Book Review

Curse of the Celts – Clara O’Connor

Today I am reviewing Curse of the Celts, book two in the Once and Future Queen series by Clara O’Connor. Many thanks to Clara and One More Chapter for providing me with a copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

You are accused of crimes against the Code. How do you plead?

After failing to escape the Roman metropolis of Londinium with Devyn, her lover, and Marcus, her betrothed, Cassandra wakes in inky darkness to find the ground giving way to sand beneath her feet.

All three of them have been carted back to the notorious arena at the heart of the city to stand trial by public vote. Cass knows they must escape at any cost: to warn the Celts of the mysterious blood curse ravaging their kin, to foil the schemes of the imperial council…

To find the fabled Lady of the Lake, the one who could save them all.

But even as the jaws of death close in around her, another threat looms in the shadows, a danger she never could have foreseen, a betrayal that could burn down her entire world.

Fans of The Hunger Games will revel in this sweeping dystopian adventure set in an alternate fantasy universe where the Roman Empire never fell. 

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

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REVIEW:

As you might recall, I adored Secrets of the Starcrossed, book one in this series, and the cliffhanger ending left me screaming for book two. Curse of the Celts picks up exactly where Secrets of the Starcrossed finished, throwing you instantly back into the drama, as Cassandra, Devyn and Marcus prepare to meet their fate.

Curse of the Celts takes the reader away from the luxury of Londinium and into the wilder lands of Britannia, the intricate blending of British legend with fiction creating a rich alternate history. I love Arthurian and Celtic legend, so this really was a dream come true for me, if perhaps less so for our heroes.

For Marcus and Cassandra, leaving high tech Londinium for the wilds of Britannia with no technology to speak of would have felt alien enough without the fact that they were were entering the borderlands on Samhain. With their vanishing pools of blood and skeletal hands, I was glad to be reading about this dangerous territory in daylight .  Add to this the turmoil of betrayal and not knowing who to trust, and emotions in Curse of the Celts are running understandably high.

Once again I was swept away by the world that Clara O’Connor has created, and I absolutely devoured this book. The Once and Future Queen is fast becoming one of my favourite series, and I know I will be returning to reread it time and time again.

Clara O’Connor truly is the queen of the cliffhanger and once again the ending of this book has had me pacing the floors as I impatiently await book three – not long to go now and it can’t come soon enough for me.

Book Review

Secrets Of The Starcrossed – Clara O’Connor

I have the first book in what promises to be a fabulous new series to share with you today. Secrets of the Starcrossed is book one in The Once and Future Queen series by Clara O’Connor. My thanks to Clara and One More Chapter for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…

Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city.

But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood.

A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…

When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?

Panem meets the Grishaverse in this explosive new YA trilogy perfect for readers of Marie Lu, Bella Forrest, and Cassandra Clare.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

Part historical fiction, part dystopia, Secrets of the Starcrossed appealed to me on so many levels. Clara O’Connor has created a series that presents a clever twist on history, entwining hints of real British history with a reimaged world where the Roman Empire still reigned supreme. From a history perspective, I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of familiar names such as Owain Glyndwr, Elizabeth Twdwr, and the Plantagenets, and how their stories had shifted in this alternate world.

As we follow Cassandra to her classes, I found myself picturing ultra modern monorails whizzing around the Colosseum in Rome and the amphitheatre in Verona. The landscape of Londinium with its street and area names that I have walked many times was easily recognisable, but at the same time strange and unknown, and I found this intriguing. The concept of taking something so familiar, both in terms of geography and history, and twisting it into something so very different made this book absolutely fascinating to me right from the start.

As soon as I finished reading I had to dash to Amazon to pre-order the next two books, and I am very interested to find out what happens next and hopefully learn more about the people of Britannia.

Book Review

Red House – Joss Stirling

I am returning to Oxford today as I review Red House, the third book in the fab Jess Bridges series by Joss Stirling. As always, many thanks to Joss and One More Chapter for providing me with a copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

The compelling new mystery featuring Bridges and George has them taking on a haunting new case that will leave them doubting their judgement, and even their own eyes and ears …

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REVIEW:

My three day Joss Stirling review bonanza ends today with Red House, the third book in the Jess Bridges series. Now, the blurb for this one doesn’t give much away, so I went into it knowing that I loved the character, but without much clue as to what they were getting themselves into this time. I was particularly interested to see how Jess and Leo’s paths would cross, and luckily I didn’t have to wait to find out.

Red House finds Jess house-sitting in, you’ve guessed it, a mysterious red house. I must confess that Joss Stirling’s descriptions of this house made it sound far too creepy to be somewhere that I would willingly stay, but I am a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, so I would love to explore the garden attached to the house.

I think of the three Jess Bridges mysteries so far, Red House is my favourite, partly because of the completely baffling crimes that are uncovered, but mainly because this time around we find out more about the backgrounds of Jess, Michael and Leo, discovering more about each of their pasts. It felt like we were getting to them all more personally now that the previous books and thoroughly introduced them on a professional level, and I loved this.

I am so in love with this series, and I really hope we won’t have to wait too long for book four!

Book Review

White Horse – Joss Stirling

Let’s give a very warm welcome back to Joss Stirling, as today I am reviewing White Horse, the second book in her Jess Bridges series. Many thanks to Joss, and to One More Chapter, for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley. If you didn’t see yesterday’s review of book one in the series, Black River, you can read it HERE.

BLURB:

A thrilling new whodunnit series, fast-paced and funny, featuring a detective as sharp as his suits and a heroine who’s trouble.  

3000 years ago Iron Age people carved a White Horse on the Downs near Uffington Castle and now someone has dumped a body there. Laid out like a ceremonial killing, Detective Inspector Leo George isn’t convinced that the murder is what it appears.

He suspects the young female victim may have been a member of the Children of the White Horse, a secretive valley commune, but none of the cult members are talking. That is until he discovers his friend, Jess Bridges, is undercover in the commune, attempting to persuade a wayward young woman to leave the cult.

Leo is confronted by the fact that Jess is heading right into the heart of a mystery that has less to do with ancient gods than it does modern vices, and there is nothing old about spilling blood…

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REVIEW:

White Horse picks up just shortly after the events of Black River, and see Jess heading to a village next to the Uffington White Horse and Wayland’s Smithy, two places I have always wanted to visit – by the end of this series, I can see that I will have quite the road trip planned.

Although I had expected Leo George to appear in this book, I was pleased to see Michael making a return as well. I love his and Jess’s dynamic, and seeing their interactions in this book really made me smile. Watching Jess and Leo’s friendship develop over the course of the book was really lovely too, and I can’t wait for what I suspect is to come.

White Horse is focused around commune living at the foot of the eponymous white horse, and I found the dynamics within this group fascinating. It was obvious that there was more to them than met the eye, but I will confess that it took me a long time to work out what that was. As a former Religious Studies student, I can quite understand Michael’s desire to study them and other communes and cults of a similar nature.

When a series starts with a book as good as Black River, there is always the concern that the rest of the series won’t live up to expectations, but that certainly isn’t the case with White Horse. Come back tomorrow when I will be talking about Red House, the third book in the series.

Book Review

Black River – Joss Stirling

Earlier this year, I took part in the One More Chapter readalong, for Black River, the first book in the exciting new Jess Bridges Mystery series by Joss Stirling. Today I am sharing my review of this great book with you all. Many thanks to Joss, and to One More Chapter, for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

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REVIEW:

Black River is a book that makes me very happy indeed! I love a good crime series, and as I read this book, I knew that I had found a brand new one to immerse myself in. In fact, as soon as I had finished reading this book, I leapt straight into the next two (so glad they were released so close together as I am not a patient person when it comes to waiting for books!)

Jess Bridges is quite simply a brilliant character. She is chaotic and headstrong, and throws herself into her work wholeheartedly – although sometimes without fully thinking about the consequences. I love her dry, often self-deprecating humour, and her unconventional relationships with her exes and/or their families.

Jess has various men in her life for one reason or another, and whilst I liked each of these characters, it was Leo George who stole my heart. He is exactly the kind of policeman that you would want investigating if you were the victim of a crime. His garden sounds idyllic, and I loved that Joss Stirling included this to give us a glimpse of the man behind the uniform, so to speak.

Black River is a book that makes me long to visit Oxford again to explore its streets and investigate some of the locations described in the book, although the chances of you catching me wild swimming are very slim!

I absolutely loved this book, and the two that follow it – I will be reviewing both of these in the coming days, so watch this space!

Book Review

The Last Charm – Ella Allbright

Today I get to tell you all about the beautiful Ella Allbright book, The Last Charm, as I join the blog tour. Thanks to Ella, and One More Chapter, for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour (there is a fab competition at the bottom of my post – make sure you don’t miss it!)

BLURB:

A moving and heartwarming love story perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day in December…

Leila’s charm bracelet tells a story of love, a story of loss, a story of hope.

This is the story of her … and the story of Jake.

When Leila Jones loses her precious charm bracelet and a stranger finds it, she has to tell the story of how she got the charms to prove she’s the owner. Each and every one is a precious memory of her life with Jake.

So Leila starts at the beginning, recounting the charms and experiences that have led her to the present. A present she never could have expected when she met Jake nearly twenty years ago…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Google

The Last Charm Cover

REVIEW:

I was initially drawn to The Last Charm because of my own charm bracelet which I would be devastated to lose – knowing what it means to me, I can fully understand Leila’s attachment to hers. I actually have a charm just like Leila’s with the cross, anchor and heart – it’s one of the charms I treasure the most.

We first meet Jake and Leila as children and follow them through their interactions throughout their lives. The characterisation of Jake and Leila as they grow from children to adults is beautiful, their voices changing, yet somehow staying the same as they grow. Watching them mature and battle their demons means that they really get under your skin, making their triumphs and heartbreaks feel all the more personal. It really is an exquisite journey through their lives centred around the specific points where Leila receives a new charm.

The Last Charm is a book that made me laugh and cry in almost equal measure, although perhaps it was a little heavier on the crying. If you are fans of Emma Cooper or Amelia Henley, then you will love this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Last Charm AuthorA self-confessed reading addict, Ella Allbright writes commercial women’s fiction set in her beautiful home county of Dorset. Her first novel in this genre, The Charm Bracelet will be published in August 2020 by One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins, and she’s currently hard at work on her next book. Ella is represented by agent Hattie Grünewald at The Blair Partnership, who represent J.K. Rowling.

Ella also writes as Nikki Moore, the author of the popular #LoveLondon romance series. A number of the novellas featured in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart, and in 2018 the collection was released in Italy. Her first published work was the short story A Night to Remember in the best selling Mills & Boon / RNA anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut romance Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015.

When not writing or reading, she can be found working in her HR day job, walking the family’s cute beagle puppy or watching a Netflix series!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Facebook

Amazon

Website

YouTube

GIVEAWAY:

Win Dorset and Reading themed goodies to celebrate The Last Charm by Ella Allbright (UK Only)

First Prize 

The Last Charm First PrizeBooks Make Me Happy/TLC Branded Mug

Keepsake Bracelet for Readers

Lulworth Chocolate Bar 

Mermaid metal bookmark

TLC Postcards 

PLUS mystery prize

Second Prize

Lulworth Chocolate Bar The Last Charm Second Prize

I love Durdle Door chocolate lollipop

Sunshine metal bookmark

TLC Postcards 

PLUS mystery prize

Third Prize

The Last Charm Third PrizeLulworth Chocolate Bar 

I love Lulworth chocolate lollipop

Starry Sky metal bookmark

TLC Postcards 

PLUS mystery prize

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

ENTER HERE

Make sure you have a look at the other blogs joining the tour, and also check out the hashtags #OMCReadingChallenge and #TheLastCharm on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to join in with some really fun activities.

The Last Charm Full Tour Banner