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Lone Wolf (Essex, United Kingdom)

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Trail of the Caribou: A Tale of Dire Wolves in the Time of the Ice Age
Trail of the Caribou: A Tale of Dire Wolves in the Time of the Ice Age
by Alexandria Joyce
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible!, 6 April 2017
The first thing I have to say about this book is that the spelling and grammar are so appalling that it’s rather difficult to read. There is an error on almost every page, and you are constantly noticing these or having to pause and figure out what it was supposed to say, as what it actually says makes no sense. Some of these mistakes are extremely basic, such as use of “here” instead of “hear” or “there” instead of “their” – even most ten-year-olds know better than this! Then there are the laughable errors, such as characters crossing a dessert or falling into a comma, and the constant misuse or absence of punctuation. Even the name of the main character, Torro, appears as “Toro” several times, suggesting that the author herself did not proof-read it even once before printing.

The book is about dire wolves, but the characters are so anthropomorphic that they may as well be human. They use terms of which animals have no knowledge, such as miles and pounds – one even mentions a dictionary! The animals also weep, refer to their home as a village, hold trials, build shelters, and so on. The author appears to know very little about the creatures she is writing about – her dire wolves each live in individual dens, are strictly nocturnal (to the point that they have never seen the sun!), plot to kill members of their own pack, and so on. It is mentioned that six of them have trouble killing a caribou, something even a single grey wolf can do, yet one of them kills a sabre-toothed cat by herself, something not even a pack would attempt.

In addition, the story itself is somewhat nonsensical. Torro must try to foil the evil machinations of his former friend, Elsie, who is scheming to murder his father, the pack leader. This is apparently because she wants to start a pack of her own. Quite why she needs to kill anybody to do this, rather than just leave the pack and find a mate, is never mentioned. Meanwhile, two other characters, Sinsate and Greydart, on their way home from talking to ghosts (yes, really), are kidnapped and imprisoned by lemurs and mammoths respectively. The lemurs (which in reality are only found on Madagascar and would never have been encountered by dire wolves) live in an underground fortress and make spears. The mammoths build palaces and torture chambers, and enslave other animals. This is all exactly as ridiculous as it sounds.

To sum up, nobody over the age of seven will be able to buy into the premise or care enough about the characters to enjoy this book, and even young children probably shouldn’t read it if you want them to learn to spell and use punctuation correctly.


Salamandria
Salamandria
by Stan Trauth
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars An engaging read for children, 21 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Salamandria (Paperback)
This book tells the story of a group of salamanders who escape from a zoo following an earthquake and seek new lives in the wild. It is a little more juvenile than I was expecting, aimed at young children rather than young adults, but does make an engaging read for anyone interested in amphibians. Naturally, the characters are somewhat anthropomorphic - for example, falling in love and forming life-long relationships - and I found it slightly irritating that they speak in American slang and use human terms of which animals would have no knowledge. However, real-life aspects of salamander behaviour and biology are featured, and anyone without prior knowledge of these animals is likely to learn something new by reading it.

There are a few spelling and grammatical mistakes, such as lightning written "lightening" and the occasional missing speech mark or question mark. At the end of the book there is a section giving information about all the animals featured in the story - there are one or two factual errors here, which is surprising given the zoological credentials of the authors.

In conclusion, this book is well worth reading for children who like animal stories or adults who like salamanders. Children will enjoy the story and probably won't notice the odd mistake, and adults will enjoy the interweaving of fact with fiction. Either way, you're likely to end up with a greater appreciation for the little creatures that scurry beneath our feet.


Ladies Casual Top Lion Miami Floral Print Turn up sleeve Baggy Women's T-Shirt [ Lion,S/M ]
Ladies Casual Top Lion Miami Floral Print Turn up sleeve Baggy Women's T-Shirt [ Lion,S/M ]

3.0 out of 5 stars Huge!, 4 Aug. 2015
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This is an attractive top, depicting a roaring lion surrounded by chains (nothing floral, though this is what it says in the description). However, it is enormous. I bought the smallest size and it is still far too big to be worn as a top, whilst being too baggy and not quite long enough to be worn as a dress. I'm using it as a nightshirt!


