Book Review

Legacy of Light – CD Tavenor

Today I join the blog tour for the fantasy novel Legacy of Light by CD Tavenor. Many thanks to the author, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

If only they knew us as more than accursed.

The Holy Empire hates the People of Light. Maripes, arriving in its capital, seeks to save his people from certain destruction. The Inquisition seeks theocratic justice, and it will stop at nothing to rid the world of those it considers evil.

Still, Maripes must try. For if he fails, doom will certainly befall his people. Standing in his way? The High Inquisitor, the Empress, and a million subjects all indoctrinated to believe he is evil incarnate.

Should be an easy task.

Otherwise, his son Mono, a soldier in the legions of their people, will face the fight of his life . . .

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REVIEW:

I’ll let you into a secret – when I first signed up to join the blog tour for Legacy of Light, I hadn’t realised how short it was. I am used to epic fantasy novels of four or five hundred pages, and I will admit that when I saw the page count for this book, I was a little dubious. I mean, how could the depth of world building and character development that I so love about the fantasy genre be squeezed into such a small package? Well, I don’t know how, but C.D. Tavenor has managed to do just that.

Despite its diminutive size in comparison to other books in the genre, Legacy of Light tells the story of three generations of one family in such a way that I was instantly invested in each of the characters, and felt that I was right there with them as they fought for their very survival. Tavenor’s descriptions of the landscape and towns the characters inhabit was so vivid that I found myself completely absorbed in the world.

Honestly, as a writer, I am a little in awe of what C.D. Tavenor has created in this book. We have three strong characters, each of whom could easily have held my attention for an entire novel, living in a complex world, which again would have captivated me for an entire trilogy, all packed into one relatively short book, and yet it doesn’t feel like anything is missing, and nothing is rushed or skimmed over. That, to me, is a real skill.

They say great things come in small packages, and that is certainly true of Legacy of Light. If you are a novice fantasy reader, or want to give it a try but have always found the enormous texts a bit daunting, this is the perfect book to introduce you to what, in my opinion, is a wonderful genre for pure escapism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author PhotoC.D. Tavenor is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Columbus, Ohio and the Director of Editorial Services for Two Doctors Media Collaborative!

He’s excited to tell stories that engage readers beyond a desire for entertainment, whether through philosophical inspiration or social inquiry. And he’s a firm believer in connecting every piece of fiction to reality, whether through their themes or their settings.

When not writing, Tavenor enjoys the more than occasional board game, his favorite being Eclipse.

To stay in touch and receive some great free books, go here: https://mailchi.mp/a6b48c582759/welcome-to-two-doctors-media-collaborative

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Book Review

The Black Ditch – Simon J Lancaster

As my bumper month of blog tours heats up, today I join the tour for The Black Ditch, a dystopian thriller from Simon J Lancaster. Many thanks to Simon, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Laurie Sterne feels like he’s been cut adrift in space. His father has been shot dead, caught in the crossfire of a gangland war that has also claimed his boss’s life. Laurie is a refugee who lost his adoptive mum years before and doesn’t know where he was born, let alone who his birth parents were. But he’s not alone in the world: someone is trying to kill him.

This is London, 2050, a dumping ground for climate refugees and dissidents. Gangs rule, murder goes unpunished and the police make sure you can’t escape.

In his struggle to stay alive, he finds an ally: his former boss’s secret daughter.
But with the killer predicting his every move, is the man without a past being betrayed by the woman who seems to offer him a future?

The Black Ditch Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

You know Murphy’s Law? The theory that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong? Well, this is basically Laurie Sterne’s life in this dystopian thriller from Simon Lancaster.

The Black Ditch is a dark tale, that is both disturbing and at times a little depressing. Now, I appreciate this may sound as though I didn’t enjoy the book, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Although I found it quite difficult reading at times, and had to take regular breaks for a spot of light comedy, I was totally gripped by Laurie’s story.

Set just 50 years into our future, The Black Ditch presents a shocking image of how climate change and attitudes to immigration have affected the world, and the UK in particular. It has a brutal, post-apocalyptic feel, with armed guards patrolling the streets and enemies around every corner. The street names and areas of London held names that were familiar to me, places that I have visited and can picture clearly, but at the same time it was a London that was entirely alien, and I think this is partly what made the book so unsettling for me, as it made this version of the future seem entirely too likely!

