YA/NA

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 – Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays by Maia Chance, Janine A. Southard, Raven Oak, G. Clemans.

4 out of 5 stars.

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

Christmas time is almost upon us, I’m a dyed in the wool speculative fiction/ urban fantasy fan… how could I not find this group of short stories enjoyable?

Yes, as with any anthology, some of the tales were more a miss with me than a hit… but the overall selection was good and made for an enjoyable read.

‘Joy to the Worlds’ is a compilation of little snippets of urban fantasy worlds (some within our own, some not) all with the under lying theme of Christmas. No two stories alike – other than the Christmas theme – and for me, a great introduction to some authors I’d not yet read before. Which is exactly what an anthology is meant to be about, so a really great combo all round.

I couldn’t give it the full five stars as there was the odd bit here and there I didn’t enjoy or connect with. Sorry for being an overly picky Pagan, but making Yule and the winter Solstice two separate occasions still haunts me as annoying two days after I read that story. I’m cruel, I know… but that was a fantastic story all the same.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. It was a great little anthology of Christmas themed stories. I would advise people it had more of a YA/ NA feel to it… but as I love these sub-genres too I had no issues. But I would mention it just to prepare the reader a little more as I’ve known people to dislike a book I’d recommended as I failed to mention it was YA. Oops!

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes, I can see it being added to my electronic bookshelves and one to read when it ‘tis the season’. But I am the kind of book nerd who matches her reading lists to the times of the year they suit. So I do grab a certain Zelazny come October… and read about Green Knowe come Christmas. What is life without a little literary whimsy?

In summary: A good, well-paced and enjoyable anthology of speculative fiction/ urban fantasy short stories set around Christmas time. It is an enjoyable read, suits to season for this urban fantasy junkie and all in all something I suggest you pop in your eBook stocking tomorrow!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Acne, Asthma, And Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford.

acne asthma and other signs you might be half dragon

4 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.

Move over Ms MacAlister and her Wyverns – there’s a new type of dragon in town! Well, half-dragon… and not just one town, a few towns… and other places.

I loved this book! Being a huge fan of Urban Fantasy and world’s within our own that have a good dash of reality, a large sprinkle of humour and a dollop of sarcasm – how could I NOT love this book?

And thank goodness for a book that contains teens, supernatural creatures and NO SPARKLY VAMPIRES! Hoorah! I do love it when you get writers who know how to write a great book and break free of those horrible cookie cutter moulds that seemed to restrain the Urban Fantasy genre for so long. We need more books like this! So glad it appears to be the first in a series. Please put me down for the next one!

Okay, so now I try and talk to you about the book without giving away the plotline… as, seriously, you want to know about the story, you need to read it. 😉

But basically Allyson is your typical teen outcast with no true place to call home, always on the move and with more than the usual pimples of puberty to deal with. She meets someone she really connects with, finds out there is more to her life than what she thought and is then thrown into an adventure that introduces both our protagonist and the reader to the world of the Kin and all that is going on. Seriously, read it. My blurb does it no justice.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. Lovers of the Wyvern series by Katie MacAlister, or Other Worldly book like the Hollows by Kim Harrison or even Mary Janice Davidson will enjoy this book. Though it is more of a YA genre than they are as the main characters are teens and not the twenty somethings of the series I’ve mentioned. Still, ‘Acne, Asthma, and other signs you might be half dragon’ is not your typical teen Urban Fantasy (see my comments about the lack of pretty fanged wonders) and so really is worth a read.

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. And I look forward to the next in the series. Ms Rocford’s style is light, refreshing and she sets a good fast-paced scene that keeps you reading and kept my ‘One more chapter’ mantra going. So this book, series and author are definitely ones I will keep on my list of things to remember.

In summary: A well written, fast-paced YA Urban Fantasy where reality will still make even the supposedly graceful and wise dragon’s bunny hop from time to time. Well thought out, highly entertaining and a fantastic first book in what looks to be a great new series. Well worth you checking out tomorrow!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – The Three Sisters (The Krampus Chronicles: Book One) by Sonia Halbach.

The Three Sisters

4 out of 5 stars.

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

‘The Three Sisters’ is a great new twist to a classic tale. ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ is a favourite in our house for me to read to my kid’s in December and so I know it well. And to take that poem and create a whole new hidden world around it – loved it. I do like these hidden worlds within our own type stories so knew I was going to be a fan of ‘The Three Sisters’.

I did find it a little slow at times, but all round it was a well-paced, well thought out story concept for the YA audience. I can also see it working well as the first in a series (which it seems to be from the ‘book 1’ on the cover) and do look forward to seeing what other hidden worlds have been created by this family, by the Three Sisters.

