Extracts

Starting Out – J.E. Rowney

I am joining the blog tour for Starting Out by J.E. Rowney today. Many thanks to Ms Rowney for allowing me to share an extract from her book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Violet thought midwifery training was tough, but now she has to step out onto the ward as a newly qualified midwife. She’s standing on the edge of her new life, but taking the leap is harder than she ever expected.

Living on her own for the first time, while best friend Zoe starts to build a future with soon-to-be-husband Luke, everything is changing for Violet.

Can Violet adapt and adjust, or will anxiety get the better of her?

“Starting Out” – the new book from the world of “Lessons of a Student Midwife”.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

starting out (1)

EXTRACT:

Starting Out is a new medical themed standalone novel that follows Violet, the main character from the bestselling Lessons of a Student Midwife series as she becomes a qualified midwife.

You don’t need to have read the series to enjoy this book – but I’m sure you’ll want to go back and pick it up when you’ve read Starting Out.

Here’s an extract from the opening of the book:

With Zoe sitting across the table from me in our favourite coffee shop, this could be any Monday afternoon. She has her mocha – extra hot, extra shot – and I have my latte. Anyone that’s seen us here, week-in week-out over the past three years, would think that nothing has changed at all.

They would be wrong.

Everything has changed, or at least everything is changing.

I was staying in Zoe and her fiancé Luke’s new place from when we moved out of our student house two weeks ago up until yesterday. Then the pair of them, my best friends, helped me to move my small collection of belongings across the small town we live in, into my new home.

Three years at uni, three years of living together, and now it’s just me, alone in a one-bedroom flat.

And there are more changes to come.

“Did you sleep alright after we left?” Zoe asks.

She’s got her flame red hair tied back in her I’m-a-professional-teacher-now ponytail, and it bobs forward, dangerously close to the foam on her latte as she leans towards me. She started her new job last week, fresh out of teacher training and straight into a great job in a high school five minutes from where she lives. She worked hard, got her first-class degree and she deserves every ounce of success.

Did I sleep alright? I don’t want her to worry about me, I never want her to worry about me, so instead of telling her that I went to bed at ten, but ended up lying awake, looking at the ceiling for two hours before giving up and taking the duvet through to my new sofa in my new living room and lounging in front of my new television. Apart from the duvet, of course none of the things are actually new. They are all just new to me. Second-hand new, that sums up my life right now.

I shrug and make an indistinct grunting noise in response.

“You’re going to get used to it so quickly, Vi,” she says. “You’ll wonder how you ever put up with living with us for so long once you’re settled in.”

It was inevitable really that once we left our student accommodation Zoe would move in with Luke. Her fiancé. I haven’t even had time to get used to that change, never mind adjust to renting a flat on my own. They’ve been engaged for two months, but they’re already planning the wedding. It’s September now, and they’re aiming to get married in December. So soon, but somehow it seems so right.

No, she’s not pregnant. It’s nothing like that. They are hopelessly, completely in love though. Two years together and nothing but good times. I can only hope that one day I find something similar. For now though, I live vicariously through Zoe’s happiness. She’s been my best friend since we were toddling around at nursery and I’ve never seen her as happy as she is now.

“Living with you and Luke was the best,” I say. Before she can cut in and apologise for moving on with her life, I start my next sentence. “I know you needed to get a place together. That’s what couples do, isn’t it?”

“Oh Violet, I –”

I shake my head. The last thing I want is to make my best friend feel bad because she has an amazing, happy relationship and I am a sad old spinster. I’m twenty-one, there’s plenty of time, I’m sure. I’m not sad, I’m not very old, and right now I don’t particularly care whether I end up as a spinster or not. I’ve not had much luck in relationships so far, but right now I have something else to focus on. Something much more important than any man. Especially Him.

“Hey,” Zoe says, snapping my attention back towards her. “You’re not thinking about him, are you?”

Him. It’s been six months, but something about That Guy is still niggling away at me. Not because I have residual feelings for him; I don’t. He made me feel wonderful, and then he stripped that away from me and left me feeling, well pretty worthless.

