Book Review

Awakening the Trinity – Brittany Elise

It’s time for a spot of YA Supernatural reading today, with Awakening the Trinity by Brittany Elise.

BLURB:

In the seventeenth-century, an all-powerful witch called Rionach the Dark ruled the Celtic nations with an army of enslaved werewolves. In order to restore balance between Light and Dark, the Trinity of Light was summoned to vanquish the Dark Witch and end the Battle of the Dark Ages.

Seventeen-year-old Quinn Callaghan lives in the small, rustic town of Silver Mountain. Its location may be rural, but it is home to an ancient pine forest that surrounds a supernatural hotspot–a nexus of raw and powerful energy.

When a charismatic witch from Ireland, and a mysterious guy with a secret of his own are drawn to the area, Quinn finds out that she inherited her rare abilities from a revered ancestor. Could it be that she shares a bloodline with the Original Trinity? Nearly 300 years later, the Darkness is returning to Silver Mountain, and the Trinity must stop it.

awakening cover1

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

It’s been a while since I picked up a book by an author whose work I haven’t read before and have been completely sucked in from the first page. It is a book that I wished I could have sat and read in one sitting, but I had foolishly started reading it at 10:00 at night, and sleep eventually won the battle, and forced me to stop reading and pick it up again the following evening.

At first, there was something about Awakening the Trinity that felt a little Twilight-esque (not a bad thing, I loved those books), nothing too serious or taxing. However, it quickly became apparent that this is a book that goes to much deeper, darker places than Stephenie Meyer’s series.

I loved the entire cast of characters, and felt that I really would have loved to have been a part of their gang (which is laughable really, because a cross-country runner I am not!).  I liked getting to know the supporting characters just as much as the main charactes, and finding that they were equally well developed. Turning to the major players, I adored fierce, fearlessly loyal Annabel, and who could resist the charms of Wren Whelan!

It’s difficult to say too much more without giving away the secrets of the book, and I would hate to spoil it for anyone. Suffice to say, this is a book that seriously got under my skin, and I found I was thinking about it and pondering what was going to happen next even when I wasn’t reading it. The only question I have is, how long am I going to have to wait for the next book????

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo

My love for writing began at a very young age–way before I could even type on a keyboard. I was always writing short stories and poems with a fan club of one (my mom.) I never stopped writing, but I don’t think I believed in myself enough to actually pursue it as a career. When I enrolled in college, I took as many creative writing classes as they offered, and ended up graduating with a degree in photography and minoring in English. I enjoy art in all its forms, but writing has always been my first love. Even when I was pursuing other careers, writing was always my go-to comfort. I later became an animal obedience instructor and met a children’s author through my dog training. She helped me get my foot through the door, so to speak, and I haven’t turned back since. During the day, I manage an FBO at my local hometown airport, and by night, I dive into my writing with my husband and my four-legged children by my side.

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Many thanks to Brittany, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and for providing me with a copy of the book. Don’t forget to have a wander over to the other blogs taking part.

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Book Review

Mask of the Gods – Karen Furk

Today’s book is the first in a series by Karen Furk.

BLURB:

Soul Demons live off the souls of the living. 

When Haydan’s home world is invaded by a soul demon seeking an item shrouded in myth and legend, his father evicts him and sends him to safety. His chosen one and warrior should provide reassurance and sanctuary, but neither appears to be working very well. Just when he thinks matters cannot get any worse his scheming grandmother arrives. She has her own plans that appear to involve him, none of which bodes well.

Diego feels confident he has the soul demon under control. Overlooking his devious mother’s involvement, he fails to appreciate that he is not only storm rider elder, but also an elven prince and certain debts are about to become due.

Lavinia worries about her grandson, but also who she left behind in the elven realm a long time ago. Tallin thinks she abandoned him and he is livid. She has everything under control, including Tallin…at least that is what she thinks.

They all need to learn afresh who to trust. With a soul demon on the rampage, an unleashed, angry and betrayed elven king and a long-forgotten mask surfacing, what could possibly go wrong? 

The past is about to catch up with all of them. Nothing is going to go as planned because the mask and the gods have other ideas.

mask-of-the-gods--e-cover highres

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

This is a tricky book for me to review, because my head and my heart are somewhat conflicted over it. My heart loves discovering the new worlds created by authors like Karen Furk, but  my head struggled to reconcile the limited information that is provided about this new world. I found I was spending more time trying to understand the relationships and the set up of this world than I was actually becoming invested in the characters. Following a blog post in which Karen Furk addressed this point (which can be read here), I do understand the reasoning behind the limited information provided, and obviously she has spent a lot of time on building a world which I think could be quite wonderful as the series unfolds, but sadly it did detract a little from the enjoyment of this book for me. I think I am just too impatient to know all the secrets of new worlds as soon as I discover them.

