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Smashwords book reviews by Ritesh Kala
- Andrew and the Quest of Orion's Belt (Rise of the Fallen)
on Nov. 14, 2011
The short introduction to this book got me intrigued enough to get myself a copy and start reading it. And I have to say that I could hardly put it down. The author is able to weave a story which kept me wanting to know what would happen at the next turn. There is not a single dull moment in the book, and the story moves along at a fast pace.
This book has all the elements that a good fantasy series should. It has an unlikely hero, upon whom the responsibility to save the world has been thrust. He gets a number of companions to help him on his quest. He also gets a guide to teach him and ready him for his final showdown. And finally, there is the bad guy with an all-encompassing power who seems invincible.
The various scenes in the book have been so well described that it feels as if you are a part of the book. The author’s amazing imagination comes to the fore in the multitude of creatures throughout the book. They have been terrifically described and you can practically see them in front of you. The pictures of these creatures throughout the book come in handy as well.
Each of the characters in the book has been created beautifully, with their own unique characteristics.
Andrew, the central character of the books, really grows through the book. He is initially not sure of his gifts, but as the story progresses, he becomes more confident, but not before making a few blunders. I can see him progressing to become the courageous leader that his quest is surely to demand.
Ivory is portrayed as being very inquisitive, which gets her in trouble a number of times. She keeps wandering off and has to be rescued resulting in the story taking a number of side tracks. This however gives Andrew a chance to get in touch with his gifts, to understand and develop them. Ivory also seems to be attracted to Andrew and I see their relationship getting deeper in future books.
Rhapsody is Andrew’s guide and teacher and provides Andrew the confidence to use his gifts. He is the mature adult in the group of boys and keeps them in line most of the times.
Lancedon is a price who has been banished from his kingdom. He is very brave, but has a soft side to him as well. I believe that he will have a much larger role to play in the remaining books of the series.
As far as criticisms go, I was a bit disappointed, as the group’s journey to find the Fallen begins right at the end of the book. This does not give us a chance to understand him and his powers a bit better.
Overall, I loved the book and I can’t wait for the next book to come, and for the adventure to continue.
on Dec. 17, 2011
Draykon is a story which revolves around a girl named Llandry. She is portrayed as being extremely socially awkward to the extent that she starts having panic attacks when she is among anything resembling a gathering. Llandry is a jewellery maker and is relatively unknown until she stumbles across a new stone which she calls Istore. This stone makes here instantly famous as the stone captures the imagination of the world and becomes the most sought after piece of jewellery after Eva is seen wearing it.
Eva, who is the other main character in the book, is a woman of high social standing and is a high positioned ‘government official’. She is in many ways the exact opposite of Llandry. She is charming and beautiful and knows just the right thing to say at the right moment.
The story is set in a fantasy world. This world is not like ours, where night follows day. The world is divided into Daylands and Darklands, which perpetually lie in light or darkness. This is just one of the intriguing aspects of the world. There are a number of amazing creatures throughout the book. Each of these creatures has been created beautifully and this portrayal really brings them to life. Although the author has been inspired by real world animals, she has enhanced or modified their abilities enough to create an array of creatures which is quite impressive. Oh, another thing is that some people here have wings and can fly. How cool is that!
As the book continues, it starts becoming apparent that Istore is much more than a simple popular gem. The story takes a mysterious turn when people who have Istore jewellery, start turning up dead. This is where Eva steps in to investigate and is pulled into the fantastical world which comes up next. The point at which the true nature of the ‘stone’ is revealed, the story turns into an all-out fantasy novel.
The novel ends with a cliff-hanger with a number of questions left unanswered, the answers to which, I suppose will be revealed in later books.
I did have trouble initially following the structure of the world and was expecting a map to make things clearer, but none was forthcoming. However, as the story progressed, things started to clear up, and I realised that a map would have been quite difficult to make, considering the twists the story goes through.