The Hunt for Elsewhere
The Hunt for Elsewhere
by Beatrice Vine
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother hunting this down, 17 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Hunt for Elsewhere (Paperback)
‘The Hunt for Elsewhere’ tells the story of Saxton, a red fox, and Dante, a wolf. Saxton was raised by Quill, a crow (how on Earth a crow has any idea how to raise a different species is not explained), and as such is not like other foxes, whilst Dante is running from the mistakes of his past. The two misfits join forces and journey across North America together in an attempt to bring one of Quill’s feathers back to his homeland after his death.

On starting to read this book, it quickly became apparent that it is aimed at a much younger audience than I was expecting. Like many animal-loving adults, I often read young adult fiction as many animal stories fall into this category, and they can be very well-written and mature despite being aimed at younger audiences. This book, however, is much more juvenile fare. The characters are very anthropomorphic, constantly using human terms of which animals would have no knowledge, and generally behaving like little furry people. For example, they understand human speech, eat three meals a day which they call breakfast, lunch and dinner, some of them can read, and at one point Saxton uses a pair of shears!

The author seems to have little or no knowledge of the animals she is writing about. She has no idea how a wolf pack is structured, how they hunt, at what time of year wolves and foxes breed, or even that foxes are nocturnal. Saxton is also anguished over having accidentally caused the death of a bear cub, despite being a predator and killing other animals every day in order to eat.

In addition, it appears as though the manuscript was not proof-read before going to print. There are numerous errors in the text, such as missing or incorrect punctuation and the frequent misuse of capital letters. There are various spelling mistakes, such as ‘peaked’ used in place of ‘peeked’ and ‘rye’ in place of ‘wry’. The word ‘vicious’ is written ‘viscious’ every time it appears.

Whilst very young children might enjoy this book, as they are unlikely to notice all the factual and grammatical errors, I cannot in all honesty recommend it even to them. The story is weak and has no real resolution, the characterisation is poor, and the animal behaviour extremely unrealistic. In short, don’t waste your time or money on this book.


No Title Available

5.0 out of 5 stars Great set, 11 Oct. 2014
This is a beautiful duvet cover and pillow set, exactly the colour I've been looking for (which seems to be extremely hard to find in shops). It washes well and is comfortable to sleep on, and is excellent value for money (though I should point out it was on sale when I bought mine). I was so pleased with it that I ordered another set.


Emilia Wooden Jewellery Box With 2 Drawers Beech Wood Finish By Mele & Co 1401
Emilia Wooden Jewellery Box With 2 Drawers Beech Wood Finish By Mele & Co 1401
Offered by tooltime uk ltd
Price: £23.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great value jewellery box, 11 Oct. 2014
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This is a lovely item, and at less than half the price of many similar jewellery boxes is great value for money. It's solidly made and attractive, and the drawers and the hinges of the lid work smoothly. The top part has several useful sections for keeping earrings and so on separate, and the drawers are spacious. As a couple of other reviewers mentioned, the handle on the lid is rather tarnished, which is a shame, but the box is still very pretty and functional. It looks great in a room with pine or beech furniture.


Rustle in the Grass
Rustle in the Grass
by Robin Hawdon
Edition: Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Rustle in the Grass, 30 Jun. 2014
This review is from: Rustle in the Grass (Paperback)
'A Rustle in the Grass' tells the story of an ant colony, who must deal with the threat posed by another species of ant living nearby. It is an engaging and entertaining story, but the factual errors somewhat spoiled it for me. Obviously with this kind of story some degree of anthropomorphism is inevitable, and I can accept the need for each ant to be a self-aware individual in order for it to work. What I found harder to accept was the frequent references to physical structures ants do not actually possess, such as skulls and lungs, and the fact that all the characters, with the exception of the queen, are male, when the vast majority of ants in a colony are sterile females. These are issues which could easily have been avoided without harm to the plot.