As Laurie battles for his very survival, and that of his friends, The Black Ditch becomes more and more gruesome and graphic. There is one particularly toe-curling scene that I wouldn’t recommend reading while you are having your dinner.

The Black Ditch is a fast-paced, action-packed book, full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing about who can be trusted, and what the truth is, right up to the last page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Black Ditch Author PhotoSimon J Lancaster is the author of The Black Ditch, the first in the Laurie Sterne trilogy of dystopian future thrillers. Prior to writing novels he was a national newspaper journalist in London, as well as a music critic and private pilot. He has written short stories and plays and, after reading extensively about climate change, concluded that the fantasy gun-play of contemporary-set action novels would be the lived experience of our coming world.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a signed copy of The Black Ditch, and for your name to be used for a character in the sequel (Open Int)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide 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

The Cake Fairies – Isabella May

Isabella May makes a welcome return to my blog today with her latest novel, The Cake Fairies. As you will already know, I am a huge fan of Isabella and so I was delighted to be able to get involved with this blog tour. Many thanks to Isabella, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

1960’s Somerset is no fun for cousins Polly and Annabelle Williams. Mourning their non-existent love lives, and the mundanity of village life, their only pleasure is baking – until a chance encounter has them magically transported to the bright lights of London… in 2019!

Promised a chance of love, first they must teach the people of the future about the simpler pleasures of life by becoming Cake Fairies. Over the course of a year they set off on a delectable tour of the UK, dropping off cakes in the most unexpected of places and replacing the lure of technology with much sweeter temptations.

But will their philanthropical endeavours lead them to everlasting love? Or will they discover you can’t have your cake and eat it?

The Cake Fairies Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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REVIEW:

What can I say? Isabella has done it again! With her trademark mix of delectable food and a sprinkling of magic, Isabella May is most definitely one of “happy place” authors – you know, the ones you go to whenever the world is too much and you just need a little pick me up in book form.

As the title and cover suggest, The Cake Fairies is filled to bursting with mention of cakes that had me scurrying over to Google looking for photos and recipes to save for future attempted creations of my own. Never read one of Isabella’s books when you are a) hungry, b) on a diet, or c) both!

Moving on (reluctantly) from talk of cake, there is just so much to love about this book, from the enigmatic Amber Magnolia, to the wonder of Polly and Annabelle discovering the joys of everything that we take for granted in the modern world. As we watch the girls thrive and struggle in equal measure, it gave me a new appreciation for the choices that we have available to us nowadays, but at the same time left me setting myself the challenge of spending less time glued to my phone!

I think I experienced every emotion going as I read this book, from having a lump in my throat reading about the ripple effect of good deeds that followed the first cake drop, anger at Annabelle for some of her behaviour, right through to the joy I felt at seeing a couple of familiar faces put in a cameo appearance.

The Cake Fairies is a timely reminder that there is more in life than social media “likes” and shows just how much good can be done if we just take the time to look up from our screens. Now I just need to convince Isabella that we need a sequel because I am dying to know what happens next for Ivy, Annabelle and Polly!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Oh What a Author PicIsabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules.

The Cake Fairies is her fifth novel.

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Book Review

Captive – Madeline Dyer

Happy publication day to Madeline Dyer! The ebook of her first book of poetry, Captive, is released today. I was lucky enough to be given an early copy by Madeline, so read on for all the details and my thoughts on the book.

BLURB:

I just want to get better and see the stars and believe in hope again.’

Captive, Madeline Dyer’s first poetry collection, is based on the therapy writings she produced when she was experiencing psychosis and OCD due to Autoimmune Basal Ganglia Encephalitis, a rare type of brain inflammation caused by the immune system attacking the brain. While her communication skills and cognitive abilities diminished due to the effects of the inflammation, she was able to share her thoughts and emotions via the written word, process that gave her great comfort when she otherwise felt possessed.

Captive provides readers with a glimpse of her tormented mind during this dark time of loneliness, loss, and fear.

