After being laid off from his job at a prestigious consulting firm, Dean decides to embark on a journey across East Africa with his younger brother. Unknowingly, they travel into bandit territory where a medical emergency forces them to choose between their safety and their health.
Inspired by true events, The Watermelon King follows the journey of two brothers as they backpack across one of East Africa’s most inhospitable regions. As they endure endless days of difficult travel, a series of short stories written by their father begins to uncover their inherent desire for adventure and their connection to the past. Along the way they begin to understand the beauty and frustration of life in Africa.
Many thanks to Daniel Royse for a copy of The Watermelon King in exchange for an honest review.
Why this novel appealed to me.
My father worked abroad auditing in many off the world’s off the beaten track destinations. He travelled extensively to the Far East, The Middle East, Pacific Region, Africa, Papua New Guinea, etc,…… and this story reminded me of his adventurous spirit in many ways.
First off before I even start to review I’d like to comment on the title. It’s awesome, isn’t it? Just love how – The Watermelon King – sets the tone for this delicious novel!
The Watermelon King is humorous, thirst quenching, and full of little pips, (trials and tribulations.) The hard shell that holds it together is undoubtedly the subsidiary story about the brothers’ father that sits in between the backpacking tale – what a salesman, and when he got ill, what a fighter!
I’d highly recommend The Watermelon King to those who love to travel. This novel will particularly appeal to backpackers who enjoy exploring off the beaten track destinations, and for those with a sense of adventure which matches their ability to find humour in all sorts of circumstances !! This isn’t for the package holiday makers….. who like plush comforts, and five-star hotels. Or for those who prefer to sit on the beach, oil themselves, and turn over. This is about the ‘real Africa,’ that most travellers never get to see. The ‘real Africa,’ may not be comfortable, the food may be dire, the buses non-existent but nevertheless there is a charm that transcends all that, making the experience an unforgettable smile which is etched on the heart of those who experience it.
I loved The Watermelon King. I thought I would! It did not disappoint. I read it on the way to work, (whilst travelling on the bus!) and it really made me smile.
Highly recommended. 4.5 stars.
I’d love to hear your views on The Watermelon King. Don’t forget to share your travel and/or backpacking adventures in the comments below.
Bye for now, let me climb on my hammock in the sun, ( I wish,) and read for a while…
A warm welcome to my Spotlight guest Daniel Royse, author of the fabulously titled: The Watermelon King.
I just love that title, don’t you? It certainly caught my attention. Perhaps it’s because I love watermelons, perhaps it’s the quirkiness of it. Who knows… I discovered Daniel quite by chance on Goodreads and I am so glad I did. If I hadn’t I would never have read The Watermelon King, or found out about Daniel’s travelling exploits. Can you imagine? What a loss.
Marje @ Kyrosmagica just loves the magic of travel. There is nothing as satisfying as being able to explore, and experience new cultures. But, all is well with the world, I’ve read The Watermelon King and it took me far, far away to swelteringly hot East Africa! Books truly are amazing. Don’t you just love them? I’m delighted to say that The Watermelon King is on my highly recommended thirst quenching list… review up next, but for now let’s focus on my Author Spotlight Guest today at Kyrosmagica….
Barnes and Noble: Barnes and Noble
The thrilling conclusion to The Book of Storms trilogy
Strange shadows are appearing over Danny’s town. Where they land, people are drained of all colour and hope. Cars crash; people stand, directionless.
Fleeing from the shadows, Danny knows Sammael is behind this horror. Danny knows the world must be saved; he knows that to do that, Sammael must be destroyed. Once again, Danny must overcome his belief that he’s not brave, and face his greatest fears. Danny needs Cath. But first he must rescue her from underneath the shadows.
Their only hope might be the mysterious Book of Shadows – but they will have to make it first. And is Danny doing the right thing? Can Sammael really be destroyed?
The final book in The Book of Storms trilogy – the conclusion was great. Loved this, Ruth Hatfield.
The first half of the book built up the shadows in a slow, grey progression to the conclusion. The title: The Book of Shadows implied that shadows would play a part, and this in itself attracted me to the story as I write about shadows too, but I was left wondering, is that it? Halfway through I had actually said to my eldest daughter that I wasn’t too sure where Ruth was going with this. How wrong I was, (this often happens to me.) I get restless and then I turn a page and wow… My whole reading experience changes! I was missing Cath, the feisty girl in the series. As soon as Cath, and Barshin, the hare came back into the story the action cranked up a notch of intensity and the final half of the book had me enthralled. There were revelations, colours, dreams, – all was not as it seems. And the at times frustratingly, uncourageous main protagonist Danny didn’t disappoint. He has heart! Enough to fill an ocean…. But no spoilers, no more about that, as this is one book I could really spoil if I said too much!
Ruth Hatfield’s powers of imagination are excellent. She truly breathes life into her animal characters making them almost human at times. Ori the dog, Danny’s new friend was fantastic, as was Shimny, the horse. Apparently, local Cambridge author Ruth Hatfield loves horses and you can really experience her love of animals and nature in her writing. So bear that in mind if you like books about nature, animals, and the earth.
I’d highly recommend this middle-grade series for those of you who love adventure, animals, deliberations about courage, storms, a courageous female character, shadows, and a thoughtful contemplation about the earth’s elements: earth, air, fire and water.
The highest rating of all three books, 4.5 stars.
Have you read The Book of Storms Trilogy? I do hope you do, and then we can chat about it!
Find out more about Ruth Hatfield, and her journey to publishing here in this illuminating talk : Ruth Hatfield Talks About Her Books
Next I will be reading Colleen Chesebro’s recent release – Author Colleen Chesebro The Heart Stone Chronicles – Book 1 – The Swamp Fairy can’t wait! Review to follow…
For Jean, eternity should have meant forever.
The Eternals, they are a breed apart. Born to immortality, neither human nor vampire, a dying sun is to end their race where no other could. It is to this ultimatum that Jean, the last Eternal lord, is born. Jean accepts the end once preached by his deceased parents, where others won’t, their arrogance furthering his melancholy. He would fight for the future where they, the Hierarchy, would waltz into nothingness.
But everything changes for Jean when he commits the cardinal sin: his bite takes the life of Princess Chantelle of The New Europa Alliance, whose sister will come to enthrall him. It is a deed Jean thinks has passed unnoticed; it has not. When the Britannian dandy, Sir Walter Merryweather, informs him of this, Jean runs. Aided and abetted by the irksome Merryweather, Jean stumbles from manipulated mishap into age-old conspiracies and beyond.
With the sun’s clock ticking, Jean must find time where there is none to reconcile his sordid past with the promise of new love.
Richard is a former Company Director who after winning a Gold Medal on HarperCollins’ Authonomy website gave up everything to become the writer he had always wished to be.
Richard counts himself fortunate to have been published both online and in print by such wonderful magazines as Daily Science Fiction and Devoltion Z, as well as anthologies by Third Flatiron Publishing and Leap Books.
The cumulation of his storytelling has arrived in the form of The Eternals. This is the first in a trilogy of books of the same name. The Eternals is set on our Earth in the far distant future as the sun prepares to set one final time. Neither human nor vampire, the Eternal Hierarchy look to waltz their way into oblivion. Jean, a brooding and disillusioned outcast, would have it different. Aided and abetted by the hapless dandy Merryweather, Jean’s tale unfolds to a backdrop of love, death and deceit. With the sun’s clock ticking, Jean must find time where there is none to reconcile his sordid past with the promise of new love.
Genre: Romance, Adventure, Action, Fiction.
Well I love a good old vampire story, so I was really looking forward to reading this. The Eternals isn’t quite a traditional vampire story. This is something else. These creatures are ‘neither human nor vampire.’
I enjoyed The Eternals – particularly the descriptive passages, (you really can tell that the author, Richard. A Ankers is a poet too, ) which for a bit of a poetic soul like myself is absolutely wonderful.
I also really found myself chuckling along to some of the little touches of humour that liberally peppered the story. But, I did find the instant love, and some of the terms of endearment (at the beginning of the story,) between Jean, and Linka a little difficult to relate to, particularly if you consider that Jean has just lost his wife, (not much of a grieving period for our hero!) and killed Linka’s sister, Chantelle. Though, there is more to this sibling relationship between Linka and Chantelle than meets the eye…… Either way, perhaps Eternals aren’t prone to having much of an emotional attachment to their siblings. The Eternals is exciting in parts. Particularly in the second half of the novel, the pace picks up, and the eloquence of the prose more than made up for some minor irks that I had.
Overall, I’m a great fan of beautiful prose, and without a doubt The Eternals is absolutely chocka block full of wonderfully descriptive writing, and the dialogue flows well too.
So I’d recommend The Eternals for readers who:
Appreciate a more poetic type of writing.
