Mini Reviews: Agatha + Cyanide + Ida + Mr. Stuffins

The Secret Of Chimneys & Murder In Mesopotamia by François Rivière (Adapter), Laurence Suhner (Illustrator), Agatha Christie (Author).

I haven’t read either of these Christie stories in their original form. But as a regular reader of a variety of graphic novels, I think they’ve done a fantastic job adapting these stories for the graphic genre. Both were entertaining murder mysteries. And both were quick reads that followed well. 

The Secret of Chimneys: A story of royal impersonation, jewel thievery and murder.
Murder in Mesopotamia: A story of torment, revenge and murder.
I am going to get my hands on more of these Christie adaptations, asap.

22885419Cyanide and Happiness: Punching Zoo by Kris Wilson, Rob DenBleyker, Matt Melvin & Dave McElfatrick.

I found I had read a few of the comic strips before, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying this quick and humours read. A bit dark and twisted at times, exactly how I like my Cyanide and Happiness comics.

The choose your own adventure at the end (The hot date, a chew your own adventure) was I highlight for me. I kept going back making different choices to get to read all the alternating versions of the ending. Despite the title and cover image thankfully no zoo animals are punched.


30720860Ida by Alison Evans.

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

A #LoveOzYA book that’s got genderqueer and genderfluid characters, how could I not read this! The plot of the book is fantastic. I loved the whole parallel universe thing and the multiple Ida’s were creepy as hell. I would have loved to learn more about the characters Damaris and Adrastos. I think I could happily read a whole book based on Damaris early experiences delving into parallel universes and time travel. I will be keeping my eyes out for more books by Alison Evans.


6603435Mr. Stuffins by Andrew Cosby & Johanna Stokes (Authors) & Axel Medellin Machain (Illustrator).

“My teddy bear’s a secret agent!” When a scientist succeeds in creating Artificial Intelligence, he discovers to his horror that the government plans on making it a weapon. on the run, he hides the program inside a mechanical toy bear. When an unsuspecting family buys the toy bear their little boy discovers a new best friend-a cute, cuddly toy bear who’s got all the moves of James Bond!  Meet Mr. Stuffins, the best battery-operated, fur-covered action hero ever! Chaos, fun, and mayhem ensue!

Oh my god this comic was awesome. Loved it. Have you ever seen the movie Small Soldiers? It came out in 1998. A young Kirsten Dunst was in it. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you do. Anyway, I digress.
This story reminded me of Small Soldiers, but with a dash of Ted and the Terminator mixed in, then adapted for the graphic genre. You’re probably thinking WHAT! But trust me, it totally worked. I borrowed this from my local library and am now going to try and track down my own copy. I think Riley would love it just as much as I did when he’s a few years older and I can totally see myself re-reading it.

A teddy bear, an interactive kids toy that by a series of events ends up being powered by a secret government A.I. defence program. Cue ninja hijinks. Mr. Stuffins is a quick and humorous read. Lots of fun.

 

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Until next time, enjoy your shelves :-).

The #AusYaBloggers 2018 Reading Challenge: January

It’s Back Baby! The challenge is based on four prompts each month, including one prompt that will be specifically for a #LoveOzYA title.

YA Graphic Novels can be counted, as can YA Novellas and MG novels, but only one can be used each month and a book may only be used once per prompt. There are three YA book price packs up for grabs and it’s not too late to join.

Disclaimer: to be eligible for the prices you must be either an Aussie or Kiwi, be a member of the #AusYaBloggers and signed up for the challenge.

> > Find out more here < <


My Pick #1: Shadows of the Realm, is a self-published #LoveOzYA fantasy novel that is the first in a trilogy. I’ve had this book on my shelf and TBR list since I met Dionne at a Hunter Writers Centre event in 2013. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to crack it open.

My Pick #2: The YA romance Every Day, is another one that has been on my TBR list for a while now and as above, this seemed like the perfect opportunity read it.

My Pick #3: The 2017 highly anticipated #LoveOzYA Contemporary Take Three Girls went on my TBR before it was even published and I got my hands on a copy as fast as I could. Bring it on Cath, Simmone and Fiona.

My Pick #4: And last but not least, Gemina. Ah Gemina, I pre-ordered you back in 2016 because I loved Illuminae so much, but *sigh* I haven’t had a chance to read you yet – this is the perfect excuse to push you forward on my TBR!

