Book Review – Sci-fi/ Fantasy

Book Review – How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days (The Tale of Bryant Adams #1) by Megan O’Russell.

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with an electronic copy of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

What can I say, I love the types of quirky, slightly off kilter stories that Curiosity Quills publish and so when I saw this on their site I had to take a look. Was I disappointed? Nope!

What’s it about? Well, if I was to undersell ‘How I Magically Messed Up My Life In Four Freakin’ Days’ I would say it’s a book about a boy who discovers he is can use magic… thanks to a mobile phone.

But it’s not just that and it’s not a Harry Potter rip off and thank goodness for that! As I seem to be about one of the only people in the world who doesn’t like HP! Love JK on Twitter… not a fan of the books. Go figure! 😀

However, with this book – sorry, the title is so long I can’t keep plugging it like I usually do – think more a mix of the least annoying bits of HP with great big dollops of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere mixed in with a bit of teen angst and a smattering of Arthur Dent’s hapless exploits as a hitchhiker and you get a better idea of what’s it all about. Just then add some independent and new ideas on an old theme and you’re there!

Plus it’s the first book in a potentially entertaining new YA/ NA urban fantasy series and I hope you can see now why I felt it got the score I gave it.

See, calling it ‘like Harry Potter’ is a serious underselling insult and I hope it is never described as that. If it is – shame on that reviewer!

Okay, back to what’s it all about… well, it’s set in modern day New York City where normal, everyday teens go from the usual angst of high school, fitting in and looking cool to having life turned on its head due to a misplaced phone and our characters then find themselves learning about a hidden world within their own. I mean, who doesn’t love those ‘what if’ hidden world’s within their own? I love them!

For those not into ‘teen drama’ don’t panic! Yes the main characters are teens – and sold as a YA book – but are still enjoyable by young and old. I didn’t need my inner teenager to enjoy this story; I managed it on my old fogey own. 😉

And even though this is obviously the first book in a series – the subtitle of ‘The Tale of Bryant Adams Book 1’ is a bit of a hint – this can easily be enjoyed as a stand-alone tale. I mean, there are still going to be a few threads flapping about at the end of it you might want tied up… but that’s for the next book. They can be ignored by those only wanting to read this first book… but people who think that way are just being silly and should stop pretending – read the next book when it comes out, you know you want to! 😉

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would. I mean, isn’t it obvious I am pro not just this book but the rest of the tales to come in this series? Really? You didn’t spot that in my heaping on the praise bit? 😀

So yes, lovers of HP may or may not like it… I don’t know, as I simply don’t GET loving Harry Potter. But fans of urban fantasy or speculative fiction where there is a ‘what if’ world within our own… you’re going to enjoy this read. Yes, think ‘Neverwhere’, ‘RoofWorlders’, ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’… Think fun, entertaining and enjoyable while still setting reality on a slightly different angle to normal. You will enjoy this book!

Would I buy this book for myself?

Yeah, I can see that as a possibility. I mean, right now it is wavering between ‘library book’ and ‘eBook I own’ status… but as long as the series keeps going in this way, I can see it becoming one I proudly own and will tell everyone about who dares to make eye contact with my while I am reading it. 😉

In summary: A great look at the hidden world of magic and what happens when teens access it. I highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles by James Wymore.

The Actuator 3

3 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with a free electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This is the official third book in a rather interesting series. I really do have a love/ hate relationship with the whole series too. I really don’t know why. I mean, I love the whole concept and I love that the original authors have allowed fans to help write and weave their world… but I get to parts of it and I groan and think “really? This is what you want to write about when there is so much potential for others things?”

If I was asked to “do better” I couldn’t. I would go off and sit in my kid’s naughty corner or something similar. But there is just something about this series that gets under my skin in both a good and bad way. I get the good way – has potential, is entertaining, is consistent and keeps the reader thinking and entertained… As for what the bad bits are? I honestly really don’t know. There is just something there that bugs me and I wish I could figure out what it was so I could tell it to shut the heck up and just let me keep reading.

Example, I see the third book available as an ARC, I want it, I ask for it, I do a happy dance when I get it. Then I procrastinate when it comes to reading it. I get distracted by other books; I find other things to do… Why?! When I read it I love it. Perhaps this is the magical affect the Actuator has on me? Others it inspires some amazing works – zombie dinosaurs, need I say more – but in me I go all whiney and turn truant.

BUT! I have to say it is a series I am glad I have read, it is a series that the majority of me enjoys and it is a series I will no doubt struggle with continuing to read as I want to read it… Well, 80% of me does. Maybe my split personalities are warring here?

Back to the book! A great anthology! There are some very talented writers – and ‘The Actuator’ fans out there – and it was wonderful to see some of them given the opportunity to extend the adventures to fixing the world from when it was shattered.

Unlike the last anthology from fans published for ‘The Actuator’ this one kept the actual story moving. It wasn’t just people experiencing the world shattering. It was people coming to terms with a shattered world, and then some, as further Actuator changes take place. Plus this book does strive towards the end game and getting it all sorted one way or the other… And maybe that’s why I love this series so much? A big part of me wants to see what is left of the world once the machine is turned off and what is then done to keep fixing the damage caused.

Oh that is deep for so early in the year for me!

Would I recommend this book to others?

I would, but only to those who had read all other books and anthologies in the series. To those who had not, I would send them to Curiosity Quills Press and point them to the first book and get them to read from there. I feel the whole ‘Actuator’ series spans a few genres so lovers of fantasy, urban fantasy, sci-fi, YA and NA alike would enjoy it… or at least parts of it.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Not too sure. I mean I am enjoying the series and do want to keep reading… but owning? Hmmmm, tough call. I have to say it is more of a library level book for me sorry. As in, I enjoy reading it, but I can’t see myself owning them. Worst fan ever, I know!

In summary: A good continuation of the myriad patchwork tales that make ‘The Actuator’ series what it is.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Emma and the Silk Thieves by Matthew. Cox.

emma-and-the-silk-thieves

4 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

I was so thrilled to get a chance to read ‘Emma and the Silk Thieves’. Why? It is the second book in the ‘Tales of Widowswood’ series and the first one had me hooked!

Although I am pretty sure this is meant to be a YA/ NA (Young Adult/ New Adult) genre book, I just loved it for the world it weaves from the story. I loved its people, language, culture and history – very similar to our own but different enough to be exciting. So, yes, a series a young mind can happily get lost in by relating to it while also being entertained by its differences.

The story in ‘Emma and the Silk Thieves’ picks up shortly after where the first book ‘Emma and the Banderwigh’ finishes and links to it smoothly while also allowing the adventure to continue and Emma’s world to grow around us. Totally loved this.

If you have kids with spider issues… possibly not the best book to let them read at bedtime, in the dark, with those scratching noises outside… 😉 But other than that I would happily let my nearly 10 and my 12 year olds read it. I loved it, found it really does continue with the series and not just a rehash or total new thing tacked on the a series title – I hate it when you get a “series” where it really is just books with the same character that tend to chop and change personality in each book. Does not happen in ‘Emma and the Silk Thieves’. Perfect.

Would I recommend this book to others?

Yes I would, no matter the reader’s age, as long as they enjoy a bit of YA/NA fantasy, this book is right for them. Just remember about the spiders, okay? I love spiders… spider lovers are good to read this. Those who freak at the smallest arachnid – read with the lights on and a good cleared two meter radius around you. 😉

Though I have to say here and now that I would strongly recommend that anyone wanting to read ‘Emma and the Silk Thieves’ read ‘Emma and the Banderwigh’ first as this is not a stand-alone book, but a true follow on of the series. And so the reader would really be missing out on some excellent writing if they skipped the first book in the series!

Would I buy this book for myself?

Absolutely. Loved the first book – except for that ending that Mr Cox then fixed up – and was really looking forward to the second in the series. Simply can’t wait for the next book in the ‘Tales of Widowswood’ series too.

