Book Review

Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

I’ve got an interesting one for you all today in the form of Ring Fenced by Zach Abrams. Many thanks to Zach, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Sex. Money. Power. Control. Benjamin wants it all.

He is Bennie, a loving husband and father; Benjie, a beloved son. He climbs the ladder as Ben, a corporate banker, and rakes in money as a bestselling author. And when he wants to escape it all, Benjamin styles himself as Jamie — the lover of a beautiful musician.

His life, in a word, is perfect. But after years of keeping his separate personae a secret, cracks begin to appear in the façade.

When an unexpected series of events topples Benjamin’s carefully crafted world, his separate lives collide with dire consequences.

ring fenced cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Creativia

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Ring Fenced is on an Amazon Countdown  Promotion – selling at 99c /99p  from  11-15 Sept 2019

REVIEW:

Just recently I seem to have had a spate of books where I am finding it difficult to put into words how I felt about them. Not because I didn’t enjoy them, more because they are so very different to what I normally read, and have proved to be quite thought-provoking. Ring Fenced is no exception to this.

Each of Benjamin’s personae is delightfully  hateful – smug, arrogant, devoid of emotion towards the people he is deceiving, and I was just willing him to get his comeuppance. He really was a character that I loved to hate and who I had little sympathy for. This is unusual for me as I can usually find at least one redeeming feature in a character, but not Benjamin. It was quite a liberating feeling to be honest.

For a large part of the book, Zach Abrams’ writing has a detached, almost clinical feel to it, but I felt that this was representative of Benjamin’s own dispassionate view of what goes on around him. This is evidenced by the fact that when the writing moves to follow other characters, and as Benjamin’s life (or lives) start to unravel around him, the emotion really starts to show through.

As much as I took pleasure in hating Benjamin, I fell in love with his (Benji’s) family and a part of me longed to belong in the warmth that Hanna’s home created. They made such a wonderful contrast to Benjamin’s cold nature.

Ring Fenced is an interesting read and I particularly loved the ending. I’m not going to give anything away here, but I would love to sit down with Zach Abrams so I could quiz him about all the questions that the epilogue left me with!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ring Fenced - zachHaving the background of a successful career in commerce and finance, Zach Abrams has spent many years writing reports, letters and presentations and it’s only fairly recently he started writing novels. “It’s a more honourable type of fiction,” he declares.

Writer of the Alex Warren Murder Mystery series, set in Scotland, Zach has also written the psychological thriller ‘Ring Fenced’ and the financial thriller ‘Source’, as well as collaborating with Elly Grant on a book of short stories.

Zach is currently producing a non-fiction series to help small businesses -using the collective title ‘Mind Your Own Business’. The first, ‘So, You Think You Want to be a Landlord’ is already available.

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Book Review

The Faeries of Saizia – Tonya L. Chaves

I have a lovely, magical book for you today – The Faeries of Saizia by Tonya L. Chaves. Many thanks to Tonya 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:

Zäria and Avery, two teenage faeries seeking adventure, get more than they bargained for when they start spying on the elves of Eerie Hollow. They discover why the elves are making delectable chocolates in the forest only to be captured by their adversary, Thordon who threatens them into taking on a quest. They run into more trouble while crossing through The Perilous Forest when they meet a witch with her own agenda. Their only hope is to locate an ancient faerie sanctuary they’ve only heard of in legend. Secrets are revealed about Zäria’s parents, which leaves her conflicted and forced to make some tough choices. Just when the fae think their troubles are over, the kingdom of Saizia is in danger of being destroyed. Will Zäria and Avery be able to get help on time? How will they defeat the evil Thordon? Inspired by the author’s children, Faeries of Saizia is a unique story that will instill a love for reading, love for nature, and belief in life’s endless possibilities.

sazia paperback Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Lulu Press

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

When I was asked if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for The Faeries of Saizia, it was described to me as being an MG/YA novel. Having read the book, I would say it definitely leans more towards middle grade readers than young adult readers. It  is a sweet tale about two adolescent faeries who inadvertently break a sacred pact, and are sent on a mysterious quest to make amends. On the whole the fae characters that we meet are gentle and kind, more reminiscent of the Flower Fairies that I loved as a child than the unpredictable, capricious fae that feature in many YA books.

To be honest, this book was always going to be a winner for me, including as it does two of my absolute favourite things, faeries and chocolate – you will have to read the book to find out just how chocolate falls into the story. The characters and the world they inhabit are beautifully developed, and the whole book had a delightfully magical feel to it. I love that as each faery reached 100 years they were given given a job particularly suited to their talents to ensure that the land was well cared for.

There is plenty of adventure to keep readers of all ages interested, but I can see this book being extremely popular with pre-teen girls in particular. They will fall in love with Zaria and Avery, and how their adorable relationship develops as they enter their own teenage years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Faeries - Tonya ChavesTonya is from a small town in the Central Valley of California. She studied early childhood education and worked in daycare and preschool for a few years until having children of her own. During a brief time of being a stay at home mom, she picked up the hobby of quilting which she still enjoys today. For the past fourteen years, Tonya has been working in the insurance industry as a licensed agent. While juggling a full-time job, being a wife and mother of three, quilting, and crafting, she somehow managed to write a book; adding author to her collection of titles. Faeries of Saizia is her first published work.

