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Book Reviews by Lynn

I am a copy editor and proofreader and an avid reader. Some would call me a bookworm. My favourite genres are: Romance, Romantic Erotica, Mystery, Thrillers, YA, Paranormal, Supernatural, Science Fiction, General Fiction and Children's Books. I also have a Facebook page where I put all my reviews: Book Reviews by Lynn. You are welcome to join me there too. You are welcome to follow, comment and enquire.

Book Review of Splinter (Book Three of the Sentinel Trilogy) by Joshua Winning

Splinter - Joshua Winning

'All who stand against us shall perish'

 

The critically acclaimed Sentinel Trilogy comes to a thrilling conclusion in this final instalment of the dark fantasy series.

 

The world is falling apart around Nicholas Hallow. Amid rumours that the Dark Prophets have returned, a deathly gloom pollutes England, unleashing a savage hoard of nightmare creatures. Fighting the tide of evil, Nicholas returns home to Cambridge, where an old ally helps him seek out the mysterious Skurkwife, who could help Nicholas stop Malika and the Prophets for good.

 

Meanwhile, Sam Wilkins unites the Sentinels against the forces of darkness, but with Jessica's sanity slipping, and Isabel suspicious of her shadowy past, it's a battle that could cost the Sentinels everything.

 

Review 5*

 

This story is the third and final book in the Sentinel Trilogy. I loved it!

 

Nicholas Hallow is a fantastic character. I liked him very much when I first met him in Sentinel, the first book of the trilogy. He has dealt with tragedy and faced danger which has destroyed his world with more bravery than even I would have in the same situation. I love how he's grown emotionally throughout the trilogy. He's been forged in fire and gained maturity through adversity. He has been chosen by the Trinity to help protect the Sentinels, but as danger threatens, he finds himself making some difficult decisions.

 

The story continues from the end of the second book and sees Nicholas dealing with his world being torn apart by the malevolent Malika. As he tries to pick up the pieces, his life receives several more blows. There are secrets revealed, and the nightmare surrounding the impending return of the Dark Prophets grows. Nicholas will have to dig deep to resurrect the Trinity. However, the sacrifices may be too difficult.

 

This story has been eagerly awaited by myself for some considerable time; it's been three long years, but it was worth it. Due to the length of time between the release of books, I decided to read the first two books before tackling this one. I'm glad I did that because it reminded me of things I'd forgotten. I found myself hooked from the first page, and I loved meeting the characters once more; Dawn, Sam, Rae, Merlyn, Jessica and Isabel. I even missed Malika, as she's a character I loved to hate.

 

This book is told from Nicholas's point of view and is just as fast-paced and exciting as the other two. There are several twists and turns in this book that I didn't see coming, but they just added to an utterly enthralling read! I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I had to wipe a few tears during this book, so keep hankies or a tissue handy, just in case. Speaking of the end, I love how all the loose ends from the previous books were tied up. I will not say more on that due to spoilers. But, I will say that I will miss these characters. A lot. However, I can now visit them whenever I get the urge.

 

Joshua Winning has written a fantastic end to his debut series. I love his fast-paced writing style, and the story flowed beautifully. This author is one to watch. He is one of only a handful of male authors that I have added to my favourite author's list, and I can't wait to see what he will come up with in the future.

 

As this book is a Young Adult fantasy, I highly recommend this book (and series) to young readers aged 12+ and to adults who love YA stories filled with witches, demons, supernatural beings, danger and adventure! - Lynn Worton

Audio/Book Review of The Assassins of Altis by Jack Campbell

The Assassins of Altis - Jack Campbell

Trapped within the dead city of Marandur, Master Mechanic Mari and Mage Alain must escape both merciless barbarians and the pitiless Imperial Legion. Beyond those dangers lie the mightiest and most unforgiving powers in the world of Dematr: the Great Guilds that rule the world with iron fists.

 

Mari's Mechanics Guild and Alain's Mage Guild have always been enemies, but they are united in wanting to kill their rogue members before Mari can fulfill the ancient prophecy of being the one who will finally overthrow their power. Mari and Alain must risk those dangers because halfway across their world lies a place where truth has long been hidden. A place that could explain why their world's history begins abruptly, with no hints of what came before. A place where they might learn how the Mechanics Guild came to control all technology and how the Mages manage to alter reality temporarily. A place that might tell them how to achieve a task that appears to be impossible.

 

Never before have a Mage and a Mechanic worked together, and their combined talents offer their only hope. But she and Alain must first survive the deadly and implacable Assassins of Altis.

 

Review 5*

 

This story is the third book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character, and I liked her from the moment she was introduced. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is now a nineteen-year-old Master Mechanic, though her guild is determined to take her life as she poses a threat to their hold on the world of Dematr. Mari has been foreseen by Mages to be 'The Daughter of Jules' and fated to free the world of Dematr from the tyranny of both the Guilds - Mechanics and Mages - and to unite the Mechanics, Mages and Commons against said Guilds. As she tries to accept her role, she finds herself on another dangerous mission while trying to avoid death at the hands of assassins.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot from the start. He was one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status at the age of seventeen. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real. I love how this character has grown as the series has progressed. He tries to show more emotion, even though his Guild had virtually beaten it out of him. He hides a dry wit under that emotionless mask.

