Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 1

June was an excellent reading month for me, largely because I was on holiday for two weeks with nothing to do but relax with a book and a cocktail or two. By some miracle, I was also up to date on all of my blog tour reading, which meant I could dedicate the entire fortnight to working on my ever increasing TBR pile. I struck gold, and some really amazing books came out of the jar, but as there are twelve of them to tell you about, I will be splitting this month’s book jar update over three posts, for the sake of all our sanity! For now, here are the first four books that I read this month. If you want to find out more info about any of these books, just click on the title, and you will find yourself winging your way to their Goodreads page.

40589951._SX98_First up was The Promise by Teresa Driscoll. This is a book which I received from NetGalley an embarrassingly long time ago (my apologies to the author), so I was really pleased when I pulled it from the jar for June. Now I have read it, I am left wondering why I left it so long to read. It is filled with all the suspense and twists and turns that you could wish for in a psychological thriller, but it goes deeper than that as the heartbreakingly sad story that triggered the events of the book unfolds. Strangely characters that I didn’t particularly like at the beginning of the book I ended up loving, and vice versa to a certain extent. I hadn’t read anything by Teresa Driscoll before, but I will certainly be reading more now.

35114147._SX98_Book number two was another NetGalley book, Marked Beauty by S.A. Larsen. As a YA Fantasy book, this was always going to be a winner for me, although I have to confess I don’t think it will ever be one of my favourites from this genre. I found the magic system that surrounds the story a little complicated, and whilst I wouldn’t say that this affected my enjoyment of the book too much, it did make it more of a challenge to follow than other similar books I have read. Aside from this, Marked Beauty is a book filled with emotion and tension, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any potential sequel(s).

3112850._SX98_My third holiday read was Lament by one of my favourite authors, Maggie Steifvater. I am not quite sure how this one passed me by, but I have had it for a while without actually reading it. This book is classic Steifvater, filled with irresistibly dangerous boys and beautifully crafted worlds. My grown up head would perhaps question some of the decisions made by Dee, but at the same time, aren’t fantasy books all about escapism, and making the dangerous (or stupid) choice in order to save the bad boy from his fate? I loved meeting all the different faerie characters that appear to Dee once the veil between their world and ours is lifted, and was left feeling inspired to get back to my own writing.

39890691._SX98_The final book for this post is yet another NetGalley book (this holiday will do wonders for my stats over there!), In Her Shadow by Mark Edwards. Now, I have read a few of Mark’s books and I am a big fan, but I definitely found this one to be a touch creepier than others I have read. In fact, to begin with I was totally freaked out by it (although as friends will tell you, I scare pretty easily). As always with Mark, the book is excellently written, and I was gripped from the first page – in fact I read most of the book in one sitting, and not just because I was too on edge to go to sleep! Despite the lack of sleep caused, Mark remains firmly at the top of my list of favourite thriller writers.

If you are still with me after all that, keep your eyes peeled for Part Two coming up in the next few days.

 

 

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Book Review

Wunderkids: Wakefield Manor – Jacqueline Sylvester

Back in August last year, I was lucky enough to discover the first book in the Wunderkids series and I loved it. You can read my review here. Now, I am excited to be telling you all about the book’s sequel.

BLURB:

No peace for the mad.
No glue for the broken.
No shelter for the hunted.

Nikka Mason may have escaped the clutches of Wildwood Academy, but she now finds herself in Mexico, entangled in a more grand, and far more dangerous, web. 

Imprisoned in his childhood home, Izaya Wakefield is forced to face his demons and family secrets. Secrets that hold the key to destroying Wildwood Academy. Secrets that might also destroy him.

As the pair try to make their way back to each other, the decisions they make will determine not just their fate but each others future too. 

In the sensational second book in the Wunderkids series and follow-up to acclaimed Wildwood Academy, Wakefield Manor will take both Nikka and Izaya to the brink, where gilded lies and uncovered truths make their paths more twisted than ever . 

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PURCHASE LINKS:

You can find out more about this book, and purchase a copy here.

REVIEW:

Picking up almost instantly from the conclusion of Wildwood Academy, I found that I was instantly gripped by the events of Wakfield Manor. Where Wildwood Academy was a slow burning, scene setting start to the series to a certain extent, there is none of that with Wakefield Manor, and you are thrown straight in to the action and the new dangers that Nikka and her friends now find themselves in.

