Christine and Christopher Russell – The Warrior Sheep Go West

A wildly Adventure about five sheep, one mad scientist, and a quest to save all of sheepdom.

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paperback
published: 2011
publisher: Egmont UK Ltd.
pages: 230

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

When a strange monster called Red Tongue threatens rams, ewes, and lambs everywhere, the Warrior Sheep spring into action.
Now the five bravest sheep in the eweniverse must hoof it to Las Vegas to stop Red Tongue’s rampage.
And so the Warrior Sheep go west. Can the warriors stop the mystery monster before it’s too late?

In (Very) Short:

+ a great wild west adventure
+ loveable characters
+ a naïve but kick ass, take no prisoners granny
+ the world perceived through the eyes of a sheep

My Opinion:

The second installment of the Warrior Sheep series is as lovely as the first novel The Quest of the Warrior Sheep.

The sheep start their adventure in Eppingham farm where they receive the message that Red Tongue is slaughtering rams. At the same time Ida and Tod are invited to a convention in American to exhibit their rare breeds.

Little do they know that this organization is phony. The people behind this organization have a sinister plan. But the rare breeds are on their own quest and unaware of the danger.

Again the sheep dive head first into the quest believing that every coincidence is meant to be and a sign from Aries – the god of all rams. In their naïve and loveable way they find their own adventure and a way to save all sheepdom.

Although I was occasionally annoyed by the sheep in the first book, I thoroughly enjoyed them this time. Still, my favorite character is grandma Ida. She just loves live and takes things as they come without over thinking them. Maybe I should take a page out if her book 🙂

All in all, it is a beautiful, sweet and sheeply adventure.

Bottom Line:

A funny wild west quest with Ida, Tod and the Eppingham rare breeds for the young and those remaining young at heart.

Rating:

rating 4

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Michael Grant – Gone

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paperback
publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
published 2013 (first published 2008)
pages: 558

Books on Amazon

Blurb:
In the blink of an eye.
Everyone disappears.
GONE.

Everyone except for the young. Teens. Middle schoolers. Toddlers. But not a single adult. No teachers, no cops, no doctors, no parents. Gone, too, are the phones, internet, and television. There is no way to get help.
Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents – unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers – that grow stronger by the day.
It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen and war is imminent.
The first in a breathtaking saga about teens battling each other and their darkest selves, Gone is a page-turning thriller that will make you look at the world in a whole new way.

In (Very) Short:

+ fast paced, thrilling, exiting
+ the reader is not released even after the book finished
+ a broad variety of characters from all ages and different personalities
+ a shocking but true reflection of society
– personally could not pinpoint the genre of this book
– sometimes a bit to violent for my taste

My Opinion:

Imagine your life changes with the blink of an eye. All of a sudden the life that you knew is gone. What would you do? How would you react?

Sam and his friends are confronted with that exact same situation. With the blink of an eye everyone above 15 is gone. As all remaining kids have to figure out what to do and how to survive, some have to deal with growing supernatural powers.

As bullies start to reign everyone has to choose a side and it appears that war is imminent.

Gone is a fast paced supernatural thriller. As a reader it was hard for me to catch my breath. I had to put the book down in order to do so. The narrative is dense and action packed. Sometimes it contains so much information and asks so many questions that the story is overwhelming.

It seems that the story wanted to tackle a lot of the questions and themes at once. The reason why this happened and what exactly happened being the primary ones. Are aliens responsible, a freak of nature, a nuclear explosion?

Although many theories are explained for non physicists to understand, the supernatural element and the “other” is a dooming presence. With this book being the first in a series of novels many options and narrative elements are left open for further novels to deal with.

The story mostly follows the characters Sam and Caine with occasional intervals of minor characters, possible to introduce them for further installments. The characters cover a range of age and personality and thus offer several ways for the reader to identify with.

