Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

29485885Blurb

A mysterious seaman hides at a country inn; cut-throats raid a sleepy English village; suddenly, young Jim Hawkins becomes the owner of a map leading to a lost tropical island and a fortune in stolen gold. Three adventurers–Jim, Squire Trelawney, and Dr. Livesey–set out to find the treasure. — But they trust the one they should most fear, Long John Silver. Charming, brave, ruthless, murderous, Silver fills the squire’s ship with pirates. And on the desolate, fever-infested island, the quest for gold becomes a deadly war of hide and seek. Desperate defenders against merciless killers battling over a cursed treasure won with blood, buried with blood, sought with blood. Incredible wealth that Jim and his friends can only claim…

My Perspective

Treasure Island is the story of how Jim Hawkins came to be in possession of a treasure map and the journey and adventure he went on with Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney to acquire it.

I’m really in the mood for adventure stories at the moment so this is exactly what I felt like reading.

I really liked Jim. He was an easygoing young man, eager to please, hardworking, quick thinking and he had a lot of courage. Doctor Livesey was also an easy character to like whether Squire Trelawney I found a bit too freely spoken and over confident. John Silver was friendly and very easy to like, which of course made me suspicious. The rest of the crew were typical pirates, or “buccaneers”, self interested, not too smart, violent and drunk on rum all the time.

The story was very interesting and well paced, keeping you on your toes and turning the pages quickly. I did find some of the language hard to understand at times however it added to the feel of the story so I wouldn’t change it.

Overall it was a really enjoyable story, well written and full of adventure. I would definitely recommend it if you like classics, adventure stories or historical fiction.

October Baby by Eric Wilson and Theresa Preston

14978982Blurb

Not long after Hannah, a college student, experiences increasing anxiety and a sudden collapse, all signs point to the surprising circumstances of her birth. Hannah soon learns from her parents that she was adopted and is the survivor of a failed abortion attempt.

Bewildered, angry, and confused, she turns to her oldest friend, Jason, for support. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his friends on a road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past and find hope for the unknown future.

Along the way, Hannah finds that every life is beautiful, and that life itself can be so much more than what we might have planned.

Based on the popular movie of the same name, October Baby brings to life powerful themes of hope, love, forgiveness, and redemption.

My Perspective

October Baby is the novel version of the movie, October Baby, which is about a college student named Hannah who collapses on stage during a performance due to medical issues related to her birth. Her world as she knows it falls apart with the knowledge of what really happened when she was born – that she was the product of a failed abortion and her parents adopted her. She joins a group of friends on their Spring Break trip to visit the place where she was born – and hopefully find some answers.

Last year we watched the movie version of October Baby at the youth group we run. The theme for the term was forgiveness and this story really explored that concept well. I was curious to read the novel version of it especially if any of our youth wanted to read it too.

At first I found it hard to get into the book as it started out when Hannah was a child and i found the reading a bit immature. I had to remind myself that I am not the target audience for the book and so i got into a bit more plus Hannah soon became a college student so things matured.

Hannah is a likeable and realistic character. She bugged me a little bit because she reminded me of myself with the acting – a little bit up herself. Plus I couldn’t get over how much she let her parents dictate her life even though she was an adult. I can understand she was living under their roof so it was their rules etc. but I felt like she acted like a young teenager! I liked Jason except I couldn’t really understand his relationship with Alanna. I found it hard to like her Dad because he was so controlling. I understood he wanted the best for her however he went about things all the wrong way! I really liked her mother.

The story really explores the concept of what abortion looks like when it fails and how the product of that is much more than just a fetus. I’d rather not get into a political debate about abortion in a book review however I think this book is a great way to start a discussion.

The story has a small element of Christianity throughout however it’s very subtle and doesn’t shove any agendas in your face. It mainly just focuses on the power of forgiveness, which I think is great.

The story flowed fairly well and although it was a bit sappy in places, it was an enjoyable read.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially to those who like a fairly lighthearted book with deep messages and themes.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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Blurb

Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home in Portsmouth, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with her cousin Edmund as her sole ally. During her uncle’s absence in Antigua, the Crawford’s arrive in the neighborhood bringing with them the glamour of London life and a reckless taste for flirtation. Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and, with its quiet heroine and subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, one of her most profound.

My Perspective

I’m pretty proud to say that I’ve now read all of Jane Austen’s major novels, Mansfield Park being the last one. I’m a pretty huge Jane Austen fan so i think it’s only proper that i am acquainted with all of her works!

Mansfield Park follows the early life of Fanny Price, who at a young age is sent to live at Mansfield Park with her wealthy uncle, aunt and cousins, as an act of charity towards her larger, poorer family. Fanny is extremely shy and quiet however she soon adapts with the support of her elder cousin, Edmund. However with the arrival of the Crawford’s into the neighbourhood, much drama and scandal ensues with Fanny’s heart caught in the middle.

The story is well written with plenty of rich descriptions and character development. It is slower paced with a definite slow build up of tension and climax.

I’m not sure what i thought of Fanny. In some ways i really liked her, however her frail temperament really irritated me. I appreciated how reserved and thoughtful she was, especially in comparison with the other female characters. Most of the other characters annoyed me or i was indifferent towards. I really wanted to love Edmund however i could only just like him (and half the time i thought he was an idiot for being so blind). To be honest i was a little disappointed in the characters. It wasn’t that they weren’t well written – i just couldn’t grab hold of them and endear them like the characters in most of Jane’s other novels.

I also found the story ended very quickly and a bit oddly – it was wrapped up like an epilogue. I found this surprising because the novel itself was quite slow paced and nothing happened quickly.

Overall it was still a great novel, the intricacies of English society well explored. I would probably say it’s my least favourite Jane Austen novel though so if you’re going to start reading Jane Austen, maybe don’t start with this one.

 

 

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower (Legends of Windemere Book 2) by Charles E. Yallowitz

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Blurb

Luke Callindor and his friends are about to learn that the life of an adventurer can be brutally unforgiving.

Hungering for another adventure, Luke agrees to escort the heir of Serab along the L’dandrin River and into the safety of Gods’ Voice. A deadly gauntlet of cunning traps and savage creatures lay before the young warrior and his companions. Lacking the powerful magic needed to combat his enemies, Luke’s survival and victory may be in the hands of his newest ally. That’s if the temperamental Nyx doesn’t set him on fire first.

Luke will bravely face everything that is thrown at him, but how can he defend himself when he’s ignorant of the truth behind his mission?

My Perspective

I’ve been meaning to read this book pretty much straight after I read the first book in the series, Beginning Of A Hero (Legends of Windemere Book 1) by Charles E. Yallowitz. I bought it ages ago however I don’t have a Kindle so I have to read it on the computer, which I find annoying. Anyway a few months ago I was lying in bed holding my sick, (then) eight month old son who was only sleeping if he was in my arms, and all that was in reach was my phone. I’d already been through heaps of emails and it was doing my head in, I’m really quite sick of social media at the moment, what I felt like was digging into a really great fantasy book. Aha! I thought to myself. I will download the Kindle app onto my iPhone.

I usually wouldn’t be interested in reading on my phone because it’s small and I’m not a fan of reading on a backlit screen however it was the best choice I had! So I go to download the Kindle app and lo and behold, my iPhone 4 is too old to support the latest version. Bugger. I researched how I could get around it however it requires your computer (you download the app through iTunes and then when you go to download it on your iPhone as you’ve already “bought” it, it asks if you want to download an older version that is compatible with your iPhone. Very sneaky). Anyway after he woke up, I got onto the computer and worked my magic and soon I had the Kindle app on my iPhone with this book ready to read in preparation for his next sleep.

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower follows Luke and his new friends; Nimby, Fritz, Aedyn and Fizzle as they make their way to the city of Gaia to collect the apprentice of Rainbow Tower and board the River Scout to protect Kellia, heir of Duke Solomon on her journey home to Gods’ Voice. However now Luke has major enemies – not just the Lich but his demon servant, the Hellfire Elf who has sworn revenge. Although Luke and his friends expect trouble on their journey, little do they realise just how much trouble they will get – and that those two aren’t the only enemies that they are up against.

As it has been two years since I read Beginning Of A Hero, I really should have read it again to refresh my memory as I vaguely remember some details but it’s very hazy and I was a little bit lost with some things. Surprisingly the author doesn’t waste any time doing the “big recap” that so many books do where they basically give a summary of the previous book at the beginning of the next book. I found this both good and bad. It’s great because if you’ve just read the previous book, it really is a waste of time and it’s almost like it’s bringing up to speed any readers who haven’t read the previous book (which unless it’s by accident, why wouldn’t you start at the beginning?) however it’s also bad because if it’s been a bit of time between books, it’s nice to have a bit of recapping to help jog your memory. However in my case, it’s been long enough that I really should have reread Beginning Of A Hero.

