Friday, 23 February 2018

Book Review: Tonk and the Battle of the 200 (Middle Grade Fantasy)

Tonk and the Battle of the 200Tonk and the Battle of the 200 by Jon Mann

Series: The Adventures of Tonk #1
Publisher: Desert’s Memory Publishing
Publication date: 14th January 2018
Pages: 266
Format read: eBook
Source: from publisher


 Tonk isn't your average squirrel. While most squirrels live out their lives in the safety of their home tree, little Tonk is curious. He wonders what is out there beyond the End of Things. What lingers over the horizon? What has he never seen?
One day he hears of a magical flying squirrel whose coat is as white as snow. She is held captive in a place called "The San Diego Zoo", and Tonk knows his time has come.
Leaving his family behind, he sets forth on a dangerous journey to rescue the legendary squirrel with the hope that he, too, can learn the secret of flight. Along the way he makes friends with Bogey, a crusty old jackrabbit: El Curador, a Mexican museum mouse; and Pockets, an alarmingly awkward pelican. Together they forge a trail across a treacherous urban landscape to the mysterious place where the creature has been imprisoned against her will.
Once there, Tonk and his brave friends wage war against the enemies who have imprisoned the white squirrel. In doing so, Tonk becomes much more than the simple creature he is -- he becomes a hero.
After all, who says you have to be big to make a difference?

                                                        My Thoughts 

Tonk and the battle of the 200 is a lively tale of adventure, curiosity and wonder. And a reminder to follow your dreams.

Tonk is not your average American squirrel, content to live their life in one tree never venturing farther than the weather vane on the carriage house, he dreamt of sights and sounds far away. Tonk stared out at the mystery that was the horizon and wondered what he would find at the End of Things.

One fateful day Tonk hears about a place where every animal from every continent is held captive. Inside this place is the white squirrel who can fly. Tonk thinks how wonderful it would be to fly. He could fly to the End of Things. Tonk sets out to find this prison, made by man, and ask the white squirrel to teach him to fly. Along the way he will face many dangers and make new friends. His quest for knowledge turns into a quest for freedom.

Mann has written an extraordinary adventure story with an underlying theme of death. Tonk, the squirrel, sees death around him and also has a scrape with death himself when the neighbourhood cat pounces on him.
”Some hunt, and some are hunted. Some feed, and some are fed upon. This is simply the way it is. The natural way of things.”

On his adventures Tonk meets Bogey, The Jackrabbit, who is a whole lot more worldly wise than little Tonk. Bogey saves Tonk’s life more than once as they encounter the perils of man-made machines, pets and predators.

Mann doesn’t humanise his characters. They are still very animalistic by not understanding how things in the human world work and not being able to read signs even though Bogey thinks he can which gives rise to some very funny animal names and also explains the title of the book.

The story tells the reader how the animals feel. They have a fear and hatred of humans. All humans are evil and everything they do is evil. The zoo is a terrible prison and all the animals are unhappy.
"There is no dignity to be found inside a cage, not for any living creature, including man. But for wild creatures of the earth, captivity means the loss of everything, including self.” “Once brought to that place, animals never see the outside world again. They die there!”

The writing is complex and literary and at times a little macabre.
”The dogs tore into them as if seeking nothing more than bloodshed and carnage.” “The bodies of the dancing *Tethin were flung across the concrete, their blood splattering the grass, the stench of their entrails filling the air.”

Authorial intrusion is used consistently to make the reader feel more connected and quite often gives a humorous aside to a sometimes sombre tale; for instance when the author suggests to the reader to look up a certain word in the dictionary.
A story to stretch the imagination and the vocabulary as well.

I would place this book in the same category as Watership Down – the “Not quite appropriate children’s books.” And as Watership Down was, The Battle for the 200 will be read and remembered by children and adults alike.

Content: animals die in this story
Recommended for 10years + though not for the highly sensitive child.

*Tethin – the name by which the squirrels regard themselves.



Saturday, 10 February 2018

Aussie Author Challenge for 2018

This year I will be joining the annual Aussie author challenge hosted by Book Lover Book Reviews

 The challenge has three levels as listed below. I will be trying my best to attain WALLAROO level.

Read and review 3 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 1 of those authors are female, at least 1 of those authors are male, and at least 1 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, any genre.
Read and review 6 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 2 of those authors are female, at least 2 of those authors are male, and at least 2 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 2 genre.
Read and review 12 titles written by Australian Authors of which at least 4 of those authors are female, at least 4 of those authors are male, and at least 4 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 3 genre.

