Book Review

A Tale of Stars & Shadows – Lisa Cassidy

Today’s review is for book one in an exciting new series, A Tale of Stars & Shadows by Lisa Cassidy. Many thanks to Lisa, and to Rachel 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:

…’Burn bright and true’…

Dumnorix princess and born warrior, Talyn Dynan was the finest fighter of her generation. With her Callanan partner at her side, she was invincible, reckless, a death-knell to their enemies. But after her partner is torn away from her, Talyn is left broken, wracked with guilt and unable to regain the confidence she once had. Could an unexpected mission to the mysterious country of Mithranar, home of the magical winged folk, be the thing that saves her?

The Shadowhawk lives a life in the shadows. Constantly hunted for his criminal exploits, yet desperate to help the human folk of Mithranar who are oppressed by their winged folk rulers, he haunts the streets of Dock City. The arrival of a foreign warrior threatens to upset the carefully balanced life he leads, but when she begins to offer a hope for the humans he’s only ever dreamed of, can he risk trusting her?

And unbeknownst to both, a mysterious foe stalks the dark corners of Dock City. One that answers to a single purpose…

Vengeance.

A Tale of Stars and Shadow Cover - eBook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

REVIEW:

Occasionally a book grabs you from the first sentence and you just know it is going to be a good one. This is one such book. From the second I met the mysterious Shadowhawk, I fell in love and just had to know more. Normally I keep notes as I read books I am on blog tours for but I was so swept up in the story here that I completely forgot. In what is proving to be an excellent year for books, A Tale of Stars and Shadow is a contender for a place in my top ten reads.

I fear this could be a bit of a gushy review because I just adored this book. From the Robin Hood-esque Shadowhawk to the aloof, impenetrable WingGuard, I loved everything about it. The world in which the book is set is beautifully created and oozes magic and mystery, and the characters are a perfect blend of quirky, troubled surprises. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the merry band of misfits assigned to protect Prince Cuinn had something about them that put me in mind of Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork Watch.

There were lots of hints and teasers that there is still a lot to uncover about this brilliant world and it’s inhabitants. Fortunately, this book ends with the three words all bookworms love – to be continued. It made my day to read that we hadn’t seen the last of these characters and I am counting the days until I can read the next in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author Pic 8

Living in Australia’s capital, I’m a self-published author who mostly sticks to novel-length fantasy but occasionally likes to break out with short stories on random things like unicorns and ninjas. When I’m not writing, you might catch me enthusiastically spectating a basketball game (#NewYorkKnick for life!), reading a tonne of books, or…who am I kidding? I spend a lot of time writing!

All four books in my debut YA fantasy series – The Mage Chronicles – are available for purchase, and I debuted a brand new series – A Tale of Stars and Shadow – in June 2019.

Whenever you buy a copy of one of my books, you”ll be helping to support One Girl. One Girl is committed to educating 1 million girls across Africa, and I’m SUPER excited to contribute to this vision. Together we’re changing the world, one girl at a time.

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Book Review

The Ruined Land – Clare Rhoden

It’s time for the third and final part of my Chronicles of the Pale blog tour extravaganza, today looking at book three, The Ruined Land. Many thanks to Clare and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Exiled from the Pale, humachine Hector has found a home with the tribes Outside.

Or has he?

While the canini struggle to care for the human twins, Feather travels Broad Plain to reunite them with their father. But his own family is scattered as the Pale sends out its terrifying army and the land itself buckles beneath them.

Can anyone survive the ruination of the land?

In this gripping conclusion to the Chronicles of the Pale, the citizens of the mighty Pale have as much to lose as the communities of the Outside.

The Chronicles - RuinedLand_inprogress

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon AU

REVIEW:

Wow, what a series. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of these books, and The Ruined Land presents a fitting finale.

We join the inhabitants of Broad Plain in turbulent times for them all, as the PPA continues to reveal its after effects. As the makers of Newkeep Port seemed to flourish I found I was deeply satisfied to see Brettin flounder as the new leader of the Settlement. I have loved to hate her throughout the series and as she has become ever more despicable I have enjoyed her more and more.

As the story unfolded, the plans of the ruling factions of the Pale made me nervous for those on the Outside that I have come to consider my friends. However I was surprised to find that I could sympathise more with the actions of the humachines of the Pale who have, over time, been stripped of all humanity than the cruel actions of those in the Settlement who pride themselves on on being the purist humans alive. That said, the livewear of the Pale inhabitants seemed to be becoming more and more pronounced, making for an interesting shift of dynamic there.

Watching the different packs and allegiances form in sometimes unexpected ways touched my heart as all my favourite characters found their pace in the world, not least darling little Rasti whose unending dedication to Feather was just adorable.

I suspect I have been a little slow on the uptake of the Clare Rhoden’s intentions, especially considering how clearly I could see the landscape, but it was only the arrival of the Shaking Landers that put me in mind of Australia (Broad Plain) and New Zealand (The Shaking Land).

The Ruined Land presents a devastating end for many inhabitants of Broad Plain, but all in all it is a very satisfying ending to a brilliant series and a spectacularly well developed world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Chronicles - Author IMG_8956

Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT)

The Chronicles - Giveaway Prize - Wolf Toy

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box 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

Broad Plain Darkening – Clare Rhoden

It’s part two of my trio of reviews for the Chronicles of the Pale trilogy by Clare Rhoden. Today it’s time for book two, Broad Plain Darkening. Many thanks to Clare, 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:

The safe world of the Pale is under threat.

Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.

Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins.

How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?

You can order your copy of Broad Plain Darkening here.

9781925652024-Cover.indd

REVIEW:

As you will know from my review a couple of days ago, I thoroughly enjoyed The Pale, book one of the brilliant Chronicles of the Pale. After the thorough and complex world building contained in that book, I found my emotional connection to the characters growing more and more throughout Broad Plain Darkening. I loved seeing all the stories begin to converge as more characters began to cross paths. I enjoyed the intoduction of new characters, Jarli andRasti n particular, and found the dynamics of these characters with my favourite characters from book one fascinating.

Broad Plain Darkening was not the type of book that I expected to make me cry but quite honestly at one part in particular I was a sobbing mess.

As the landscape changed and some of the species we had previously met began to evolve, it was interesting to see what this meant both for my favourite characters, and for those that I loved to hate. The political wranglings that emerge inside the Pale were beautifully developed and I enjoyed seeing the Pale flounder as everyone on the Outside seemed to prosper.

Throughout Broad Plain Darkening, the story develops and the tension increases, all leading to what promises to be a thrilling conclusion. After the way this book ended, I couldn’t wait to get started on the final part. Come back in a couple of days for my thoughts on that.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Chronicles - Author IMG_8956

Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

GIVEAWAY:

Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT)

The Chronicles - Giveaway Prize - Wolf Toy

*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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Pop back in a couple of days for the final part of my review extravaganza. In the meantime, why not head over to the other blogs taking part in this tour to find out more.

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Book Review

The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada – Neil Randall

Today’s review takes a look at a book, the likes of which I have never encountered before, The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada by Neil Randall. Many thanks to Neil, 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:

Nine stories

One artist

The whole world against him

The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada is the story of an outsider, a lonely, misunderstood young artist who chronicles all the unpleasant things that happen to him in life. Abandoned by his parents, brought up be a tyrannical aunt, bullied at school, ostracized by the local community, nearly everyone Jacob comes into contact with takes an instant, (often) violent dislike towards him. Like Job from the bible, he is beaten and abused, manipulated and taken advantage of. Life, people, fate, circumstance force him deeper into his shell, deeper into the cocoon of his fledgling artistic work, where he records every significant event in sketches, paintings and short-form verse, documenting his own unique, eminently miserable human experience. At heart, he longs for companionship, intimacy, love, but is dealt so many blows he is too scared to reach out to anybody. On the fringes of society, he devotes himself solely to his art.

You can purchase your copy of this book here.