Who’d enjoy going on an adventure with a hero who is used to women swooning at his feet, (or even dying for his return,) – perhaps a kind of ruthless, but charming Sean Connery – James Bond of Vampires! Sean Connery always was my unchallenged favourite James Bond – us ladies do like the charmingly rugged Scottish bad guys!
I do believe this is the first in a Trilogy so I will be interested to see how this series progresses.
I’m sharing this as part of the Terry Tyler #AugustReviews initiative, and #FridayReads to try to encourage people to read and write a review. More about that here: Terry Tyler Blog August Reviews
Overall rating : 4 stars.
Authors Website: Richard Ankers – The Eternals
Have you read The Eternals? Do comment if you have, I’d love to hear your opinion.
Bye for now,
Hi Campers… oh no wrong club, sailors…
A Very Warm Welcome to Weekend Coffee Share which is hosted by Diana at Part-time Monster. To join in this fun sharing idea do pop over to Diana’s blog: Part Time Monster Weekend Coffee Share
If we were having coffee –
I’d say that I’m recovering from a sailing adventure! And since I arrived back home I’ve been craving sugar and drinking frothy caramel lattes. Would you like to join me for one? I promise it will be calorific heaven, I might even serve it in a little coffee cup dinghy!
Last weekend we were away on a friend’s sailing boat. So I thought I’d invite you to come along with me to see some of the lovely places we went to. The photo featured at the top was taken at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.
We began our yachting adventure in Southampton. With lots of goodies stowed aboard for our journey: food, wine, and an abundance of savoury and sweet treats we set off. It was quite a feat that Fat Bottomed Girl even got going! Who’s that you might ask? Stop being so cheeky. I know what you’re thinking… but… it’s the name of the well stocked sailing boat. Of course!
Our captain had everything covered, even providing yours truly and my daughter with sailing jackets, and of course obligatory life vests for everyone..
Here’s Captain Jon, our sailing aficionado.. (He’s been sailing since he was twelve…) with my hubby David on the right, sharing a Father’s Day bromance moment! Ahhh..
C’est Moi, smiling widely… in my red sailing gear, you can’t see my hands but I’m sure I must be praying for good weather!
We’re all trying to keep the optimism up, by wearing our shades… all except me, with my compulsory glasses wearing. I have to see where I’m going. We don’t want any man or woman overboard issues. I say this because my husband has fallen off a boat a few times.. twice in the Mediterranean, and once in the UK, so it’s now best to keep an eye on him, and generally good advice to keep him away from the vino. Oh no, no chance! Only kidding, he fell off last time while cleaning the boat on a boy’s trip (well that’s what he told me.) He hit his head and nearly drowned. Luckily one of his friends realised he’d vanished, and scooped him out of the water just in time. Quite a feat as he is over six feet tall.
So, on this trip we were hoping not to have to use this Man Overboard Rescue Sling. We did hear a few emergencies coming over the radio… but luckily the coastguard dealt with them pretty super pronto.
My friend Diane is striking a laid back kind of pose. You can tell she’s used to this sailing lark! She isn’t about to do any life saving just yet, especially if it involves pulling a six foot man out of the sea.
Oh, mustn’t forget the two youngest members of the crew, my daughter Gina, and her friend Sophie. Somehow wearing the sailing attire seems to make them look a lot younger than they are… Sweet. Oh Dear she’s going to kill me for that remark..
Generally it was pretty much plain sailing. But there were a few we better pay attention to where we’re going moments, when all these yachts kept chasing us. Steady on!
Gina had a chance to take the helm. Here’s a sweet photo of the two of them… one to keep… as it was Father’s Day. Ahh…
We stopped for a bite to eat at a lovely bay at National Trust Nature Reserve – Newtown. As you can see it was a bit overcast, but nevertheless you do get a sense of the tranquility and unspoiled nature of the place.
For our last evening we splashed out and had a tasty meal at a very lovely restaurant in Yarmouth, called The George, which had this amazing restaurant with beautiful sea-views. As you can see the sky was now a hazy blue colour after being a bit grey!We also stopped for an ice cream at The Gossips cafe at Yarmouth, but whatever you do, do remember to keep that to yourself, as we don’t want that kind of information getting around..
We had a wonderful weekend.. though I have to say I still feel as if I’m in sleepy mode. It must be that continual rocking motion. We had a long drive back home and stopped for fish and chips on the way back. Yum. All that sea air really makes you hungry!
Hope you had a great week. What have you been up to? Been sailing recently?
Hope you enjoyed my Weekend Coffee Share post.
Cheers. What can I get you to drink?
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and The Olympians #1) is the first novel in the Percy Jackson and The Olympian series. The series consists of five novels: The Lightning Thief (2005), The Sea of Monsters (2006), The Titan’s Curse (2007), The Battle of the Labyrinth (2008) and The Last Olympian (2009). It has since been followed by a sequel series of five books titled The Heroes of Olympus.
The Lightning Thief received mostly positive reviews and won awards including the School Library Journal Best Book of 2005.
The Lightning Thief has all the elements to make me purr like a kitten but somehow it left me slightly disappointed. I enjoyed The Lightning Thief but I didn’t love it and that surprised me.
So, a little recap of the story, as I see it. Percy is always getting into trouble. Typical twelve year old boy if you ask me! He thinks his problems are caused by his dyslexia and ADHD playing up. But this isn’t the case, Percy is no ordinary guy, he’s a demigod. He sets off on a quest with a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, to settle a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, there will be a war between the gods. Along the way Percy discovers who his father is, no ordinary mortal of course, and Percy and his companions meet the Furies, Medusa, the motorcycle thug Ares, and various other immortals….
REASONS Why I should have loved it:
I just love myths, and legends. But somehow at times this just seems too far-fetched. Can I say that? When I’m talking about fantasy? Well, I just did! Greek Gods in the 21st Century – Some of it works and some of it fell short of perfect. Can you envisage a modern day Mount Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building? The door to Hades right there at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA, really? I see what Rick Riordan’s trying to do, giving Greek mythology a modern day voice to entice the younger reader into an awakening interest in Greek mythology. I applaud him for that but maybe for me it was a bit too much…… modernising.
Characters and Narrative Voice.
I struggled to get emotionally involved in Percy’s quest. He’s had a hard life but I’m just not feeling it. Sometimes (not always) he sounds older than a twelve year old. To be fair maybe demigods abandoned by their fathers grow up too quickly, that would explain it.
Parallels to Harry Potter
There are many parallels between The Lightning Thief and Harry Potter, and I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, so this kind of irked me a bit.
Here are some of the similiarities:
Percy’s closest friends are a girl, the half-blood daughter of Athena, Annabeth, and a boy, Grover, a disguised satyr, rather like Hermione and Ron, but in costume.
Percy goes to Camp Half Blood were he trains, this reminded me of Hogwarts, but just different setting.
The camps are divided into different houses which compete against each other in a Capture the Flag tournament. Percy realises his powers in water, and how water can heal him. The Capture the Flag tournament is a dead ringer for Quidditch. Of the two I preferred the fast pace and excitement of Quidditch.
One of the houses has kids who Percy doesn’t get along with, so Slytherin.
Percy and friends use an invisibility cap – invisibility cloak in Harry Potter.
********Spoiler************ Look Away.
***At the end Evil Kronos might be returning – kinda like Voldermort.***
The aspects of the story I liked:
Incorporating dyslexia into the storyline. This is great. This makes dyslexics cool! Dyslexics can read and understand ancient Greek. It’s about time that dyslexics get the attention and recognition they deserve.
The ADHD. Again. Clever. Stop slagging off those kids that can’t concentrate in class. They have advanced reflexes, and are battle ready!
What else did I really enjoy?
The humour. Made me chuckle. Humour rating, 5 crazy stars :
Medusa. I loved this part. Stop staring! Serves you right haven’t you heard it’s rude to stare. Medusa grabbed me by the scruff, while I clamped my eyes tight, shut. You would wouldn’t you? Medusa rating 5 stars !
The Three Furies, especially Mrs Dodds.
The nasty step dad got his comeuppance. Enjoyed this. He deserved it.
The twist in the tale at the end. Of course I saw this coming but nice twist.
My overall conclusion:
This first book in the series is middle grade fiction. I sense that as the story develops the characters will grow older, and find their emotional voice and depth. I would be interested in reading more of this series to see how it progresses. If I don’t I’ll be in trouble as my daughter is a huge Percy Jackson fan!
Highly recommended for readers of Middle Grade, YA, Fantasy, Mythology, Adventure and anyone who enjoys a good laugh. Oh, that’s me!
Difficult to rate. I’m going to settle for 3.75 stars…………
Found this interesting piece of information about the development of the novel on Wikipedia to share with you:
– “Development for both The Lightning Thief and the Percy Jackson series began when Riordan began making stories for his son Haley who had been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. His son had been studying Greek mythology in second grade and asked that his father come up with bedtime stories based on Greek myths. Riordan had been a Greek mythology teacher in middle school for many years and was able to remember enough stories to please his son. Soon Riordan ran out of myths and his son requested that Riordan make new ones using the characters from Greek myths while adding some new ones. Riordan created the fictional character Percy Jackson and his travels across the United States to recover Zeus’s lightning bolt. After Riordan finished telling the story his son asked that his dad write a book based on Percy’s adventures.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lightning_Thief
Some of my favourite quotes:
“My name is Percy Jackson.
