Tag Archives: sci fi

Croak by Gina Damico

Title: Croak
Author: Gina Damico
Published: 20th March 2012 (paperback)
Format: E-reader
Pages: 320
RRP: £5.74
Rating: 13/14+

Sixteen-year-old Lex Bartleby has sucker-punched her last classmate. Fed up with her punkish, wild behavior, her parents ship her off to upstate New York to live with her Uncle Mort for the summer, hoping that a few months of dirty farm work will whip her back into shape. But Uncle Mort’s true occupation is much dirtier than that of shoveling manure.

He’s a Grim Reaper. And he’s going to teach her the family business.

Lex quickly assimilates into the peculiar world of Croak, a town populated entirely by reapers who deliver souls from this life to the next. Along with her infuriating yet intriguing partner Driggs and a rockstar crew of fellow Grim apprentices, Lex is soon zapping her targets like a natural born Killer.

Yet her innate ability morphs into an unchecked desire for justice—or is it vengeance?—whenever she’s forced to Kill a murder victim, craving to stop the attackers before they can strike again. So when people start to die—that is, people who aren’t supposed to be dying, people who have committed grievous crimes against the innocent—Lex’s curiosity is piqued. Her obsession grows as the bodies pile up, and a troubling question begins to swirl through her mind: if she succeeds in tracking down the murderer, will she stop the carnage—or will she ditch Croak and join in?

The premise of this book really caught me eye so I just had to join in the book tour! I was not let down. This book is very fun to read and provided me with a lot of enjoyment.

Uncle Mort was, at first, pretty scary but I think he was one of my favourite characters because he was both mysterious and hilarious. When I first read his name I thought of the French word mort which means death… the upcoming interview with Gina Damico shows it was unintentional, though!

The entire idea behind this new way of death and the subsequent afterlife is completely new and different from what has been portrayed in books and TV before… so at first it was all a bit confusing with new vocabulary but like in other fantasy books it becomes easy to pick up on.

Many other reviewers felt the same as me about Lex at the beginning. Being a juvenile delinquent means she is pretty hard to like but she grows and finds out answers throughout the book.

The book was written in third person so I felt that it was slightly more difficult to relate to Lex, since we did not get to delve completely into her mind. Other people’s opinions and thoughts were not usually looked at so a better choice would have been first person, so as to fully enjoy Lex’s character.

The overall writing quality however was really slick and I just plain enjoyed this book. I am glad this is a series because I would like some more answers!! I am sure there is more to some characters than meets the eye…

A fun, slightly mysterious and dark book with a good helping of comedic banter and romance. A great blend!

Plot: 8/10
There was a lot of action and events and that kept it thrilling.
Writing Quality: 9/10
Gina Damico has a lovely, in-depth writing style and the quality is great.
Originality: 9/10
Personally, I have not encountered a paranormal book about grim reapers…!
Characters: 6/10
The characters were developed and fun to read about.
Descriptions: 7/10
The descriptions provided were great.

39/50 = 80%


Thank you so much to Teen Book Scene/Netgalley for the copy of the book.


Blog Tour: Interview with Richard Denning

I am very pleased to welcome and interview Richard Denning, the author of The Amber Treasure, Tomorrow’s Guardian and its sequel, Yesterday’s Treasures.

Richard was born in Ilkeston in Derbyshire, UK and lives in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands. He works as a General Practitioner (family doctor)with a North Birmingham practice. He is 43 and married with two children.

He is a Young adult sci-fi, historical fiction and historical fantasy writer. He also writes book and board game reviews and online articles on historical and gaming related topics. He owns his own small publishing house, Mercia Books and is part of a board game design house Medusa Games.

A keen player of board games and other games he is one of the directors of UK Games Expo (the UK’s largest hobby games convention). He is a board game designer and his first Board Game, ‘The Great Fire on London 1666’ was published by Medusa Games and Prime Games in October 2010.

Author website: http://www.richarddenning.co.uk

  • Can you tell us a little about Tomorrow’s Guardian and what it is all about.

A. In Tomorrow’s Guardian, Tom, the main character – a 11 year old schoolboy – discovers that he can travel in time. This might sound like fun but he soon discovers that it is fraught will peril. In fact the book is all about Tom deciding how to use that power. Should he use it for self gain, should he use it to dominate others or to protect history. Evil men try to use him to bend history to their will and he must find the courage and strength to oppose that.

  • What type of book is it?

A. Mainly an adventure story with lots of action and daring-do in various time periods but I hope we learn quite a bit about Tom on the way – as well as the other characters.

  • Tell us about the other characters.