In summary: An excellent follow-on in a very well written YA/NA fantasy series. We need new tales like this for our children. Highly recommend.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Karma Patrol by Kate Miller.

2 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Yeah, I hate it when I love the publisher, but come across a book that wasn’t all it cracked up to be for me. I really don’t know what it was, but I seriously could just not connect to ‘Karma Patrol’ at all, and yet I thought it a great concept and loved the blurb.

I found the multiple short sentences, brief descriptions of things and almost more note taking than story telling style of writing just really hard to get into and even when I finished the book I still felt like I was waiting for it to get to the point.

The way it was also trying to be multiple genres really didn’t work for it either. Love/romance over a soul mate connection, crime thriller, supernatural urban fantasy… I feel it was all a little too much to juggle in the one story and so came across as clumsy and disjointed. Almost as if the author understood the whole gist of it, but wasn’t too sure they knew how to pull it off smoothly.

And, I am so very sorry to sound like such a negative Nancy too as I hate it when people leave bad reviews for my work and I really do want to apologise here and now to Ms Miller. Please take all my hogwash as constructive criticism and not a personal attack on your writing skills. There was just something about this book that I didn’t connect with. LOVED the cover, LOVED the blurb… couldn’t get to grips with the story to be swept away with the magic you were trying to weave.

Please note that I do feel the faults lay with me the reader and not the book. I am sure there are people who are going to read, love and totally enjoy ‘Karma Patrol’. I am just not one of them as it didn’t click for me and didn’t spark my imagination as hoped.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I’m really in two minds over this as yes I didn’t like the book myself… but I can really see that others might. It was not a BAD BOOK. It was a bad connection to this particular reader. So I would say – if it looks good to you, go and read it and ignore me as I’m obviously wrong. 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

Sadly no I wouldn’t. Was a definite CNC (Could Not Connect) and therefore not a book for me.

In summary – ‘Karma Patrol’ has the potential to be a great story, and to some it might be. To me… yeah, no. There was just something there I was missing and therefore not the book for me. Not a bad book, just a bad match to this particular reviewer.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review – Aftermath by Sandy Goldsworthy.

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Clean Teen Publishing for a free ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review.

What an interesting book… really not too sure if it was for me though. I can’t say it is a new favourite for me, but it had its moments. Personally I wasn’t a fan of the double perspective of the storyline (seen from Ben and Emma’s points of view) as the writing style for both characters was almost identical and, if I wasn’t paying attention, I would often forget who was talking. And as much as the immortals idea was interesting… I seriously found it all a little too confusing too. It was like even the author felt it was a good idea they fully didn’t understand themselves.

Add to that the unfinished business left when the story was over – I don’t want to say too much as I don’t want to get done for spoilers – and I just felt the author got to their word count requirement and just stopped.

The pace of the story was also so very slow for me, and then started jumping all over the place and getting disjointed. Maybe that is my fault as a reader and not as used to YA books as I once was… perhaps people who only read YA books didn’t notice the slow pace? A lot of YA books I’ve read of late seem to have a super slow pace so maybe that’s just the done thing with YA right now? Possibly why I don’t read it that much anymore?

But to give ‘Aftermath’ some credit… it was, for me, an original idea and had some good concepts. I just didn’t feel they were followed through smoothly nor that the story was really finished. And, no, I don’t think this means it is leaving things open for a sequel – I sure hope not – it just means so many plot threads were just left swaying in the breeze, rather than being neatly tied up at the end of it all. If it was leading into a sequel, these threads should at least have been neatened up and acknowledged as ‘still to come’ in some way. It was just all a little messy and left unfinished to me.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I really don’t know… a bit of a cop out I know! Basically, it was an okay idea for a book and I can see the possibility in people enjoying it. I just don’t know if anyone I know would be someone who enjoyed it so I can’t say I would recommend it to them… just in case I got it wrong and there went my book cred! 😉

Would I buy this book for myself?

No, this one wasn’t for me. I am not saying it was a bad book – far from it. I just, personally, didn’t enjoy it a heck of a lot. I mean, I liked it enough to actually finish it and then not give it a terrible score, but it’s not one I am going to be raving about to everyone I meet.

In summary: this book had some potential and had some good moments… but it also had a lot of loose ends left unanswered and was a little too sloppy and hard to read in places for me to fully enjoy it. I will leave it up to other readers to decide whether it is a book for them and just say – yep, read it.

Until next time,

Janis.

Book Review -The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur by James Wymore and Aiden James.

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

Okay, I have some mixed feelings about this book. I love the concept of the series, I’ve enjoyed most of it… but I have to say it almost turned into a DNF due to the amount of internalising and inner monologue that took place at the beginning of the book.

I mean, I was up to (I think) chapter eight – almost a quarter of the way into the book – before they stopped taking turns internalising about how they all felt and someone actually got on with the story. Those of you who read my review of the first Actuator story will know I’m not a fan of the constant and over the top internal monologue about feelings and all that. Not in an Urban Fantasy story.

So, yeah, I found it a struggle to get into this book. I was determined to read it though as I had committed myself to the task for Curiosity Quills. And, thankfully, things smoothed out after a while and the story actually did get going. And once it did, it was worth the struggle to get through the first part of the book.

We got back to the hunt for the keys, the diverse and detailed different segments to the world and the ways people interacted within them. That was worth the wait as it was what I had been looking for and what makes the story so good.

Though, and no spoilers intended, I found it very easy to see where the book was going, who was doing what and all that. There were one or two minor surprises… but the rest was pretty apparent.

Would I recommend this book for others?

Despite the mildly negative constructive criticism given above – yes I would. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: this is a story with great potential and those who read the first book (and the 1.5 anthology) should read this book too.

Would I buy this book for myself?

Possibly, but it’s still too early into the series to commit space on my virtual or physical bookshelves for it. For now, it is still at ‘library book’ level of interest. As in, I would enjoy grabbing it from the library and reading it… but not really sure I want to own it yet.

In summary: Once you get past the inner monologue maelstrom at the front of the book, the rest is worth a read and is a good continuation of the series. I do love how it incorporated some of the anthologies into it too. It’s an entertaining series (but that might be the RPGer in me) and I do recommend people give it a look.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 

Book Review -The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology edited by James Wymore.

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Curiosity Quills Press for a free ARC of this book in exchange for an open and honest review.

This is a rather entertaining and well thought out anthology that encouraged authors and (I believe) fellow fans of the first ‘The Actuator – Fractured Earth’ novel to have a go at helping to reshape the world after the ‘Great Event’… or whatever it was called when the Actuator was let loose on the planet. Trust me, all of what I just said made sense if you’ve been reading this series. And if it doesn’t make sense – go read the series… it’s worth it! 😉

As with the majority of anthologies I’ve read, this one had its good and bad moments. It had its stories I never wanted to end and those I was happy to see the back of. What can I say, I am a fan of anthologies… but I am also fickle and do enjoy how you can pick and choose with them.

I totally loved the whole concept of this book. Talk about fan fic at its best! It has made getting back into the second book in the series a little harder as I have to focus back to the original style of writing from Mr James and Mr Wymore. Not that I don’t mind their style, I was just enjoying the mixture of talents and styles shown in this anthology.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. Though only if they had read ‘Fractured Earth’ first so they had the background basics this set of short stories is based on. But, yes, I really do recommend people give it a read. An anthology is a terrific way to get to know authors you may not have heard of before – that alone is a good enough reason to recommend it!

Would I buy this book for myself? Possibly. I mean, if I decided to own the whole of the Actuator series, then absolutely yes I would want this one as part of it… but as I’m still seeing how the series as a whole progresses, I’m still undecided about whether it’ll make it onto my virtual shelves any time soon.

In summary – as anthologies go, this was a good one. A great mixture of different writing styles and stories all following the underlying theme of the earth after the Actuator fractured it. A good little stepping stone to bide your time with while waiting for book two in this very interesting series.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO