Review: Anthony Horowitz – Crocodile Tears

Crocodile Tears
Anthony Horowitz

Genetically changed crops are the next stage in feeding the world. But of course, they can also be the source of a plague. Alex Rider is pitted against someone that isn’t even the obvious threat. It’ll take his wits (as usual) to get out of it…

6566616This novel gets off to a roaring start with a party and a road accident. Things seem to go back to normal then, but of course, Alex is in the middle of something before he even notices. Alex never learns. He just can’t help himself, and so he gets into trouble, and he doesn’t know if he’ll survive. But he just has to do it! MI6 chose the right person for the job.

I find myself frustrated by the usual formula of needing to use every gadget you are given! It means that I knew how things would work out. But then again, I love gadgets, and I would have been happy to see a bunch more of them! Gadgets are way more exciting than guns.

The blurb says that this is ‘his most dangerous adversary yet’, but I don’t think it is. All of the villains get a bit same-y eventually. Their motives are usually power, or money. And they all feel the need to brag about their plans! And pretend that it’s cool that it’s a 14 year old in front of them, a bright one, but still too young to make any sort of sense of most of the stuff.

It had been a while since I read the other novels in this series, but it honestly didn’t matter. This book is a stand-alone, any extra information you might need is briefed by one of the other characters. 3-4 stars from me, simply because it wasn’t that absorbing. I got it as a talking book to listen to while I worked, and it made a lovely distraction.


Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Brandon Sanderson – Warbreaker

Brandon Sanderson

Two princesses with hair that changes colour with their moods are let loose into the colourful capital of Hallandren – where one thrives and the other suffers. Naturally enough, the one that is suffering thinks that the one that is ‘thriving’ must be faking it! But as it is revealed, they aren’t the same people at all. With a war threatening, one is completely unaware of the war, and the other is unaware what she is doing. The God King could make a difference, but he is silent…

1268479Sometimes it feels like someone who didn’t read the novel wrote the blurb. Breath isn’t focussed by colour! It lets you see all the beautiful colours that are present. And with that note, and other great thing about Sanderson novels is that at the back, there is usually an explanation of the unique magic system he has come up with.

So this magic system is where every person in the world has ‘Breath’. Just one. Unless they sell it (becoming dull), or gain more than one. People with more Breath are more powerful, and it’s obvious to others because the colours brighten around them. The Breath can be used for protection, or for offence. And for the pantheon, it is what keeps them alive.

The characters. Well, it’s told from different perspectives, which actually worked quite well for me, but then I can forgive Sanderson almost anything. I’m not sure I was given enough information to really work out the plot for myself, an insight into the opposing ‘team’ with another perspective might have been good, but there was plenty packed in.

While browsing my bookshelf and lamenting that I didn’t have any of the other books I was currently reading at home, this one jumped out at me. I was pretty much immobile at that point (motorbike accident) and so I wanted something that was going to absorb me. Imagine me leaning on the furniture getting around the house, but with this book in one hand as well!

4 stars from me. This book actually sat on my shelf for at least a year before I read it. It’s an ex-library copy, and I’m pretty sure it cost me a grand total of 50c. That makes it an absolute bargain for the hours of interest I got out of it.


Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Eric Bishop-Potter – Jimmy, Mrs Fisher and Me

Jimmy, Mrs Fisher and Me
Eric Bishop-Potter

Simon is a young man on the crux of adulthood, faced with the fact that his half-brother is going blind. Simon loves Jimmy in a unique way, and he shows that love in a unique manner. Simon wants to take Jimmy to see the Grand Canyon (a big step for someone living in London) and there are few ways he can make enough money to do that. This novel asks what you would be willing to do for someone you love – can you expose yourself and turn tricks?

12476474I don’t always identify with a gay male main character, but in this case I did. I couldn’t see anything wrong with his obsession with his penis, and it came across as a natural part of his character. I even tolerated quite well his rather strange way of thinking.

This book struck me as amazing, and I wasn’t even in a chapter before I emailed the author to tell him it was fantastic. But the problem was eventually that the end of the novel was already given away by reading the blurb! I hardly felt a moment of suspense when I should have been anxious.