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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

False Flag – Rachel Churcher

I am thrilled today to be joining the blog tour for False Flag, book two in the Battle Ground series. This review may contain spoilers for book one, Battle Ground, so you might want to check that out first. Many thanks to Rachel Churcher, and to Rachel Gilbey 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:

Ketty Smith is an instructor with the Recruit Training Service, turning sixteen-year-old conscripts into government fighters. She’s determined to win the job of lead instructor at Camp Bishop, but the arrival of Bex and her friends brings challenges she’s not ready to handle. Running from her own traumatic past, Ketty faces a choice: to make a stand, and expose a government conspiracy, or keep herself safe, and hope she’s working for the winning side.

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

You can purchase your copy of False Flag here.

False Flag Rachel Churcher cover

REVIEW:

Having loved Battle Ground, I was eager to get my hands on the second book in the series, and False Flag didn’t disappoint.

False Flag presents an interesting premise, essentially revisiting the story told in Battle Ground, but from the perspective of Lead Recruit Ketty Smith. I was fascinated by Rachel Churcher’s decision to separate Bex and Ketty’s stories into their own books rather than simply telling the tale from a dual perspective in one book just alternating chapters. This meant I went into False Flag with a pre-formed opinion of Ketty, and getting to know her properly was a total curve ball.

For Ketty, joining the RTS was a choice, a chance to escape her life, and performing well was an opportunity to make something of herself. As soon as I read about her life before the RTS, I felt more sympathy for her than I had dreamed possible while reading Battle Ground. Knowing more about her and how she has been treated throughout her life make a lot of her actions more understandable, if not entirely acceptable. Whereas in Battle Ground I saw her as ruthless and malicious, in False Flag I began to understand that she is vulnerable and scared, and I was reminded that she is little more than a child herself.

Starting from the same point as Battle Ground and covering a lot of the same events, False Flag really shows that there are two sides to every story. While Bex holds a strong opinion of what she witnessed in Leominster and the behaviour of the senior recruits, in False Flag we see a very different side to their involvement with the situation there. Nothing in this world is black and white, and I loved discovering the other version of what went on. Seeing a different view of the bunker invasion, and of Saunders’ bravery there, added an extra depth to the story and once again I found my opinions shifting.

I am totally hooked on this series, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photo

Rachel 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

The Fourth Victim – John Mead

Today I am joining the book birthday blitz for The Fourth Victim by John Mead. Many thanks to John, 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:

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight.  And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong.  The victim deserves more.  However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

The Fourth VictimCover

REVIEW:

The Fourth Victim is a book that I struggled to get into at first, largely because there were a number of characters with similar names and I found it hard to keep track of who was who to begin with. That said, once I had everyone sorted out in my head, I found that on the whole it was an enjoyable read. It was well thought out, and including a character who suffered with Dissociative Identity Disorder made for interesting reading. Each of Jenny’s separate identities was as well developed as any other character and each came with their own back story and distinct voice.

It felt a little as though the author had an axe to grind over the funding that the police receive, which to be honest I totally agree with, but at times this did distract from the story. I also found the fact that everyone that Julie and Merry met seemed quite happy to jump straight into bed with them a little unnecessary. I am in no way a prude, but I felt that this didn’t add anything to the story, with the exception of their interactions with one particular character.

I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie develop in the police team, and I think that their relationships could form a strong basis for a series of books. I always enjoy a book that features a close unit of co-workers or friends, and The Fourth Victim certainly delivered on that front. I would be interested to see how these relationships build as the team work more cases together.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Wordery

Blackwells

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Fourth -Author Photo

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

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Book Review

The First Time I Saw You – Emma Cooper

August was dedicated to getting ahead on my blog tour reading when I suddenly realised just how many books I had committed to reviewing in September, so there is no book jar update this month. I did however find myself with a gap in my reading schedule at a point when I was away from home and without access to the jar. Well, this just seemed like the perfect opportunity to dive in to the latest book by Emma Cooper (to be honest, I had been waiting for an excuse to bump this one to the top of my reading list since the day it released. Her debut, The Songs of Us made my top ten reads of 2018, so I had very high hopes for this one. Read on to find out if it lived up to my expectations.

BLURB:

From the author of The Songs of Us. Fans of Jojo Moyes and Lucy Dillon will love The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper.

Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin. 
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes. 
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey. 
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be. 
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back. 
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways 
than they could have predicted…

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REVIEW:

So, did Emma’s second book live up to her first? Of course it did! I never doubted it. Once again she has created a cast of characters that are so real and relatable that you just take them straight into your heart. After bawling my eyes out while reading The Songs of Us, I was expecting something of a bumpy ride, and sure enough after reading for just a short while, I felt the first crack in my heart. After fetching the biggest box of tissues I could find, I settled down to continue reading.

Although most of us don’t have the same devastating history as Sophie, I am sure every woman reading this will be able to relate to the way she views her clothes and make up as an armour to protect her from the world. Her pain at what she had been through was almost palpable at times and made me want to just sweep her up in a big hug. Samuel’s family life comes as a massive contrast to Sophie’s and it was impossible not to fall in love with the chaotic McLaughlin family. I think that is a family that anyone would want to be a part of.

The First Time I Saw You is filled with beautiful moments and periods of absolute devastation in equal measure. I ricocheted between laughing out loud and fighting to hold back tears throughout. The little nod to The Songs of Us was just perfect and brought a lump to my throat. Throughout the book, I was put in mind of the film, Serendipity, which is one of my favourites – if you enjoyed that, you will love this book.

Just a warning to the unsuspecting reader – you might think that by the time you get to the epilogue you are home and dry. You are not! Keep those tissues close by until the very last page.

You can find out more about this book and about Emma over on Goodreads.

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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