Fire HD 6″ First Impressions – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
e-Reader Reviews / October 4, 2014

Last night Amazon’s new Fire HD 6” arrived on my doorstep.  Here are my first impressions of the new budget tablet.  I will direct you to Amazon’s main Kindle page to get the full specs. The good The 6” format is darned cute and practical.  Here are some pictures comparing it to the Fire HDX and Kindle Paperwhite. The format is going to be very practical for sticking in a handbag or pocket to take around.  It is blockier than the Fire HDX or Paperwhite – no tapered edges but it is very compact.  In terms of weight though, there is very little difference between the 6” HD and the 7” HDX – a mere 0.6 of an ounce. The Fire HD 6” comes with the new Fire OS 4 Sangria, which will be sent as a free update to existing Fire devices according to the note on my Fire HDX this morning. There are some really neat features to Sangria.  A backup feature worked well.  This will allow you to restore your device to a previous state if there are any issues. The new About the Book feature which you can setup to open as you read the book could be very…

Pawn by Aimee Carter – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / December 9, 2013

Pawn by Aimee Carter is a YA dystopian novel that tells the story of Kitty Doe a young woman whose similarity in looks to the niece of the Prime Minister catapults her into a dangerous game of politics.  I absolutely loved this book and breezed through it so quickly. What I liked The setting.  Carter has done a wonderful job in creating the setting for Pawn.  Kitty lives in a society in which every member sits a test on his or her seventeenth birthday which determines his or her worth to society and therefore his or her caste.  In Kitty’s world, as in ours, a formal test isn’t always a true indicator of a person’s intelligence and Kitty’s dyslexia means she is assigned a lower ranking than she’d hoped and that her intelligence deserves.  She is clearly very smart, but not in a way that can be reflected in a written exam.  Kitty’s rank is tattooed on her neck, implying that once a rank is assigned there is no way of improving one’s status in life in Kitty’s world. Those who are judged to be able to provide no value to society are banished to “Elsewhere’ and one of the…

Crewel by Gennifer Albin – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / November 25, 2013

It’s always fun when you pick up a great read unexpectedly. I first saw Crewel by Gennifer Albin on the Tor website, where they were offering the first five chapters for free. The concept seemed very fresh (although reminiscent of the Three Fates from Greek/Roman mythology – can’t go wrong with an age-old story) and intriguing so I picked up the free five chapter sample. Before long I’d finished the first five chapters, and happily bought the full book. It really sucked me in. The premise of a girl who has the power to literally weave people’s life stories and that of her region proved as intriguing as my initial reaction and I really like where Albin seems to be taking this in the next book in the series. The characters were engaging enough, with about the depth you’d expect from a young adult novel. Adelice is no Arya Stark, but then again she’s no Bella Swan Cullen either. The novel is written purely from Adelice’s point of view, so she – and the reader – are never entirely sure which of the people she meets can be trusted. This increases the tension nicely. This is in a similar vein…

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / November 11, 2013

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare is the third in the Mortal Instruments series and ties up the first three books in the series.  In it Valentine’s end game is revealed as is the truth about Jace’s lineage. What I liked Visiting Alicante, the so-called City of Glass.  I was fascinated to see Alicante, the capital of the Shadowhunters.  I personally would have liked to have seen more of how its inhabitants manage without electricity. Logical plot progression.  All of the plot development within the book was entirely logical within the framework of the story.  There were some surprises, certainly, but nothing to disrupt the internal logic of the story.  The foreshadowing was well done and very subtle. The relationships.  I was invested in all the key relationships: Jace/Clary, Luke/Jocelyn, Magnus/Alex.  They were all beautifully written and I was happy that they worked out the way they did. What I didn’t like Pacing.  For once I felt the pacing was slightly off.  For a book that was supposed to tie up a lot of loose ends, there were a lot of slow moments, especially towards the beginning.   Scenery chewing villains.  Personally, I prefer my villains to be a little…

Allegiant by Veronica Roth – Review SPOILERS
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / October 28, 2013

When I finished Allegiant I really couldn’t decide if it was a brilliant piece of writing or a garbled mess.  However, given that I had a major emotional book hangover and couldn’t face picking up another book for several days, I’m going for the “brilliant piece of writing.”  For those of you concerned about my mental wellbeing, I was rescued from the emotional depths by Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, a sweet story of first love, so that in a couple of days I may actually be ready to go back to The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.   So, onto Allegiant.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to review Allegiant without spoilers, so please join me after the cut once you have read the book.

The Selection by Kiera Cass – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / October 2, 2013

The Selection by Kiera Cass is about a young woman named America who ends up involved in a sort of Bachelor competition to win the heart and hand of the crown prince. I hadn’t actually intended to read it.  I had tried the sample and didn’t get into it enough to want to buy it.  Then I watched PolandBananasBooks’ YouTube review and when I saw that the audiobook was available at my local library I decided to give it another shot.  After I got through the first few chapters I found the story sucked me in and I finished it in almost the one sitting. What I liked The concept.  I hadn’t expected to enjoy a teen princess version of The Bachelor but the main character was so engaging I found I really enjoyed it.  It helped that America’s motives for entering the competition were laid out pretty clearly – she has no illusions about marrying the prince and living a life of luxury.  She knows that the longer she stays in the Selection the longer her struggling family receives financial support from the state, and that is one of her main motivations. The America/Maxon relationship.  I really liked that their relationship…

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / September 25, 2013

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor tells the story of Karou, a young woman with a double life.  By day she is a student in modern day Prague, but at night she runs errands for her chimaera foster father, usually involving collecting teeth.  It also tells of her love for an angel, Akiva, and of the war between angels and chimaera.   What I liked Romeo and Juliet.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone borrows a lot from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  We have the star-crossed lovers on either side of opposing factions, betrayal, discovery, faked death and its fallout.  Hey, I don’t mind – there’s a reason why Shakespeare and his themes have lasted so long – the idea of star-crossed lovers torn apart by war and death still resonates. Multiple threads woven together.  We see the story from multiple points of view.  At first, I found this confusing – who is Madrigal and why am I hearing from her when I want to hear from Karou? However as the book went on, these multiple points of view came together beautifully to create a wonderful story. The humour.  Karou and her friend Zuzanna are just so funny together…

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott – Review
Audiobook reviews , Book Reviews / September 9, 2013

Cold Magic by Kate Elliott is the first in the Spiritwalker trilogy and tells the story of Cat Hassi Barahal as she comes to terms with the strange new path her life is taking her and the new powers she acquires.  Cold Magic has been on my TBR list for some time.  I’d picked it up several months back when it was on special offer on Kindle for $1.99, but never got round to reading it.  It moved up the list a few weeks ago when I read an intriguing article on the magic system, yet it never quite made it to the top.  Finally  a couple of weeks ago, Audible released it as an audiobook.  This is the first of the books to be released on Audible, so I picked it up to listen to during my nightshifts and it finally made it to the top of the list.  I’m very glad it did! What I liked Interesting themes.  Elliott explores some interesting themes in this novel.  One of the major ones is magic vs technology.  The society in which Cat lives is beginning to make progress with industrialisation and this engenders conflict with the powerful Mage Houses, the…

The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / September 2, 2013

The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond tells the story of Kyra Locke, a young woman living in a world where the mythological gods of legend have woken and are living in our society.  Rick Riordan this is not; you will not find Bond’s Set in biker’s leathers happily munching on a hamburger in a diner.  Bond’s gods are inhuman, deadly and barely kept in check.  They do not even pretend to a veil of humanity.  Kyra must work to prevent that fragile balance – and the world – from being destroyed. What I liked Strong narrative. Bond takes us through the story at a brisk pace, keeping the narrative tension high.  The writing style is smart and efficient and kept me hooked on the story. Great characters.  Everyone should have a best friend like Bree!  I particularly appreciated that the kids were smart enough to realise there was no way they could defeat the bad guy on their own – it’s a bugbear of mine when young teenagers save the world on their own!  I also thought the relationships between the characters were nicely written. The world.  I did enjoy the world Bond has created – the gods were far…

Dream of Time by Nancy J. Price – Review
Book Reviews , eBook reviews / August 28, 2013

I received a free copy of Dream of Time by Nancy J. Price from Netgalley to review.  It tells the story of modern day wife and mother Robin from San Francisco who, when she sleeps, inhabits the body and life of turn of the century Jennie diMedici.  It relates her attempts to prevent tragedies and crimes using knowledge gleaned from her present day life. What I liked The basic concept.  I loved the main idea and felt it was very well thought out and executed.  Price wove Robin’s two lives together very well and I enjoyed her attempts to correct the past.  I liked the way limitations were built into the time travel scenario so that Robin couldn’t just fix everything straight away.  The fact that there were consequences in Robin’s present for the actions she took in the past also helped to up the stakes. The relationship with Travis.  “Jennie’s” relationship with Travis was beautifully written and very touching.  It felt very real, and I enjoyed watching them build up trust and love.  The techniques they used for communicating across the years was particularly inventive. The Victorian setting.  The Victorian setting for Robin’s alternate life was wonderfully described.  It is…