The Alchemyst Review

The Alchemyst - Michael Scott, Erik Singer

I enjoyed it


So, I came into this knowing it had mixed reviews and thought for the worst. I'm not saying where I read these reviews, and I don't always read reviews beforehand, but sometimes it's good to know, so I don't get too excited only to be let down. The crux of it is that I enjoyed the book. Sure, it's a little slow at times with all the talk and what not, but overall I found it enjoyable and a good ride.




There are several main characters in this book. But, like all books, there are probably more central characters than the rest. The first character I'd like to describe (or voice my opinion about) is Sophie Newman. She's the (spoiler) twin sister to her brother Josh. They are both ordinary teenagers until they meet Nick. Now, Sophie is the smart one of the two twins. She's the one who can think and act reasonably. Josh is a hot head and says whatever he wants without any filter. Obviously, Josh is the one who lands them in trouble most of the time.


After the twins, we have Nicholas Flamel and his wife, Perenelle. Nicholas seems to be the schemer in the family while Perenelle is the stronger sorceress (the one with the more powerful magic). We didn't read much about Perenelle, so she's still a mystery to me as to how she'll behave. But, I do believe she's more honest than Nicholas. Nicholas was a character I liked and also disliked at times - he came across quite arrogant and demanding, but I suppose if you've lived for hundreds of years one might tend to think they're better than the others.


As for the bad guys of the story, we have Dr John Dee, the main "baddie" of the story. He's been the Flamel's enemy for a long time and has just found them in this book. He teams up with some evil (god-like) beings that nobody should team with. I thought he showed the usual signs of a villain, how he's afraid, but determined to show his strength and power at the same time.




So, the central theme throughout this book and is referenced over and over again (sorry if this a spoiler) is the idea of fate. It is written in this grand book that Flamel has, that twins, Josh and Sophie, will either tear up the world or save up. They are fated to do this and can't escape the prophecy that was written about them thousands of years ago. I like the idea that we're fated to do things, and it's written in the threads of time.


Another theme is that the twins, Josh and Sophie Newman, have to grow up fast. For everyone, whether you're old or young, will notice this. You'll always be forced into situations where you have to grow up and stop acting like a kid. To be honest, I wish I could still be a kid and not have the responsibilities that I have now. But that's life. You grow up.


Lastly, I'd like to discuss the theme of morality. I know I almost present this every book, but nearly every book is teaching us what is right and wrong, or the opposite. In The Alchemyst, we learn that the Flamels might have ulterior motives and that Dr John Dee might not be as bad as we thought he was.




Like the first title says, I enjoyed the book. It wasn't s good as some of the books I read last year, but I'm going to continue the series. So, I definitely recommend you give this a read (if you're into Young Adult) and let me know what you thought of the book. I heard a rumour that this is going to become a film, so I'll also go and see that when it comes out.


Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle Review

Fund Your Ideal Lifestyle - Clayton Daniel

A while ago


Okay, so I read this book at the beginning of the year (I think), so my review may be a bit off as I’m running from memory here. What I can tell you (first off) as a disclaimer, I didn’t attempt any of the exercises in the book. It’s not because I thought they were bad (opposite in fact – they got me thinking) – but because I’m not really in the right place in my life to need to do this yet. I have to say that I did enjoy reading the anecdotes that Clayton Daniel included throughout the book. I’d imagine he’d have quite a story to tell.


Skills learnt


Now I’m not one to toot my own horn (actually, I may be… what do I know?), but I didn’t learn anything unexpected in the book. There was no magical formula (well he does have a few formulas that he uses for wealth creation). There was no shortcut. He told me what I learnt a while ago during my time at university. However, I do see the benefit of reading this book if you are:


  • An Australian citizen.
  • Not sure how to handle or plan your money.
  • Not sure where to invest.

As I’m none of the above, the book didn’t apply to me. But, to those that tick the boxes, you may find one or two helpful hints.




Officially, I rated this book as a four-star book. I found the tone of the book friendly and casual, and it was an easy read. I’m not sure how to rate the actual content. It taught me a few questions I should ask myself but not much I didn’t know already. However, if this is your first chance at reading something like this, then I suggest you pick it up and give it a try, or at least ask Clayton Daniel for some smart advice. He sounds as if he’s been through it all and knows what he’s talking about. He’s passionate about this topic, and I think that’s what counts.


Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


The Grave Tracker Review

The Grave Tracker - Teresa  Brown



I received this book last year. I decided not to publish this review at the time (November) because of feedback from the author. However, now that enough time has passed, I believe I can publish this review as the criticism was that I reveal too much of the story here. So, if you don't believe in spoilers. Do not read the review. It contains spoilers. I think that's enough fair warning for readers. Please continue if you're okay with spoilers. Thanks!