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PURCHASE LINK:

Click here to purchase

REVIEW:

I have long been a fan of Madeline’s fiction writing, and so I subscribe to all of her social media accounts. As such I am familiar with her struggles to a certain extent, and have been following her progress through her Medium page. I know how hard 2019 was for her, but even so, reading these poems was completely and utterly heartbreaking and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried through most of them.

It is incredibly brave of Madeline to open herself up to the world in sharing these intimate thoughts with the world in order to give people an insight into what it feels like to live with PANS. The raw pain that runs throughout the writing is almost palpable and really opened my eyes to what it must truly be like to live with OCD.

Whilst I was touched by the almost brutal frankness of all of the poems, I found “Things People Say” and “Psycho particularly upsetting – as a chronic illness sufferer myself I know how hard it is for people to understand, and how cruel their words can be sometimes, so this really touched a nerve with me.

“Don’t” hit home for me, as the son of my dearest friend struggles with OCD. People use the phrase so flippantly but they have no idea what it is truly like for sufferers. I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but now having experience of people who are fighting a constant battle, I can understand, to a certain extent, just how hurtful this can be.

A final mention has to go to “An Apology to the Ponies.” As I said earlier, I cried my way through most of this book, but this poem had me sobbing. Even thinking back to it now as I type this review brings a tear to my eye.

Captive feels like such an important book, both for sufferers of OCD, to hopefully help them to see that they aren’t the only people struggling with the thoughts in their head, but also for anyone who wants to gain an insight into what it is truly like to be constantly fighting an internal war with yourself.

For more information on Madeline, please visit her website.

Book Review

Victory Day – Rachel Churcher

I’m a little sad today as I join the blog tour for the fifth and final book in the Battle Ground series. Many thanks to Rachel Churcher, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith meet in London. As the war heats up around them, Bex and Ketty must learn to trust each other. With her friends and family in danger, Bex needs Ketty to help rescue them. For Ketty, working with Bex is a matter of survival. When Victory is declared, both will be held accountable for their decisions.

The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.

Victory Day Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

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REVIEW:

You’ve probably all realised by now that I have loved every second of this series so far, and Victory Day really was no exception. Although reading it was a bitter sweet experience, as it always is when you reach the end of a favourite series, this book really is a fitting ending and provides an extremely satisfying conclusion.

As the conflict between the resistance and the Home Forces reaches fever pitch, emotions are running high on both sides of the battle lines. The short chapters in this book, bouncing back and forth between Bex and Ketty,  create an incredibly fast-paced book, and ensure that you are on the edge of your seat throughout.

Seeing Ketty set adrift as her world collapses around her and she finds herself completely isolated as she fights for her own survival was heartbreaking. As all the awful things that she has done throughout the conflict are recounted, I found that I desperately wanted to hate her, but I just couldn’t. As much as she probably would have hated it, I just wanted to give her a big hug. It came as a total surprise to me, but she has become my favourite character across the whole series.

As I was reading I found myself see-sawing between how I wanted things to end between Bex and Ketty. On some level, I wanted them to make their peace and end up as allies, but on another, that just felt a bit too sickly, and that part of me wanted them to end the book as they started, firmly on opposite sides. I’m not going to say how things actually ended up, but I will say that it felt right.

Victory DAy was a suitably dramatic conclusion to the Battle Ground series, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what comes next from Rachel Churcher.

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

Monkey Arkwright – Rob Campbell

As part of my YA double bill today I am joining the blog tour for the YA mystery, Monkey Arkwright, by Rob Campbell. Many thanks to Rob, 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 book.

BLURB:

Budding writer Lorna Bryson is struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her father when she meets Monkey Arkwright, the boy who loves to climb. The two strike up an immediate rapport, and Monkey challenges her to write about him, claiming that he can show her things that are worth writing about.

True to his word, Lorna is catapulted into Monkey’s world of climbing and other adventures in the churches, woodlands and abandoned places in and around their home town of Culverton Beck.

When the two teenagers find an ancient coin in the woods, claims from potential owners soon flood in, including the mysterious Charles Gooch, who is adamant that the coin is his. But this is only the opening act in a much larger mystery that has its roots in some dark deeds that took place more than a century earlier.

Combining their talents, Lorna and Monkey set about fitting the pieces together in a tale of budding friendship, train-obsessed simpletons, the shadow of Napoleon and falling pianos.

