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Title: Please Don’t Tell my Parents I’m a Supervillain

Author: Richard Roberts

Genre: YA Science Fiction

Opening line: ‘…On the last day before I got my super power, I was sulking because I didn’t have a super power…’

Blurb: – Penelope Akk wants to be a superhero. She’s got superhero parents. She’s got the ultimate mad science power, filling her life with crazy gadgets even she doesn’t understand. She has two super powered best friends. In middle school, the line between good and evil looks clear. In real life, nothing is that clear. All it takes is one hero’s sidekick picking a fight, and Penny and her friends are labelled super villains. In the process, Penny learns a hard lesson about villainy: She’s good at it. Criminal masterminds, heroes in power armour, bottles of dragon blood, alien war drones, shape shifters and ghosts, no matter what the super powered world throws at her, Penny and her friends come out on top. They have to. If she can keep winning, maybe she can clear her name before her mum and dad find out

My thoughts: Move over Marvel comics there are new Super Villains in town. They’re really nice children – just misunderstood! Penny and her two friends Ray and Claire are waiting for their super powers to come through. All the parents say to be patient and that the super power could be years in coming – but they’re wrong. Penny gets them through in a few days, as do Ray and Claire, but Penny decides to keep it a secret from her Super Hero parents so she can surprise them later when she has gained control of them. She sets up her secret laboratory and gets to work making something that will give her top marks at the upcoming Science Fair – even budding Super Hero’s need good grades! Penny creates ‘The Inscrutable Machine’ a voice-activated mechanical critter that can make pretty much anything Penny tells it to. As you would expect, the Science fair doesn’t turn out as expected, especially as one of the other students has obviously cheated. Penny and Co go back to the school that night to sabotage the cheater’s display and when one thing leads to another they end up on the most wanted list as super villains rather than heroes. Ooops, mum and dad will not be pleased! Penny needs to sort things out and convince everyone she is a good guy before her parents find out – what could be simpler?

Penny and her friends were very typical of their age and very hands on in the problem solving department They always came up with a plan to counteract what was being thrown at them, trouble is their plans nearly always didn’t work the way they…well…planned! The kids talked and reacted the way teens would and I sometimes had to stop my eyes rolling in response to something and remind myself I’m an adult of course I know better – but they wouldn’t!!! Penny, Ray and Clair worked well as a team, they had their differences and their squabbles but whenever the crunch came they pulled together, which they needed to do in order to survive some of the challenges they faced. I liked the idea that a bunch of kids could outwit grownups but found it improbable that Penny’s parents didn’t pick up on who she was. Still the whole point of the story is to suspend belief and go along for the ride which is exactly what I did.

PLEASE DON’T TELL MY PARENTS I’M A SUPERVILLAIN is pure escapism but quite a long book so some younger teens may be put off by its size. However, it is an edge of the seat adventure so interest will certainly be sustained and size overlooked. There were one of two loose ends however I have learned that there is going to be a sequel in 2015 called ‘At Least I Didn’t Blow Up Our Moon’ so I am assuming these loose ends have been left dangling to be continued in the next books. I am also assuming that we learn more about Ray’s background because very little has been revealed about him so far. Very good Sci fi for the younger reader

For more about the author – Click Here

The book’s web page: http://imasupervillain.com/

C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Curiosity Quills and the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: The Eye of the Sheep

Author: Sofie Laguna

Genre: General Fiction

Opening line: ‘…It was Saturday morning and I was doing the gardening with mum …’

Blurb: – Told from the mesmerising point of view and in the inimitable voice of Jimmy, this is an extraordinary novel about a poor family who is struggling to cope with a different and difficult child.

“… Ned was beside me, his messages running easily through him, with space between each one, coming through him like water. He was the go-between, going between the animal kingdom and this one. I watched the waves as they rolled and crashed towards us, one after another, never stopping, always changing. I knew what was making them come, I had been there and I would always know…”

Jimmy Flick is not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

My thoughts: I am rarely compelled to read a book because of its cover, however the cover of THE EYE OF THE SHEEP was one of those rare occurrences, it leapt out of the catalogue and said “Pick me, pick me!” How could I refuse the demands of two such gorgeous characters staring at me? Even better the story contained behind the cover was just as compelling to read. Turns out the two characters on the front cover are the narrator of the story, Jimmy, and his canine friend Ned.