What would you do if your son escaped a high-security mental facility and you know he's going to come and get you? You'd hire a hit on him, of course! This is my first criminal novel is a while (if ever, I'm not sure). We follow the life of a murderer who escapes from a mental prison and sets out to kill his father for putting him there. The next person we follow, the actual Grave Tracker, a retired officer who can find even the slightest hint of a person long forgotten. Hence the name. Note: This book is for adults, it contains some violent scenes.




There are several "main" characters in this book, but only four that we sort-of follow. Firstly, there is Tony, the deranged son who is hell-bent on killing his father, Joseph (a tough guy who has money with connections throughout the justice system). Tony is a smart dude who wants revenge and will stop at nothing to achieve that. He looks for his lost son so that he can play the ultimate slow-game revenge on his father, and the main reason for this story. Tony wasn't mental until he escaped into the real world. His one-track mind over all the years he was kept away for crimes (he did commit), has rotted and tortured his mind. Now, he takes it out on whoever he wants or whoever gets in his way.

The next person we follow is Tony's father. We learn he has a lawyer friend who he leans on, and why he trapped Tony away all those years. I found him (Joseph) quite an arrogant character, with a sense that he looked down on people. He's the one that calls on the skills of our next character.

Paul is the Grave Tracker. Paul has been injured long ago and never returned to the force. He has a dog named Waya, who is trained and creepy. Waya and Paul go everywhere together when Paul goes on his tracking missions. He typically doesn't track people who are alive, but with a murderous villain, our hero is willing to go to the extra effort. I found Paul quite stereotypical, based on my movie watching experience, so I found nothing really "fresh" or unique about him.

The last person we follow is Sophie, who is the (not so obvious but you know it's coming) lover. She's Tony's son's new mother (if that makes any sense). She's split from her ex-husband and lives alone in a cabin rental place near some woods. She's a single parent who seems to be overwhelmed by her duties as a mother and manager. As a character, I found her strong and I overall I quite liked her and her adopted son, Jake.




My guess at the major theme in this book is revenge. We see this on multiple occasions, such as the main storyline of the book. A boy sent to a mental facility by his father. Feels betrayed. Plots his revenge. Many years later, escapes and tries to exact his revenge. BUT, there is a plot twist, and I'm not going to reveal it. Revenge is not always the answer, and maybe you should think it through before you rush headstrong into your little plan (I know you're hatching one up right now).

The second theme I'd like to discuss is family. Kind of a different idea, but there is so much about disjointed and disconnected families in here. Firstly, we have the rather bad father-son connection. Secondly, there is the Grave Tracker without his wife, raising his daughter. Lastly, there is the "divorcee" Sophie with her adopted son. The one thing the last two (not all) have in common, is that the families work. You can find love and life anywhere you choose. You can decide to give a better life to your grandchild (as Joseph did). Family comes in all shapes and sizes, and no one size fits all.




While I enjoyed the novel, it did play in my head as kind of the stereotypical criminal films I've seen over and over. It was quite easy to predict what was going to happen (most of the time). However, in saying that, I found it easy and mostly enjoyable. The characters felt quite natural (apart from Tony), and I could settle into the book quite well. I would recommend you give this book a try.


Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


High Cotton Country Review

High Cotton Country - Leta McCurry

Not what I was expecting


To be honest with you, I'm not sure what I was expecting from Women's Fiction. I guess it's an undefined genre like Young Adult. Let me just start by saying that the book was good after I finally got around to reading it. I found it absorbing witnessing the struggles that the main character, Cazzie Randle, went through in her life and accomplished. If you're looking for a book with a strong, balanced woman, this is it.

Note: This is the first review using my new format. Please see my blog for why I switched.


The Good


I enjoyed the struggles Cazzie went through as a single mother raising children. I thought it was well thought out and paced. I also like that some of the time she wasn't perfect because no one is. For example, a lot of the story is (spoiler ahead) based on the fact that she has a hard time letting people in. What happens in childhood can have quite ever-lasting effects on you.


The Bad


Sometimes I felt like the cut scenes were too harsh, and I had trouble getting into the story. (Spoiler ahead) For example, at the very start, we learn about Cazzie as a professional and wealthy individual, and then we cut to her mother from the point of view of some random guy. I mean - that ripped me from the story. But - once I got past it, I started to get a feel of how the story was forming. I also felt that the ending was rushed (compared to the rest of the story). That's why I'm taking a point off the rating.




As I said in the first paragraph, I really enjoyed reading this book. I will definitely check out her second book and tell the world about it here. Cazzie Randle is a great example of someone who lives with trauma and overcomes it in the end. So, if you're into women's fiction, please do get yourself a copy.


Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


The Gunslinger Review

The Gunslinger - Stephen King

I don't know...

To be honest, I'm not sure what to think of this book. I liked King's book On Writing, it was written clearly and was easy to follow and understand. This book, however, was written in an entirely different style and it was off putting. I found that the language in the book made it hard to read through and connect with the characters in the story. To be honest, I'm not sure if I will continue with the series or not. I probably will persist (because it's being made into films), but I don't think that The Gunslinger will be my favourite book (or series).