Stay tuned to hear about some great reads by Australian authors.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Book Review: Jorie and the River of Fire (Middle Grade Fantasy)

Jorie and the River of FireJorie and the River of Fire by A.H. Richardson
Series: Book 3
Publisher: Self Published
Publication date: 1st August 2017
Pages: 288
Format read: paperback
Source: Author via Book Publicity Services


 When Jorie and Rufus are reunited after a year, each one having gone abroad to France and Germany to study language, they are summoned to help their beloved friends below the Tarn to rescue the Great Wizard, who has been kidnapped. With no idea where he has gone, the children dive back into the Tarn, back to the land of Cabrynthia. Taking the Magic Stones with them, they set out immediately to find the Great Grootmonya, soon learning that he has been imprisoned in a cell atop a steep mountain in the evil land of Shyloxia. Their mission is fraught with fierce fights and entanglements as Rufus learns that his beloved dragon, Chook, also has been kidnapped. How does one kidnap a dragon? It isn't easy, but their wicked adversary, the grim and gruesome Lord Fodomalk, is very resourceful. The children encounter many frightening adventures in a terrible inferno fraught with belching volcanoes and the terrifying River of Fire. And don't overlook some angry creatures and the poisonous butterflies. It is a race against time. Can the duo get to the Wizard in time, as he grows weaker with each passing hour? How do they cross the fiery River? And where is Chook? Throughout all of this, Jorie and Rufus soldier on, desperately and bravely, using their magic Stones and their warmth and affection for one another shining like a steady beacon. Join this brave pair and enjoy their adventurous journey through a magical kingdom under the Tarn.

                                                         My thoughts

I was very excited to receive the latest edition in the Jorie series.

Jorie and Rufus are now 13 years old and even though Aunt Lettie says she’s a young lady now and should be putting all thoughts of dragons behind her Jorie is still eager to see Rufus again and start on a new adventure.

Jorie and the River of Fire is the third book in the Jorie series and I’m saying “series” here because I’m hoping this isn’t a trilogy. I’m not ready to let go of Jorie and Rufus just yet.

The Lord of Cabrynthius, Grootmonya, is missing believed held captive by the evil Lord Fodomalk in the land of Telanzid to which only access is across the river of fire. Telanzid is a new land introduced in this book. A land on the far side of Shyloxia that is hot, dry and arid with fires burning and active volcanoes. These other worldly lands are accessed via a Tarn on the land of Jorie’s Aunt Letitia. The children enter the Tarn say the magic words and are whisked away to the new worlds.

Jorie is still cheeky, lively and talkative as ever but she is always polite. Jorie and Rufus work together for a common goal as they embark on this dangerous and unpredictable journey unaware of the perils that lay ahead, the unexpected dangers, the creatures they might meet, the good and the bad. Lord Fodomalk with calculated cunning will do everything in his power to thwart the children’s plan to rescue the Great Wizard.

The children come across Trovods (rat like people), trolls, elves, shape shifting dragons, the egg shaped people of Doonian and the deadly Daggadi (a huge metal butterfly with jaws of iron).

The imagery is vivid and the story moves smoothly between the world of the Tran and the real world. Aunt Letitia , Colonel Horsfall and housekeeper, Bessie, feature more in this book and make for some amusing moments and add old world charm as a little romance starts to develop between Letitia and the Colonel.

Jorie is the heroine of the series but it’s not all about Jorie. Rufus has his fair share of smart ideas and brave moments.

The Jorie series is one of the best 6 years+ children’s series I’ve read.
If your child only reads one book this year make sure it’s from this series!
I received a review copy via Book Publicity Services
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Age level: 6 years +
Read my review of Jorie and the Magic Stones here
Read my review of Jorie and the Gold Key here

                                                  About the author
 13907840 A. H. Richardson is a treasured storyteller, whose unlimited imagination conjures up challenging and unforgettable characters, both good and evil, daring children everywhere to delve into their imaginations and learn to rely on courage and bravery to win the day.
Born in England (yes, there are dragons there too), the author has always loved tales of flying and mythical magical creatures. She once tried to pin wings on her pony, quite sure that he could then fly!
She is the daughter of the famous composer, Clive Richardson, who always encouraged her to wite, even as a small child. She paints and sculpts, plays guitar, trained dressage competitions, is a linguist and acted on stage, film and television.