I’m twelve years old. Until a few months ago, I was a boarding student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids in upstate New York.
Am I a troubled kid?
Yeah. You could say that.”
“How did you die?”
“We er….drowned in a bathtub.”
“All three of you?”
“It was a big bathtub.”
“Hades raised an eyebrow. When he sat forward in his throne, shadowy faces appeared in the folds of his black robes, faces of torment,as if the garment was stitched of trapped souls from the Fields of Punishment, trying to get out. The ADHD part of me wondered, off-task, whether the rest of his clothes were made the same way. What horrible things would you have to do in your life to get woven into Hades’ underwear?”
Grover didn’t say anything for awhile. Then, when I thought he was going to give me some deep philosophical comment to make me feel better, he said, “Can I have your apple?”
“The real world is where the monsters are.”
“The sea does not like to be restrained. ”
“Your uncle,” Poseidon sighed, “has always had a flair for dramatic exits. I think he would’ve done well as the god of theater.”
“Words had started swimming off the page, circling my head, the letters doing one-eighties as if they were riding skateboards.”
Have you read The Lightning Thief? Do comment, I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx
Lirael has never felt like a true daughter of the Clayr. Now, two years past the time when she should have received the Sight that is the Clayr’s birthright, she feels alone, abandoned, unsure of who she is. Nevertheless, the fate of the Old Kingdom lies in her hands. With only her faithful companion, the Disreputable Dog, Lirael must undertake a desperate mission under the growing shadow of an ancient evil.
In this sequel to Sabriel, winner of the Aurealis Award for Excellence in Australian Science Fiction, New York Times best-selling author Garth Nix weaves a spellbinding tale of discovery, destiny, and danger.
This wonderful trilogy was introduced to me on Goodreads via the Hot Key books Old Kingdom READ-ALONG.
It is quite fascinating how Garth Nix fast forwarded the essential elements of the story many years into the future, rather than continuing Sabriel and Touchstone’s more youthful story. We are introduced to Lirael, a young woman who wants desperately to be accepted as a Clayr, yet she is lacking in one important quality that the Clayr must possess. Each year she grows older but the ability to see into the future, which is a coming of age gift of the Clayr, bypasses her. Lirael can’t help but feel excluded, an outsider, overgrown, useless, lonely and ultimately desperate.
Unable to bare her wretched existence a day longer she decides to commit suicide by flinging herself off of the glacier, a dramatic attention seeking act! But she is thwarted by her own fear and by an unexpected interruption. We are re-introduced to the Abhorsen Sabriel, and King Touchstone but the two main characters of the previous novel play a much smaller part in this second novel. Instead of killing herself Lirael discovers a sense of purpose in the quiet duties of a Librarian, learns Charter magic, and creates the magnificent Disreputable dog a Free Magic creature infused with Charter Magic. If you loved Mogget, an ancient Free Magic cat construct of unknown origin bound by a red Charter magic collar to serve the Abhorsen, you’ll love the dog. These two furry characters are just so amusing. Loved them both! Their banter is just so on point.
So the adventure continues and what an entertaining ride it is. Along the way we meet Sameth, Sabriel and Touchstone’s son, who is overwhelmed by his princely duties as Abhorsen in waiting. He would prefer to construct toys to catch insects than stare into the eyes of evil Necromancers and who can blame him? He feels inadequate, and the efficiency of his sister Ellimere just makes him feel even more useless and paranoid. There are interesting parallels between Sameth and Lirael, but the way in which they deal with overcoming obstacles are quite different. Lirael is without a doubt the stronger character. It is interesting how Garth Nix writes strong female characters but his male characters tend to be a bit lacking and not quite up to the task! All in all, I really enjoyed the character of Lirael, I warmed to her straight away. Sameth was a bit pathetic at times but he grew on me! Even when he tries his best to escape trouble he just seems to walk deeper into its clutches!
The ending came as a bit of a surprise but maybe I should have seen it coming!
Overall, I would highly recommend Lirael to readers of Fantasy, Young Adult, Magic, and Adventure.
Have you read Lirael? Do comment I’d love to hear from you.
Bye for now,
Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx