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Hall of Night – Cover Reveal

As you will know, I am a huge fan of Emma Miles, and as such I am delighted to be helping out with the cover reveal for her latest book, Hall of Night, Book 2 in the Valley of the Fey series.

Before you get to see the cover, here is the blurb:

It will take more than friendship, courage or love, to save them this time.

Feather and Mya had fought hard for their peaceful life, defeating a Dark Fey queen so the people of their valley could be free; so, they could put their feet up in their quiet cottage at the end of a day’s work…

Of course, things won’t stay that way long for Mya and her faithful brownie friend. When visiting the Beltane fair in the wondrous tree city of Ashgrove, they hear rumours of horns, rumours of hoofbeats, rumours of slaughter. The Gentry are coming.Once again Mya and Feather must team up with the Wild Fey and the surly knight, Caelin, to defend the home they love; whilst her nephew, Jack, struggles to bring unity and order to the human city of Ayresport who refuse to accept the fey.

Only if they unite, will they survive.

I am so excited about this book, and I can’t wait for you all to read it. In the meantime, here comes the fabulous cover!

Hall of pillars two 1 FONT

If you like the sound of this book you can pre-order it here. If you haven’t read Book 1, Hall of Pillars, yet, stay tuned for an announcement coming up in just a few days.

Book Review

Borrowed Moonlight – Helen Slavin

What better way to finish off my Halloween reads than with my favourite witchy sisters. Borrowed Moonlight is book three in the Witch Ways series, a series that I discovered and fell in love with last year (book one even made my top ten for 2018). You can read my review of Crooked Daylight and Slow Poison, the first two books, here.

My thanks to Helen, and Agora Books, for providing me with a copy of the book via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Boughs bent, limbs sprang. Havoc Wood had never seemed so alive.

After a toxic Halloween wreaked havoc on the Wood, the Way sisters are left shaken. Thinking they had gained some control over their powers, now they aren’t sure they’re cut out to be the Gamekeepers.

The sisters are scared, insecure, and in no position to handle the Old Magic hovering in every corner of Woodcastle.

Ancient and electric, this new foe is always one step ahead, and The Ways must finally harness their Strengths… or risk losing one of their own.

In this third instalment of The Witch Ways series, bets are hedged, bargains are made, magic is borrowed, and debts must be paid.

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REVIEW:

When I find a series I love, I am always a bit conflicted when a new book is released. Part of me wants to lock myself away and devour it, but part of me is also a bit nervous – I mean, what if it doesn’t live up to expectations because I have built it up so much in my mind? This is exactly how I felt about Borrowed Moonlight – especially as I had been waiting almost a year to get my hands on it! Luckily, this is a good news review and I absolutely loved it!

Borrowed Moonlight picks up not long after the events of Slow Poison, and the aftershocks from Apple Day are still rippling through the community and unsettling the Way sisters. Seeing how they were each affected made the sisters seem all the more real to me – often in books it feels like whatever went on in one book is done and dusted and forgotten about by the following book, but life isn’t like that. Recovery from traumatic events takes time, and showing how each sister dealt with what had happened in their own way made me feel even more invested in them than I already was.

I had always written Vanessa Way off as a supporting character of little substance, but in this book, she really comes into her own and I loved finding out more about her, and uncovering some of the secrets of the girls history, and the strange Far North.

The Way sisters are once again faced with malevolent forces, one in the form of very old magic, and the other that appears all too human, although I strongly suspect there is more to be discovered about this particular person. The book oozes with tension, and I found I was on edge throughout. This series just seems to get better with every book.

Please write fast Helen! I need more of this series!

Guest Posts

Bell, Book & Candle – Jay Raven

Today I join the blog tour for Bell, Book & Candle, book one in the To Catch A Witch series, and I am thrilled to be hosting the author Jay Raven on my blog. The gothic horror and fantasy writer talks about the allure and potential pitfalls of using magic in books. I’ll tell you all about the book in a sec, but for now, over to Jay.

To Snare Jay Raven 5It’s a trap that too many writers fall into – especially fantasy writers.  We create plot holes that need to be glossed over, have events taking place so far apart geographically that it would take days, sometimes weeks, for our heroes to rush to the rescue, make our protagonist so outnumbered and overwhelmed that only a ridiculously convenient and implausible way of breaking free or turning the tables can resolve the jeopardy and save the day.

And we turn to that narrative band-aid – the get out of free card of story-telling – magic. The hero clicks a finger and summons his superpowers, his trusty sidekick mutters an ancient spell to open the impenetrable wall , the brave wizard points his staff and lightning bolts shoot out killing the orcs, giant eagles swoop down to carry the goodies aloft and transport them hundreds of miles, the wand suddenly shines an eerie light on the faint inscription containing the answer to the mystery.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see this sort of thing in a film or read it in a book it makes me groan. It completely destroys my suspension of disbelief. It also makes me feel a bit cheated. Was the protagonist ever really in peril if she had the means of escape literally at her fingertips all along?