 

I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. The story is once again narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job of bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflexions and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This book continues a few weeks after the end of the second story and sees Mari and Alain travelling to the island of Altis, where a long-hidden secret has been kept. With both the Guilds chasing them and now the Imperial Legions for their incursion into Marandur, Mari and Alain face many dangers, including a deadly snow storm. However, what they find on Altis will change everything.

 

This story introduces a couple of new characters into the series. One is Mechanic Caylou (not sure of spelling as I listened to the story so have no reference and have spelt it phonetically - it could be Kayloo or another variation). He is one of Mari's friends from the Mechanics Guild, along with his girlfriend, Ally (who is mentioned in book two but not introduced). Another character introduced is, Mage Asha; this is a character who is hard to explain without giving spoilers. Suffice it to say, she was a friend of Alain's from their early acolyte days, before all the emotion was beaten out of them.

 

I love the world building in this series. It is familiar though strange at the same time. The reason for this becomes apparent as this story unfolds. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt completely emersed in it? This happened to me as I listened to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger, and the audio version has a preview of the next book in the series, which I am now looking forward to reading/listening to. I will be listening to The Pirates of Pacta Servanda as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell has written a fantastic science fiction series. I have added him to my favourite author's list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast-paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is now some mention of scenes of a sexual nature, it’s not shown. I do not, however, recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of The Truth about Eggs by Delphine Richards

The Truth About Eggs - Delphine Richards

The Truth about Eggs by Delphine Richards is a novel featuring ‘The Welsh Detective’ DCI Tegwyn Prydderch in his latest outing investigating the mystery and horror surrounding characters and events in the small Welsh village of Llanefa.
Llanefa's Devil Tree is a hoax thought up by locals trying to boost tourism in the area. During the month of August, it was said that the Devil Tree released evil spirits into the community unless it was visited and paid homage to.
Nobody tells the tourists that this is a scam to bring income to the area and it remains Llanefa's Best Kept Secret!
Some people have no interest in tourism or hoaxes.
Manon, Anna and Natalie are keeping their own secrets.
Why does Manon keep the baby hidden from everyone?
Anna's secret wish is to break into the film industry. When she is brutally raped, she knows she won't be believed, so her only alternative is a bleak one.
Why is Natalie's secret so shameful that she cannot even share it with her best friend?
On an August Bank Holiday, DCI Tegwyn Prydderch is hoping for a quiet few days while he is 'on call' in the area. His wishes are shattered when things begin to go wrong and he has to deal with the fallout.
Will the Devil Tree myth become reality?

 

Review 4*

 

This is a wonderfully thrilling read. I loved it!

 

Llanefa is a small Welsh village that is struggling to survive. The local's make up a legend around an old oak tree, which they call the Devil Tree, to encourage tourists to visit. But when terrible events unfold, is the legend coming to life?

 

There are several characters in this story that have their say. There is Manon, a young woman hiding a baby; Anna, a young woman haunted by a brutal sexual assault, and Natalie, another young woman with an eating disorder. There are a couple of other characters that are introduced too. Then there's DCI Tegwyn Prydderch, a Welsh police detective who finds himself trying to piece together what happened.

 

This story is a chilling, suspenseful tale which kept me guessing and had me sitting on the edge of my seat throughout. Each chapter follows a specific character, though some chapters follow the character of Natalie the most. When I first started reading I wasn't sure how all these separate story lines actually fitted together. However, as the story progressed, it became a little clearer towards the end; there is one common denominator that ties them all together. Nevertheless, the author successfully wove several red herrings into the tale that kept me guessing for ages. I feel I need to mention that there is a scene that I found to be incredibly disturbing. This scene is of Anna's brutal sexual assault. It is graphic in content, but I didn't feel that it was used in a gratuitous way. It depicts the horror of such an attack and it leaves a bitter taste of disgust in ones mouth when reading it. It felt incredibly realistic and it still sends shivers down my spine when I think of it, even days after reading the book. Therefore, reader beware. The other characters' stories are also not easy reading, and I'm sure Manon is in need of some psychological help.

 

I reached the end of the book feeling emotionally wrung out. Although the story concludes satisfactorily, it hints at a possible continuation of the series and I'm looking forward to it. The Devil Tree is stirring! *Dun Dun Duun* (cue evil music).