I loved Jimmy. Jimmy is special, he talks endlessly, asking questions and explaining what he sees. He can ‘see’ the internal workings of things such as blood moving through the body and the rust growing where his father works. Jimmy can also feel the cells of his body racing faster than everything else so that he gets frightened and overcome by it all, only his mother seems to be able to make things slow down for him. His mother also insists that despite her boy being special he will be brought up as any other child, which may not be in Jimmy’s best interest as his lack of awareness often results in him becoming a victim in the world outside his family. Because Jimmy tells the story, starting as a very young child, the at times, horrifying events that go on around him are not as in your face as they could have been. Through Jimmy we see love, alcoholism, domestic violence, poverty, retrenchment, fear and a dysfunctional family. Jimmy’s naivety gives him a unique way of seeing people and the world. So Jimmy only partially understands why his brother makes him hide when dad starts listening to a certain type of music and drinking a certain type of alcohol. He only partially understands why his mother cries out on those nights and bruises appear on her body after these nights. He can’t reconcile this dangerous father with the one who builds him a billycart and takes him in a plane for a seaside holiday with Uncle Rodney and his dog Ned. Ned also grounds Jimmy, when Jimmy is touching Ned the world stops racing around and he feels peace.

The descriptive language in THE EYE OF THE SHEEP is brilliant, and far from the subject being grim and despairing, it actually touches your very soul with its special blend of pathos and humour. I worried for Jimmy as I understood what was happening even when he didn’t, and when a fairly crucial turning point arrived in the story I just wanted to scoop him up in my arms to protect him as he had no idea at all how his life would change. Mind you neither did I; would his life change for the better or for the worse? Well, you will just have to read it to see, I thoroughly recommend this book.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for my copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99

Title: Hamlet’s Ghost

Author: Jane Tara

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Opening line: ‘…Rhiannon Dee felt like she was having an out-of-body experience…’

Blurb: – Kip Daniels has been haunting the Hamlet Majestic for thirty dull years, ever since the stage roof collapsed on him during what was meant to be his piece de resistance: his performance of Hamlet. All he really wants is to get to the end of the play, but that won’t happen while the theatre stands abandoned and boarded up. He’s resigned himself to an endless limbo … until Rhiannon (Rhi) Dee moves to town to bring the theatre back to life. Rhi has fled a failed life in New York. She can’t find work as an actress. She’s overshadowed by her mother who has a hit TV reality show about witchcraft, Rhi is so sick of being seen as a witch that she intends to turn her back on the craft. But she quickly discovers she can’t escape her gifts, especially when she needs to use them to help one very sad ghost cross over.

My thoughts: HAMLET’S GHOST is the third book in the Shakespeare Sisters series, the previous two being Forecast and Trouble Brewing, they each work very well as a standalone story. Rhi makes a fabulous leading lady. Her family, at the behest of her overbearing mother, starred in a TV reality show about life as witches. Rhi and her brothers were all included in the show until the three siblings were of an age that they could refuse to appear, something their mother has never forgiven them for. She still feels she has the right to interfere in their lives. All Rhi wants is to be considered a serious actress however the notoriety of her witchy past is typecasting her to second rate shows and commercials. When she comes home one day after yet another serious acting role rejection she catches her best friend and boyfriend having sex on the coffee table, this gives Rhi the push to get as far away from the city as she can so that no one will know who she is. That place is the small town of Hamlet where she falls in love with an abandoned, rundown theatre. She arranges to take possession so she can restore it and show the world she can act. Rhi also meets some local witches, Ann, Chrystal and Tye, who help her reach her goal and convince her to not give up on her destiny. In the theatre Rhi finds the ghostly Kip who in need of help and falls in love with Kip’s son. She also discovers there are surprising links between her present and the past she is running away from. The romance elements, both major and secondary, are there simmering along nicely but they don’t take over the main story of helping Kip move on, however it is love that helps move the story to the eventual very moving climax.

HAMLET’S GHOST is a wonderful light-hearted paranormal romance with a hint of mystery; there are realistic and likable characters, there is personal growth in some of the characters, lots of laughter, misunderstandings and a feel-good ending. What more can you ask for in a book? If you haven’t read any of these books before I strongly urge you to give them a go, you can read them in any order as they are quite separate stories about different branches of the family. Some of the characters from the other books are mentioned in passing, or even make a cameo appearance, but there is no spoilery.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Momentum Books and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Title: Batter Up

Author: Robyn Neeley

Genre: Romance

Opening line: ‘…The selected bachelor of Buttermilk Falls stood frozen, waiting for Emma Stevens to deliver the life-changing news …’

Blurb: – Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret — a delicious, slightly unorthodox secret. Each Monday, she mixes up a premonition to share with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls, and sets one lucky man on the path to true love. When reporter Jason Levine finds himself mixed up in a Las Vegas bachelorette party, he hears the strangest rumour: the marriage is happening thanks to magic cake batter. Seriously sceptical, and sick of frauds, Jason journeys to the backwater town of Buttermilk Falls to expose the baker and release the townspeople from her evil clutches. But when Jason meets Emma, tempers flare and sparks fly. Will Jason cling to his logic at the expense of a future, or will he let himself fall under Emma’s spell?