Roland is the main character in the book. He's the protagonist, the character we're following through on the journey. Firstly, I'd like to point out that in now way did I feel attached to Roland or what he's about. Maybe it's just the way things started or some of his backstory, or how he told stories that made it impossible to feel for him. I mean, I expected better development from King.


The man in black is our Antagonist in the story. I guess he's a mixed bag as we find out he's the one that Roland is after and we know why - but we don't learn much about him as a man. Probably because this book is setting up for much greater things does he seem so distant and uninspiring.


Jake Chambers is the only one I felt for in the book and the only one who brought it to life. He's a young boy who happens to be in the middle of nowhere when Roland passes. He brings the story a little life, but that is shut down when Roland finds out what he has to do. I feel like the boy was treated unfairly in this book.



One of the themes I'd like to explore is morality. I guess King brings it up in these books (though I'm not completely sure if he intends to). I speak of morality in this case because of our hero, Roland, and how he is no hero (when we hear his stories and flashbacks). Also because of his decision for a higher purpose, he gives away his humanity (kind of).


Another theme I'll touch on is what the future may look like. To me, it seems like Kind has created a deserted world which has dried up and died after humanity laid waste to it. It's quite a common theme these days as people struggle to see what will happen with all these new presidents and leaders around the world changing and upsetting the balance.



While this is not my favourite series so far, I'll leave my complete judgement until I've got to the very end of the entire series. But, if you're a fan of fantasy and have read about King's grand entrance into it with these books, then please don't start yet. Maybe when I read the second book, I'll completely change my mind. Who knows?


Melody’s Key Review

Melody's Key - Dallas Coryell



That’s the first thing that came to my mind after finishing the story. It’s aimed towards the Young Adult/New Adult scene and definitely towards females. I found it hard to rate this book. On the one hand, I quite liked the story and the characters. On the contrary, I found the romance a bit too sloppy at times and the pacing a little odd here and there. But if you are one for books on love, then definitely continue with the review.




There were two main characters in the book, but we followed the protagonist, Tegan. We find ourselves in her chaotic household that she shares with her big family and quite a few guests. Tegan is a shy girl, but is beautiful and can do everything (well not everything… but you can see how it could get on a reader’s nerves). She can sing, she can play the piano, and she can paint. We do learn the reason why she is the way she is, eventually.


The second character we learn about is Mason, a pop star (kind of like Justin Bieber), who needs to take a break from life and let himself and his world slow down. Mason is not your usual pop star, but a relatively down-to-earth guy who is willing to fight for his love. We learn how he was broken and who controls him and why.




The first and biggest theme is the first subtitle of this piece, love. I like that I read this in winter, where I could come home to my wife, and cuddle with her like Tegan and Mason do over the summer. We see how love can be both healing and destructive as we learn about the past relationships and baggage that both Tegan and Mason carry with them into their relationship.


A second theme is the long term effects of a moment of weakness. Spoiler ahead. Warning ahead for those reading, it contains strong words and textual images. So, now that the warnings are done I can talk about it.  In Melody’s Key, Coryell writes about rape and suicide.  Well, he mentions them, he doesn’t describe the actual acts. What I found fascinating was the long-term effects and the mental barriers people create when this happens. Here, we read about Tegan’s wariness of all men and Mason’s hidden shame. But, as we read more, we see they’re accepted for who they are. You can heal. You don’t need to be ashamed.




While I did find it an interesting read, I don’t know if Young Adult romance is my particular cup of tea. I found it just a little too soppy for me. However, it was nicely paced and pretty well written, so if you’re interested in this sort of genre, I say go ahead and try it out.


Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


The Latina President Review

The Latina President: ...And The Conspiracy to Destroy Her - Joe Rothstein



I thought it was quite fitting that I happened to be reading this book while the US Elections were taking place. I learnt a lot about what is needed to get into presidential candidacy in the first place. I found the book a pace and an excellent read. Obviously, I’m not well versed into how the elections work, so I have no idea if the book is accurate or not, but it was thrilling.




The main character, Isabel, is created thoroughly throughout the story by bit and pieces of her life starting with her family business. We learn that Isabel comes from a wealthy family, but falls into hard times and works her way out of her rut. From there, she’s successful and turns to politics, and, as throughout the book, she’s successful. Now, I’m not saying she’s one dimensional because she’s far from it. We learn about the sex scandals, the divorce, the way of life she lived. She’s quite the protagonist, and we grow as she grows.


The “evil” character in this book is Javier. Now, I say evil, but he’s just running his business. Javier will have conspiracy theorists everywhere saying “I told you so” as we learn that he has the power to control and influence United States politics. I guess he’s sort of like what maybe the people think of the oil companies etc.




