Book Review

Tooth & Blade – Julian Barr

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the historical fantasy series, Tooth & Blade, by Julian Barr. Many thanks to Julian, 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:

Parts 1-3 of the legendary TOOTH AND BLADE series together for the first time!

Two worlds. One destiny.

Dóta has dwelled sixteen years among the trolls. She knows nothing but the darkness of her family’s cave. Her mother says humans are beasts who would slay them all. Yet the gods of Asgard whisper in the night: Dóta is a child of men, a monster unto monsters.

To discover her human side, Dóta must take up her bone knife and step into the light above. Secrets await her in the human realm—beauty, terror, the love of a princess.

Soon Dóta must choose between her clan and humankind, or both worlds will be devoured in fire and war.

A monster sheds no tears.

Norse mythology meets historical fantasy in TOOTH AND BLADE. Step into a realm of haunted meres, iron and magic.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

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REVIEW:

Originally published as three separate novellas, the fact that I found myself in possession of all three in the one book made me a very happy book blogger because it meant there was no frantic scramble to find the next book as I reached the end of each novella. Whilst it was the lure of Norse mythology that drew me to this book, it was the author’s exacting attention to detail that kept me reading. Dóta’s discovery of the world outside her cave is almost childlike in nature, filled with little touches of things that Dóta would not have known how to do – simple things such as dressing herself and eating with a spoon, that it would never have occurred to me to include added a wonderful realistic quality to the story, and made her a joy to get to know.

I loved that each character went through their own journey as the story unfolded. Although it was largely Dóta’s story, no character was neglected or left on the sidelines, and each captured my interest in a different way. Even Modor, who as Grethor’s mother I realistically expected to be as much as a monster as he was, deep down I wanted to discover that she loved Dóta, and that she was good. I swung back and forth on this a few times, and I will leave you to discover her story for yourselves.

Throughout the book, there is a brutality to the way the characters’ lives are led, almost as though bloodshed and death are expected, almost run of the mill, but at the same time there is a depth of emotion that took me somewhat by surprise.

Although there are nods to Norse mythology throughout, the world of Tooth & Blade is very much of Julian Barr’s own creation. I am very much looking forward to discovering his other work.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Julian Barr author photoJulian Barr first fell in love with all things ancient and magical in childhood, when he staged his own version of I, Claudius using sock puppets. After his PhD in Classics, he did a brief stint as a schoolteacher, hated being called ‘sir,’ and dived into storytelling. Although he remains open to the possibilities of sock puppet theatre, historical fantasy is his passion. He has published scholarly research on Roman medicine and the gastronomic habits of Centaurs, but prefers to think of himself as an itinerant bard. He is also the author of the Ashes of Olympus trilogy.

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Book Review

Esme’s Wish – Elizabeth Foster

Today I am joining the blog tour for Esme’s Wish, the Middle Grade/YA magical realism book by Elizabeth Foster. Many thanks to Elizabeth, 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:

A warm-hearted, whimsical fantasy tale, with lashings of mystery, magic, and mythology, and prose that ‘flows like water.’ Prepare to fall in love with Esperance! 

 When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?
 
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
 
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

“A fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, New York Times best selling author of Nim’s Island.

 This inventive tale, the first in an MG-to-YA series, is an ideal read for 10-14 year olds.

Esme’s Wish recently won first place in the fantasy category of the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, which recognises excellence in children’s literature.

Esme's Wish cover[2]

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Mythical creatures, magical powers, a search for a lost love one and a mission to save a strange world – these are all the things that, in my opinion, are vital for a good fantasy adventure, and Esme’s Wish has these by the bucket load.

From page one, I was drawn to Esme and the pain she was feeling watching her father remarry. Even though I am fortunate in the fact that this is not something I have experienced, I believe this is something that will resonate with a lot of young readers. Add to this Esme’s isolation, both physical and emotional, and you have a heroine who it is impossible not to fall for. Whilst the lighthouse keeper’s cottage sounds like my idea of heaven, I can imaging that as a teenager I would have found it very lonely.

Elizabeth Foster’s description of the remote point where Esme lived, and the deserted island of Spindrift are so atmospheric that as I was reading about them, I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather visit – that is, until I encountered Esperance. Even though it has it’s troubles, the community was so warm and welcoming, and the town itself so full of wonder, it made me wish this was somewhere I could visit myself. It was just everything that had been missing from Esme’s life since her mother’s disappearance, and it really warmed the heart.

The adventure and mystery that unfolded throughout the book was perfectly paced to keep you reading, but still have time to appreciate all the new sights and sounds, and enjoy the discovery of new creatures. The different levels of adventure and exploration mean this is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Personally I can’t wait to visit Esperance again in the next book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A-Elizabeth Foster Hi Res 06 (1)I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

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*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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Book Review

The Word-Keeper -Veronica Del Valle

It’s my stop on the blog tour for the charming book, The Word-Keeper by Veronica Del Valle today. Many thanks to Veronica 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:

What would happen if words disappeared forever?

Set in a whimsical town called Inkwell, a place with an ancient secret history, this fairytale-like adventure will uncover the key to the power hidden within words.

The Word-Keeper is a tale about a savvy bookmark named Ben that unwillingly becomes an evil imp with only one objective: follow the orders of his master and destroy the words that live inside books.

Only one girl can stop him. Her name is Florence Ibbot. She is eleven years old, oddly eloquent and a quiet observer of the world. But above all, Florence is a keen logophile and is willing to sacrifice everything to protect the words.

She sets out to discover who is behind all this. The journey will take her to the origins of writing and inspiration. But she’ll also have to face the most treacherous adversary, Zyler, a ruthless sorceress whose sole mission is to ruin one of humankind’s most precious possessions: the gift of language.

As the final battle approaches, Florence will have to learn how to wield words instead of the sword. Is Florence brave enough to become who she was born to be?

The Word-Keeper Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Although The Word-Keeper is aimed at readers from the pre-teen market, there are important messages for all ages, from the consideration of the words we use, and the good or harm they can do, through to the way that Florence herself deals with her bullies at school. In light of the times we find ourselves in, this book felt incredibly relevant, and should be on all school reading lists to help children understand the power of the language they use.

The language of this book was so wonderful and just flowed off the page. In my mind I could just picture readers of Florence’s age reaching for their own dictionary to discover the meanings behind the beautiful words used. It is almost as though the author has selected the most beautiful words, and the most fun words to say, and used as many of them as possible so that when they start to vanish it comes as a hammer blow as you have so recently been reminded of the wonder of the human language.

Florence is a wonderful, quirky little character, but it was Ben the bookmark who stole my heart. I loved his interaction with the bookworms, and his chats with the words in the book each night, each of whom had a personality to match their own meaning. As for Grandpa Davey, he really is the grandfather that every child should have, and Inkwell is the town where all book lovers should live.

The book is littered with illustrations that made me wish I was reading the book in hard copy, rather than on my Kindle, so that I could examine them in closer detail.

Veronica Del Valle’s love of language is obvious in every page of this book, and I would urge people of all ages to read it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The word keeper author imageVeronica Del Valle grew up in Argentina, but life eventually led her to live in London, the city that was her home for many years.

Veronica’s always had a fondness for words, language and the magic of storytelling. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.

Veronica currently lives in Buenos Aires with her husband, Ale, and her daughter, Tomiko. She teaches creative writing at Universidad de San Andres and is a contributing editor and writer for one of Argentina’s leading news organizations.

When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s either a) meditating or b) enjoying life with her family (which, in a way, is another beautiful way to meditate).

The Word Keeper is the first novel she’s written.

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Book Review

The Night Country – Melissa Albert

Today I am review The Night Country by Melissa Albert. My thanks to Melissa, and to Penguin Random House, for providing me with a copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Alice has fought hard for a normal life. Having escaped the Hinterland – the strange, pitch-dark fairy tale world she was born into – she has washed up in New York City, determined to build a new future for herself.

But when her fellow survivors start being brutally murdered, Alice must face the fact that the Hinterland cannot be so easily escaped, and that, from the shadows of her past, something – or someone – is coming for her . . .

THE HIGHLY ANTICIPATED SEQUEL TO INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING NOVEL THE HAZEL WOOD

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REVIEW:

I hadn’t realised just how much The Hazel Wood had stayed with me until I picked up The Night Country and was instantly sucked back in. All the sinister feelings The Hazel Wood had generated came flooding back before anything had even happened. The Stories that resided in the Hinterland were terrifying enough when they stayed where the belonged, but to discover that the very worst of the ex-Stories had followed Alice back to the human realm was a truly horrifying thought.

I enjoyed the “whodunit” element to Alice’s story – this is something that you don’t often see in YA fantasy, and it added an unusual twist. It was Finch’s story that I truly loved in this book though. The telling of it had an almost fairy tale style to it, and even as the Hinterland unravelled around him, it retained a certain innocence that wasn’t present in Alice’s dark and twisty life. The mirrored styles of each of their stories enhanced each other and balanced the book beautifully. Everything around Finch’s adventures, from using books as doors to other worlds, to the way he communicates with Alice was just filled with wonder.

As the story built towards its climax, my heart was in my throat as I couldn’t see any way there was going to be the happy ending I longed for. Did I get my happily ever after, or did they all die in the end? You’ll just have to read it to find out.

The Night Country really is a satisfying sequel to a book that made my Top Ten of books I read in 2019, and I have a suspicion that it could be making its own appearance in this years Top Ten.

Book Review

Empire’s Hostage – Marian L Thorpe

Today marks the return of Marian L Thorpe, with Empire’s Hostage, book two in her Empire’s Legacy series. Many thanks to Marian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. You can read my review of Empire’s Daughter, book one in the trilogy here.

BLURB:

For fifteen months, the Empire and the northern people have been at war, but a truce is finally at hand. As part of this treaty, Lena, now a Guardswoman on the Wall, is asked to stand as a hostage, to go north to live and learn among the people of Linrathe. But not everyone there will welcome her. As Lena learns more of the history of both her land and the north, a new threat emerges, one that will test her loyalty to its limits, and in the end, demand a price she could not have envisioned.

PURCHASE LINKS:

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Hostage ebook cover

REVIEW:

As Lena’s adventures take her north of the Wall, as a hostage to the people of Linrathe, Empire’s Hostage becomes a voyage of discovery through the history of the Empire, Linrathe and beyond. Whilst this could easily have become a dry information dump, Marian Thorpe weaves the story in such a way that instead it becomes a fascinating history lesson. I loved learning the customs of people of Linrathe and uncovering the secrets of the Eastern Empire. Lena’s dramatic learning curve that began in Empire’s Daughter continues, and it feels like you are riding right along with her. I enjoyed the little touches that I recognised from our own history, such as the song about the rash caused by the Eastern Fever, and the Celtic and Scandinavian influences on the ways and language of the people of Linrathe and Marai respectively. The whole book just made my inner historian dance with glee.

I warmed instantly to the students and teachers of the Ti’ach na Perras, so welcoming to their hostage. It felt like a safe, restful place to be, a stark contrast to the conflict of Empire’s Daughter, and the drama that Lena was yet to face.

Empire’s Hostage is a beautifully crafted book, easing you gently along as it lulls you into a false sense of security before reaching it’s dramatic climax.

Empire’s Hostage has left me eager to find out more about the mysterious Eastern Empire and the fever that led to it being lost to history, and I can’t wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Empires Hostage AuthorNot content with two careers as a research scientist and an educator, Marian L Thorpe decided to go back to what she’d always wanted to do and be a writer. Author of the alternative world medieval trilogy Empire’s Legacy, Marian also has published short stories and poetry. Her life-long interest in Roman and post-Roman European history informs her novels, while her avocations of landscape archaeology and birding provide background to her settings.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a Paperback copy of Empire’s Legacy, the complete trilogy (Open Internationally)

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*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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Blog

The Breaking – K.S. Marsden

Today I am excited to share with you the cover for The Breaking by K.S. Marsden, book three in the Northern Witch series. The cover is coming up soon, but first, here are all the details.

BLURB:

Mark thought being a witch would be easy, but it has ruined everything.

Now, he has to fight for his friends and the guy that he loves.

Which would be challenging enough, without school being a living nightmare; more demons than he can handle; and witches that have strayed from the light.

If that has got your attention, read on, because here comes the cover…

breaking

If you think this book sounds and looks great, you can pre-order your copy here:

Amazon US

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Publication Date: 20th March

 And if you haven’t already discovered this series Winter Trials (Northern Witch #1) is currently available for free here

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

author 500x500Kelly S. Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life – books and horses.

Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

She writes Fantasy stories part-time. Her first book, The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter #1), was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt.

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Book Review

Legacy of Light – CD Tavenor

Today I join the blog tour for the fantasy novel Legacy of Light by CD Tavenor. Many thanks to the author, and to Rachel Gilbey 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:

If only they knew us as more than accursed.

The Holy Empire hates the People of Light. Maripes, arriving in its capital, seeks to save his people from certain destruction. The Inquisition seeks theocratic justice, and it will stop at nothing to rid the world of those it considers evil.

Still, Maripes must try. For if he fails, doom will certainly befall his people. Standing in his way? The High Inquisitor, the Empress, and a million subjects all indoctrinated to believe he is evil incarnate.

Should be an easy task.

Otherwise, his son Mono, a soldier in the legions of their people, will face the fight of his life . . .

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PURCHASE LINKS:

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REVIEW:

I’ll let you into a secret – when I first signed up to join the blog tour for Legacy of Light, I hadn’t realised how short it was. I am used to epic fantasy novels of four or five hundred pages, and I will admit that when I saw the page count for this book, I was a little dubious. I mean, how could the depth of world building and character development that I so love about the fantasy genre be squeezed into such a small package? Well, I don’t know how, but C.D. Tavenor has managed to do just that.

Despite its diminutive size in comparison to other books in the genre, Legacy of Light tells the story of three generations of one family in such a way that I was instantly invested in each of the characters, and felt that I was right there with them as they fought for their very survival. Tavenor’s descriptions of the landscape and towns the characters inhabit was so vivid that I found myself completely absorbed in the world.

Honestly, as a writer, I am a little in awe of what C.D. Tavenor has created in this book. We have three strong characters, each of whom could easily have held my attention for an entire novel, living in a complex world, which again would have captivated me for an entire trilogy, all packed into one relatively short book, and yet it doesn’t feel like anything is missing, and nothing is rushed or skimmed over. That, to me, is a real skill.

They say great things come in small packages, and that is certainly true of Legacy of Light. If you are a novice fantasy reader, or want to give it a try but have always found the enormous texts a bit daunting, this is the perfect book to introduce you to what, in my opinion, is a wonderful genre for pure escapism.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Author PhotoC.D. Tavenor is a science fiction and fantasy author based in Columbus, Ohio and the Director of Editorial Services for Two Doctors Media Collaborative!

He’s excited to tell stories that engage readers beyond a desire for entertainment, whether through philosophical inspiration or social inquiry. And he’s a firm believer in connecting every piece of fiction to reality, whether through their themes or their settings.

When not writing, Tavenor enjoys the more than occasional board game, his favorite being Eclipse.

To stay in touch and receive some great free books, go here: https://mailchi.mp/a6b48c582759/welcome-to-two-doctors-media-collaborative

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