All posts by S.W.Lothian | Author

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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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

“I 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’m mean.”

And so it goes, for Shirley Link. Brilliant, brazen and still a whole year away from her driver’s permit. Sure, she’s only 14 years old and has homework to do, but she’ll 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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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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Everything has a price.

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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Series Trouble | I’ve Started, Should I Finish? | TimeRiders

The next series in my Series Trouble series is…

TimeRiders Banner

Regular visitors will know that I’ve decided to do a series (yes it’s completely ironic) of posts to share my impressions (from when I read the books) of some series that I’ve started but not yet finished.

I’ve realised that I’m part way through so many series that I need to sit down and do some soul-searching about which ones I should continue to ride, and which ones to gently let slide.

I have to admit that this TimeRider series has slipped off my radar. I don’t know how, given how much I loved reading it. I’m leaning toward RIDE on this one, but seven more books is quite an investment in time, so I’d really appreciate some votes and comments from all of you on what to do.  Should I … RIDE or SLIDE


TIMERIDERS by Alex Scarrow



TimeRiders (Book #1)TimeRiders
(TimeRiders #1)
By Alex Scarrow

Read in February 2013


Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2026

Yet moments before death, someone mysteriously appeared and said, ‘Take my hand …’

But Liam, Maddy and Sal aren’t rescued. They are recruited by an agency that no one knows exists, with only one purpose—to fix broken history. Because time travel is here, and there are those who would go back in time and change the past.

That’s why the TimeRiders exist: to protect us. To stop time travel from destroying the world… (GOODREADS)


In a NutshellThe TimeRiders is a great book that has hooked me for the rest of the series. The blurb for this book is brilliant. How can you not be intrigued?

For any of my usual Middle-Grade followers, here’s a tip. The target audience for this book is YA and there is violence in some parts, so I wouldn’t recommend it for Middle Graders.

See my original review in full here.


TimeRiders 2Day of the Predator
(TimeRiders #2)
By Alex Scarrow

Read in August 2013


Liam O’Connor should have died at sea in 1912.
Maddy Carter should have died on a plane in 2010.
Sal Vikram should have died in a fire in 2029.

But all three have been given a second chance—to work for an agency that no-one knows exists. Its purpose—to prevent time travel destroying history . . .

When Maddy mistakenly opens a time window where and when she shouldn’t have, Liam is marooned sixty-five million years ago in the hunting ground of a deadly—and until now—undiscovered species of predator.

Can Liam make contact with Maddy and Sal before he’s torn to pieces by dinosaurs—and without endangering history so much that the world is overtaken by a terrifying new reality? (GOODREADS)


In a NutshellAlex Scarrow has followed book one with a cracker. Day of the Predator is just as exciting and addictive as book one. This is another awesome book.

I’m so keen to move on to book 3 as soon as my to-be-read pile allows it. My thanks go out to Alex Scarrow for such a great adventure. No wonder I get the feeling that his fan-base is very strong and loyal.

See my original review in full here.

> Please click here to see my Review Policy <


The books I haven’t read in this series.

TimeRiders 3 TimeRiders 4 TimeRiders 5 TimeRiders 6

TimeRiders 7 TimeRiders 8 TimeRiders 9 TimeRiders Alex Scarrow

With 7 more books in this series should I…

  RIDE or SLIDE

Please vote and leave a comment on why you voted that way:)


 

Abandoned Subways of New York City

Everyone knows the magic that is, New York City. The limitless landscape of skyscrapers hugged by the Hudson and East Rivers. Plus the message of the Statue of Liberty, the bustle and glare of Times Square, and the lush oasis of Central Park. There are too many icons to name.

But what about the other hidden treasures that are so close to the millions of citizens and visitors, yet never seen. There’s a whole side of New York that lies hidden, just below the surface of the chaos, the magic, and the dreams.

The subway is a lifeblood of veins that pump life around the great city. Moving millions beneath its gridded surface, threading them far below the crowded sidewalks and yellow cab streets. Those who catch the trains never know how close they are to secretive pockets that have long been forgotten.

Stations that once bustled with commuters are now abandoned and shrouded in darkness. One such station is Worth Street, on the Lexington Avenue Line (formerly Manhattan Main Line). It was closed in 1962 when another one nearby was enlarged. Just like Worth Street there are others that remain on the grid, passed through each day in a flash by rattling metal tubes packed full of busy New Yorkers.

Worth_St_Station_2015-07-06
Worth Street Station – Photo source: By 3am.nightly – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Perhaps they are ignored like most scars from the past, or maybe condemned by their darkened hollows to remain undiscovered. It’s sad that in a world that is constantly moving forward, things of value are often forgotten by the passage of time.

If there was a jewel in the crown of abandoned stations, it would undoubtedly have to be City Hall Station. First opened on the Manhattan Main Line (now Lexington Avenue Line) on October 27, 1904, it was like no other. City Hall station was beautifully designed and built to a standard never before seen in New York.

City Hall entrance
City Hall entrance – Photo credit: http://www.nycsubway.org/wiki/IRT_East_Side_Line

Brass chandeliers and coloured glass tilework added touches of glamour and class. Guastavino tile, along with skylights above the platform and mezzanine allowed natural light from above to enter and reflect its warmth across the platform. City Hall was a showpiece for the subway and it bustled with action for decades, but eventually, over time, progress took over.

City Hall
Photo Credit: John-Paul Palescandolo, Fred Guenther

Its wonderful curved platforms, which mirrored the beautiful arches that bridged wall and ceiling, became its enemy and sealed its fate. As trains got longer, the curved platform presented problems that no station could endure. Quite simply, the trains had become too long.

CIty Hall stairs
Photo credit: Unknown

The nearby station, Brooklyn Bridge, was better suited to the higher volumes and longer trains. So, on December 31, 1945, City Hall station was closed, and its wonderful beauty and elegant design were locked away from the eyes of the world.

Sadly, the station’s only purpose today is for trains to pass through as a turning loop. Passengers who know or have enough care for the past can remain on the train while it loops, and are rewarded with a short journey through this hidden treasure.

CIty Hall Loop
Photo credit: http://nycsubway.org.s3.amazonaws.com/images/i28000/img_28416.jpg

City Hall station is a silent testament to the great achievements of the past, but sadly it is an icon that has been almost forgotten. It sits quietly and patiently beneath New York’s City Hall, waiting to be rediscovered. Hoping for a new life, and to once again become a great landmark of New York City.

City Hall Building NYC
Photo credit: City Hall. Image by aurélien / CC BY-SA 2.0.

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Series Trouble | I’ve Started, Should I Finish? | Royal Institute of Magic

The next series in my Series Trouble series is…

Royal Institute of Magic 1 site

Regular visitors will know that I’ve decided to do a series (yes it’s completely ironic) of posts to share my impressions (from when I read the books) of some series that I’ve started but not yet finished.

I’ve realised that I’m part way through so many series that I need to sit down and do some soul-searching about which ones I should continue to ride, and which ones to gently let slide.

I’d really appreciate some feedback and advice from all of you on what to do.  Should I … RIDE or SLIDE


ROYAL INSTITUTE OF MAGIC by Victor Kloss



ROYAL INSTITUTE 1ELIZABETH’S LEGACY

(Royal Institute of Magic #1)

By Victor Kloss

Read in December 2015

Two years ago, Ben Greenwood’s parents walked out the door and never returned. The police have all but given up finding them when Ben stumbles upon a peculiar letter addressed to his dad. “You are the most wanted man in the Unseen Kingdoms. Unless you come to us, we cannot help. For your child’s sake, tell us what you know.”

The letter is from an organisation called the Royal Institute of Magic and is dated a day before his parents disappeared. Like most people, fourteen-year-old Ben hasn’t the faintest idea what the Royal Institute of Magic is, but he has his first clue: the logo on the letter.

Armed with nothing but his wits and the help of his good friend Charlie, Ben sets out to find the Institute and, through them, his parents. To succeed, he will have to navigate a land filled with fantastic creatures and Spellshooters, where magic can be bought and sold, to unravel an ancient family secret that could hold the key to defeating an evil the Institute has been fighting for the last five hundred years. – GOODREADS


In a Nutshell | Elizabeth’s Legacy is a good start to a series, and the search for Ben’s parents is set to continue into next books.

Given the subject matter, it’s natural for other wizarding books to come to mind, but I think the author has succeeded in building a world sufficiently different to those that we already know.

See my original review in full here.

> Please click here to see my Review Policy <


The books I haven’t read in this series.

 ROYAL INSTITUTE 2  ROYAL INSTITUTE 3 ROYAL INSTITUTE 4

ROYAL INSTITUTE Victor Kloss ROYAL INSTITUTE 1-3

 With 3 more books to go, what should I do?

RIDE or SLIDE

Please vote and leave a comment on why you voted that way:)


 

Mini Review | Awakening (Benjamin Dragon #1) | C.G. Cooper

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C.G.Cooper AwakeningAWAKENING
(Benjamin Dragon 1)

by C.G. Cooper

Middle Grade | Fantasy | Mystery
Released  8th July 2014

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This is my first freebie from Bookbub. The name suggests Dragons, doesn’t it? I will reveal that it does have Dragons, but I won’t reveal the type.

The story follows, Ben, a young gifted ten year old adjusting to his latest move to a new school. He’s likable, he’s vulnerable, he’s different, and he’s gifted.

It’s this gift that is the focus of the story as it explores the trials of his journey to determine his path in life. Young Ben has some big decisions to make. It’s an engaging read and I did find myself reading it whenever I had the chance. (Make sure you keep an eye out for the Hagridy guy.)

In a Nutshell  |  Quite an enjoyable read that nicely sets up the series. Love the cover too. Book 2 is called Legacy.

> Please click here to see my Review Policy <


More books by  C.G. Cooper.

C.G.Cooper Legacy C.G.Cooper Adrift C.G.Cooper Back to War

C.G.Cooper


Rap Heading - OffersWIN a paperback copy of THE GOLDEN SCARAB

It’s been a couple of years since I gave away a paperback edition of a Quest book, so I thought it was about time to do it again. I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads for the next couple of months.

Goodreads Q1 Giveaway


 

Subway | Palliatopia is on its way.


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Here’s an early blurb.

In a world that’s self-obsessed, every moment is shared, and every move is posted. If you don’t follow, you don’t care. Those who don’t care, aren’t worth the time.

The city of New York grows by half a million people per annum. Each year over 20,000 people go missing – that’s more than 50 per day. Of these, 6,500 are runaways, and 12,700 are found alive, but 1400 are never found. Does anyone notice? What happens to them?

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If anyone would like to put their name forward as a Beta reader for Subway | Palliatopia please mention it in a comment below or get in touch via the Contact Me page.