Wakefield Manor follows a split story line with chapters being split between Nikka and Izaya. Although Nikka’s story was the more action packed, I found myself drawn more to Izaya’s story, trapped in Wakefield Manor with his sinister uncle. The two different storylines balance each other well though, as you are thrown from the instant threat of danger to the underlying feeling of menace and back again.

Alongside the action and intrigue, Wakefield Manor is also laced with heartbreaking betrayals from every angle, and the the changing dynamics between the characters as more and more lies and deception come to light is fascinating.

I am already itching to get my hands on book three, to find out just what else these poor teens will have to deal with!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

16599005Jacqueline has had a colourful and dual life thus far; she’s lived in a refugee camp in Sweden, a castle in France, a village in Germany, and spent her formative years in between Los Angeles, London and New York. As a result, she speaks four languages. In 4th grade she won her school’s poetry contest and she has not stopped writing since. She has written in many forms ranging from poetry to screenwriting, from prose to copywriting, and on one occasion a viral jingle.

Jacqueline has a Bachelors in English Literature from the University Of Massachusetts, and a Masters in Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University Of London. After graduating she wrote her first novel and began writing (and selling) cartoon screenplays. The two years she spent in an arts boarding school in the woods have inspired the particular world described in debut novel Wunderkids. She lives in London with her husband, her excessive YA collection and a hyper husky named Laika.

 

Book Review

The Sentinel’s Reign – Suzanne Rogerson

It is time for part two of the blog tour bonanza for Suzanne Rogerson’s Silent Seas Chronicles, and today I can tell you all about book two of the series, The Sentinel’s Reign. Thanks again to Suzanne and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

The Sentinel’s reign is doomed to failure unless Tei can prevent the Kalayan people from plunging into war.

With the new Sentinel initiated and the magic restored on Kalaya, life is flourishing for Tei and the exiles. But Rathnor’s plans for war soon escalate and thwart any chance of peace.

Brogan’s position on the Assembly is uncertain as rumours circulate that he is an exile spy.

After an attempt on his life, Farrell is more determined than ever to build a home for his people on Stone Haven. But the council have their sights set on Kalaya and Farrell struggles to steer them from war.

As trouble brews within and outside forces gather against them, can the exiles keep their hold on the magic, or will this spell the end of Kalaya and its people?

The Sentinel's Reign ebook complete

PURCHASE LINK:

Purchase here

REVIEW:

I want to write this review without repeating too much of what I said about The Lost Sentinel, but I do have to make mention of Suzanne’s beautiful world building and character development again. Her vivid descriptions make me wish I could pay a visit to the Silent Sea and meet the inhabitants of Kalaya and Stone Haven in person.

I enjoyed getting to know the characters better this time around, and really understanding what made some of them tick, finding out why they acted the way they did. For more than one this meant a major change of opinion about them, and my favourite characters were constantly changing. I found my emotions wildly bouncing from joy, to heartbreak, to triumph and everything in between as the story unfolded around them, and lives were changed forever.

Throughout this book, the tension continually builds and builds before reaching a dramatic conclusion, and just when you think a resolution has been reached, Suzanne unleashes a huge cliffhanger that sent me scurrying for book three (more on that in a few days).

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:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

For more information on this, and the first book in the series, make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Lost Sentinel – Suzanne Rogerson

Today marks the start of a trilogy of reviews coming up over the next few days for Suzanne Rogerson’s brilliant Silent Seas Chronicles. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blogging bonanza, and for providing me with copies of the books.

BLURB:

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel.

The Assembly controls Kalaya. Originally set up to govern, they now persecute those with magic and exile them to the Turrak Mountains.

Tei, a tailor’s daughter, has always hidden her magic but when her father’s old friend visits and warns them to flee to the mountains she must leave her old life behind.
On the journey, an attack leaves her father mortally wounded. He entrusts her into the care of the exiles and on his deathbed makes a shocking confession.
Struggling with self doubt, Tei joins the exiles search for the new Sentinel who is the only person capable of restoring the fading magic. But mysterious Masked Riders are hunting the Sentinel too, and time, as well as hope, is running out.

Against mounting odds it will take friendship, heartache and sacrifice for the exiles to succeed in their quest, but is Tei willing to risk everything to save the island magic?

THE LOST SENTINEL COVER

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase here

For the duration of the blog tour all books in the Silent Sea Chronicles series are 99p.

REVIEW:

The Lost Sentinel starts with a prologue that gives an instant sense of peril and I knew straightaway that this would be a book that I would not be able to put down. I am a big fan of prologues in books anyway, but this grabbed my attention and sucked me straight in to the magical land of Kalaya.

Suzanne Rogerson is a skilled world builder and I found that I was totally immersed in the story, the real world just falling away from me. This is exactly why fantasy is my favourite genre, but it is rare that a world absorbs me to the extent that the Silent Seas did.

The Lost Sentinel is a rich storyline told from various viewpoints, and as I tried to work out how these would all intertwine over the course of the books, I found I was asking more and more questions, and reading faster and faster. It is the sort of book that you want to read slowly so it doesn’t end, but at the same time you can’t help but race through.

Among the many characters, there were many that I loved, but special mention has to go to honourable Brogan, sweet little Beliss, and dedicated Farrell. There were also characters I loved to hate but I will leave you to discover them for yourselves.

As soon as I read the last page, I had to move straight on to book two. There was no way I could wait to find out what was going to happen next!

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:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part, and head back over here on 30th June for the next instalment.

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Book Review

Space Dragons – Robin Bennett

We’re headed back to the world of Middle Grade Fantasy today with the action-packed Space Dragons by Robin Bennett. Many thanks to Robin, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

If Stan Pollux had known he would be spending his summer holidays in the outer reaches of our solar system, he would have put on different underpants.

But when he gets kidnapped by the Planet Dragon Mercury, most things suddenly seem small and insignificant. Stan finds himself in a universe of dragons who had once ruled the skies as gods: Mars, Venus, Saturn and even Uranus way out back. This is shaping up to be the best summer holiday in the history of the cosmos until Stan discovers his stupid sister is missing and that Pluto (AKA Hades) is trying to use her to destroy the Solar System. And it will be all Stan’s fault if he doesn’t get Poppy back.

So, all Stan has to do is learn how to fight like a hero in space armour, defeat the dragon god Hades, rescue his sister and save the world. All before his parents realise she is missing.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Space Dragons instantly struck me as a book that would appeal to so many different children (and adults for that matter), whether they have a fascination with dragons, are a future astronomer, have a passion for mythology, or are just fans of adventure. Add to this the fact that although the main character is a young boy, he has a fiesty little sister who girls will love, and this book really does have something for everyone.

As a Rick Riordan fan and a lover of mythology in general, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this incarnation of the ancient gods. Having the appearance of each dragon reflect that of their namesake planet is just such a clever way of educating children without them even realising, and with each dragon taking to the extreme their individual quirks and foibles, the astronomical information takes on a form that will give kids a point to focus on so it will stick in their memory. Add to this the little facts and snippets of information at the start of each chapter and you have a young scientists dream.

Although this book is clearly aimed at the young market, the language used manages to feel mature enough for adults to also enjoy it, but still perfectly reflects the thought process of an 11 year old boy. Even as an only child I could feel the frustration caused by a careless younger sibling, and by the inability to stand up to the school bully. I think a lot of children will find Stan to be an extremely relatable character.

I loved getting to know each of the dragons, with their complicated family dynamics. Their reunion dinner on Jupiter was a true feast for the imagination, both in terms of the food they eat, and the way they interact with each other. I found I was particularly fond of excitable Mercury and fierce Mars. I even found I developed a soft spot for the hellhound Cerberus.

This book is a thoroughly enjoyable read for all ages, and struck me as the perfect bed time reading, when the young readers could view the night sky as they read, and maybe spot a dragon of their own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Robin Bennett is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children, adults, and everything in between. Listed in the Who’s Who of British Business Excellence at 29, his 2016 documentary “Fantastic Britain”, about the British obsession with fantasy and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards, and his first book for young adults, Picus the Thief, won the Writer’s News Indie Published Book of the Year Award in 2012. Robin is also a director at Firefly Press.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 10 x Hardcover Copies of Space Dragons – 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 this competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winner’s information. This will be 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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Don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part in this tour.

