Monday, 6 November 2017

Mjolnir - Brian James

                Mjolnir is an amusing and interesting look at what would happen if the Norse gods and goddesses lived on Earth during modern times and tried to blend in with the human population. Although they believe they are successful at covering up whom they really are, they still have the traits that make them beings of mythology. Huge egos, a need to rule over others and a great distaste for the human population are all things that make them stand out from everybody else. Luckily, mankind’s disbelief in the reality of the gods’ existence means that nobody has caught on to their true identity. Slip ups, such as Freya ripping a man’s heart out and leaving it on the car seat beside him, should be a sign for the people around the mythical beings but nothing seems to raise any questions.
                The book starts with an explanation about the nine dimensions that hang like apples from the branches of a giant ash tree which is the root of all existence. It’s a bit bogged down and, to be honest, I almost closed the book because it was a bit boring. I am very happy that I didn’t stop reading because once I made it through this short section, the book turns into a wickedly amusing take on how the gods would fit into society and, eventually, choose sides in a battle for power between Odin and Loki. The author has given each god and goddess a modern day life that fits their personality and he does it well. Thor is a football player, Freya is an exotic dancer, Odin is a powerful billionaire, and so on. The writing is slick and witty with a pace that will keep a reader turning the pages. Every time I thought I knew who was playing for whose side, the narcissism of the gods would cause them to jump ship to the other god’s army, depending who seemed to be winning. Mr. James obviously has extensive knowledge about the Norse mythology because his writing is very descriptive and informative throughout the book. The characters are all well developed, even the humans, and he’s really brought them to life. There is violence and one part in particular, involving a brutal rape, may not be to everyone’s liking but it is just a story and meant to be entertaining and not a statement about how women are treated. This is a great read for anyone looking for a funny satire about how gods and goddesses would survive in our already ego driven society.
                I read this in digital format and it translated to my ereader well. The cover is attractive with the title in a font that grabs the eye.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Out of the Shadows - Ashlee Nicole Bye

                                Out of the Shadows is a supernatural/fantasy novel aimed at young adults and older. Before reading this book, I read the reviews which mentioned that Ms. Bye wrote a lot like the fantastic YA author Cassandra Clare. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this comparison rang true. Ms. Bye has created an amazingly entertaining fantasy world called the Shadowlands. The many different species of creatures that live there (dragons, faeries, brownies, Reapers, etc.) can travel into our world via the shadows. They exist among mortals by using glamour that hides their true look except for those that were once human and don’t need to hide their true selves, such as Reapers. The story revolves around a young human female, Sachi, whose best friend Gabe is murdered while out with her one night. More people are suspiciously slashed to death which leaves citizens believing there is a serial killer lurking the in the shadows. Julian and Moss, two Reapers, suspect something else is going on. They also suspect that Sachi is right in the middle of it, considering that she was the person who was supposed to die the night of Gabe’s death instead of him.
                Out of the Shadows is everything that young adults look for in books these days. Due to short chapters, lots of pop culture references and a sharp wit, this book is a fast paced and entertaining read. The characters are very well written, each with his or her own distinct traits that make them interesting and memorable. One of the small details that added to the humour of the book is the titles of the chapters. I’m not usually someone who really pays attention to chapter titles and I usually find them to be a needless waste of text. However, with titles such as “A Knee to the Groin is Always a Safe Bet” from Chapter Nine and “A Dead Girl Walking.AndTalking.And Breathing” from Chapter Twenty-two, I really enjoyed them in this book. The only thing that occasionally interrupted the flow of the story was the constant references to pop culture but I’m sure this wouldn’t bother younger readers at all.
                This is the first book in a series and it ends with a bit of a teaser about the upcoming story as it continues, which seems like it will be another great read.
                I read this in digital format and it translated to my ereader well. The cover is attractive but I’m not sure how eye-catching it will be for YAs.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Nataliee's Alien Nightmare - Markus Fredericks

                Nataliee’s Alien Nightmare: The War Eagle Abductions is a fact based science fiction novel written by science fiction author Markus Fredericks and Bob De Long, a gentleman who is considered an expert in the field of UFOs. This book is the first in a series about the main character, Nataliee, and her experiences with the Greys which starts with her abduction on her prom night. She finds herself in an alien laboratory that’s hidden in a mountainside cave where there are other young women who have been captured. The aliens want to study the women’s eggs and extract them every month in a torturous method. The Greys also get their nutrition from melted humans when they “bath” in them. Yuck! Nataliee escapes and vows to bring people back to rescue the others.
                I’m conflicted as to my thoughts on this book. On the one hand, I found it to be a fun read. There’s lots of humour and a slap stick type of comedy. The pace is fairly fast and there’s lots of action. It’s an easy read that young adults would enjoy as much as older readers. The problem is that I’m not sure if the authors meant for the book to be a spoof of alien abduction books but that’s how I see it. If this book were a movie, it would be one of those hokey comedies that are so stupidly funny that you can’t help but laugh at it. The book starts with two bumbling cops who reminded me of Barney Fife. They refer to a mental hospital as a nut house as well as a plethora of other things that make their professionalism questionable. Actually, all of the characters and their dialogue and actions aren’t very believable. It almost seems like the authors were trying too hard for a small town feel and it ends up distracting from the actual story. I like a book to have dialogue that fits the characters and is something that I could imagine happening in real life, no matter what the genre. That being said, I still enjoyed the book because it was a funny and light read. I can’t say that my belief in aliens has changed one way or the other but I did enjoy the book and found it to be an amusing read.
                I loved the cover and it did draw my eye. I read the digital version and it translated well to my ereader.

First Friday - Tory Hartmann

                The first reason that I chose this book to read was the cover. Something about it drew my eye and I’m not sure why because there isn’t really anything special about it. Maybe it was the contrast of colors but once I picked it up I saw that the story was a combination of two of my favourite things: the Irish and a mystery. How could I possibly go wrong with reading this book? Happily, I made a good choice.
                Agnes, or Anne as she would like to be called, is on the cusp of big changes in her life. She finally has her real estate licence, is thinking of moving out of her parents’ house, and is going to have plastic surgery in hopes of making herself beautiful. However, there’s a secret in her past that involves her brother –in-law, Bruno, and it threatens to cause her all sorts of trouble.
                The book starts out being quite funny as it takes a look at life inside a strict Irish-Catholic home where the Virgin Mary is worshiped to such a degree that her pictures are everywhere in the house and Anne’s mother makes her likeness (among other biblical beings) out of pancake batter every morning. Anne’s father treats Anne like a little girl who will never do anything but work in his office and will never be as pretty as her sisters. The back and forth dialogue between some of the characters often involves an Irish dialect which can be a little hard to read but once you get the rhythm of it, the dialogue flows nicely and it really adds to the whole atmosphere of the book. For a while I wondered when the mystery would come in but it’s so slowly revealed and, may I say, slyly done by the author, that all of a sudden I found myself feeling like a light bulb flashed on when I finally figured out what the mystery was in the story. From that point on, I was completely involved with the events that were unfolding and couldn’t put the book down. The pace starts slow but speeds up, all the while maintaining its’ humorous aspects. It does grow dark and a bit disturbing in a way but the author combines the humour and the mystery very well. The characters are well written and believable although it often felt like the book took place in the 1950s or 60s as opposed to current day. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Tory Hartmann.
 I read this in digital form on my ereader and it formatted well.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wizard's Key - Mitch Reinhardt

                Wizard’s Key is the first book in an exciting new young adult series called the Dark Wolf Saga. I’m always on the lookout for things that will entice non-readers to want to pick a book up and I think this book will do the job.
                The story centers around three teens: Jane, a popular and inquisitive young lady; Geoff, small for his age and very intelligent but bullied; and Sawyer, popular and a jock who bullies Geoff. Geoff’s father deals with interesting old artifacts and when Geoff finds a strange key he ends up falling through an archway, dragging Sawyer and Jane with him. They fall into a strange and magical land where river trolls and ogres hunt humans and a mysterious elven druid named Ariel rules over the forest. Ariel believes there is something special about the three teenagers and tries to help them, albeit grudgingly, and teach them some of the ways of the new land, including magic. Unfortunately, there is also a huge werewolf after them who also knows that there is something different about the kids.
                I loved this book and found it to be an easy and entertaining read. The characters are well written and the three teenagers in particular are realistic and credible. Often, teens aren’t written as they really are and are often portrayed as either too childish or too adult-like. Teenage readers will pick up on any glitches in a teenage character quicker than anyone and in this case, I think they will be satisfied with how believable Jane, Geoff and Sawyer are written. The magical world created by Mr. Reinhardt is excellent and as you read along, it is easy to picture the story unfold and imagine in your head the beautiful unicorn, the stinking orcs, and all of the other creatures. Both genders will enjoy this book because there is a little bit of everything thrown into the mix. There’s action, adventure, mystery, magic and humour. It’s the type of book that I can really see being made into a movie.
                Mr. Reinhardt did an excellent job with writing Wizard’s Key and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.  I read this book in digital form and it formatted to my ereader perfectly. The cover is great and pertains to the story well.