Archive for January, 2012

Lets Tans

Lets Tans by The Garbarchuk Family

5 stars

(Excerpt from Amazon) Lets Tans is a dynamic Tangrams experience for Kindle.

You are given a set of seven flat shapes that you can combine into over 6500 different shapes. The trick is that for each puzzle, you need to create exactly the shape given! In each puzzle you are shown a shape into which you must fit the puzzle pieces such that no piece overlaps the shape or other pieces.

300 hand-crafted puzzles are included and 3 difficulty modes provided. You can move, rotate, and flip pieces to get them to fit the required shape. Need help? Lets Tans can give you a hint. You can keep track of your time with a counter, and you can pause that timer when you want to take a break. You earn stars for each puzzle completed, and Lets Tans will track your scores so you can track your progress.

A super puzzle for exercising your spatial skills, Lets Tans is a great pastime for young and old alike.

This puzzle is a simple concept, you get 7 shapes and a board to make them all fit. Sounds easy, right? The first couple puzzles in classic mode are easy, but the board starts having shapes of its own that you place the pieces in, and then it starts making you think. When I started my first couple games I could finish them with a minute or two, then my times started going further and further up.

If this doesn’t sound challenging enough for you, there are two other options for playing. There is the Checkered mode where the board is checkered and you have to fit the pieces into the proper places along with in the proper pattern. Then there is the Duo mode where you get 10 pieces but two boards that you have to fill. If that wasn’t enough, you do get 300 puzzles to solve, so you won’t be zipping through this game without really thinking about it.

I really liked this game. There were enough play modes to keep me from getting bored and enough puzzles to keep me playing for quite a while. I admit that it took me a few moments to realize that to select, rotate, or flip the pieces uses different letters on the keyboard of the Kindle. After I figured that out, I was on a role. I really like how there is an index, in case you want to bounce around the puzzles, but it also keeps track of the amount of time that it took you to solve the puzzle. What a great way to keep challenging myself. If you like puzzles, this is going to be one that you will want to get.

I received this game for free from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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8: The Previous Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf by Michael Mullin

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Written in verse, this is the previously untold story of the previously unknown 8th dwarf, named Creepy. He is banished to the basement for being different and, well, weird. Yet he plays a vital – and of course previously unknown – role in the popular tale of Snow White (whose title character is an intruder Creepy refers to as “the Maid”).

We all know the story of Snow White. But what do we know about the Seven Dwarves? They lived together in the forest and mined gems. But what if that was not the entire story? What if there was another dwarf, Creepy, that didn’t fit in and was locking in the basement because he was different?

This is Creepy’s story about how this lady breaks into the house and agrees to cook and clean to stay there. She is not the brightest of creatures since she almost dies a couple times and Creepy has to save her.

I loved this story/poem, and I admit that I’m not a fan of verse. Poor Creepy is shunned because of his behavior. The twist on Snow White was great too. Although really short, if you like your fairy tales with a new twist, you will really like this.

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Prophecy of the Guardian (Guardian of the Seventh Realm – 1) by JW Baccaro

5 stars

(Excerpt from Barnes and Noble) The Second Great War between the Light and the Dark has begun, and Abaddon the Demon Lord is searching for the four ancient Wizard Crystals of the Elements.

Once the Crystals are in his hands, and corrupted to evil, he will destroy the forces of Light upon the earth, and transform the world into eternal darkness.

But Darshun Luthais, one of the last Nasharin warriors, along with a few companions, sets out on a quest to find the Crystals first. Along the journey they encounter giant six-legged serpents, the ruthless Cullach, and other entities of darkness; yet the most challenging obstacle is Darshun’s constant struggle against temptations of evil, and his vow to hold to the faith of all who are calling him the Guardian-the prophesied warrior who will bring down the Demon Lord.

Angels, fallen from the Light for their sinning, came to inhabit the lands with the idea to make the weaker races to worship them. Because of this attitude, Holy Angels fight a great battle with the Fallen and forced them back into their own realm. The blood spilled from the Holy Angels formed crystals that had power and caused some humans to gain powers from the elements. From there we have the division of different types of humans with different powers; Wizards, Nasharin, etc.

We start the story with the end of a great war with the Cullach, boar like men that fight for the Dark, where humans are forced from their kingdoms. As the people are fleeing, Mirabel and Seth, Nasharin’s, sense the presence of someone with Nasharin’s powers. They go to save that person and end up rescuing an infant that was going to be sacrificed to the Dark Lord.

Several years later, Darshun, the child rescued from sacrifice, has learned that he is Nasharin and has gone through his training. But something is happening in the lands. The Cullach have risen again and the five Wizard Crystals are starting to surface. The Second Great War is beginning and Darshun has learned that he is the guardian of the Wizard Crystals.

