Month: August 2014

GUEST BOOK REVIEW – I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Guest Reviewer: Ami  (@mama_roach)

This fast-paced science-fiction novel tells the story of teen alien John Smith (Number Four), who is living on Earth after his home planet, Lorien, was destroyed in a devastating war. Accompanying him is his guardian Henri, who helps John to live on the run from the evil alien race, the Mogadoriens. They come across a small-town ‘Paradise’, Ohio, a perfect place to settle temporarily, where he meets the girl of his dreams, Sarah and his best friend, sci-fi nerd Sam. However, the Mogadoriens are still after him!

Not only does John have to contend with secret identities and romance, he has started to develop his Legacies, which are unusual powers that could help defend against the Mogadoriens, or reveal who he truly is. Three have already been killed, which means that Number Four is next.

The plot itself sounds predictable, the characters are fairly stereotypical (cheerleader girl-next-door Sarah, nerdy Sam and football player bully Mark) and the writing is straightforward, but I really enjoyed this book! As I read, I wanted to know more about the planet Lorien, about the Legacies and whether John Smith’s real identity would be revealed. The pace is quick, there’s plenty of action and there’s lots of special effect sequences. Yes, it does get a little silly, but if you read it with an open mind, you do begin to appreciate the bigger picture.

The main characters are quite likeable – my favourites being Henri and Bernie Kosar (the dog). They don’t give up in the face of evil and they always have hope, despite the circumstances being less than favourable. As well as the themes of hope, good vs. evil and friendship, I enjoyed reading the descriptions of Lorien, the conspiracy theories and the surprise near the end.

I am looking forward to reading the next stories in the series to find out more about the Loriens and whether they make it back home. I think many teen science-fiction fans would like this one, as it includes fantastical creatures and weird happenings, but is also action-packed from start to finish.

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Out now Penguin Books
ISBN: 9780141330860


BOOK REVIEW – Ajax Penumbra 1969 by Robin Sloan

After reading the original book, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, back in April (which you can find my review of here) I was delighted to find that Robin Sloan had also written a prequel too! I won’t go into detail about the original book but if you haven’t already read it then you really should give it a go, as I said in my review it is ‘almost the perfect novel, smart, witty, fun, mysterious and wonderfully structured’.

The series of events that are covered in this book follow our erstwhile bookshop owner / ‘cult’ extraordinaire  Mr Penumbra in the ‘summer of ’69 (all credit to Mr B. Adams for that line). San Francisco in the summer of this year is, as you can imagine, full of drugs, parties, rock and roll and all the debauchery that you can think of but for Ajax Penumbra all of that is just a distant vision. A young Penumbra is not looking for this new age, he is looking for a book and not just any book.

The book that he is searching for is the mysterious and extremely rare Techne Tycheon, a tome of work that has both created and stolen great riches from its various owners. After searching far and wide for this book Ajax has discovered that the last known location of this book was more than a century ago…in San Francisco. Armed only with a fragment of a minuscule amount of information Ajax’s mission is to locate this book and bring it back to his university for their illustrious library. During his quest he happens to come across the eponymous bookstore that we learn about in the previous book, this major discovery opens doors for Ajax in many more ways than he realises at the time…

Just as excellent as the first book, Ajax Penumbra 1969 is equally as witty and smart with every bit of fun and mystery too. Not one that will take you a very long time to read at all (something I read in a lazy hour before bed) but it is one that will stick with you. Cleverly filling in some of the gaps from Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore’, this an excellent prequel that I can’t recommend enough for fans of Robin Sloan. Thanks to the people at Atlantic Books for sending me a copy to review!

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Out now Atlantic Books
ISBN: 9781782395171

BOOK REVIEW – The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller

You know those books that you really meant to read? All of those classics that everyone has always told you that you should have read? Well not to worry, Andy Miller has read them for you! Ok well perhaps you could still dust them off and give them a read….but before you do that you should read this book!

Like most of us Andy hadn’t read War and Peace, he hadn’t perused the pages of Moby-Dick and he certainly didn’t count The Master and Margarita as one of his ‘read’ books on Goodreads. The issue that Andy had/has is that he simply didn’t have time to read; attempts at snatching a few moment before bed were unsuccessful and reading on the train was a no-go for sure, Andy wanted to change this. The literary world promised so much to Andy that he knew he was missing out on.

This idea lit a light bulb in Andy’s head, what if he could read fifty books in the space of one whole year, fifty books that he knew that he should have already read? This experiment took one man’s mind to unknown places and in turn saved his life! If nothing else then you’ll learn about the similarities between The Da Vinci Code and Moby-Dick!

This is exactly the type of book that you can easily delve into, reading whole swathes at once or even just a chapter or section at a time (in those afore-mentioned snatched moment at bedtime or on your lunch break!). Andy’s writing style is just brilliant and hilarious and you’ll often find yourself trying not to laugh on the bus to work. The other thing that I really enjoyed about this was the insight that we get into Andy’s life and the real reasons as to why he hasn’t read some of literature’s most esteemed books. I, personally and perhaps ashamedly, haven’t read most of the books that we come across in here but this has inspired me to at least attempt a few of them…maybe.

Just an afterthought before you decide to toss this one aside, this is far more than a list of 50 books that the author hasn’t read and why you should read them…it is a journey into one person’s life, filled with tit-bits of wisdom and wit. He mentions enough of each book to see why he has chosen it but not too much so as to induce boredom! This is an excellent account of 365 days in the life of a common reader!

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Out now 4th Estate Books
ISBN: 9780007255757