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Book Review: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat From the Past by Paul Cude

March 21, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat From the Past by Paul CudeBentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat from the Past by Paul Cude
Series: Bentwhistle #1
Published by Self-Published on 19th October 2011
Source: Author
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars
Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Part is an adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past? Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes? In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon sports, you'll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you're wearing nothing but your smile! You'd be flamin' mad to miss it.

 

I do like dragon books. I never thought that would be a sentence I’d type, but it’s true. I do like them a lot. I think it’s because these fantasy books just seem to take world-building to another level – everything gets more creative, complex and extravagant, much like many dragons lives.

Peter was an interesting character. He wasn’t the most thrilling main character ever, but I liked him enough, and thought his character development throughout the book was great. I definitely warmed up to him as the book went on. Tank, Peter’s best friend, was just a fantastic character – probably my favourite in the entire book. I liked him from the very beginning, and found him to be the type of person I’d get on with myself. Manson was such a creepy character! I so wanted Peter to get the better of him several times. I did guess his back story pretty much straight away, but I was not in any way prepared for the final showdown between Manson and Peter.

Cude’s take on dragons was great. I found it to be original and enticing, like the idea that dragons get around the country via an underground train system that means it only takes mere minutes, instead of hours, to get around the entire country. I really can’t wait to see how he builds on the world in the second book. Reading it really made me want to be a dragon myself!

The plot did take a little while to get going for me. The first 10% felt like a bit of a slog, but the plot soon gained pace after that, which I was so thankful for, otherwise the book would have really dragged for me, and I was desperate for that not to happen.

Bentwhistle the Dragon in a Threat From the Past is a fun, action packed fantasy adventure which I really enjoyed. As I said at the start of the review, I like dragon books. And this one was definitely no exception to that statement!

Book Review: Seeking Dr Magic by Scott Spotson

March 3, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Seeking Dr Magic by Scott SpotsonSeeking Dr. Magic by Scott Spotson
Published by Createspace on 25th March 2013
Source: Author
Pages: 242
Goodreads
four-stars
Chaos reigns around the world. Strange creatures, accorded the title "Phantom Ninjas" by the media, are leaping off tall buildings and somersaulting back up without any scratch - and then disappear. There follows more spontaneous acts of magic, confounding the world. Who - or what - is responsible? In the middle of the mystery arrives Detective Hetfield, a private investigator just recently released from the FBI due to an on-the-job injury. Hetfield, accustomed to fame as a star witness in the murder trial of a beloved actress, uses the media to put forward the theory that a person of extraordinary magical powers is behind all the incidents, and labels him Dr. Magic. Hetfield gets much more than what he bargained for when that powerful being does exist - in the form of a young man long disillusioned with his past - and cruelly takes him up on his offer.
For lovers of light-hearted and fun novels involving magic.

 

If reading Harry Potter has taught me anything, it’s that I adore books with magic in them. Unsurprisingly, then, that I really, really, enjoyed Seeking Dr. Magic and its blend of sci-fi, fantasy and mystery.

Tony wasn’t my most favourite main character ever. He had his moments, but I honestly didn’t really like him all that much! He was almost driven solely by this bizarre hunger for fame, but soon learned that fame came with a price – it almost got him killed! He was very interesting to follow though – his obsession with Dr. Magic was the drive for the plot and he used all his FBI knowledge to solve the mystery surrounding Dr. Magic and his past.

Dr. Magic was an exceptional character. Seriously. I was not expecting to be blown away by his character, but I totally was. I just wanted to know as much as possible about him, and that definitely kept me turning the pages at a blistering rate! I liked his ending too. It veered very close to a cheesy happily ever after, but Spotson managed to reign it in enough to keep it satisfying without being too twee.

I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, particularly adult sci-fi, but this was one of the rare gems that grabbed hold of me on the first page and refused to let me go until the story was over.

Book Review: Only For You by Tista Ray

February 24, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Only For You by Tista RayOnly For You by Tista Ray
Published by Createspace on 18th February 2014
Source: Author
Pages: 184
Goodreads
three-stars
It is said that people’s lives are tales of two great journeys - the pursuit of happiness and the search for true love.

Edward seems to have achieved one of these ultimate goals by falling in love with Daisy.

But in his quest for true love, will he be willing to let go of his one special friend, and perhaps, sacrifice his chance for happiness?

If there’s a choice between love and friendship, will Edward sacrifice one for the other? Will he be able to live with his choice and never ask himself what if he chose the other?