Another point that I feel I should mention, but which again is cleared up in the author’s blog post, is the relationship between Haydan, Maya and Arianna. Again this is something that my head and my heart differ on. My head knows that strictly speaking all three characters are the same age and they have all chosen each other, and each have their own vital part to play in the relationship. However, my heart still finds a particular scene where Haydan, (in his adult form) has to discipline Arianna (in her true nine year old form). I should say that this has nothing to do with the fact that it is an adult man exert his power over a young girl. I would find the level of dominance displayed in this scene equally troubling if the roles were reversed and it was an adult woman and a young boy. Having read the author’s blog post, I do understand the relationship between storm rider, warrior and chosen one better, but this scene in particular still doesn’t sit comfortably with me.

Anyway, enough of that. On to the parts I loved. Once Haydan and co ventured into the fae realm, I found I could settle in and really enjoy the writing. I am a huge fan of books about the fae, and Karen Furk’s version, with it’s hidden creatures and thrill of the unknown, is a beautifully developed world. I found I really fed off of Arianna’s excitement at being allowed to explore a new realm. I felt very drawn to Diego’s wild free rider side, and could really get a sense for the faeries prince inside of him. I loved his battles with Akir at various stages of the book too. Tallinn, for me, was also a perfect representation of fae royalty, with his unpredictable nature and fierce mood changes.

Now I know a little more about the background to this series, and how things will slot together as it progresses, I feel that the series has a lot of promise, and the author has clearly put a lot of time and effort into creating a world that I think will turn out to be quite brilliant. Despite the misgivings I mentioned at the start of this review, I am definitely intrigued to see how everything works out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

mask - karen furk author headshot

Karen Furk loves fantasy stories. She has done ever since she was a small, lonely child with an over active imagination. She’s particularly fond of stories that are crammed full of magic, mayhem and magical creatures. Karen’s background in marketing laid the foundations for her writing career which began after a serious bout of depression. No longer able to contain her over active imagination, the stories finally flowed onto a page. She aims to surprise and delight with the characters and worlds she creates. She lives in the North West of the UK with her husband, two boys and a hamster called Rufus (Yes, a girl hamster with a boy’s name. Don’t ask, she just embraces the crazy!). Visit her at karenfurk.co.uk or find her on social media and say hello – she’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest under the user name karenfurkauthor.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Many thanks to Karen, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Secret – Katharine Johnson

I am kicking off my 2019 reviews with the moving book, The Secret, by Katharine Johnson.

BLURB:

Love, Lies, and Betrayal in Wartime Italy.

Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences.

Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested, and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything. 

Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.

But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds among the next generation.

You can purchase your copy of The Secret here.

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REVIEW:

Despite the sometimes distressing subject matter, The Secret is a gentle book, with characters who welcome you into their world with open arms. It is a warm, inviting read, and the traumas and tragedies faced by some of the characters are handled gently.

Although the story is told from multiple viewpoints and moves backwards and forwards through time between the Second World War and present day, this does not feel at all jarring as it does in other books I have read. Instead it feels completely natural and fluid as the story unfolds. I particularly loved the way in which Carlo drew out his mother, Irena’s, story through the use of a dictaphone.

Although the title refers to a singular secret, it soon became apparent that there was more than one resident of Santa Zita has something they want to keep hidden for one reason or another. I loved how each of these unfurled slowly through the book, with each secret seemingly having an effect on the next. Without giving too much away, there is one secret that left me wondering a little and which I would like to know more about, but at the same time, it felt natural that this would remain a bit of a mystery to the reader, as it was a mystery to the rest of Santa Zita.

I was lucky enough to spend a long weekend in Florence some years ago, and instantly fell in love with the city. This book made me yearn to return and explore more of Tuscany, and maybe discover some of the Tuscan villages that are off the usual tourist track.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author pic

Katharine Johnson likes writing about ordinary people who through a character flaw or bad decision find themselves in extraordinary situations. She’s a journalist living in Berkshire, England with her family and springy spaniel. When she’s not writing you’ll find her exploring cities, visiting old houses, playing netball, eating cake or restoring her house in Italy which is nothing like Villa Leonida.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 1 x Signed copy of The Secret and 1 x Signed Copy of The Silence (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494175/

Many thanks to Katharine, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book. Please make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Mai's Makes

The Joy of Craft

I am taking a leaf out of my friend, the wonderful K.A. Kenzie’s, book today, and opening up another piece of myself to you all. Katie wrote a wonderful piece the other day, and whilst I don’t know that I am ready to be quite as brave as she has been just yet, I am taking a baby step in that direction. You can find Katie’s post here, and I would encourage you all to have a read of it.

Some of you will already know that two and a half years ago, a change in my health led to a career change for me and instead of heading out to an office everyday, I started working from home. Going from working in a room with forty other people to sitting on my own all day was a massive adjustment, and although I knew it was the right decision for me, I still had more than a few days when I felt quite low. But then I discovered the wonders of crafting! I had always dabbled with various crafts, but never really had the time to get properly stuck into anything and really learn all the intricacies involved. Becoming self-employed meant that I had more freedom to decide my own working hours and explore my hobbies further. Stumbling across an amazing fabric shop in a town close to where I live, and getting to know the wonderful staff and customers, was a major turning point for me and gave me such a boost to have a crack at projects I would have been too scared to even consider a short time ago – more on the shop in a future post.

Fast forward to October 2018 and my spare room has been converted to an office/craft room, and I can now usually be found sat at either my laptop or sewing machine. Honestly, something as simple as having somewhere to sew in peace has been life changing. Yes, the pain and fatigue and all the other nasties that come with chronic illness are still there, but when it is just me, my sewing machine, and some music, I can completely lose myself in my project and forget about the stresses of modern life for a few hours. My mum tells me that this is something called “craftfulness,” a sort of crafters version of mindfulness.

I have been in mindfulness courses, and read countless books, and while I do believe there is something in it, it is something that I have struggled with myself and I find my mind wanders off on all kinds of tangents if I am just sitting. However, when I am trying to muddle my way through a project, I have no choice but to be completely focused on what I am doing, otherwise the chances are I’m going to sew my fingers together!

Whatever you want to call it, the effects on my mental health have been so good. I get so much pleasure out of completing a project, especially if it is something I have made as a present for someone else. I made quite a few Christmas presents this year (as you can see in the photos, I have got the hang of the reversible bag now), and the reactions I have got for them have been such a confidence boost. I am starting to feel like I might actually be okay at this! I still have lots to learn, and am known for vastly under estimating how long projects will take (to the point that I was still making Christmas presents on 23rd December), but I am excited for the coming year, and I promise to share some of my projects with you all as I go, if you promise not to laugh at some of the dodgy stitches!

Coming soon…

 

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Top Ten of 2018

It’s time for the obligatory “Top Ten Reads of the Year” post. Some people love them and some people hate them, but my very first post was a top ten, so it only seemed right to carry on the tradition (by the way, today is my first blogger birthday – can you believe it? It’s gone so fast!). It was so hard this year, as I have discovered some amazing authors that I hadn’t come across before, and have also enjoyed books by my favourite authors. Anyway, after much deliberation, I have decided on my top ten, some of which I have reviewed already, and a couple who I owe a review to (coming soon I promise).  I couldn’t possibly put these wonderful books into an order of preference, but here they are:

Here are the links to my reviews for the ones I have done:

The Lights of Time – Paul Ian Cross

The Raven Tower – Emma Miles

Crooked Daylight – Helen Slavin

Legendary – Stephanie Garber

The Songs of Us – Emma Cooper

A Dangerous Game – Madeline Dyer

The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale

Reflected Destinies – Florence Keeling

Hopefully, you will discover some new favourites of your own amongst this list. What have been your favourite reads from 2018?

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The Book Jar

I spent a day over the Christmas period attempting to sort the books on my Kindle into some sort of order, and was shocked to discover that including my paper books I currently have over 500 books that I haven’t read yet! I saw a post on Facebook about book jars and thought I’d give it a go for 2018. Just in case you haven’t seen these, thehe idea is that you write the name of all the books you want to read on a slip of paper and add them all to a jar. Then, when you want to start a new book, you pick slip from the jar, and that is the book that you read next.

Pile of paper, pen, and scissors in hand, and a few hours later, this was the result:

Honestly, some of the books I have on my Kindle, I have no idea why I bought them, so I am hoping that this method of selection will make me read them.

I will keep you all updated on how this goes, and whether the method works for me and helps to reduce my TBR pile. The only exceptions to the rule will be books I have for bok tours, and a few new releases that I am very excited about from Leigh Bardugo, Emma Miles, N.J. Simmonds, Stephanie Garber, Holly Black, and Cassandra Clare – there is no way I could bear to put those on the jar and sit waiting for them to reappear. These are books that demand to be read the very second that I can get my hands on them!

Wish me luck folks – I am not known for my willpower.