The big theme in this book (which is entirely relevant), is the Election. I say theme, but I mean the idea or topic. Because the election (and the president) of the United States is a huge issue around the world. With Trump v Clinton, we could have a whole other story. I guess a lot of conspiracy theorists (and fake news) believe that the big guys backed Clinton and Trump is the Isabel of the real world story (although he’s not a Latin…in fact the opposite).


Another theme in the book is revenge. We see this from Javier, the bad “evil” guy, doing everything in his power and beyond to influence the election because he fears the revenge from Isabel. So he should. As we learn that Isabel is not above revenge and will do everything in her power to stop Javier and Groupo Aragon.




I found the book really cool to read. It was tense and I learnt quite a bit about the election. Rothstein did an impressive job squeezing his knowledge about the United States government into this one book. If he does another book like it, I’d be happy to read it.


Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


Legend Review

Legend - Marie Lu

Before or after?


I’m not sure if I liked this book so much because of the good reviews, or because I enjoyed it. Did the masses influence me? Who knows? But I found this book engaging because of the characters and the way it was written. Fast paced and exciting will always capture my imagination. I read a few reviews that said it’s the same-old-same-old, but maybe that’s what we like.


Characters (Spoilers)


In this book, we follow two characters who are worlds apart from each other. Let me start with June. June comes from a very wealthy background and is a very smart girl with her whole world in front of her. She acts out against the society for fun to prove she’s up for the challenge (against the behest of her older brother). She’s lived in a perfect world (or near, her parents died when she was younger) and has had nothing but her life on a platter.


The second character we follow is Day. Day grew up very different from June. On the day that he took his “test” to determine placement in society, he was cast out and forced to live a life of the poor. He helped his family by becoming the Robin Hood of the world (or I should say his suburb). We learn that both he and June were smart and that the test is pretty much a lie.




Love can conquer all, right? Well at least that’s the premise of this book, as June (spoiler ahead) gives up everything she’s had and ever will have to join the fight against society. She gives up everything for her new found love of Day. That’s some Romeo and Juliet stuff right there. I can tell you that my wife is currently giving up her life to move with me overseas and I appreciate and love her greatly for that.


I guess another theme that is familiar with these post-apocalyptic worlds is that society becomes meaner. In the book, we see that there is some war that divided the United States and that the society is using that to test viruses and biological weapons/create a stronger people. Here the government has complete control and is very authoritative in every way.




I enjoyed the book thoroughly and would recommend it to any Young Adult lover. Add it to their Christmas or Birthday list if they haven’t got it already. I think that Lu has created a smart and robust story (even if it is like many others) and that it is paced fast enough for most people to enjoy. I give this book a big thumbs up.


Maggie Elizabeth Harrington Review

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington: I Live in Two Worlds - D.J. Swykert

Review delayed


So, I delayed writing this review. I read this book just under a month ago, so you’ll have to forgive me if there are some inaccuracies in my review. It wasn’t my intention to not write this review; I just got caught out with life. I’ve started to think about another book to write, and I’ve been very busy during the week. However, it’s probably better I’ve had some time to think about the book.




The main character we are in is Maggie, the protagonist in the book. Maggie is most likely quite a typical teenage girl because all we hear of is how much everything affects her. She’s the centre of her world and kind of an entitled teenage girl, even though it’s set quite long ago and she comes from a pretty low-income family. In fact, her family doesn’t speak to her. As a character, I didn’t like her, she repeated herself way too much (as teenage girls do) and I felt like she didn’t understand the world she lived in.


The other characters we have in the book are Maggie’s friend Annie and her brother, Tommy. Annie has always been friends with Maggie, and she has secretly always had a crush on Tommy. Tommy and Maggie fall in love in the story, and to me, it seemed unrealistic. But we only see it from Maggie’s perspective, so we don’t know what Tommy was thinking during the story.



I guess there are a lot of themes in this book. I suppose a big theme is wolves, as Maggie does try to hide and raise four baby wolf pups. I also think the author is quite passionate about wolves. We see this with how much Maggie cares for the wolves and how much effort she goes to protect them.


Another theme is “forbidden love”. Sometimes I wonder if Tommy loved Maggie because his parents forbade him from doing so. We see this in our everyday lives, that when someone says “you can’t do that,” that’s precisely what you want to do.




So, this wasn’t my favourite book. I will go out and say that for Young Adult readers, you won’t like this. I mean, most people don’t like to listen to the mundane thoughts in their heads, and in this book, you have to hear to Maggie thinking and repeating and churning through her every thought. I did think it was an accurate representation of a young girl, but in saying that, I don’t know if people want to read that sort of stuff.

Note about this review


I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


The Power of Six Review

The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore

Alien world


To be honest, I was almost tempted to give this story a five-star review. Yes, I like Young Adult books the best. I like the freshness that this brings. Sci-fi and Young Adult mixed seems like a great combination. This continues from the first in the series, I Am Number Four. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy the characters in this series and the things they learn and struggle against. I did rate this higher than the first as I’m getting into the story now.




