Scrolling Covers

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maisy May by Naomi Kramer

Blurb: How does an emo teen with an ex-druggie mum, a non-existent father and a penchant for fast cars fit into a traditional Aussie church? Why has the new boy, Mr Perfect Pastor's Kid, caused her to question every belief she holds dear? And why the sudden interest in Leviticus?

Reviewed by Dale

This book was very interesting, it was written by an Australian writer so the language was very close to my own version of spoken English here in New Zealand. Kramer has a great command of dialogue and I often marveled at how well her characters conversed with each other. It really did feel like you were a fly on the wall in Maisy's life sometimes.

The characters were all real, solid, gritty, you could almost smell them in the pages. The text was short so I didn't see a lot of growth in the characters, but definitely a lot of substance to them. I understand this is part one of a trilogy so would assume growth and character development will continue with the story. And there is plenty of story left in this tale.

I have read another famous Australian's works (John Marsden), author of the 'Tomorrow, when the War began' series and enjoyed the Australia he brought out in his writing. With Kramer we see another small Australian town's Australia. Only this time from the unique perspective of a christian emo.... A very original viewpoint I must say.

The Australians that I know are not known to mince words and are pretty straight shooters, so I'm not surprised at the style of the dialogue in this book. I was one told in a David Jones department store by an elderly woman shopper to 'Get outta the way you $%%# mongrel.' completely my fault I was walking all together too slowly through the place.

Yes this story is definitely more suitable to someone of at least sixteen years as opposed to the younger readers of my blog. A reasonable amount of  explicit sexual content (though not pornographic or out of context) and liberal use of swear words means I have to caution easly offended readers. For the rest of you adventurous souls out there this is a 'bonza good read me old muckers'.

Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: US$0.99 (at time of review)
Wordcount: 29,000 (appx)
Author: Naomi Kramer

Summons from a Stranger by Debra Diaz

Blurb: Lindsey Sims is staying with her older sister's best friend, Rachel, while her parents are away on a trip to the Bahamas. Rachel Evans has received a mysterious letter from a man she's never met, but who is - in a way - part of her family. Lindsey accompanies Rachel as she reluctantly answers the summons, and is caught in a grown-up world of greed, jealousy, and attempted murder. It's more than she bargained for, but Lindsey is up to the challenge...and to discovering who is responsible for all the mischief. 

Reviewed by Dale

I'm back from a nasty cold and with some time to enjoy and share another great book. 

This time I wanted something very different. So delving through the shelves of freebies on offer I found this little gem. Summons from a Stranger by Debra Diaz.  A mystery in a classic Agatha Christie style setting. 

A large manor house, a butler (he didn't do it, but I did suspect him) the maid, and the vulgar rich. All bundled together in a claustrophobic house with a dying, bitter, patriarch.  A washed out bridge, electric storms and a pea soup fog all combine to build tension in the scene.

The writing is good, very evidently written by a women and not a man as the attention to details in some of the narrative parts are clearly more a women's taste than a mans. I know I need to know someone sat on a sofa, not how deep the stitching was or the upholstery clashed with someones french polish. None of this detracts from the book of course and if anything I would compare Ms Diaz's style to some of the Sidney Sheldon novels I have read. Much of this narrative does a great job in making you feel as though you were some silent observer standing in the shadows, watching, and listening to the events as they unfold.

The plot is well crafted, it takes a while to boil up but once the 'scream' starts of the adventure the pace is dramatic enough. Lots of red herrings and false clues make it difficult to piece together the best suspect. Always a sign of a well thought out structure. Again I take my hat of to mystery writers, its a challenging genre.

I kept thinking as I read that this story would sit equally well outside the Young Adult section if the main character were eighteen instead of fifteen perhaps. There is certainly no pandering to a younger reader here. So for all you boys and girls reading above your age go download a copy. For the eight to twelves of you out there, it might be a challenge managing all those characters and motives in your head. I found it difficult keeping them all straight in mine. So dont delay, its FREE so go add it to your library today!

Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: FREE (at time of review)
Wordcount: 38,000 (appx)
Debra Diaz

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bees in my Butt by Rebecca Shelley

Blurb: In Bees in My Butt, the first book of the Smartboys Club series, the members of the Smartboys Club use their skills to defeat a group of crazed Ninjas that take over the school. And it happens on a day when one of the Smartboys has the worst case of flatulence imaginable. 

Reviewed by Dale

Well how could you possibly pass on the courageously titled bees in my butt? Why this title alone would conjure up all kinds of insane ideas in the mind of any self respecting ten year old. So with this notion in mind I cracked the old ebook reader open and started to find out what where bees doing up some poor kid's butt.

Young Johnny Lovebird is your typically 5th grader who sits next to you in class all year long. You barely give him much thought until one day he is cutting the smelliest cheese you could ever imagine. yes that's right, in an omametaphic display of alliteration bees are are the metaphore of nasal doom. Bees are farts. Not just annoying nose curdling wafts of poorly digested proteins, these thunderous cacophonies bring an abrupt holt to a school assembly as the odious vapors escape the clutches of Johnny's tightly clenched butt cheeks. Parrrrrrrrp parp parp parp.

How does our hero ever survive the most embarrassing moment of his school life? Well disgracing of course. Fortunately for him a band of ninjas attack the school faculty and assume control of the school and it's curriculum. So how does our hero and his misfit band of sidekicks manage to free the school from the coughed of the evil high kicking hooded ninja? Well you're just going to have to read the book yourself to find out, me I'm off to find another book to read.

This is a very well written story, lots of good fun and humour abound. The writing is tight and neatly focused at the age group it's written for. Still plenty in there for adults if they are reading it to their kids too.  It's not a long book, and there were a lot of blank pages in my copy, maybe a bug in the ePub conversion?

So lots of fun and laughs if you are looking for some comic relief.

Age 10+
Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: US$.99c
Wordcount: 12,500 (appx)
Rebecca Shelley

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Brooks Berry In The Case of The Haunted Cabin by Michael James

Blurb: Boy detective Brooks Berry is at it again in this second installment in the series. This time he travels with his sister, Ally, to visit his Grandparents in Arizona. While on their visit, their Grandfather takes them to stay at a friend's cabin with the ulterior motive of having Brooks solve the mystery of who is haunting it. 

Reviewed by Dale

I have read the first Brooks mystery (Reviewed here), so when the opportunity came along to try the second one I couldn't resist another look at this amiable character.

The same great compact style by author Michael James remains as he lays down red herring after false clue and then leads you about the cold snow covered hillsides of Arizona chasing ghosts.

The sidekick has changed to Brooks' sister Alley though she doesn't play a large role in this story. It's a shame really as I think a great sidekick always helps to add depth to any story. It can also help add dialogue to an otherwise narrative driven scene. Sidekicks can also be used as barometers of the main characters feelings and thoughts.

The pace is reasonable, a couple of times I hurriedly turned the page to find out what was in store for our hero as he put together the pieces of the story. The underground tunnel when Brooks discovers he is not alone was well written and deliciously suspenseful. 

Sadly the characterizations still seem a little bland. I was hoping to see more of Brooks' personality as this is the second story following this character. I should have a well developed sense of who he is but there still seems to be little follow through here. After his sister was locked in his room by an intruder I might have expected some kind of emotional outburst. Maybe Brooks is stone cold? A Gollum of clay that's Holmes-like detached from his surroundings in pursuit of the answers? Not much reflection or reaction by the protagonist as he meets the challenges and struggles to overcome them.

The plot is great, a well constructed mystery, with plenty of suspense and probably enough clues fro the average smart reader to solve, I'm not saying if I did...I always wonder how authors go about constructing mysteries, leaving the bread crumbs for their readers and sleuths to follow. Do they write backwards perhaps from resolution to revelation? 

So I still don't have any reservations in recommending this series as a good read. It would be great if Brooks' true self was fleshed out more in the next book maybe. All the great detectives I can remember had some weird trait, Holmes had a violin, Kojak had a lolipop, Colombo had his rain coat and 'just one last question', even Scooby had scrappy snacks.

Dont wait go read it for yourself today!

Format: eBook
Available from Smashwords
Link to Download: Here
Price: US$1.99c
Wordcount: 27,000 (appx)
Michael James