It is the survival of the fittest and only the strongest and meanest rule this new society. Some of the violent acts that ensue may be to brutal and violent for the younger reader – they were for me. I am aware that in the end people would turn to beasts to survive, but some of the actions committed by 14 year olds are just disgusting and maybe not that appropriate for younger readers.

Bottom Line:

Gone is a thrilling ride and an action packed mystery with a diverse range of loveable and not loveable characters. I am curious to learn what happened and how the supernatural element fits into all this. I will sure pick up the next installment Hunger.

Rating:

rating 4

My Reading Month May

This reading month has been a little slow. Although I have read quite a few pages, I look at the number of books and I am a little disappointed. But at the end of the day there are not enough hours to read or I am simply not always in the mood. Anyway. The three books I have read this month, I enjoyed thoroughly.

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Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races

I am absolutely on love with this book. But when someone asks me why, I cannot formulate a coherent and logical sentence. The book is a little paradoxon for me. It is a fast paced story that is also quite slow in its narration, but never to slow to be bored.

The story lives from its characters and their development, their relation to the island they live on, their reasons for taking part in the Scorpio Races (the often bloody and deadly race on bloodthirsty water horses) and their relation to their horses (water horse or “normal” horse). Yet at the same time the practice and the race are so action packed that my heart occasionally stopped beating.

The book is fantastic and shed light on the mythology of water horses that is not necessarily common knowledge but sure deserves the attention. I enjoyed this read and ride immensely.

Michael Grant – Gone

Gone is also an interesting and exiting read. It deals with a group of children and youth who have to live in a world without parents and anyone older than 14. With a blink of an eye they disappear and the ones remaining are confronted with the challenges of survival, growing supernatural powers, mutating animals and “something else out there”.

Although I enjoyed the book I personally cannot say what the book really is. Is it science fiction, fantasy or a dystopia . I would categorize as somewhat of a speculative fiction which could be really everything and nothing. It reminds me a little bit of Stephen King and though I am not a fan of his writings, I like Michael Grant’s version. Many will claim that this is not Stephen King like and I do not claim it is or to know King’s complete writings. But it somehow reminds me of him.

I enjoyed Grant’s novel and am looking forward to read further installments in this series as it is interesting as well as shocking when looking at the development within the remaining society. I sure have to know why everyone disappeared, why there is a wall, why animals are mutating and what the “other” out in the desert is.

Christine and Christopher Russell – The Warrior Sheep Go West

The second installment in the Warrior Sheep series is as much fun as the first one. Again the five rare breeds of Eppingham farm are on their way to save all sheepdom and do as the holy ram Aries bids.

Brought to America to serve as experiments for a mad scientist, the sheep go West to save all sheep from Red Tongue – a sheep devouring monster.

With wit and a lot of sheer luck the rare breed start their quest through the desert of the US.

This book is again a lovely and beautifully written children’s book with the loveable sheep and their owners Ida and Tod on a new adventure. Ida is again a loveable and naïve yet take charge granny who does not take orders from anyone nor stops until she has what she wants. Tod right on her heal and the sheep again caught in their own adventures.

It is an easy, breezy, and entertaining read for children and for the young at heart.

Although this month was not as reading intense as I wished all three reads were very enjoyable and entertaining reads that aloud me to escape from my own reality for a while.

Maggie Stiefvater – The Scorpio Races

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paperback
publisher: Scholastic US
published 2011
pages: 482

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

Every year, the Scorpio Races are run on the beaches if Skarmouth. Every year, the sea washes blood from the sand. To race the savage water horses can mean death, but the danger is irresistible.

When Puck enters the races to save her family, she is drawn to the mysterious Sean, the only person on the island capable of taming the beasts.

Even if they stay together, can they stay alive?

A breathtaking ride that will make you heart race.

In (Very) Short:

+ beautiful and gloomy
+ half fantasy, half coming of age centering around the myth of water horses
+ told consecutively from the perspectives of the two protagonists Puck and Sean
+ slow moving at the same time fast paced story
– I can’t pronounce the name of the water horses for the life of me

My Opinion:

Kate (Puck) Connolly and Sean Kendrick have lived on Thisby there entire life. A small little island whose biggest secret is revealed every October when the beautiful yet deadly water horses come to the shore.