Sticks ‘n Stones ‘n Dinosaur Bones: Review

Sticks ‘n Stones ‘n Dinosaur Bones: Being a Whimsical “Take” on a (Pre)Historical Event
by Ted Enik (Author) & G F Newland (Illustrator)

Publication: September 28th 2017
Publisher: Schiffer Publishing

Source: Review copy
Thank you Schiffer & Edelweiss

Add to Goodreads

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The first book in the Unhinged History series is a ripping yarn–full of adventure and deceit–that brings to life the best-known public spat in all of paleontology: the bitter rivalry between Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Charles Marsh.

This frenzy of discovery and one-upmanship–known today as the Bone Wars–was a gold rush-like scramble to find the most and “best” dinosaur fossils, thus bringing to glory to their respective home-base universities.

Lively and witty rhymes plus wonderfully demented illustrations reveal how the paleontologists’ infamous rivalry began, and how–despite making genuine and lasting contributions to the field–their mutual obsession with outdoing one another spun out of control.


The target audience for this Seuss inspired Palaeontology book is Five to Eight year old’s. When I was that age I wanted to be a palaeontologist when I grew up. Ok I really wanted to be a magical princess who could bring dinosaurs back to life and control them, but same-same. I would have eaten this book up a trillion times over. The rhyming is brilliant, it is informative and humorous and the 48 pages are all full of colourful and fun illustrations.

I absolutely adore these type books. The kids will just think they are having fun reading, but they are secretly learning about the early days of Palaeontology.

I will have to pick up a hard copy of this book for my son. I know as he gets older he’ll be a dinosaur lover too. I really do hope that these two go onto to do more books like this together on multiple topics – I’ll be keeping my eye out!

The Hate You Give: YA Review

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Genre: Contemporary
Publication: February 28th 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from publisher – Thank You Walker
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The Hate U Give is one of the must read books of 2017. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this incredibly powerful debut YA novel from Angie Thomas holds a mirror to what prejudice looks like in the 21st Century. The Hate U Give is a gripping look into one girl’s struggle for justice.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.


I’m not going to lie, I was apprehensive in reading “T.H.U.G.” and kept putting it off. When the wonderful people at Walker supplied me with a copy to read and review, my second son was only three months old and my new baby emotions were all over the place. I had heard of the book and knew it was a confronting and emotional read. I was expecting my heart to be shattered into a million pieces and was not ready to go there while trying to keep my physically and emotionally exhausted self sane. Hindsight is a marvellous thing and I’m pissed that I waited so long to read it. There was so much love between the pages that I actually came away from the novel more hopeful for the future.

The Hate U Give is a truly captivating and moving tale. My heart reached out to Star. I hated that she had to hide parts of herself to be accepted into white society. I hated that she had to witness the senseless death of loved ones. I hated that she was treated differently because the colour of her skin.

Knowing something happens and experiencing it are two different things. I think this book takes the open minded reader one step closer to understanding what it is really like to be on the receiving end of such hate.

There were some truly moving and powerful scenes between Star and her daddy. Both of Star’s parents were standout characters for me. Both were doing their bit to hold the world around them together, while attempting to make it better. It was a breath of fresh air to see such positive role models. Strong, supportive and loving parental characters tend to be lacking in YA.

The story is faced paced, confronting and beautiful. I cannot fault this book, not only does it highlight important social issues, the writing is immaculate.
Buy this book! I urge you to go buy two copies, one for yourself and one for a teen you know.

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Bookdepository | Booktopia | Goodreads

“Pac said Thug Life stood for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody’.” The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody – It sure does mate, it sure does.

Last Rites: Release Blitz & Review

 
FREE if you use Kindle Unlimited!
Last Rites (Paranormal Detective Book Five) by Lily Luchesi
Power is the deadliest desire.
With Leander put to rest and the Paranormal Investigative Division taken care of by the Coven Mistress, Danny and Angelica are finally ready to take some time for themselves while Angelica gets used to her new role as the Empress and they make their relationship official.
When people close to Angelica are murdered by what seems to be a rogue vampire, their sabbatical is cut short in order for her to find the perp and execute him or her.
But this is no ordinary vampire. When the truth is revealed and secrets come to light, it will prove to be Danny’s biggest test of faith yet, and Angelica’s reckoning of her past, present, and future. Most of all it will raise a single question: just what makes a monster?

Check out the trailer, featuring the song “I Don’t Drink, I Don’t Smoke, But I Lie” by Peter Blast.
 