“No point really, is there?” I jab my fork into the remains of the Bakewell slice on the plate in front of me, and stuff it into my mouth.

“No,” she says. “There isn’t.” Zoe sighs and reaches out to put her hand onto mine. “This is a time for new beginnings. For both of us. You’re in your new flat, we’re both starting out in our careers.” She says that last word in a mock-posh accent, letting go of me to raise her fingers in mock quotation marks. It does all sound very grown up, but I suppose that’s what we are now.

“To be honest, I’m terrified,” I tell her. My eyes meet hers, searching for reassurance.

“Of what? The flat? Starting work?”

“I meant work, but yes, I guess I’m terrified of living on my own and having to act like an adult.”

Even though my face is deadpan, Zoe grins.

“Nobody said that we have to act like adults,” she says, dipping the end of her spoon into her mocha and flicking foam at me.

“Oi!” My protest must appear very feeble seeing as I can’t stop myself from laughing. I dab the chocolatey froth off my nose and reach out to tickle her beneath her ribs. I know that’s her most vulnerable area, and she knows very well that I know. She crunches her body to avoid my fingers, and I almost fall off my chair trying to gain purchase.

“Okay, okay,” she laughs. “Truce?”

“For now,” I smile.

Twenty-one years old, a qualified midwife, but still an immature idiot. I’ll take it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Starting Out Author PhotoJ.E. Rowney spent several years in the cold Yorkshire hills, but now lives on the south coast of England. She spent ten years working as a midwife before turning in her gloves to become an author.

She is an award winning poet, and also enjoys writing short stories. In May 2020 she was the winner of the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction.

“Charcoal”, her first novel, was published in 2012 to wide critical acclaim, and was a bestselling novel on Amazon within days of release.

She spends lots of time writing in coffee shops, so if you see her, say hello.

Ms. Rowney says: “I always dreamed of being a writer, until I realised that I was. Then I started to write.”

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Books On The Hill – Part Three

By now you will hopefully have seen my previous posts about the Books On The Hill Open Dyslexia Kickstarter campaign, so you will already know a lot about this project. Today, I would like to introduce you to the authors who are involved with this wonderful scheme, and review another of the books.

WHO ARE WE WORKING WITH

BOTH logo 7 shop coloursWe have been so fortunate that many great authors have agreed to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise.

Stan Nicholls, who has been a great support to me particularly with my PhD. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series.

Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of our bookshop.

The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time.

Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who I first met on my first fantasy convention in Scarborough.

We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom I participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 ‘Festival in the Clouds’.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.

You can still contribute outside the Kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

Now, time for my final review of the campaign, for The House on The Old Cliff, by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

BLURB:

A collection of desperate investigators are unleashed on a mysterious disappearance, by a lawyer working for clients who care little about the quarry’s fate and more for their own interests.

THOTOC_cover A_FRONT

REVIEW:

I think of the three books I have reviewed as part of this campaign, this one has to be my favourite. The whole concept of a group of people, virtual strangers, heading off to a remote house to investigate a disappearance gave me chills from the very start.  These people were polar opposites of each other, and you can just feel that their relationships are going to be strained, to say the least. Add to that a creepy, deserted house located on mist shrouded cliffs in Scotland and you have a very creepy tale on your hands.

The outcome to the mystery is incredibly imaginative, and I found the whole thing absolutely fascinating. I would love to see this story expanded, and feel that it would make for a very dramatic screen adaptation.

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Book Review

Heir To The Darkmage – Lisa Cassidy

Happy publication day to the lovely Lisa Cassidy, whose latest fantasy novel, Heir To The Darkmage, is released today. Many thanks to Lisa for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s celebrations.

BLURB:

Ambition drives her. Danger thrills her. But magic always has a price.

Twenty years have passed since the Darkmage was destroyed and the war between mages ended. For Lira Astor, the single living heir to the Darkmage, escaping her name is impossible. People still fear what is long dead, and they see in her the rise of another dangerous mage with deadly ambition. Desperate to claw her way free of her grandfather’s shadow, to make her own name amongst the world of mages, Lira is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if that means joining the secretive rebel group looking to restore his vision.

Survival is a lesson Lira learned early and often, yet when she is abducted and held prisoner in a deadly game of cat and mouse, she finds herself facing a nemesis she may be no match for. Forced to band together with unlikely allies who challenge everything she believes about what it means to be a mage, she will have to rely on every bit of ruthlessness she possesses.

Because the war may only just be beginning…

…And Lira Astor intends to come out on top.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Heir to the Darkmage_ebook cover

REVIEW:

Confession time – I haven’t read The Mage Chronicles, and in fact wasn’t even aware of their existence until I reached the end of this book, having first discovered Lisa Cassidy through A Tale of Stars and Shadows instead. Although Heir to the Darkmage does follow on some years after the conclusion of The Mage Chronicles, I don’t believe I lost anything through not having read this series first, and I certainly didn’t find myself confused over who anyone was. That said, I will now be going back to read every book, and would encourage you to do the same because, if Heir to the Darkmage is any indication, then The Mage Chronicles will be a fantastic read.

In Heir to the Darkmage, we meet Lira, granddaughter to the feared Darkmage. Lira is an unusual heroine in that she is actually quite hard to like. Life has not been kind to her and this has resulted in her becoming a bitter young woman who makes some, frankly, questionable decisions. She is fiercely independent, distrustful of everyone, and has a fairly large chip on her shoulder, all of which adds up to make her a fascinating character to read about, especially when she is thrown together with a group of fellow mages that she has always tried to maintain a distance from.

I loved the dynamics within the group that she finds herself with, as each character has to dig deeper than they have ever had to before, learning a lot about themselves and their fellow apprentices in the process. As we got to know each of the characters, I was particularly drawn to Fari and Tarion, but with such a diverse group, I am sure that each of you will form your own favourites.

This book is full of action and intrigue, and kept my heart pounding as the young mages battle giant, deadly creatures and make their escape from the supposed villains of the piece although I will admit, there were times when I wasn’t entirely sure if they were villains, or a rebel faction that I should be rooting for (actually, I am still not entirely sure, and can’t wait to find out more about them).

If magical fantasy worlds are your cup of tea, then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I just love Lisa’s writing style and wonderful worldbuilding.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Pic 8Lisa is a self-published fantasy author by day and book nerd in every other spare moment she has. She’s a self-confessed coffee snob (don’t try coming near her with any of that instant coffee rubbish) but is willing to accept all other hot drink aficionados, even tea drinkers.

She lives in the Australia’s capital city, Canberra, and like all Australians, is pretty much in constant danger from highly poisonous spiders, crocodiles, sharks, and drop bears, to name a few. As you can see, she is also pro-Oxford comma.

A 2019 SPFBO finalist, Lisa has published the YA fantasy series The Mage Chronicles, and is currently working on her latest epic fantasy series A Tale of Stars and Shadow. She has also partnered up with One Girl, an Australian charity working to build a world where all girls have access to quality education. A world where all girls — no matter where they are born or how much money they have — enjoy the same rights and opportunities as boys. A percentage of all Lisa’s royalties go to One Girl.

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Book Review

Bluemantle – Karen Langston

Come with me to the dystopian city of Wydeye, as I join the blog tour for Bluemantle by Karen Langston. Many thanks to Karen and The Book Guild for providing me with a copy of the book and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

LIVE MUSIC IS OUTLAWED.

Set in the sun-scorched city of Wydeye, the totalitarian Authority controls its citizens through fear and cultivated dependence. Live music is deemed a threat to order and is forbidden by law. Punishment for participation is severe.

Chase Newell discovers his sister is missing. His search for her leads him to the underground music Scene, with its ageless Troubadours who must risk their lives to perform in order to survive. To do this, they rely on Bluemantle.

As the Authority’s control-obsessed leader, Governor Blix, and her evil-incarnate Chief of Command, Wulfwin, step up their efforts to seize the Troubadours and destroy the Scene, the risks escalate.

While the Troubadours are forced to act, will the citizens of Wydeye wake up to Bluemantle’s invitation and find choice beyond the caves of their own making?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

WH Smith

Bluemantle Cover Image

REVIEW:

I have really missed live music over the last year, and can’t imagine what it would be like to never experience it again. It was my love of music that led me to want to read this book, to see what life would be like without it.

The strange magic of the Troubadours is intriguing and plays cleverly off the way readers will know how music can touch your soul, the passion and energy created by live music. However, as I read, I began to wonder if they were the good guys I had originally thought them to be. My distrust of this group of enigmatic musicians meant that I struggled to gel with some of the characters, which in turn led to a slight feeling of being disconnected from the story. For a large part of the book, I wasn’t sure who I should be rooting for, although I was fond of Ursel and Naylor. Despite being suspicious of just about everyone and everything, I was still startled by more than one revelation as the story unfolded, and it was these surprises that overrode the disconnect and kept me engaged in the story.

I enjoyed the fact that we see the apparent enemy, the Authority’s perspective. Instead of them just being a distant hated force, I loved seeing their thought processes and the stories behind their actions. While the concept of the book as a whole put me in mind of the musical We Will Rock You, which I love, this was cemented with Governor Blix making a formidable Killer Queen, and Wulfwin her faithful Khashoggi. Wulfwin’s interrogation tactics are brutal and stomach churning at times.

There is a rawness to the writing which seems to perfectly reflect life in Wydeye, or at least in overground Wydeye. Karen Langston shows her skill as a writer as this harshness melts away to more fluid writing style as we head underground, almost as if the music of the Troubadours is getting under the skin of the reader as it does with their followers. This is a real talent, and I look forward to reading more from this author.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karen Langston Author PicKaren Langston is a British novelist, writing speculative and science fiction for adults.

Karen has an MA in English from the University of Kent. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, she was a secondary school teacher of English, a senior project manager developing qualifications for professionals in the creative media industries and a self-employed property developer. She lives in Kent with her husband.

BLUEMANTLE is her first novel.

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Book Review

Together – Luke Adam Hawker

I have a gorgeous book to share you with you all today as I join the blog tour for Together by Luke Adam Hawker. Many thanks to Luke for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

Together Cover

BLURB:

“Dark clouds were looming in the distance. We watched them gather, and we wondered… When will it come? How long will it last?”

One year on from the anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, Together takes a gently philosophical, and very relatable, look at how we have dealt with a difficult year and how we can cope with hard times in general. Simple but striking text is paired with beautiful illustrations from hugely talented artist Luke Adam Hawker.

When a monumental storm arrives, day-to-day life changes overnight. We follow a man and his dog through the uncertainty that it brings to their lives. Through their eyes, we see the difficulties of being apart, how the world adapted to spending more time at home, the rollercoaster of emotions that we can all relate to, and the realisation that by pulling together we can move through difficult times with new perspective, hope and appreciation of what matters most in life.

Together is very much a product of the new ways in which many of us have learned to work during lockdown. Having seen a beautiful depiction of the 8pm applause for the NHS, Editor Marianne Laidlaw approached Luke, asking him to illustrate the emotional rollercoaster we were all on. They started collaborating on the book, Luke mapping out images and Marianne writing words, while not having met – everything took place over Zoom for many months. The book’s creation mirrors its message that we are better joining forces and working together through adversity. Even in difficult times, there are silver linings and beauty can be found.

Luke has dedicated the book to his late grandfather, who was a key father figure in his life. The main characters are based on his grandfather and his own dog Robin who offer a reassuring guide through the challenges of the storm. It’s a story with very personal emotion, but one that speaks to us all.

“Though clouds may gather again, and we may see other storms, we have realised most of all that we’re stronger facing them… Together.”

