Exoskeleton: Book IV – Revenant by Shane Stadler (Book Review)

Revenant is the fourth novel in the Exoskeleton series by experimental physicist Shane Stadler, and it follows on directly from its predecessors.

Those not already familiar with this series, can find my reviews of books 1 through 3 here, via the following links:

Book I – Exoskeleton

Book II – Tympanum

Book III – Omniscient

…warning: potential spoilers ahead…

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The Khehemni Chronicles: Book 1 – Dragon of the Desert by Jean Lowe Carlson (ARC Review)

Dragon of the Desert marks the beginning of a prequel trilogy in the same fantasy realm as Jean Lowe Carlson’s earlier Kingsmen Chronicles trilogy, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Set 1,000 years before events in Blackmark book 1 of the Kingsmen Chronicles, this book tells the story of the Khehemni.

With the King deemed unfit to rule and the nation gearing up for battle, it is up to the Heir Leith Alodwine, to pass his trials of kingship in order to take his rightful place as successor to the throne. Will Leith survive, or is the royal line in jeopardy? Read Dragon of the Desert now to find out.

I like that there is an appendix attached to the book with a pronunciation guide for the names and phrases, as it can be difficult to work out how to pronounce them properly otherwise. However, as usual with digital books, any maps attached – no matter how pretty they are – are almost impossible to read.

This action-packed epic fantasy from Jean Lowe Carlson will leave you breathless and wanting more, with its fast pace and thrilling story, this is everything you could ask for. Written in similar style to George R.R. Martin’s Ice and Fire Series (Game of Thrones) this is definitely a book fantasy fans don’t want to miss. It blends war and strife, with hope and magic. Gives us characters to root for, and inspires emotion as we travel on their journeys across the desert with them, fighting for their homes and families. With great descriptive details, you almost feel like you are right there in the desert with them, so immersed in the story it’s almost like you’re playing a part, side-by-side with your favourite characters.

At 5 out of 5 stars, I’m eagerly anticipating the release of book 2 in this trilogy, Wolf of the Resistance. While you’re waiting though, if you haven’t already, I recommend catching up on the other series and reading the Kingsmen Chronicles trilogy: Blackmark, Bloodmark and Goldenmark.

Also, for the record, I received a complimentary copy of Dragon of the Desert directly from Ms. Carlson herself and have voluntarily chosen to write this review.

See also:

Kingsmen Chronicles: Book 1 – Blackmark

Kingsmen Chronicles: Book 2 – Bloodmark

Kingsmen Chronicles: Book 3 – Goldenmark

Armada by Ernest Cline (Book Review)

Armada is written by Ernest Cline, who’s better known for his book, Ready Player One, a best-seller later adapted into a successful film.

This book though, is written in first-person perspective from the point-of-view of American high-school student Zack Lightman, and to a certain extent is a reasonably good young adult sci-fi story. Much more believable and realistic in comparison to Ready Player One.

However, there’s far too many unnecessary pop-culture references, some of which could be considered spoilers for those not familiar with the movies, games, books or TV shows etc. that they reference. Unlike with Ready Player One, I don’t feel that these pop-culture references add any depth or meaning to the story. In Armada they just seem to be thrown-in to show how much pop-culture knowledge is rattling around inside Ernest Cline’s head, and they quickly become tedious and extremely annoying.

I’m not the biggest gamer in the world, but I’m of a generation that can understand enough of what’s going on to follow the concepts. Also FYI I’m old enough to comprehend most of the pop-culture references, unlike a lot of this books likely target audience.

…warning: spoilers ahead…

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

Harry Potter is coming of age, and the protective charms that Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, placed around him after the unfortunate death of his parent’s, Lily and James, will cease to exist. Coupled also by the unexpected loss of the Headmaster himself at the end of the previous school year, now puts the famous wizard in very grave danger. Harry is now vulnerable to an attack from his nemesis, the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Instead of returning to Hogwarts for their 7th and final year of education, Harry and his two closest friends: Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger are attempting to fulfil Dumbledore’s dying wish, to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes.

Horcruxes are magical artefacts that belong to Lord Voldemort, each object containing a small piece of the dark wizard’s soul. Two have already been destroyed, leaving the rest still unaccounted for. Harry must eliminate these powerful artefacts and weaken Voldemort’s powers, ensuring that the Dark Wizard can finally be defeated once and for all.