 

Only For You was an interesting novella. It does predominantly focus on Edward’s quest for love, and his quest certainly didn’t run smooth!

Unfortunately, I didn’t really connect all that well with Edward and his best friend Ady. Edward just seemed to make several snap decisions and his mood would fluctuate depending on the response he received to a question, which I found a little jarring when I was reading, but really, his moods weren’t all that different to many people’s! I did want him to get his happy ending though, and I did end up feeling quite sorry for him during some occasions.

The story took a little while to get going for me, but once the plot really began to flow, I started to enjoy Only For You a lot more than I originally had been. I liked how the majority of it took place in Edward’s point of view, and that the third part of the novella, which was from Ady’s point of view was written in song lyrics that reflected her thoughts and feelings. It was a nice twist and I really liked it.

Overall, Only For You was an interesting story that once it got going, I really enjoyed reading.

Book Review: Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency by Dan O’Brien

February 20, 2014

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency by Dan O’BrienConspirator's of the Lost Sock Army and the Loose Change Collection Agency by Dan O'Brien
Published by Createspace on 5th February 2014
Source: Author
Pages: 42
Goodreads
four-stars
You're never too old to have one more adventure Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud's vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O'Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure.

 

What a fun read! Sometimes, you just need to read a book that you would never normally pick up in order to get you back into reading, and this was definitely that book for me.

Conspirators, as I shall call it, is a fantastic short story that is perfect for kids from around the age of 7. It follows Robert, an old man who suddenly finds himself agreeing to help Colin the Leprechaun, a representative of the Loose Change Collection Agency. I loved the idea of Leprechauns collecting the money that falls between the cushions of a sofa, it really made me smile, as did the majority of this book.

The illustrations are absolutely marvellous, Steve Ferchaud did a wonderful job, and they really complemented the story well. I’m a huge fan of illustrations in books, particularly when they are as well done as these ones were. I think I appreciate them more because I am absolutely terrible at drawing myself!

This is a ridiculously fun, quick read that is bound to cheer anyone up, whether you’re reading it to a young one or just enjoying it for yourself.

Book Review: The Fire by John A. Heldt

November 4, 2013

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Fire by John A. HeldtThe Fire by John A Heldt
Series: Northwest Passage #4
Published by Self-Published on 31st August 2013
Source: Author
Pages: 367
Goodreads
four-stars
When Kevin Johnson, 22, goes to Wallace, Idaho, days after his college graduation, he expects to find rest and relaxation as his family prepares his deceased grandfather's house for sale. Then he discovers a hidden diary and a time portal that can take him to 1910, the year of Halley's comet and the largest wildfire in U.S. history. Within hours, Kevin finds himself in the era of horse-drawn wagons, straw hats, and ankle-length dresses. Returning to the same time and place, he decides to travel again and again and make the portal his gateway to summer fun. The adventure takes a more serious turn, however, when the luckless-in-love science major falls for pretty English teacher Sarah Thompson and integrates himself in a community headed for tragedy. Filled with humor, romance, and heartbreak, THE FIRE, the sequel to THE JOURNEY, follows a conflicted soul through a life-changing journey as he makes his mark on a world he was never meant to see.

There is something I find incredibly comforting about reading the latest installment of the Northwest Passage series. I’m not entirely sure what it is, but I have enjoyed every single book of this series so far, and The Fire was no exception to that rule.

I love how all the books in this series are connected to one another in a way. The Fire reintroduces us to Kevin Johnson, who we last saw as a child at the end of The Journey, the second book in the series. I liked Kevin right from the start of this book. He was an incredibly intelligent young man, and was just an all-round good guy. Whoever said ‘nice guys finish last’ had obviously never come across this character, as he was simply brilliant. I liked how he had worked out how to time travel, and spent parts of the book constantly flitting between present day and 1910. It was a nice addition to the book to have a main character consciously go time-travelling, and it was quite fun as well.

The characters from 1910 were amazing. Heldt has this wonderful knack of being able to create these fantastically authentic characters who I can’t help but fall in love with. I adored Kevin’s two love interests, Sarah and Sadie. Sadie’s vulnerability mixed with her smarts just made her instantly likeable, and I desperately wanted her to have a happy ending, as she had been through so much and really deserved it. And Sarah was just so…lovely. I don’t think there’s a better way to describe her. Andy, the newspaper reporter who took Kevin under his wing and became a very good friend to him, was a really great guy, and I loved the humour that he brought to the book. He was definitely a reporter through and through, wanting to know the ins and outs of everybody.