A. Well there is Septimus Mason – a sort of Han Solo style mercenary – who travels back and forth in time for money. Next is Professor Neoptolemos who runs a secret society dedicated to preservation of history. Then we have three individuals that Tom dreams about – people who it is believed died in history but he goes to rescue. Edward is a soldier who went missing in a battle in 1879, Mary a maid who perished in the Great Fire of London and Charlie a sailor who went down on a U-boat in WW2. Finally a mysterious stranger (Redfeld) who I think the readers should learn about as they go along.

  • What age would you recommend for this book?

A. Well I would say 11 to 14 year olds although some younger advanced readers could manage the book especially if say reading it with an adult. Equally I have had favourable comments from adults.

  • What made you write this book?

A. I have always been fascinated by Time Travel as a element in stories – films, books and TV. I am huge fan of DR Who, enjoyed the Back to the Future Movies, as well as the various Star Trek Time travel adventures and I have to admit that these elements have influenced the book although I feel I have looked at Time Travel in a different way to how it is handled in those stories. I wanted to explore the perils and opportunities that time travel offers. I also felt that there was an opportunity for the reader to see other time periods in an exciting way. In fact some readers have commented that through Tom’s eyes they get to explore periods of history they knew little about.

  • How technical and scientific is Time Travel in the Book?

A. I do discuss a few theories of how Time Travel COULD work but I don’t dwell on details to much. I use a Professor in the book to pass on that information but always seen through Tom’s eyes. Whilst I try to create a believable world I don’t make it too weighed down with complex science. This is an adventure story not a thesis!

  • Is there a particular reason why you chose to write a time travel adventure?

I have always been fascinated by the possibilities that being able to travel in time would offer. If you think about it we all like to go on holidays to exotic locations, to see the world and different cultures. We like to be present at important moments – a sporting triumph maybe or to meet celebrities and famous people.  But it is in a way a bit sad that many of the most interesting people are now dead or the most fascinating moments in history have happened and the most amazing locations gone forever.

If Time Travel were real there would be that chance of maybe meeting Leonardo DaVinci, Mozart, Caesar or Cleopatra. There were once seven wonders of the ancient world. Of these only the Great Pyramid exists. How wonderful to be able to visit the other six.  Think how marvellous to be present at the moment Newton discovered gravity, to sail (and hopefully get off) the Titanic or how fascinating to see the first airplane flight.

It is no surprise that Time Travel does play such a big role in TV, movies and in books. I think that is something that appeals to quite a few people. But then, when you consider it in detail, Time Travel brings with it many dangers and perils. I wanted to write a book that offered all that fun stuff – the chance to meet some historical characters and visit long lost places whilst exploring all the dangers doing that could bring. In the end I just love a sci-fi and fantasy story and this is one that occurred to me!

  • There is a character in the book who is quite mysterious, and you don’t know much about at first. Why do you think an element of mystery is important in a book, not just for characters?

I like there to be a mix of motives going on in a book. In Tomorrow’s Guardian you are not really sure what any of 4 characters are really up to – Redfeld the sinister officer from an alternate earth, Septimus the mercenary adventurer, Neoptolemos the head of a secret agency or The Custodian: a sort of pan dimensional police man. The sequel (Yesterday’s Treasures) will also have more than one mystery playing out. The best books I enjoy have this element of complex characters with hidden motives that only become clear eventually. Think of Snape in Harry Potter for example.

  • Did you draw on any personal experience or knowledge whilst writing the book?

I love history and spend a lot of time visiting old castles, battlefields and museums and sometimes I will come across something I want to bring into a book. So I have been to Tintagel (a castle in Cornwall) on several occasions and love it. I did quite a bit of reading about the Great Fire on London for a board game I published last year and that material found its way into the 1666 bits. I even read a really good book on the theory of time travel – because there are physicists really working on experiments about time travel in America. So some of what I drop into the book comes from real life research. I don’t understand it myself I hasten to add – it’s all advanced physics but I enjoyed reading a bit about it.

  • Are there any plans for a sequel?

A. Indeed the sequel “Yesterday’s Treasures will be out in the spring and features a race through history for fragments of a long lost artefact.

  • Have you written any other books?

A. Yes. There is The Amber Treasure – a historical adventure story set in Dark Age Northumbria during the climatic battles that forges Britain. I have also written a historical Fantasy – The Last Seal set during the Great Fire of London.

  • Where can readers find out more about your books.

A. The books are available on Amazon but the bets starting place is my website www.richarddenning.co.uk

Thank you so much Richard for answering my questions, and dropping by!

You can read my review of Tomorrow’s Guardian here.

You can buy the book on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and in e-book edition on Amazon UK and US. You can also buy the book(s) on his website, Mercia Books.