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.

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

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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.

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Book Review

The Fourth Victim – John Mead

Today I am joining the book birthday blitz for The Fourth Victim by John Mead. Many thanks to John, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquility and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight.  And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong.  The victim deserves more.  However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

The Fourth VictimCover

REVIEW:

The Fourth Victim is a book that I struggled to get into at first, largely because there were a number of characters with similar names and I found it hard to keep track of who was who to begin with. That said, once I had everyone sorted out in my head, I found that on the whole it was an enjoyable read. It was well thought out, and including a character who suffered with Dissociative Identity Disorder made for interesting reading. Each of Jenny’s separate identities was as well developed as any other character and each came with their own back story and distinct voice.

It felt a little as though the author had an axe to grind over the funding that the police receive, which to be honest I totally agree with, but at times this did distract from the story. I also found the fact that everyone that Julie and Merry met seemed quite happy to jump straight into bed with them a little unnecessary. I am in no way a prude, but I felt that this didn’t add anything to the story, with the exception of their interactions with one particular character.

I enjoyed seeing the camaraderie develop in the police team, and I think that their relationships could form a strong basis for a series of books. I always enjoy a book that features a close unit of co-workers or friends, and The Fourth Victim certainly delivered on that front. I would be interested to see how these relationships build as the team work more cases together.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Waterstones

Wordery

Blackwells

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Fourth -Author Photo

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

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Book Review

One of Us – Rachel McLean

Today marks the welcome return of Rachel McLean to my blog, with her latest novel, One of Us, the third book in the Village trilogy. I am sure you all know by now that I am a huge fan of Rachel’s and I have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this book. Many thanks to Rachel, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in this blog blitz and for providing me with a copy of the book. This review will contain spoilers for the first two books, so you might want to read them first. Have a look at my reviews for Thicker Than Water and Sea of Lies for all the details.

BLURB:

‘Leave, or die.’

Jess Dyer has won safety for her sister-in-law Ruth and proved her worth as the leader of her refugee community.

Sarah Evans has stood up to her parents and discovered who she can trust.

But the villagers still aren’t welcome. When the local population expresses its anger, can Jess keep everyone safe? And can she hold it together as Steward when someone she loves dies?

And how will Sarah react when her new fiancee Martin receives death threats, telling him he must leave her, and their village?

One Of Us is a gripping thriller about belonging and acceptance. It’s the third book in the Village trilogy, and the sequel to Sea Of Lies.

OOU cover

PURCHASE LINKS:

Buy here

REVIEW:

Rachel McLean’s author bio (see below) states that she wants to write thrillers that make you think, and she has certainly done that with One of Us. Set six months after Sea of Lies, we find the villagers still healing from the kidnap and rescue of some of the village women, and starting to move on with a more settled existence. However, this new found calm is short-lived when they are asked to accept people from the neighbouring town into their community. At first their reaction to this surprised me. After all a community that were once reliant on charity would surely be willing to offer this same charity to others in need. However, the more I thought about it, I could see how their experiences and the treatment they had received at the hands of the very people who now needed their help may have hardened their hearts. I was left wondering how I would react in this situation – my heart tells me that I would always try to help someone in need, but my head can see how it could become more important to keep my family safe.

One of Us feels like a much more emotional book than the previous books in the series. Where they seemed to concentrate more on action, this book deals more with the reactions and the internal turmoil of the characters. My heart absolutely broke for Ruth and Ben in the aftermath of her kidnap and arrest, as well as for poor Martin who still hasn’t been fully accepted by the village. Touching on subjects including depression, PTSD and persecution, this book really touched me, and showed a side to Rachel’s writing that I hadn’t fully appreciated before. Add to these subjects the shocking death of a character who I had grown to love, and you are left with a book that will really put you through the emotional wringer.

Put simply, One of Us is a triumphant end to the Village trilogy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

rachel mclean

My name’s Rachel McLean and I write thrillers that make you think.

What does that mean?

In short, I want my stories to make your pulse race and your brain tick.

Do you often get through a thriller at breakneck pace but are left with little sense of what the book was really about? Do you sometimes read literary fiction but just wish something would damn well happen?

My books aim to fill that gap.

If you’d like to know more about my books and receive extra bonus content, please join my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub. I’ll send you a weekly email with news about my writing research and progress, stories and bonus content for each book. And I’ll let you know when my books are on offer.

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Book Review

June Book Jar – Part 2

Oops, I seem to have found myself practically at the end of July and I am still only on part two of my June Book Jar update – can someone please tell me where this month has gone? How is it nearly August already? Anyway, jumping straight back in, here is your next instalment of books I read on my holiday!

40383557._SX98_First up, we return to my ever increasing NetGalley reading list with The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap. I was completely enthralled by this book and once I picked it up it was impossible to put down. It isn’t fast-paced or action-packed, just incredibly beautiful in it’s simplicity. The friendship that develops between Nova and Kate is so gentle and it touched my heart. Experiencing the world as Nova does was mesmerising and displayed a wonderful depth to the author’s writing. This is a book that will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

18081809._SX98_Our second book in this part of the update is Landline by Rainbow Rowell, another author that I am a big fan – the book jar did well with the authors it presented me with in June. For me, this book felt very different to other Rainbow Rowell books that I have read, and while it is perhaps not one of my favourites of hers (let’s face it, Eleanor & Park is going to take something astounding to knock that off the number one spot), it was still a great read. It was full of flashbacks to my own teen years, in the days before mobile phones and wi-fi, and I loved the references to the old comedies. I found it raised some interesting questions about what I would do if I had a magic telephone connected to the past.

46777._SX98_Next up is Tithe by  the amazing Holly Black. Holly always delivers with her books, and there is an almost lyrical quality to her writing. I love her focus on the Unseelie Court, the darker, malevolent side to Faery as opposed to the sunshine state of the Seelie Court. The atmosphere she creates oozes danger and distrust, and gives you a tingle down your spine. Quite frankly, Holly Black writes the books I wish I had written myself.

 

25659392._SY475_Our fourth and final book in this instalment is Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. I love Cecelia’s usual work. Books like A Place Called Here and If You Could See Me Now always feel like fairy tales for grown ups, they are just so magical. Flawed has a much darker feel to it and the brutal near future world that it is set in was totally gripping. How quickly people turned on their friends and neighbours, and even their family, was astonishing, but at the same time felt all too possible. The need to be perfect seems to be ever-increasing in our own society – how long will it be until being “flawed” really does lead to being an outcast?

If you like the sound of any of these, just click on the title of each of them to find all the info on Goodreads.

Book Review

Missing in Wales – Jenny O’Brien

I have a brilliant crime thriller for you today, with Missing in Wales by Jenny O’Brien. Many thanks to Jenny, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. Make you sure you check out the amazing giveaway at the bottom of the post – I am quite tempted by this one myself!

BLURB:

Alys is fine – don’t try to find us

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

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

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

missing in wales 2

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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GIVEAWAY:

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

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

ENTER HERE

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Book Review

The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – John Tarrow

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

The Stranger's Guide to Talliston Cover

BLURB:

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

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

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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

 

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

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