Book Review

The Age of Akra – Vacen Taylor

Today’s offering is The Age of Akra, book one in the Starchild series, a Middle Grade fantasy series by Vacen Taylor. Many thanks to Vacen, 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:

The foreshadowing of a dark future threatens the seven nations. Mai is selected to train with the mysterious elemental master Sah Dohba who will prepare her to become the protector of the desert lands. Her brother Long, steps forward to travel with her as her chaperone to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts.

A chance encounter brings them together with Akra, the Starchild. The trio travels on into a battle with the elements. Sandstorms. Deadly creatures. Starvation. Then a chance meeting with a powerful earthfollower, sets them on a new path where they must each find the strength to face a terrifying foe from the Underworld.

The Age of Akra Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Odyssey Books

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

Aside from the fact I find fantasy books hard to resist, I was also initially drawn to this one because of the main character’s name. I mean, how could I resist?

The Age of Akra is the first book in the exciting Starchild series. Featuring a perilous journey full of the threat of dangerous creatures, this book is action packed and fast paced. The hazards they face are dark and challenging enough to keep older readers gripped by the story, but not so dark that they will scare younger readers.

I loved Mai and her determined attitude to do the right thing, no matter the risk or the delay it would cause to her pilgrimage. Reluctant hero Long adds an element of humour to the book, and he actually turned out to be my favourite character.

The varying abilities of the different nations give so much scope for Mai and her friends to meet new people along their route, and I am excited to see who they meet next.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Vacen Passport Size 2

Vacen Taylor is a children’s author with a portfolio of screenwriting and stage play achievements. A selection of her poetry has been published in Art and Literature Journals. One of her plays was selected to be part of the Playwrights Program 2017 and then directed and performed as a performance reading at HOTA (previously the Gold Coast Arts Centre).

Her feature film script received a special commendation for Best Unproduced Screenplay titled Grandfathers at the British Independent Film Festival in 2018. The logline can be found under Special Commendations for Unproduced Screenplays here.

Her TV pilot for a series (teleplay) was selected as a semi-finalist in the Hollywood Just4Shorts Film and Screenplay Competition in Los Angeles, CA. This pilot was listed in the top 50 for the Cinequest Screenwriting Competition in 2018.

She presented the first mental health panel at OZ Comic-Con in 2017. This panel was a fantastic opportunity to discuss openly and honestly about artists and their mental health to help support wellbeing, foster connectivity and provide a culture of support.

In 2018 she presented the panel, ‘An artist’s guide to creative happiness: How to strengthen your creative performance’ at Oz Comic-Con in Brisbane. Her panels are extraordinary opportunities to explore ideas with people who are currently working in the industry. She aims to discuss subjects like individualism, the community, mental health, wellbeing, happiness, creativity, co-creating and self-awareness which often leads to interesting questions from the audience.

What else does she do? Vacen is also a creative workshop facilitator and proficient in, teaching, speaking and concept creation. Guest Speaker. Workshop Presenter. Creative Panel Facilitator. Mentor. Support Worker. Counsellor. Social Welfare Advocate.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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GIVEAWAY:

Giveaway to Win all 4 books of the Starchild Series by Vacen Taylor (Open INT)

Starchild - Giveaway Prize

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

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Book Review

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.

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 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 Pale – Clare Rhoden

It’s part one in a trio of reviews coming your way over the next few days, with The Pale, book one in the Chronicles of the Pale trilogy by Clare Rhoden. 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 Outside can be a dangerous place.

But so can the inside.

It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.

However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.

As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.

What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?

You can order your copy of The Pale here.

ThePale_Cover

REVIEW:

The Pale is the first book in what promises to be an excellent sci-fi/fantasy series. A large part of part one of the book is dedicated to familiarising the reader with the environment and it’s inhabitants, and although this means it is a bit of a slow starter, the number of different species and the way they live means that such intricate world building is essential to give a broad enough understanding of the post-Conflagration existence. Sometimes it is tempting to rush straight into the action of a story, but I find that more often than not this just leaves me with more questions, and I am so glad that Clare Rhoden took the time to introduce us gently to her world, and did so in exquisite detail. For a world so far removed from our current one, I found I could picture each character and habitat perfectly.

By part two, I found that I was completely invested in the characters and had become really attached to a few of them. I found that I was particularly drawn to the canini, and the sacrifices they had to make broke my heart. I also grew fond of Kilimanjara and Feather of the Storm, and I enjoyed their family dynamic.

This definitely strikes me as a series that needs to be read back to back – certainly by the time I had reached the end of The Pale, I was very glad that I had Broad Plain Darkening already lined up to read. More on that in a couple of days though…

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:

Giveaway to 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 dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Don’t forget to come back on my other dates on the tour to find out what happens next, and make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in this epic tour!

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Book Review

Birth of the Mortokai – D.G. Palmer

Happy publication day to D.G. Palmer and Birth of the Mortokai. Many thanks to you and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s festivities and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Daniel Welsh was born different—and to Daniel, to be different means to be alone. But what if he’s wrong?

Born an albino with a photographic memory, Daniel Welsh never expected to fit in. Yet, when he is approached by Trinity—a young girl who definitely isn’t human—she reveals a whole new world where he might just belong. Ariest is a place where his features aren’t a disability or the mark of a freak, but rather a trait of powerful mages born of human-faerie unions. His father is a renowned war hero and swordsman, his mother is a human doctor, and that makes him a powerful mage that’ll tip the scales. Magic is real—and so is the threat it brings.

Trinity and her father, a battle mage, aren’t the only ones to have discovered Daniel and his gifts hidden in the human realm.

The Shade have awakened.

Enemies to the fae realm long thought dead have been lying in wait for their moment to strike. Young mages like Daniel are the perfect morsel for their starving appetites and they start their killing spree without delay with the nearest unsuspecting mage boy. Daniel cannot sit idly by while monsters take innocent lives, so he will embrace a destiny he is only just beginning to understand… even if it means losing a life that’s finally worth living.

Birth of the Mortokai is a young adult coming of age fantasy adventure novel. Trigger warning: this novel contains descriptions of albinism, a real genetic disorder that affects 1/17,000 persons worldwide per year.

Birth_of_The_Mortokai

PURCHASE LINKS:

Kobo

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

In Birth of the Mortokai, D.G. Palmer has created a book that flows so beautifully that the stresses and strains of the real world simply melt away as you are completely absorbed by the new world that Daniel finds himself in. Just as Daniel was able to leave behind the upsets of his Earth realm life, I found that my problems were totally forgotten for the few hours in which I was reading this book. Obviously all books act as a form of escapism, but it takes something special for me to shut out the real world as thoroughly as I did with this one.

In some ways, stepping off the train in Ariest felt like coming home, my love of fantasy and folklore meaning I was already familiar with some of the fae that Daniel meets – Selkie, Kelpie and Kitsune to name a few. As well as these familiar faces, I loved meeting fae that I hadn’t come across before, the Bellowers and the Undine (and hopefully more to come in the future because I am really hoping there is going to be a sequel to this book soon). Arriving in Ariest just in time for Beltane, I felt almost as swept away by the festivities as Daniel did – I could practically hear the music and smell the food.

The blossoming relationship between Daniel and Trinity was incredibly touching, two people who have struggled to make connections throughout their existence finally finding each other. As their little band of potential friends and comrades grew it was interesting to see subtle changes to the dynamics and their personalities.

The villains of the piece, the essence-draining Shade were suitably sinister, and the appearance of one at the Beltane festival left me with questions that I hope I won’t have to wait too long to get answers for. How have they managed to hide in Ariest since their defeat? Has someone unleashed them? Have they been coming and going through the doors in Fungal’s castle? I will be on tenterhooks until I find out!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Currently residing in London, England, D.G. Palmer writes in the Spec Fiction genre, using his imagination to create vivid worlds and captivating characters.

An avid reader and player of video games, in the past, he was part of table top roleplaying groups where he nurtured his storytelling by penning several story arcs.

Feel free to follow him on Facebook, Goodreads and Instagram. If you wish to receive updates about his latest books, event dates and other exclusive news, sign up to The World of D.G. Palmer and enter his mind. He warns it can be a mess sometimes, so make sure you wipe your feet on the way out – you never know what you might take with you.

 

Book Review

Second Skin – Sue Bentley

Having read, and loved, Sue Bentley’s previous novel, We Other, earlier this year, I leapt at the chance to take part in the blog tour for her latest book, Second Skin, the first Bridge of Fire Novel. Many thanks to Sue, and Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, for inviting me to take part and for providing me with a copy of the book.

Second Skin Cover

BLURB:

The moon was being devoured.

Estranged from birth and raised on tales of the great mountain castle of Idrith-Core, where her distant father serves as Lord Commander and confidante of the King, Aledra Jewel-Wing was now going there to court.

As one of the Drakkoni, a race of powerful shape-shifters and conquerors of a wild land, she joins her stepmother at the festival for all peoples. But when in attempting to save a life, Aledra shifts into her Drakkoni Secondskin – her beautiful second soul: a giant flighted lizard with flaming breath – she breaks an ancient oath, and the tremulous peace between the Drakkoni and Esrans is shattered.

Branded a fugitive, hunted by her father, and aided in escape by the master-mancer who raised her, Aledra begins a journey for survival across a war-torn continent.

REVIEW:

Having long been a fan of shapeshifting characters in all manner of books, I thought I knew what to expect, but in the Drakkoni, Sue Bentley has created a far more complex race than your average shifter. She weaves a rich tapestry throughout Second Skin, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the world that she has created, giving a full and detailed understanding of clan rivalries and bitter grudges.

Alongside many endearing characters, including one who I hope you will love as much as I do (let me know your thoughts on who this might be), the villains of the piece seem completely bereft of redeeming features making it possible to take a real pleasure in any bad luck that falls their way. As much as I enjoy a bad guy that you love to hate, and sometimes even just love, I am also partial to the occasional character that you can just seriously dislike!

Although this book is something of a slow burner, it is well worth sticking with as the drama intensifies steadily throughout. It is a great introduction to a new world and I look forward to returning to these characters for the sequel.

You can order your copy of Second Skin here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sue Bentley Author Pic

Sue lives in a house surrounded by a wildlife hedge so she can pretend she lives in the countryside. She enjoys reading, walking, cinema, researching her books, and painting and printmaking, when she’s not writing – which isn’t very often!

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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