That said, it is an enjoyable read for anyone who likes animal stories, and might particularly appeal to younger readers who are less likely to notice the mistakes.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 5, 2015 4:47 PM GMT


The Chanur Saga
The Chanur Saga
by C.J. Cherryh
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Chanur Saga, 30 Jun. 2014
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‘The Chanur Saga’ is a science-fiction story set mainly in space, dealing largely with the trading system that has been developed by various alien species. The main characters belong to a species called the hani, who at a space station rescue a member of a never-before-seen species, a human, from their enemies the kif. Naturally, the kif want ‘their’ human back, and the hani are reluctant to hand him over, whilst other races have their own interests in the new species and their potential for trade.

I enjoy sci-fi, particularly explorations of alien cultures, and as a cat-lover was drawn to the feline appearance of the characters on the cover. This seemed like a perfect book for me. However, I found it rather a difficult read. To begin with, there is next to no description of what the alien races actually look like. We are told the hani have fur, beards and mobile ears, but that is about the extent of it, and other species get even less description – little more than ‘pale-skinned’ or ‘snake-like’. Their cultures are equally glossed over, with nearly all the events of the plot taking place on spaceships or space stations rather than planets, and the interactions between species being long-winded conversations written in stilted, hard-to-follow language. It is one thing to suggest that different species have difficulty communicating, another to make their conversations so awkward that the reader has trouble figuring out what they are trying to say. In my opinion, the story suffers from a preoccupation with politics – there is simply too much talk and not enough action.

This book combines the first three books of the ‘Chanur’ series in one volume. It contains ‘The Pride of Chanur’, ‘Chanur’s Venture’ and ‘The Kif Strike Back’. Whilst ‘The Pride of Chanur’ is a stand-alone story, the second two are not – they are the first two parts of an ongoing story which, regrettably, is not concluded in this volume. Had I bought either of these as single books, I would have been irritated to find that they are not complete stories. To find out what happens, you must read further books in the series. Though the story was engaging despite its slow pace, I did not find it interesting enough to warrant the purchase of more books. Unfortunately, this means I am left wondering how the story ends.


Lonely Werewolf Girl: Number 1 in series
Lonely Werewolf Girl: Number 1 in series
by Martin Millar
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing and poorly written, 30 Jun. 2014
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'Lonely Werewolf Girl' centres around Kalix, who is a teenage runaway. She is also illiterate, bulimic, violent, addicted to laudanum ... and a werewolf. On the run from her family, who wish to find her purely to further their political ambitions, she has been living rough on the streets until she is taken in by two human students. They then have to learn how to cope with a werewolf in their midst, while Kalix must learn how to interact with humans and continue to avoid her pursuers.

It's an interesting premise, and one I was drawn to as a lover of werewolf novels. However, this was a disappointing read. Aside from the spelling and grammatical errors, which are numerous, the writing itself is amateurish. The characters seem to live in a bubble - it's as though the rest of the world does not exist, unless it needs to in order to further the plot. For example, at one point a group of werewolves go on the rampage through London, leaving a string of corpses in their wake. Nobody cleans up the mess or worries about getting arrested, and there is no mention of any police investigation or media speculation on the matter. It isn't important to the characters, therefore as far as the author is concerned, it isn't important to the rest of the world either. This is the sort of mistake commonly made by children in their writing, but an adult should certainly know better.

We are also reminded constantly of who is related to whom, who dislikes whom, what everyone looks like, and so on. This becomes very tiresome after a while - as a reader, you only need to be told once that a character has long white hair, you don't need it reiterated every time her name is mentioned. In addition, the vast majority of the characters are selfish, callous and generally unpleasant - it is hard to like Kalix, or even to sympathise with her, when she is such a rude, sullen, ungrateful brat.

Finally, some storylines are set up and then never go anywhere, implying that you must buy the next book to find out what happens. Personally, I won't bother.


Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf (Book 1)
Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf (Book 1)
by Curtis Jobling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The 'Wereworld' series, 17 May 2014
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This review is for the whole ‘Wereworld’ series – beware of spoilers!

As a lover of werewolves and shape-shifters in general, I was immediately drawn to the ‘Wereworld’ books, which are set in a world in which all the nobility are were-creatures of some kind. The continent of Lyssia has recently been conquered by invaders from the land of Bast, who deposed the former king, a werewolf, and killed his family in order to put one of their own on the throne. Our hero is Drew Ferran, a young man who believes himself to be human until, one night when the moon is full, he finds himself changing into – surprise, surprise – the last of the werewolves and the rightful king. Thus begins his fight to reclaim the throne and drive the Bastians from Lyssia.

I was somewhat disappointed with this series, and am surprised to see it getting so many positive reviews here. The tale of the true king fighting to win back his throne from evil usurpers has been done to death, and Drew himself is not a particularly inspiring character – he is so good and honest and brave and noble that I actually found it hard to like him. He is just too perfect, and it frankly makes him rather boring. At times I found myself rooting for the villains simply because they were the more interesting characters.

It’s clear that the author has done little or no research into the animals his characters become – for example, he does not seem to know that hyenas are not dogs, or that a panther is merely a black leopard, not a species in its own right. With his were-creatures, he has a great opportunity to show some of the species which suffer from undeserved bad reputations in a more positive and realistic light, but instead he simply falls back on tired old stereotypes. Though wolves for once avoid being demonised, with Drew, the hero, being a werewolf, many of the villains are species which constantly get typecast as evil – rats, bats, snakes, vultures, crows and the like.

Many of the characters are one-dimensional, with the villains commonly ugly, diseased and dirty while the heroes are handsome, healthy and clean. This even applies when they are the same kind of animal – Vega and Deadeye, for example, are both weresharks. Vega is good, and is handsome, dashing and brave. Deadeye is evil, and is ugly, vicious, stinks of fish, and goes into a feeding frenzy at the sight of food. The villains are also often described as resembling animals and behaving in an animalistic manner even when in human form, whilst the heroes look entirely human and behave as such despite being werebeasts. In my view, it is an indication of bad writing when an author can’t give more depth to his characters than ‘he’s bad so he smells’ or ‘she’s good so she’s pretty’.

Some of the writing is poor to the point of laughable. In order to move the plot forward, supposedly wise and experienced characters do ridiculous things that even a child would think twice about, and completely implausible events are presented as perfectly reasonable. For example, Drew’s adoptive brother Trent has joined the Bastians in fighting against Drew because he believes that Drew killed his mother. He saw her bloody, lifeless form being held by the transformed Drew (in fact, another character killed her, but he does not know this). Then a virtual stranger, who is a prisoner of Trent’s at the time, tells him Drew didn’t do it. Against the evidence of his own eyes, and with no reason to trust his prisoner, he immediately believes him and switches sides. In another example, two Bastian armies that have lived and fought together for years turn on each other in the space of minutes on the word of Drew, an enemy - they stand around listening to him tell them why they should be fighting each other, and believe him, instead of just chopping his head off as soon as he appears. In another incident, one of the villains, who is renowned for being an unbeatable fighter, is defeated in single combat by one of the heroes, despite having survived going into battle against hundreds of enemies without armour or weaponry. He can take on hundreds of opponents and win, yet one hero and he's had it - not very likely.

In addition, the grand finale felt rather rushed. Having toiled through six books to get there, I at least expected all loose ends to be tied up in suitably dramatic fashion, but most of the final battle and its aftermath was glossed over in a few pages, with a few characters simply disappearing and their stories left unfinished – whether this is a set-up for future sequels remains to be seen.

In conclusion, don't bother with these books if you’re over the age of ten. The bad writing and poor characterisation will get on your nerves, and the end is not worth the struggle of getting there. Younger children may enjoy these books as they are less likely to question motives or unlikely plot twists, but there is some violence that they may find disturbing.


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