Sunday, 26 February 2012

Dragons in a Winter Wonderland by P. A Woodburn



Dragons in a Winter Wonderland
2/5
Dragons in a Winter Wonderland
by P. A Woodburn (link Amazon.com)

Genre: Children's picture/story book.

This is described for four-years and above. I flicked through it before I gave it to my son to read and immediately spotted two punctuation errors. I can usually ignore these to a point if the story is exceptional, but this is a children's book! How are kids supposed to learn if the books they are reading are poorly edited? 


On the second page was the sentence: The main road was boring, And the Door looked intriguing. Why the capital A(nd) after boring? On page four I noticed a full stop AND an exclamation mark: I don't want you even looking at it.!



Hmm, OK, moving on. The story was about two sibling dragons who, on their way to get garble juice from Mrs Gnome, pass the Door. The Door leads to the ordinary world of humans. Dragon Alice accidently falls through the Door, and her brother Freddie goes to rescue her. Here they meet Suzie and her dad out looking for a Christmas tree to cut down. The humans take care of the young dragons, and in turn the dragons take them back through the Door to meet their family.

It's a nice, Christmassy story and although I felt my son couldn't follow it very well because of the story's structure, he did say he liked it. The blurb suggested it to be a little scary (dragons getting lost) but it wasn't like that at all. There was a lot of laughter as the dragons saw snow for the first time. I like children's books to give some sort of message, and I felt this message was repaying kindness (the human family looking after the dragons, and the dragon family helping the humans find a Christmas tree).


I just wish the author had taken as much time writing the novel as he had illustrating it. These weren't shown all that clear on my Kindle, which was a shame, but going by the striking cover (which was wonderfully eye catching) I could imagine the book must be beautiful. 

Blurb - Dragons in a Winter Wonderland (link Amazon UK)

On a very hot day, two young dragons go out for a walk. They accidentally go through a portal to another world. Suddenly they find themselves lost in a strange, cold world of snow and ice. Too young to fly and unable to climb up the slippery slope they are afraid that they will not be able to find their way home.

Oh Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People by Deborah Durbin

3/5
by Deborah Durbin (link to Amazon.com)

Genre: Chick lit

The title and cover pulled me in to this book straight away, and I couldn't wait to get reading.

Samantha Ball is a university graduate with a degree in psychology. She's broke, in debt and has no job. It was an interesting story and the pages kept me reading, and had it not been for poor editing and obvious fillers I'd have given this a 4/5.

Skint and desperate, Samantha calls Mystic Answers to find out where her future lays, and the psychic tells her she too has the ability, and offers her a job on the spot. Yeah, I was sceptical too. It just seemed all too easy. Anyhow, Samantha takes the job and finds she is indeed VERY psychic and even hears dead people passing on their wisdom to their loved ones. Strangely, she isn't scared or amazed and this annoyed me. When she heard her dead dad speaking to her for the first time I felt it was very underplayed.

I know this is chick lit but some of the jokes and flippancy were inappropriate I felt. Samantha's best friend is Jack, and it seemed that their relationship (which was predictable that they'd get it together) was second to the story - no bad thing but I'd have liked Jack to be with her on her journey to stardom.

The story wrapped up very quickly with Samantha and Jack admitting their love for one another, Samantha's mum also finding love, her best friend being ousted, and Jack hitting the big time with his band. The ending was all a little too neat and tidy.

All that being said I LIKED Samantha Ball and Jack, and I wanted them to succeed. I felt the book was well researched in the part where Samantha was doing her radio and TV shows, and I will keep my eye on more from Durbin because I think she can only grow as a writer.

Blurb - Oh Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People (link to Amazon.UK)

Samantha Ball is not only broke, she's £22'000 in debt and soon to be homeless if she can't get the money together for her rent, so when she's offered the chance to earn some money for a hotline to the heavens by giving tarot readings, she jumps at the chance, despite the fact that she doesn't have a psychic bone in her body - or does she?

When Sam starts to hear voices of real dead people her psychic career really takes off and she soon becomes a psychic to the stars with her own slot on a prime time TV show.

Someone however doesn't share Sam's joy and it's only when they set out to destroy her reputation does Sam really need help from the other side...

'I knew I would love this book from the title, but even so, it still had me giggling out loud. You'll love this book. It's laugh out loud funny, yet warm and touching and very modern. Well done Deborah, can't wait until the next one.'

Wild Water By Jan Ruth


Amazon.com

Genre romance/chicklit


As Mondays went, it was the worst Jack could ever remember. – That opening line was the hook that draw me in. Even though Jack Redman was an estate agent (or because he was!) the job title told us we’re dealing with an ordinary man with flaws of his own and I immediately liked him for this ordinariness. I could feel for him and his collapsing world.
It’s unusual that chicklit is told through the eyes of a male protagonist, and the only others I know are male authors like Matt Dunn and Carl Mason. So Wild Water, in my eyes, was fresh, and told as it was from a male perspective, utterly original in the chick lit genre.

The setting, Wales, was beautifully described, and I could strongly visualise it. It almost felt like I was there!