The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada_Draft7

REVIEW:

The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada is a strange book, and sitting at my computer now I am finding it hard to put my thoughts about it into words. At first I just thought it was all very weird, the lack of emotion in the retelling of Jacob’s life, the way each chapter skipped forward so much in time with limited reference to what had gone before, not to mention the very peculiar social experiment that Jacob was subjected to.

As the events of each chapter unfolded, I found myself questioning the reliability of the narrator. After all, how could someone who claims to be so innocent so often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time? Could this account of Jacob’s life be trusted or was it his distorted view of how his life had gone so wrong? However, as I thought about it more, I came to see just how clever this book really was. If you just took a snapshot of all the bad things that had happened to you and erased all the good, what would your life story look like? Jacob must have had good times in his life, but by choosing not to show those, Neil Randall presents a very clear image of just how easy it is for someone to become isolated, slipping through the cracks of society, scared of showing any emotion to the outside world.

All in all, this is an extremely thought-provoking book that gave me a lot more than I bargained for.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Nine Lives of jacob Fallada Author Head shot (RW)

Neil Randall is the author of seven published novels and a collection of short stories. His work has been published in the UK, US, Australia and Canada

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GIVEAWAY:

Giveaway to Win 3 Copies of The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada (UK Only)

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

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Book Review

The Unlikely Occultist – Isobel Blackthorn

Join me today in taking a look at the fascinating life of Alice A Bailey, courtesy of Isobel Blackthorn. Many thanks to Isobel, and to Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with my copy of the book.

BLURB:

A biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey

Librarian Heather Brown discovers the fascinating life of Alice Bailey – a long forgotten occultist.

Back in 1931, Alice is preparing to give a speech at a Swiss summer school. But how can she stave the tide of hatred and greed set to bring the world to its knees? 

Soon after, Alice is put on Hitler’s blacklist. What she doesn’t realize is the enormity of her influence to the world, and the real enemies who are much closer than she thinks.

A dynamic and complex figure, Alice Bailey’s reach was huge. She was influential among people and organizations of global power, especially the United Nations, and is widely regarded as the Mother of the New Age.

Yet today she is maligned by fundamentalist Christians, Theosophists, Jews, academics and above all, by conspiracy theorists. Are any of these groups justified in rejecting the unlikely occultist?

“Blackthorn’s exploration of Alice Bailey’s life and work provides a unique and intimate insight into Bailey’s life and the times in which she lived. For anyone seeking to explore the roots of Bailey’s influence on the New Age movement as well as her unsought role as the bête noire of the conspiracy scene, there’s no better place to begin.” – Aaron John Gulyas, associate professor and author of Conspiracy Theories

You can purchase your copy of The Unlikely Occultist here.

The-Unlikely-Occultist-Main-File copy

REVIEW:

Prior to picking up this book, I had never heard of Alice A. Bailey and although that wasn’t an issue whilst reading about Alice’s life, there did seem to be the assumption that the reader would have some knowledge of Western Esotericism and Theosophy. Sadly I do not, and this made The Unlikely Occultist a challenging read for me. Although in the chapters told from Heather’s perspective there was a great deal of information, facts and figures about the movement to which Alice Bailey belonged, unfortunately this just baffled me. I suspect this is largely down to my own understanding, and for a more academic mind than mine, I am sure this would make fascinating reading.

Despite the fact that I struggled with the esoteric thinking behind Alice’s work, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed reading about her life, and the decisions and events that led her down the path that she eventually took. She is truly an inspiring lady who fought back against adversity time and again to remain true to her beliefs, and as I read I found myself, much like Heather, longing to know more about her and fill in the undocumented gaps in her life and what would seem to be her spectacular fall from grace. Reading about Alice’s work made me want to read up on her work more, and then perhaps return to this book with fresh eyes to gain a better understanding of her influence in the New Age movement.