It’s made me very cynical about the use of magic in storytelling and means that when I include magic in any of my tales I desperately strive to make it as real and fallible as possible. I quiz myself to make sure that the necromancy is a vital component in the story and not just a lazy device for getting out of self-created plotting problems.

And it’s given me a personal take on all things magical – a philosophy that I (almost always) stick to.  There are two main threads to my approach – that magic must be limited, difficult to control and unpredictable and, more importantly, that it must be terrifying; something that any character would only consider under the most extreme of circumstances.

On the limitations of magic, I see it as a power that can only be employed in small doses and only by an incredibly knowledgeable few who have studied it for years – perhaps decades. There’s not a one-size-fits-all enchantment that can be used, but hundreds of very tricky hexes and spells that can only  conjured up in a precise and skilful way. Each spell has its own purpose – curing a singular ailment, warding off a specific threat, working as a love charm on a particular type of person.

Even with a talented practioner, there are no guarantees of success. There’s so much that can go wrong.

On the frightening prospect of using magic, there is no doubt in my mind. Magic is like nuclear power. It can bestow great benefits but comes with so many dangers. There is no white magic or black magic – only this primal force that is likely to inflict as much harm to those who invoke it as those it is aimed against.

Control is an illusion and there are always consequences to those who dabble – both physical and psychological. Necromancy ages humans before their time, enfeebles their bodies and can drive the unwary to madness. There is always a price to be paid.

In my To Snare A Witch historical horror series I’ll be examining all these chilling aspects. In part one: Bell, Book and Candle I’ve tried to show just how difficult it is for the heroine Elizabeth Fiennes to gather the ingredients it takes to put together the spell she needs to try to save her lover, and in the future instalments I’ll be highlighting the havoc magic brings to her life – no matter how well intended she is.

One thing is guaranteed, her future will be full of scares and surprises… 

To Snare A Witch EBOOK

Many thanks Jay. As a novice fantasy writer myself, this is great advice. Now, onto all the book info.

BLURB:

A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty,  intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.

What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition  sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at http://www.jayraven.co.uk

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For more information about the To Snare a Witch series, head on over to the other blogs taking part in this tour.

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Book Review

The Haunting at Paradise House – Killian Wolf

I have a little something to get you in the Halloween spirit today, with The Haunting at Paradise House by Killian Wolf. Many thanks to Killian, 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.

BLURB:

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

The Haunting at Paradise House eBook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

TRAILERS:

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

REVIEW:

I don’t get on well with ghost stories, or anything too gruesome, but every Halloween I like to add something a little bit spooky to my reading list, and The Haunting at Paradise House seemed ideal. The good news is, apart from a room full of insanely creepy dolls, this is a book that could satisfy my need for something Halloween appropriate without giving me nightmares!

I instantly warmed to conflicted reaper Ambrose, and his unwilling sidekick Deacon. It’s funny because I don’t consider myself to be a morbid person, but I often find that when there is a “Death” character in a book, they quickly become my favourite. I really enjoyed the light relief that these characters provided in between the tenser scenes with hellhounds and the aforementioned creepy dolls (can you tell I don’t like dolls?). I was also particularly taken with Crowley the owl – I love owls, so when one pops up in a book, especially one as helpful as Crowley, then it always puts a smile on my face.

When I am enjoying a book, as I did with this one, it almost becomes my reality in a way for the time that I am reading it, and little touches like the references to Nicolas Flamel and Aleister Crowley, just make it feel all the more real.

If you like something a touch on the spooky side, but not excessively so (and you aren’t scared of dolls!) I would highly recommend that you read this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Haunting Author PhotoKillian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in this tour.

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Book Review

Darkest Hour – Rachel Churcher

I am so happy to be welcoming Rachel Churcher back today, with book three of her Battle Ground series, Darkest Hour. If you are yet to discover this brilliant, thought-provoking series, you might want to check out my previous reviews for Battle Ground (Book 1) and  False Flag (Book 2) before you read any further, to avoid spoilers. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB: 

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith are fighting on opposite sides in a British civil war. Bex and her friends are in hiding, but when Ketty threatens her family, Bex learns that her safety is more fragile than she thought.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence and you can purchase your copy of this fantastic book here.

Darkest Hour Cover

REVIEW:

Well, what can I say about this book apart from wow! This series just gets better and better!

Darkest Hour picks up in the aftermath of Battle Ground and False Flag, uniting the timelines of Bex and Ketty and continuing the story from both points of view. We find Bex and her friends in hiding in the north of England whilst Ketty is making her way through the ranks in London.

The Battle Ground series has never felt entirely comfortable reading, and as I continued through Darkest Hour this became more and more true. Watching our own country’s government descend into chaos, there is a lot about this series that just feels all too possible at the moment.

As I continued to find out more about each of the characters in this book, it raised so many questions in my mind about what I would do if I found myself in their situation, and the waves of emotion I felt for people on both sides of the conflict served to prove that nothing is as black and white as it first seems. There was a character I wanted to punch at times, and another I felt overwhelming sympathy for, neither of whom I would have previously expected to feel this way about. As much as I felt I should be on the side of the resistance forces, it was Ketty and Bracken’s story that really captured by attention this time round, and it is still their situation that fills my thoughts even the day after I finished reading.

Darkest Hour is an incredibly thought-provoking read, and has left me with a hole in my heart while I wait to find out what is coming next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photoRachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

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Book Review

Geraldine – John Mead

It’s time to welcome John Mead back to my blog today, as I join the tour for Geraldine. Many thanks to John, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to join the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Hatred is such a nasty thing – we all deplore it in others but do not necessarily recognise it in ourselves. At what point does resentment, jealousy, betrayal or humiliation turn into anger and then grow to an all consuming hatred? Hatred can be slow, taking years to fester, or can explode in seconds – it can linger for a lifetime or wither in seconds of its conception.

Inspector Matthew Merry and Sergeant Julie Lukula have to deal with the consequences of violence and murder on a daily basis and in the case of Gerry Driver they both see that hatred is the prime motive. But is it, as Julie thinks, one of a series of hate crimes that has led to this killing? Or, is Matthew right in saying, ‘Driver’s death is undoubtedly a hate filled crime but I’m just not convinced that there are sufficient links to suggest it is part of a pattern of hate crimes.’

Only time and their investigation, which takes as many twists and turns as the Thames does along it course through London and past Wapping Old Stairs, will tell.

Geraldine Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Some of you will remember that when I reviewed The Fourth Victim, John’s previous book, there were a couple of little areas that niggled at me, and unfortunately these remain present in Geraldine. For me, I found that references to the characters’ race, appearance, and sexuality were overly used, and there is a lot of head hopping that at times made it a little tricky to follow. I also struggled somewhat to identify who the main protagonist is intended to be, although events at the end of the book lead me to assume that all will become clear if John writes a third book set in this world.

I realise that this may all sound as if I didn’t enjoy Geraldine, but in fact this is not the case. These areas were sufficiently pushed to the background by an intriguing, well thought out story about a group of issues that are sadly all too relevant in our current lives – hate crimes, acid attacks, gang violence. John captures the emotions surrounding the pain suffered by some of the characters so well and I was really drawn into their individual stories. As with The Fourth Victim, it was these supporting characters that I really fell for, more so than the two leads. I was pleased to see the return of many familiar faces, and I found a particular growing affection for both Harry and Kathy as the story unfolded. I would be interested to see what comes next for these characters in particular.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Fourth -Author PhotoJohn was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x Paperback copies of Geraldine by John Mead (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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review

Visions of Zarua – Suzanne Rogerson

I am delighted to be helping to kick off the blog tour for the audio book version of Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and for providing me with a copy of the audio book.

BLURB:

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions and save the Paltrian people before the dark menace of Zarua’s past is unleashed?

Visions of Zarua - smaller adjusted audiobook cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Audible

iTunes

REVIEW:

Having discovered Suzanne’s Silent Sea Chronicles earlier this year and fallen totally in love with them, I was excited to see what Visions of Zarua had to offer. I approached this book with extremely high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed. Although narrated by a male narrator, I found that Suzanne’s signature style and writing voice resonated throughout, giving me, as a fan of her work, a familiar, welcoming feel that absorbed me instantly. Once again her exquisite attention to detail shines through, making you feel as though you are walking alongside the characters.

Visions of Zarua is a dual timeline book, and I found both timelines equally compelling. I was drawn to characters on both sides, and when I was reading about one set, I found that I was eager to get back to find out what the other group had been up to while I wasn’t looking. That is the downside of audio books for me – sometimes they just don’t move fast enough for me. Of course, with a book like this where I was desperate to see how the timelines were going to link up, the poor narrator would have to be a record breaking speed reader to go fast enough to satisfy me!

I am very particular about audio book narrators. They can make or break a book for me and I have abandoned some very good books purely because I couldn’t get on with the narrator. Guy Barnes has a gentle, easy to follow voice and I loved his characterisation of the different people we were introduced to. I also enjoyed the echo effect used to distinguish between reality and the visions that were experienced. My only issue was where there were scene changes within a chapter, which would probably have been marked by a gap in the text in a print book, there wasn’t always a terribly long break in the narration. As I was listening, I found that this sometimes meant the scenes ran into each other in my head, and I was confused about where I was and who should or shouldn’t be present. This didn’t put me off though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Guy or the Big G as he is known to his friends is a London/ Brighton based actor and singer songwriter and producer.

He has recently completed his first leading role in the film Typo out next year and played the role of Alvin Turner in American film Holly Turner also out next year.

Guy only started narrating audiobooks last year and Visions of Zarua is his 2nd. He will be narrating 2 classics this year, Bram Stoker‘s Dracula and HG Wells The Time Machine.

In his spare time Guy is a passionate biker and cigar aficionado and he’ll not say no to a Sierra Nevada beer or two!

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