Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Prelude to a Hero Review

Title: Prelude to a Hero

Author: Jaime Buckley
Illustrator: Jaime Buckley
Genre: Science Fiction
Age: 15+
Pages: 110 (Kindle)
Publisher: On the Fly Publications

        Humans know so many things yet are oblivious to so many other facts. Those facts will change Wendell's life forever when he is kidnapped and teleported to another whole new galaxy. Upon arrival he is told that he is the last bloodline of the royal family and the only hope to defeat evil, which is growing ever stronger. Wendell doesn't want to have anything to do with these strange martians and so, he decides to bid his time until he can come back to Earth. Soon he meets an ecstatic girl named Kyliene and he believes he may have to stay a little while longer after all!

        The novel gripped me from the first few sentences. I had no doubt that the book would be an interesting one. The method used by the author to bring in his audience before every chapter started was by using an unfamiliar technique. He would create a quote that would relate to the characters or the situation in the chapter. I loved this technique because as a reader it made me think and also it made me relate and think back to the quote while reading. Example of the first quote: We knew we were the center of the universe. We knew the Earth was flat. We knew nothing existed smaller than the naked eye could see. We knew only birds and bugs could fly upon the wind. Yes, we knew so many things…even if it was only for a moment.

        My second love for Prelude was one character in specific. Wendell was oh so very stubborn. He had a lot of wit and could come up with very sarcastic remarks. I loved his exchanges with the High Elder. Wendell was also very awkward with his own body. Being tall and skinny his arms would dangle and his feet wouldn't be where they were supposed to be. Tripping and falling was second nature to him, and he made me laugh with him, or even cheer for him a few times.

        As for the setting, what's not to like? At first I thought it was like a deserted planet with rocks, but I was soon proven wrong. I enjoyed how Jaime included a fantasy-like feel into his sci-fi novel. The setting was gorgeous and had a lot of description when needing to be. I liked the places they described such as the market place and the sanctuary. Here's a small example of the description: Thousands of white buildings and domed cathedrals stretched out before him. His eyes followed the intricate waterways, saturated with flowers, trees, vines, and grass, between, around and even through the buildings constructed on a grid. At the center was a small, football-shaped park completely surrounded by a lake of crystal blue water. Five small bridges joined the park to the city and a much larger, white bridge arched over the buildings and waterways extending to the terrace, just to Wendell’s left.       

        Sadly every masterpiece can have its own flaws. As for Prelude, I thought that it took a while for the story to start rolling. By the time Wendell was accustomed to this whole new world and that reality hit him it was far too late. Which brings me too point number two. In my opinion there wasn't any climax where I was jumping off my seat. It seemed that the author deliberately ended the novel short.

        While I did enjoy Prelude, I believe that book two will be much better with actual battle scenes and the discovery of magic as well as some training. I recommend Prelude to Sci-Fi lovers!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3.5/5

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Betrayal of Magic (DOMA - Book 1) Review

Title: Betrayal of Magic

Author: Brian Dockins
Illustrator: Onaje Bael
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 13+
Pages: 302 (paperback)
Publisher: Siege Tower Publishing

        Ever since Cadan could remember he was able to use magic. Born in a family filled with magical powers he must train to hone his magical skills while keeping it a secret from everyone else. In a series of unfortunate events Cadan discovers that his world isn't what it truly seems to be. In an attempt to find some answers Cadan travels to New York, and that's where his world truly collapses. When you don't know your own Identity, who do you trust?

        The novel revolved around magical powers and I'm glad that it was as original as it could have been. The spells, even if they seemed familiar, were very unique and brought new battle scenarios that made the book more interesting. In the novel the characters could judge opponent's Ruhk magic powers and it made me enhanced because I felt as if I was judging the outcome of battles which was very unique! Sadly, I felt that there was a limited amount of spells that I got to see and I hope that book two brings more to the table.

        The action goes hand in hand with the magic. It was very well explained and had that adrenaline pumping feeling to it! The novel contained many group battles and the author did a marvelous job going from character to character and back. When I think about it, it almost felt as if I was watching a movie! The action is a very important role in the novel and made the roller coaster ride more enthusiastic.

        While some novels have a hard time to transition their characters, Brian seemed to do it effortlessly. The transition when Cadan is at home and learns magic to the part where he's in Doma was very smooth. It did not feel weird or badly timed. The character had reason and purpose to move on and that's the most important!

        While the book revolved upon friendship and family bonds I would have enjoyed seeing some romance. There were some indications of some blossoming love but it was quite brief. The author could have used this method to his advantage. Even the most sinister of characters would have died for their new love.