Now Darshun must find it in himself to be the guardian that everyone expects of him even though he would have rather lived his own life without everyone telling him what to do. He will meet one of the last Wizards and help him find the fire Wizards Crystal, fight Cullach, and find his true self along the way.

I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. This is a well-crafted world with great description to both the land and characters. I wanted to cheer and beat Darshun at the same time as he is trying to figure out where he fits into the world while trying to figure out who he really is. I honestly can’t say that I find any faults with this story. I recommend this to anyone that likes the Fantasy/Science Fiction genera. You will not be disappointed.

I received this for free from the author.

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Tahoe Blowup

Tahoe Blowup by Todd Borg

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Tahoe Blowup is a thrilling mystery about an arsonist who is lighting deadly forest fires at Lake Tahoe. When the fire starter kidnaps Detective Owen McKenna’s girlfriend, McKenna, and his Great Dane, Spot, they have just hours before the killer burns her in a fire so big that firefighters call it a Blowup.

We start with a fire just below Owen McKenna’s cabin. After narrowly escaping, Owen learns that this was planned. A note was sent to the fire department saying that this was in retaliation of forestry fire procedures. We then learned that Jake Pooler was killed in the fire. He has a reputation of being a ladies man, having a bad attitude, being severely in debt, and not being the most popular person in Truckee.

When another note is received, everyone is on pins and needles. Although they try their best, two houses are burned like the note said and another life has been claimed, Joanie Dove. The trouble is Owen cannot figure out the connection between Jake and Joanie. Then Owen starts receiving notes, calls, a burned stuffed dog, and muscle to keep him away from the fire investigation, he goes on alert. But when Street is kidnapped, all bets are off.

I love the Owen McKenna series. There is great suspense. I’m always on my toes and when I think I know who did it, it turns out to be someone else. I loved how the story was wrapped up. I am now on the hunt for the rest of his books. This is one mystery series that you will want to read.

I received this book for free from Book Rooster in exchange for an honest review.

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Iwishacana/Acanawishi by Larissa Hinton

4 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Where rules are meant to be broken
Anissa is constantly on the run from the police and can’t seem to stay out of trouble.

Secrets are meant to be kept
Until Anissa hides Florence in her bedroom and her mother finds out. There’s only one thing left to do: Send her to Juvenile Cop Camp to erase all of her crimes on her record.

And everything is not what it seems
There’s only one problem: Anissa is innocent.
Welcome to Iwishacana.

Iwishacana is an alternate to our world that is powered by wishes. Basically what you wish for is yours. Anissa lives in both our world and Iwishacana. It seems that she is in trouble in Iwishacana, when the story starts, she is on the run from the police. She mentions that there are drawbacks to wishing but it is not very clear what.

Anissa escapes the police just to come home to get into a fight with her mother about getting into trouble all the time. Not listening to her mother, she goes to Iwishacana and takes an art class there. She then looses a bet and is stuck with Florence, a spoilt guy from Iwishacana. She then sneaks out to go to a party. When caught she is sent to Iwishacana boot camp for criminals.

While there, we learn that Anissa has been framed for the crimes she is charged with. All people in Iwishacana have an inability to wish for certain things except Anissa. Someone has hacked Anissa’s ability and is using it to their advantage. Now Anissa needs to stop that person to clear her name and get out of criminal boot camp.

I really like the concept behind this story. It’s a fresh new idea that has a lot of potential. I can see this easily becoming a series.

Having said that, I will admit that I would have liked more background on Iwishacna. I felt a little lost hitting the ground running with little to go on. I got the basic idea but would have liked to learn more about it, the ground rules behind wishing, and such. I also was a touch confused about the bet that got Anissa stuck with Florence. I might have miss read it, but couldn’t find what happened.

Beyond that, this is a great story that has great potential. This is one to add to your young adult collection.

I received this story from author in a giveaway.

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Tahoe Deathfall

Tahoe Deathfall by Todd Borg

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) Tahoe Deathfall is a riveting mystery thriller about the murder of a six-year-old girl on the rock slide above Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. Detective Owen McKenna and his Great Dane Spot must catch a vicious killer before the murdered girl’s identical twin sister faces the same fate.

Owen McKenna is just starting up his private investigation business at Lake Tahoe when Jennifer Salazar walks in and wants to hire him to figure out who murdered her twin sister, Melissa, nine years prior. Jennifer is 14 years old and Owen doesn’t want any legal trouble but has offered to look into the “accident” for Jennifer.

At first Owen hears from Jennifer’s Gramma that Jennifer’s mother is in a psychiatric ward and that Jennifer has shown similar behavior. Gramma also admits that she thinks Jennifer pushed her sister off the cliff herself. Things don’t seem to add up so Owen decides to keep helping Jennifer. When they find someone lurking in Jennifer’s house when no one is supposed to be there, Owen decides there is a lot more to going on than what is on the surface.

At the same time, Street, Owen’s girlfriend, is a forensic entomologist that has been called in to look at a body that has been found severely decomposed. There is also the missing caretaker, Sam. It’s convenient that he was supposed to take care of Jennifer and now his is missing. There is also the high paid lawyer that has had his last two wives accidentally die and he inherits large amounts of money.

I loved this book. Owen is a strong character and I just love Spot, I wish I had a dog like him. There were great plot twists and a really surprising ending. This was a quick read of 255 pages but it left me wanting more. I will definitely be getting the rest of Todd Borg’s books.

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The Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun by Christopher Mahoney

5 stars

(Excerpt from Goodreads) The Incredible Origins of the Onyx Sun is an award-winning space adventure for young adults that has earned the acclaim of Publisher’s Weekly, Writer’s Digest, Amazon.com, and kids and parents everywhere.

The book follows Zack Goodspeed, a perfectly normal 11-year old boy, who discovers his eccentric grandfather has invented a source of unlimited power, called the Onyx Sun and harnessed that power to fuel a spaceship. Stowing away on the ship with his mischievous neighbor Angelina “Max” Maximillian, Zack is thrust into a journey that strands him on the Moon, introduces him to bold new friends, and pits him against Dr. Machvel, a rouge member of crew bent on turning the Onyx Sun into a weapon of mass destruction.

Zach doesn’t really fit in with his parents. They are almost boringly ordinary. They seem to have no creativity or imagination and it is almost painful how they don’t understand their son. Zach does take after his grandpa Fyodor, an inventor. Although his parents don’t want his grandfathers oddness rubbing off on their son, Zach tried to be with his grandfather every chance he gets.

The problem is Fy is often gone for long periods of time. So, when Zach’s classmate Angelina “Max” Maximillian tells him that she knows where Fy goes. Zach and Max follow Fy and sneak aboard The Onyx Pioneer. There they learn that Fy is planning on setting up a colony on he moon and using his unlimited power source, the Onyx Sun, to power the colony.

Unfortunately, other people are interested in the Onyx Sun’s powers, but not for such a good cause. Now Zach, Max, and Sanjay, a boy from the colonists, are trying to figure out where the Onyx Sun’s thief is hiding on the moon. They are on a race with time since the colony cannot survive for long without the Onyx Sun powering the colony.

I really liked this book. There was great action and adventure, a wonderful story, and a great lead character. Zach learns to appreciate his boring parents and understand why his grandfather goes away for long periods. I had a hard time putting the book down. This book is geared toward children but I feel everyone will like this book.

I received this book for free from the Library Thing First Reader program in exchange for an honest review.

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The Last Zombie

The Last Zombie by Brian Keene

5 stars

(Excerpt from Good Reads) Follow the frantic journey of a man seeking his one ray of hope in a post-apocalyptic nightmare United States. The zombies have come and (mostly) gone, but the disease is still out there, threatening the survivors. The country swarms with roving packs of wild animals – and worse, desperate humans ready to do whatever it takes to survive. Through it all, one man must drive from California to New York to reunite with the woman he loves before it’s too late for either of them!

Check your fuel tanks, weapons, and supplies; buckle down tight; and get ready for a thrill ride that may leave you breathless – or not even breathing! Brian Keene, the horror novelist acclaimed as one of the major forces behind the new era of zombie popularity, is bringing an all-new, fright-filled feature to Antarctic Press.

We start with Day 27 of the zombie attack and Dr. Scott being transported to the Colorado FEMA bunker. Zombies are everywhere, his fiancé is in the West Virginia FEMA bunker, he should be getting married today, and he is the one with a possible cure to the zombie virus.

Fast-forward two years. Zombies have disappeared but other illnesses, like bubonic plague, leprosy, and others, are out there from the decomposing corpses. Also, the West Virginia Bunker has gone offline. A helicopter was sent to check on them and it crashed. Unable to find out what is going on, the Colorado base plans on sending in a two-vehicle team to find out how the county is fairing and to find out what is going on in West Virginia.

The convoy starts off and gets to a local town where they find a mother and daughter scavenging. They also stumble upon some zombies and raiders. This is going to be harder than they first though.

I really liked this graphic novel. I love Brian Keene and zombies so it just goes to say that I had to get it. I got sucked in and was so disappointed that it was so short. I really liked how they portrayed the raiders, a very realistic situation.

Zombie lovers, you will want to get this graphic novel.

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