The end of The Fire had me so close to tears. I’m pretty sure I didn’t breathe once when I was reading the climatic action scenes, especially when Kevin was finally able to reach the hospital. I felt so sorry for him, as he was such a lovely guy, and really didn’t deserve that kind of sadness. I liked the ending to The Fire, everything was wrapped up neatly, but it was very believable thanks to the characters and their traits.

This is a series with books that just keep getting better and better as they are released. I cannot wait to see what Heldt releases next, as I know for sure that it’ll be nothing short of brilliant.

Book Review: The Show by John A. Heldt

April 3, 2013

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Show by John A. HeldtThe Show by John A Heldt
Series: Northwest Passage #3
Published by Self-Published on 16th February 2013
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Seattle, 1941. Grace Vandenberg, 21, is having a bad day. Minutes after Pearl Harbor is attacked, she learns that her boyfriend is a time traveler from 2000 who has abandoned her for a future he insists they cannot share. Determined to save their love, she follows him into the new century. But just when happiness is within her grasp, she accidentally enters a second time portal and exits in 1918. Distraught and heartbroken, Grace starts a new life in the age of Woodrow Wilson, silent movies, and the Spanish flu. She meets her parents as young, single adults and befriends a handsome, wounded Army captain just back from the war. In THE SHOW, the sequel to THE MINE, Grace finds love and friendship in the ashes of tragedy as she endures the trial of her life.
The Show is a direct sequel to The Mine, the first book in the Northwest Passage series, but instead of following Joel, the novel focuses on Grace, the girl Joel fell in love with but left so he could return back to the year 2000. The Show opens up with Grace determined to travel into the future, and back into the arms of the man she truly loves. I really admired Grace’s determination throughout the entire book. She never gave up on Joel, no matter what era she was in, and I loved that about her.

I found it interesting that Grace managed to travel both forward and back in time in The Show. Within the first quarter of the book, Grace has found herself in the year 2000, with a little money and no clue on how to find Joel. Yet, as with Heldt’s previous two books, the kindness of strangers steps in, and Grace finds herself helping Penelope Price, in return for a roof over her head. And once she was reunited with Katie, her college friend whom she left back in the 1940’s, Grace soon re-enters Joel’s life, much to their delight. I loved their reunion, as we read about it from Joel’s perspective in The Mine but didn’t really get to see how it happened, but with The Show we did. From that point on, the book seemed like it was flowing towards a blissful happily ever after situation, but of course, that wasn’t quite the case. Grace finds herself stuck in 1919, reunited with her Great-Uncle, and eventually her mother and aunt.

The first time Grace travelled into the future, she remained calm about her surroundings and how foreign they were to her, which is an aspect I really appreciate in Heldt’s books, as I love watching them battle between acting normal and completely having a meltdown when they realise their world is totally different to what it should be! I though Grace adopted to the technology and totally different pace of the 2000’s really well, probably a lot better than I would have done if I was in her situation! Unfortunately though, Grace turned slightly hysterical after her second whirl with time-travel, although I can understand why, because it was far more traumatising for her the second time round!

I loved reading about Grace in 1919. I did feel sorry for her, especially when she realised what it was that made her travel through time, and the realisation that she would probably never make it back to 2002. I accepted her decision to move on and live her life, and I really enjoyed John Walker’s character. I liked Grace and John together almost as much as I like Grace and Joel together, although I did wish that Grace had explained her situation to John a lot sooner in the book, because I want to believe he would have just accepted Grace’s story and loved her all the same.

The Show was an extremely enjoyable installment to the Northwest Passage series, and I cannot wait to see where Heldt takes us next in his next book. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, I highly recommend you do, because it’s time travel done fantastically well.

 

Book Review: Advantage Erin by Kris Kreisman

February 4, 2013

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Advantage Erin by Kris KreismanAdvantage Erin by Kris Kreisman
Published by Self-Published on 22nd August 2012
Source: Author
Pages: 120
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Erin's mom is driving her crazy. Especially about tennis. Erin is good and enjoys the game. But it's not her fault she's not the megastar her mom claims to have been when she was Erin's age. If only there was some way to get Mom to understand...

Spring break arrives, which means a visit to Grandma and Mom's old hometown. Grandma is eccentric, but she's also cool and understands Erin's frustrations. And she can help. By taking Erin on a visit to Mom's old high school. Not Mom's school today. But Mom's school as it was in 1970.