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Together Inside Graphic 1

REVIEW:

This book is simply stunning. It is filled with wonderful, intricate illustrations, which every time I look at I see a detail that I hadn’t noticed before. They perfectly capture the fear that I felt as the pandemic developed, the haunting beauty of deserted streets and towns. The minimalism and sparseness of words and illustrations on some pages felt resonant of the isolation I felt at times, separated from my friends.

Together captures the good things that have helped us weather the storm, the small kindnesses, and new friendships formed. It is full of hope and warms your heart. It reduced me to tears both of sadness and happiness and of hope for the future. This is precisely the book that the world needs at the moment.

Together is a beautiful book, perfect for fans of the Charlie Macksey book, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Luke Author PicThis is the debut from Luke Adam Hawker, who worked as an architectural designer before becoming a full-time artist in 2015. He lives just outside London with his partner Lizzie and dog Robin. Luke ships his prints and originals to buyers all over the world and has been commissioned by brands such as Soho House Hotel Group, Annabel’s Club, and Eventbrite.

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Books On The Hill – Part Two

Hopefully you will have seen my post earlier this month about the Books on the Hill Kickstarter (if you missed it you can read it HERE). I am back today to tell you all about the team behind the campaign, and share my review of another of the books.

THE TEAM

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution.

Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. We are so proud and appreciative to be working with her.

Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce our print catalogue for us free of cost.

Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. We must give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost.

Vicky Brewster has edited all the new stories by the authors. She specialises in editing and beta reading long-form fiction. Vicky is a great professional editor.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.

You can still contribute outside the Kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

For my second review of the books involved in this campaign, I will be looking at Sherlock Holmes and the Four Kings of Sweden by Steven Savile.

BLURB:

Summoned by the Swedish royalty, the Great Detective must solve a seemingly unsolvable riddle – how can the King be in three places at once? What devilry is it that has thousands of eye witnesses placing the monarch at cities a thousand miles apart? Witchcraft? Sorcery? Why? And how does this tie in to a string of crimes that seem to hound the King’s footsteps?

REVIEW:

I must confess, I have never read a single Sherlock Holmes story, although they are on my TBR pile and I have recently downloaded the audiobooks narrated by Stephen Fry which I am very much looking forward to listening too. That said, I am a fan of a couple of the screen incarnations of the famous detective, and so I was keen to read this book.

I am pleased to report that my first experience of reading a Sherlock Holmes story did not disappoint. In fact, I absolutely loved it! It was fast-paced and twisty, and put me very much in mind of the Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law pairing. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to unravel the mystery as I read, but as always I remained totally bewildered until Holmes and his superior intellect revealed the truth in a suitably dramatic fashion.

This was a great fun read, and I heartily recommend it.

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Book Review

Witches of Barcelona – Caedis Knight

Witches of Barcelona, the second book in the Blood Web Chronicles series by the fabulous writing duo Caedis Knight, released on 31st March, and I am taking a break from bingeing on Mini Eggs and Lindt Bunnies to tell you all about it today.

BLURB:

Saskia de la Cruz is a Verity Witch and investigative reporter for The Blood Web Chronicle, the biggest news outlet on the paranormal Blood Web.

After escaping murderous Vampires in snowy Moscow, Saskia can’t imagine a more difficult or more dangerous mission. That is until her editor sends her to Barcelona to investigate a high profile disappearance at the Mage Association, which just happens to be run by her evil mother Solina.

Saskia’s plan is to spend as little time in Barcelona as possible, until she meets three junior members of the MA who know more than they let on – including information on Saskia’s missing sister, Mikayla. Among her new leads is Catalan bruixa Luisa, who has a hold over Saskia stronger than any magic.

It doesn’t take long until Saskia finds herself under the glittering spell of MA high society, where morals are few and magic is law. Can Saskia escape the clutches of a world that’s always been dangerous for her, before it turns deadly?