For the downside I did sometimes become lost in the story - one moment I was in Jack’s office, the next at home or in a hotel etc. I wanted the author to slow down and give me a chance to get a feel of the scene before moving on.

I also found the author describing Jack’s fun-loving side a surprise. He seemed much too sensible and insecure to be dressing as a woman or swimming in a reindeer costume. It felt that this aspect was added because the author remembered the tone had to be light because of the genre. Other than that Wild Water is worth reading, and I’ll look forward to more from Jan Ruth.

Blurb:

Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero? Or someone to break all the rules?

Wild water is the story of forty-something estate agent Jack, who is stressed out not only by work, bills and the approach of Christmas but by the feeling that he and his wife Patsy are growing apart. His misgivings prove founded when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant.

At the same time as his marriage begins to collapse around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty five years before. He finds his feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?

Pan Macmillan Books; “It has a good combination of humour and poignancy.The characters are well portrayed and Jan delves shrewdly into their make-up, gradually allowing their traits to become evident and appreciated.”

WILD WATER is the WINNER of the Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, 'Most Popular Self Published book' Competition. December 2011.

Wild water is Jan Ruth's first novel. Her second title Midnight Sky is now available.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Prophecy an Arkane Thriller by Joanna Penn

4/5
by Joanna Penn (Link Amazon.com)

Genre: Thriller

I have a tendency to shy away from thrillers and fantasy novels because I just don’t “get them” and I don’t feel able to relate to a story so far removed from my own life experiences. Yet sometimes I’m drawn to try new genres as I was drawn to Joanna Penn’s Prophecy, an Arkane thriller.

This book, Prophecy, was second to Penn’s d├ębut novel Pentecost in the Arkane thriller series. It was a stand-alone read although I felt the characterisation may have been left to the first novel, because I couldn’t “see” the main characters and I felt they were a little under-developed.

Prophecy is described as a Dan Brown meets Lara Croft, but as I haven't read anything of Dan Brown I couldn't tell if that was true or not, although Lara Croft/Indiana Jones is a very apt description.

Morgan Sierra and her side-kick Jake Timber take on an organisation called Thanatos, who under the cover of improving mankind with, want to unleash a power that will kill billions of “sub-standard” humans. Thanatos wants to carry on Hitler’s work and remake humankind without imperfections. It’s chilling because, I suppose, it’s been tried and very believable. Morgan and Jake are on a mission to find the Devil's Bible, and stop Thanatos before the final curse is delivered, and right to the end I was left wondering if they will manage it. There were many action scenes along with the more sedate, which took us on a journey to various counties around the world.

Morgan’s group, Arkane, was a brilliant and convincing organisation, I was tempted to Google it to make sure it really was fiction!

The book was intelligent, the pace fast, and over all a very good read for thriller readers. It was very well researched, and I felt I was in the hands of a very competent author. The only reason this didn't make the 5/5 mark was because I couldn't relate to the main characters; but maybe reading the first book will correct this wrong!

Blurb - Prophecy an Akrane Novel (link Amazon UK)

“I looked, and there before me was a pale horse. Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Revelation 6:8

The prophecy in Revelation declares that a quarter of the world must die and now a shadowy organization has the ability to fulfill these words. Can one woman stop the abomination before it’s too late?

From the catacombs of Paris to the skeletal ossuaries of Sicily and the Czech Republic, Morgan and Jake must find the Devil's Bible and stop the curse being released into the world before one in four are destroyed in the coming holocaust. Because in just seven days, the final curse will be spoken and the prophecy will be fulfilled.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Through The Soul's Window by Gary W Anderson


1/5
Through The Soul's Window by Gary W Anderson (link Amazon.com)

Genre: Compilation of short stories.
This striking looking novel was a collection of twelve short stories about people driven by their emotions. But it left me with a lot of unanswered questions: why did they feel they way they did; why the bitterness, why the pain? There was no characterisation, no whys as to why the characters acted how they did - driven by emotion according to the blurb.

All I saw, or rather read, was a collection of depressed, damaged people living life in the gutter. I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all. Maybe it was me. Maybe I didn't "get" the book? I didn't like it, and I failed to read all of the stories.

The twelve stories were told, so much so that had the author been speaking aloud the tone would be in monologue. Some of the endings had a twist, although they were so subtle they were easily missed. My favourite story by far was The Forgotten Letter. The ending was a surprise with an "Oh!" moment, but again I couldn't connect with the character in the story.

I think also that this author published without editorial guidance, although some parts of the novel was wonderfully written with little gems of literacy, but unfortunately those little gems were too infrequent.

Blurb - Through the Soul's Window (link Amazon UK)

Emotions define us, for better or worse. Emotions more times than not dictate how we proceed through our lives. Whether our actions are motivated by guilt or passion or doubt or any number of other emotions, many of us walk around every day with said emotions written across our face viewable by all except ourselves.

Through The Soul's Window is a collection of 12 short stories dealing with people whose actions are driven by their emotions and how they react to them. Some react well, others do not. Some end happily, others do not.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we all tend to be driven by emotions, try as we might to avoid it.