Book Review

Esme’s Gift – Elizabeth Foster

I am returning to Aeolia as I join the blog tour for Esme’s Gift, book two in Elizabeth Foster’s Middle Grade Fantasy series. Many thanks to Elizabeth, 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. If you haven’t read book one, Esme’s Wish, yet, I recommend reading that before you read any further down this post, as there are unavoidable spoilers for it coming up.

BLURB:

Terror was within. Terror was without.
Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends—old and new—travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is a gripping fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Fans of Harry Potter will love this book for its similar themes. The genuine friendship of the characters make this book a satisfying read, and hints at a healthy romance in the next book. The conclusion of the trilogy will be greatly anticipated! Sorcha, Goodreads

From dragons diving into volcanoes, Esme and her friends portalling out of art class and deep underwater adventures, Esme’s Gift is quite simply a thrilling and exciting read. Jean, Goodreads

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Having enjoyed Esme’s Wish earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading the sequel and getting to know the wonderful world of Aeolia better. The city of Esperance always makes makes me think of Venice and the magical feeling I remember from my visit there – just with fewer tourists, and in Esperance the magic is real.

In Esme’s Gift, we see Esme settling into life in Esperance and starting lessons at Pierpont College. As much as I love Daniel and Lillian, it was great to see Esme making more friends, and interesting to read about her less friendly interactions with some of her fellow students. Watching the students come into their sometimes tricky to control Gifts was very entertaining too. Not least of these unpredictable Gifts is Esme’s, as she races against time to get hold of it before it is too late to save Ariane.

Esme’s Gift is full of drama and action as Esme uncovers more secrets and betrayals on both sides of the portal to Aeolia. Elizabeth Foster has expanded her world beautifully and created so much intrigue that I am left impatiently awaiting 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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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

Esme's Wish cover[2]

*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

Josie James & The Velvet Knife – Lily Mae Walters

It’s time to return to Suncroft for my second review of the day, Josie James & The Velvet Knife by Lily May Walters. My thanks to Lily Mae and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of today’s blog blitz, and for providing me with a copy of both this book, and The Teardrops of Summer.

BLURB:

“For you to find the Velvet Knife, you must solve the riddles thrice.” A mysterious hooded figure, known only as the Velvet Knife has appeared in the cursed village of Suncroft. No one knows who he is or what he wants but when he starts leaving riddles around the village, it is time for Josie to return to Suncroft for a second time.

With Asher, her faithful husky Protector by her side, Filan, a half elf, and her great grandad, will they be able to solve the clues in time and discover his identity? The Velvet Knife is not the only one causing problems for Josie. Her rival for the position of the ‘Chosen One’ continues to grow stronger, and now he has a Protector of his own.

What does all this mean for Josie? Is she destined to lift the wintery curse of Suncroft or will another take her place as the ‘Chosen One’?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

The Velvet Knife sees the return of Josie to her great-grandmother’s beautiful cottage for a few weeks of the summer holidays. Although this is book two of the series, Lily Mae Walters has created a clever way of recapping enough of book one for this to work as a standalone, as Josie slowly recovers her hidden memories of the previous summer.

Whilst the mysterious Velvet Knife seems to present a new threat to the harmonious lives of the Suncroft villagers, the strange curse of eternal winter still engulfs the village, with the mystery of Josie’s true identity, and Asher’s purpose as her Protector, continuing throughout the book.

Conclusions I had reached during The Teardrops of Summer were turned on their heads in this book, as characters I thought could be trusted turned out to maybe have another side. Other characters , such as the Dream Maker, who I had distrusted at first sight, just became more sinister the more I read.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel as we delved more deeply into the secrets of Suncroft, and started to see more ways that Josie’s life as The Chosen One was starting to leak into her other life as an ordinary teenager. I am very much looking forward to reading the next book and I am hoping I won’t have to wait too long!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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Book Review

Josie James & The Teardrops of Summer – Lily Mae Walters

In the first of a double bill of reviews today, here are my thoughts on Josie James & The Teardrops of Summer, the first book in the Josie James series by Lily Mae Walters.

BLURB:

Josie James is an ordinary 13 year old until something extraordinary happens during her summer holidays.Whilst staying at her Great Grandmother’s cottage in the country she finds herself swept into the cursed world of Suncroft where it is perpetual winter.Her new friends believe she could be the Chosen One who it is foretold will lift the curse, but there are more pressing matters.The Teardrops of Summer – magical crystals that render the owner immortal – have been stolen. Along with her telepathic husky-dog Protector Asher and her new friends, Josie must race to find the Teardrops and prevent catastrophe for their world.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

As I read this book, with Josie’s idyllic life and her great-grandmother’s quintessential English country cottage with it’s hidden gate, I was swept away on a wave of nostalgia. This book evokes similar feelings that I remember from reading The Chronicles of Narnia and The Secret Garden as a child. There is just something so magical about it, even before Josie finds her way to Suncroft.

Despite their situation, living in a world of endless winter, and perpetual night, the people of Suncroft seem much more content with their lives than those of us in the real world. The simple lives they lead away from the stresses and strains of modern life and technology felt deeply appealing as I read this book during the current pandemic situation. Everything about Suncroft was the perfect escape that I needed.

Lily Mae Walters has created a fascinating world, so full of secrets and mystery just waiting to be uncovered, and much the same as Harry Potter, I can see the readers of this series growing up with Josie as they rejoin her adventures each summer.

Oh by the way, you are going to want to make sure you already have book two ready to read as soon as you finish this one, because the way it ends will leave you desperate to know more!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also stare in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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Pop back later today when I will be reviewing book two in this fab series, Josie James and The Velvet Knife.

Book Review

Magical Intelligence – M.K. Wiseman

Today I am joining the blog tour for Magical Intelligence by M.K. Wiseman. Many thanks to M.K. for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

When you are a member of Britain’s first team of wizard spies, every mission might be your last. But as the dawning of the 20th century draws ever nearer, magic grows weak. Violectric Dampening, the clash of man-made electricity with the Gifts of magekind, threatens M.I.’s existence. And if that isn’t enough, they’ve now been discharged from their own government. Obsolete. Distrusted.

And now hunted by one of their own.

Myra Wetherby has always feared her so-called fits, strange visions of people and places that she cannot explain. It is the emotional manipulation, however, a strange empathic connection to those around her, which threatens her very sanity. A danger to her family, Myra runs away, falling straight into the hands of the newly ousted Magical Intelligence team. Who just so happen to need an ability like hers.

Which makes Myra one of them . . . whether she likes it or not.

MagicalIntel_FrontCover copy

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Magical Intelligence

REVIEW:

Magical Intelligence is a bit of a tricky book for me to review. When I read the blurb I think I saw the words “wizards” and “magic” and completely bypassed the fact that this was largely a spy novel. Unfortunately, this is a genre that I struggle with, mainly because it completely baffles me and I spend big chunks of the book not having the faintest clue what is going on. That said, this book had the feel of the classic espionage tale, and reminded me of some of the recognised greats in the genre that I have tried to read in the past. If this is a genre that you enjoy I think you will love this book.

Setting my own genre issues aside, I loved the characters in this book, and found each of their personal stories utterly intriguing. I instantly fell for the charming Aidan, but felt equally drawn to mysterious Benjamin too. It was easy to understand Myra’s confusion over the pair.

The magic system that M.K. Wiseman has created is well thought out and original, and I particularly liked the concept that the onset of the modern world would have an adverse effect on the strength of magekind’s powers.

Even though I struggled with the spy side of things, the characters and the magic are more than enough to make me want to read any future books that should come from this universe.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

M K Wiseman - promo photo 300 square copy

M. K. Wiseman has degrees in animation/video and library science – both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, her office is a clutter of storyboards and half-catalogued collections of too, too many books. (But, really, is there such a thing as too many books?) When she’s not mucking about with stories, she’s off playing brač or lying in a hammock in the backyard of her Cedarburg home that she shares with her endlessly patient husband.

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Book Review

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable – Lily Mae Walters

I am delighted to be joining the blog blitz for Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable: Charlie Makes a Discovery, the first book in a great Middle Grade Fantasy series by Lily Mae Walters today. Many thanks to Lily Mae for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour.

BLURB:

It’s Charlie’s first day at high school, his blazer is too big and his shoes are too small, but that’s the least of his worries. He’s been missed off the class lists and is now enrolled in a new school called Brittle’s Academy with a magical and mysterious head teacher. But to stay at Brittle’s Charlie must pass one of the tests…otherwise he’ll be sent to Oblivion!

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Cover

REVIEW:

The instant I saw the cover for Brittle’s Academy, I was swept back to my first visit to the Harry Potter studios in Watford, standing in front of the magnificent doors to the Great Hall at Hogwarts. I knew that if Brittle’s Academy was even half as magical, then it was a book not to be missed.

In Charlie Makes A Discovery, Lily Mae Walters perfectly captures the nerves that I can still remember of the first day at secondary school, not knowing your way around, or if you will be in the same class as your friends. Add to that the fact that your name doesn’t appear on any of the class lists at all, and it suddenly becomes a very daunting prospect indeed – especially when you then find yourself swept away to an entirely different school to the one you were expecting to attend!

This book presents an excellent introduction to the magic system of Brittle’s Academy, as the newest pupils meet the oddball collection of teachers at the school and begin to learn about their own abilities. The tests that the students have to undertake in order to be assigned their house were intriguing and left me wondering how I would have fared, and which house I would have ended up in. I am thoroughly looking forward to getting to know each of the pupils and teachers in the future books in the series.

Brittle’s Academy for the Magically Unstable is filled with chucklesome moments, and is a quick, fun reads for adults as well as children. It is the perfect escape from the boredom of our current isolation situation (and a break from the stresses of home schooling!).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lily Mae Walters chose her pen name in honour of her beloved grandparents who also star in the Josie James series.

She is married with two teenage children, and two huskies that are the inspiration behind Murphy and Asher in the books.

Lily Mae lives in Nuneaton, England and finds herself using local  places and even her old school in her stories.

Family and friends mean the world to Lily Mae and many will find themselves popping up throughout the series.

Lily Mae also writes for adults under the name of Florence Keeling.

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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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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

*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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Guest Posts

Bell, Book & Candle – Jay Raven

Today I join the blog tour for Bell, Book & Candle, book one in the To Catch A Witch series, and I am thrilled to be hosting the author Jay Raven on my blog. The gothic horror and fantasy writer talks about the allure and potential pitfalls of using magic in books. I’ll tell you all about the book in a sec, but for now, over to Jay.

To Snare Jay Raven 5It’s a trap that too many writers fall into – especially fantasy writers.  We create plot holes that need to be glossed over, have events taking place so far apart geographically that it would take days, sometimes weeks, for our heroes to rush to the rescue, make our protagonist so outnumbered and overwhelmed that only a ridiculously convenient and implausible way of breaking free or turning the tables can resolve the jeopardy and save the day.

And we turn to that narrative band-aid – the get out of free card of story-telling – magic. The hero clicks a finger and summons his superpowers, his trusty sidekick mutters an ancient spell to open the impenetrable wall , the brave wizard points his staff and lightning bolts shoot out killing the orcs, giant eagles swoop down to carry the goodies aloft and transport them hundreds of miles, the wand suddenly shines an eerie light on the faint inscription containing the answer to the mystery.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I see this sort of thing in a film or read it in a book it makes me groan. It completely destroys my suspension of disbelief. It also makes me feel a bit cheated. Was the protagonist ever really in peril if she had the means of escape literally at her fingertips all along?

It’s made me very cynical about the use of magic in storytelling and means that when I include magic in any of my tales I desperately strive to make it as real and fallible as possible. I quiz myself to make sure that the necromancy is a vital component in the story and not just a lazy device for getting out of self-created plotting problems.

And it’s given me a personal take on all things magical – a philosophy that I (almost always) stick to.  There are two main threads to my approach – that magic must be limited, difficult to control and unpredictable and, more importantly, that it must be terrifying; something that any character would only consider under the most extreme of circumstances.

On the limitations of magic, I see it as a power that can only be employed in small doses and only by an incredibly knowledgeable few who have studied it for years – perhaps decades. There’s not a one-size-fits-all enchantment that can be used, but hundreds of very tricky hexes and spells that can only  conjured up in a precise and skilful way. Each spell has its own purpose – curing a singular ailment, warding off a specific threat, working as a love charm on a particular type of person.

Even with a talented practioner, there are no guarantees of success. There’s so much that can go wrong.

On the frightening prospect of using magic, there is no doubt in my mind. Magic is like nuclear power. It can bestow great benefits but comes with so many dangers. There is no white magic or black magic – only this primal force that is likely to inflict as much harm to those who invoke it as those it is aimed against.

Control is an illusion and there are always consequences to those who dabble – both physical and psychological. Necromancy ages humans before their time, enfeebles their bodies and can drive the unwary to madness. There is always a price to be paid.

In my To Snare A Witch historical horror series I’ll be examining all these chilling aspects. In part one: Bell, Book and Candle I’ve tried to show just how difficult it is for the heroine Elizabeth Fiennes to gather the ingredients it takes to put together the spell she needs to try to save her lover, and in the future instalments I’ll be highlighting the havoc magic brings to her life – no matter how well intended she is.

One thing is guaranteed, her future will be full of scares and surprises… 

To Snare A Witch EBOOK

Many thanks Jay. As a novice fantasy writer myself, this is great advice. Now, onto all the book info.

BLURB:

A Chilling historical tale of lust, sorcery and devastating revenge

No female dares spurn the lecherous advances of Sir Henry Cruttendon, 17th Century England’s most reviled nobleman. To do so risks a retribution that would terrify the Devil himself.

But Elizabeth Fiennes is no ordinary woman, blessed with stunning beauty,  intelligence and guile. Coming from an influential family, she believes she is safe.

What she doesn’t understand is that the Earl is determined to satisfy his lust and plans to use the wave of witch trials, fear and superstition  sweeping the countryside to force her into his clutches.

And as he springs his malicious trap it triggers a chain of unholy events plunging hunter and prey into a maelstrom of deceit, terror and depravity – leaving them both staring into the face of true evil…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at http://www.jayraven.co.uk

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Book Review

The Haunting at Paradise House – Killian Wolf

I have a little something to get you in the Halloween spirit today, with The Haunting at Paradise House by Killian Wolf. Many thanks to Killian, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

If you were given the chance to become a powerful sorceress, would you leave behind everything you thought you knew?

When Addison is offered the position of her dreams through a mysterious phone call, she rises to the occasion and moves to the Florida Keys to a mansion called Paradise House. Footsteps from playful ghosts, a room of killer dolls, and an all too intelligent owl lead her to the mysteries that lie within the walls, to reveal the true reason behind her invitation. When dark forces get a hold of her and her patient, Addison is left with no choice but to take extreme measures to protect the ones she loves. Will Addison be able to acquire the necessary skills fast enough in order to protect her patient, and defeat the evil entities that thrive in the mansion?

The Haunting at Paradise House eBook

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

TRAILERS:

Trailer 1

Trailer 2

REVIEW:

I don’t get on well with ghost stories, or anything too gruesome, but every Halloween I like to add something a little bit spooky to my reading list, and The Haunting at Paradise House seemed ideal. The good news is, apart from a room full of insanely creepy dolls, this is a book that could satisfy my need for something Halloween appropriate without giving me nightmares!

I instantly warmed to conflicted reaper Ambrose, and his unwilling sidekick Deacon. It’s funny because I don’t consider myself to be a morbid person, but I often find that when there is a “Death” character in a book, they quickly become my favourite. I really enjoyed the light relief that these characters provided in between the tenser scenes with hellhounds and the aforementioned creepy dolls (can you tell I don’t like dolls?). I was also particularly taken with Crowley the owl – I love owls, so when one pops up in a book, especially one as helpful as Crowley, then it always puts a smile on my face.

When I am enjoying a book, as I did with this one, it almost becomes my reality in a way for the time that I am reading it, and little touches like the references to Nicolas Flamel and Aleister Crowley, just make it feel all the more real.

If you like something a touch on the spooky side, but not excessively so (and you aren’t scared of dolls!) I would highly recommend that you read this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Haunting Author PhotoKillian Wolf is a Miami, FL native who enjoys pirates, rum, and skulls as much as she loves writing about dark magick and sorcerers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology and a Master of Science in Environmental Archaeology and Palaeoeconomy.

Killian writes books about obtaining magickal powers and stepping into other dimensions. She lives in England with her husband, a tornado of a cat, and the most timid snake you’d ever meet.

When she isn’t writing, you might find her at an Archaeological dig, rock climbing, or sipping on dark spiced rum while working on a painting.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win a paperback copy of The Haunting at Paradise House (UK Only)

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

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Book Review

Visions of Zarua – Suzanne Rogerson

I am delighted to be helping to kick off the blog tour for the audio book version of Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson. Many thanks to Suzanne, 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 audio book.

BLURB:

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Can they save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past?

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions and save the Paltrian people before the dark menace of Zarua’s past is unleashed?

Visions of Zarua - smaller adjusted audiobook cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Audible

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REVIEW:

Having discovered Suzanne’s Silent Sea Chronicles earlier this year and fallen totally in love with them, I was excited to see what Visions of Zarua had to offer. I approached this book with extremely high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed. Although narrated by a male narrator, I found that Suzanne’s signature style and writing voice resonated throughout, giving me, as a fan of her work, a familiar, welcoming feel that absorbed me instantly. Once again her exquisite attention to detail shines through, making you feel as though you are walking alongside the characters.

Visions of Zarua is a dual timeline book, and I found both timelines equally compelling. I was drawn to characters on both sides, and when I was reading about one set, I found that I was eager to get back to find out what the other group had been up to while I wasn’t looking. That is the downside of audio books for me – sometimes they just don’t move fast enough for me. Of course, with a book like this where I was desperate to see how the timelines were going to link up, the poor narrator would have to be a record breaking speed reader to go fast enough to satisfy me!

I am very particular about audio book narrators. They can make or break a book for me and I have abandoned some very good books purely because I couldn’t get on with the narrator. Guy Barnes has a gentle, easy to follow voice and I loved his characterisation of the different people we were introduced to. I also enjoyed the echo effect used to distinguish between reality and the visions that were experienced. My only issue was where there were scene changes within a chapter, which would probably have been marked by a gap in the text in a print book, there wasn’t always a terribly long break in the narration. As I was listening, I found that this sometimes meant the scenes ran into each other in my head, and I was confused about where I was and who should or shouldn’t be present. This didn’t put me off though, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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.

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ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

Guy or the Big G as he is known to his friends is a London/ Brighton based actor and singer songwriter and producer.

He has recently completed his first leading role in the film Typo out next year and played the role of Alvin Turner in American film Holly Turner also out next year.

Guy only started narrating audiobooks last year and Visions of Zarua is his 2nd. He will be narrating 2 classics this year, Bram Stoker‘s Dracula and HG Wells The Time Machine.

In his spare time Guy is a passionate biker and cigar aficionado and he’ll not say no to a Sierra Nevada beer or two!

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Don’t forget to have a look at the other blogs taking part in this tour.

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Book Review

A Rhyme of Dark Words – Jeremy Smith

I am kicking off October with a suitably spooky book in the form of A Rhyme of Dark Words, by Jeremy Smith. My thanks to Jeremy for providing me with a copy of the book to read.

BLURB:

Tilly Hart is grieving for her mother when she moves to the ancient village of Witheridge. Finding friendship and love, she also finds a place steeped in witchlore and the legend of a beast that stalks the moor. Supernatural events and a hidden diary guide her to a village lost in time, a place where magic exists and demons walk the land.

With her newfound friends and the deadline of Halloween drawing near, she sets out to prevent an ancient evil destroying all she loves.

Being both the hunter and hunted, she discovers she can control magic. But magic is an addiction that can lead to evil.

A Rhyme of Dark Words is the first book in the Tilly Hart series, and you can find out more about the series and the author on Goodreads.

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REVIEW:

I am not one for horror books, or anything overly spooky – in fact my friends will tell you that I am a big old scaredy cat! However, every October when my fellow bookworms are dusting off their favourite scary books for Halloween, I start to feel a bit left out and look for something that is more my level. As a YA book that is also described as being suitable for younger teens, A Rhyme of Dark Words seemed the perfect book for me to kick off my  Spooktober reading.

I was instantly grabbed by this book, which kicks off in 1645 in the heart of a witch hunt for the Brocken witches. I would happily have stayed with this story to discover what happened  to the sisters, and the prologue left me hoping that we would find out more as the story progressed.

Moving to the present day, we meet Tilly Hart, the newest resident of Brocken Manor, and her new found friends, Becca and Wilf. As Tilly settles into her new home, she encounters a number of strange goings on, and I will confess that early on in the book I had concerns that perhaps even this book was too much for my over-active imagination. However, after a few heart-stopping moments, things settled down and I found myself swept away by the story.

As Tilly and co uncover the secrets of the Manor, and find out what really happened during the witch hunt of 1645, I became more and more invested in what they were doing. I loved Wilf, so unendingly loyal in his devotion to Becca, and I had everything crossed for him that he would get the girl in the end.

A Rhyme of Dark Words is a well thought out novel, and the intertwining stories flow seamlessly as everything begins to fall into place.

Every now and then I will be reading a book that ends up being accompanied by an almost constant chain of messages to a friend telling them how great the book is and they simply must read it. This is one such book, and I am heading off now to investigate the rest of the series.

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