With vibrant characters, page-turning suspense and steamy romance, this second book in the Blood Web Chronicles series has been dubbed by early readers as ‘devilishly addictive’ and ‘a dark, magical world of power and passion.’ Co-authored by two established fantasy authors Jacqueline Silvester and N.J Simmonds, the second book in the Blood Web Chronicles series is perfect for fans of Crescent City, True Blood, The Elite, and The Craft.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Universal Purchase Link

Book Trailer

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REVIEW:

With its utterly gorgeous cover, stunning setting, and the promise of sexy witches, I was in love with this book before I even owned it. Knowing how much I enjoyed Vampires of Moscow, the first book in the series, and the prequel novella, Sirens of Los Angeles, I had every confidence that Witches of Barcelona would live up to my high expectations. What I didn’t expect was for it to surpass those expectations quite so spectacularly.

Upon opening Witches of Barcelona, I discovered two things that I love in a book. Firstly, illustrations – be it a map, a family tree, curious symbols, include these in your book and you have won me over. I loved the inclusion of the sigils for each of the witchy factions. Being able to visualise these as Saskia discovered more about them added another level to my understanding of the world of the Blood Web, and the Mage Association in particular.  The second thing I found was a prologue. In the great prologue argument, I am most definitely pro prologue. I just love them, and this one was a real treat, offering an insight into Saskia’s childhood and why she dislikes the Mage Association so much.

The rich descriptions in this book whisked me back to Barcelona, one of my favourite cities, and made me long for the day I can return to Spain. The sights, sounds and smells of the city came flooding back to me, and it really felt as if I was right there beside Saskia and her new friends. Reading this book did nothing for my diet, leaving me craving paella, croquetas, jamon serrano, manchego, and so much more.  It was as if Caedis Knight had reached into my heart and extracted all my favourite Spanish foods and added them to the pages of the book.

Witches of Barcelona is a real contrast of light and dark, balancing the joyfulness of Saskia’s new friendships, against the emotional struggles of loss, trauma and corruption. I loved the chemistry and light-hearted bickering between Rafi, Luisa and Beatriz. Everything about their relationship made me want to be in their inner circle. Seeing Saskia interact with people she could relax and have fun with provided an insight to her character that we hadn’t seen before, and I feel that I got to know her a lot better in this book than I had previously. Her difficult family dynamic added an extra layer to this new understanding too, and provided a lot of insight to her motivations.

This book is littered with one liners that made me laugh out loud, but also with scenes that broke my heart. It is a book that tugs at the emotional heartstrings and keeps you on your toes throughout as Saskia uncovers the secrets of the Mage Association, and discovers who she can truly trust. There are so many wonderful characters introduced in the book, and I hope we meet a lot of them again in future books in the series.

Knight’s signature steamy scenes are once again present, this time featuring some very imaginative uses of magic. I may never view art the same way again!

Witches of Barcelona is a feast for the senses in every imaginable way, and I devoured it as I would a table full of delicious tapas. Book three has a lot of work to do to replace this as my favourite book of the Blood Web Chronicles.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Caedis Knight (Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds)Caedis Knight is the pen name of two established fantasy authors, Jacqueline Silvester and N J Simmonds.

Silvester began her career in screenwriting and lived all over the world before going on to pen her highly successful YA series, Wunderkids.

Spanish Londoner Simmonds’ background was originally in marketing before writing her fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles, along with various Manga stories and writing collaborations.

Together, they created Blood Web Chronicles – their first paranormal romance series set in Europe. Great friends and avid travellers, you can find them whizzing between one another’s homes in Germany and the Netherlands, or having Zoom calls to excitedly plot Saskia’s next humorous sexy adventure.

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All these amazing book lovers are sharing their thoughts on the book over the course of April, so go check them out!

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Book Review

Resourceful Living – Lisa Dawson

Today’s book is perfect for all you budding decorators out there, as I join the blog tour for Resourceful Living by Lisa Dawson. Many thanks to Lisa for providing me with a copy of her book, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

It’s often thought that restyling your space comes with a hefty price tag and unavoidable waste. But in Resourceful Living, award-winning interiors blogger Lisa Dawson shows how, with a little creativity, you can revamp your home with existing pieces, vintage finds and key purchases.

