Book Review: Wolf Brother

Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, #1)Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. I was looking for something different to read when I saw a set of books tied up with a length of orange ribbon at a flea market. At $15, I think I snagged a bargain as I got all six books for that low price. The books were in fairly good condition too. Double bargain!

I actually finished reading the book on 24 November 2012, but have only just now had the time to write a review.


Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world.

Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it.

Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human.

Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life.


Wolf Brother reminded me of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series. However, where Earth’s Children is written for adults, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is written for children (9+).

It’s a story of a 12 year-old boy trying to save the world. Everyone seems to know more about him than he does himself, because he’s led a secluded life. His father was trying to protect him, but after his father is fatally wounded Torak must find out, fast, what his destiny is.

The book grabbed me from the first chapter. I was actually reading another book at the time and only opened this book for a quick look—and before I knew it I’d read three chapters. It’s the first time I’ve officially read two books at the same time.

The story is set 6,000 years ago when people had a close awareness of the Earth and of nature. A time when the characters believe everything—including rocks, trees, plants—are alive and must be respected. This, mixed with magic, makes a very interesting world indeed.

Torak’s closest companion is a wolf; hence the title of the book—Wolf Brother. The bond between them is shaky to begin with and I believe Torak’s change of attitude towards the wolf pup wasn’t altogether convincing. But that is my only negative towards the book really so that in itself shows the book is good.

Torak’s other companion is Renn, a girl of about the same age. Renn is confident and knowledgeable. Torak learns a lot from her. They make a good contrast and must learn to trust each other, no matter how reluctantly.

The story itself is well written and full enough to allow imagery to form in the reader’s mind, without being too descriptive that it becomes cumbersome and boring. And although the storylines didn’t feel complex because of the way they were written (remember, this is a book for children), they were still full and complete, and very easy to read.

Wolf Brother is a book where time passes quickly as the reader is absorbed into a colourful world. And before you know it the book has ended and you find you just have to grab the next book in the series and continue reading. And that’s exactly what I did.

eBook Review: James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing

James Potter and the Hall of Elders' Crossing (James Potter, #1)James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing by G. Norman Lippert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t usually read fan fiction, but I saw this ebook at the author’s website and felt impressed by the presentation (of the book and the website) and decided to give it a try. I had nothing to lose as the ebook is free (available in epub and mobi). In fact, there are actually three books to the series and all are given away for free.

I finished the book in early December 2012, but just haven’t had time to write a review until now.

Book Description

What’s it like to be the son of the most famous wizard of all time?

James Potter thinks he knows, but as he begins his own adventure at Hogwarts, he discovers just how much of a challenge it really is to live up to the legend of the great Harry Potter. As if it wasn’t enough dealing with the delegates from the American wizarding school and figuring out the mysteriously polite Slytherins, James and his new friends, Ralph and Zane, begin to uncover a secret plot that could pit the Muggle and the Magical worlds against each other in all-out war.

Now, with the help of Ted Lupin and his band of merry mischief makers (The Gremlins), James must race to stop a war that could change the world forever. His only hope is to learn the difference between being a hero and being the son of a hero.


James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing is the first book of three. The books are based on J K Rowling’s books, characters and world, but they are not written by her. The author of this series is G. Norman Lippert.

It is James’ first year at Hogwarts and we get to meet several characters from the Harry Potter series – Longbottom, many of the professors, Hagrid, and Harry, to name a few. The book was written in the essence of the Rowling books, which I was thankful for. There were no jolting scenes that made me think “that’s no right”. In fact, for fan fiction, the book was very well written. I enjoyed it immensely.

All Potter books have the Quidditch scenes. Didn’t like them in the Rowling book; didn’t like them in this book either. Sorry, but quidditch is boring and I find myself skimming over the paragraphs hoping not to miss anything important, but really not interested in the actual sport part of it. I was pleased when James didn’t make the team because it meant less quidditch scenes.

James has two friends—Zane and Ralph. It took me a short while to get used to them. Yes, I saw James as being Harry but found it difficult to replace his two friends with Ron and Hermione. And that is a good thing, because as James is battling the “I’m the son of Harry Potter” thing, the reader is battling with “he’s not Harry Potter”, and meanwhile, the three new characters carry on with what they are doing and the reader soon lets Harry Potter go and starts finding out what James Potter is all about. The interesting thing that happened at the hat sorting was that the three friends were placed in different houses. It will be fun to see how that turns out.

Going back to the subject of Harry Potter, he makes several appearances. I think that was the hardest thing to cope with—Harry as an adult, as a parent. Especially as I think of him as a teenager. Thankfully, his scenes didn’t try to upstage James and there wasn’t a lot of focus on him. He was there to be a father or to do his job, but James was the main character. It was a bit awkward for me as a reader to accept that, but I believe the author did a good job of not delving too deeply into Harry’s adult character, so our memories of him are not tarnished in any way.

Another thing I liked about this book was the references made between the original books and this one. They served as well placed reminders of what happened then, and connected the two series. It was like reading about old friends and revisiting precious memories. The author of James Potter was smart in doing this, intentionally or not.

And, of course, the author introduces us to many new characters who will, no doubt, make the journey with us through the rest of the books. I look forward to learning more about them along the way.

The climax involved Merlin. However, something was lacking from this part of the book. I felt as if something magnificent was able to happen, but it didn’t, which was a bit disappointing. Perhaps there are other plans for Merlin, to be revealed in the next book. We will have to wait and see. If that’s the case, then that’s fine, but I felt his presence was not ‘qualified’ in this book.

This isn’t a perfect book, but few are. There are sections that are long winded, as there was in the J K Rowling books too. And there are scenes that didn’t seem to go anywhere. But, overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. I felt as if I was back in Hogwarts and that is not a bad feeling. In fact, it’s a great feeling. The author introduced us to new characters, but stayed true to what we came to love. I will certainly be reading James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper.

DVD Review: Rosewood Lane

Rosewood Lane is a horror/thriller movie starring Rose McGowan and Daniel Ross Owens.

The synopsis reads: Radio talk show therapist Sonny Blake moves back to her childhood home on seemingly idyllic Rosewood Lane after her alcoholic father dies. But upon arrival in the old neighbourhood, Sonny discovers her neighbours are terrified of the local paperboy. She thinks this is ridiculous, until she encounters the boy himself. It turns out that he is a cunning and dangerous sociopath, one who may have gruesomely killed her father… and others. When the boy starts to call Sonny’s radio show and recite eerie nursery rhymes, an unnerving game of cat and mouse begins, one where Sonny starts to doubt her own sanity.

Firstly, why do people insist on going outside when they know there’s a killer on the lose? It’s annoying, but I guess if they didn’t do it then there wouldn’t be a movie as no one would get murdered.

Apart from the obvious where that is concerned, this movie was quite good. It was entertaining. It had some moments when you think your own heart will strangle you. And it had tension. What I also liked was the ‘tease’ of information. If you sit and think about it afterwards, the movie does tie up all the loose ends, but when it actually finishes, you feel a bit ‘up in the air’ and some people may even feel a bit confused. There are clues throughout the movie which tie in perfectly with the ending. It was quite well done really.

Rose McGowan did a great job with her role. She was convincing…even though her character was a bit frustrating at times. I certainly wouldn’t do the things she did, in the same situation, but maybe I’m a coward.

Daniel Ross Owens was brilliant. His character was creepy, which is perfect for this type of movie.

Definitely worth watching, and a sequel could easily be in the future.

DVD Review: Hunger Games

Recently, while on holiday, we came across The Hunger Games DVD in a quaint little shop. It was quite cheap and we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to buy it.

Of course, I have heard and seen The Hunger Games book but, to date, had too many other books on my reading list to be bothered with it.

The official synopsis reads: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, the Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she’s pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

I enjoyed this movie. It had a bit of everything – action, drama, love. It was a bit strange in parts too. However, overall, I felt everything fitted together nicely. I believe the premise of the story goes a long way as well. This is a story that promotes hope and humanity, even in the direst of situations. It shows that we do not have to let out standards slide or our integrity waiver just because things are harder than we expect … and just because most of the people around us have done so.

Naturally, I cannot compare the DVD with the book, but I was more than happy with the DVD. I certainly will be watching the next instalment when it is released.

DVD Review: Battleship

Battleship DVDWe recently sat down and watched Battleship starring Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna and Liam Neeson. It is described as “an epic action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force”.

When it first started I thought we had the wrong DVD in the case. However, the cast were right so we really didn’t know what was going on. The set up resembled a cross between a comedy and a romance story, but we were expecting action so I started to get restless. It took FOREVER to really get started. In all honesty, if the first 40 or so minutes were cut right back to less than 10 minutes it would have been much better.

Thankfully, I persevered long enough and when the action did start, it was brilliant! The effects were amazing. The storyline wasn’t perfect, but action movies are all about seeing explosions and hearing things being ripped about, not drawn out dialogue that no-one cares about. I wasn’t disappointed in that regard.

Primarily, I’d consider this movie propaganda. The main character started out as a useless, no-hoper and the movie is saying “join the Navy and we’ll straighten you out”. Propaganda or not, it was a entertaining movie and worth watching, but isn’t the kind of movie that I’d return to over and over again.

eBook Review: Inside Evil

Inside Evil by Geoffrey Wakeling

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Inside Evil is a fantasy mystery story set in England. It’s about a group of people tangled up in the death of a young girl. It is apparent that the death is connected to other deaths in the area. All have similar causes. All are unusual. None have been solved. Time is of the essence because someone else will die!

Whilst parts of the story were a bit slow, the characters and plot were intriguing enough to make me want to carry on reading. I wanted to know what was happening. I was curious enough to want to know what or who was behind the deaths.

I think the best thing about this mystery is the fantasy side of the story. It wraps the events in greater mystery and isn’t so easy for the reader to solve. Therefore, the only choice the reader has is to keep reading to find out the answers.

The book ended, but it was obvious that another book could pick up where this one left off. I’d be happy to read the next instalment too.

I believe people who like mysteries and people who like fantasy stories would enjoy this book.

eBook Review: d.evolution

d.evolution by Lee Carlon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

d.evolution is about one of our possible futures. Jason Smith is a co-founder of New World Technology and he finds himself in a confusing situation where he can make a difference. The thing is, will the difference be for the good of man kind, the advancement of technology or personal gain?

I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book when I first started reading it. But I was quickly pulled in by the characters and plot.

The biggest plus for this story is that it is quite thought provoking. The author has taken ‘what if’ to another level that begs to ask the questions: What would you do?

And: Who has the right to decide?

I found myself pondering the answers to these questions long after the story had ended, and believe me, that is a good thing!

d.evolution is a well written post-apocalyptic story and anyone who enjoys science fiction will enjoy this book.

Book Review: The Butterfly in Amber

The Butterfly in Amber by Kate Forsyth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the sixth and final book in the series.

Luca and Emilia need the final charm to complete the set. But they only have a day or so to find it and get back to the prison where their families are being held captive.

Throughout the six books, the magic of the charms featured strongly and there was an extensive effort to gain support from long lost family members. I expected the climax to be exciting and full on, but it fizzled out for me. Yes, the two children saved the day but the ending was somewhat disappointing because the gathering of people was pointless and I didn’t feel the charm bracelet actually had much to do with the resolution.

Overall, the series was an adventure touched with magic. Other than the climax, I felt the presence of the larger animals hindered the children so they were disposed off early on so obviously that didn’t work that well. And, at times, the historical content came across as purely being there to enlighten, not to entertain, which means it was a bit distracting.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the series. It was fun and easy to read. I was, however, disappointed that the reason for the children’s adventure didn’t really materialise into a fantastic ending that left me breathless.

Book Review: The Lightning Bolt

The Lightning Bolt by Kate Forsyth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Lightning Bolt is the fifth book in the series.

Luka and Emilia only have two charms to go before they attempt to rescue their family from the gallows. The Smith family prove to be unwelcoming and the previously met Hearne family come back on the scene.

Coldham is hot on their trail. He is now convinced that Emilia is a witch and wants to watch her burn on the stake.

But the children are still one step ahead of him.

This book moves a bit quicker. It’s starting to build up for the climax in the last book. It’s an enjoyable story, however, I must admit that I’m expecting big things from the last book and hope I won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: The Cat’s Eye Shell

The Cat’s Eye Shell by Kate Forsyth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book four in a series of six. Luka and Emilia are desperate to find the fourth charm, which will help save their families from the gallows.

This book was rather slower than the others. Not as much happened, not as much urgency felt. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. In fact, in some ways this book felt more realistic as the children weren’t escaping from the clutches of Coldham every five minutes.

I realise this isn’t much of a book review, but I feel there’s nothing more to say except that I will continue reading the series.