Book Review

Missing in Wales – Jenny O’Brien

I have a brilliant crime thriller for you today, with Missing in Wales by Jenny O’Brien. Many thanks to Jenny, 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. Make you sure you check out the amazing giveaway at the bottom of the post – I am quite tempted by this one myself!

BLURB:

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us

Izzy Grant is haunted by the abduction of her newborn daughter five-years ago. When a postcard arrives from her missing partner, the man she believes is responsible, saying they’re fine and asking her not to try to find them, she knows she can’t give up hoping. Then she sees a face from her past. Grace Madden. Just where did she disappear to all those years ago? And is there a connection between her disappearance and that of her child?

DC Gabriella Darin, recently transferred from Swansea, is brash, bolshie and dedicated. Something doesn’t fit with the case and she’s determined to find out just what happened all those years ago. 

Missing in Wales is the first in an exciting new Welsh-set crime series by Jenny O’Brien, author of The Stepsister. The next in series, Stabbed in Wales, will be available soon. 

missing in wales 2

PURCHASE LINKS:

REVIEW:

Wales has a special place in my heart, my grandfather being a Swansea man, so I was delighted to discover a new crime series set there. Although not familiar with St David’s I found I could easily picture the location, and it made me long to visit. It has been too long since I was last in Wales!

Missing in Wales gripped me from the first page. I am not a mother myself, so I can only imagine the agony of losing a child, but reading this book you can almost feel Izzy’s pain. It is truly heartbreaking. As the truth around Alys’s disappearance unfolded I found it impossible to put this book down. It kept me guessing throughout as I tried to work out the puzzle. All too often now I find that crime thrillers are either too easy to guess the ending, or so incredibly complicated that even by the end of the book you still aren’t sure who did it, or how the investigators reached their conclusion. Missing in Wales is perfectly balanced to keep you on the edge of your seat, but not completely blow your mind with confusing conclusions.

I loved headstrong, determined Gaby, a woman fighting not to be defined by her past, and I look forward to getting to know her better.

This is the type of book that you want to devour in one sitting, and I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Missing In Wales AuthorJenny O’Brien was abandoned in Dublin at the tender age of 17 by her parents when they decided to move to Wales. It was only on the completion of her studies that she was finally able to join them. She’s an avid reader and book blogger in addition to being a RoNA book judge.

She writes for both children and adults with a new book coming out every six months or so.
In her spare time she can be found frowning at her wonky cakes and even wonkier breads. You’ll be pleased to note she won’t be entering Bake-Off. She’s also an all-year-round sea swimmer.

Jenny currently resides on the island of Guernsey with her husband, children and cats. She works as a nurse and writes in her spare time.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a signed copy of Missing In Wales and the chance to be a character in the next book STABBED IN WALES. (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.

ENTER HERE

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour.

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Book Review

The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – John Tarrow

It is my stop on the blog tour for The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston by John Tarrow today. Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, John and Unbound for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

The Stranger's Guide to Talliston Cover

BLURB:

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times . It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

REVIEW:

Every now and again a book comes along, and the second it is in your hands you just know that it is going to be something special, even before you open the cover. The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is one such book. It is so beautiful that I must have spent a good quarter of an hour just admiring the covers when it landed on my doormat. Something about it just oozed magic, and I fell instantly in love.

When I finally managed to tear myself away from the cover and actually started reading, my love for this book just grew. It is written in a wonderfully lyrical language, full of mysterious rules and rhymes, and the author’s skill at moving between different dialogue styles as Joe journeys through the labyrinth really brought each character to life for me. There is a pretty big cast of characters to meet, but each one stands out so clearly, and I found I was sad to leave many of them behind as Joe moves on.

As someone who is attempting to write a fantasy book themselves, I was astounded by the level of research that must have gone into this book, as we encounter so many different places and magical belief systems and practices. Each new location appeared as vividly to me as if I was right there with Joe.

I feel like I am gushing a bit (okay, maybe a lot), but I just can’t speak highly enough of this book. The whole concept is like nothing I have ever read before, and I was totally swept away by it. I have already recommended it to my friend’s thirteen year old son – although it might appear quite a long book for younger teens, once you start reading, it doesn’t feel that way at all.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Tarrow Author PicJohn Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and
the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

 

Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in this tour to find out more about this incredible book.

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Book Review

Seventeen – Suzanne Lowe

Today’s blog tour is for a dystopian tale that feels scarily possible, in the shape of Seventeen by Suzanne Lowe. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Imagine a world where everything you grew up with is gone. No adults, no internet, no rules.

The world is facing the deadliest virus ever known.

When the KV17 virus kills everyone above the age of seventeen, life becomes a battle of survival for the children left behind. Seeking to escape the escalating violence in the city, two sisters, Lexi and Hadley flee to the Australian outback. Finding sanctuary in the small town of Jasper’s Bay, they soon realise it is far from safe, as a gang of lawless teenagers terrorise the town.

Caught in a bitter feud leading to betrayal, deceit and murder, the girls must quickly uncover who their enemies are, and who they can trust.

In a world drastically changed from everything they once knew; can the sisters and children of Jasper’s Bay learn to adapt? Can they maintain control of their town, and protect it from those who would destroy it?

www.theillustrators.com.au

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

REVIEW:

As a fan of dystopian fiction, I found this book to be a refreshing change from the norm. Instead of throwing you straight into an already broken world, in a place out of time, Suzanne Lowe has taken a familiar time and place and shown just how quickly society can crumble. This, for me, made Seventeen feel scarily close to home, and in the times we are currently living, not outside the realms of possibility.

The unbelievable cruelty displayed by town kids, a ruthless group of teenagers, took me back to my school days of reading Lord of the Flies, and left me wondering just how much worse things would get before (or if) they started to improve. In contrast to this though, the resilience and kindness of the Jasper’s Bay kids did leave me with some hope.

I thought Suzanne’s decision to set Seventeen in the Australian Outback was absolutely inspired. Jasper’s Bay is a place so remote from the rest of the world that the failure of technology means it is totally cut off in a way that a town in Europe would not be. The harsh landscape and climate of Western Australia just adds to the challenges face by the kids in their fight to survive.

I am very much looking forward to reading book two in this series, and I am so glad that I don’t have to wait too much longer for it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Seventeen Suzanne LoweSuzanne was born in Perth Western Australia and as a young adult grew up in the small country town of Tom Price situated in the outback of Western Australia. Her current home is in Perth with her husband, two daughters and cat Abby. ​

Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Sports Science. Her interests include watching movies, particularly sci- fi, travelling, photography and reading. She also enjoys going to the occasional comic book convention!

Like the young women in her stories, Suzanne has had the opportunity to experience many exciting adventures in her life so far including being part of the Australian Army Reserves, climbing to Mt Everest base camp, descending into one of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, flying in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, parachuting from a plane at 12000 feet in York and sitting on the edge of an active volcano on Tanna island in Vanuatu.

Suzanne is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Australian Society of Authors.

Her published works include;

Seventeen, Book One in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia. Winner of the New Apple E-book awards in YA horror and Sci-Fi

Rage, Book Two in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia. Available August 2019

The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket, a pirate adventure story for middle grade children

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for this book.

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Book Review

The Sentinel’s Alliance – Suzanne Rogerson

Happy Publication Day to Suzanne Rogerson, as The Sentinel’s Alliance, the final book in the Silent Seas Chronicles trilogy hits the book shops today! As you will know from my reviews of the previous books in the trilogy, The Lost Sentinel and The Sentinel’s Reign, I am a big fan of Suzanne’s, and as such I am over the moon to be taking part in the publication day events for the latest book. Thanks once again to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Before I press on and tell you all about this book, I just have a little announcement to share with you all:

To celebrate publication day, all three books of the Silent Sea Chronicles series are 99p today!

How amazing is that. Here are the links if you want to take advantage of this offer – believe me, you won’t regret it.

The Lost Sentinel

The Sentinel’s Reign

The Sentinel’s Alliance

BLURB:

As the island of Kalaya and its people recover from civil war, a new threat surfaces. Invaders from the island of Elkena hunt the seas, butchering those who possess magic. Their scar-faced captain seeks the Fire Mage who it has been foretold will kill him and Tei and her people are in his warpath.

Tei and a band of Kalayans travel to Stone Haven, the home of their new allies, planning to restore magic to the dead island. But the Stone Haven Council have abhorred magic since their people were massacred by Elkenan invaders twenty years before. Commander Farrell must persuade his people to accept magic again, but his plans expose them to their biggest fear and he risks leading Tei and her people into danger, and jeopardising the safety of both their islands.

Under Farrell’s guidance treaties are forged, but is the newly formed Silent Sea Alliance enough to defeat the invaders and stop their bloodthirsty quest to destroy magic forever?

The Sentinels Alliance ebook complete

REVIEW:

As I mentioned in my review of The Sentinel’s Reign, as that book drew to a close it felt as though the series had reached it’s conclusion, until the final revelation of the book. I must admit that, at that time, as happy as I was to have another Silent Seas book to read, I wasn’t too sure about suddenly adding in the inhabitants of a new island that we really didn’t know too much about until that point. However, it didn’t take me long to realise that, although a resolution might have been reached for the Kalayans in The Sentinel’s Reign, the same could not be said for the people of Stone Haven, and it only felt right that they should have their chance too.

Although Kalaya still sees its fair share of the action in this book, I adored sailing the Silent Sea, spending more time with the people of Stone Haven better, and catching glimpses of the inhabitants of the other islands that populate the Sea. Even better, my two favourite characters were major players in this book, and I loved seeing them grow into the parts they would play in the Alliance. Once again, amongst her beautifully crafted world, Suzanne Rogerson has created a story that kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish, and I couldn’t read the book fast enough to answer all the questions forming in my mind, as I was so desperate to find the answers.

As I was reading the Silent Sea Chronicles, I was at times put in mind of Emma Miles’ Firewalker Series, which I love, and which I know a few of you will have read. If you enjoyed that series, this one is a must read for you.

Although this book felt like a fitting end to the book, I reached the last page with a heavy heart, as I was reluctant to leave the people of the Silent Sea. However, having read Suzanne’s note at the end of the book, I have reason to hope that perhaps I will be able to return there one day!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

BookBub

Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Book Review

Wunderkids: Wakefield Manor – Jacqueline Sylvester

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

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

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

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PURCHASE LINKS:

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

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

 

Book Review

The Sentinel’s Reign – Suzanne Rogerson

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

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

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

The Sentinel's Reign ebook complete

PURCHASE LINK:

Purchase here

REVIEW:

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author photo 2018 (2)

Suzanne lives in Middlesex, England with her hugely encouraging husband and two children.

She wrote her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream – even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.

Suzanne loves gardening and has a Hebe (shrub) fetish. She enjoys cooking with ingredients from the garden, and regularly feeds unsuspecting guests vegetable-based cakes.

She collects books, loves going for walks and picnics with the children and sharing with them her love of nature and photography.

Suzanne is interested in history and enjoys wandering around castles. But most of all she likes to escape with a great film, or soak in a hot bubble bath with an ice cream and a book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub

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

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