Friday Face-Off – 23rd February 2018

Friday Face-Off – 23rd February 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a staircase: ‘There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me.’

This week I picked The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene.

Cover A:

staircase1

Cover B:

staircase2

Cover C:

staircase3

Cover D:

staircase4
Cover E:

staircase5

 

And the winner is… COVER C !

I was drawn to the quirky style of cover C. All of the other covers had an old-school feel close to the old Enid Blyton books. Not that there is an issue with those, but all of the other covers were too similar for my liking.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book featuring something from Greek Mythology: ‘The only true wisdom is to know that you know nothing.’

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Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death

Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death

Ten doors down from the home of a world famous ‘consulting detective’ lives twelve-year-old Hemlock Jones, and her recently arrived housemate and unwitting companion, Edward Whitlow. Hired to ‘demystify’ the mystery of a man’s murder by a terrifying angelic spectre, Hemlock and Edward’s investigations will lead them all over Victorian London, uncovering bizarre and deadly foes, figures from Hemlock’s hidden past, and a plot to take over the city… Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death is the first of the Hemlock Jones Chronicles, a series of detective adventures for children and adults, set in Victorian London.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

What can I say about the first book in the Hemlock Jones series? I could wax lyrical with positive, affirmative adjectives and become lost in hyperbole. And believe me, I really could having loved every single moment I was following twelve-year-old Hemlock and her hapless companion Edward. I will, however try to step back and look at the bigger picture here.

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Hemlock Jones & The Angel of Death has all of the critical components for a fun, old-fashioned whodunnit, tearing through the streets of Victorian London. On that point alone this book scores bonus points with me – I am a sucker for anything set in the frankly grimey and brutal locales of Victorian London. The key difference here though is that author Justin Carroll has resisted the urge to paint a dark scene.

In all honesty, setting is only a small part of the story. Granted, the fact that our budding ‘demystifier’ (detective to you and I) lives a mere ten doors from one of fictions great detectives – Sherlock Holmes – at number 211b Baker Street is about the most important piece of location-setting in the whole book.

What really hooked me was the story itself. Carroll has created a fun, vibrant character in the ever-enthusiastic Hemlock Jones and a wonderfully counter-balanced foil in Edward Whitlow who seems resigned to the fact he has little control over the adventures he will no doubt encounter as long as he boards with her.

The whole book plays on the industrial era of London, giving the book a wonderfully-steampunk vibe, something else that I have a fascination in. The sense of fun and adventure, and mild threat throughout is well balanced and the revelation of the culprit is fantastic. It appears Hemlock may have met her match and found a foe with an axe to grind against her. The way the story is delivered is fantastic, as a sort of narrated memoir from Edward lending a feeling there are plenty more scrapes for the pair to battle their way through. I have to say this was one of the most fun books I have read in some time, and knowing that the author is currently working on the second book, with more likely to follow, I cannot wait to read more.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 16th February 2018

Friday Face-Off – 16th February 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover that is retro: ‘Groovy baby!’

This week I have gone with a book I haven’t read, but is definitely on my list of must-reads – The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde.

Cover A:

Retro1

Cover B:

Retro2

Cover C:

Retro3

Cover D:

Retro4

 

And the winner is… COVER B!

I have been meaning to read this book, and those that follow it for some time now. I have been drawn to their covers and this one is the style I have seen the most. It’s colourful and vibrant and gives a nod to classic mystery novels.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book featuring a staircase: ‘There are too many steps in this castle, and it seems to me they add a few every night, just to vex me.’

The Blood of our Sisters by Abby Rose Crimson

The Blood of our Sisters by Abby Rose Crimson

A struggling journalist begins her investigation into the vigilante justice movement known as Perfect World Order — after she secures an exclusive interview with fugitive Hannah McNamara, the leader of the group behind it: The House of Hellcats.

Have you ever visited someone’s house? Probably. Have you ever visited someone’s house only to be welcomed with a shotgun in your face? Probably not. Courage is hard, and when five women became courageous, they met fear. Fear wasn’t very nice. Fear changed them. What will they do? Not what you expect.

This thrilling and innovative book features a robust layout for an ultra-comprehensive reading experience. And it features the Colors of Feelings, which accurately visualize how characters are feeling with beautiful and color-coated text.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

It is worth noting upfront that this book won’t work on a black and white eReader. You will need one of the Kindle Fire tablets, or a reading app on any other tablet, mobile or computer. That’s because of the unique feature of The Blood of Our Sisters. The text is displayed in a variety of different colours, each representing a different emotion displayed by the characters throughout the story, with a handy key at the start of the book highlighting each one.

 

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This cuts out a lot of descriptive narrative to some degree, the colours describing the feelings in place of it. It certainly made for an interesting read with a different element to proceedings. I did have one criticism, albeit slight; given the key to the colours and the emotions was presented ahead of the story, I did from time to time find myself hopping back and forth to remind myself what emotion matched with what colour. Especially in the scenarios whereby two similar colours show different feelings. That said, I feel with this clearly being the first book in a planned series, that regular readers will become accustomed to the colour/emotion combinations.

