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The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales: Edited by Peter Friend, Eileen Mueller & A.J.Ponder. Includes stories by Joy Cowley, David Hill, Dave Freer & Lyn McConchie (Volume 2)
The Best of Twisty Christmas Tales: Edited by Peter Friend, Eileen Mueller & A.J.Ponder. Includes stories by Joy Cowley, David Hill, Dave Freer & Lyn McConchie (Volume 2)
by D M Potter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.90
7 used & new from $10.90

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars family names like Joy Cowley and David Hill, November 13, 2014
This delightful collection will certainly awaken the child within and spark your Christmas spirit. There are around 30 stories from an eclectic array of authors: family names like Joy Cowley and David Hill, along with a number of speculative fiction authors that deserve wider acclaim. These are charming little bites, perfect for a younger reader or to read aloud. Christmas is brought to life - whether it be in the cold clutches of Antarctica, somewhere far out in space, or in various fantastical realms, but the New Zealand spirit is alive and well in many of the tales.

In "Cole's Christmas Spirit" by Shelley Chappell, a young English boy must be shown the joy of a summery Christmas. Within a A.J. Ponders "Dear Santa", a homeless boy sends letters to Santa, his hopeful innocence simple, yet heart-breaking and bittersweet. We meet "Bandit" in Lorraine Orman's tale about a mischevious cat, whose thievery turns him into an unlikely saviour. David Freer's "How to train your princess" is cheeky and smart. And if you like dragons, there's more of them in Eileen Mueller's "Rumbled". Joy Cowley lends a really kiwi edge to the classic Nativity story in this reprinted version of her picture book "Kiwi Christmas".

Other favourites included, "Bells" by Lee Murray, an amusing tale in which the police get involved. In "Santa's Sack", Simon Fogarty channels the spirit of Roald Dahl with a wickedly dark tale about a bratty sister getting her comeuppance. I also really liked Debbie Cowens' "The Present of Christmas Past".

Some of the stories are short and sweet, others twisted and fun. Some will make you laugh out loud, others give you a warm and fuzzy fluttering feeling.

And it all comes packaged up in a neat little paperback, with colourful and quirky-fun cover, interspersed with wonderful illustrations. Not only that, but by purchasing a copy, you are also helping support the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand, as well as discovering some rising new talents. Overall, an awesome Christmas gift for the child in your life.


The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky
The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky
Price: $0.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Competently written, November 7, 2014
Competently written, if a little long-winded. I found the premise interesting - it is our world, yet not. The internet exists in its most primitive state: person-to-person communication via email works, but transmitting documents is a new and exciting endeavour. This is, however, essentially a story about faith vs reason. The religious live on one side of the continent, the "soulless" (those without faith) on the other, connected only by a land bridge. Interaction between the two is unheard of. Zealots are punished. There is a hint of dystopia here, but not to any extreme. Entering into this world is Kailana, a pretty young girl who enters into the lands of the soulless and brings with her something that they dared to believe existed - hope and magic. Alas, the powers-that-be cannot stand for this, and things get complicated...

This may feel like it could have become a preachy religious book, but it does not. Both faith and reason are dealt with fairly and without any author bias creeping in. The spirituality does not even feel like Christianity, just something more that that which is provided by the cold hard facts of science.

The concept is intriguing and appealing, but the characterisation is a little flat and the plot involves a lot of backing-and-forthing and bureacracy without a great deal of action. The relationship between Helena and Jason feels built on somewhat flimsy foundations and lacks any particular passion, despite the sacrifices they have made for one another. Kailana, likewise, does not seem to play more than a role of sprouting strange, mystical things that have a magical edge. Whilst I did feel somewhat invested in her fate, I did not really feel that she was under that much threat, possibly because of the slow-pacing and the underdeveloped danger that would face her.