Again, I really loved the characters. Luke continues to grow and mature and although he can be stubborn and reckless, he’s definitely not as annoying as the first book. It was interesting to read and learn more about Nimby, Fritz and Aedyn. Without spoiling anything, I was surprised at who I started to like more and the flaws that appeared in some of the others. Fizzle was as adorable as ever and I really enjoyed getting to know the new characters.

There were a lot of action scenes and sequences throughout this book involving both sword play and casting of spells. I really enjoyed reading how the characters interacted with one another while fighting and using their strengths together to help defeat their enemies.

There were quite a few twists throughout and I really didn’t see any of them coming! It was quite refreshing to be able to read a book and really go along for the ride without knowing what was coming next.

There was a lot going on in this book, not too much that it felt too busy, just a lot that it kept you absorbed in the story and keeping up really kept you on your toes. Interestingly enough, the book is fairly medium paced so although there is a heck of a lot going on, it doesn’t feel rushed at all and isn’t too slow that it bores you.

I’d also like to point out that in my review of Beginning Of A Hero, I mentioned there were quite a few grammatical errors throughout and the book could have been edited a bit more closely. I’m happy to say that this book was not like that at all. On that note, the author has definitely improved and this book was really well written (not that the first book was terrible, however it was the author’s debut and it’s good to see improvement – it gives credit to the author and the series). I’m really looking forward to reading the next book.

Overall I would definitely recommend this book, and this series. You really need to start with the first book in the  series though, Beginning Of A Hero. Like I said in my previous review, it has all the things a great fantasy should have: strong characters, both good and evil; a quest; mythical creatures; battle scenes; and even some romance. I am really looking forward to continuing the series!

Under The Duvet by Marian Keyes

Under+The+DuvetBlurb

‘When people ask me what I do for a crust and I tell them that I’m a novelist, they immediately assume that my life is a non-stop carousel of limos, television appearances hair-dos, devoted fans, stalkers and all the glitzy paraphernalia of being a public figure. It’s time to set the record straight. I write alone, in a darkened bedroom, wearing my PJs, eating bananas, my laptop on a pillow in front of me …’

Her novels are read and adored by millions around the world – now read Marian Keyes’s collected pieces: regular bulletins from the woman under the duvet.

My Perspective

Under The Duvet is a collection of previously published as well as unpublished writings by Marian Keyes. Most of them are lighthearted and humorous however a couple are quite in depth, serious memoirs. They give a glimpse into the real life of Marian Keyes – in true Marian Keyes style.

I really enjoyed this collection. It captured Marian’s writing style perfectly. She writes so well an honest take on life’s issues – both serious and not so serious – with a mix of fun and humour. It was also really interesting to read true facts about her actual life.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of Marian Keyes as well as those new to her writings. It won’t disappoint!

Raelia (The Medoran Chronicles #2) by Lynette Noni

26077971Blurb

“Life is full of crossroads, Alex. Full of choices.”

Returning for a second year at Akarnae Academy with her gifted friends, Alexandra Jennings steps back through a doorway into Medora, the fantasy world that is full of impossibilities.

Despite the magical wonder of Medora, Alex’s life remains threatened by Aven Dalmarta, the banished prince from the Lost City of Meya who is out for her blood.

To protect the Medorans from Aven’s quest to reclaim his birthright, Alex and her friends seek out the Meyarin city and what remains of its ancient race.

Not sure who—or perhaps what—she is anymore, all Alex knows is that if she fails to keep Aven from reaching Meya, the lives of countless Medorans will be in danger. Can she protect them, or will all be lost?

My Perspective

Raelia sees Alex back at the Academy for another year and this time she’s got a lot more experience under her belt. However it’s no where near enough to protect herself against Aven Dalmarta, the disinherited Elven Prince of Meya. Too much trouble comes looking for Alex so with a promise to the headmaster, Alex must find The Lost City of Meya, home of the Elves, to seek their help and to warn them of Aven’s plans.

Raelia is the sequel to Akarnae and follows on about two to three months after the end of Akarnae, starting at the beginning of the new school year.

There was a lot of fill in story at the beginning to tie the two books together, which I could see was necessary to some extent however there was quite a lot of information and it was a bit of a case where the author needed to “show and not tell”. I also found it quite hard to believe that Alex’s parents would have reacted the way they did. Certainly mine wouldn’t have!

I enjoyed getting to know the familiar characters a bit more and meeting the new characters. I didn’t find Alex as likeable as before though, and the brotherly affection she seems to have with almost every single male character started to irk me a bit. Also there’s a bit more sexual tension in this book and I’m sure it would appeal to YA female readers however it made me roll my eyes.

There was more adventure in this book and it really kept you on edge with the perilous situations they found themselves in. It was lighthearted and comedic however with a dark twist, and like the previous book, isn’t an epic – albeit still very interesting and full of fantasy adventure.

I found that I didn’t enjoy Raelia as much as I did Akarnae. There were quite a few corny moments however I understand it’s aimed at YA so I will let that slide. It was more that I found I had to suspend my disbelief even more than the previous book and without spoiling it, some things were just a bit too easy.

I have to say though that it kept me interested and I couldn’t put it down! Also I totally didn’t see the ending coming (I did before it happened but not like half way through or anything). I was quite surprised. I did feel like a part of the way the ending happened was so obvious and I was cringing the entire time however I didn’t see the twist that went with it.

Again, although it’s not the best written novel, it certainly takes you captive and I’m looking forward to reading the next installment in the series. This time I have to wait a bit longer though!

 

Akarnae (The Medoran Chronicles #1) by Lynette Noni

23569787Blurb

With just one step, sixteen-year-old Alexandra Jennings’s world changes—literally.

Dreading her first day at a new school, Alex is stunned when she walks through a doorway and finds herself stranded in Medora, a fantasy world full of impossibilities.

Desperate to return home, she learns that only a man named Professor Marselle can help her… but he’s missing.

While waiting for him to reappear, Alex attends Akarnae Academy, Medora’s boarding school for teenagers with extraordinary gifts. She soon starts to enjoy her bizarre new world and the friends who embrace her as one of their own, but strange things are happening at Akarnae, and Alex can’t ignore her fear that something unexpected… something sinister… is looming.

An unwilling pawn in a deadly game, Alex’s shoulders bear the crushing weight of an entire race’s survival. Only she can save the Medorans, but what if doing so prevents her from ever returning home?

Will Alex risk her entire world—and maybe even her life—to save Medora?

My Perspective

I follow Lynette Noni’s blog and I’ve been wanting to read her debut novel for some time now. I got my hands on a copy and I’ve finally been able to read it!

Akarnae follows Alexandra (Alex) Jennings as she is transported to another world, Medora and the Akarnae Academy for the gifted. Much to her surprise, her arrival is expected and the only person who can help her get home again is Akarnae’s headmaster – who happens to be absent. In the meantime, she is enrolled into the academy, makes two best friends, and is discovering all that this new world has to offer.

A common description for this book is a mix of Harry Potter, Narnia, and The X-Men. While that may make it unoriginal, to me if you enjoyed the story and can’t wait to read the next book, well the author has done her job.

At first the writing felt unnatural, like the author was trying too hard however it soon started to flow a lot better and settled in to a great YA story.

Alex was easy to like. She was down to earth, a bit of a klutz and really put a solid effort in. Her acceptance of being thrown into another world was a little bit unbelievable however the overall tone of the book feels more lighthearted and fun than major epic so I’m not sure whether the author is going for that so isn’t too concerned about it being too believable (this goes for all the technology too, which wasn’t so much far fetched – just the way it was explained was a bit simplistic). The other characters were fun and likeable – Jordan and Bear are definitely the kind of guys a teenage girl wants as her best friends. The villain wasn’t as strong as he could have been, he was the only character who I was disappointed in. He fell a bit flat. In turn, the whole “complication” of the story fell a bit flat. That was probably my only major qualm with the story.

The story is interesting, holds mystery and adventure, is super fun and really goes all out with the imagination. I really loved that even though Alex obviously is attracted to some of the fellows in the book, it’s completely not a focus at all. That part felt very realistic and gains a huge thumbs up for me (so many YA are bogged down in ridiculous romance).

Overall I really enjoyed the story and I found it hard to put down. I was pulled into Medora along with Alex and although it’s not the most original text, it’s fun and lighthearted and full of adventure. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series – Raelia – it comes out on March 23rd!