The story is entertaining, even if it jumps around between different threads a little bit. While I cannot say if it would remain so throughout the series, the use of colours to depict emotions is interesting, an entertaining twist making for an overall pretty good read.

My rating:
goodread

Friday Face-Off – 9th February 2018

Friday Face-Off – 9th February 2018

The Friday Face-Off is a meme originally created by Books by Proxy and now hosted over at Lynn’s Books. The idea is to compare the different covers of a book with each week being a certain theme.

This week’s theme is a cover featuring a cloaked figure: ‘My what big teeth you have.’

For the first theme of 2018 I have picked City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.

Cover A:

cloak1

Cover B:

cloak2

Cover C:

cloak3

Cover D:

cloak4

Cover E:

cloak5
Cover F:

cloak6

And the winner is… COVER D!

While I really liked the cloaked figures in A and F, cover D wins overall. The art style of this cover lends something to it, while the fantasy-style of the stairs in the background is really interesting.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with my winner, or does one of the others work better for you? Let me know in the comments!

Next weeks’ theme is a book with a retro cover: ‘Groovy baby!’

The Portal by David D. Bernstein

The Portal by David D. Bernstein

After falling into a time portal during a Little League baseball game in Trinity, New York, eleven-year-old Andy finds himself transported to a ghostly version of his hometown-101 years in the future. Twisted metal, rotten wood, and garbage litter the seemingly empty streets, but Andy will soon discover that the city is controlled by CORT robots . . . and that this reality is Earth’s possible future. When thirteen-year-old Zack receives a strange letter that guides him through the portal, he and his brother are reunited, and together they must journey through a nightmare world that only they can change. But how can two young boys alter the present by saving the future?


I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

The Portal is a short read aimed at a younger audience from author David D. Bernstein, and it’s the first part of his CORT Chronicles series. This was quite a challenge for me to review; I have read a number of young adult books that are accessible to older children and adults alike, but this book is very clearly aimed at a younger audience.
portal
The Portal is short, with an interesting concept for younger readers to enjoy. The story flows neatly along, without being unnecessarily complicated and manages to avoid anything too complex for a younger readers.

Illustrations complete the story. They break things up for the reader. Overall, The Portal is very short with no conclusion to the story, but leads nicely towards further books. Not a bad book all around for children to enjoy the sci-fi genre.

My rating:
goodread

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb

Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb

Single-mother Florida bounty hunter Lori Anderson’s got an ocean of trouble on her hands. Her daughter Dakota is safe, but her cancer is threatening a comeback, and Lori needs JT—Dakota’s daddy and the man who taught Lori everything—alive and kicking. Problem is, he’s behind bars, and heading for death row. Desperate to save him, Lori does a deal, taking on off-the-books job from shady FBI agent Alex Monroe. Bring back on-the-run felon, Gibson “The Fish” Fletcher, and JT walks free. Following Fletcher from Florida to California, Lori teams up with local bounty hunter Dez McGregor and his team. But Dez works very differently to Lori, and the tension between them threatens to put the whole job in danger. With Monroe pressuring Lori for results, the clock ticking on JT’s life, and nothing about the Fletcher case adding up, Lori’s hitting walls at every turn. But this is one job she’s got to get right, or she’ll lose everything.

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Following the adventures of leading lady and bounty hunter Lori Anderson, Deep Blue Trouble is fast paced and filled with action. The story is gripping and pulls the reader along on a seat-of-your-pants ride.
DEEP BUE TROUBLE AW.indd
Protagonist Lori Anderson is a tough, no nonsense single mother of a ten-year old daughter. Everything she does comes back to her child, and this is evident throughout the story. Every decision, action and thought process is weighed against the potential risk to Dakota. Driven by honour and a strong moral compass, Lori will do everything in the right way but will also do what it takes to achieve the right result.

Though Deep Blue Trouble is book two featuring Lori Anderson, I didn’t feel as if I had missed anything. Lori’s history, from her training as a bounty hunter to her past relationships and her daughter’s illness are well-covered by Broadribb without being over referenced.

I am a definite fan of crime thrillers and Steph Broadribb’s work is no exception. The plot races along at a breakneck pace yet never feels rushed. The bad guys aren’t stereotyped in anyway but feel genuinely threatening, and the undercurrent of fear for her family is ever present within Lori. Corrupt law enforcement and plenty of scene hopping make for a rollercoaster read.

As I followed Lori throughout her investigations I found myself feeling joy with every one of her victories, and despair at each frustration. This book brought me a true sense of “just one more chapter” and before I knew it, the book was finished. This book as a must read for fans of crime and action tales, and as a result I will be picking up the first book featuring Lori Anderson, and hoping Steph Broadribb has many more adventures for her in the future.

My rating:
goodread