My thoughts: BATTER UP is a fun light read with just the right mix of humour, magic, drama and romance that kept me enthralled for the whole book, I often found myself laughing-out-loud. You just know Jason and Emma are going to lock horns, and you just know after a few seemingly insurmountable obstacles they are going to live happily ever after. What you don’t know is how it is going to happen, and what those obstacles are going to be; and that is what kept me flipping the pages. The small township of Buttermilk Falls is so typical and well described I could ‘see’ the scenery, the lake the shops, the parks. I was impressed with the twist that it was the single men of the town who came crowding around to see if they will be the one picked to have the name of their true love appear in the batter and that author Robyn Neely didn’t go for the usual plot of the women of the town doing the girly thing. I loved that the men were open to searching for love, I mean normally they are looking, but it is not manly to admit it – no doubt at all these bachelors were manly men!!! The two main characters are Emma and Jason, Emma runs the local bakery with her cousin, and Jason is a cynical big city reporter who doesn’t believe in magic and immediately thinks scam! Both of them have an event in their past that is effecting their present, she had been dumped by an ex-fiancé and he had lost the woman he loved in tragic circumstances. They are both likable and believable characters and play their roles very well, as do the support cast and the not so likable characters! In fact back stories are just as captivating as the main focus. BATTER UP is an ingenious story with magic, love, humour, drama and the chance to raise fund for a charity by bidding for a the man of your dreams (or whoever is left) to be your summer ‘fling.’ A lovely way to spend a cold afternoon in front of a fire with a glass of wine.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Escape Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Title: Skyfire

Author: Skye Melki-Wegner

Genre: YA Fantasy

Opening line: ‘…The sky catches fire at midnight…’

Blurb: – What if you achieve everything you’ve dreamed of – and it turns into a nightmare? Danika and her crew of refugees finally reach the Magnetic Valley. Will it be the safe refuge and land of freedom they had imagined? When a runaway girl is shot down before their eyes, Danika and her friends realise that this new land is no paradise. They must try to fit in at all costs – even if revealing their secrets will mean a death sentence.

My thoughts: SKYFIRE is the third and final book in the ‘Chasing the Valley’ series and an amazing end to an edge of the seat adventure, the first two books are ‘Chasing the Valley’ and ‘Borderlands’ both terrific reads. SKYFIRE picks up where ‘Borderlands’ left off and the opening line tells us that the sky over in the legendary safe haven of Magnetic Valley where they’re finally heading is on fire. Danika, Lukas, Maisy, Teddy and Clementine have arrived at the entrance of the valley after using a centuries old smugglers song to guide their way. Now expecting a beautiful refuge from oppression it is a bit disconcerting to discover that instead of walking into a green and pleasant land they find themselves in a burnt out landscape of blackened rocks. In the distance, on the other side of the valley, they can see a forest and decide to head that way over the barren landscape – as you would when there is a bad king on your heels wanting to kill you. They end up in the village of Vindurn, where they are told that admission to Magnetic Valley is determined by their magical gifts. Depending on your gift you live in the village as a lowly peasant, the capital as a privileged member of society, or die. At night the only safe places to be is in the city or high up in a tree house anyone on the ground is killed in noxious fumes. The ruler of the valley is Lord Farran who expects respect, does not encourage questions and rarely appears in public. What is he hiding up in his isolated well-guarded volcano laboratory where he conducts explosive experiments? It is apparent that Magnetic Valley residents are just as oppressed as those in Taladia, however, unlike Taladia, Magnetic Valley has devised alchemy to the nth degree and the heroic group soon realise that the two nations are going to go head to head and the result will be the end of the world as they know it. Something has to be done.

I have loved the ‘Chasing the Valley’ series, an edge of the seat fantasy dystopian adventure. All of the main characters are realistic, well developed and grow in emotional strength as the series progressed. Each book in the series has been a ripping adventure with excellent pacing that never lets you go for a minute. People die, as they would in a struggle to overthrow cruel oppression, but there is hope and there is laughter among the tension. The final ending wrapped up all the loose ends and left me saddened at having to say goodbye to my new-found fictional friends. I heartily recommend this series.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Random House and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

July Reading Wrap-up

Welcome to my July reading wrap-up:

Total of Books Read in July was: 18

Of these: None were a Library Books, 13 were E-books and 5 were from my physical TBR pile

Then: I discovered 5 ‘new for me’ authors (i.e. the first time I have read their work).

And: 6 of the books read were written by Australian authors.

Best Book of the month:
I had a few top reads this month, all of which veer towards the lighter side of reading, so while some of the subject matter can be on the edgy side (such as forced marriage, child abduction and murder) the delivery is done with sensitivity and lightened with humour. I honestly can’t pick out any one of them to be better than the others, so, I am going to cop out and say that I recommend all of my ‘A’ reads to be very good examples of their genres.

Least Favourite Book:
I say ‘least favourite’ because my lowest ‘score’ still means the book in question is very readable, but for one reason or another I found it a bit of struggle to stay focused and finish. I was lucky enough to not struggle with any of my books during July.

General Summary:
Being an eclectic reader I read many different genres. This month the main genres covered were Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, Fantasy, Paranormal, Women’s Fiction, Historical and, strangely for me, two from the horror genre. Some of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

My Australian authors for July were 2 of the new-for-me authors Rinelle Grey and Lisa Ireland as well as Jane Tara, Kate Forsyth, Skye Melki-Wegner and Randa Abdel-Fattah. Just to clarify an Australian author is defined by me as either an Australian born author no matter where they live and write in the world now, or an author who currently lives and writes in Australia even though they may have been born elsewhere.

Finally, the 5 ‘new-for-me’ authors this month were my Aussie authors Rinelle Grey and Lisa Ireland along with Terri Reid, Robyn Neeley and Elizabeth Adler. I would happily read all of these authors again.

The List
So let’s get onto what this post is about – here is the list of books that I read during July:

A = Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down
Hamlet’s ghost by Jane Tara – (Paranormal Romance) – Full review to follow
Opens: “…Rhiannon Dee felt like she was having an out-of-body experience…”

Royal Blood by Rhys Bowen – (Historical Mystery)
Opens: “… November in London is absolutely bloody…”

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs – (Paranormal Mystery)
Opens: “…The phone rang while I was elbow-deep in sudsy dishwater…”

Good Tidings by Terri Reid – (Paranormal Mystery)
Opens: “…The superstore was filled with holiday shoppers who, in the spirit of the season, battled for remaining Black Friday specials...”

The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth – (YA Fantasy)
Opens: “…Hannah Rose Brown was not quite thirteen years old when she first discovered her family was cursed…”

Twin Curse by Rinelle Grey – (Fantasy Romance)
Opens: “…‘What do you think of Terion?’…”

Timeless by Gail Carriger – (Paranormal Mystery)
Opens: “…‘I said no such thing.’ grumbled Lord Maccon allowing himself, grudgingly, to be trussed into a new dinner jacket…”

B = Really Good Read
Containment by Vanda Symon – (Mystery)
Opens: “…What started as a small crowd of bewildered residents huddled against the seeping chill of a dark Dunedin winter morning had grown to a string of awed and silent spectators lined from the tip of The Mole to the end of the spit... ”

Breaking the drought by Lisa Ireland – (Romance)
Opens: “…‘Jerk alert at twelve o clock’…”

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs – (YA Horror)
Opens: “…We rowed out through the harbour, past bobbing boats weeping rust from their seams, past juries of silent seabirds roosting atop the barnacled remains of sunken docks, past fishermen who lowered their nets to stare frozenly as we slipped by, uncertain whether we were real or imagined; a procession of waterborne ghosts, or ghosts soon to be. We were ten children and one bird in three small and unsteady boats, rowing with quiet intensity straight out to sea, the only safe harbour for miles receding quickly behind us, craggy and magical in the blue-gold light of dawn….”

Skyfire by Skye Melki-Wegner – (YA Fantasy) – Full review to follow
Opens: “…The sky catches fire at midnight…”

Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich – (Mystery)
Opens: “...It was late at night and Lula and I had been staking out Salvatore Sunucchi, better known as Uncle Sunny, when Lula spotted Jimmy Spit…”

Batter Up by Robyn Neeley – (Romance) – Full review to follow
Opens: “…The selected bachelor of Buttermilk Falls stood frozen, waiting for Emma Stevens to deliver the life-changing news...”

Tiger’s Eye by Barbra Annino – (Paranormal Mystery)
Opens: “…If my high school softball coach could see me now, she would probably take a bat to my kneecaps…”

The Seventh Witch by Shirley Damsgaard – (Paranormal Mystery)
Opens: “…The clock on the top of the rough hewn dresser ticked away the final moments of the old woman’s life...”

C = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable
Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss – (Comic Horror)
Opens: “…The following story, which is absolutely true, was brought to my attention when I was holidaying recently on the coast of North Norfolk…”

Summer in Tuscany by Elizabeth Adler – (Romance)
Opens: “…Let me tell you right from the start, you wouldn’t want to know me…”

No Sex in the City by Randa Abdel-Fattah – (Women’s Fiction)
Opens: “…It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a student visa must be in want of an Australian wife…”

D = Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish
No ‘D’ books in July

So onward to August – I wonder what book goodies I will discover this month?

Going on Holidays

Hubby and I are off to New Zealand for July and I have given myself permission to not blog any reviews for the entire time. I will post a list of my reading activities at the end of July and resume blogging again in August.

See you when we get back!

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