I really liked the story-telling style of the author and the two different story-arcs run smoothly along till almost then end when they collide magnificently and culminate in a crescendo. Now, all I can do is wait for the next instalment in the story.
- Kiwi in Cat City
on Dec. 21, 2011
Who would have thought that I could read and enjoy a book written mainly for children! This is one book that will hold the attention of the most fidgety child and captivate and entertain them.
The ‘Kiwi’ series by author Vickie Johnstone revolves around Amy and James, two young children who own a cat named Kiwi. One night, as they see their cat outside staring at the moon, they go down and start following her, until she disappears in a cloud of purple smoke! As she returns and starts talking (Of course, a talking cat, this is a children’s book after all), she instructs the kids to do to mimic her and suddenly they find themselves turned into kittens and this is where their adventure begins.
Kiwi takes the new kittens to ‘Cat City’ which is quite similar to our world with cafes and shops, roads and cars and even a police station. This is the ‘double life of Kiwi, where she works as a detective. The trio is handed a case by Inspector Furrball as soon as they enter this new world, one involving ‘catnappings’. They are joined by the inspector’s nephew, Paws on this case. As they start investigating, a mystery evolves and the rest of the story is about how this unusual group solves this mystery.
This is a really clean mystery, you will not find people (oh sorry, cats) getting hurt. Even the guns are freeze guns to avoid any bloodshed. However, the suspense is amazingly created and maintained throughout the book. I was quite surprised to find myself not willing to put the book down. The mystery of the story has been really well designed and has enough twists to keep everyone guessing.
The author has modified a number of words enough to give them a ‘catty’ twist. This was something I found quite amusing and I liked the imagination it involved. Also the world, although familiar to us, is adapted for the cats that inhabit it. For example, you can find mouse treats and fish biscuits, milk instead of soft drinks, scratching posts and cat toys littered for their entertainment.
I was somewhat disappointed by the abrupt end, but knowing that this is a series, it is something I should have expected and accepted. I am not saying the mystery was not solved, but the author has left a few strands open to continue the series. I am amazed to be saying this, but I would love to continue reading about the new adventures these kids/kittens get into.
I can say that this would make an excellent book for parents to read along with their children. This is a great place to start to get children interested in reading and wean them away from Facebook television and their gaming boxes.
- Kiwi and the Missing Magic
on Dec. 24, 2011
Kiwi’s gang is back in full force! Vickie has again created a huge fun filled adventure for us to follow, and I loved every bit of it. All the characters of the previous story are back with a few new characters. The list of new characters includes Kiwi’s mother Moogie who seems to be quite influential in Cat City and a giant mouse named Whiskers (I run away when I see a tiny mouse, I don’t know what I’d do if I saw a giant one!).
As anyone who has read the first book in this series knows that the kids named Amy and James have a cat named Kiwi, who is find of ‘magical’ and can covert these kids into kittens and take them to Cat City. After they return from their first trip to Cat City, the kids find it a little difficult to adjust back to their human selves and retain some of the habits they picked up in Cat City. This provides us with a few laughs. The adventure begins when Kiwi teaches the kids to talk to all the other animals. This new found skill helps them talk to the bees and find out what is wrong with the flowers around their house. Here they meet the ‘worrying bee’ who worries about everything.
The real adventure begins when they return to Cat City and soon find that some ‘Magic’ is missing. The adventure takes a serious turn when Cat City is attacked by a giant mouse aided by some of the missing Magic. After capturing him quite courageously, Amy and James take him home where he becomes friends with James’ pet hamster, Hammy. The friendship is really well depicted and kids can learn a few valuable insights about how true friends should really behave. I also liked the ending of this book where the mouse and hamster pair is gladly welcomed into Cat City. This should reach the little ones about the importance of forgiveness.
The story takes a number of twists and turns and ends with the team infiltrating the land of the giant mice. I will not go any further to avoid giving out too many details of the story. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens there!
Unlike the first book, this book is not entirely based in Cat City. The team moves back and forth between the human world, Cat City and ‘other worlds’. So the setting of the story is a bit different, but the readers do get to explore other new worlds and meet new animals.
There is a third book in the series, which has already come out, and I can’t wait to get to it. I also hope that the series continues to produce such magical tales for a long, long time.
- Kiwi and the Living Nightmare
on Dec. 26, 2011
The Kiwi series by author Vickie Johnstone continues as Kiwi and her friends enter another adventure. For those who are new to the series, here is a little background. Amy and James, two kids own a cat named Kiwi, who is magical, and can turn the kids into kittens and take them to Cat City. Over the last two books, they have met a number of ‘catizens’ there, who return to this story.
This book starts with Amy, James and Kiwi having the same nightmare about a three legged grey cat, trapped in a big scary house. As they begin to investigate, they realize that the house in their nightmare actually exists and was involved in a fire. Kiwi and the kids start to search for the house and this leads them to meet a number of new animals in the forest where the house was situated. These include a robin who helps them on their way and squirrels that now live in the tree that exists at the place where the house was previously located. As their search continues, they find their three-legged cat that is named Misty, and also find the reason why she is trapped in the house.
What they do not realize is the danger lurking there, and they manage to get trapped. Amy and James somehow escape and run back to Cat City to get help. This is the only small part in the story which takes place in Cat City in this book. Most of the story plays out in the human world. I really loved the scene where the catizens get to ride on the bus. These scenes had me laughing out loud.
The catizens, along with Amy and James work hardtop rescue Misty, and after a few scary and tense pages finally succeed. In the end the mystery of the house and its ‘bad’ magic is solved, but to find out how, you must read the book.
This may be a somewhat scary story, but the adventure and the fun does not diminish one bit. And fear not, as with all good stories, the ‘good’ side wins in the end (this is after all children’s book and not high fantasy where authors relish in killing off one of their main characters).
Finally, I have to say that parents now do not need to compromise and read the ‘juvenile’ books meant for kids as here is an option which would be interesting for the kids as well as their parents. I may be an adult, but I still read each of Vickie’s stories with bated breath and expectation of new twists and newer characters in every book. With the coming introduction of illustrated paperbacks for the Kiwi series, the books may well move beyond five star category.
on Dec. 26, 2011
Lokant is the second book in the Draykon series and it is a fine sequel to the first one. I had reviewed the first book, ‘Draykon’ earlier here. As hoped for and expected, the second book continues with the story of Llandry, with all other characters making an appearance as well. There are a plethora of new characters, who add completely new dimensions to the story.
After reading the first book, I had built up in my head, a direction the story would take. I have to say that the story moved in a completely different but equally nice direction compared to what I had imagined. The book definitely moved into science fiction territory, which I love. SF and fantasy are my two favourite genres and any combination is always welcome (The SF parts are not overwhelming or unbelievable and are credible enough to go down smoothly with the reader). This book really expands the stage on which the story is played out. We find that the three conjoined worlds in the previous book are just a small part of what is really happening. This, at first seemed to me, to be an unusual twist which I could not really digest. But as the story moved forward and things became a little clearer, the roles of everyone in the story became a lot more defined and that is where the fun began.
There are a lot of new characters introduced in the book. There is Kray who is after the Draykon bones and is willing to do a lot of dastardly deeds to get to them. There are all the Lokants each of which seem to be human emotionally, but has powers that no human can match. Others as well, all of whom add new dimensions to the story. The heart of the book, to me, is the development of the character of Llandry. She finds herself in a new form, a new world and with a new mate. Her change from the shy and reserved girl in the first book to a fearsome Draykon in this one is just brilliant. She does retain a lot of her human emotions which had endeared her to me in the first book.
The mystery elements of the previous book continue in this book as well. The mystery of the istore stone of the previous book is just a small part of the larger mystery which plays out in this book. I will, of course, not tell you what the mystery is and let you find it put for yourself. The plot has been magnificently crafted by the author and this book definitely promotes this series into the epic fantasy arena. The author’s talent in keeping the reader guessing and wanting to come back for more is simply fantastic. As usual a number of questions are left unanswered at the end of the book (I expect nothing less from a book in the middle of the series). Why do some people want to reignite an old war? What will happen to the enmity between Krays and Limbane? What is Llandry’s role in all this? What will happen (or not happen) between Eva and Tren?
As the book progresses and the differentiation between Lokants and Drakoni is established, it becomes absolutely clear that a war will be coming soon. The resurrection of Drakons and their proclamation of war is where this book ends. I am waiting to see what role each character will have to play in the coming war. In the end, all I have to ask you is, “Are you ready for the battle?”
on Jan. 28, 2012
Water is the first book in the Akasha series by Terra Harmony and it is a huge… massive… humungous first book! Well, you now know the direction in which this review is headed.
The action in the book starts right on the first page, with the protagonist, Kaitlin caught in an avalanche. She is rescued by the Seven, but finds herself captive in an unknown location. She is soon given the reason of her abduction and that is where the book turns from a mystery to an eco-fantasy. Kaitin is a Gaia or ‘Mother of the Earth’ with powers over all four basic elements of nature, water, air, earth and fire. She soon realises that escape is impossible and reluctantly starts her training to become ‘the Gaia’. A romance is thrown in the mix, as Kaitlin starts falling for her trainer and a whirlwind relationship begins.
The Seven is an organisation which is trying to save the environment and takes it on itself, the responsibility to train the next Gaia. There is a mystery surrounding them and I can’t make up my mind yet, whether they will be the good guys or will turn rogue in the next books. They want to save the earth, but their actions seem to put them in the extremist category, what with the abducting and killing people. To what lengths will they go to achieve their mission? I don’t know and I’ll reserve my judgement till I know more.
Coming back from this digression, Kaitlin is soon sent on her first mission, along with her team. The mission is you every day ‘save the environment’ kind of mission. Everything seems to be going along smoothly, when BAM! The biggest twist in the plot. I did not see this coming and was beginning to imagine the book being only about environmental do-goodness. I can’t give out a spoiler here, but I am really tempted! All I can say is, Kaitlin has to find an inner strength to get through what comes for her next. This is the part which had my stomach in turns. But I still could not stop reading. I wanted to know what happened and how Kaitlin would get out of the mess of epic proportions she found herself in.
Initially, I found Kaitlin to be someone who took too many risks, without really thinking about the consequences. Right from the start she seemed to have an inner strength, but it seemed misdirected. As the book progressed, I began to see her as someone who fought for herself and her beliefs. She has got some of the best dialogues in the books and her comebacks are awesome at times, and fall flat at others. This made her really adorable. All the other characters are really well developed as well. I have to say that I wanted to know more about Micah’s history, his back story. I hope there is much more of that in the books to come. Shawn’s character was terrifically developed. We can feel a pure hatred for him right till the end, when we get a little back-story, and begin to have doubts. However, I cannot see him as anything but the bad guy in the series.
There are a couple of very steamy scenes in the book. There are also a couple of scenes which involve non-consensual sex which a very subtle way of saying that there are scenes where the protagonist is r*ped. But, I have to commend the author for describing these scenes in a way which did not turn this book into a pseudo-erotic romp. The description is just enough to get the impact of the act though. There were parts which had me cringing and afraid to continue reading. I think this shows that the author succeeded in getting the ‘image’ she was trying to portray, across. Consider this my disclaimer! If you can handle it, stay away!!
This may be an eco-fantasy, but the author, for most part, refrains from preaching to us on how to help the environment. The awareness about the environment she tries to create comes through as being intricately woven into the story. Just the way I like it!
I was somehow disappointed by the ending and it all happened too abruptly for me. I wanted some more action! And … the author has chosen the ‘worst’ moment to end the book. It is a cliff-hanger which will leave readers waiting in anticipation for the next book. All I can say is, get the next book out faster!