Tradition dictates that each year the men on the island catch and race those horses in the Scorpio Races. Yet, the races demand a price – a bloody and deadly one.

For the first time in the history of Thisby a young woman takes part in the races and only slowly realizes how dangerous and deadly this game is. But with the help of Sean Kendrick she might just be able to survive.

I am in love with this book. The general mood of the book is rather dark and gloomy, so don’t read this when you are in a similar mood. However, this book and the mood has captured me from the very first pages. It is beautiful.

The story is wonderfully written. The mythological horses and the legend surrounding them were foreign and strange to me, but are never forced or unnatural to the story.

The narrative as well as the relationship between Sean and Puck is slow moving yet at the same time fast paced. That doesn’t mean there is not enough action. There sure is a lot.

The story itself is told from the perspectives of Puck and Sean, not repeating the narrative but subsequently telling the story. This drives the narrative forward and adds to the pace.

I still have to utter a little warning. If you are not a fan of horses and dislike the animal, this might not be the right book for you. If you don’t relate to the animals than maybe don’t pick up this novel.

Bottom Line:

I am in love with this book and the beautiful story. Although I cannot pronounce the mythological name of the water horses for the life of me, I will read this book again. Sadly it was planned as an individual book and not as part of a series. But please do pick it up and read, because it is worth it.

Rating:

rating 5

Josephine Angelini – Starcrossed

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paperback
publisher: Pan Macmillan
published 2011
pages: 513

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

When shy, awkward Helen Hamilton meets Lucas Delos for the first time; she thinks two things: the first, that he is the most ridiculously beautiful boy she has been in her life; the second that she wants to kill him with her bare hands.

An ancient curse means Lucas and Helen are destined to loathe one another. But sometimes love is stronger than hate, and not even the gods themselves can prevent what will happen next…

In (Very) Short:

+ young adult fiction centering around demigods and revamped Greek myths
+ fast paced story about the main character Helen discovering what she really is
+ family and friendship are important focal points
+ the characters are divers and funny
+ female version of Percy Jackson
– the romance is very twilight-esque and a little annoying
– the love between the main characters is immediate, destined and forbidden in order to cover all young adult fiction basics

My Opinion:

Helen Hamilton does not fit in the world she lives in, but when a new family moves to the Nantucket she discovers that she is a demigod – a descendent from the Greek gods with all its perks and trouble.

She heals, is super fast, strong, and can levitate, but she also hates demigods descending from other Gods than she did with a passion, a passion capable of driving her insane. To stop the madness caused by the Furies the demigods have to kill the opponent.

When Helen and Lucas meet their hate flares up in an instant, but at the same time they are drawn to each other. Together they discover that everything they have known, is shattered by the revelation of the truth by a person no one wants to trust.

The story takes a different turn on the demigod myth already established and popular in the Percy Jackson books. The descendents from the Gods themselves, the partition into the houses, the powers Helen, Lucas and his family have are unique and create a different aspect and different problems for the characters.

While in other fantasy and young adult fiction that mixes “our” world with a hidden truth of some sorts (vampires are real, demigods exist etc.), the supernatural characters usually separate themselves from either friends and family. Often the character is without family. Here both family and friendship play an important role which give Helen strength and much needed support from people she has known and trusted her entire live.

The love story itself for me is quite twilight-esque since it seems to cover all the basis: They fall instantly in love, they are destined to be and it is forbidden for them to be together. In an attempt to cover all the basics it has been carried to excess.

Bottom Line:

This is a wonderful book that revamps the demigod myth by referring to the good old times as well as developing a new perspective on the topic. It made me look up some of the old myths and I thoroughly enjoyed the revamping. By the end of the book it is clear that this is made to be a trilogy as the reader is left with a somewhat closed narrative of the first part, but left with enough open story lines to grab the next installment. I certainly will.

Rating:

 rating 4

Laini Taylor – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

book laini taylor

paperback
publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
first published: 2011 (2012 in paperback)
pages: 418

Book on Amazon

Blurb:

ERRAND REQUIRING IMMEDIATE ATTENTION. COME.

The note was on vellum, pierced by the talons of the almost-crow that delivered it. Karou read the message. ‘He never says please’, sighed, but she gathered her things up.

When Brimstone called, she always came.

In general, Karou has manged to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she’s a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to a monstrous creature who is the closest things she has to family. Raised half in our world, half in Elsewhere, she has never understood Brimstone’s dark work – buying teeth from hunters and murderers – nor how she came into his keeping. She is a secret even to herself, plagued by the sensation that she isn’t whole.

Now the doors to Elsewhere are closing, and Karou must choose between the safety of her human life and the dangers of the war-ravaged world that may hold the answers she has always sought.

In (Very) Short:

+ fantasy; young adult paranormalcy
+ coming of age story
+ great cover
+ beautiful constructed story world (vivid real world and detailed fantasy world)
+ main focus is on the 17 year old protagonist Karou and her search for her identity
+ romance that is necessary but somewhat secondary to Karou’s self discovery
– a little forced and rather pieced together towards the end

My Opinion:

I have heard a lot about this book, but what made me pick it up was this cover. I cannot exactly say what drew me to it, but I just had to have it. The story, however, sounded like any other Young Adult Paranomalcy focusing on the undying love between two teens who have barely lived. So I was skeptical and luckily wrong.

The story of self discovery, romance, the battle between two mortal enemies is beautifully interwoven and the romance itself is subtle. It is quite difficult to recap the book without spoiling the story. Much of the narration depends on the mystery of Karou’s heritage and her reactions towards the bits and pieces that unfold before her.

Karou is a 17 year old art student living in Prague. She is trying to balance her student/human life with her demanding boss and only family she knows: Brimstone.

Brimstone is a chimera – human mixed with many animals – who employs Karou to buy and transport teeth from the human world to him. A world known to Karou as Elsewhere that can only be accessed through secret portals.

When these portals are destroyed, Karou’s only family is lost to her and she starts out on a path to reenter Elsewhere as well as a path of self discovery. Never knowing where she came from, who or what her mother and father were, and why she has hamsas tattooed on her hands, she embarks on a journey that will open an entire new world to her, an entire new life.

While the setting of Prague is real and vivid to the reader, the new world is beautifully and carefully constructed – the world building in this book is exquisite and detailed. The different worlds, as well as Brimstone’s shop as a connecting point between them, unfold naturally and at a pace which I as a reader can follow and am not overwhelmed by.

It is a fantastical world of demons/chimera and angels/seraphims which are not hidden among us but whose world can only be accessed through portals. It is a world of magic which comes at a price.

While the book appears to represent the current young adult paranormal story with a blossoming feelings between two characters (Karou and Akiva), the take on the romance, however, is slightly different. The focus remains solely on Karou’s development and finding her identity.

This coming of age aspect is beautifully crafted into the narrative and a driving force of the story. The romance, however, develops after Karou’s world has been altered and her life changed forever. It is not the shattering instance of the story but supports and guides Karou’s self discovery.

Still, this discovery as well as the history of Elsewhere unfold somewhat abrupt towards the end. While in the beginning of the story this is slowly integrated into the narration, towards the end it reads rather forced. As I read I felt like the author needed the information to be mentioned before the book finished. But apart from the increasing and a little to fast pace of the story at the end, this book is quite remarkable.

Bottom Line:

I recommend this book to fantasy readers of all ages and readers who haven’t so far tested this genre. The book contains a well written and crafted world with psychologically comprehensible main character whose actions are understandable and unavoidable and for whom the reader roots. I am personally looking forward to the next installment.

Rating:

rating 4