 

Delphine Richards is a new author to me and I've not read her other works before. I love her fast paced writing style, which kept me turning the pages, and the flow is wonderful. I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

Due to explicit scenes of sexual assault, as well as violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. Or those who have a nervous disposition, or have been in an abusive relationship, as this story may cause flashbacks. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love horror, psychological thrillers, thrillers, detective or mystery genres. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of Balanced on the Blade's Edge (Dragon Blood Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker

Balanced on the Blade's Edge - Lindsay Buroker

Colonel Ridge Zirkander isn’t the model of military professionalism—he has a tendency to say exactly what’s on his mind, and his record has enough demerits to wallpaper the hull of an airship—but as the best fighter pilot in the Iskandian army, he’s used to a little leniency from his superiors. Until he punches the wrong diplomat in the nose and finds himself issued new orders: take command of a remote prison mine in the inhospitable Ice Blades Mountains. Ridge has never been in charge of anything larger than a flier squadron—what’s he supposed to do with a frozen fortress full of murderers and rapists? Not to mention the strange woman who shows up right before he arrives…

 

Sardelle Terushan wakes from three hundred years in a mage stasis shelter, only to realize that she is the last of the Referatu, the sorcerers who once helped protect Iskandia from conquerors. Their subterranean mountain community was blown up in a treacherous sneak attack by soldiers who feared their power. Everyone Sardelle ever knew is dead, and the sentient soulblade she has been bonded to since her youth is buried in the core of the mountain. Further, what remains of her home has been infested by bloodthirsty miners commanded by the descendants of the very soldiers who destroyed her people.

 

Sardelle needs help to reach her soulblade—her only link to her past and her last friend in the world. Her only hope is to pretend she’s one of the prisoners while trying to gain the commander’s trust. But lying isn’t her specialty, especially when the world has changed so much in the intervening centuries, and if Colonel Zirkander figures out who she truly is, he’ll be duty-bound to sentence her to the only acceptable punishment for sorcerers: death.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in the Dragon Blood series. I loved it!

 

Colonel Ridge Zirkander is a wonderful character. I really liked him. In fact, I have a bit of a book boyfriend crush on him. I love his irreverence and dry wit. It reminds me of the way Richard Dean Anderson portrays Jack O'Neill in Stargate SG1. He is one of the best pilots in the Iskandian army. He is charming, though irreverent, and his flying skills are in great demand, but due to an event that sees him punching a diplomat he has been given new orders and sent to prison mine in the Ice Blade mountains as the new commander. The mine contains crystals that power their dragon fliers - planes that are designed to look like the dragons that once lived millennia ago. When he arrives at the mine, he is confronted by an unusual sight - a woman wearing a summer dress in the middle of winter.

 

Sardelle Terushan is also a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a sorceress and a healer. When her home, where the Referatu lived came under attack, she found refuge in a mage stasis chamber. There she stayed until she woke three hundred years later, when she was found by a couple of miners. Determined to locate her soulblade, Jaxi, but struggling to come to terms with the amount of time that's passed, she finds herself confronted by the challenge of hiding her powers in a world that detests magic users, and her attraction to the new mine commander.

 

This story is a mix of steampunk and fantasy. I started to read and didn't put it down until I finished it. I found myself completely hooked from the first page. I love the world-building the author has done to bring this book to life. I also love Jaxi, Sardelle's soulblade. She is a young sorceress who died due to illness, but before dying, her soul was magically placed within a sword. Soulblades bond with their handlers until their handlers die; guide or assist them when needed, then either bond to a new handler or allow themselves to die when they no longer wish to serve. Jaxi is six hundred years old, but because she died young she has a decidedly teen outlook at times, with sarcasm being one of her tools, as well as an irreverence for a person's privacy. I love her witty banter, some of it had me giggling.

 

Iskandia is at war with Cofahre, a rival nation that is determined to take over Iskandia. The Cofah use dirigible type balloons to fly over the ocean, thus the steampunk feel to the story. The Iskandian pilots fly planes that are shaped like dragons but remind me of the old-fashioned planes from the early 1900s - lightweight - though with a mix of propeller and thrusters which reminds me of the Harrier jets that use something similar sans the propeller. The author has mixed these two to create something unique. As the story progressed, I found myself looking forward to seeing how it all played out.

 

Ridge and Sardelle make a wonderful couple and their chemistry is instantaneous. I love how the author wove their love story together with action filled sections that kept me on the edge of my seat. The magical owl is uber scary! There are a couple of scenes between these two that are a little steamy but not explicit. I must admit that I felt a little sorry for Ridge at times, as he gets two for the price of one in this relationship, but he seems to take things in his stride. I reached the end of the book and immediately went and purchased as many books in the series I could, as well as pre-ordered the next book in the series which was due to be released. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Deathmaker, as soon as I can.

 

Lindsay Buroker is a new author to me. I love her fast paced writing style, and the flow is wonderful too. I haven't read any of her other books before, however, she has found a fan in me. I am looking forward to reading her other book series as soon as I can.

 

Due to scenes of a sexual nature (though not explicit) and some violence, I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love steampunk, paranormal romance, low fantasy and epic fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of A Case of the I Love You's by Micah Lorenc, illustrated by Jesse Leyva

A Case of the I Love Yous - Micah Lorenc

You'll never guess what happens when a mother's love reaches its limit and simply can't be contained. Follow an unsuspecting family as they take on an uncommon challenge. A brother and sister duo must use their wits and creativity to save their parents from a rare and mysterious illness.

 

Review 5*

 

This is a fantastic children's book! I loved it!

 

The story is a mix of fun rhyme and beautifully drawn illustrations. The illustrations follow the story perfectly, so a child who cannot read properly yet can understand what is going on. I love the way the artist has drawn this fictitious family, and their facial expressions and antics made me smile.

 

The story is told through the eyes of the children as their parents become infected by a virus. This mysterious virus is rather contagious and makes people blurt out "I love you" at odd moments. The family try their best to cure this virus, but there's no stopping it. By the time the book ends, all the members of the family are affected by this "I love you" virus. By reading this book the reader becomes infected too. It is such a sweet story that by the time I finished it, I wanted to shout "I love you" to my family too. In fact, I still may just do that. *wink*

 

"I LOVE YOU!" There, I feel a lot better! *grin*

 

Micah Lorenc has written a lovely children's book that made me smile. He uses simple language for the most part, so children should be able to read this on their own (depending on reading ability, of course). However, there was a sentence that I read that I found a little jarring even though it rhymed with the previous one. It's where the mother first becomes infected and she is rather apologetic about her outburst. My editing hat reared it's head and made me think that the sentence could have been written differently and still rhyme somehow. However, that is my only grammar niggle and other readers may not have the same reaction. The children may not even notice, to be honest. As I said, it could just be me being pedantic, so I'll leave it to the readers to decide for themselves. This is the author's debut children's book and I am looking forward to seeing what else he comes up with in the future.

 

I highly recommend this book to children from the age of 3 (as a bedtime story) and up to 8 as a young reader. I also recommend this book to adults looking for a fun and entertaining read for their children. - Lynn Worton

— feeling excited
Do you want to check out my answers to today's Follow Friday interview for my blog, Book Reviews by Lynn? Here's what I had to say:

#40 Follow Friday with book bloggers: Book Reviews by Lynn

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Hello Friday! Hello Follow Friday with book bloggers! Meet Lynn, an avid, eclectinc and open-minded reader, who read Harry Potter for 12 hours nonstop! Check out Lynn's reading list for the Summer and her reveal why she loves reading. 

 

Follow Book Reviews by Lynn http://notrow1.booklikes.com/

 

 

What are you reading right now? How do you like it?

 

I’m currently reading, or I should say re-reading, Soulblade (Dragon Blood #7) by Lindsay Buroker.  I love it! It’s a mix of urban fantasy, fantasy and steampunk, with swords, dragons, sorceresses and military pilots.

 

Soulblade - Lindsay Buroker 

 

 

When did you discover you’re a book lover?

 

 

I first fell in love with reading when I was about eight or nine years old. I was given a children’s version of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin to read by my school librarian and fell in love with the tale. I then read My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara and the rest is history.  

 

 

How did your book blogging adventure start? What do you enjoy the most about it?

 

It started in 2011, when I won a competition on a Facebook page, which I still follow, to become an admin for a week. I didn’t know what to do, so I began writing book reviews. I still admin on that page today, as well as running my own on Facebook. I enjoy sharing the books I love with others, as well as finding new books and authors and sharing them too.

 

notrow1.booklikes.com

 

 

Why reading is important to you?

 

Reading is important to me as it is my way of escaping from the negativity that surrounds me and the world. I think it stems from being bullied at school as a child and wanting to get away from it by escaping to other worlds and lives.

 

 

In your short bio we can read you lived in Zimbabwe. Can you tell us more about that that and how did you end up in UK?

 

I was born in Zimbabwe (or Rhodesia as it was once known) in 1973 after my parents left the UK in 1972 and moved there in search of a better life. We lived there for nearly thirty years. The whole family decided to move back to the UK due to the political and economic situation at the time; this was in 2002 when Mr Mugabe instituted his land appropriation programme from the farmers (mainly European ones, though there were some African ones affected too), which made life extremely difficult.  

 

 

Does your place of residence influence your reading list?

 

No. I love reading about places all around the world, as well as the made-up worlds, cities, towns and villages in fiction. I’m an eclectic and open-minded reader.

 

BookShelf

 

 

Which books are you most excited recommending to your followers?

 

This is a tough question to answer, it’s like asking me which book is my favourite – I have too many to list. I think it depends on my mood, the genre, and whether I really loved the story, or only enjoyed it.

However, I usually recommend: The Boots My Mother Gave Me by Brooklyn James  (Coming of Age); Three Days of Rain by Christine Hughes  (Contemporary Romance); The Relic Guild by Edward Cox  (Dark Fantasy); Faithless by Graham Austin-King  (Dark Fantasy); The Devil's Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth  (Dark Fantasy); Releasing The Wolf by Dianna Hardy  (PNR); Ruby Blue by Julie Cassar  (YA)… I could go on, but I’d bore everyone to death.

 

The Boots My Mother Gave Me - Brooklyn James 

The Relic Guild - Edward CoxFaithless - Graham Austin-KingThe Devil's Detective - Simon Kurt Unsworth

Releasing The Wolf - Dianna HardyRuby Blue - Julie Cassar

 

 

How do you find new books to read?

 

I find new books through recommendations from various sources: family, friends, blogs I follow, Amazon, Book Bub, Booklikes, Audible, Facebook groups & pages etc.

 

 

You’re an editor and a proofreader. We assume you may spot editorial errors while reading for pleasure. So, does your profession help in reading or not?

 

No. I was a reader before I became an editor and proofreader. Spotting errors as a reader made me want to help authors correct them. Doing an editing and proofreading course to become an editor and proofreader made that dream become a reality. However, if I’m editing rather than reading, I focus on the technical aspects which is a lot less enjoyable than just reading for pleasure, though no less rewarding.

 

 

We can find a lot of romance books on your BookLikes shelf. Do you switch between the genres or do you follow your favorite reading path?

 

It depends on my mood. Romance is my main preference for reading material, but I love a good thriller or murder mystery too, as well as fantasy, urban fantasy, children’s books and the occasional horror amongst others.

 

 

So far, you’ve read 51 out of 100 books in your 2018 reading challenge. How much time do you spend reading daily?

 

I don’t keep an eye on the clock when reading, especially if the book keeps me hooked, so it’s difficult to say for definite how much time I spend reading every day. If I had to guess? Somewhere between 3-5 hours, maybe more. I’ve been known to read for almost 12 hours straight (that was a Harry Potter book; I think it was The Half Blood Prince. It had just been released, and I read it over a weekend). I don’t watch a lot of TV as I prefer to read. I also work part-time, so when I don’t have any editing work to do on top of my part-time job, I read. Unfortunately, my reading pile never seems to get any lower, as I’m always adding to it.

 

Lynn's 2018 Reading Challenge Page - check it out!

 

 

Do you read one book or several at a time?

 

I generally read one book at a time. But, I also listen to an audiobook when cooking or doing other chores and at bedtime to help me sleep.

 

 

What are your three favorite book covers?

 

Another tough question! The most recent cover would be Faithless by Graham Austin-King. The last two are Forsaken by Jana Oliver and Witchblood by Emma Mills.

 

Faithless - Graham Austin-KingThe Demon Trappers: Forsaken - Jana OliverWitchblood - Emma Mills

 

 

A paper book or an e-book?

 

For ease of holding, e-book. However, I still love paper books as I don’t get headaches from them since they aren’t backlit. The only issue I have with paper books is I can’t change the font if I find the print too small to read.

 

 

Three titles for a holiday break?

 

This is a tough question as, again, it depends on mood and genre preference. I would say Cinder by Marissa Meyer  (YA), Kissed by a Dark Prince by Felicity Heaton  (PNR), and The Spell of Summer by Dianna Hardy  (Contemporary Romance).

 

Cinder - Marissa MeyerKissed by a Dark Prince (Eternal Mates #1) - Felicity E. HeatonThe Spell of Summer - Dianna Hardy

 

 

 

 

Favorite quote?

 

Currently, my favourite quote is from Blood Shadow by Dianna Hardy:

“Death is my redemption,” she whispered, her tears falling on his chest before rolling into the lapping ocean. He stilled for a moment, and she felt something warm and wet slide down her right temple and past her ear. His tear. His nose brushed against her forehead, before his lips pressed a kiss to it. “It seems we're at a bit of an impasse, then. Because your survival is mine.”

 

If you could pair a book with a drink, what would you prepare to sip while reading?

 

Coffee or tea. I very rarely drink alcohol.  

 

 

Shelfie time! Please share your home library photos :)

 

 

Thank you.

 

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Audio/Book Review of The Hidden Masters of Marandur (The Pillars of Reality Book 2) by Jack Campbell

The Hidden Masters of Marandur - Jack Campbell

Someone wants to kill Mari, a young Steam Mechanic in the Guild that controls all technology. She has learned that her world of Dematr is headed for a catastrophe that will destroy civilization, and that Mages really can alter reality for short periods. Someone also wants to kill Alain, a young Mage who has learned that Mechanics are not frauds as his Guild teaches, and that Mechanic Mari is the only person who can prevent the oncoming disaster.

 

Narrowly escaping death, the Mechanic and the Mage stay alive thanks to their combined skills, an alliance never before seen. But it becomes clear that both of their Guilds, the most powerful forces in the world, are trying to destroy them. Other powers, like the great Empire and a mysterious secret Order, also seek to kill or capture them, using every weapon from Imperial Legions to Mage-created trolls, dragons, and rocs.

 

Trying to survive and learn the truth about their world so they will know how to save it, Mari and Alain realize that the answers they seek may lie in the dead city of Marandur. But Marandur is guarded by the legions that have sealed it off from the rest of the world for more than a century. Mari and Alain's only hope may rest with the unseen Masters of Marandur.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the second book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character and I liked her from the moment she was introduced. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old Master Mechanic. She has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed several centuries earlier.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real.