We follow the same main character, John Smith, as the last book. He’s now partnered with Sam Goode and Six and is on the run from the evil Mogadorians. I’m growing into John Smith and his struggle as a teenager. I also like how Six, Sam, and John all mix as a team. They feel at ease and natural to me (as natural as teenage aliens could be). Sarah, John’s “girlfriend”, is not as featured in this book as in I Am Number Four.


We’re introduced to a new character in this book, Marina, who is a younger girl and the seventh alien. I didn’t find her parts in the story as interesting as John’s, but that’s probably because the action was missing from her story. She has her Cêpan Adelina with her (like John in the last book). It’s interesting to see the contrast of life between her and John.


The Mogadorians are ever-present in this book as the last book. They’re described more and we learn more about their life on Planet Earth. As bad guys go, they seem pretty useless against the Loric Garde. I’m excited to see what’s in store for the next in the series.




There are quite a few themes going on here as two stories are being told. The first theme I’d like to discuss is the theme of love. This appears in nearly every book you’ll ever read, but here we see it from a teenage viewpoint. Firstly, John loves Sarah. We know that from the first book. In The Power of Six, we see John, and Sarah making choices and questioning their love (John especially). Love is not fixed; it’s fluid and ever changing. I mean, do you still love the foods you loved as a kid? I can tell you now that I don’t love McDonald’s anymore.


A second theme is beliefs. We see this in the story with Marina and Adelina. Spoiler ahead. Marina believes in her Legacy and Adelina has lost her belief in the alien race and has turned to God on Earth. Beliefs can change over time with enough influence or if nothing happens as you expect. It can, however, be very hard to change someone’s belief as Marina finds out.




I enjoyed this book and loved every minute of reading it. Hopefully, the next book is as good, and I may continue my high praise. I like that there are so many threads to this story and that we only discover them as Pittacus Lore allows us to. I’m sure if you enjoyed I Am Number Four, you’ll enjoy this. I recommend you give this book a try if you find a copy.


The Diamond of Darkhold Review

The Diamond of Darkhold - Jeanne DuPrau

Back to the future


I think we can just pretend like the last book never happened and carry on with the series here. However, I did notice that the tone of the book is slightly more adult than the first two in the series. I’m not sure why that is. It could just be me thinking that after reading the third book. I like that we return to Sparks and the people of Ember.




We revert to the characters Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow. They are the same as they always were, except this time it’s winter and Doon wants to help his people. So, instead of Lina sparking the idea, it’s Doon who runs the show and starts their adventure together. I quite like that it’s not always Lina being the leader.


We meet a few characters along the way. This time, we have a “bad” family, the Troggs. They aren’t inherently bad characters, in fact, they’re quite nice. But apparently, when you find a “gold mine”, you need to protect it and keep your family safe. This is what the Troggs do, which is why they are portrayed in such a bad light. You could say they are quite selfish.


We also follow Lizzie Bisco (from Ember), Torren Crane, and Kenny Parton (both from Sparks) who figure out that Lina and Doon are off on an adventure. Torren is his usual self, sneaking around and wanting to be part of the action (because he feels left out). Kenny is worried and curious about his new “big brother” and Lizzie is her selfish self (she only worries about what she looks like or who she is with).




I guess I want to touch on the subject of compassion and empathy. In this book, DuPrau stepped away from the destruction and war of the last few books and touched on compassion. We see this with the Trogg family (spoiler ahead) as they capture Doon. They feed him, keep him warm and give him a bed. Now, they could’ve done many great things, but they are friendly people inside. We also see this same compassion when (spoiler ahead) the people of Sparks take in the Trogg family and let them live in the village of Sparks.


Another theme in this book and the other books is the power of knowledge. There is a spoiler ahead. As Lina talks with a Trogg and draws the Trogg’s message, she also writes down a message for Doon in words, which the Troggs, having lost their education, cannot read. This is a positive message, and I do hope the children that read these books see how you can arm yourself with the knowledge to overcome obstacles.


Lastly, I’d like to mention that children should just be children. Here we see Lina and Doon go out on an adventure together. Obviously, they don’t care about the consequences of their actions (which should be ignored). But it’s still fun to read children discovering and solving problems.




If you liked the first two books in the series, please do get this book. It follows in a similar vein to the others and has the adventurous spirit that the first two had. I like the characters Doon and Lina and how they mix. I also like the post-apocalyptic world that DuPrau has created. It’s simple and not so negative like a few other books I’ve read lately. If you’re just reading this and haven’t read the other book reviews in the series, then I recommend getting books 1, 2, and 4. Book 3 can be skipped.


The Prophet of Yonwood Review

The Prophet of Yonwood - Jeanne DuPrau

Style change

For me, I found the style of writing changed, and maybe not for the better. DuPrau seems to aim for an older audience with this book, rather than the younger more adventurous approach she used with the previous two books. I have already read the fourth book, and I believe this book shouldn’t be part of this series. I know this is a prequel, but the actual “prequel” happens in the last few pages.




