Sunday, 24 September 2017

Book Review

How I Magically Messed Up My Life

in Four Freakin' Days

by Meagan O'Russell

(Published by Curiosity Quills Press, 2017)

**The publisher provided me with an ARC copy of this work.** 

Megan O’Russell’s YA novel,  How I Magically Messed up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, instantly drew my attention because of its title and its colourful cover art.  However, the following lines in the blurb really got my attention. “I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.”

I just had to read it!

For me, the mark of a good writer is one who, within the first few pages, grabs your attention and holds it, but also hits you solidly with a character’s “voice” and gives you a good glimpse into the character's nature and some of the issues that are important for that individual.  O’Russell did this extremely well.

Bryant is a teenager whose mind constantly wanders and daydreams.  He is the smart geek who’s too shy to speak to the girl he admires and who has a handsome best friend who is his opposite and epitomises all that is cool.  From the first page the quips and one-liners keep going throughout the entire novel; several times I found myself laughing out loud as I read.

Bryant’s troubles start when he finds a cell phone in a cab and decides it’s safer for him to return it to the owner rather than have it disappear into lost and found at the cab company.  Innocently unleashing a series of magical disasters, being pursued by evil wizards and a group of deranged witches becomes par for the course in Bryant’s life and his dealings with the “Rasputin of phones.”

O’Russell sets a cracking pace from the beginning of the book all the way through to the end.  This was an extremely enjoyable, fast read and I highly recommend it for MG readers all the way through to adults. 
 I hope O’Russell writes more adventures of Bryant Adams, because I’d love to read them and you will too.

Four Stars!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Book Review

Vick's Vultures

by Scott Warren

(Pub: Parvus Press, 2016)

This military science fiction novel crossed my review desk ages ago. The publisher requested that I review it saying it had “pioneer spirit and the wisecracking tone of Firefly combined with the action and taut pacing of  Mad Max: Fury Road.”

At the mention of Firefly I was hooked. How could I resist?

Vick’s Vultures is set in a future where Earth, far behind the rest of the universe in terms of technology, runs a privateering fleet of spaceships whose crews scavenge alien tech from wrecks.  This enables earth to gradually expand its reach into universe and slowly cultivate tenuous alliances while aiming to keep Earth’s location off everyone’s radar. 

The story emphasises the position of Earth as being at the bottom of the universal dung heap with a government that walks a fine line between keeping Earth’s location secret because they’re hopelessly outgunned and slowly acquiring power / tech so they can one day defend themselves in a universe full of more advanced and often predatory species.

Victoria Marin is the Captain of the U.E. Condor and on one of her scavenging missions, she and her crew stumble upon an alien prince in need of rescuing, then find themselves firmly in the middle of an age old war between two of the most advanced civilisations in the universe.

Vick's Vultures is fast paced from beginning to end and the action sequences are excellent.  The story arcs, tension and world building thoroughly engaging.

The character of Victoria and the obsessive Dirregaunt Commander, who is the villain of this piece, are a little stereotyped but none the less fun to read. I found some of the secondary characters more interesting than the main ones.  I felt like the end needed a couple of extra scenes rather than an epilogue that summed everything up.  I would like to have read the unfolding of the final events after the big battle finale. 

However, what I particularly enjoyed were the various alien civilisations that Warren constructed.  I found them unique, enjoyed the different cultural / social customs and loved the backstory of intricate politics and betrayal.

The whole feel is rather like Firefly crossed with Star Trek.  It’s space opera done very well. I became hooked on reading it and abandoned my afternoon plans to finish it.  It was rollicking good fun. 

 I’m definitely going to read the next one and check out the rest of Scott Warren’s books.

Four Stars!
<a target="_blank" href="">Cassandra</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />