Assorted Reivews

Kwik Reads

Okay somebodies – I’ve not posted a review in ages since it’s taken me 4 months to recover from christmas. I was worried about this, until I realised it took me the exact same amount of time to recover last year! So without further ado, here’s a few quick reviews to get me back into the swing of things:

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

why did the man scream

his pet chicken pooped on his computer (holly)

TL;DR – A baffling collection of jokes, written by real Earth children!

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anybody who wants to spend twenty minutes or so marvelling at the insanity that is the mind of children.

About the Book…

This book is a collection of jokes, written by real kids and compiled by the guy behind @KidsWriteJokesIt is 130 pages of the most random, bizarre and hilarious surrealism that only a child could possibly come up with.

What I thought…

Personally, I really enjoyed it. It’s totally stupid, even baffling – sometimes you can see where these kids were coming from, and other times it’s a complete mystery. This isn’t a book of well crafted, genuinely funny jokes, and it doesn’t pretend to be. This book is funny because it’s bad, and more than a little charming.

Final Thoughts…

This has got to be worth a punt, even if it’s just something to pick up and chuckle at from time to time.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Can a cat really run a major business? Let’s find out!

TL;DR – A comic about a cat who runs a business – says it all really.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of cats

About the Book…

This book is exactly what you think it is – a collection of comic strips about a cat who is in charge of a business. Business cat acts like a cat, making business difficult or bizarre and their-in lies the humour.

What I thought…

There is nothing wrong with this book – in fact I imagine that if you are fond of cats, or know anything about cats, it’s probably hilarious. Unfortunately, I am neither a fan of cats, nor do I know anything about cats, so much of the charm is lost on me. I can appreciate it at a “this is weird, cat’s shouldn’t run a business” level, but I assume there is also a level where you would think “this is so like my cat!” or similar, which is obviously lost on me.

Final Thoughts…

This is probably much more entertaining if you know cats – however it is still cute and fun even if you don’t.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

A superb little campaign companion!

TL;DR – A selection of fun campaigns to play with your Dungeons and Dragons group.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: TTRPG fans, especially dungeon masters

About the Book…

Rolled and Told is a super little collection of campaigns for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Each campaign is provided with a setting, challenges, and experience guides and so on to allow your DM to run them with ease!

What I thought…

OK, I’m a part time DM for my younger sisters and a couple of their friends, and this book looks exactly the kind of thing I need. Each campaign is clearly well thought out, providing all the information you could possibly need to run it for yourself.

Seriously, this book has everything – setup and flavour text, NPC stats, challenge descriptions win/loss conditions, starting and ending information, plot and background stuff…just, everything! It’s well referenced too, pointing you towards pages in the various 5e players guides.

It’s also set out really nicely to make it easier to access specific information.

I’m particularly fond of the comic pages that accompany each campaign, setting the scene for the whole thing. It’s a really nice touch that makes the whole book seem a lot more fun, and would definitely appeal to my group of players.

Final Thoughts…

I’m absolutely certain my group would enjoy this book, and quite frankly I’m planning to put my money where my mouth is and get me a copy so I can test this theory. So much love to the folk who created this book!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

AAAAAAH, it feels good to review again! Hopefully I’ll have more soon.

Kwik Review: The Whale Rider (Witi Ihimaera)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link

Book of the Month
Book of the Month (September 2018)

This book is pure poetry. It is beautiful and you should read it.

TL;DR – A story of whales, mythology, history and culture. A must read.

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RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional.

What I thought…

This is the story of Kahu and the whales. Kahu, a young Maori girl, grows up desperate to connect with her grandfather, Koro. She wants nothing more than to learn about Maori culture and win her grandfathers love and respect. But Koro will not have it. But Kahu is destined for great things, and when the great whales come, everything starts to change.

I loved this book. I really don’t know what it was specifically I liked so much about it. Perhaps it was the poetic use of language, the way the Maori language was woven in with the English. Or the beautiful way the story of Paikea was told, and linked artfully into the main story. It could have been the characters, and the interplay between them. It could have been the account of how the people banded together to save a troop of whales. Or it could have been any number of other things.

The point is, I read this book and I loved it. I didn’t love bits of it, I didn’t really like the ending and the rest was a bit naff. I loved all of it, from beginning to end. Something about it just spoke to me on a deeper level than just enjoying the plot. But until I can figure out why that was, I’m going to assume it had something to do with the whales.

Just read it, I can’t promise you’ll like it the same way I did, but it’s certainly worth a try.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Den of Shadows (Christopher Byford)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link

There is a special place in hell for Franco de Monaire, I hope he finds it.

TL;DR – An exciting tale about travelling casino, a crime lord and an insane law man.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 4.5/5 BUTTONS

What I thought:

I bought this book because I’ve been given the second and third books in the series to review and I thought I’d take the chance and read the first one to set things up – this was a good call on my part.

The story follows Franco, and his troop of showgirls in their train-mounted wandering casino. The Gamblers Den rolls from town to town along the frontier, bring a night of joy and release to the miserable folks that live there. All is going swimmingly until they hit a town called Windberg, and suddenly everything falls apart.

This book is a bit peculiar for me, in that the ‘main’ character, Franco, is the one I hate most and the supporting cast, who get less of a backstory, I really love. Franco is, with the best will in the world, a jerk! The way he treats Misu – a woman who spent 4 years under the thumb of a disgusting crime lord – is frankly despicable. And hypocritical. Maybe I missed something somewhere, but I fail to see how anybody could read this book and not want to slap Franco so hard he ends up in another dimension.

It’s an exciting tale, full of gun fights and flashbacks and fights between more-or-less-good and evil. It’s a lot of fun. The only thing that bugged me was the occasional use of peculiar language, or where sentences seemed to use words in an order I’m unfamiliar with – but nothing sticks out enough for me to remember specifics so it can’t have been that big a deal.

I’m looking forward to the next book!

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Sky Chasers (Emma Carroll)

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Goodreads Link | Author Website

A fun little book that got me reading again!

TL;DR – The story of two children (and a duck, a rooster and a lamb) taking to the skies.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

What I thought:

I spent a whole week completely unable to read anything for more than a minute until one evening I picked this book off my shelf and just read. It came easily.

The book follows Magpie, child thief turned aviator. After a series of accidents, Magpie finds herself in the employ of the Montgolfier family, who happen to be attempting to achieve the first powered flight by use of a hot air balloon. What follows is a tale of adventure, discovery and excitement.

I loved this book. I always say that age ratings in books aren’t good for much. Just because you’re older (and in my case WAY older) than the age range for a book doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it and get a lot out of reading it. Reading should be for fun, and that’s what this book is. Fun. It’s a well written easy read, with lovable characters and an exciting plot.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: The Christmas Mystery (Jostein Gaarder)

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Goodreads Link

What!?

TL;DR – A sort of backwards look at the history of Christianity…also a kidnapping…

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RAGDOLL RATING: 1/5 BUTTONS

What I thought:

As far as I’m concerned I am being exceedingly generous in giving this book a 1 Button rating. In fact the only reason I’m giving it a rating AT ALL is because it kept me interested enough to read it all in one sitting. It was that kind of a book. I don’t even know where to begin.

A boy finds an old advent calendar in a book shop and decides he wants it. He takes it home, opens the door and out falls a sheet of paper. On it is the first chapter of a story about a girl called Elisabet, who chases a lamb (formerly a toy lamb) out of a toy shop, runs back in time somehow and bumps into an angel, who conveniently enough is also going back in time to visit Jesus on the occasion of his birth.

Each chapter of this book is a single day of advent, and each day a door is opened and a further chapter of this bizarre story is told. As the days move on, the group of pilgrims increases inside until they have a bunch of sheep, shepherds, angels, kings (who the book made a point of describing as ‘black like an African’) and so on and they all go back in time to visit Jesus.

Thing is, as they travel across the world from Norway where the tale begins, to Bethlehem were it’s supposed to end (or begin if you prefer) they ALMOST touch upon some really interesting theological, philosophical and historical points of interest. Only every time any character got more than 2 sentences into one of these potentially interesting moments, the shepherd turns around, bangs his crook on something and screams “To Bethlehem! To Bethlehem!” as if somehow they were going to miss the big event…as a consequence it turned what could have been an interesting theological history into a frustrating and pointless walk from nowhere in particular to nowhere special.

To make matters worse, the ‘mystery’ which the books title alludes to comes in the form of a real world kidnapping. Which – I know it’s supposed to give the readers a sort of “what really happened” vibe but it just makes no sense to include. It feels WRONG. This poor old woman who loses her child in the 40’s and has to wait another 45 years to hear from her and we’re supposed to believe that all went down smoothly. I don’t know. Oh and she may or may not have been kidnapped by the people of Palestine to prove a point or leverage a journalist.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, if for any reason you STILL feel like reading this book then do yourself a favour and stop when you finish chapter 23. Or better yet, just pick up the bible and read it the right way round without the haphazardly included kidnapping.

I’m now going to leave you with some alternate entries for the quote box at the start of this review:

“From now on I’m ending every conversation I don’t like by screaming ‘To Bethlehem’ and whacking something with a stick”

“This could have been a really interesting story – then it wasn’t…”

“I have to hope something was lost in translation…”

“I have to assume I’m not the target audience for this book.”

“I finished it in the hopes that the end would pull it all together and be amazing. It wasn’t.”

On the plus side, I finally get to use THIS:

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Lost Christmas (David Logan)

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Goodreads Link

This book reads like that list of ‘really bad metaphors’ that surfaces on the net every now and then – and I LOVE it.

TL;DR – This is the story about a boy whose life falls apart on Christmas eve, and if you’re wondering why I read a book like this at the beginning of July, I should point out that apart from the references to snow – which I don’t think I have ever seen at Christmas in the UK anyway – the book could have been set at any point in the year. It’s not just a Christmas story is what I’m saying.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 4/5 BUTTONS

What I thought:

Goose’s parents both die in a car crash on Christmas eve, and in the following year his life has gone from happy and carefree, to casual criminal and a destroyed childhood. The only good things left in his life are his Nan and his dog. His Nan has Alzheimer’s, and he’s just lost his dog. Then this somewhat magical weirdo appears and turns things upside down.

The first thing that stuck out was on the first page – “His all-over-the-place hair was all over the place”. It’s childlike and weird, and it totally sets the tone for the rest of the book. It is written with a childlike quality that I really loved.

The next thing that stuck out was that I guessed the ending literally the second it was possible to do so. I’ve thought about it and I don’t know why it was so obvious, but it jumped out at me immediately. That said, I wasn’t disappointed to discover I knew the ending, and really enjoyed reading it.

The story is entertaining, the writing is funny, and the plot is quite clever, if a little cliche. It’s just a nice, easy read.

I can’t abide Christmas books – which is probably why I liked this one. If it wasn’t for a title and the occasional mention it could be just winter or any other cold place (that also happened to be called Manchester).

I recommend this one to anybody who likes a good story with a very casual writing style.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Shadow of the Yangtze (Julian Sedgwick)

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Goodreads Link | Author Website

The continuing adventures of Shanghai Ruby. More action, more folklore, more romance.

TL;DR – The second book in the ‘Ghosts of Shanghai’ series follows Ruby and her best fried / love interest Charlie in their quest to rescue Charlie’s sister, Fei. The pair make a perilous journey from the relative safety of Shanghai into the dangerous and wild interior of China. Action packed from start to finish.

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RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

What I thought: 

As I said in my review of the first book, I could read about Ruby’s adventures until the cows, and any other missing farm animals, came home. This book was an excellent, action packed continuation from the first.

As Ruby and Charlie make there way up the Yangtze river into the Chinese interior, they encounter a host of deadly situations – from freedom fighters to hopping vampires – but the brave pair will stop at nothing to rescue Fei.

This book has more action than the first one, which is well written and exciting. But the real push for me is the folklore elements, which I love. I adore Chinese folklore and it was a nice touch to not only include some themes but a folk story as well. There is also more romance in this book than the first – ‘Ghosts’ skirted a romantic theme but ‘Shadow…’ gets right into it – I don’t like romance so this was a bit of a negative to me.

Finally, Sedgwick continues to make up verbs for no apparent reason, which isn’t so much a criticism as it is something that amuses me. All in all an excellent book. Roll on number 3, Return to the City of Ghosts.

See the full review of Ghosts of Shanghai here: Book Review: Ghosts of Shanghai (Julian Sedgwick)

Please note: Although my family do know the author, I have do not. I am reading them because they come recommended by my younger sisters, not because of any connection to the author. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!