But, will they succeed?

 

 

The Deathly Hallows is the final novel in J.K. Rowling’s phenomenally successful Harry Potter series and while the majority of the story pales in comparison to its predecessors, at 4 out of 5 stars it provides a fitting conclusion to the 7 book set.

Harry and his friends have an important task to complete, which has been placed upon them alone due to the untimely death of Professor Albus Dumbledore, but armed with very little knowledge about the mission ahead, are the three youngsters capable of defeating the most powerful and dangerous wizard of all time?

The story is fraught with fear, deception and the death of all who get between Lord Voldemort and his enemy, but can love really conquer all as Dumbledore claims, or is there a better way to conquer the Dark Lord?  

Find out what happens to the famous young wizard in the concluding chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

See also:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 6: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling (Book Review)

The famous young wizard, Harry Potter and his closest friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, begin their 6th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with its increased security measures in light of the now public return of the Dark Wizard, Voldemort. 

Their fellow student, Draco Malfoy, high profile son of recently imprisoned Death Eater, Lucius Malfoy, begins acting in a rather strange and un-Draco like manner, even before their return to Hogwarts, making Harry inclined to believe that Draco is treading in the footsteps of his father as a servant to the Dark Lord. However, Harry has trouble convincing those around him that Lord Voldemort would be in league with an untrained, sixteen year old wizard.

Meanwhile, Harry’s least favourite Professor, Severus Snape has finally achieved his dream of becoming the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, a position that seems to be jinxed, but which side is the ex-Death Eater loyal to these days: Dumbledore or Voldemort?

Can Harry discover what Draco Malfoy is up to and prevent him from causing trouble? Is his theory about Malfoy joining the dark Lord correct, or will Ron and Hermione prove Harry wrong?

 

The Half-Blood Prince is the first Harry Potter novel not to begin by discussing Harry’s present circumstances at the Dursley family home, instead setting the stage from the enemy’s perspective.

Despite being much shorter than its predecessor, the Half-Blood Prince is not really the most engrossing of stories and I feel that at 3.5 out of 5 stars it may be one of the weakest novels in the series. Most of the book is mundane and positively dull with all of the excitement appearing near the end.

Also the fact that House-Elf’s can ‘apparate’ inside Hogwarts really bothered me, and distracted me a little, as apparition shouldn’t be possible considering all of the additional enchantments that have been put in place to ensure the safety of the students. I know Elf magic is different to Wizard magic, but I feel that it is a tremendous flaw in the storyline which throws up a number of plot holes.

 

See also:

Book 1: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Book 2: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Book 3: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Book 4: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Book 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Divergent Trilogy: Reviews of Books 2 & 3

Divergent Trilogy: Book 2 – Insurgent

After all of the fast-paced action and excitement of Divergent, the follow-up seemed very lethargic and slow. Insurgent began exactly where Divergent left off with Tris, Caleb and Four on the run from the Erudite and Dauntless forces. In the early parts of the book the characters travelled around between different factions, without much of real importance or consequence happening.

I really struggled to read Insurgent as the story dragged without much real purpose. There was far, far too much focus on the relationship issues between Tris and Four, as they constantly bickered, kept secrets and repeatedly antagonised each other.

Having suffered my way to the end of this book, I discovered that the story didn’t really conclude in any meaningful way, but continues on into the next, and final, book of the series. If the dialogue in Insurgent had been trimmed down and there had been better focus, instead of all the confusion of running around between factions, this might have been interesting. However, I’m really disappointed in the direction of this novel and it makes me somewhat reluctant to continue reading.

At 1 out of 5 stars, I wouldn’t recommend Insurgent. Divergent was a fantastic book, but this one was just boring, stretched out with tedious, irritating and pointless dialogue to flesh it out. No real story progression or character development, with Tris constantly complaining and feeling sorry for herself.

 

Divergent Trilogy: Book 3 – Allegiant

Simply to round-out this series and complete my reviews, I pressed forward and read the final book in the trilogy. However, I found it difficult to focus with the story’s perspectives constantly switching between Tris and Four, as it was hard to keep track and distinguish between them. It seemed to be a persistent battle to remember which perspective I was following, as there was no difference between them and the chapters were so short that they switched viewpoints regularly.

