Monday, March 28, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

Sharon Osborne

Rating: 4/5

She's an intelligent and determined woman, but not only that, Sharon Osborne can actually write. This book is good! It's filled with the gritty, dark side of show business, of pushing your children to become the person you failed to become yourself, of allowing dreams to overwelm reality. It has the dark, British humour of Ben Elton intermingled with the more scandalous manipulation of many popular female authors (although not the sort I normally read). You grow to alternatively love and hate the characters, or possibly just want to give them a slap and tell them to "get over themselves". In short, Osborne writes a convincing, compelling story about sibling rivalry and fame.

Amber and Chelsea Stone are sisters, but could not be more unalike. Chelsea is quick-tempered, impulsive and reckless, whereas Amber is the lovely, sweet "girl next door". Both are famous. But in the world of show-business, only one can truly be the star.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A bit of Monkey Busines.

Plum Spooky
Janet Evanovich
Stephanie Plum "Between the Numbers" book

Genre: Chicklit/humour/crime
Audience: Women
Rating: 3/5

There's always a time when one needs something light and fun to read, and it was certainly the case when I picked this book up. And I rather enjoyed it. Nothing like a face-paced crime/comedy with a hearty dose of tongue-in-cheek humour, feisty women and sexy men to distract one from the drama of real life. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys. The ending was a bit of a letdown, but I believe this was just what the doctor ordered.

Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter extraordinaire has her work cut out for her once again in this spooky case. Not only has she had a smart-arse monkey foisted upon her, but the rather hot and quite mysterious Diseal is back and seems to want to sleep in her bed. And her latest FTA is a short computer geek with relationship issues who has fallen into league with her most frightening opponent yet. Not to forget the Easter Bunny (retired), sasquatch and what's the deal with the Jersey Devil?

Monday, March 21, 2011

Do you oil your war machines or do you feed them?

Scott Westerfield

Genre: Steampunk/alternate history/fantasy
Audience: Ages 10+
Rating 4.5/5

If you've enjoyed Phuilip Reeve, you will delighted to read this similar-feeling but completely different novel by Scott Westerfield. Filled with quirky delights, strange beasties and a delightful cast of characters, it is easy to pick up and hard to put down.

The year is 1914, and Europe is on the verge of war. On one side we have the Darwinists - the English people, with their genetically-manipulated-and-modified monsters (they're alive and freaky-awesome) - on the other side, Germany with its mighty metal war machines. Caught in the middle we have Aleck, a young royal on the run for his life, and Deryn, a girl who has masqueraded as a boy in order to enter the air force. With a secret mission and a mystery cargo and with danger assailing them from all sides - one can but hold their breath and eagerly await learning what happens next.

Make sure you check out the Book Trailer linked above, it a really good one.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A case for Bigamy?

The Wives of Henry Oades
Johanna Moran

Genre: Historical
Audience: Adults
Rating: 3/5

Based on a true case, this is the story of Henry Oades, who accidentally ended up commiting bigamy. At times funny, others heart-breaking it will in turn intrigue you, hearten you and occasionally frustrate you (some of the people are so close-minded). It is a well written, not overly well researched first-time novel from a New Zealand writer.

Why do I say not well researched? Well, Henry Oades earns the post in New Zealand when his predecessor dies from a bat bite. Now, rabies has never been recorded in New Zealand and our bats are rare and not prone to biting. So I was a little annoyed at this from the onset. However, I did not allow this to put me off reading, and I am glad I persevered.

After earning the post in New Zealand, Henry Oades brings over his wife and his two children. They settle in, more-or-less to this rough and ready lifestyle, so unlike that which they had experienced in England. Although unhappy, Margaret Oades knows it is only for a short time, a year or so. Then disaster strikes - and she and her children are captured by Maori and whisked away as slaves.

Henry Oades returns to find his family gone, his house burned. His searches end in failure and after a time, he resigns them as dead and in his grief, he leaves for America. Wherein he marries again, this time to a young widow.

But Margaret and the children are not dead, and when they escape they manage to trail him to America. Wherein he is faced with a terrible dilemma for he now has two wives and only recently was a confirmed bigamist hanged...

Avian flu in Otago

The Peco Incident
Des Hunt

Genre: adventure
Audience: boys 10+
Rating: 3.5/5

I always enjoy the works of Des Hunt, and this is his latest offering. This slim novel is set on the Otago Peninsula, near the tiny township of Portobello. It is the story of Danny, a young boy, who lives on the peninsula and takes an avid interest in its wildlife. When his cousin comes to stay, things turn topsy-turvy for a while. Nick is hyperactive and impulsive, everything the more sensible and sensitive Danny is not. And then there's the dead birds that are turning up everywhere. Is someone poisoning them? Or is it something more sinister? Then death and disease strike the Peco Chicken Factory, could Danny's beloved albatross and penguins be the next victims?

Like all his books, this deals with a range of elements all relevant to the pre-teen boys of today. With a fast-paced plot, exciting climax, elements of science and a charming parakeet called Harriet, this is another one-sit-reading.

The Fae in England

61 Nails
Mike Shevdon

Urban Fantasy

Compared favourably to"Neverwhere", I picked up this novel some time ago, and have finally gotten around to reading it. It is an appealing urban fantasy, with similar characterisation to Gaiman's work - the rather befuddled man whose life is turned upside down when he realises that the world is rather different, and less safe, than he had imagined. In this case, after a rather rough day, Niall has a heart attack and is saved by a mysterious elderly lady. Calling herself "Blackbird" she then reveals to him that an ancient darkness is about to rise and engulf the world and he is the unlikely saviour. Fast paced, quite entertaining and a little bit different, this makes for an enjoyable read.

Will be followed by a sequel.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dragons are not romantic

Robin Hobb
Rain Wild volume 1

Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Adults
Rating 4/5

This is the fourth trilogy set in the Farseer World and acts as a follow-up to "Liveship Traders" although with references to the events of the "Tawny Man" trilogy. However, we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters. These range from Thymara, a somewhat disfigured Rainwilds' girl, to Alise, a scholarly woman devoted to the study of dragons. As before, Hobb's paints her characters in a colourful manner, giving them traits that makes you both love and hate some of them. She sets up a compelling storyline, with an interesting setting and then leaves you anxious for the next instalment.

The serpents that cocooned at the end of the Liveship Traders have hatched, but the dragon hatchlings are not as expected. Stunted and deficient, it falls upon the Rainwilds Council to provide for them. As the dragons grow, so too does their disatisfaction - intelligent beings trapped in bodies that they know are not as they should be. A more suitable home is needed for them, and in their collective memory is the name of such a place - Kelsingra. With a misfit band of Rainwild adolescents as their keepers, the dragons set out to discover this ancient city - which may be little more than a myth.

Romance through a Druid's Eyes

Seer of Sevenwaters
Juliet Marillier
Sevenwaters series, bk 5

Genre: Historic/Fantasy/Romance
Audience: Women
Rating: 4/5

Another beautifully written, engrossing historical dark romance. Marillier weaves a fine historic tale with a strong folklore theme to it. She creates strong characters that you can relate to and an intriguing plot.

This novel continues with the daughters of Sean and Aisling, but this time the heroine is Sibeal - the quiet, sensible, spiritual one. She has been sent to Inis Eala to spend time with her older sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh before committing fully to the Druidhood. For those who have read "Heir...", it is good to find out how Clodagh and Cathal have fared. But at the same time as Sibeal arrives, a ship wrecks itself off the shore. Only two survivors are found - a Nordic warrior and his mute, mysterious wife. That is until Sibeal discovers the third survivor. A young, storm-battered, half-drowned man with no memory of his past. Together they uncover a mysterious that could harm them all.