Tag Archives: book reviews

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Title: Serafina and the Black Cloak
Author: Robert Beatty
Genre: Children’s fiction, fantasy
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publishing date: July 14th, 2015
ISBN: 9781484709016
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: “Never go into the deep parts of the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul.”
Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of the Biltmore estate.There’s plenty to explore in her grand home, although she must take care to never be seen. When children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows who the culprit is:a terrifying man in a black cloak who stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s identity before all of the children vanish one by one.
Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear. There she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children, Serafina must seek the answers that will unlock the puzzle of her past.

My Review:

This book had a huge marketing hype around it. All the marketing, the intriguing description as well as the book-cover got me very excited about this book.
In many ways this book would be better off had the author invented a fictional family to go with the castle. Instead he chose to go with the family who are historically linked to the estate, and then he throws history all over the place. Of course all historical fiction does fictionalize a lot of things, but their fictional facts should in some fashion be linked to actual historical facts or theories.
The characters were easy to enjoy but they were a little flat. The mysteries are a bit simple and the books targeted audience (8-12 year olds) wouldn’t have much trouble figuring out the mysteries presented in the book. That is everything except Serafina’s own “past” which is barely foreshadowed at all and is just info-dumped on the reader in the end. Though it is pretty clear what she is, or it is very well displayed by the books illustrations, but the whole why and whens are just dropped in the end.
That aside, this is a book that can be enjoyed, particularly by it’s targeted audience, but the hype around it is insanely overplayed. This is a normal mediocre book which could have been much better had the story been a little more complex and with more colorful characters. If the novel had been longer and there had been more space for the character’s to evolve, this would have been a superb book.
By all means, this book turned out to be a huge disappointment.

Se the astonishing book-trailer below (I would watch that movie):

Come Out Tonight

Title: Come Out Tonight
Author: Bonnie Rozanski
Genre:
Publisher: Biting Duck Press
Publishing date: August 3rd, 2015
ISBN: 9781938463228

Publisher Description:: Sherry Pollack is a brilliant scientist working for a high-pressure translational medical research lab, where she has helped bring to market a new sleep aid called Somnolux. All of that is destroyed when she is assaulted and left in a persistent vegetative state. Her loving boyfriend and the detective assigned to the case both struggle to find her assailant and to bring Sherry back.
Their research leads them to an array of unlikely suspects and to increasingly worrying discoveries about Somnolux. The surprise ending may make you wish you could never sleep again.

My Review:

To start of this review I would like to compliment both the writing and the narrative, as they carry the story on in a brisk pace. The story is told in a split narrative between a detective Donna Sirken and Sherry’s boyfriend Henry.
Though the premise of the story is very intriguing and I was very excited to read this particular book it just didn’t do it for me. The story was a little predictable, and the characters just didn’t evoke enough emotion for me to pay attention to them. At certain points on the story the characters had emotional outbursts and internalization of thought, as to reveal certain character traits, but they weren’t done in a very masterful way and instead of enriching the story they made the story feel clipped.
The story is sold as a hard sci-fi, which is another one of the reasons I picked it up. Come Out Tonight is not a hard sci-fi, it lacks a lot on the technological side to qualify as such. It is more of a light Science Fiction thriller, and I think it even could have passed as just a normal Crime/Suspense Thriller.
The book could also have had a more interesting cover. Though I picked this book purely for its premise, I do believe that some people will put this book down purely based on its cover.

The Hollow Moon

Title: The Hollow Moon
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl #3
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Children’s science fiction
Publisher: Aoléon Press
Publishing date: February 8th, 2015
ISBN: 9780986208232

Synopsis: Gilbert finally gets his chance to learn to skyboard. However, things go horribly wrong and they are chased by the Royal Paladin guard.

My Review:

This is the third installment in the book-series, and all though there is much more action in this one I found myself loosing interest. It is a perfectly fine story, but it did no captivate me in any way. The artwork is still fine, and it is a story that promotes a kick-ass female superhero, which is great. The overall story still lacks direction, which is one of the reasons I feel like I’m losing touch with this story. The good thing about this story is the characters, it is easy to care and fear for them. Another positive thing is that the speed picked up, and the story unfolds faster than in the previous one. There are two more books in the series and I hope the last two books will provide more sense of purpose.

Author info:

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys.
He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel.
He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Warning Cry

Title: Warning Cry
Series: Guardians of the Wild #2
Author: Kris Humphrey
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Publishing date: July 6th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1847156051
Purchase Link:

Synopsis: When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild.

My Review:

I did read the first book in this series and it was not my favorite book, but I decided to go ahead and give the second book a try, as it might grow on me. It didn’t. There are too many unanswered questions from book one and they continue into book two without any offer of any explanations. As one book in a series it is to be expected that there have to be some open treads for future installments to carry on from, but this book/series just leave too many of them. Somehow it makes the story float all over the place and I, as a reader, have no sense of progress and no sense of direction. A good book leads the reader on the way to the answer, a great book tricks the reader and leave in a few lies, this book just throws out a million questions and offer no explanations.
To look at the positive side of things I want to say that the pace of the story and the narration is intriguing, it does offer the reader some sort of comfort and familiarity. The cover is gorgeous, and for younger readers I think this chaotic book might just work, it just didn’t work for me.

The Luminess of Mars

Title: The Luminess of Mars
Series: Aoleon The Martian Girl #2
Author: Brent LeVasseur
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher:  Aoléon Pres
Publishing date: February 23rd 2015
ASIN: B00S70U8NE

Synopsis: Gilbert gets to visit the Martian Space Academy (Aoléon’s school) where he encounters Aoléon’s nemesis, Charm Lepton and her friend Quarkina, as well as receiving a history lesson on the Martian people by Plutarch Xenocrates.

My Review:

The book is fast paced and full of adventure just like the previous one. The author has successfully created a resourceful and high energy superhero. For the most part the writing is to the point, but sometimes it seems like the plot loses its grasp on the story and it sort of waddle around, and at some points I think it would have done better with stronger editing.
The graphics are still fun, but I still think they speak more to the younger part of Middle Grade readers rather than the older part. The graphics follow the style of most modern cartoon shows for children.
One thing I really dislike about this series is its clunky and awkward title format. The title format makes it hard to distinguish each volume from the other, and I think it would have benefited from sticking with a traditional graphic novel format or just given each installment a title and call it a series like all other books.

To end the review on a positive note I did enjoy the story for what it was, and I think the writing will be engaging for children who are just starting to read on their own.

Author Bio

Mr. LeVasseur enjoys crafting good stories based on lovable characters designed to translate well to multiple media formats such as books, games, movies, and toys. He lives in New York when he is not commuting between Southern California and Olympus Mons, Mars. His hobbies include writing, 3D animation, musical composition, and intergalactic space travel. He also enjoys various sports such as skiing, running, and exospheric skydiving.

Connect with Brent:   Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Aoléon: The Martian Girl

A brush with Danger

Title: A Brush with Danger
Author: Adam Frost
Genre: Children’s fiction
Publisher: Little Tiger Group Stripes Publishing
Publishing date: 6th July, 2015
ISBN: 9781847156167

Synopsis:Solving Crime in Record Time! A priceless painting, a mysterious letter, a piece of cheese so stinky it’s deadly… From the art galleries of Paris to the palaces of Moscow, detective Wily Fox is on the trail of Dimitri Gottabottomitch. But the brown bear is doing whatever he can to throw Wily off the scent. Can Wily solve the case of the priceless painting or will he be the victim of an art attack?

My Review:

This is a children’s book that’s party illustrated. It has large text which makes it easy to read. The story is interesting and engaging, and not too scary. The pace is quick so the reader won’t get bored, and it follows the main plot closely.
The story is relatable and the story is very suitable for any gender. Also it would be the ideal book for the young readers to read on their own.

The Designed

Title: The Designed
Series: The Designed Series #1
Author: Kate Tailor
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: BookBaby
Publishing date: January 26th, 2015
ISBN: 9781483548838
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: What if the next new drug was you? Raleigh’s body produces a drug that could define the future of medicine if the dangerous world surrounding it doesn’t kill her first.
Eighteen-year old Raleigh Groves can sense disease in others and is suffering from her own unexplained illness as well. After years and dozens of doctor visits, she has given up hope of ever finding a cure, let alone a diagnosis. Then she meets a man who explains that her talent and curse are linked. Her body produces a drug, Lucidin, which allows her to sense others. She’s rare, and the drug she makes is coveted.
Rho has spent the last few years on the run. The Lucidin that is racing through his system makes him a target. Surrounded by addicts and dealers on one side and scientists and doctors on the other, he has to rely on his wits and his team to stay one step ahead. So far he has stayed afloat, but some of his brothers haven’t been as lucky.
As Rho and Raleigh collide they must face the perilous world of Lucidin together. Nothing is black-and-white and Raleigh must decide where her alliances lie. Sometimes the hardest heart to sense is your own.

My Review:

The Designed is a very well written indie book. It got a lot of tension, the author knows to pace her characters and the events. The story is intriguing and drives the reader forward, it is a book you can easily read in one sitting.
Like any other work of art The Designed does have it’s problems and one of the main problems with this book is the story of Rho. His story line is very intriguing, but it raises too many questions, questions which are left unanswered. This is the first book in a series, but I am a firm believer that every “first book” in a series should house enough qualities to stand as a stand alone book (in case you have no interest in continue reading the series). At that book this book failed, as it ended on a cliffhanger, and not only a cliffhanger but a massive one
That aside, this books has enough good points; exceptional writing, leveled characters, multiple layers and a good story. This is a book which is well worth reading.

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Abomination

Title: Abomination
Author:  Gary Whitta
Genre: Historical Horror/Fantasy (?)
Publisher: Inkshares
Publishing date: July 30th, 2015
ISBN: 9781941758335
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: ENGLAND, 888 A.D. As King Alfred the Great struggles to defend his realm from hordes of Viking invaders, the Archbishop of Canterbury stumbles upon an ancient secret — dark magic that could turn the tide of the war in England’s favor. But when exposure to the magic corrupts the Archbishop, Alfred commands his greatest Knight, Sir Wulfric, to hunt the mad priest down. One final campaign for Wulfric, and one that brings with it disastrous consequences…

My Review:

Gary Whitta is no doubt a terrific screenwriter, there is no doubt in that. With Abomination he tries his hands on fiction writing, and his book’s premise is intriguing and original. It was with great excitement started reading his book, and after a few chapters I found myself wishing he had just written a screen play for a movie or a TV-series.
The story is well told, apart from many striking historical inaccuracies. The inaccuracies can be dealt with as a part of the premise is that historians did cover up what really went down.  The writing-style is simple and straight forward, and too much so. To me this book reads much more like a screenplay than a piece of fiction. There is too much telling, and not enough showing. The reader is never challenged to think on his or her own, it’s just simply too simple.
The characters are interesting but not too complex, and I am not quite sure if this is intended to be a teen/YA-book or a book intended for adults, the writing style and word choices indicate the former.
The story has such promise and the blurb felt like a fresh breath, though the reading experience would have been greater if the author expected more from his readers.

Pegasi & Prefects

Title:  Pegasi & Prefects
Series: Scholars and Sorcery #1)
Author: Eleanor Beresford
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: KoR Cubed
Publishing date: January 10th, 2015
ISBN: B00R7MZOJQ
Purchase Link:Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: Charley’s final year at Fernleigh Manor is complicated by a runaway pegasus, unwanted Games Captainship, a dangerous new rival and, most of all, falling head over heels in love with another girl. What is a reluctant Senior Prefect to do?
A magical YA school story with a sapphic twist, the first in the Scholars and Sorcery series of lesbian YA fantasies.

My Review:

First off I don’t understand the need to label every books featuring a gay characters as a LGBT (or GLBT). We should stop alienate these kind of books if we really want equality.
The book however, felt a little like starting in the middle of a series that somehow tries to be Harry Potter just with a all-girl school. The writing style was elegant, but the story just felt too plain and simplistic. It starts off with the main character as a graduate student, and her breaking school rules. The concept of the whole world did just not agree with me, I felt like I was questioning everything. Eg. why would the school permit students to bring their Pegasuses with them, and then deny them to go to the stable and see them etc. I’m not too familiar with the boarding school concept in general, but it just felt like it went back to centuries and I did not grasp what and where this world is.
On a positive note, I did really like the cover.

The Faerie Tree

Title: The Faerie Tree
Author: Jane Cable
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance
Publisher: Matador
Publishing date: April 28th, 2015
ISBN: 9781784622220
Purchase Link: Amazon.co.uk

Synopsis: In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.
In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

My Review:

This was a book I was excited to read, mostly because the description said that the author was heavily influenced by paganism. However the element of paganism is somewhat lacking in the book, there is some of it but nowhere near as much as I was expecting when I read about it.
It is a typical “second chance” love-story, and it did not intrigue me as much as I would have liked. Though it is sweet and sad, it failed to engage my interest. In the end I just skimmed through the pages.