The author said that there weren’t any gratuitous sex scenes, which almost seemed impossible. but it was just as he said! The sex scenes really fit in with the character, and I wasn’t disgusted reading them. And true to his word, they had plenty of humour and Simon’s narration was just perfect.

Finally, I could literally see the characters coming out of the pages. The scenery was the least important thing, the characters were what made it work. I could see Jimmy in his dancing gear, and Simon in his YaYa shirt. Not to mention the old lady in the kitchen! All of them got some back story, but I could have happily read more.

I wouldn’t call this a reread, but I’m going to give it 4 stars, and strongly suggest to the author that he change the blurb!


Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Eliot Treichel – A Series of Small Manoeuvres

A Series of Small Manoeuvres
Eliot Treichel

Out on a camping trip, 15 year old Emma inadvertently causes her father’s death. Swapping between the days preceding and then following the accident, this novel depicts how life can change rapidly around death and how one girl survives the rapids to the other side.

25408142This novel doesn’t have an ending. Sure, the novel ends, but you are left not knowing all the answers. But that’s ok! I didn’t mind that I didn’t have all the answers, because it allowed me to really delve into the text, and come to my own conclusions. Enough had been said that I was satisfied.

What was refreshing about this novel was that Emma didn’t need a love interest or a best friend to get out of her trauma. It’s a more relatable picture of grief, and so so realistic. Not everyone has a soul mate waiting to pick them up! Emma has to deal with things by herself, and through that come to realisations about life.

The swapping between the time periods could have been confusing, but Treichel made the time periods so obvious, even a serial chapter heading ignorer like me could manage. It was obvious that she survived anyway, so it’s not like that was a giveaway. The hints at the future from the authorial voice worked for me.

So what about the world-building? Well, I think the camping scenario got plenty of air-time, but the outside world was dim in comparison. Again, that seemed to reflect the way Emma and her dad thought about the world – everything is deeper and more colourful in the bush. The other characters? I would have loved to hear more about Peg, and really very few other characters got a full space of description. They weren’t the point of the novel though, so I wasn’t worried.

The more I think about this novel, the more stars I want to give it. Unfortunately, for me, it’s no longer a reread (a bit outside my age group perhaps?). But I do think it has a lot to offer. 4 very strong stars from me, and a wish I could give it 4.5 stars.


Thanks to the lovely people at Ooligan Press for sending me a review copy of this novel. They publish great things!

Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Interview with Eliot Treichel


An Interview with Eliot Treichel, author of A Series of Small Maneuvers

– So I’ve read A Series of Small Maneuvers. I guess I should ask you about it, but I’d rather have you give me a reason for why I read your other novels?

A Series of Small Maneuvers is my first novel. My first book was a collection of short stories called Close Is Fine. Those stories are all set in rural Northern Wisconsin, which is where I grew up, and the book received the Wisconsin Library Association Literary Award. Some have labeled the stories as Midwestern Gothic. They’re mostly about broken men who are trying to find redemption in one way or another. The men often fail, but they keep trying.

– You certainly don’t want your readers to be comfortable! What is going to make this novel different from all the others I have read in YA? River rats sound promising 😉

This is a novel about rivers, grief, and family. Part of what might separate it for other YA novels is the whitewater canoeing and kayaking aspects—the “river rats,” as you mentioned. But, more than that, what early readers have told me is that they find Emma a compelling and authentic character, and that they appreciate how the adults in the book are written as three-dimensional, real people. And while I didn’t first set out to write a book about grief, that’s what came out. This is not a romance-driven YA book, but instead an open and honest look at loss, and it offers no easy resolutions. It doesn’t talk down to teens.

– I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels for specific novels? 

I might write about Emma again, because I think she has more to say to the world, but I don’t know if it will be as a sequel to this book.

– There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?

Right now, I’m working on another YA novel as well as some short stories. The novel doesn’t have a title yet, and it’s all still very nebulous. I recently told someone that it was going to be a YA stoner rom-com that will make you laugh so hard you cry and cry so hard you laugh. We’ll see. The book you think you are going to write and the book you actually end up writing are usually very different.

– Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!