We follow an entirely different set of characters in this book. We follow a young Nickie, who is very impressionable and looks up to some of the shady characters. She follows the rules set by Brenda Beeson, the woman who interprets the local prophet, Althea Towers. Nickie is told to seek out what might be considered wrong.  However, as the story pushes on, we see that the rules and dictation set by Mrs Beeson may not be so right after all.


Grover is the other main character we follow. He is a down-to-earth, grounded, sort of person, who wants to do what’s right, but also sees when something is wrong. He is also under Mrs Beeson’s thumb, but will it last for the entire story?

We finally get a third storyline, with the characters Otis (a dog) and Amanda Stokes.  Although, not main characters, they do play a role in the final chapters of the book.




There are a lot of topics in this book as DuPrau tried to do too much. The first theme I’d like to discuss is religion. Now, religion is heavily featured in The Prophet of Yonwood. We have the prophet, Althea Towers, who has a vision from God of a world in the future. We also have a church, which kind of gets hijacked by Mrs Beeson. In the name of God, many rules are decreed (and not all of them good). The people of the town shun those who don’t follow the rules. My thinking here is that DuPrau is completely against religion. I may be wrong, but the message she sends to children is evident.


Another theme I’d like to discuss is what is right and what is wrong, i.e. morality. This will touch the religion issue, as we have defined our morals from religion (and improved). In the book, DuPrau shows how one can abandon your sense of morality for a superior (godly) sense. If you’re doing something in the name of someone else, you’re not doing the wrong thing, right?


Finally, the last theme I’d like to discuss is love. Whether it is the love of a pet or the love of another human, we all need it. We want to feel needed or wanted. In this story, Nickie finds out what it is like to be loved. Maybe it is not in the way she wanted, but she still reached her goal.




If you liked the previous book, I could safely say you’ll want to skip this book. It has almost nothing to do with Ember and almost doesn’t explain why it came to be. If you want a fresh change from the previous two books, then maybe this could be your thing. I have rated the book lower than all the others in the story as I felt the audience was different and the story doesn’t align with the rest of the books.


The Magician’s Dream Review

The Magician's Dream - LeAnn Mathis

Strong themes for a young audience


My experience with Middle Grade is pretty limited at this time, but I felt that some words and some situations would be better suited to an older audience. However, overall, the story is relatively short and smart with very few mistakes. The characters are likeable (to a point) and observant. I did like the dream world that was built by LeAnn Mathis. However, I was a little bit confused by the reality, as it was set in the ’60s and I’m not sure if that was the best time to set a magical novel for children (but what do I know?).




There were two main characters in the book, and we got a chapter from each of their viewpoints. Maddie is our strong female hero, and Franklin is the male hero. We also have an evil dude (Julius), who is some sort of ghostly being.


So, firstly to Maddie. She is the strong and smart girl who comes from a wealthy family. She escapes every night into the dreamland and beyond. There she is a magician, whereas, in reality, she is just your ordinary smart child. She caves to societal constructs and ignores the other hero we have in the story at the start. Maddie does build up her courage as the story goes and we learn that love, not hate is the best outcome.


Next, we have Franklin, who is a smart, but kind of shy boy. He comes from a family where his mother has to work a lot to get him where he is (and he knows that). He sees the world different from Maddie, in that the Dreamland is more an escape from persecution. The more he enjoys this, the more he feels his world is wrong.




The central focus in the Magician’s Dream is racism. It’s set in a time where Franklin, being black is not as well accepted as it is now (which is why I believe Mathis chose the ’60s). The class divide is evident when we read that Maddie should not be seen talking to (or being friends with) Franklin. Her brother is there to tattletale on her when she steps out of line (as a spy for his parents). Franklin is also unsure whether he should be talking to them, as he knows that someone will likely punish him.


Another smaller theme is that even the smallest of things can have the biggest/gravest consequences. We see this with (spoiler ahead) the needle that Maddie received. This needle joins the Dreamworld with reality, and as such, can wield great power (such as fireballs flying around the hallway). I quite like such gentle themes, as they let me think on what small things in my life may have led to great consequences, such as receiving a Harry Potter book as a child, and here I am reading and reviewing books all these years later.


A third theme is: there is always another way (spoiler ahead). We read this when Franklin has to make a choice between what Maddie says to do, and what Julius says to do. Franklin chooses Julius, but with a twist that Maddie and Julius never expected. This sort-of third option is always available to you if you just stop and think about the situation.



So, overall, I liked the book (but maybe I have a bias to magical books). I liked the idea of a Dreamworld connected with others. I didn’t like the year it was set (because it led to more adult themes), but it didn’t subtract from the story too much. I would recommend it, but you may need to explain certain themes to a child if they ask.