Book Review

Birdie and Jude – Phyllis H Moore

Today’s review is for the bittersweet Birdie and Jude by Phyllis H Moore. My thanks go to Phyllis, and to Rachel 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:

A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.

Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.

In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequalities plaguing the 1960’s, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lived are vastly different, they recognise something in the other that forges a friendship.

As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the’60’s, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.

There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn’t lived an authentic life, while Judd faces an uncomfortable truth about her own.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to take in much of what is written in book dedications, especially the longer ones, because I am usually far too eager to start reading the book. That said, something about the dedication in this book caught my eye, and I am so glad that I read it. I was really touched by the author’s words, and it made me curious about what was to come.

Straight off the bat, it felt like there was more to both Birdie and Jude than met the eye. While Birdie seemed feisty and full of life, despite the struggles of old age, you could feel a darkness, a sadness, to her character. In contrast, Jude is quiet and self-conscious, a troubled soul with more than her fair share of secrets. Alongside Birdie and Jude, comes Ollie, Birdie’s faithful canine companion. I absolutely adored the fact that he comes with a fully developed, almost human character himself.

This book has the feel of a coming of age story, as both women come to terms with their pasts and learn to accept their futures. There is a beauty in the gentle friendship that develops between them as they help each other in more ways than either of them realise when they first meet.

What I expected to be a sweet, simple story of friendship touched my heart in ways that I never imagined it would.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels.

The Sabine Series, Sabine, Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals, and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled – A Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colours of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road.

In 2018, she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime – A Meg Miller Cosy Mystery. She has authored one non-fiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake. She blogs on her website, http://www.phyllishmoore.com

Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour.

Book Review

The Jumble Sale – Lily Rose

I have another fun, fantasy read for the younger readers out there today (and for the young at heart as well). Thank you so much to Lily Rose, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the blog tour for The Jumble Sale, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

TheJumbleSale_Ebook_BN

BLURB:

Zadi is part zombie, part fairy with a little bit of robot, which makes her a misfit monster. She lives with other misfit monsters, with their quirky parts in their makeshift town. They survive by hunting at the nearby hunting grounds taking items discarded by humans and making them into something useful. Hunting is risky because they could be captured by humans. Zadi is an excellent hunter and maker, but now she’s finding it difficult.

Something unusual has happened. There have been no new deliveries to the hunting grounds. This means there are no new items which can be used to recycle into something useful, and they are beginning to worry and fight with each other.

Can Zadi come up with a plan which will help the misfit monsters and bring them together as a community?

Enter the world of the misfit monsters, their quirky lives, and be part of their fun and adventures.

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-3.v2

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Goodreads

 

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-2.v2

REVIEW:

The Jumble Sale is a charming little book, full of important messages for today’s children, but at the same time so full of fun that kids won’t even realise that they are learning. I think they will love the cast of misfit monsters, and listing the cast of characters at the beginning is a great idea for letting kids choose their favourite monster combination, and maybe even fuel their imagination into creating some misfit monsters of their own. I don’t have children of my own, but if I did I think it would be a fantastic activity to have them drawing their own interpretations of each misfit.

At the risk of giving away my age, there were a lot of things about the misfit monsters that put me in mind of  a number of my own favourite childhood characters – the mismatched parts of the Raggy Dolls, the small stature of the Borrowers, and the recycling habits of the Wombles. This made the book a wonderful journey in reminiscence for me, and I loved it because of this.

The Jumble Sale struck me as an important book for children to read. Without being preachy in any way, it teaches acceptance of people who are different to you, who might not look the same, or be able to do everything that you can. With her wonky walk and decomposing zombie parts, Zadi shows what you can achieve if you put your mind to it, even if the odds seem stacked against you.

I don’t know if this is the authors plan, but I can see a whole series of these books, with each one covering the emerging strengths of a different misfit monster.

TheJumbleSale_Teaser-1.v4

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Rose enjoys world building and creating characters for these unusual worlds. She enjoyed creating the misfit monsters world, and is looking forward to writing more of their adventures.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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For more information on the adventures of the Misfit Monsters, why not head on over to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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