Fangirl_15
Fangirl_15
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Read it in one sitting (almost), July 27, 2014
This review is from: Fangirl_15 (Kindle Edition)
I (almost literally) devoured this novel. Something about the narrative, the structure, had me hooked - line and sinker - and the only thing that stopped me reading it in one sitting was that would have meant me finishing it at 2am and I had work the next day... As it was, I got up and finished it before going to work (yay for late starts).

It is hard to pinpoint precisely what made me enjoy this story so much, but I think that personal wish-fulfillment played a small role. I mean, what reader doesn't dream of meeting the characters of their favourite book? Hanging out with them, etc. What this story does differently though, and what stops it coming across as Mary-Sue fanfic (over a non-existent - alas - series) is that in reality the Dark Riders Brotherhood are damned scary. My only complaint here is that we are introduced to all 8 of them at the start, via a sort of light info-dump (since Chloe is familiar with their characters) but only a few get to really feature in the story: Draken the almost-7-foot vampire, Raphish the (fake) Scottish werewolf, and of course the haunted, broken and beautiful Lucien who was denied his chance to shine by the untimely death of the original author (Sojourne) and had the series cut-short by a thriller-hack-writer. Anyway, I have digressed, Chloe finds herself dumped into a world she barely understands, with people she knows intimate details about - including their dark secrets - but whom neither know nor trust her, and not only that, but the one that she is most drawn to is destined to find his true mate within the next five days.

So saying, some parts of the plot are somewhat predictable - but others are utterly and completely unexpected. Chloe is a brilliant heroine - with her various insecurities - yet also her outspoken courage that shines through at unexpected moments, she is delightfully well-rounded as a character. Lucien is just... well, I've always had a bit of a thing for heroes that don't understand their own worth.

Anyway, aside from some odd typos - mainly usages of the wrong words, and a couple of weird spellings - this is an absolutely engrossing read and I really, really loved it. Something in it sang to my soul.


Night of Cake and Puppets (a Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella) (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)
Night of Cake and Puppets (a Daughter of Smoke and Bone novella) (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)

5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, romantic, magical. Wonderful., March 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Laini Taylor may well be my favourite author.
This short, sweet tale is absolutely beautiful.
The writing style is so eloquent and the characters are an absolute magical delight (I wish they were real) with a delightful dose of wry humour.


Journey To Landaran (The Spirit Mage Saga Book 1)
Journey To Landaran (The Spirit Mage Saga Book 1)
Price: $3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A WEll Crafted Fantasy Adventure, February 27, 2014
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance "beta" copy of this from the author, and I am highly impressed. Her characterisation and prose are splendid, with the world and its occupants truly coming to life. She has also put a great deal of thought into the political and magical structure of the world, with some pleasing hints at its origins. The writing style is eloquent, with vivid and dramatic descriptions, and never a dull moment. It has some darker moments too, including a really despicable villain and a goodly amount of emotional upheavel. I whole-heartedly enjoyed entering the realms around Landaran and look forward to venturing there again.


White Hart (Volume 1)
White Hart (Volume 1)
by Sarah Dalton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.49
15 used & new from $11.43

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and mesmerising - enter the Waerg Wood., February 25, 2014
This review is from: White Hart (Volume 1) (Paperback)
A beautifully written, well crafted and devised fantasy novel aimed at the 13+ market. The detail is rich, the setting beautifully realised and the characterisation excellent. We are introduced to Mae - a half-wild young woman who lives with her father on the very edges of civilisation. Her past times are climbing trees, riding her stag Anta and basically avoiding the trappings of femininity. But she has a secret - she is Craft-born, having a magical connection with elements and with it, power. Alas, such talent is what the kingdom needs and she finds herself unwittingly caught up in grief and thrown into the horrors of the deadly Waerg wood, where she shall have to face disaster and death at every turn, and something even more dangerous: heartbreak.

The plot takes off early, and never lets go. I loved Mae's personality - so stubborn and single-minded that she was responsible for a number of her own self-injury (physical and emotional) and over-complicated an already complex situation. Several times you wanted to shriek at her "just admit to it!". The character of Cas too was excellent - the pampered prince who, at first glance seemed just that but when one looks deeper, is revealed in his many layers. Likewise, Sasha.