        This seems to come up a lot recently in my other reviews but it has to be mentioned. Too many characters is a turn off! It's really hard to get to know every character in a short amount of time. The "good guy group" wasn't too hard to put a face on a name but when you are introduced to different characters you have never seen, during a battle, it's very hard to remember that person. Also when the author introduces characters during battles he can't describe them physically or emotionally, or else he would lose his bloodthirsty action momentum! What I'm trying to say here is 1. don't introduce characters in battle! 2. Take the time to identify characters and make them stick!

        Betrayal of magic was a fantastic read. It made me laugh and even yell out loud a few times! If it can bring that amount of enthusiasm in readers then I'd say it has great potential! A must-read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Magyk Septimus Heap Book One Review

Title: Magyk

Author: Angie Sage
Illustrator: Mark Zug
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 9+
Pages: 564 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperCollins

        Silas Heap was on his way back home when he found a baby girl on the side of the street. It was a cold night and the child was bound to die if he didn't do anything so he took her home. Soon Silas' wife was giving birth to their seventh son. Tragedy struck as they were announced that the child had died in labour. The family decides to raise the young girl as one of their own and name her Jenna. Ten years later the ExtraOrdinary wizard pays them a visit, revealing that Jenna is in fact a princess and the Queen had died the night Silas found her. With news like this the Heap family know they are in grave danger and must run far away before the Supreme custodian catches them! A world filled with magic, a princess, and an evil wizard, anything is possible!

        Magyk has a great foundation containing magical abilities, queens and princesses, assassins, and they all revolve around a family of 9. With that in mind I would definitely take the book home, but what made it all worth it was the adventures and the fast paced action.

        A novel needs an image for it to sell, just like any other products out there. I bet a lot of readers here do judge a book by its cover! Heck I do it all the time. Now this is where Magyk can get credit. The cover art is just so intriguing. It's an image of a long lost journal with a dragon ring in the center. The words are very well written, with a magical look. The colors really work together and in general it looks wonderful!

        Angie Sage created the novel for younger readers. With that in mind, I believe that even a 10 year old could most likely figure out the plot twists. They were just too predictable and weren't cloaked well enough by other events. This was disappointing because the plot twists were one of the biggest plot drivers and could had made the story all together more interesting.

         The biggest downfall for me was that there were too many characters. With the start of the story you were introduced to around 10 characters or so and every chapter there were more and more. This meant that as a reader you weren't able to create any bonds or relationships with the characters. Also one of the biggest problems, character wise, was that  there wasn't any main character so to speak. The points of views were changed constantly and even with a world filled with 100 characters you can find a way to bond with the main character. That wasn't the case since there weren't any.

        The length of the book got to me a bit. It was a bit lengthy. 500 pages is a lot, especially since it's a 9+ novel so it's meant for children and some young adults. The author should have cut down on her details. She should have also described the setting in a larger mindset. We know they are someplace with a castle and there's a swamp someplace as well but the setting was very vague and unexplained.

        To summarize, the first installment of the series, Magyk, had many aspects that can make a fantasy novel a great one, but it contained many quirks that just pushed it further back from that title. I would recommend it to fellow fantasy lovers but I would not re-read it and most likely will not purchase the next book in the series of 7 total novels.

Available on Amazon

Rating: 3/5

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Aduramis Chronicles - Destiny of the Wulf Review

Title: Destiny of the Wulf

Author: Harrison Davies
Illustrator: Anna Herbel
Genre: Fantasy
Age: 13+
Pages: 516 (paperback)
Publisher: Harisson Davies

        Marrok and Coinin Wulf are pushed towards their destinies, following their parent's death. In the care  of their uncle they train and work waiting for the moment that will change their lives. Then one day, they are summoned to the secret temple of the Brotherhood, soon discovering that their destinies are far more important than they had thought! Death himself is trying to become the king of the gods, and if Coinin and Marrok cannot find the five swords of Cerathil in time the world will be destroyed. A battle that will take place in the heavens and the earth, the brothers must trust each other and do whatever it takes to save the realm of Rosthagaar!

        Harrison is unbelievable! He did such a great job creating his characters. They were witty and as a reader we could see how they interacted with the other characters. We could also see easily what type of relationships they had with the others. I especially enjoyed Coinin as a character because he seemed to be so real. He had some flaws like he was sometimes insecure and didn't believe in himself and I loved that about him.

        World building is one of the hardest things to do, especially in a fantasy novel where you typically change 75% of the world. In the Destiny of the Wulf I enjoyed how everything had a purpose and wasn't made just out of pure imagination. The thing that pops out most for me was the Gods; the whole religious aspect of the novel was intriguing and was easily one of the big plot drivers. The creatures fit well in this type of story such as the Madorine's, who had a nice history and society where they ruled and lived for bloodshed.