Added to my new found interest in Alice, I have some researching of my own to do, having stumbled across a family name in the book – whether this person was an actual relation, or it just a big coincidence, remains to be seen, but finding out will certainly make for an interesting project for me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isobel Blackthorn Headshot 1 copyIsobel Blackthorn is a prolific novelist of unique and engaging fiction. She writes across a range of genres, including psychological thrillers, gripping mysteries, captivating travel fiction and hilarious dark satire.

Isobel holds a PhD in Western Esotericism for her ground-breaking study of the texts of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey. Her engagement with Alice Bailey’s life and works has culminated in the biographical novel, The Unlikely Occultist.

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Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 3

It is finally time for my final June Book Jar update. As with my previous posts for June, if you want to find out more about any of these books, just click on the title and it will take you on over to Goodreads.

40344249._SY475_First up in this third instalment is The Possible World by Liese O’Halloran Schwarz, the last of the NetGalley books that I read on my holiday. The Possible World is a beautifully written book, and is another one that I think will stay with me for some time. Although it starts with three apparently separate stories, each with a character suffering their own personal heartache, the stories are cleverly weaved together as each character begins to find peace in the others as they begin to heal from their own struggles. It is a a wonderful, gentle book, despite the horrors that have been witnessed, and is one I would thoroughly recommend.

17416065My next book was Looking for Alaska by John Green. This is another book that I have had for a while and just hadn’t got round to reading. John Green is the master of teen devastation and this book is no exception. Filled with a quirky cast of misfit characters I went into this book knowing that it was building to a life changing event for the teens, but having no idea just how heartbreaking this would be. As much as I know they will break me, I just can’t get enough of John Green’s books. (I have also just found out that there is going to be a TV adaptation of Looking for Alaska, so I have everything crossed that we can access it in the UK).

12067._SY160_Book number three in this update is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman. What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said. Apart, these authors are geniuses, but get them working together and it is perfection. If only it were possible for them to write more together. I loved every single page of this book, it was everything I had dreamt it would be and more. The absolute cherry on top of the perfectly iced cake was that when Death arrived on the scene, he still spoke in capitals, even though we were a long way from the Disc. Now I am off to binge watch the TV series with hopes that it will be even half as good as the book.

9542439Last but certainly not least is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. It is quite fitting really that it has taken me until today to write this review, as the latest edition of Writing magazine landed on my doormat today, and who was looking at me from the front cover? Only Philippa Gregory herself. I am very much looking forward to reading that article. I read The Other Boleyn Girl some time ago, and decided that I wanted to go back to the beginning of the Plantagenet and Tudor series and read them all in the right order. Although I knew something of the Tudors, I knew very little about the Plantagenets, and as such The Lady of the Rivers was fascinating to me. I will confess that I haven’t read the previous Cousins War books, but I actually found it didn’t matter. I have also loved history, but Philippa Gregory has a way of bringing it to life in a way that I find some other historical authors don’t. I am very much looking forward to reading the rest of the books, and I am sure I will one day return to the beginning of the Cousins War series too.

Well, that is finally it for my June update. I won’t have a July update post for you as I have been a busy little bee with reading for blog tours – I have some coming up for you that I am very excited about, so watch this space.

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Top Ten Tuesday – 23.04.19

It’s time for another top ten Tuesday, and today’s topic, courtesy of That Artsy Reader Girl is a look back at the first ten books that I reviewed. Now, I did review a few books here and there before I set up my little blog, but it was all a bit haphazard to be honest, so I thought I would make my top ten the first ten books that I reviewed here. Obviously I am a little bit biased, but I think this is a great list, and it actually contains some of my absolute favourite books that I have ever read, so it is great to be revisiting them. In order, from my first ever review up, here they are:-

  1. Blackbird – N D Gomes
  2. Isolation Junction – Jennifer Gilmour
  3. The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back – Sariah Wilson
  4. A Dangerous Game – Madeline Dyer
  5. The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale
  6. The Cocktail Bar – Isabella May
  7. The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green
  8. The Songs of Us – Emma Cooper
  9. Legendary – Stephanie Garber
  10. Mary Rosie’s War – Catherine M Byrne

What was the first book that you reviewed? Can you remember your first ten?