Note about this review

I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


Rarity from the Hollow Review

Rarity from the Hollow - Robert Eggleton


Now, I guess this is one of the first sci-fi/fantasy books for adults from a child’s perspective that I’ve reviewed. The start is pretty reasonable, but the more you read, the weirder it gets. For those of you that like weird – this book may be for you. We follow the perspective of a young girl, and that’s not all. There are thoughts interjected all over the show from other characters that I was never really sure – is she mind reading or are we reading everyone’s thoughts at once? The thoughts are in italics – but it still warps you out of the story when you read thought after thought from different characters.


However, I do believe this book does have some insight into critical social issues, and I think the author has donated proceeds from the book to a, or several, charities.



We follow Lacy Dawn, her father Dwayne, her mother Jenny, her friend Faith, her father’s friend Tom, and finally DotCom (the name reminds me of Kim Dotcom, and I couldn’t get that out of my head). This entourage makes up the main characters in the book (plus two more Mr Prump and Mr Rump).


Firstly, the absolute main character is Lacy Dawn. She’s been taught and chosen since she was young all about topics that are far above her grade level. She blazes over topics such as sex, drugs, men, and abuse. She talks about these things as if every thirteen years old should know them. She comes from a low-income family in a poor area so there is a little bit of dialect in the book.  As a character, I’m not sure if I liked Lacy Dawn. Innocence mixed with intelligence is maybe not my favourite attributes. She also has a friend, Faith, who only she can see for most of the book. Faith and Lacy discuss so many topics as children would, not understanding (or just saying what comes to their mind first).


Next, we have her father (Dwayne), and her mother Jenny. Dwayne is a wife and child beater (there is a lot of domestic violence at the start of this book). Jenny is a struggling mother who doesn’t know what to do or how to escape. Throughout the book, we see these two characters develop and improve on their faults, through the power of alien technology. Tom, Dwayne’s friend, also finds himself discovering his flaws the further through the story we go.


Lastly, we have Dotcom, who is an android (robot) from the centre of the universe, as well as his boss Mr Prump. Dotcom has waited millennia for Lacy Dawn as per the instructions from Mr Prump (the manager of the universe… kind of). Dotcom finds himself moulding to his new world the more he hangs with Lacy. It’s almost as if Lacy and Dotcom have an intelligence swap.



As quite a social science fiction book, it is filled with themes and criticisms of society. The first I’d like to tackle is domestic abuse. This happens for practically half the book until Dwayne is fixed. We also see this with Faith (spoiler ahead). Faith says her father killed her for resisting his urges. This sort of abuse is wild through the earlier parts of the book, and you almost believe Lacy uses her imagination (with Dotcom and the trees) to cope with her abuse from her father (his anger).


Another theme is teamwork and leadership. We see this later in the book when Lacy Dawn uses her leadership skills she’s gained to control and guide her team to solutions. We also read that she’s okay to let her team do the work when she’s not capable of completing it. I thought that was quite a nice little theme Eggleton added in.


Finally, the last issue I want to discuss is the obsession with sex and sexualizing things. I have to note, however, that all sexual acts are never performed in the book, they’re merely overheard or talked about. Throughout the entire book, Lacy seems obsessed with marrying and noticing DotCom and his “parts”. She does go against today’s society by stating that she will not have sex before marriage. Kind of weird to read about it, but we also read about how she hears her parents going at it and how she hears her mother in the bathtub. This all put together lead me to believe Eggleton did this to comment on how much society uses and needs sex.



While the concept was original to me, and the characters seem to be quite developed, I just found the concept a little too bizarre for my liking. However, if you feel like you want something completely different from anything you’ve maybe read, please do pick this up. It had quite a lot of laughs and awkward moments. Overall, I thought it was a decent read.


Note about this review

I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre).


The People of Sparks Review

The People of Sparks - Jeanne DuPrau


As with the last book, The City of Ember, I’m taking into account the audience this book is aimed at when making my rating. Why am I doing this now? Well, I believe I was far too harsh on the Master Magician review and far too critical, which is not what I want to do. I want to analyse and understand the book, and if you’re looking at the review and the genre, you’ll know if it’s right for you or not.



We follow the same two main characters again in this story, Lina Mayfleet, and Doon Harrow. However, now things get a little interesting as they have escaped and their adventure has ended. So, we see the story, and the story lines split, and we experience two completely different internal struggles.

About half-way through (or maybe a third), the stories split. In the first part, Lina is stuck with the doctor, with Mrs Murdo and Poppy (her sister). We also see a smaller role played by Torren Crane (a little boy who needs attention). Lina, as an adventurer, and never one to stay still explores the world and its wonder and dangers. She joins Caspar (Torren’s older brother) and Maddy and learns what it is to be a Rover. What she learns during this time, about the world and kindness and hatred, maybe makes her regret her decision.

