What's My Instrument – Picture Book Review

By: Johnny Oddsocks
Published on: November 30, 2019

What’s My Instrument? is a fun little rhyming story. Marilyn the Mongoose wants to be in a band. First she tries the piano, then the drums, the trumpet, but nothing goes the way she wants. She even tries to be a DJ. Finally she figures out her spot in the band, but now she needs more members.

Little ones will enjoy this cute little picture book. It’s message is simple – have a dream, find a way to make it happen and then find friends to share that dream with. Angus was probably my favorite friend in the band as he runs across the stage as guitarists sometimes do. I also found the rhymes to have a nice cadence to them and didn’t struggle with finding the right rhythm.

Description:

Marilyn the Mongoose is keen to start a band – but she can’t play an instrument!

“What’s My Instrument?” introduces children to a variety of musical instruments as Marilyn tries to find the one which is perfect for her.

It is a humorous and delightfully illustrated children’s book ideal for toddlers and early readers.

The Last Smile in Sunder City – Book Review

The Fetch Phillips Archives (1)
By: Luke Arnold
Published on: February 25, 2020

The Last Smile in Sunder City is a noir fantasy book following Fetch Phillips, a struggling PI detective, or a ‘Man for Hire’, as he prefers to be called.

Years prior to when this story begins, this world experienced an event called the “Coda” where the human army was envious of the power of magic and decided to change…everything. In their lust to capture magic for themselves they fundamentally changed magic for everyone. The world was now drained of magic. Some creatures were immediately no more, while some live a half-existence.

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Master of Sorrows – Book Review

The Silent Gods Book 1 by Justin T. Call
Published on: August 8, 2019

So many thoughts rolling around in my head in regards to this epic fantasy story that I don’t know where to begin. Too many, in fact.

Master of Sorrows follows a boy named Annev who attends the Academy where he is attempting to get promoted to Avatar of Judgment. To do so, he must win the Testing Day contest against his other classmates as well as friends. This is the last Testing Day he will be permitted to take part in. Failing to win means becoming a servant to the others and to make it worse, it is also the last Testing Day for two of his close friends as well.

With the Testing Day as the major plot line in the first half of the book, the author also uses the events surrounding this as a way introduce you to the protagonist/antagonists, religious structure and most importantly religious politics and prejudices. The leaders of the Academy and townspeople all believe that sons of Keos are cursed and are considered evil. They are identified when they are born with a deformity and are immediately killed. If somehow an individual isn’t discovered at birth then what awaits for them is being stoned to death once they are discovered. Annev was born without an arm past his elbow. He’s been able to keep it hidden for 17 years through the use of a special glove, but being found out is one of his greatest fears.

As you might expect with any epic fantasy story, there is a lot of lore/knowledge information within this first book that can sometimes slow the story down a little at times. However, I was surprised by how much I liked the sections about the gods (Keos and his siblings). I usually skip or fast-read those sections, but instead found the sibling relationships and responses to certain events rather interesting.

Overall, Master of Sorrows is an enjoyable epic fantasy read with a beautiful cover too. As I read through the story, I found that the characters and their different choices and decisions was one of my favorite parts and not just Annev’s story. Of course, the decision Annev makes in determining the content of his own character and what he believes in is one of the best aspects of the book. The Masters at the Academy see the world in black and white, but Sodor, Annev’s mentor, has slowly been teaching Annev to think for himself and watching the progression within Annev is one of the many highlights of the story. But choices other characters made was just as intriguing.

While reading I came to the conclusion that this might make a decent fantasy book club read. There are a lot of opportunities for points of discussion – from the gods and the religious politics to the Testing Day contest there’s no shortage of topics to bring up.

Rating: 4 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

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Lizard's Tale – Book Review

By: Weng Wai Chan
Published on: July 2, 2019

Set in pre-war Singapore during the British colonization, Weng Wai Chan takes us to a time period where everyone is starting to feel the stress over the possibility of war with Japan and their potential invasion. Lizard’s Tale is primarily about a Japanese Navy code book the British are trying to get hold of and that the Japanese are trying to get back.

At the beginning of the story we find that Lizard (his initials are LZD) has been hired to steal a teak box from the general manager of the New British East India Company. He had been warned that this box is dangerous and could get his boss and him killed, which soon after comes true when the person who hired him is murdered before Lizard can deliver the box. Soon after Lizard finds himself in the world of spies and rescue attempts as Lizard tries to figure out what to do with this box.