The ending? Well, I would have preferred it without the cliff-hanger, personally. That seemed a little abrupt and sudden as though the author were going "oh, so you think the story is over now. You're WRONG!"

I wish I didn't have to wait to find out what happened next...


Faery Swap
Faery Swap
Price: $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever and fun!, February 19, 2014
This review is from: Faery Swap (Kindle Edition)
It was a quick and most entertaining read, devoured within approximately 24 hours (that also included sleeping and working) and now being happily digested.

The writing style is excellent - rich in detail and strong in characterisation. Finn and Erin, American children suddenly plunged into England (I loved the interjections with English slang etc) and then - just as Finn has started to settle down and see his sister off to school, a faery possesses his body and sends him away to the land of the Fae. But is Finn deterred? Well, slightly, but he is also very determined and will not let his sister be left alone.

Each chapter focuses on one of the two main characters - Finn and Zaneyr (the faery prince who "steals" his body). Together it weaves the story and brings us to a conclusion that is both satisfying but also makes us wish for more.


Fountain Of Forever
Fountain Of Forever
Price: $2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Light hearted fantasy at its best, January 23, 2014
For those of you that like light-hearted fantasy: ie, Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett, Robert Aspirin - well, look no further than writing duo KD Berry, who have now penned three fantastical romps set in their own fantasy kingdom.

This is the third, and it can be enjoyed independently of the other two, or as a follow-on. With loads of quirky characters, a plot that will keep you bouncing around merrily and a healthy dose of humour that is funny, without being silly. Fans of the earlier novels will delight in the return of CIA time-traveler, Merrivel, and those new to the series will want to read more!

Highly entertaining.


Stim
Stim
Price: $3.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll love it!, October 21, 2013
This review is from: Stim (Kindle Edition)
I highly enjoyed the story of Robert, a university student with Aspergers Syndrome. Robert's story is candidly told - his view of the world clearly described and just a little bit different. Some parts will have you gritting your teeth ("I can't believe he just said that!"), and others snorting with laughter. It is also deeply poignant, and very moving, especially as you watch Robert and Chloe's friendship grow, and also experience the understanding of their NS flatmate, Stef.

Berry has captured Robert's voice extremely well - with his precise, slightly formal way of speaking; his straightforward (analytical) way of thinking; his honesty-to-the-point-of-innappropriate; his little quirks - it is the sort of book that could only be written by someone with a deep insight into the aspie mind.

I would highly recommend this to everyone over the age of about 16/17 - NS or aspie: for the former it will offer a deeper insight, and for the latter, open the awareness that you are not alone.

I look forward to reading more in the future.


The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania
The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania
by Barbara Else
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $5.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, Colourful Fantasy with a hint of Steampunk, October 20, 2013
A colourful and fast-paced, action-packed and entertaining romp in the ever-so-slightly-magical-but-also-quite-scientifc world of Fontania.

Else has a real knack for creating quirky characters - in this case, Sibella the "little" Queen, who follows protagonist, Hodie when he runs away, and more-or-less, by accident or intent, ropes him in to helping her save her kingdom from the pompous emperor of Um'Binnia.

The plot bounces along, twisting and turning in topsy-turvy rhythms with some totally madcap moments and a hearty dose of humour. The description of the technology is nifty - it could be steampunk, but it has the playful colour and fun of rather crazy, over-the-top inventions, maybe what Dr Seuss would invent.

With giant toads, ogres, dragon-eagles and much more, this is one adventure that you will want to be whisked up and away on!

This is the second in her Fontania books - the first being the "Travelling Restaurant", but they are stand-alones and I have not read the previous one, although I feel now I should. Previously, the only Else novel I have read was her adult historic novel, "Wild Lattitudes", which was also populated with a cast of rather quirky characters and is definitely worth venturing into, although it does have a certain outrageousness not usually found in historic novels.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Gecko Press for providing me with the review-copy ebook.


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