his true self is gradually revealed. It’s then that he meets, Hannah, a lonely girl who is kept hidden away by her grandfather, for reasons unknown to him. They are a perfect match, and it was nice to follow their story. We see them help and teach each other how much more there is to life, and they discover that everyone has unique qualities and can contribute in their own way.

At this point, I suspected that Hannah was hidden away for a reason. I was right in my suspicion, but I won’t reveal a spoiler here. The story does head into some challenging territory, which struck a chord with me, as it was very relatable due to some personal experiences over the past few years.

In a Nutshell |¬† A great story of growth and compassion of a boy who finds himself in a new life. It’s a warm, old-fashioned, and simple small town story, with a twist that tugs at the heartstrings.

Please click here to see my Review Policy


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Subway | PalliatopiaIf you would like to put your name forward as a Beta reader or an ARC Reviewer for Subway | Palliatopia please mention it in a comment below or get in touch via the Contact Me page.

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Mini Review | Shirley Link and the Safe Case | Ben Zackheim


Ben Zackheim Shirley Link 1Shirley Link & The Safe Case (Shirley Link, #1)

by Ben Zackheim

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Middle Grade | Mystery
102 pages
Released 4th July 2012

‚ÄúI put on my kindest face for the poor man. I even smile a little. Marie slashes her fingers across her neck, telling me to stop with the fake grin. She must think I look creepy again. I keep smiling, though. I need to practice. I have a problem with people thinking I‚Äôm mean.‚ÄĚ

And so it goes, for Shirley Link. Brilliant, brazen and still a whole year away from her driver’s permit. Sure, she‚Äôs only 14 years old and has homework to do, but she‚Äôll put it aside for the right mystery!

Shirley Link’s kickoff adventure pits her against a thief who’s stolen thirty thousand dollars from her school’s safe. Usually, she’d wrap that kind of case up before American Idol. But there’s one intriguing, frustrating detail.The half-ton safe disappeared too!

Shirley must find the culprit quickly, or else her beloved principal, Mr. Reese, will lose his job. As she digs deeper, Mr. Reese looks more and more guilty. Will Shirley save him, or get him tossed in jail?

“This is how it is to be Shirley Link, the best detective in the world if I do say so myself. I can spot a lie like most people spot a zit. I see connections where they hide best. And I get in trouble every time I try to tell people what I do with my free time. Only a handful know about my talent. I prefer to keep it that way.” – Shirley Link. – GOODREADS


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Shirley Link is a really good book. Simple as that. It’s written with such a good sense of humour and Shirley herself is absolutely likable, clever, and friendly. She seems to be making quite a name for herself in her hometown as mystery solver, a future Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher, perhaps. Cue the start of a series.

Along with her endearing personality, Shirley has an incredible eye for detail that is her strongest weapon. After all, it’s the detail that always catches the crooks. Reading Shirley was easy. I felt the style flowed and the mystery was revealed at a good pace.

In a Nutshell | Shirley Link is a Miss Marple of the future, but perhaps not so old and stodgy. Although she has such great skills, I like that she remains grounded and kind.

Please click here to see my Review Policy


More books by Ben Zackheim

Ben Zackheim Shirley Link 2 Ben Zackheim Shirley Link 3 Ben Zackheim Shirley Link 4

MMGM2


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Subway | PalliatopiaIf you would like to put your name forward as a Beta reader or an ARC Reviewer for Subway | Palliatopia please mention it in a comment below or get in touch via the Contact Me page.

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Mini Review | Zet and the Egyptian Amulet Mystery | Scott Peters


 Zet and the Egyptian Amulet Mystery
(Zet Mystery Case #2)

by Scott Peters

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Middle Grade | Mystery
156 pages
Released 2nd November 2012

 

Do You Love Mysteries? “Zet and the Egyptian Amulet Mystery” Will Keep You Up All Night, Guessing Until The Last Page.

Zet and Kat are back.

When the Nile town of Thebes is threatened by a scarab-amulet eating ghost, Zet is determined to uncover the truth. Is the ghost real?

Meanwhile, Zet’s best friend, a jeweler’s apprentice, is in trouble. Could the ghost and his best friend’s ominous master be connected somehow?As if he didn’t have enough trouble to deal with, special orders have gone missing at Zet’s family pottery stall. With angry customers on his hands, his family reputation is going downhill fast. Soon the investigation becomes a race against time. Zet and Kat must solve the ever-twisting puzzle before it destroys the people they love. GOODREADS


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Zet is an immersive adventure that takes young readers through the daily struggles of Egyptian life. The story picks up a short time after book one and the scene is set well. I could almost feel the heat and smell the dust of Thebes.

Zet and his sister, Kat, have another mystery to solve and must use their own ingenuity to help their friend, without arousing the suspicion of the bad guys. The story is a well-paced mystery for young readers to solve, with clues being well spaced to keep interest and entice further reading. The readers learn at the same pace as Zet, so we are in synch when the final secrets are uncovered.

In a Nutshell | This is a great middle-grade read that focuses on friendship and teamwork while solving a mystery, with a good dose of history thrown in.

My review of book 1, Mystery of the Egyptian Scroll is here.

Please click here to see my Review Policy


More books by Scott Peters

Scott Peters Blog

 Scott Peters - Zet 1  Scott Peters - Zet 3    Scott Peters - God Catcher

Scott Peters - Zet Set


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GREAT BOOKS FOR GREAT READERS

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