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The Gracie Guide to Naples – Book Review

By Anne E. Moses and Gracie, an English Cocker Spaniel
Published on: October 31, 2019

Gracie, an English Cocker Spaniel, has written an illustrated, fun guide to all that Naples, Italy has to offer. At only 48 pages, the book starts off by providing us with a little bit of history of Naples, but soon Gracie goes on to tell us about famous areas we may see when we visit as well as places to eat and shop. But to truly understand and appreciate this city Gracie also gives us a taste of what life is like there and what to expect when visiting, such as what may happen to you when you stop at a red light while in your car.

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The Last Passenger – Book Review

Charles Lenox Mystery Book .3
By: Charles Finch
Published on: February 18, 2020

The Last Passenger is a book from one of my favorite mystery series and always one I can count on to deliver a good story and one that leaves me immediately wanting to pick up the next in the series, even if it is a re-read. The Last Passenger was no exception.

The story opens in a scene filled with humor and wit – apparently London has decided Charles needs a wife. Through-out the story we get to watch Charles skillfully evade potential future wives as they are introduced to Charles over and over again. Marriage and love in general are one of the common themes in this novel. But, this book is set in a time where a woman’s economic and financial options are limited, which is also introduced into the story. Even so, if one is lucky enough they get to experience true love, which we get to see very clearly through Lady Jane and Lord Deere’s relationship.

Toward the beginning of the story Charles becomes involved with a murder case where the clues and lack of clues are difficult to interpret, not to mention no one has any idea of who the victim is, which takes quite a bit of sleuthing to figure out. Through the course of the investigation we learn there is a connection tied to the politics of the American slave trade and as the story progresses the reader is given a little insight around the differences between the U.S. and U.K. policies and support in regards to slavery and the slave trade.

How does one not fall in love with this series? Because this is a prequel to the actual series I knew already where the story would take the characters, but even so, my heart still broke with that ending. It was so incredibly well done and so emotional. Not overly dramatic, but skillfully done with a delicate, light touch leaving my heart raw and bare.

Highly recommended to anyone who loves a traditional detective mystery story that is set in England in the mid 1800’s.

Rating: 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press and Minotaur Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

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Homeworld – Book Review

Odyssey One Book 3 By: Evan Currie
Published on: September 13, 2013

I love this series. It’s been a while since I breezed through a whole series like I did with this one. As soon as one audio book finished, I immediately picked up the next one, staying up late to finish each one. Although this is the review for book 3, I have finished the series and I am fairly certain I will pick the series up again at a later time and re-read it all. It’s like a roller coaster at an amusement park – it way too exhilarating of a ride to just experience once.

In this book, the Block launches their first ship, the Weifang, into deep space where they have the unfortunate luck to encounter the Drasin first time out. With a damaged ship, they slowly and cautiously make their way back to Earth doing everything they can to not be followed and not to bring this species back to the Homeworld. Except we the reader know what is inevitable, especially since the title is called Homeworld. We can only hope Earth defense’s can withstand what is about to come and that Captain Weston can pull out one more trick as the Odyssey tries their best to warn the Weifang about what may be following them.

Evan Currie really knows how to create a military sci fi/space opera series. It’s not just that this book has a well-paced, fun plot or that you are kept on the edge of your seat during battles, which you definitely are. But it’s also how well draws out the tension or story during the quieter moments too. Keeping you engaged every second of the story.

Rating: 5 stars

Description:

The consequences of Earth’s exploration of the Galaxy come home to roost when the Drasin track a human ship back to Earth. Mounting a desperate defense, the crew of the NAC spacecraft Odyssey, their allies, and the people of Earth face an overwhelming force of invading alien ships wielding terrible power. Doomed from the start, but with nowhere to retreat, Captain Eric Weston commits his ship to the defense of the human race even as the human outposts in Sol system fall one by one before the unrelenting Drasin onslaught.

A first-rate military science fiction epic that combines old-school space opera and modern storytelling, Homeworld: Odyssey One, the third installment of the Odyssey One series, brings the riveting, exhilarating, hard-pressed action to Earth, with devastating consequences.