All writing should sit in a drawer for as long as possible. I’ll just say that I wrote the first draft of the first story in Close is Fine fifteen years before it was published in the book. I doubt I still have that draft anywhere. A Series of Small Maneuvers took about four years, with lots of drawer time in between each draft.

– Once you have the idea for a story, how do you write it? Do you have any specific routines or rituals you go through?

I tend to write from beginning to end, a draft at a time. In general, I find revision much more enjoyable than first drafts. If I’m stuck, I will sometimes just write a scene that I find compelling in some way and then worry about whether it fits later. As far as rituals and routines go, unless it’s late at night, there’s usually a cup of coffee nearby.

– Do you have a dedicated writing space? Do you have colourful post-it notes on the walls? How does it meet your writing needs?

I have an office at home. Currently, there are three poster-sized Post-its on the wall with notes and ideas and a character list from the novel I’m working on. Other times, I’ll write at the kitchen table, or on the couch, or outside. I think it’s good to mix it up. Mostly what I need from a writing space is utter quiet. Right now, my neighbors on one side of my house are in a death metal band, so sometimes finding that quiet can be hard.

– How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself? 

It’s mostly intuition. You go through each draft and interrogate each line. When there’s nothing left to interrogate, you’re probably done.

– Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

I like paper books. I don’t even own any kind of e-reader. But to each their own. I’m happy to share my work in either format.

– Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?

Right now, my social media presence is limited to Twitter (@eliottreichel). I also have my website: I don’t foresee that changing much. I purposefully left Facebook more than a year ago. I reject the premise that an author has to have a big social media presence to be successful. And I reject the premise that you have to have a social media presence or you’ll be missing out from something. Life is way more interesting offline, whatever your brand.

– Finally, it looks like you are just getting into answering interview questions. Although I might not have the space here to ask you a lot more questions, is there something you wish I had asked? Or conversely, something you wish I hadn’t asked?

I’ll just use this space to say thank you for your interest in my book, and for giving me the opportunity to share some of my thoughts about writing. I hope your readers will enjoy the book, too. One cool question would’ve been, “Do you want a free plane ticket to Australia?” I definitely would’ve answered, “Yes!”

Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Andrew J. Peters – The Seventh Pleiade

The Seventh Pleiade
Andrew J. Peters

Atlantis is real, and it contains a sixteen-year-old Aerander who is not sure what sort of romances are normal. As he struggles with his sexuality and the expectations of his partners, there is a deeper plot going on. When his old best friend disappears, he feels obligated to find him and save his family’s honour.

17290841For a novel that I thought would fit firmly inside my interest range – a guarenttee of a good read with a queer main character and Greek mythology, this was a bit of a fail for me. I just couldn’t get to like any of the characters, and Aerander was just so STUPID.

The surprise ending could have worked for me, but the problem was that I didn’t get enough clues as I was going along in order to work it out for myself, and that’s something I really like to have. But then again, the other revelation that Aerander makes isn’t that interesting either, and he’s just so stupid! Aerander trusts everyone. For someone who I thought would be relatively bright, he was about as dense as two bricks. Every idea I had, it took him at least 2 pages to work it out.

This is not the only novel I have read recently with someone with their tongue torn out. I was thinking it would gross me out a bit, but it didn’t. Although I couldn’t really understand why the character in this book still wanted to keep living… I would have fled the minute I worked out what going on!

Some of the world building in this was breathtaking. I could absolutely see the hole in the ground, and the under-world – but I had no idea what the rest of the world looked like, and I didn’t take away a clear picture of the main characters either.

The ending. Hmm. It was a bit, unfinished for me, which is something I always hate. It was a good enough ending, but I really wanted to know what happened in the long term. How can a bunch of men possibly manage anything useful together? Adolescent males in particular are really stupid! (Sorry, sick of ‘feminists’ at the moment, but reading a lot of articles about them being idiots too has affected my feelings). How long can they realistically survive, and what is the point of it when they pretty much can’t reproduce?

Look, I’m aware this isn’t a very positive review from me, but I’m still going to give 3 stars. I think for a less exacting audience, it might be perfect, and perhaps I’m just the wrong person to read it. A young gay male might connect with Aerander more, and that would make the book work for them.

Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Richelle Mead – Soundless

Richelle Mead

Fei and her village are deaf, and now are becoming blind. With the levels of food dropping, all the artists are allowed only to continue to paint the scenes of life. Fei longs to draw other things, but with her own work and her sister’s to do, she must

24751478What I liked about this novel was that magic didn’t seem to be a big part of the world, until it suddenly was. It was more about what real people could do when faced with difficult conditions, and what would cause a tipping point between fear and retaliation.

I loved that the storyline required me to pay attention. Not only were the world details beautifully realised, I could see each of the characters in their worn clothing. And around that, I still had to concentrate on the storyline – which kept me reaching for the novel after lights-out. Despite there being a beinga ‘love story’ running through this, it isn’t annoying or cloying and it doesn’t get in the way of the storyline.

Although Fei is always professing love for her sister, I’m not sure that I got a real sense of that. Yes, her sister gave her reasons to change things, but I think that inside Fei felt like she had to do something too. I’m not complaining exactly, but I just wanted more ‘feelings’ and to empathise with Fei more.

This novel reflects on modern society if you look for it. Although we might think of mining as ‘only’ being a dirty job now, the reality is that in poorer developing countries, people are still being treated like Fei’s village.


Considering that the author wrote two vampire series that I’m not interested in, I was a little afraid about the quality of this work. Not only was I pleasantly surprised, I might even consider reading other things – just anything but vampires!


Thanks to Penguin Random House for my free review copy!

Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Interview with Andrew C. Branham

71CyR95rlCL._UX250_An interview with Andrew C. Branham, author of ‘Anything for Amelia


I love first-hand accounts, and its what normally draws me to non-fiction. The fact that this is ‘feel-good’ doesn’t seem to fit with what the blurb says about your difficulties! Why did you decide to write the book?

I believe the ‘feel good’ was referring to the end result which was Amelia being adopted by DJ and I. I agree with you, however, that those
may not be the best choices of words. Our adoption process lasted 206 days. How do I know that exact number? Because every day was the most stressful day of my life. Because of the stress, I needed to find some way to vent. For me, writing at the end of each day was therapeutic and allowed the stress to escape my bo
dy. I never intended to write a book until, one day, I started reading through the journal and thought, “Wow, this is not only an interesting story, but we can help so many other people with their adoptions.”  The topics in the book are very touchy. The ‘dark side’ of adoption has honestly never been discussed. I wanted people to know the full truth behind adoption in the hopes they fewer people would be taken advantage of. Also, seeing how badly Sandi treated her own kids, we wanted to do something to help all the foster care children in the United States. To do that, I am donating 20% of my profits from the book to the U.S. foster care system.

Andrew, you’re officially the author of this novel. How did DJ feel about the project?

DJ refuses to read the book because we both suffer from a form of PTSD as a result of our 206 day journey. For me, writing was an outlet but for DJ, he cannot bring himself to relive the events again. To him, reading the book would bring back memories that he does not want to relive in any way. He is proud of me for writing the book and is hopeful that it will help other adoptive couples to be more prepared. The other families that adopted from “Sandi” are also unable to bring themselves to read it.  

There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write if the author writes fiction… Do you have another novel waiting to come out?

Funny you should ask that.  My second book is done and it is actually a fiction novel. It is currently being edited for a release next summer. It is an apocalyptic story of a family’s struggle to survive in a world where the Earth has been exhausted of 95% of the fresh water. Many people have asked me to write a sequel to, Anything for Amelia. I will not rule that out, but thankfully we do not have much of a story to tell. Our life is pretty normal now and we are just happy being Dads. As it stands right now, a sequel would be very boring.

Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?

During the adoption it was the hotel room every night. I would come back so stressed out and so angry that I would type for hours and not even realize how long I had been working. Now, I try to write outside. If I am out in nature, my writing is at its best. We own 40 acres of woods so it is very easy for me to get outside to write.

I can’t wait to get stuck in reading the book. I can’t imagine what the shenanigans that Sandi does might be, but I dread finding out. Should I be worried?

Honestly, even reading the book will not even bring you close to the intentional torture that Sandi put us through every single day for 206 days. The best writer in the world would struggle to put into words what she did to us. If anything the book is very understated. The only other people in the world that can relate to our experience are the other two families that adopted from her. She was just as bad to them as she was us (maybe worse).

As a gay woman, this book was one I never would have passed up. While my partner and I haven’t looked into adoption seriously, its something we might do eventually. Do you think anything about the system will improve?

It is our hope that this book will bring some of the issues to the forefront. 99% of the adoption laws are in place to protect the birth mother. While I agree that these laws are necessary, there are simply far too many loopholes. They need to be fixed and I hope our story gets enough attention so that the word gets out. Otherwise, nothing will change. Many have suggested that it should be a Lifetime movie. My agent is looking into that as we speak. If that were to happen, I think the laws would have to be fixed due to the publicity. If nothing else, there needs to be a dollar limit on how much money a birth mother could get (a cap).  I hope the system improves and I really hope you two adopt.  Having a child is the best gift you will ever receive. 

I feel like many of the questions I want to ask now will be answered when I read the book, when it finally gets to Australia. Do you think that it’s going to be relevant to me despite being in another country?

Absolutely. I have had so many adoptive parents email me from all over the world. While they did not have extreme experiences like we did, we have had many tell us about the abuse of the system. No matter where you live, there are always both good and bad people. 

Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.

I have a Kindle but I much prefer paper books. I feel the reader connects much more with the book in the paper format but that is just an opinion. 

Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your book?

Social media is pretty much paramount to the success of any book now. I find it difficult to keep up because writing is not my day job. To be successful, most authors will have to have a huge social media presence on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, and even Tumblr.  Social media allows you to really connect with your readers. I answer every email I receive and I always intend to that.

Finally, it looks like you are just getting into answering interview questions. Although I might not have the space here to ask you a lot more questions, is there something you wish I had asked? Or conversely, something you wish I hadn’t asked?

I wish more people would ask me how I feel about not being able to save Sandi’s three kids. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being able to save them despite trying. As far as I know, they are still living in squalor, they are still being abused, and they are still not receiving an education. Even worse, they are still not being loved.  I promised myself and those children that I would help them and I failed. I tried many times to get CPS to get involved but Sandi found a way to even manipulate them. I still have nightmares and dreams about those three precious kids. I am not giving up on helping them but I feel my options are very limited. I also feel very bad for Doug and the life he has lived.

Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit

Review: Christopher Mannino – School of Deaths

School of Deaths: The Scythe
Christopher Mannino

Suzie always thought that a Grim Reaper was just a story tale, left over from the Middle Ages. When she finds herself wasting away in the human world, she doesn’t know what to do next. When she finds herself in the Land of Deaths she is determined to get home as soon as possible, but that soon changes.

21798470The blurb left me a bit wanting. It basically promised me more than it could offer. The concept was good, but the classes just didn’t live up to expectations. Actually, it reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, except that there wasn’t any real bad guys. Just distant dragons, and the fact that ‘Mentals were treated badly.

Suzie is not particularly bright, as far as I can tell. She frustrated me with her naivety and inability to deal with people. And the romance that eventually happened? Sigh. I just couldn’t love it. I wasn’t convinced. Maybe because her character sometimes came across as very young, and sometimes came across as a teenager.

A million years is a long time… And something about that says to me that Deaths shouldn’t just ferry human souls. We’ve been around as ‘humans’ for around 6 million years. But I suppose the whole concept of this novel steps away from what is possible, so that should be ok…

I didn’t understand the motivations of many characters. In fact, I didn’t understand the big deal about there being a female Death, except that apparently all female Deaths are bad! Or maybe it is just adapting to it. Seriously guys, get over it. I know you aren’t all from the 21st century, but surely you aren’t all bastards?

I read this in one sitting. I always find that ebooks leave me unhappy and not feeling like I’ve really read something with substance. As interesting as the concept of this novel was, I just didn’t feel like it was executed well enough for me to give 4 stars. 3 stars from me. I have hopes for the sequel, but I’m not sure I’ll be volunteering to read it.


I received this novel as part of a tour.


Sharing is Caring :)Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Reddit