The characters are engaging, well defined and easy to connect to. Making the story an easy (and addictive) read. The setting is well described and all in all the whole situation is engaging with enough ‘and then what’ left in it to make me want to know when the next book in the series will be available.

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. I feel my daughter might enjoy it as she gets more into the YA genre and anyone who knows the poem that ignites the imagination this story has sprung from should read it too.

Would I buy this book for myself? Tempted. I would want to see how the series pans out before I commit myself to it though. I really liked it, but do want to ensure it’s not a one off wonder before I commit myself to admitting to being a fan of the series. Oh, I’m being too harsh – this is a good story! Yes I would read the next one tomorrow if it was available!

In Summary: Well written, mostly fast paced tale of a world within our own and a twist to Christmas that hadn’t yet been explored.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Emma and the Banderwigh by Matthew S. Cox.

Emma and the Banderwigh

4 out of 5 stars.

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

This is a very entertaining YA fantasy novel. At first I thought it was set in our past and so found some of the historical inaccuracies grating, but as I read more I learnt it wasn’t set in our world, simply set in a world similar to our own. I could cope with it after that.

It was a good read, definitely better suited to a YA/NA audience. Not that that is a bad thing, I love the YA/NA genre despite the age of forty nearly being upon me.

As much as I enjoyed the story, I sometimes found the characters a little disjointed and parts of it hard to follow. Though I’m pretty sure this was more my fault than the book. Sometimes a story grabs you and won’t let you go; sometimes it just sits there companionably chatting to you when you have a moment. For me, ‘Emma and the Banderwigh’ was more a chatter than a grabber. 😉 Saying that, at times this book did get my “one more chapter” mantra going until after midnight. Which shows it was an entertaining read.

My only minor gripe with the story is I felt it ended too abruptly. Almost mid-sentence. I don’t expect every tale to have a long winded wrap up where it sets out precisely how they will all live happily ever after… but I do like a little more than a one liner, as if it’s about to lead into just that little bit more. If this is the first in a series (I don’t know), then the ending is not so bad. As a stand-alone, it didn’t work for me. **See new update below!**

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes I would. Lovers of YA/ NA Fantasy would really enjoy this work. The pace is steady, the characters well thought out and believable. Ticks all the boxes for a good YA Fantasy read.

Would I buy this book for myself? Possibly. It was a good YA Fantasy story, but I’m not finding myself thinking over it and rehashing the plot and wondering “what ifs” about it. So it just hasn’t grabbed me as much as I’d hoped. If it is the first in a series, I WOULD be keen to read the next book to see how it goes. So, not all that bad. 😉

In summary: A fun and entertaining read, a well written YA Fantasy and a gorgeous cover setting the scene for a good yarn. Something lovers of the YA Fantasy genre should take a look at as I’m pretty sure they’re going to enjoy it too.

**UPDATE** Matthew Cox – the author – contacted me with a new last chapter added to ‘Emma and the Banderwigh’. I’ve read it and felt I need to update this review and give it another star – bringing it up to 4 out of 5 stars.

The chapter lifts the whole ending of the book, rounds it off nicely and doesn’t just leaving it hanging and having you wonder if there is a page missing. The new ending works well if the book is a stand-alone, but also makes the idea of a series even more enticing.

My opinion of recommending or buying the book hasn’t changed – as I still would recommend it and would still read it as a series. But I do have to say it needed this extra chapter and I’m so pleased it has happened. Really does smooth things out and keep the ending up to the same quality as the rest of the novel.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – The Heartless City by Andrea Berthot.

The Heartless City

4 out of 5 stars.

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

An amazing, fast paced and enjoyable New Adult Urban Fantasy thriller.

Yes, with a one liner like that I’m sure you can guess I really liked this book. Yet another brilliant piece from Curiosity Quills. From the moment I saw the cover, read the blurb and got the book I knew I was in for something new, addictive and thrilling. I think I finished this story in maybe three days as it had my ‘one more chapter’ mantra going.

Although set in the Victorian and Edwardian era of England, please realise this is an urban fantasy/ historical fiction tale. So, yes, there were sections and wording used that weren’t exactly historically accurate… but it didn’t detract from the story and I doubt many people would even notice them. When you write fiction you’re allowed a little artistic license.

This story took an old classic and added a new twist that brought it back to life and will hopefully encourage a new era of readers to look into some of the older stories. And despite basing itself on an older tale, it is new, original and unique with the twist it adds. No rehashing other people’s ideas here.

