The Adventures of JoJo Smith by Tony Leslie Duxbury

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This a tongue-in-cheek fantasy tale about a young man who, through no fault of his own, is transported to a medieval world. Scared witless, all he wants is to be sent home. Considered harmless, he is ignored. Deciding to take things into his own hands, he hits on the idea of making a revolution to gain his ends. Recruiting some unlikely helpers, he forms a plan and puts it into action. Of course, things go wrong from the start, but they win through in the end.

review2
We follow a story of a guy named JoJo, who ends up in the medieval times due to an ancient spell. The wizard, who conjured the spell, has no idea what happened and neither does our protagonist. To make things even worse, he does not want to send JoJo back to his own world, because he has yet to translate the remainder of the spell and he has much more important business to attend to. Cannot really blame him; look after your own ass first. Because JoJo gets bored with feeling sorry for himself, and does not want to sit around anymore, he decides to start a revolution. Because, you know, why not?

As you have all picked up by now, it is a fantasy book with quite a humorous story. The story is written in first person narrative, so we are actually looking through the eyes of JoJo and following his thoughts and interactions with other characters along the way. This is fairly well done, but some of it is, sadly, a bit of a drag. And I felt the drag right from the beginning. There is just some heavy descriptions going on in some parts and it is absolutely unnecessary. If you skip those descriptions, or lets say, fly through them with your eyes, you will not miss anything. And that is quite bad, because you can easily take away quite a substantial amount of pages out of the book.

The characters are well constructed, they all have their roles in the book and they fulfill them well. They are not that flat, which means that they do not go on and on about one particular thing and show no progress. They do, and they change their temper and thoughts and you can see it in the sentence structures. For example, at the beginning of the book, when JoJo is scared shitless of Shadlow (the wizard), right after mouthing off at him, the sentences get shorter and the pace picks up. So you can feel how he is regretting the decision and is like “Oh shit, should not have said that!”.

Speaking of which, I believe that there should be quite more dialogs. The parts where the descriptions drag could quite well be erased and give space to lengthier dialogs. JoJo only exchanges a few sentences per day of his new adventure and that is quite unrealistic. I mean, I know it is dumb to say that when we are talking about a completely made up story, but nobody in their right mind would only say a few sentences each day. Even if you are crazy, you probably talk out loud and form a dialog with the wall. So that really cannot be an excuse.

While I was thinking of dialogs, I was reminded of one small little thing. The book needs an editor, to check out the spelling, and the use of punctuation. It is not too bad, but I have stumbled upon some quote marks, where there should not be any. I guess that this is something that was left over after rewriting certain things, but it just unnecessarily breaks the flow of reading. It makes me, as a reader, stop and check out what the hell are those supposed to be quoting.

All in all, it is a fun read, especially if you enjoy something with a lighter theme.

Book recommendation: 7,5/10

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Bob and the Cyber-Llama by Joseph Caldara

Bob and the Cyber Llama - Createspace Front Cover

price
Paperback: $8.00
Kindle: $8.53

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Bob Halibut used to live your average life: he had a steady job at Porkburger. He had a decent apartment. And it was boring as all get-out. But then he inherited a grand fortune from his grandmother. After meeting a posh, cybernetic llama butler, he learns of his grandmother’s secret former life and embarks on a journey to the pyramids to uncover the secrets of a lost civilization. What he discovers will test his courage, as well as his swordsmanship skills. “Bob and the Cyber-Llama” is an exciting, laugh-out-loud, all-beef 12-pack of adventure fiction hot dogs. It’s a fantastic read for kids, adults, teens, super-intelligent chihuahuas, flying robots, and otherworldly alien deities alike.

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This is one of the funniest books I have read in the last few years. I would dare to say I have not read something as funny since my elementary school days, when we were all reading Captain Underpants like a bunch of maniacs. For those familiar with it, this book is right there alongside those series. So, as soon as I picked up on that, I read the book through the eyes of a youngster, and enjoyed every single part of it.

Let us get to the first and the most obvious thing – humor. Yes, it is there. It is not one of those books that announce it, but fail to deliver it. This one goes hard right from the beginning. It is not just jokes or word plays, it is the story as a whole that is humorous. Just the Llama that you can see on the cover, is a goldmine of humor, let alone everything else. The story unfolds in a quick pace and you just keep jumping from one impossible thing to the other, but you just immerse yourself into the story so much that you just do not care. It is simply one of those stories that you pick up and do not put down until the last page.

The author managed to achieve what nowadays less and less books can. He managed to combine the humor with elements of adventure, suspense and mystery, without cutting one or the other out. And to achieve something like that in just 60 pages is extraordinary. Also, do not fear, the combination of these different elements does not ruin the flow of the story. What do I mean by this? Even at its peak, when the suspense and mystery are at the highest point, there is still humor present. And it does not ruin it for you. It brings a smile to your face, but your mind is still immersed and you cannot wait to see what happens next.

I cannot say much else without spoiling the story, as it is quite a short read. I can just repeat what I said at the beginning. This book would be a hit with the youngsters at elementary schools, and the author should look into that.

As far as the rating is concerned, the youngster in me enjoyed it, so I have no problem with giving it a…

Book recommendation: 10/10

High School Dance (How to Raise a Good Kid #2) – Starbuck O’Dwyer

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price

Kindle: $3.65
Paperback: $11.99

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This book is the culmination of a project that began shortly after my wife and I welcomed our son to the world. Like most first-time fathers, I felt a new and profound sense of responsibility and immediately became determined to pass along every lesson I believed was important… First, I made a list of the events of my childhood that taught me the most, the ones that made the biggest impressions, both good and bad. This exercise forced me to revisit many harrowing experiences such as batting zero in little league baseball, my chronic addiction to a blanket, my disastrously unsuccessful try-out for the role of Winthrop in The Music Man, and the time I mooned the entire sixth grade. I wanted to let my son know whatever hardship he might face; his father had already been there, learned something of value and survived.

review

So, you have read the first book? Well if you have not yet, then be sure to check out the first part – How to Raise a Good Kid. Is the second one worth the read? Let us cover a few points and we will see where it stands.
To start off, in its core, it is nowhere near the first book. While the first book was filled with humor right off the first page, this one is not. It has occasional funny moments, but is not nearly as humorous as the first book. That is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows author’s mental growth and development between writing the first and the second book. And the pick of the stories shows that too.
Stories are basically as good as before, only a bit more serious and a bit more “grown up”. They still bring up values with which each individual should grow, so that is still present and still as good as before. You can find yourself in some of the stories and the book reaches to you in an improved way compared to the first one. In that sense, author nailed it and this is definitely a book for every child to read.
I am giving it 7 out of 10, just because of the lack of humor. I know it is hard to keep writing book after book and make it funny each and every time, but I have met this author through the first book in a comedian way, so to lose that feeling in the second book is kind of a let down.

Book recommendation: 7/10