Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The False Prince - Jennifer A. Nielsen

The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) 
By Jennifer A. Nielsen
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: April 1st 2012
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 342
ISBN: 0545284139

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats. (Goodreads)
 Shut the front door that ending was fantastic.....I did not see any of that coming. The last 1/4 of that book was just simply unreal. I also was impressed how the author was able to stuff so much material into a relatively short novel. (Mind you it is part one of a trilogy) I simply cannot say enough about this book. I loved the characters, the plot was fantastic and the twists and turns at the end just blew my mind. Well done! One of the best books I've read in awhile!
5/5 Carls

Girl Of Nightmares - Kendare Blake

Girl of Nightmares (Anna, #2) 
By Kendare Blake
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: August 7th 2012
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 332
ISBN: 0765328666 

It's been months since the ghost of Anna Korlov opened a door to Hell in her basement and disappeared into it, but ghost-hunter Cas Lowood can't move on. 

His friends remind him that Anna sacrificed herself so that Cas could live—not walk around half dead. He knows they're right, but in Cas's eyes, no living girl he meets can compare to the dead girl he fell in love with.

Now he's seeing Anna everywhere: sometimes when he's asleep and sometimes in waking nightmares. But something is very wrong...these aren't just daydreams. Anna seems tortured, torn apart in new and ever more gruesome ways every time she appears.

Cas doesn't know what happened to Anna when she disappeared into Hell, but he knows she doesn't deserve whatever is happening to her now. Anna saved Cas more than once, and it's time for him to return the favour. (Goodreads)
 Despite this book taking me forever to read (due to slumpage) , I really quite enjoyed it! 

The story picks up where it left of in Anna Dressed in Blood, but it takes a drastic turn! I loved how we got to follow the same characters but in such different ways. There was still some ghost hunting but the story mainly focused on solving the problem on how to get Anna back! I really do like these characters although I could have used some more Anna, I missed her! Thomas was really the shining star to me this time around. This book had a nice creepy vibe but was also full of love and adventure. I have to say at first I thought I was disappointed with the ending but looking back to it I think it was actually kind of perfect.

My only issues with this book were that I thought that it dragged on a bit during some parts and I also found that there was too much build up to the end and the final scenes went by far too quickly. I wanted more detail and more ghost hunting!

I definitely recommend this duology if your looking for something a little different with a creepy vibe! Great as a Halloween/Fall time read!


Cas forever protecting Anna
4/5 Albi Cats


Monday, 17 November 2014

The Tree of Water - Elizabeth Haydon - GIVEAWAY!

The Tree of Water (The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, #4)
By Elizabeth Haydon
Posted by Jamie
Published: October 28th 2014
Publisher: Starscape
Pages: 400
ISBN: 0765320592

The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…

“A delightful epic fantasy that will attract a readership both older and younger than the target audience.” —Booklist (starred review) on The Floating Island. (Goodreads)
Interview with Elizabeth Haydon,
documentarian, archanologist and translator of Ven’s
journals, including The Tree of Water


Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth Haydon.

She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.

Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what an archanologist is.

Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and pine cones.

She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the longest braid of dental floss.

We had the chance to ask her some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.


     1.         Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?

Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds, because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the world today.

In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.

Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic, and that place, can be deadly.

The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom of the sea.

     2.         The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.

Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in the mountains.

Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel, could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends, including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic. The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

     3.         What kind of research do you do for the series?

I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.

     4.         What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost Journals?

Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been found:

1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water, we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for “diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

     5.         What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books?

Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just silly.

     6.         What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.

Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how embarrassing that could be.

     7.         Are there more books coming in this series?

Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology, but we are working hard to restore it.

As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from the journals we have found so far.

     8.         You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What made you want to write books for young readers?

I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults, who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts of non-magical things in the course of their days.

Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.

I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

     9.         Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you are these days.

You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like his name.

At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,
Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc


Fire & Flood - Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood
By Victoria Scott
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: February 25th 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 305
ISBN: 0545537460

Time is slipping away.... 

Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she's helpless to change anything.

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother's illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place? (Goodreads)
 Very good indeed! Not my normal read but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought the pace was fantastic and something needs to be said about the increasing amount of new literature, that uses the short, sporadic chapter lengths. Some of the chapters in this book were 4 pages! I am used to epics which sometimes have chapters of 50 + pages, so having short chapters makes the book seem to fly by. Ultimately I fell in love with the story, and I will admit, the characters. I have a gripe against romance in novels and this one is no exception, but I caught myself tolerating it a bit more in this one. It reminded me a bit of Philip Pullman's "his dark materials" trilogy with the usage of animal companions. So let's say an amalgamation of hunger games with his dark materials! Well done overall, very quick, very fast paced and very well written! 

5/5 Carls

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Warm Bodies - Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies
By Isaac Marion
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: October 28th 2010
Publisher: Random House Vintage
Pages: 240
ISBN: 0099549344 

'R' is a zombie. He has no name, no memories and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows - warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can't understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won't be changed without a fight... (Goodreads)
 Read this as per the challenge I had with Jamie, and am glad I saved it until last. Don't get me wrong, the book is ok and I thought the writing style was fantastic, but I didn't like the story. The one thing that ruins books for me is romance so when the entire premise is based on romance, the book didn't really have a chance with me. I don't have much more to say as this book is far outside my wheel house, but again it was well written and I can understand why fans of the genre would flock to it like hotcakes. Just not my forte!
3/5 Carls

Transcendental - James Gunn

Transcendental
By James Gunn
Reviewed by Jeff
Published: August 27th 2013
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 304
ISBN: 0765335018

Transcendental, an epic, high-concept space opera, is a Canterbury Tales of the far future in which beings from many planets hurtle across the universe to uncover the secrets of the legend of Transcendentalism. Riley, a veteran of interstellar war,  however, is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. As the ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that Riley is not the only one of the ship’s passengers who is not the spiritual seeker they all claim to be.
As tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship’s journey is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly voyage on a ship of fools. Looking for allies, he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, who, like so many others on the ship, is more than she appears. But while she professes to be just another pilgrim, he comes to realize that like him, she is keeping secrets could be the key to Riley’s assignment, or might make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.


This long-awaited novel is a grand space adventure of exploration, intrigue, redemption, and the universal spirit that unites all beings.  This is a real departure for Gunn, a novel of grand scope and high concept, a capstone to the career of this Grand Master of science fiction. (Goodreads)
 I had a bit of an up and down experience with this book. After the first few chapters I was groaning about how bad this book was going to be and dreading reading the rest. It then started to impress me with its ability to combine Canterbury Tales with Darwinian evolution, and well to be frank...aliens. I will say though that the writing style wasn't really up my alley, and I thought the premise of the concepts and overall plot needed to be explained a bit more. I felt as though I was thrown into a tale that I had to draw a fair amount of conclusions myself, in order to comprehend what was going on. Also I could have used a bit more substance, the ending was very abrupt and very melodramatic. It left a fair amount to be desired, especially given that there was a large amount of promise. The majority of the book was a drawn out "whodunit" with a lacklustre ending and really could have used something more. 

*This book was sent to me for review by TOR Books for an honest review
3/5 Carls

Don't Look Back - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Don't Look Back
By Jennifer L. Armentrout
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: April 15th 2014
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 369
ISBN: 1423175123

Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend. 

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her-even if the old Sam treated him like trash. 

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory-someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive? (Goodreads)
 Armentrout does it again! This book was exciting and full of so many twists and turns that I just couldn't put it down. 

I was second guessing every character and I did not know who to trust! This is a murder mystery that was done really well! I have to admit, one of the 2 characters I thought committed the murder was actually the one who did it, and I was pretty proud of myself for guessing right! 

I highly recommend this book, it has just the right amount of creepy for Halloween time!


Check out my video review for more thoughts!



Everything anyone ever told Samantha

When we finally find out what happened!
5/5 Albi Cats!


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Robopocalypse - Daniel H. Wilson

Robopocalypse
By Daniel H. Wilson
Reviewed by Jamie
Published: June 7th 2011
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 347
ISBN: 0385533853
Book Depository  •  Goodreads


In the near future, at a moment no one will notice, all the dazzling technology that runs our world will unite and turn against us. Taking on the persona of a shy human boy, a childlike but massively powerful artificial intelligence known as Archos comes online and assumes control over the global network of machines that regulate everything from transportation to utilities, defense and communication. 

In the months leading up to this, sporadic glitches are noticed by a handful of unconnected humans – a single mother disconcerted by her daughter’s menacing “smart” toys, a lonely Japanese bachelor who is victimized by his domestic robot companion, an isolated U.S. soldier who witnesses a ‘pacification unit’ go haywire – but most are unaware of the growing rebellion until it is too late.

When the Robot War ignites -- at a moment known later as Zero Hour -- humankind will be both decimated and, possibly, for the first time in history, united. Robopocalypse is a brilliantly conceived action-filled epic, a terrifying story with heart-stopping implications for the real technology all around us…and an entertaining and engaging thriller unlike anything else written in years. (Goodreads)
 This book was such a different read for me, unlike anything I've ever read before! I really enjoyed how it was written almost as journal entries from many points of view and how realistic the possibility of technology turning against us was. I did however, find that this book was a bit slow and at times repetitive. I think this would be a great read for anyone interested in Sci Fi or anyone who enjoys apocalyptic novels. This book overall just wasn't my cup of tea! That being said, its written very well and the concept was really cool!


3/5 Albi Cats