Book Review: The Cat’s Eye Shell

The Cat's Eye Shell (The Chain of Charms #4)

The Cat’s Eye Shell by Kate Forsyth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book four in a series of six. Luka and Emilia are desperate to find the fourth charm, which will help save their families from the gallows.

This book was rather slower than the others. Not as much happened, not as much urgency felt. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, in some ways this book felt more realistic as the children weren’t escaping from the clutches of Coldham every five minutes.

I realise this isn’t much of a book review, but I feel there’s nothing more to say except that I will continue reading the series.

eBook Review: The Invitation

The Books of Magic #1: The Invitation

The Books of Magic #1: The Invitation by Carla Jablonski

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was apparently a novelised version of a former comic written by Neil Gaiman. I’ve never read (or even heard of) the comic so whether it does it justice or not, I have no idea.

I’ve also read other reviews on this book, which say this book is very Harry Potterish. In my opinion, the two books are totally different. I never once thought of Harry Potter whilst reading this book. Yes, there’s a young, dark-haired boy in both books, but that’s were the resemblance ends.

But I did think of other books I’ve read: Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, The Time Machine, Howl’s Moving Castle, just to name a few. There are snippets in the story that reminded me of these other stories. Sometimes the reminder was quite strong, other times it was a familiarity tugging at my memory.

Overall, the book isn’t badly written. However, at times I wondered if it was in fact written for the younger audience as there’s lots of smoking in it, the odd sexual innuendo, and other situations that I wouldn’t want my young reader (if I had one) to be reading. I found myself asking if the original comic might have been written for an older audience, but haven’t bothered to research this thought (I just don’t have the time).

The storyline is about magic. If we believe in it, it will be around us. If we don’t believe it, we will live in a purely scientific world. Being a bit of a believer in all things mystical, I liked the idea of this. Believe and it will happen. I can see myself falling hook, line and sinker for this notion.

There was nothing wrong with the characters. The storyline is fast moving most of the time and something is always happening. No wonder the young boy in the story was exhausted! It kept my interest, but…

I don’t know what the ‘but’ is. Something wasn’t right. Maybe it was all the things I’ve already written about. Maybe it was something else. I really don’t know. I think I’d be willing to read the second book in the series to see where the story goes from here, to see if the missing ingredient is found. The plot has potential so I’m hoping the second book will delivery.

Book Review: To Unimagined Shores

To Unimagined Shores

To Unimagined Shores by Sherry D. Ramsey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To Unimagined Shores is a collection of short stories written by Sherry D. Ramsey. They include science fiction and fantasy stories, as well as a collection of ‘related’ stories.

What I especially like about the author’s writing style is her ability to tell a story using different ‘voices’. My favourite in this collection is “The Longest Distance” — a story set in the past, but delves into the future — it was so different to the other stories, and it really captivated my imagination. The story reminded me of Well’s “The Time Machine” in regards to era and tone, but Ramsey took this story in another direction. It’s a brilliant story — serious, sad and quite technical in places, which was fitting (and believable).

Then there is “The Big Freeze”. A story showing how even the devil can have a bad day. I found it to be amusing and well written. The characters compliment each other.

And I really enjoyed the ‘related’ stories, with Nizzio (a mage) and his female apprentice, Albettra. They are like modern day mystery stories, but set in a fantasy world. I loved the contrast between the mage and his apprentice. I loved the humour too. But mostly I enjoyed the clarity in which the stories are written and the well developed characters that make the stories worth reading. They are superb.

There are stories about aliens, crop circles, murder mysteries and even drugs! The characters seem real. The scenarios are true to life. They are not predictable. To Unimagined Shores is a book that will take you out of your everyday life and plant you in a place where strange things are happening. It’s worth your time.

eBook Review: Hollowmen

Hollowmen (The Hollows, #2)

Hollowmen by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book 2 in The Hollows series. There weren’t as many typos or, maybe, I just accepted they were there and didn’t look for them as much.

The first chapter of this book was absolutely 100% maddening and stupid! I can’t express that enough. I believe the event, as told, would be enough to turn readers away from the rest of the book. But if you can get passed this first piece of writing then the story returns to a similar storyline in the same vein as book 1.

It’s not as ‘badass’ (this is a word other reviewers seem to use in association with this book, but it’s not a word I would generally use) as the first book. The main character has slowed down a bit. There are not as many zombie attacks, but still everyone is dying around her. This book had survivors fighting survivors, which is saying our evil side comes out to play when rules and regulations are taken away.

The main characters from book 1 – Lazlo and Harlow – were not in this book, except for a quick mention really. And Blue was only in it for a zombie attacking moment. This was disappointing and unsatisfying because it left loose ends. Ripley was present, but mostly forgotten.

The entertainment level wasn’t as good and although a third book could be written, I’d be happy to leave the story here. Overall, too many disappointments for me to really enjoy the book.

eBook Review: Hollowlands

Hollowland (The Hollows, #1)

Hollowland by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Firstly, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever read a book with so many typos in it. Virtually every page had a word or some sort of punctuation missing. The book needs a really good edit because at present it reads like a first draft, which is a shame.

Secondly, the main character can do anything (almost). She can single-handedly kill a horde of zombies without so much as a scratch. Some call this “badass”, I call it ridiculous and unrealistic.

Yet … if you push these things aside and just read the book at face value, without thinking about it too much, then entertainment wise it was a good read. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen, and who was going to die next.

It was gory in parts and there were some imaginative ways of killing used. And no one was immune (excuse the pun) to death, so there’s no use pinning all your hopes on any of the support characters.

There was even a bit of romance. Not much, mind you, which was good because in all honesty there’s no time amongst all the running and killing.

This was a free download. I’m not sorry I read it as it was quite entertaining. It’s just a pity the author didn’t invest more time into polishing it up a bit before releasing it.

A Stroke in Life

Life is short. This is something we are told regularly, but – in truth – I believe we don’t take much notice of this saying. When I was a kid, a year seemed like a lifetime! It took forever to go from the first day of term to the last, let alone getting to the summer holidays. I always believed we lived forever (even though I knew this was not a reality). But as I got older, the years went faster. Much faster. It was almost as if the years became shorter somehow.

It wasn’t until I lost my son almost six years ago that I realised how short life really is. But then you never truly know anything until it smacks you in the face. Not really. I became complacent and allowed the knowledge to start slipping away. Until … Wednesday, the 25th of January.

When I had a stroke.

Don’t worry is was only minor, but I did suffer a bit of brain damage … again, only minor. Nothing that is noticeable. I was extremely lucky!

My specialist said that next time I might not be so lucky. Now that is scary. Hopefully there won’t be a next time, but I’m not going to take any chances and for that reason I am following instructions and have been injecting myself and making myself very, VERY sick.

I have a blood disorder called Essential Thrombocytosis. This means something inside me isn’t working properly and I’m making red blood cells constantly. I’ve been on tablet medication for about 18 months. It worked to begin with but then not so much. My blood count started climbing again, I had the stroke and now I have to go on injections (twice a week) in an effort to bring the numbers down to a safe level again.

Thing is, the injections make me sick for at least two days. As I have two injections a week, this means I’m sick for four days a week, but this past week I’ve been sick all week. I’m told my body will get used to the injections, but it will take about six weeks. I’m in my third week. Half way there. But the side affects are numerous – headaches, shivering, fever, aches and pains, confusion, depression, weakened eye sight, hair loss, fatigue, nausea and some other things it doesn’t seem right to put here. I have all these symptoms. It can also cause the patient to feel suicidal, anorexic and have breathing difficulties. So far, I do not have these symptoms.

It doesn’t sound bad in writing but just as I start to feel a little better, the next injection is due and I slip all the way to the bottom again. And I’m finding it more difficult to hold on to the fact that this is meant to be short term. But I’ll get there. I just remind myself how bad it could have been, and that helps me move forward.

My life has changed since the injections started. I don’t have a life. I go nowhere and do nothing because I’m too sick. I do go to work when I feel I can (this week that was only on Monday). Surprisingly, I have managed to do some writing. Never much in any one sitting, but at least I am putting some words down. And I have stayed on top of major projects. I hope I can keep that up over the next few weeks too.

When my body adjusts, I hope to have a healthier lifestyle and not have to worry about the possibility of another stroke. For now, I will just push on through and hope the next injection – due tomorrow – will not be as intense as the previous ones.

15 Grammar Goofs that Make You Look Silly

Everyone makes mistakes. It’s life! But when you’re an aspiring writer then you should take the time to learn the basics in grammar. Using the wrong word in a sentence can change its meaning. More importantly, it can also make you look silly to the reader.

Here are some basics you should know:

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

eBook Review: The Time Machine

The Time Machine

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of course I’ve seen the movies, but this is the first time I’ve read the book. The first scene was hard to get through, very technical and complicated, but hugely warranted as it gave the story substance and credibility. Not that I understood any of it.

When the travelling started, however, it became much easier to read … and, hence, more enjoyable.

And it is a great story.

I’ve always been interested in time travel and parallel travel, so this story fed that obsession well. It was interesting to note that a writer from our past could feed ideas to the reader and somehow close the gap, before going on to show us a future that was well thought out.

I enjoyed the romantic side of the story, and the cannibalistic side as well. I found it interesting to see that Wells has predicted the Earth colliding with the sun. And I found the ending of the story left me pondering what I would do if I were in the main character’s shoes. After such a narrow escape, would I go on another adventure?

I think it would be impossible not to.