To learn more about the author and her other books visit her website here

Friday, 26 January 2018

Book Review: White Roses in Winter (Romantic Suspense)

White Roses in WinterWhite Roses in Winter by Barbara Meyers

Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: 1st November 2017
Pages: 372
Format: Kindle
Source: eBook from author


 The princess. The pauper. And a shotgun…
The only thing Jason is focused on is getting through his last year of college. But the instant attraction between him and Kerrie leads to one unforgettable night together.
When Kerrie’s wealthy, overly-protective father learns she is pregnant, he arranges a temporary marriage to teach her a lesson about choices and consequences. Jason reluctantly agrees to keep his participation in the plan a secret, because it’s the only way he can safeguard his future and his family.
Kerrie is blinded by her romantic fantasy and doesn’t suspect she’s been set up. Meanwhile, Jason guards his heart and vows that when Kerrie leaves with their baby, he won’t beg her to stay.
Just when it seems a future together is possible, lies, betrayal and deceit threaten to separate Kerrie and Jason forever. Faced with losing each other and their baby, will their fragile bond be strong enough?


                                            My thoughts

White Roses in Winter is a modern take on a shotgun wedding crossed with a rich girl meets poor boy trope.
It’s insta love when Kerrie first meets Jason at a party hosted by her friend Tiffany. After a romantic night on the beach she can’t stop thinking about him. However Jason learns that Kerrie is the daughter of the rich and powerful Kenneth Huddleston and realises he will never be good enough for her so doesn’t pursue the relationship. A guy from the wrong side of the tracks that doesn’t have a dime! When Kerrie finds out she is pregnant and her dominating father demands they get married Jason knows it will all be over once the child is born in wedlock but he was never someone to shirk his duty.

This is a love story with a difference. The couple had only known each other for a day with no further communication until they were forced to get married. Kerrie has been over protected by her parents and has no idea of the real world. She thinks that the marriage will be fun. The two of them together bringing up their child. Jason has done life tough, money is tight and he studies during the day and works during the night. He knows this is going to be hard but he will do his duty until the inevitable happens and Kerrie leaves him.

There is lots of anguish in this book as Kerrie and Jason fail to communicate and each worries continually as to the others intentions.
Jason has past demons that also need to be addressed and Kerrie’s over protective parents throw kidnapping and claims of abuse into the mix. Bring in Kerrie’s drug taking, party girl best friend Tiffany, who thinks Jason should have been hers and there is never a dull moment in this romantic suspense.

The only things that reduced my star rating was that it was told in too many POVs , sometimes changing mid page, also I’m not a big fan of internal monologue and this was used often throughout the book.

White Roses in Winter is a coming of age romance full of strong characters and complex relationships. The characters are engaging and well developed.

I would like to thank the author for my copy to read and review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
                                   About the author

 Barista by day, romance novelist by night: When not writing fiction, Dr Suess-like poetry (for adults) or song lyrics, Barbara Meyers disguises herself behind a green apron and works part-time for a world-wide coffee company.
Her novels are a mix of comedy, suspense and spice and often feature a displaced child.
Barbara is still married to her first husband and has two fantastic children. Originally from Southwest Missouri, (she blames her roots in the Show Me state for her somewhat skeptical nature) she currently resides in Central Florida.

Connect with the author at the following sites:
Website     Facebook author page    Twitter     Instagram     Goodreads

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Book Review: Little Secrets (Crime)

Little SecretsLittle Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Publisher :Mira Books
Published: 17th October 2017
Pages: 332
Series: no
Source: Ebook from Netgalley


 What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town's courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn't nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.

Little dolls full of secrets

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock's daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town's already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose's attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

                                                         My thoughts: 

Anna Snoekstra has written a complex and riveting novel with a clearly manipulative and unlikeable protagonist.
Straight up Rose starts to manipulate the reader. I initially felt sorry for her but the more I read the more I learned that she was selfish and unscrupulous.

Set in a small country town where unemployment is high and drug use is on the increase you could feel the oppression. Rose’s only ambition is to become a journalist and leave Colmstock behind.

As in “Only Daughter” Snoekstra has again given us a whole load of messed up characters and in “Little Secrets” has placed them in a small town where they can do nothing expect destroy each other.

Many plot lines run through the novel and in a town where everyone has a secret to keep I couldn’t possibly guess the outcome with any of them.

I hated most of the characters, they made me angry, sad and disgusted. All emotions I think the author was trying to evoke.

Little Secrets was a great read! Full of surprises!

Content- Frequent coarse language F –word C-word
Sex scene
Graphic violence

                                                  About the Author 

  Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia in 1988. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at Melbourne University, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University.

Anna's short films and music videos have screened around the world. She has written an array of published and award winning short fiction. Her debut novel ONLY DAUGHTER was published in September 2016 (Mira). Her second novel LITTLE SECRETS will be published November 2017 (Mira).

 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book can be purchased here

View all my reviews