Join the event on Facebook, featuring multiple authors, games, and giveaways.


Read books 1-4 of the series for just 99cents each, June 14th-18th!
Stake-Out * Miranda’s Rights * Life Sentence * Right To Silence


My Reviews of Books 1 to 4: Stake Out, Miranda’s Rights, Life Sentence and Right To Silence.
MY THOUGHTS
In book five we get to delve deeper into Harriet’s past, see Danny and Angelica get married, meet the first ever Vampire and experience the epic end of an era. We meet new friends and in true Paranormal Detective Series form, lose old friends as well.

At about the 50% mark Danny was really pissing me off, just turning his back on Angelica. But once the drama queen comes to his senses it is an emotional sprint to the end.

There are twists and turns throughout this book, some I saw coming, some I did not. Not that I can mention any of these without giving away the major events of the story. I really want to tell you all about who betrays Harriet, who Augustus’s heir turns out to be and who gets turned into a vampire – but these are things you’ll have to find out for yourself.

The end of book five (and that killer Epilogue) lines up an exciting new direction for the last two books in The Paranormal Detective Series (Skin Deep 2018 & Day of Execution 2019). But between now and then is a spin off, Never Again (December 5th 2017), set just after Last Rites following Sean Wireman’s character.

I think Lily has out done herself this time and dare I say it this might even be my favourite so far.

Counting to D: YA Review

18518158Counting to D by Kate Scott
Paperback, 227 pages
First published January 28th 2014 by Elliott Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank You Eliott
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

A contemporary young adult novel about a bright dyslexic teen struggling to find her place in a literate world. Counting to D is sure to resonate with anyone who has struggled with learning disabilities, young love, or just being a teen!

The kids at Sam’s school never knew if they should make fun of her for being too smart or too dumb. That’s what it means to be dyslexic, smart, and illiterate. Sam is sick of it. So when her mom gets a job in a faraway city, Sam decides not to tell anyone about her little illiteracy problem. Without her paradox of a reputation, she falls in with a new group of highly competitive friends who call themselves the Brain Trust. When she meets Nate, her charming valedictorian lab partner, she declares her new reality perfect. But in order to keep it that way, she has to keep her learning disability a secret. The books are stacked against her and so are the lies. Sam’s got to get the grades, get the guy, and get it straight—without being able to read.

My Thoughts

 Counting to D is the uplifting tale of dyslexic teen Samantha Wilson. The story follows Sam as she moves interstate, meaning a new school and leaving behind the most important things to her in the whole world, her friends, Arden and Gabby. She makes new friends easily enough, but then battles her self-doubts as to how much of her true self she is willing to show them.

The author Kate Scott was diagnosed with Dyslexia as a young child and it shows in the depth of Sam’s character. She feels real. Her struggles feel real and her coping mechanisms are explained in detail. Sam is easily likeable and you can’t help but root for her.

While the story is rather light and fluffy it touches on a lot of extremely important topics beautifully; friendship, peer pressure, social norms, social acceptance, learning disabilities, self-worth, first times and first loves (just to name a few). It is a heart-warming, fun and fast read. I got to the end of the story and wished there was more. I would have happily kept on reading about Sam’s life.

Counting to D was Kate’s debut Novel, she has since gone on to write a second The Evolution of Emily, which set in the same high school and yes Sam is in it as a supporting character. I’m really looking forward to reading it as well.


Kate Scott: Goodreads | Twitter

Buy Links: Amazon AU | Amazon US | Bookdepository | Booktopia

Play: Picture Book Review

Play by Jez Alborough
Release Date: July 1st 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you Walker Books


From the award-winning creator of Hug, Tall and Yes comes another classic picture book for the very youngest children.

Using only a handful of words, Jez Alborough skillfully tells the bedtime tale of Bobo the chimp. The sun is still up and this little chimp wants to play with his jungle friends, but then the sun goes down and he’s all alone… The perfect bedtime read for every playful little monkey!


My Thoughts: Riley was very excited when I handed him PLAY and told him we had a new book to read at bedtime.

The story follows Bobo as his mother tries to get him to go to sleep. Bobo has other ideas and keeps running off to find new friends to play with, until the sun disappears and he’s alone in the dark. Bobo is rescued and returned to his mother, spending the night in her arms and then watching the sun rise again.

Riley was really engaged in this book. He was looking at the images and asking questions about the little monkey and what he was doing. The book opened up conversation on going to bed when asked, doing what mummy says, staying safe, love and even the cycle of day and night.

