eBook review: Tales from the Red Sun Village

Tales from the Red Sun Village: Volume 1 by Mark Swaine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: The legendary warrior Kamui Li visits the people of a settlement in the badlands of Purgatoria. In a bid to build morale, the dangerous Samurai recounts three campfire stories to the nervous people of the village to help them overcome their fears of this dangerous new world.

The Midnight Foot Masseuse
A down on his luck chef encounters a demon living under his bed, a demon with a penchant for giving foot massages that somehow improves his life, but at what cost.

Plus a Few Upgrades
A tech savvy girl purchases a cursed videogame console from a car boot sale, and now she’s in the fight for her life whilst avenging her brother’s.

The Child’s Ward
A monster seeks weapons of mental mass destruction as an ignorant teen keeps vigil over a sick infant in the children’s ward of a hospital.

My review: This is speculative fiction for young adults. The audience around the camp fire appear to be much younger, but I definitely would not allow younger children to read the book as it might give them nightmares.

The stories within the book are tied together by the campfire gathering. And there is a reason for the children being told the stories, but I won’t spoil it for you. Just know that they are not random fables.

The stories themselves are … gruesome. Consider them, for the most part (except the last story), to border on horror. There is blood and guts, be warned. Fortunately, I’ve read my share of horror so I’m fine with it, but some people don’t like reading graphic fighting scenes. The book will not appeal to everyone.

I haven’t read any other Red Sun Village books, and this book didn’t give me enough information to know if the story fits in with the other books or not.

The stories vary. The first one felt totally different to the others. It was well written and held my interest and had a neat little twist at the end. The second story was based on gaming. I’ve played PlayStation games since the beginning and I’ve killed countless zombies during that time, so you could say I enjoy gaming. But the story was too long for me, and because of that, my attention waned. I guess I prefer to play the game, rather than read about it. But I feel certain that the target audience will feel part of the team and will love it. The last story felt a little disjointed. Or maybe I was slow in catching on because I have been unwell recently. I didn’t realise what was happening at first, so I felt confused. When I did catch on, it all made sense.

I liked the way everything was brought together at the end. That was well done. And I especially liked the very last message.

What I didn’t like about this book was the cover. To be honest, I would never chose to read the book based on the cover as it does absolutely nothing to catch my attention. Personally, I think that’s a shame as I believe many people make decisions to read books based on the cover alone. In my opinion, an updated cover would do wonders for the book overall.

Regardless of the cover, I believe the book will be well received by readers who enjoy details that allow the scene to be alive in their minds, and can envision themselves amongst the action.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Not accepting books for review

Due to a health issue, I am currently NOT accepting books for review. I have every intention of completing the books that I have already accepted. The timeframes given remain the same, for now. I will contact you if I need more time.

This decision is not permanent. I need time to adjust to my medication and cannot allow myself to feel pressured. As soon as I am able to, I will return to accepting books for review, because I love books and I love reading. More importantly, I want to help new writers as much as I can.

eBook review: Ethaze & the Shadow Court

Ethaze & the Shadow Court by J.P. Kaeden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: Eleven-year-old Ethaze always believed her mother had died when she was little and that her father had abandoned her. When her Grandfather passes away, she learns her mother had been traded to the Fae. Leaving her village to rescue her mother, Ethaze discovers the existence of an uneasy truce between men, Fae and the Gods over the planes of existence.

The Order of Gafannon, a sect of blacksmiths trained in the old ways, are mankind’s protection against the Fae, providing the iron which disrupts their powers and binds them as mortals. Ethaze is drawn into the Void, the space between realities, where she encounters the imprisoned rogue Fae of the Shadow Court, those who have rejected the truce and have sought to establish their own power. Ethaze’s quest for her mother is part of something larger than she could have ever imagined.

My review: Presently, I seem to be reading books that are difficult to fit wholly within a defined age group. The main character in Ethaze and the Shadow Court is eleven, which should make this book for middle grade or younger readers. But I don’t agree with that. Ethaze is eleven, yet she comes across as around 16 to me. In my opinion, the book is for young adults.

However, the genre is simple to determine. Set in another world. Portals. The Fae. Yes, it’s a fantasy story.

The storyline grabbed me from the beginning. I liked Ethaze’s determination and wanted her to succeed in her quest from the start. Yet our path is never straight forward and we often get waylaid in real life, so it’s not surprising that poor Ethaze ran into all sorts of trouble on her journey. Her good nature and ethics see her wanting to help people, but it’s sometimes hard to know when and where to place trust. We also need to accept help from others, because sometimes we cannot reach our goal alone, but that too has its drawbacks.

I liked the relationships Ethaze created with the other characters, good and bad. They were convincing. Also, I enjoyed the way the author shared crafting techniques in a way that felt natural to the storyline. I don’t know if the blacksmith details are true or not, but I believed every word and that’s the important thing.

Allowing the reader to use their imagination when reading a book is important, in my opinion, and the author gave descriptions that didn’t drone on and bore me but allowed me to envision Ethaze’s world. I appreciated that.

The only negative thing for me to say is that the book has a lot of grammar errors that need addressing. Little things that are confusing, and other errors that are quite distracting, spoiling the reading experience. A good edit will improve the story tenfold. But if you can ignore these imperfections, you’ll find a good story worth reading.

Despite the errors, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would happily read book 2 when it’s released.

Recommended.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

eBook review: Annalynn the Canadian Spy

Annalynn the Canadian Spy: Terrible Tissues by Shawn P.B. Robinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb: Ten-year-old Annalynn has just been hired as a spy.

Two men and two women break into Annalynn’s home and steal a box of tissues, literally from under their noses. No one can imagine why someone would do such a thing, but Annalynn has been put on the case.

Her country needs her, but does she have what it takes?

My review: This is a book for younger readers. Readers beginning to read on their own, who have vivid imaginations and love to laugh. It was a little too young for me and I had to remind myself that it was not aimed at my age group.

It’s a quick, witty read. Older readers have to forego normal and allow themselves to be taken for a ride in unconventional ways. If you can do that, then you’ll enjoy the book.

Annalynn is just a kid but she’s up for the role as a spy. She’ll do it for her family, even though she has no training. But she is resourceful and she’s keen. Nothing will stop her from solving the case handed to her. Dangerous or not.

Hand this book to your youngster, and allow them to be swept into Annalynn’s adventure. They will enjoy themselves, and you’ll hear them laughing.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

eBook review: She Named Me Wolf

She Named Me Wolf by Tenkara Smart

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Wolf lives in constant fear of his alcoholic father, using his imagination and wisdom beyond his years to escape the pain until he must make a choice. Either stay in this life or move on, and only his best friend, who happens to be a ghost, can help him make the right decision.

She Named Me Wolf is book one in the series The Many Lives of Wolf and is the first glimpse into one soul’s travels through many lifetimes, seeking out the light in the darkness.

My review: She Named Me Wolf is different from the usual genre I read. The blurb hinted at physical abuse and a ghostly presence, and I felt intrigued enough to read the book.

Although the main character is a child at the start of the book and a teenager at the end, I would not say this is a children’s book. It might be confronting or scary to a young reader. Yet, I felt the author handled the physical abuse in the story in a gentle way (except for a couple of places, I’ll get back to these parts later). This might help a young reader experiencing something similar. However, I believe the two exceptions and swearing indicate the book is aimed at the young adult audience.

Swearing is frequent in today’s life. Although I’m not a person who swears myself, I believe the words used in the book would mirror what would typically be said in an abusive household. In fact, I think they have been watered down a lot. Just to be clear, the book starts out with name-calling and swear words are introduced as the story nears its end. To me, the terms are used in context, and it was not a shock to read them. To be honest, in this case, I feel it gives the storyline authenticity.

The two exceptions I mentioned earlier had a real impact on me. One spoke to me because of personal experience, and I reacted to the words I read seeing another face rather than Wolf’s. The other filled me with real fear. I must give credit to the author for her craft in writing these two scenes. To invoke such a strong reaction and incredible fear in me is no mean feat. In fact, it’s impressive.

The two main character’s, Wolf and Polly, are a perfect mix. Both are smart beyond their years, yet children all the same. I enjoyed reading Wolf’s story. I felt connected to him, and that forced me to keep turning those pages. I was not surprised when Wolf excelled at his “secret” activity. I wanted to learn more about his “travels”. And, although I will never understand why, just like Wolf didn’t understand, I could accept how difficult it must have been for his mother. I’m a firm believer that we don’t know how we will react to something until we experience it ourselves.

Another thing about the book is there are a lot of uplifting phrases and sayings scattered within the chapters. The words tell a story about abuse, but they also give hope. I found the mix to be well balanced.

The only negative thing I can say is that there was a mix of American and Australian grammar/spelling/words, hence the 4.5 stars. At one point, the use of a non-Australian word jolted me out of the storyline altogether. It was like a slap in the face. A non-Australian reader may not notice this, but for me, it’s essential to be consistent.

She Named Me Wolf left an impression on me, so I have no trouble in recommending it.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

eBook review: Esme’s Gift

Esme’s Gift by Elizabeth Foster

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The blurb: Terror was within. Terror was without. Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver is faced with her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift – the power to observe the past – and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends – old and new – travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must confront their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is an enthralling fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

My review: I enjoyed Esme’s Wish (Book 1), but Esme’s Gift (Book 2) wasn’t as good. The first half of the story dragged its feet a bit, but the second half picked up the pace and was more interesting. The pages turned swiftly then.

I liked the fact that the mysteries were not left hanging until book 3. It was great to know how, when, where and why everything up to now had happened. And it was even better that these facts went together well. In fact, the book was written like a cozy mystery, but without a murder. I found that interesting and well-plotted. I appreciated and enjoyed the arrival of certain other characters as well.

I didn’t like the school scenes. There may have been a reason for them, and I guess as the main characters are school age, it made sense to have Esme return to school, but it didn’t work for me. I’m not saying the scenes were poorly written, they just lacked interest, for me. However, younger readers will probably relate to those scenes much better than I did and enjoy them immensely.

Regardless of all this, I still loved the fresh, new world that the author has created. I look forward to reading more adventures set in Aeolia and finding out more about Seth’s motivations.

I received a review copy of this book, and this is an honest review.

Audiobook: The Wizards of Once

The Wizards of Once by Cressida Cowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb: This is the story of a young boy Wizard and a young girl Warrior who have been taught to hate each other like poison; and the thrilling tale of what happens when their two worlds collide.

Perfect for boys and girls who love fantasy adventure …

Once there was Magic, and the Magic lived in the dark forests.

Wizard boy, Xar, should have come in to his magic by now, but he hasn’t, so he wants to find a witch and steal its magic for himself. But if he’s got any chance of finding one, he will have to travel into the forbidden Badwoods.

Xar doesn’t realise he is about to capture an entirely different kind of enemy. A Warrior girl called Wish.

And inside this book, at this very moment, two worlds collide and the fate of the land is changed forever.

Xar and Wish must visit the dungeons at Warrior fort, and face the evil Queen.

But something that has been sleeping for hundreds of years is stirring …

My review: WOW. This is such a good story. From the first page, I was totally in. In fact, I was so taken by the plot and the characters, that I simply couldn’t stay away from the book for long periods. That doesn’t happen often, and is certainly a positive sign that I loved the book.

The world the two main character’s live in is dark. Wish is a warrior girl with a secret. Xar is a wizard boy with attitude. They come from different sides in a world where they are taught from birth to hate the other side. But these two are thrown together and must conquer all. (I know that’s a pretty general comment, but you’ll have to read the book to find out what they have to conquer.)

I love the two main character. And I have to say that Squeeze Juice is also a favourite of mine. The characters are so different, but so likeable. The story is so action-packed. Honestly, I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying this book.

I listened to the audiobook and I feel compelled to mention the narrator, David Tennant. He gave life to the characters and storyline. His reading was fantastic and I believe that added to my enjoyment of the book ten-fold.

This is the first of three books, I believe. I definitely will be listening to the rest of the series.

Highly recommended.

Ebook review: Windrider

Windrider by Pamela Freeman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb: This story centres on Princess Betony, half human , half dryad. When the great dragon Windrider bewitches her father, King Max, she journeys to the high country to obtain his release. With the help of her friends, Basil and Clover, she tries to achieve her aim without changing into a wood-nymph.

My review: Book 2 in the Floramonde series for young readers (or the young at heart, like me).

The first book had a magical feel to it, that didn’t cross over to this book. However, that doesn’t mean the book wasn’t any good, because it is. This time, instead of the chapters telling many stories to make a whole, the entire book told a single story. Betony sets off to save her father, while her two best friends set off to save Betony from making a bargain she may regret.

In this book there is a dragon, magic, dealing with relationships (good and bad), and love. But the most important thing, in my opinion, is the theme that deals with the lengths we will go to to save those we cherish.

Recommended.