        As much as I would like to say that Mr. Davies expertise would be world building I can't because I know for a fact that his expertise lies in his writing style. It was one of those fantasy novels where you could easily picture the beautifully sketched patterns on the doorframes and the fine silk robes. The techniques used in this novel are wonderful and I loved reading about everything there was to see! I would certainly say that the author did a lot more of showing rather then telling, and his writing techniques were very descriptive. Exactly what a great fantasy novel needs!

        Like everything else in life, there's always something you could have improved or worked on. If we look at The Destiny of the Wulf, I believe that the beginning could have been maybe more intriguing. Most novels work on the first 1/4 and if that doesn't catch your audience then they might put the book down. In other words, the beginning was slow and not as intriguing as I would of liked it to be.

        Now that we've covered the major parts I just want to say that this novel was one of my favorite books of all time and I cannot wait to read the next one! If you're looking for a great fantasy novel that won't let you down, then this is the one!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hunger (Gone Series Book 2)

Title: Hunger

Author: Michael Grant
Illustrator: -----
Genre: Science Fiction
Age: 12-14
Pages: 590 (paperback)
Publisher: HarperCollins

**This is the 2nd book in the series, if you haven't read the review for the first book click Here

        Now that the Fayz is here to stay, real life problems have been thrown onto the leaders of the community. Their society is dispersed, food is scarce, and a group of rebel humans wants to take over and destroy anyone with powers. Although these problems are child's-play compared to what the "darkness" has planned for them. In order to survive the Fayz, Sam Temple and his buddies must work together and pray that it will all be over soon.

        Hunger is a great name for this novel. I enjoy how Mr. Grant usually names his novels after main events in the book and it sort of gives a reader an idea about what could happen before actually taking a peek inside. Also, I knew that at some point in this series the food would be gone and they'd have to do something about it. I'm very happy that it was actually brought up because some books don't take into account every detail and sometimes big things like "how do they get their food" or "When do they actually sleep" aren't answered. This brings a more realistic aspect to a book and I raise my hat to Michael Grant for that.

        The plot is still very well thought out and the book is quite fast-paced. One thing that was interesting was that Hunger contains many events and conflicts that need to be solved. Thus, creating diversity while reading. Many novels focus on one event, whether it be "saving the princess" or "defeating an evil king." Hunger is filled with conflicts, while some are more interesting than others, they are always entertaining.

        One of the interesting things of this series is that at every beginning of every chapter it has a time. For example: 120 hours, 12 minutes. As you go through the book the time goes down further and further until there's no more. At that point the book is over. Instead of saying 3 days later at the beginning of a chapter the author just uses his time method and takes off 72 hours off at the beginning of the next chapter.

        Since the fayz is basically a society of teens and children the novel revolves around a large number of characters and their lives. Of course this is a great way of showing different perspectives but when it comes to characterization there's just so much someone can do with that many characters. That's the downfall of a big society.

The Gone series has successfully amazed me once more and I can't wait to read the next ones. A must to read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Scorch Trials Review

Title: The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner Book 2)

Author: James Dashner                                            
Illustrator: Philip Straub
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian       
Age: 12+
Pages: 360 (paperback)
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Book One Review (The Maze Runner)
Book Three Review (The Death Cure)

        The Maze was the first test, the second is a burned wasteland known as the Scorch. With time in their enemies' hands the group must travel through the barren desert, or be left to die a searing death. Wicked isn't playing games anymore and so Thomas must be cautious and help his group if he wishes to survive. If the hot temperatures and the wretched natural disasters aren't enough of a challenge for the small group, the flare infested humans will surely finish them off... and so, let the Scorch Trials Begin!

        The Scorch Trials had so much to offer. While the novel is considered a dystopian/ Sci-fi, I would consider it a mystery novel as well. It's one of those books where you don't know the identity of the antagonists, you don't know who's trustworthy, you don't know if the antagonist is actually evil. It's a game of guess and you have the main character to help you out!

        In the second novel of the series, I enjoyed that Thomas' past was brought to us in short segmented dreams. This encouraged the readers to decipher the clues. It also brought the readers a deeper connection with our main character. I especially enjoyed that the dreams were confusing. I mean confusion is the building blocks for mysteries am I right?!

        James Dashner did an excellent job working his characters. His writing is  a great example on how to use only one type of Point of View in order to bring a stronger connection! Usually I enjoy reading both sides of a story but when I only read one I usually feel as if I am the main character, in mind and body. This method is extremely useful to bring readers into a book and not just on the surface but into the depths!

        Now, while the Scorch Trials was really fast paced and entertaining, I was disappointed to see that the plot had somewhat changed from its original course. Although, that's what a series is. It's many curves, twists, and loops that creates suspense and emotion. Even if the end result isn't what we expected it still contains that really strong plot that made it enjoyable.
        With that said, The Scorch Trialscannot match The Maze Runner yet it's a darn close call because both are filled with great writing, exciting plot, and interesting characters. A definate must-read!

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4.5/5

Monday, August 6, 2012

Giveway! 2 Ebook Copies!

Hey guys, I have another giveaway today! You can win 2 Ebook copies of the Paranormal novel: Feak!
To read my review on the novel Click Here

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Freak

Title: Freak

Author: E.K. Henry
Illustrator: Felicia Simion
Genre: Paranormal
Age: 16+
Pages: 189 (paperback)
Publisher: E.K. Henry

        Juniper isn't ordinary, or maybe it's everyone around her that's a little odd. Nevertheless, when her life is twisted into a TV reality by the vampires who govern the town, she is labeled as a freak. Soon everyone around her starts to change. They act like they aren't themselves. but Juniper's biggest problem is how to get her life back. The answer comes to her when a group of vampire killers approaches her. Does Juniper has what it takes to take control of her life? Can she face the consequences after the acts she will take?

        Freak contains the secret formula any book would love to have! Quality over quantity. The characters couldn't possibly become more enjoyable. They had the qualities that made me hate them and love them at times, the same ones that made me root for my favorite characters! The main character was focused on a lot, and from the beginning it felt like I already knew her. She was stubborn but passionate, determined and faithful, and you could always count on her.

        The plot contained many strong points. It was very action packed and had a mystery side, where you had to look for clues and try to put the puzzle pieces together. I enjoyed the idea of vampires ruling the society and humans were the "freaks." At times I found myself thinking that the events were predictable, nevertheless it was still enjoyable to read.

        The book seemed to work with emotions a lot. Instead of using descriptive techniques the author tried to go for a more emotional technique in itself was quite effective. It was also a major plot driver and as the novel progressed it became even more important. Some examples:

I really am happy for him. I’m sure that he hates being a blood donor as much as I think I will one day, but I still don’t think that the show is going to be good for me or my health when the vamps at school find out.

A warm breeze tickles my face as I walk to the bus stop. A smile forms on my lips. Today is gonna be a good day.

        While E.K. Henry did a marvelous job with her characters, she could have made it better by showing more characters. The antagonists were left out until the end. Maybe a antagonist Point of view would have been pleasant. I understand that forestalling the discovery of the villain was crucial in the plot, as a reader I enjoy seeing different sides of a story.

Available on: Amazon

Rating: 4/5

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Review: Shipwrecked!

Title: Shipwrecked

Author: Alexandra Pratt
Illustrator: Stanislav Pobytov
Genre: Adventure
Age: 14+
Pages: 32 (Kindle)
Publisher: Moriarty Press

        Isaac Morris is ready to live a life full of adventure, and what a great opportunity it is when he hears that Britain has declared war on Spain. He soon finds himself aboard one of the six warships, heading for South America. Yet the sea is an unpredictable phenomena and Isaac's ship is thrown deep into a storm. When mutiny and murder arises, the storm is the least of their worries!

        Shipwrecked contains a voice! By that I mean you don't read a story, you are told a story. When I was reading, it felt like my father was telling me his own journey. This very exciting way of storytelling was accomplished through show don't tell. Alexandra could easily manipulate her sentences into an action packed journey really well!

        How many times have you read a book and the history and details of the past bored you so much you had to put the book down? I know that I got caught by that trap and I just couldn't finish the book. For a 32 page novella, I think that Alexandra did a wonderful job to obtain and squeeze in that history into her book. I liked how she made it work with the flow of the novel and was able to sort of give it to us without disturbing the peace of the action!

        As I said before, it's extremely difficult to insert what a good book "needs" when it contains only 32 pages. As a reader I would of enjoyed knowing the characters on a deeper principal. I had a rough time trying to figure out what was happening inside their heads and in general I just wanted to connect more with the characters. For example: there were so many of them who didn't make it back home alive. Even with those events I didn't feel sad for them or thrilled for the ones who did come back home. Of course this problem may revolve around the number of characters.

        I had the same problem with description. The book contained description, yet not as in depth as I am accustomed too or would of liked. Now these problems all have to do with the length of the book. Maybe the author wanted to keep it short. Maybe she wanted to focus on the story at hand and not the useless details I enjoy. Who knows right? Whatever the reasons are, the novella was enjoyable, action packed and straight to it's point. Even without the description and characterisation it had what it takes to become a very enjoyable read.

        Now I ask you readers. Short book or long book? Action packed and straight to it's point or descriptive and well created characters?

Available on Amazon

Rating: 4/5