The images are magnificent. There is one image of Bobo sleeping in his mother’s arms that spans across two pages that is breathtakingly beautiful. Jez Alborough is such a talented artist. There are very few words and story is really told through the art.

Immediately after we finished reading, Riley requested we read it again. The next morning, he spotted the book sitting on my computer desk and asked, ‘Can we read the monkey book’. Riley has been repeatedly requesting it. We’ve both found a new favourite in PLAY. The perfect bedtime story!

You can find Jez Alborough @ his Website, Twitter,  Walker Books & Goodreads

Night Swimming: YA Review

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Night Swimming by Steph Bowe
Paperback, 311 pages
Publication: April 3rd 2017
Publisher: Text Publishing
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank You Text
Add to Goodreads
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Steph Bowe is back. Night Swimming is a love story with a twist, and a whole lot of heart.

Imagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…


“In real life, there’s no such thing as happily ever after, there’s just life passing day by day. After you ride off into the sunset, then you’re just in the middle of nowhere on a horse at night, aren’t you?” – Oh Kirby, Kirby, Kirby, how I adored your Internal monologue.

The story follows 17-year-old Kirby Arrow, her bestie Clancy Lee and her pet goat Stanley as they navigate day to day life in the small town of Alberton. I read this book in one day! and that’s not the norm for me. It was delightful and easy to read. An adorable feel good romp about growing up, finding your inner strength and place in the world.

Kirby wants to stay in Alberton, much to her mother’s dismay. She is determined that nothing in her life will change. Kirby’s mother wants her to go off and explore the world, as she never had the opportunity to do so. Clancy wants to leave Alberton to pursue musical theatre, while his parents want him to work in the family restaurant. The besties may seem to be on different paths at first, but they are both just trying to balance their dreams with family expectations.

The arrival of Iris and her family, rising flood waters and the inevitability of growing up, all threaten Kirby and Clancy’s friendship. I really enjoyed the whole Kirby+Clancy+Iris dynamic. You know someone is going to get hurt, you know the ball is going to drop sooner or later, that the goat poo is going to hit the fan etc. etc.

There are plenty of high jinks between these pages but ultimately this is a heartwarming story about first love, true friendship and finding the courage to move forward.


Steph’s Links: Facebook | Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Buy Links: Booktopia | Bookdepository | Amazon AU | Amazon US

Night Swimming is a sweet story of coming of age, family and first requited love. There is a genuine-feeling desire in the story to see the good intentions in lightly sketched but complex characters, which gives the book a lot of heart. It will appeal to fans of realistic Australian YA and to readers searching for sweet and hopeful queer love stories.’ – Books + Publishing.

‘This bittersweet comedy of romantic misunderstanding, life management and family relations is poised at the emotional intersection between forgiveness and self-acceptance. Despite its whimsical tone, Night Swimming tackles serious themes of mental health, family upheaval and sexual coming-out with commendable delicacy and humanity.’ – Readings.

“The utterly charming story of two best friends, the small town they live in and the girl they both fall for. It is a tender and humorous tale of family ties, friendship and first love.” – Erin Gough.

“Night Swimming is a love-letter to outsiders, the kooky and complex – it’s an ode to first times and best friends…but above all else, it’s a reminder of how lucky we are to have a writer like Steph Bowe in our midst” – Danielle Binks, Alpha Reader.

Homies: Comic Book Review

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Homies by David Gonzales, Elliott Serrano & Andrew Huerta
Paperback, 104 pages
Expected publication: June 27th 2017
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Source: Review copy from publisher
Thank you Dynamite
Add to Goodreads
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


It’s time to go back to the barrio with the Homies!

The pop culture phenomenon that took the 1990s by storm returns with brand-new hijinks co-plotted by the creator of Homies himself, David Gonzales.

In Barrio Quien Sabe, the entire community is one big familia, laughter and good times are the perfect cure for reality, and the Homies love their lowriders like they love their ladies: painted, sexy, curvy, and dressed to kill.

Follow the colorful, oddball characters in four wild adventures: the wedding of Gata to would-be bachelor-for-life Hollywood, a charity match of rival luchadores to save the neighborhood community center, the haunting of the Mexican legend La Llorona, and the arrival of an illegal alien… of the extraterrestrial kind! Welcome to East Los Angeles, ese!

 “Written with heart and authenticity… worth the price of admission for the art alone.” – Outright Geekery

“Heart, comedy… that will please any reader. 98% Nerd Score!” – PopNerdTV


Homies is a collection of four separate stories featuring (for the most part) the same key characters.

Story uno* starts off with a wedding that was drama filled and almost didn’t happen. Other than a few redeeming speeches by the narrator, I wasn’t really a fan of this story. The story was lacking to me because I had no connection to the characters. If you we’re a previous fan or a least familiar with the Homies characters the reading experience would be different.

The whole tone of the comic improves with story dos* with a wrestling match to raise funds for the community centre. By this point I’d warmed up to the characters, the style, the humour and the heart.

My enjoyment only grew with story tres* which involved a prank show and a ghost haunting the broken hearted.

Story cuatro* was by far the best for heart and humour, featuring an alien from outer space that turns out to be a hot shot mechanic and finds himself a home on earth and in The Barrio.

For the most part the story was in English, there were a few Spanish words in the mix, but what the characters were saying was easy to understand. At first, I found the artwork sharp and harsh but it grew on me and I enjoyed it in the end. All in all I think the style really suited the stories.

Once I warmed up I found this comic to be a quick and enjoyable read. The later two stories earning it a four star rating.

*Uno Dos Tres Cuatro = One Two Three Four. If you didn’t figure that out before you got here you must never have heard a PitBull song before. 

Review: To Betray My King by Kayla Lavan

34109142To Betray My King by Kayla Lavan

Genre: YA Romance/Fantasy

Release Date: May 1st 2017

Summary:

Would you choose to save your kingdom or follow your heart?

Brave and kindhearted, Arianna is a princess of a kingdom that nobody wants. The magicless. Marrying the charming, flirtatious, and egotistical Prince Roland was the last thing either of them wanted, but for the sake of their people they agreed. War breaks out with the neighboring kingdom, forcing the prince’s hand to join in the fight. He leaves his new wife with the only man he trusts, his childhood friend, a dutiful, strong, and handsome knight.

A sweet romantic tale of forbidden love in a dark fanatical world.

I enjoyed stepping into Ms Lavan’s medieval world of Sol and meeting the magic weavers she has filled it with. I struggled a little with the male leads at first. While I really enjoyed the playful banter and friendship between Prince Roland and his bodyguard/best friend, Conrad, it took me a while to warm up to either of them as love interests for Princess Arianna. Princess Arianna was easily likeable. She was kind hearted and always looking to improve herself, be it mentally or physically (e.g. learning to sword fight).

The story starts off following Roland, Conrad and Arianna. Their day to day lives, before, during and after the arranged royal marriage. But when Roland goes off to war we are left behind with Conrad and Arianna. I wish we could have followed Roland into War!!!

The whole time I was reading it felt as if Ms Lavan was preparing Arianna for something big. We kept being given tastes of Arianna’s archery skills and magical status/abilities and it felt like this was building to something bigger. Well, she did get to kick some butt in the end.

This felt like the first in a series, if that makes sense. A lot of set up with a dramatic actioned packed ending propelling you on to read the next book. There even is a Twist at the end that I didn’t see coming and the ‘betrayal’ goes down not as you expect.

Even with his man-whore start to the story, Prince Roland ended up being my favourite character and I am looking forward to reading more from Ms Lavan and finding out how he handled becoming King.


About the Author

I’ve been writing half of my life, starting at the ripe old age of 13. Back then my favorite pass time was doodling in class, sleeping in class, and studying tests or homework that was due the next class period. But by night I lead a secret life. I would go home, turn on my computer, and get on my dialup Internet (which makes me sound really old) and I would write. At first it was for fun. I was brave back then and posted everything online. In the 14 years I have been writing, I have posted over 1.5 million words, all of which is still available to read for free. My most well known story being “Fun ‘N’ Games at Ouran”. A year or so ago I posted a one-shot that was 50k-60k in words. Afterwards, I looked at it laughing, and said to myself “I think I would like to get paid for this now” and then ‘To Betray My King’ was born. It seems so simple as I’m sitting here, typing this foryou to read, but it’s the truth. ‘Betray’ is my first book, but it won’t be my last. I love writing. I would never give it up for anything in the world.

The Betrayal Legacy

#1 To Betray My King (Available Now)

Add to Goodreads

Buy Link: Amazon

#2 To Betray My Kingdom (Coming Soon)

#3 To Betray Myself (Coming Soon)

Author Links:

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