I found the setting well presented, the characters engaging and believable (in this world that is our past with a twist) and the plot well-paced and, as said, an addictive read – no pun intended. The only reason I’ve not given the full five stars is because I found the end a little too abrupt and “they all lived happily ever after”. I feel there could have been more of an extended wrap up, a little more on how London came back to life, what happened to the people, the world’s reaction… I don’t know, maybe I’m asking for too much and am just being greedy. The end isn’t bad… just a little too short for my liking.

Oh, and I do call it New Adult though, due to the young age of the characters. What they do is not out of character for the era the story is set in, I just feel a New Adult reader may relate to them better. I enjoyed it and could cope with the age of the characters, but I’m not too sure my hubby would enjoy it as much despite him showing an interest in this book. I read more YA/ NA than he does.

Would I recommend this story to others? Yes, absolutely. Anyone interested in the genre of New Adult Urban Fantasy, Historical Fantasy thriller, sci-fi/ fantasy will enjoy this work and it will indeed be one I suggest to anyone asking.

Would I buy this book for myself? Yes I would. Loved it. And if it happened to turn into a series (though I really don’t see how) I would even consider getting the next book. Gorgeous cover, great plot, terrific story.

In summary – If you’re a fan of ‘reality with a twist’ – no matter the era, a fan of urban fantasy and a good adventure you will enjoy this book. Buy, enjoy and thank me later. I highly recommend it.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

Book Review – Frivolous Pursuits by D.C. Farmer.

Frivolous Pursuits

3 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Xpresso Book Tours for allowing me an ARC of this book via Netgalley for an open and honest review.

This book was a tough one to score and I’m really concerned people are going to see my review as more negative as it is intended. Yes, I can see the “dislike” ticks piling up on Amazon as I type!

So let me start with the positives this book greatly deserves. It is a wonderful, brilliant and fresh new look into Urban Fantasy. Really quite an original and well thought out idea and, quite honestly, some of the best Young Adult/ New Adult reading I’ve done of late.

Maybe being married to someone who goes on endlessly about his Chaos Dwarves, who parries my Monty Python quotes (and similar sarcastically funny comments) with some of his own and being a proud ‘she-nerd’ myself helped me enjoy this story so much. Who knows? All the same, it is a great yarn and one I highly recommend to lovers of YA/NA Urban Fantasy.

But now to the nitty gritty. Please take this as the constructive criticism it is intended to me. As in, I’m not meaning to be negative, but do hope what I say helps.

As much as I found the interaction between Darren and his friends enjoyable, the puns did start to get to me at times. Though I do wonder if that is more from my inner old fogey getting in the road of my inner YA/NA reader? As in, maybe I was just a little too old for it at times, but the story itself was still good.

I also found myself wondering if YA/NA readers who are actually YA/NA aged would get some of the jokes and puns. As in, they seemed more from my generation and why I found them funny… but would the younger people reading it get it as much? I have to say here and now that I think my cultural dialect got in the road a bit too. Yes, I did have to google that word spelt out in the dishwasher… and then regretted it. Good insult though!

The biggest problem I had with this book, and why I scored it as low as I did, was actually down to the editing. Or, as I saw it, lack of it. Near the end of the book there was almost a spelling or grammatical error on every page and it got to me. Yes I know this was an ARC and they are often sent out before final edit and therefore not perfect. I get that and tried to excuse the book for this… but as they got so frequent it just got me frustrated as it was ruining a good tale. I know, this comment is a bit of the kettle calling the pot black as I am known for my typos and grammatical slip ups. I guess I just expect other authors to be better. 😉

Also – and this isn’t meant to be a spoiler – when they first left for the other planet, they were in the lock-up and Sanjay talked to Matt, looked at the damage to his landscape done in a burglary (that had never been mentioned before) and then Darren and co left for the planet via the bedroom door… When they had been in the lock-up!

With the events that followed and the flaws in the timeline that came from it… I really got disappointed in the story as this was a glaring proof reader/ editor mistake that really should have been fixed up. And I really, REALLY hope it has been before the book was published as it did spoil it for me and cause me to drop a star off the score.

Okay, enough of the constructive criticism – not negatives, critiques! This really was a great, original and addictive story that had me reading it every chance I got. From the cover to the blurb the story itself it stayed true to what it offered and was, mostly, well worth a read.

Would I recommend this book to others? I would, though I would voice my misgivings about the editing and ask them to tell me it was all sorted when they read it. Any fan of YA/NA Urban Fantasy would enjoy this book.

Would I buy this book for myself? Possibly. But I’m more likely to borrow it, and others by this author, from the library to read in the future. It was good, but didn’t grab me enough to become a permanent member of my physical or virtual libraries.

In summary, it was an enjoyable read, entertaining and something fans of this genre will enjoy. I just really hope all the issues I’ve mentioned are fixed up in the final version. And, despite them, still a book I would recommend.

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO