Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Tiffany - Rob Kelley

                Let me start by saying don’t judge this book by its cover or its title. Although the young lady on the cover is attractive, when I first was looking for something to read, at first glance I passed this book over because it looked like some vapid romance novel which is not what I was looking for at all. The book is actually a small town cozy mystery, my favourite type of mystery, but you wouldn’t know that with just a quick look. Those things aside, it’s quite a good little whodunit. The body appears right at the start which is how I like it. No long introductions or lengthy character development before the murder, just two mischievous boys and their remote control car providing a unique way to discover a body. The character development comes throughout the book and, although it’s not particularly in-depth, it’s still quite well done.
                A man is dead and his wife is missing and when she is found she doesn’t remember anything. The sheriff isn’t particularly likeable and may even be a bit crooked. Tiffany’s lawyer, Jack, is a young man who may be in over his head and has to work with a retired sheriff who doesn’t seem to have much faith in young Jack. There’s a plethora of suspects and every time I thought I had it all figured out, somebody else would enter the pool of maybe murderers.
                I absolutely loved the setting that Mr. Kelley created in this book and, having lived in a small town most of my life, it was easy to see similarities in how things are done. The characters are well written and the style of writing is nice and easy. This is the type of book I would take on vacation to enjoy, no deep thinking required, just a fun mystery to solve. The one thing in the book I would add is a bit more about life in the town and the personal lives of characters. It would add a bit more atmosphere to the book. It’s not a big problem in the book but it would be nice to see how the characters interact in their everyday lives a bit more. Otherwise, this is a fun and enjoyable book that is worth picking up to read.
                I read this book on my ereader and it formatted well.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Ethereal Entanglements - Lee French

                Ethereal Entanglements is the third novel in the Spirit Knights series written by Lee French. This book continues the story of brand new teenage knight, Clare, and her mentor knight, Justin. In the past two novels, Clare has discovered a bit about her past and why she has been chosen to be a spirit knight. Justin has been trying to teach her but various evils keep getting in the way, just as they do in this current book.
                Before starting this book, it is necessary to have read the previous two books in the series. Unlike a lot of other series, you can’t pick this book up and find out enough about the previous story to continue along. There is no information as to what has happened before in the other books and the reader is dropped right into the story where book two left off. It may also help to read the books close together because, for me, I read them a fair amount apart and completely forgot what was happening in the story. Since there is no information given about the other books, it does become fairly confusing as to some of the story specifics.
                Ethereal Entanglements is geared towards young adults and perhaps pre-teen readers who are a bit stronger with their reading skills. As in the previous books, Ms. French has carried on with the fantastic fantasy world of the Spirit Knights and she has created strong characters that represent both the good and evil in the world. Clare is a well written teenage girl who has had a lot of heart break in the past and is searching for a way to fit in and belong to a family. She’s well rounded and realistically written in regard to the emotions of a girl her age. The other characters are just as fleshed out, including the newly discovered evil who I won’t mention so has not to give anything away.
I love Ms. French’s style of writing and believe that this series will appeal to young readers who have an interest in a fantasy world full of knights, witches, and dragons. The ending was sad but as there is another book to come in the series I’m hoping for a happier resolution to the situation. This series is entertaining and full of action as well as being fairly easy to read for young adults. I look forward to reading the fourth and final instalment in the Spirit Knight series.
                I read this on my ereader and it formatted well. I love the beautiful cover and it definitely draws the eye.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Redemption of Charlie McCoy - Christopher Wilsher

                Charlie McCoy is a small time thief who desperately needs money to pay off a debt. He agrees to do a job that turns out to be a set up and it all goes horribly wrong. Someone ends up dead and Charlie must go on the run, pursued by the Adonis crime family and the FBI. Unfortunately, his ex-wife also chooses this time to drop off his estranged, smart mouthed daughter for a weekend visit and he ends up taking her with him.
                This is a fast paced thriller mystery that has lots of twists and turns and ends with a satisfying conclusion. The writing style is entertaining and makes for a fun read. The author keeps the reader engaged with an exciting storyline with lots of action that makes putting the book down very hard to do. The story flows along with a variety of characters, all well fleshed out and interesting. Usually, with so many characters involved, it is difficult to remember who they all are but because the story is so well written and the characters are so interesting, it is easy to remember who everyone is and what their role is in the story.
                The most interesting relationship in the book is that of Charlie and Amy, his daughter. He’s barely in her life and is a really dead beat dad as far as Amy is concerned. I don’t think she hates him but she has complete lack of respect for him and regards him with disdain. They are basically strangers who are forced to spend a few days together in a confined space. They have to get to know each other while running for their lives. It’s as they spend more time together that the intricacies of their unique father/daughter relationship come to light. Often deep relationship development in a thriller holds little interest for me but in this case, due to the great writing, I found it to be really entertaining. It intertwined with the action parts of the book so well that everything melded together perfectly.
                There’s also a lot of humour in the writing that isn’t blatantly in your face but rather quite subtle. There is violence but it’s also written in such a way that the book becomes a light mystery as opposed to blood and gore. The only things I would change are the cover which does very little for the book and the fact that there are a few editing issues that are very minor.
                I read this on my tablet and it formatted very well.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Fidget Spinner Games - Coach D

                If you’re always aware of the new fads going on among the kids nowadays then you’ve heard of the new toy that is aptly named the fidget spinner. I don’t have any kids so I was a little late to the game and had no clue what this thing was until I read how it originally was meant as something for people with autism as a soothing mechanism. The way it spins and the colours that display as it spins help calm them, or so I read. This interested me because of my previous work with autism so I bought one just to see what it was all about. I also found this book, Fidget Spinner Games, written by a physical education teacher, Coach D. It’s filled with a variety of games that incorporate spinners. He has developed a variety of games, some to play individually and some within groups. Some of the games are very simple and based around childhood games we’ve all played. For example, there is a game based on the kids game Duck, Duck, Goose. The difference is that the child running around the circle must run until the spinner he/she is holding stops spinning. This is a great idea because not only does it promote physical fitness but it also prohibits the same kids getting chosen as the goose each time. It’s these types of games that really show how much Coach D has geared this book towards kids and how he understands what they would find fun.
                My favourite section of the book is the trick section. There are lots of tricks you can do using the spinner and Coach D lays them out here, written with easy to follow instructions. I tried most of them and, although I’m not great at lots of them, they were a lot of fun to try out, even for an adult. I love the format Coach D uses here as well as throughout the book. Each page has one or two tricks or games on it so that the page isn’t cluttered and it’s easy on the eye. The instructions are very easy to follow and in numbered format. There are pictures throughout that help to break up the text which is very important in order to keep a child’s attention. I think kids will really enjoy this book and it’s obvious Coach D has a lot of experience with children and how to keep them engaged. .
                I read this in digital format on my ereader and it formatted well. The cover is colourful and draws the eye.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Rolf's Quest - Aubrey Wynne

                I can say without any hesitation that Rolf’s Quest is one of the best romance novels that I have ever read. I was a bit hesitant to read it because so many books in the romance genre follow a very basic formula. Girl meets boy, they fall in love, an obstacle tears them apart, and then they find their way back to each other. It’s obviously a successful equation considering how popular the romance genre has become and Ms. Wynne definitely follows the same basic storyline. What is different about her book is all of the little details she has added, such as a brilliantly descriptive setting and characters who are not only likeable but even, in some ways, relatable.
                Rolf’s Quest is set during the reign of Henry II soon after he took the throne. Rolf is a wizard who is trying to break a curse set on Merlin many generations ago. The first male of each generation to fall in love without the help of magic will free Merlin from the tree he is captured in. None have succeeded so far until Rolf who has dreamed about Melissa for as long as he can remember. The only problem is that she is betrothed to the handsome yet cruel Duke of Sunderland. Okay, so it does sound cheesy and yes, the cover is of a generic long haired and buff Adonis that so often graces the covers of romance novels but I swear it is so worth reading.
                The setting is what first drew me in. Ms. Wynne creates for the reader a time that is as richly woven as the tapestries hanging on the castle walls. The characters are well developed and entertaining and each have their own unique history. Whether you love them or love to hate them, you won’t be disappointed in their dimensionality. The women, in particular Melissa, are strong and have minds of their own, something not very common during this time period. Merlin is a crusty old curmudgeon, even while trapped in a tree. I even like Charles, Melissa’s betrothed, even though he does turn out to be a horse’s behind. I can’t believe I am going to say this but I hope there is more to come in Rolf and Melissa’s story so that I can enjoy another book in the series.
I read this on my ereader and it formatted well. As I previously wrote, the cover is the usual and expected cover from a book in the romance genre.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs - Andrew Rolston

                Beetle Battles the Biotoxic Bulldogs is a bit of a misleading title. It somewhat suggest that this will be a sci-fi or supernatural book. Even the cover, which I loved and really catches the eye, looks like something from the science fiction genre. However, this has nothing to do with aliens or biotoxic bulldogs. In fact, I’m not at all sure exactly which genre I would place it in. I think it’s aimed at younger teenagers because the main character, Beetle, is in grade eight even though he is two years older than his classmates. But some of the content gave me mixed feelings about which age group I would want reading this book. I don’t mind the subject of wet dreams and such but the description of Beetle’s dreams went a bit too far. Also, there’s a very long section about taking a lie detector test and some of the questions were entirely inappropriate. Bullying and racism is also addressed but in such a way that it was quite uncomfortable to read. As for vocabulary, I’m pretty sure that there are very few young people, or even adults, who would know the meaning of the word micturition. Then again, urinating into Beetle’s mouth was an unnecessary aspect of the bullying storyline, in my opinion.
                In regards to character development, Beetle is quite well developed. I can picture him as your average teenager who is reaching the cusp of becoming an adult but still with the immaturity of a child. It’s everything and everyone surrounding him that leaves a lot to be desired with regards to dimensionality of character. Little facts, lots of them, are just far too unbelievable to be ignored. A limo taking a student to a school so that he can do after school janitorial work? A beating so severe that blood is flowing down a child’s face but minutes later the adults take no notice of anything but the smell of urine and the fact that the child is wet? The writing just didn’t flow like it should and the transition from one scene to another wasn’t smooth and often didn’t make sense.
                On the positive side, I can see this becoming a funny movie aimed at the younger generations. There is lots of humour and some really great parts. It also addresses many of the issues young people face today. If some parts were tweaked just a bit this would be a great book. The bones of a funny and entertaining novel are here, they just need some work.

                I read this in digital format on my ereader and it worked well. The cover, as I previously wrote, is fantastic.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Assignment - Geraldine Solon

           The Assignment is not the average bodice-ripping, flowery romance novel. Rather it is a touching love story that manages to tell the story of not one, but two couples, who battle life issues so that they can be together. The author doesn’t use sex to draw the reader in but instead creates a story that intertwines all of the characters into one story. The two couples, Sophie and Eric, Marina and Yakoda, have parallel love stories although one is set in the 40s during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines and the other one is set in the 80s. The setting for both is very richly written by Ms. Solon and it shows the great knowledge and love for the Filipino culture that she so obviously has. I loved the inside look at the food of this land and how family plays such an important part of their everyday life. I learned more about this world from this book than I ever thought I would learn from reading a romance. There’s also quite a bit written about the political unrest in the Philippines during the 80s. It’s not a historical text by any means but it is quite factual and makes for very interesting reading. It was really nice to read a romance that wasn’t just a load of flowery prose and “fluffy” characters.
                The characters are very well written and each had multifaceted personalities. Marina, for me, was the most interesting and showed the most realism. Her story, set in the 40s, was by far my favourite of the two love stories. The way Marina and Yakoda met and the tragedy of their story really tugs at your heart strings. The beauty of Ms. Solon’s writing really makes the reader experience the fear that Marina and her family must have felt during the occupation and the fact that she still found love is made believable by the author’s talent at story telling.             
                Sophie is the main character and the hinted at secret that is eventually revealed in the end is actually quite easily guessed long before the reveal. There are a few hints throughout the book and I don’t know whether they were planted on purpose or just coincidence but when you look back you realize it was very obvious.
                This is a sweet love story that turned out to be much better than I originally thought. It is a very good way to spend a summer afternoon. The cover is attractive but I have to admit that it was the title that drew me to the book. I read it on my ereader and it formatted well.