However, one consolation was that this novel provided the answers to questions I had after reading the first book. But since this is revealed fairly early on in the story, it just makes it doubly difficult to finish reading. At 0.5 out of 5 stars I really can’t recommend Allegiant to anyone, as its only redeeming feature is the origin story. This book is extremely monotonous, and so long that I honestly thought it was never going to end.

If you really want to check out the Divergent series, then I suggest that you watch the movies. The films are a lot more entertaining and the story moves at a much faster pace. However all that cool sci-fi tech you see in the movies, they don’t exist in the books. Just be aware that, as with most adaptations, somewhere along the line the books and films become very, very different.

 

See also:

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1

The Hunger Games Trilogy: Book 1

Divergent Trilogy: Book 1 – Divergent by Veronica Roth (Book Review)

The Divergent Trilogy is a dystopian young adult fantasy series set in an alternate reality where the USA is split into different factions, with each faction having unique mannerisms, rules and dress codes. On turning 16, main character Tris must join her classmates in taking the Aptitude Test, which determines their future, by placing them definitively in one of the five separate factions: Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, Dauntless or Amity. Once decided during the Choosing Ceremony, each pupil then leaves to join their chosen faction and train to complete the initiation process. Failure is not an option worth contemplating.

….possible spoiler warning…

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The Drahiad Chronicles Prologues: Book 4 – Siege of Draestl by Randall Seeley (ARC Review)

Siege of Draestl is the fourth book in Randall Seeley’s Drahiad Chronicles Prologues series, and is the first to be a full length novel. It continues the events from the second novella, Alderidon Wolves, following our favourite major characters Waydsyn Scot, Owen Delmsmith and Thraegar Thornclaw.

To get the best out of this series it may be a good idea to have at least read Alderidon Wolves first, to become acquainted with the characters, locations and story, which underpin these two books. If not necessarily all three of the previous novellas in the series, however it isn’t absolutely necessary.

…potential spoiler warning…

Continue reading “The Drahiad Chronicles Prologues: Book 4 – Siege of Draestl by Randall Seeley (ARC Review)”

Supernatural: The Unholy Cause by Joe Schreiber (Book Review)

The Unholy Cause is book five in the series of TV Tie-in novels from the CW show Supernatural, and is the first of these books to be written by author Joe Schreiber. The monster-hunting duo return for yet another adventure in this unique tale, which takes place at an unknown point during season 5.

 

The Winchester brothers are led to Mission’s Ridge in Georgia, where some civil war re-enactments have become a bit too realistic. With two dead civilians and a pack of demons invading the town, can Sam and Dean figure out how replica weapons are killing people, before they end up arrested by the local Sheriff, Jack Daniels?

 

Favourite Quote:

“War is hell.” – Phil Oiler (p109)

 

At 2 out of 5 stars The Unholy Cause is ok, personally I’m not a huge fan of war re-enactment style novels, and since I’m not American the content doesn’t really appeal to me. However, it’s Sam and Dean Winchester on the hunt of the Supernatural, so I kept an open mind. The story did enough to keep me reading, and I kept waiting for something interesting or exciting to happen, such as a jump-scare scene or super-creepy monster, but sadly nothing of any real substance happened. In truth it was a little boring for me, especially compared with some of the other Supernatural books, and I can’t say I’m all that keen to re-read this one anytime soon.

Joe Schreiber doesn’t offer much in the way of backstory about the Winchester brothers, but since the only people likely to read these books are people who are fans of the TV show, this probably isn’t much of an issue. As far as characterisation is concerned Sam and Dean are portrayed very well, and the overall pace of the novel is quite swift, so I found this to be a relatively quick read. My final negative point is that we don’t know when exactly in the overall timeline this book is set, only that it takes place during season five, and this is a small, niggly detail that the perfectionist in me hates.

I’d recommend this to anyone interested in war re-enactment style fantasy novels.

 

See also:

Supernatural: Nevermore

Supernatural: Witch’s Canyon

Supernatural: Bone Key

Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon

Brent Bolster Investigations: Book 4 – Double Infinity (Book Review)

Double Infinity is the fourth science fiction novel in the hilarious Brent Bolster Investigations series by author Michael Campling, and it is reminiscent of writers such as Douglas Adams and Red Dwarf creators Rob Grant and Doug Naylor.

…warning: potential spoilers for those not previously familiar with the Brent Bolster series…

My review of book one, Dial G for Gravity can be found here.

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