Erin experiences the trip of her lifetime. Back in time, where she struggles to fit in with a bunch of kids who never heard of the Internet or laptops or cell phones. Where she meets some very cool kids. And one not so cool kid named Catherine. Now known as Mom.

Talk turns to tennis, and inevitably the challenge is made and accepted. And they play the tennis match of the century. Erin had repeatedly heard how Mom was undefeated. Now was her time to do something about it. They battle hard until, in unexpected fashion, it's over. But when she returns to the present Erin learns the truth about her Mom. And Mom learns some lessons as well.

Enjoy Erin's thrill ride, her fun, her excitement, her anxiety. And discover how her trip to the past changed her present.
Since I’ve read the Northwest Passage series by John Heldt, I have fallen in love with time travel books. So when I was contacted with the opportunity to read and review Advantage Erin, I immediately accepted, and was rewarded with a quick and fun read with a trip to the seventies included!

I felt sorry for Erin as I read about her pushy mother. It seemed to me that her mum was trying to relive her high school days through Erin where tennis was concerned, and was determined for Erin to continue where her mother wasn’t able to, thanks to a knee injury. I appreciated that her mother only wanted the best for Erin, but I think she went completely the wrong way about it, as she seemed less like a mother and more like a dictator in Erin’s life. It was nice to see her mother change in the book, although I wish she had been a little more supportive of Erin during the tennis tournament.

Erin’s grandmother was a great character, purely because she accepted Erin for who she was, and didn’t push her into being someone else. I did think she was attempting to teach Erin a lesson though, because Erin did seem to push her mother’s buttons on purpose on occasion. I loved Sonny’s character too, and wish Erin had made more of an effort to be friendlier with him, because he really wasn’t that bad. Who cares if he wasn’t cool? He was a nice guy, and I was a little disappointed to see him change when Erin travelled back to her time.

I enjoyed watching Erin travel back into 1970, especially as she had to get herself out of some sticky situations, particularly when she got caught and had to explain to the principal why the money in  her wallet was printed in a different century to the one they were currently in. Thankfully, her grandmother saved the day once more, saving Erin from more embarrassing mishaps (unfortunately, she calls Woodstock ‘Stockwood’ in her history class, much to the amusement of her classmates), leaving her time to prepare for her tennis match against Catherine, Erin’s mother. I wish we had been able to get a better look at what Erin’s mother was like as a teenager, but as this was a short-story, we weren’t able to do that. I loved reading about the tennis match between Erin and Catherine, it really felt like I was there right alongside them as they played.

Advantage Erin was a fun read with a neat little twist at the end, and I really wish it had been longer so I could have spent more time with all the characters! This one is perfect for fans of time-travel, and I can’t wait to see what Kreisman brings out next.

Book Review: The Journey by John A Heldt

November 30, 2012

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Journey by John A HeldtThe Journey by John A Heldt
Series: Northwest Passage #2
Published by Self-Published on 3rd November 2012
Source: Author
Goodreads
four-stars
Seattle, 2010. When her entrepreneur husband dies in an accident, Michelle Preston Richardson, 48, finds herself childless and directionless. She yearns for the simpler days of her youth, before she followed her high school sweetheart down a road that led to limitless riches but little fulfillment, and jumps at a chance to reconnect with her past at a class reunion. But when Michelle returns to Unionville, Oregon, and joins three classmates on a spur-of-the-moment tour of an abandoned mansion, she gets more than she asked for. She enters a mysterious room and is thrown back to 1979.

Distraught and destitute, Michelle finds a job as a secretary at Unionville High, where she guides her spirited younger self, Shelly Preston, and childhood friends through their tumultuous senior year. Along the way, she meets widowed teacher Robert Land and finds the love and happiness she had always sought. But that happiness is threatened when history intervenes and Michelle must act quickly to save those she loves from deadly fates. Filled with humor and heartbreak, THE JOURNEY gives new meaning to friendship, courage, and commitment as it follows an unfulfilled soul through her second shot at life.
Where do I start with this review? I read The Mine, the first book in the Northwest Passage series earlier this year, and I have been thinking about it ever since. So when I was given the opportunity to review The Journey, the second book in the series, I was practically jumping up and down in excitement.

I love how Michelle had a huge role in Shelly’s life. Michelle was able to guide her into making the right decisions for herself, including breaking up with her boyfriend Scott and choosing the right college for herself, no matter what the costs. Had it not been for Michelle’s encouragement and guidance, Shelly would have simply relived the live Michelle had been living, something that Michelle desperately did not want her to do. After all, the past thirty-one years had been miserable for Michelle, so why would she want Shelly to suffer the same fate?