The clever ideas in this beautiful book cover:

  • The most important ways we use our homes, from eating to sleeping, living and working
  • The Basics of steering clear of interiors “fast fashion,” multi-purposing furniture and making the most of what you have.
  • Styling your home with simple solutions for re-imagining each room, from gallery walls to home bars, repainted storage to retro accessories.

Including her top ten key vintage buys and tips for in-store and online thrifting, Lisa’s inspiring advice shares the fun of creative sourcing as a more sustainable way to keep your home feeling fresh.

Resourceful Living Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

Resourceful Living is a gorgeous book, full of beautiful photos and so many inspiring ideas that made me desperate to run out to the nearest charity shop. Lisa Dawson is clearly passionate about her subject and it was impossible not to get swept up in her enthusiasm.

Among the many lovely ideas, I particularly liked the section on gallery walls as I am in the process of creating my own, and quite frankly was finding it a bit daunting figuring where to start. Now, having read Lisa’s book, I am busy hunting down unusual photo frames and prints to create a real feature, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

By the end of the book, I had a brand new Pinterest board with lots of new ideas and the beginnings of a vision of my dream home. I have always wanted a quirky, cosy home filled with vintage and unusual pieces, and this book has given me the confidence to start building that home.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

170708178_10160072787528974_361273088472729694_nLisa Dawson is a multi-award wining interiors blogger, writer, workshop presenter and social media influencer. She writes a popular weekly blog, is a regular contributor to Frank magazine and creates  professional and social media content for brands such as John Lewis and Loaf Home. She is co-founder of the popular Instagram hashtag #myhomevibe which has over 1.5 million posts and was the first UK-based interiors community hashtag when it was launched in 2016. She lives in York with her husband, three children and a badly behaved Lhasa Apso called Buddy.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Instagram

Website

Twitter

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part on the tour.

Resourceful Living BT Poster

Blog

Books On The Hill – Part One

I have the honour today of sharing with you details of a fantastic Kickstarter project that is all about producing great fiction for people with dyslexia. This is the first of a series of posts that I will be sharing across April to tell you all about the project and the people involved, and reviewing some of the books.

THE PROJECT

BOTH logo 7 shop coloursBooks on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, with specialist publishers like Barrington Stokes and mainstream publishers such as Bloomsbury doing their part. However, there are sadly very few books for adults with Dyslexia in traditional mass market publishing.

Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.

Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.

Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:

“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot. “

This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project.

You can still contribute outside the Kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

The first of three books that I will be reviewing from the campaign is Anchor Point by Stan Nicholls.

BLURB:

Kye Beven is lacking confidence, and is ruthlessly bullied. Everyone except Dyan Varike, the best archer in the band, believes he is not good enough for the community’s defence. When Kye’s village is menaced by a despotic sorcerer, he reaches for his bow and steps up to the mark and saves his home.

AnchorPoint_Cover G_B-Format_FRONT-2

REVIEW:

I feel I should kick this off by saying that I do not have dyslexia, and have always been an avid reader. For me, reading is one of the great joys in life, and when I heard about this campaign to help bring this joy to people who might have previously been excluded, I knew I wanted to help spread the word. I must also confess that when I sat down to read the first of the books I had selected to review, I did have some concerns that I would find the story and its language overly simple, and difficult to review as I drew comparisons to the epic fantasy novels I love so much. For that pre-judgement I can offer the sincerest of apologies to Stan Nicholls and Books on the Hill because I was very much mistaken.

Whilst Anchor Point proved only to be a half hour read for me, Williams has created a cast of characters I was deeply invested in and a wonderful underdog hero in Kye to root for. The language is complex and the story is rich with detail and emotion. I am always so impressed by authors who can achieve this in a relatively small number of words, as this is something I really struggle with (in case you couldn’t tell that already from reading my reviews!).

Anchor Point is an absolute treat for fantasy lovers, and I am very much looking forward to reading more by Stan Williams, and discovering what the other authors involved with Books on the Hill have created for this campaign.

IMPORTANT LINKS:

Kickstarter Prelaunch

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