Doon’s character is still learning all the time and still wanting to figure things out. But, because he’s not a natural-born leader, someone more charismatic, and someone with worse intentions leads the people of Ember. His name is Tick Hassler, and the more we read into the story, the more we see his real personality shine through. Doon is blinded during the story by Tick’s ambition, but he soon realises what Tick is.



The first idea I want to discuss is conflict and escalation, as that is the central theme DuPrau wanted to get across. We see this with the escalating situation between the people of Sparks (who own the village) and the people of Ember. What we see between the two peoples are differences and judgements. Both people think that they are more or less superior to the other and the differences are heightened. We also see a power struggle when the people of Sparks use their home advantage.

The second theme I’d like to take into account is kindness. This is only a minor scene and subject, but it is shown with the relationship of Maddy and Lina. We see Maddy share her (small spoiler) food with Lina when Caspar wanted to throw Lina away. We see Maddy want to (spoiler) share her food with another Rover, but Caspar wouldn’t allow it. Then, the night after the food is stolen and spoilt. I like small scenes like these which show children the importance of being a good person.



While not as good as The City of Ember (in my opinion), the book certainly has a lot of moral standing and can teach children a thing or two about the world. It’s not as playful as the last book, but it does show how people can work together to achieve great or bad things. Again, because of the writing, I would recommend this to younger children rather than young adults.


Blood Seed Review

Blood Seed: Coin of Rulve Book One - Veronica Dale

The hump

This book had a few chapters at the beginning which almost put me off the book, but I persevered. The child Sheft chapters seemed to me to be unnecessary. His childhood trauma is repeated over and over in the book that I think Veronica Dale could remove the opening chapters. However, once the story gets over this hump, I found that the characters became more natural and slowly grew into their selves. There are a few hiccups along the way, such as the magic not quite being explained until we’re well through the book. Overall, it’s a promising start to a fantasy series.


Speaking of Characters

We have a range of characters that we follow through the course of this book as well as a range of gods. The main characters we follow are; Sheft: the “hero”, Mariat: the “romance”, Tarn: the “father”, Wask: “evil”, and quite a few more that I’ll mention briefly on the way through this review.

I’ll focus first on Sheft. Sheft is an outcast from his village (At-Wysher) as he is a foreigner. His entire village (well not all of them) are xenophobes and will try anything to get rid of him. With this hatred, Sheft produced an inner turmoil that blinded him to who he was and what others thought about him. We read a lot of his thoughts and self-loathing. As I have not experienced such xenophobia myself, I’m a bit unsure if he would keep his deep-seated hatred as long as he did.

Moving on to Mariat. She’s Sheft’s love interest and Etane’s sister. Etane is Sheft’s friend since his childhood. As a character, she’s a healer and at a guess, attracted to things she can fix. I did find her character a bit dull at times because she was rather predictable. In the next book, more complex emotions or points of view could be seen from her to balance out Sheft.

We have the father, Tarn, who scolds Sheft and never believes in him. As the story moves on, we do find out why this is, but it would’ve been nice if he had a little bit of heart (I mean he fathered Sheft for 18 years, that’s got to count for something, right?).

Finally, we have the Wask. He’s the evil of the forest. He’s the thing that creeps at night and keeps everyone awake. He’s the thing that keeps religion in power in At-Wysher. We do see from his point of view a couple of times, and we learn a little of what’s in store for Sheft.



Right, well the main issue is Xenophobia. The fear of people from other countries (or just different in this case). We are jolted into this theme almost at the very start when we read about Sheft’s first visit to the village. We read about the stares, and the words passed around. The fear is real, and it boils the main religion of the community. We all feel different at some point in our lives, some more than others, and I believe that Dale has created this racism (or Xenophobia) to show this. This would especially be relevant to the USA at the moment. As you read Sheft’s perspective, you might see how your racism can have an effect on someone.

Another theme I’d like to explore quickly is love. It’s central here, in that Sheft experiences God’s love for the first time from some magician.  Here we see that Sheft was never really loved by his parents and God’s love is all-encompassing no matter what you are or have done. We also see the unwavering love from Mariat. She loves Sheft for who he is, even when it will cost her her place in the village.

Finally, I’d like to explore secrets. Now this might be a spoiler theme, so skip over if you want. In this theme, we see the secrets of Sheft’s parents revealed near the end of the book. We understand the reasons why and how it all fits into place. Secrets fester in relationships and break down communication. We see this over and over again with Tarn not telling Sheft what was said at the village, not telling Sheft why he’s different, not telling Sheft who he is.



As I can’t rate half stars (and won’t start anytime soon), this book was rated relatively highly. The opening few chapters put me off, but once you get over that you get used to the writing and style. It would’ve been better had Dale explained the magic rules at the start, but I don’t mind. Overall, if you see this on sale, I would recommend having a read.


Note about this review

I received a copy of the book from the author for an honest review. I always try my best to balance the reviews and not favour any one person (though I may be a bit subjective when it comes to the genre). You can get a copy of the book at Amazon.