What I loved in The Mine, and I continued to love in The Journey was the fact that Heldt’s characters do not get themselves into terribly awkward situations when they find themselves in a decade from the past. When Michelle finds herself transported back to 1979, she is panicked, and not entirely sure what’s going on, but she dusts herself off and finds a way to support herself, by getting a job in the high school she previously (and currently) attended. I liked how she used her knowledge of the future for the good, instead of choosing to make money off it, she really used her power to change the lives of those around her. I felt Michelle took a huge step by pawning off her wedding ring, and her story really began for me from there. I was pleased she was able to find love with Robert Land, the pair could relate to each other in more ways than one, although I was sad that she chose to keep her time-travelling past a secret from him, especially as she ended up having no way of telling him in person.

The way that Heldt managed to weave in characters from The Mine into The Journey was simply masterful. I was kicking myself for not realising sooner who the Franklins were, and I adored seeing a much younger Joel pop up into the story too. The characters from The Journey were fantastic too. I loved Michelle and how she was determined to change the lives of those she loved. I felt for Brian, Shelly’s best friend who was in love with her, but Shelly refused to acknowledge him as anything more than a friend. And Scott, who I disliked right from the first chapter. He was controlling, manipulative and rude, and I wanted nothing more than for Shelly to get rid of him! Unfortunately that took too long to happen, but I eventually got my wish.

The Journey has an incredibly bittersweet happily ever after. Michelle makes the ultimate sacrifice in trying to save the lives of those she loved, although it was that sacrifice that stopped Shelly from turning into Michelle, and realising that everything she could have ever wanted was living only a few yards away.

The Mine turned me into a huge fan of Heldt, but if I thought The Mine was good, it was nothing in comparison to The Journey. This was a book that tugged at my heartstrings, made me laugh, got me close to tears, and left me eagerly wanting more.

Book Review: The Mine by John A. Heldt

May 31, 2012

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Mine by John A. HeldtThe Mine by John A Heldt
Series: Northwest Passage #1
Published by Self-Published on 12th February 2012
Source: Author
Pages: 200
Goodreads
four-stars
In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.
I was pretty much sold on The Mine as soon as I read the synopsis. Time travel and 1940’s history? Yes please! I was interested to see how well the time travel would be pulled off, and I am extremely pleased to say that John Heldt executed it wonderfully in this book.

The first few chapters of The Mine started off a little shaky for me. I wasn’t a fan of Adam, Joel’s best friend, and I wasn’t completely sold on Joel either. However, as the story progressed, Joel became a much stronger character, and I found myself completely invested into his story. I think my favourite thing about Joel was the fact that he was smart. When he finds himself transported back to the 1940’s (thanks to the mysterious mine), he didn’t pity himself over his ‘misfortune’. Instead, he tried to find a way back home to 2000, and when it became apparent that that wasn’t going to happen any time soon, he then tried to find a way to support himself in the 1940’s by hopping a train to Seattle. It was refreshing to see someone just accept that they had travelled back in time instead of making a complete fool of themselves. I also liked that when he realised he could use his knowledge of the future to earn himself some money, he did just that. Whilst it’s not honest, it was a very clever way to earn himself some money.

Alongside Joel, the rest of the characters from the 1940’s shone. I absolutely adored Tom, a guy who Joel saves from getting a beating, and I loved how kind-hearted he was. He didn’t have to take Joel in, but he did. Nor did he really have to introduce Joel to Ginny and her friends, but he did. Tom was one of my favourite characters, purely because he was an all-around great guy, and my heart ached when I found out what would eventually happen to him. Ginny, Joel’s grandmother, was introduced in a clever way, and knew better than to take Joel at face-value, which made sure Joel was kept on his toes all the time! Grace’s introduction was possibly one of my most favourites ever. Admittedly, I did at first think that this was Joel’s grandmother, but I was quickly proved wrong, and we were able to watch Grace and Joel fall in love. This wasn’t without it’s problems, of course, as Grace was engaged, and had to choose between two men. I also thought that the significance of Katie’s character was great, especially towards the end of the book.

I don’t want to give anything away about the end, but I can safely say that it was absolutely brilliant! I thought it was a really smart way of ending the story, and tied up a few loose-ends that we had remaining. This novel was cleverly written, as most of the parts that were included all held a relevance to another part of the story, or linked two characters up together.

This was my first foray into the world of self-publishing, and whilst this book isn’t perfect, it is most certainly a great and enjoyable read!