Monkey Arkwright Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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REVIEW:

After going through a spate of darker novels towards the end of 2019, Monkey Arkwright was just the book I needed to lighten the mood as I entered the new decade. For me, it was love at first sight with the eponymous hero of the book. Monkey is such a quirky little character with his love of climbing and apparent lust for life that it was impossible to resist his charms from the instant he appeared in the book. There is more to Monkey than meets the eye though and I thoroughly enjoyed watching his story unfold.

There was something about the writing style of this book, and the story itself, that put me in mind of the old black and white film noir genre. The mystery of the strange coin, and the even stranger people who tried to collect it, combined with decades old legends surrounding lucky artefacts, together with some of the language used both in the narrative, and by our heroine Lorna, made this almost feel like it was a book from another time. At the same time, it is also a charming coming of age tale as Lorna and Monkey learn more about each other and themselves, and what they are capable of.

Although the book does take a slightly darker turn from around the halfway point as Lorna and Monkey become more involved with the mysterious Lester Hawkstone, it somehow retains a feel of innocence and the old school adventure stories I grew up with. I think as the series progresses it has the potential to develop into something more sinister, but in a way I hope it doesn’t, as to me the innocence of the story reflects Monkey and his attitude to life. Either way, I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rob Campbell - AuthorPhotoRob Campbell was born in the blue half of Manchester.

He studied Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Manchester Polytechnic, gaining an honours degree, but the fact that he got a U in his Chemistry O-Level helps to keep him grounded.

Having had a belly full of capacitors and banana plugs, on graduation he transferred his skills to software engineering. He still writes code by day, but now he writes novels by night. Listing his pastimes in no particular order, he loves music, reading and holidays, but he is partial to the words and music of Bruce Springsteen.

His favourite authors are David Morrell, Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch & Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

He lives in Manchester with his wife and two daughters.

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Book Review

Are You Watching – Ralph Vincent

Today finds me joining the blog tour for the YA mystery novel, Are You Watching, by Ralph Vincent. Many thanks to Ralph, Penguin Random House UK, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

Are You Watching Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Get Are You Watching? in ebook now for only 99p – https://amzn.to/34J8Qsi

REVIEW:

Being a fan of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, when I saw the comparison between that book and this one, I jumped at the chance to take part in this blog tour, and I wasn’t disappointed.

In the Q&A at the back of the book Vincent Ralph says that he views each chapter of a book as a scene from a film, and this is something that definitely comes through in his writing style. Each chapter is short and snappy, creating a fast pace and a real feeling of tension. Of course it does also make it easy to fall into the, “Just one more chapter,” trap and before you know it, it is three o clock in the morning and you have finished the book. I know chapter length is something that readers have varying opinions on, and whilst I don’t really have a personal preference, I am aware that some people are not fans of the very short chapter. However, I would encourage these people to pick up Are You Watching? and give it a try, because, in my opinion, this style works perfectly for this book. Rooted as the story is in social media, the short, sharp chapters put me in mind of the posts you see on social media, and it reads almost as a stream of consciousness, or a Twitter thread, rather than a carefully thought out story.

Aside from the, “Just one more chapter,” issue, this book kept me reading into the wee small hours partly because I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next, but also partly because I started reading it at night and managed to freak myself out with thoughts of someone watching me, much as Jess’s YouTube viewers were watching her. Just the thought that her mother’s killer could be watching her every move really got under my skin.

As much as the thriller elements, the mystery, the intrigue, in this book kept me reading, it was the underlying story that really hooked me in. Yes, I wanted to know who the killer was and if Jess’s plan to catch him worked, but what will stay with me is the raw emotion of a family torn apart by grief and a young girl struggling to cope with the loss of a mother she never had the chance to really know. From the blurb, I didn’t expect a book that would be so heartbreaking and poignant, and it really touched me. I will be watching for what comes next from Ralph Vincent, that is for sure.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vincent Ralph Author picVincent Ralph has been writing in one form or another since his teens and always dreamed of being a novelist. He owes his love of books to his mother, who encouraged his imagination from an early age and made sure there were new stories to read.

Vincent has lived in London, Cornwall and Chester but he now lives in his home county of Kent with his wife, son and two cats.

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