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:

Facebook

Instagram

Pinterest

Twitter

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.

ENTER HERE

Make sure you stop by the other blogs taking part in the tour.

The Age of Akra Full Tour Banner

Advertisements
Book Review

Ring Fenced – Zach Abrams

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

BLURB:

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

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

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

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

ring fenced cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Creativia

Amazon US

Amazon UK

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

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Make sure you check out the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Ring Fenced Full Tour Banner

Book Review

The Faeries of Saizia – Tonya L. Chaves

I have a lovely, magical book for you today – The Faeries of Saizia by Tonya L. Chaves. Many thanks to Tonya and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

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

sazia paperback Cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Lulu Press

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Website

Twitter

For an extra sprinkling of faerie magic, check out the other blogs taking part in this tour.

Faeries of Saizia Full Tour Banner

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Why not pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in this tour to find out more about this book?

A Tale of Stars and Shadow Full Tour Banner

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.

ENTER HERE

Thank you for following this tour – don’t forget to check out the other blogs taking part.

The Chronicles of the Pale Full Tour Banner

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.

ENTER HERE

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.

The Chronicles of the Pale Full Tour Banner

Book Review

False Flag – Rachel Churcher

I am thrilled today to be joining the blog tour for False Flag, book two in the Battle Ground series. This review may contain spoilers for book one, Battle Ground, so you might want to check that out first. Many thanks to Rachel Churcher, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of this tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

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

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

You can purchase your copy of False Flag here.

False Flag Rachel Churcher cover

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Churcher Author photo

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Blog

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

False Flag Full Tour Banner