 

I listened to this story in audio format, rather than read it. The story is once again narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This story picks up a few months after the events in Dorcastle (see Book One: The Dragons of Dorcastle). Alain has been sent by his guild on a contract to protect some common soldiers who are travelling to war. Along the way, they are attacked.The foresight Alain has developed has shown him that a storm is coming, though he has no idea what his vision means, so wishes to seek answers. Meanwhile, Mari has been sent to Tay (sorry, unsure of spelling due to only hearing it spoken and not reading the book), a region that has fallen into anarchy, by her guild. Unwilling to be a sacrificial lamb, Mari goes in search of Mage Alain. Together once more, they face several challenges and dangers. However, one of their leads takes them to Marandur, a city declared dead by the emperor one hundred and fifty years previously, where they make a startling discovery. Will they survive only to stumble at the final hurdle?

 

This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics, especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.

 

This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I loved meeting the two main protagonists once more, and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. The story is full of action, adventure, and danger and I found myself an emotional wreck at times. Have you ever read or listened to a story and felt completely emersed in it? This happened to me whilst listening to this book. These characters have come to life for me and have become my friends. I found myself missing them when the story finished, so I began listening to it again. I've listened to this book now at least four times. Each time I listen to it, the story and characters sweep me up and carry me away to a world that is alien and yet familiar at the same time, and makes me want to go and visit it. This book ends with a slight cliffhanger and the audio version has a preview of the next book in the series, which I am now looking forward to reading/listening to. I will be listening to The Assassins of Altis as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not, however, recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

Want to win a copy of Dianna Hardy's newest release, Blood Shadow, read this author interview from Booklikes and Dianna Hardy and enter the giveaway through the link.

New release: Author Interview with Dianna Hardy & "Blood Shadow" Giveaway

Reblogged from Dianna Hardy:
Very grateful to BookLikes for having me on their blog today! Do enter the giveaway to grab yourself a copy of Blood Shadow.

 

Dianna Hardy is the author of ten novels, of which the newest one, Blood Shadow, will be released on April 27! Read our BookLikes interview and get to know the author, who tells us all about her writing!

 

Dianna has been very generous to BookLikes readers and offered three SIGNED paperback copies of her new book - enter our giveaway contest to win!

 

BLOOD SHADOW GIVEAWAY

Apr. 27 - May 11, 2018

Win a signed copy

Blood Shadow: an Eye of the Storm Companion Novel (Blood Never Lies) - Dianna HardyFive years after her life changed forever, Jennifer Warren has put her past firmly behind her - at least, she's tried. A few sweaty nightmares here and there are a small price to pay for the freedom she won. No longer a werewolf, but human, she works as an office manager for a health and beauty spa in York, and keeps herself to herself. It's barely enough to pay the bills, but it's quiet and safe, and the clique of the staff means she's left well enough alone - no one asks her questions; no one wants to get to know her better. But Jennifer's just received another note - one of those that her mysterious, anonymous 'friend' likes to leave her every now and then; warnings of things to come, people not to trust... Her elusive friend has saved her more than once the past five years.


Only this note has left her breathless; her chest tight. A Supermoon is coming - the first in thirty years - and with it, a total lunar eclipse.

 

Jennifer's disowned her past, but it hasn't disowned her. As the earth shadows the full moon, her own shadows threaten to turn on her. Can you ever escape what you truly are? Blood never lies.

 

REQUEST YOUR FREE COPY

 

Tell us a few words about yourself - whatever you want to share about your personal and professional life, but also why you decided to become a writer.

 

Thanks so much for having me here. It feels more for me, in some ways, that I didn't decide to become a writer - it just sort of happened. I was an early reader, with a mother who loved fiction books and a grandmother who was an English teacher (her first language - and mine at the time - being Portuguese), so they both thrust me into the world of books. Luckily, I loved books, too, so never felt overwhelmed by them. They'd read me story after story - books in English as well as Portuguese, and I was reading words back to them by the age of three. As soon as I could, I was reading independently and I couldn't get enough of books! When I was six years old, I read A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and I was entranced by it. It made me laugh, cry, and feel like anything was possible. It was the first book I remember feeling emotional about to that extent, and that was the moment I knew I wanted to write something that would make others feel as much; that would make others laugh, cry, and feel like anything was possible.

 

But while I wrote a lot (for fun) throughout my childhood and my teens, I wouldn't become a "writer" until I had some time on my hands after giving birth to my daughter in 2009. I didn't know what to do with the tedious long nights of little sleep and constant feeding, so I began to research self-publishing on the internet, and discovered you could do it yourself online for very little outlay. Gone were the days I'd have to pay £2000 for 50 books and try to sell them door-to-door. So, one day, I sat down and compiled all the poems I'd ever written, and printed a paperback anthology of them. Then, I created an collection of brand new poems - vampire poetry - all about the theme of dark obsession and possession through the vampire myth. That was A Silver Kiss (Vampire Poetry) published in December, 2010. I tried my hand at erotica after that, partly to better understand the eBook market, which is when I wrote Happy Anniversary (an erotic short story about a marriage rekindled), but finally - after writing and publishing The Witching Pen in June 2011 - I understood that writing fantasy and romance (albeit often explicitly) was more my forte. I've always loved both genres anyway.

 

A Silver Kiss (Vampire Poetry) - Dianna HardyHappy Anniversary - Dianna HardyThe Witching Pen - Dianna Hardy

 

And suddenly, I realised I was a writer. I was doing it.

 

I currently live in the south coast of the UK with my fiance, our daughter, and our two black cats, Green and Indigo.

 

 

You call yourself a writer of "cross-genre fiction" - please tell us why, and what this is.

 

I've never been able to stick to writing one genre within any story, although I have tried. I'm not very good at writing 'formula'. For the most part, I let the characters do what they want, and the stories become this meld of fantasy, horror, and romance - perhaps with a hint of god punk or sci-fi - often told explicitly because I've always been drawn to the intimacy of sexual and violent expression in film and literature. The film Crash, by David Cronenberg is one of my favourites.

 

I also have a series which is cross-genre romance, magical realism and women's fiction, which is sort of the "light" to my other dark fantasy books.

 

Cross-genre fiction is really just that: fiction that mixes two or more genres, to create something different and hopefully exciting, that will in turn stimulate debate and conversation, or simply offer a thrilling new read that can't be pigeonholed into any one category.

 

 

When did you start writing and how many books have you written so far?

 

If we don't count Little Miss Rainbow which I wrote when I was eight, and the very few poems I got published by small press magazines in my teens, I began writing to self-publish in September 2010. I've so far written (not including out-of-print titles) ten novels, five novellas, one novelette, two short stories and one poetry compilation.

 

 

Your new book is due to be released very soon (April 27) - what are the emotions associated with a book launch when it is not your first title, once you are an experienced writer? Does it get "boring" with time?

 

Blood Shadow: an Eye of the Storm Companion Novel (Blood Never Lies) - Dianna HardyNo - never boring at all! Reaching the words "the end" once you've hit that last full stop remains a natural high, and at every new release I'm still very nervous of how readers will react to the book. Every book is different to write, so the feelings surrounding each launch are always a little different, too. With Blood Shadow (out on 27th April), I'm taking readers in a slightly new direction with my writing, with the book acting as both a companion novel to a completed series, and a prequel to a new series. I have no idea how it will be received, although feedback from early readers have so far been positive.

 

 

 

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Your website lists a publishing plan where you list two books a year in 2018, 2019 and 2020! How impressive!  Why did you build this "schedule" for yourself and what do you do to stick to it?

 

Thank you! I honestly don't know how impressive it is, LOL. My aim is to write at least 1000 words a day, which is how I stick to the schedule. That basically means I can write a 90,000 word novel in 3 months, which leaves two months to edit and format, and one month between each book to prepare for the next (and rest for a bit if I get the chance!). I found this was how I write best and most efficiently, so the schedule was really borne out of that. A lot of writers write faster than me, but I suffered burnout a few years ago which in turn took over a year to get over - I'll never let myself fall into that nightmare again, so I take care of myself better now and try not to get too stressed with word count and deadlines.

 

 

Please tell us about your day and your writing habits. Do you write every day, and for how long? Do you have a "day job", or is writing what you do for a living?

 

Yes, I write for a living, not that that's always easy - most of the time it's not, and the reward can't always be considered monetary. My work day usually starts at 9 a.m. I'll write at least 1000 words and edit what I've already written until about 1 p.m., then have lunch; then I'll get in about half an hour of marketing online before I stop. Sometimes, I do a bit more marketing / promo from about 4-5 p.m. Or I'll fit it in between 10 p.m. and midnight, or write even more between those last two hours. If I can let the day go, I'll be in bed by 1 a.m. latest. If the last scene I wrote is still in my head, I've been known to carry on writing until about three in the morning. I'll also be good to myself, though, and take a day off here and there to spend with my fiance, or go to the beach. All of that sounds very organised, doesn't it? LOL. In practice, it's really not! :)

 

Follow Dianna Hardy on BookLikes

 

 

 

Dianna Hardy's books on BookLikes

The Witching Pen - Dianna HardyWilted - Dianna HardyHeart Of The Wolf - Dianna HardyReleasing The Wolf - Dianna HardyThe Sands Of Time - Dianna HardyBroken Lights - Dianna HardyHappy Anniversary - Dianna Hardy'Til Death Do Us Part (an adult retelling of The Little Mermaid) - Dianna HardyThe Last Dragon - Dianna Hardy

and more on the author page

Book Review of Blood Shadow: an Eye of the Storm Companion Novel (Blood Never Lies Book 1) by Dianna Hardy

Blood Shadow: an Eye of the Storm Companion Novel (Blood Never Lies) - Dianna Hardy

Blood Shadow is a companion novel to the Eye of the Storm series and also acts as a PREQUEL to a brand new series to come. You don't have to read Eye of the Storm to enjoy this novel (some background is given). However, we always recommend you do in order to gain full understanding of how the characters have arrived at this point.

 

Five years after her life changed forever, Jennifer Warren has put her past firmly behind her - at least, she's tried. A few sweaty nightmares here and there are a small price to pay for the freedom she won. No longer a werewolf, but human, she works as an office manager for a health and beauty spa in York, and keeps herself to herself. It's barely enough to pay the bills, but it's quiet and safe, and the clique of the staff means she's left well enough alone - no one asks her questions; no one wants to get to know her better.

 

David, her tender, kind boyfriend of two years is all she needs ... and she doesn't really need him, which suits her just fine. Never mind the occasional guilt that she doesn't really love him; he'd never hurt her in a million years - that's worth its weight in gold.

 

But Jennifer's just received another note - one of those that her mysterious, anonymous 'friend' likes to leave her every now and then; warnings of things to come, people not to trust... Her elusive friend has saved her more than once the past five years.

 

Only this note has left her breathless; her chest tight. A Supermoon is coming - the first in thirty years - and with it, a total lunar eclipse.

 

Jennifer's disowned her past, but it hasn't disowned her. As the earth shadows the full moon, her own shadows threaten to turn on her.

 

Can you ever escape what you truly are?

 

Blood never lies.

 

This is a dark urban fantasy novel of approx. 70,000 words containing scenes of a sexual nature and some violence, which may disturb some readers.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in a new companion novel to the Eye of the Storm series. I loved it! You don't have to read the Eye of the Storm series to read this book, but I recommend that you do, so you have a good grasp of where Selena has been and where Jennifer is heading.

 

Jennifer Warren (aka Selena Smith) is an extremely complex character. I felt for her as she hasn't had an easy life. This is a woman I loved to hate in the Eye of the Storm series, as she was a real *i*ch. Five years after being given a new name and a new life from her ordeal at the hands of the Tridents, she is trying to put her life back together as best she can. However, there's a bad moon rising (okay, it's a super blood moon, but you get the idea) and her saviour sends her an ominous warning. As the life she's tried to build slowly unravels, will she find her inner strength once more, or will the changes coming break her?

 

I have been eagerly awaiting the release of this book. Told through the eyes of several of the characters, we get to see their thoughts and feelings. Selena has had a really raw deal being a female wolf in a male dominated world; she has had to fight for what she wanted. Now as Jennifer, I found her to be slightly more tempered and, even though scarred mentally if not physically anymore, she has more vulnerability than Selena ever showed. This could be because being human, Jennifer cannot draw on her wolf's strength. However, her experiences have left her damaged emotionally and she struggles every day with nightmares. I do wish she had spoken to someone about her ordeal, but can understand her reluctance, as they would probably have committed her into an asylum when she told them she was a wolf.

 

Besides Jennifer, we are also introduced to several characters, such as David - Jennifer's boyfriend, Roman Dalton - Jennifer's saviour who has secrets of his own, Hai - Roman's surrogate father and mentor, and Prisha Patel - David's best friend and work colleague. I have mixed reactions to the various characters. I like David and think he's a wonderful man; Roman is still a bit of an enigma but I like him too. He's also not had an easy life growing up. There's a definite chemistry between him and Jennifer that fairly radiates off the page, so am interested to see where they, or the author, takes us as the series progresses. Hai is a character I love. He is full of Chinese proverbs and wise sayings that annoy Roman and confuse Jennifer, but I found him to be a loving man who took a scared boy under his wing and gave him much needed love and attention. Then there is Prisha. I found her to be similar in her attitude and characteristics as Selena. She may be another character that I may love to hate as the series progresses. Watch this space!

 

I don't want to give any spoilers and this book is so hard to describe without giving huge ones. Therefore, I will try to keep this as short as possible by saying: READ THIS BOOK! Blood Shadow is not always an easy read, especially if you or someone you know has gone through an abusive relationship, as the main character has gone through hell and it may cause a triggering event. Having said that, there is one scene between Jennifer and Roman that is serious but light at the same time. It's incredibly hard to blame Roman for something he did accidentally when he was trying to save her life and he's horrified about it, but it's still a violation of sorts. I'll leave it to you to decide for yourself if you'd be amused or horrified by his actions. There are also some rather touching scenes, so you may need a tissue or two.

At the end of the story, we get to meet a new character who will be one of the main characters in the next book in the companion series, Aftershock. Her name is Jasmine. However, if you've read Reign of the Wolf, the sixth book in the Eye of the Storm series, you would have been briefly introduced to her as a baby. I can't wait to get my hands on this book, but I'm dreading it too. This is because I know it'll be an emotional roller coaster ride and I'll end up feeling like I've been put through the wringer, just like this one - a book hangover in the making!

 

Dianna Hardy is one of my favourite romance authors (she writes both paranormal/urban fantasy and contemporary romance). She has a way of expressing so much emotion through her written words; ripping your heart out with them, but also filling you up with them too. I love her writing style, which is fast paced and exciting. The flow is fantastic too. Reading her books are a joy, and I will continue to read them for as long as she keeps writing them.

 

Unlike other books by this author, this book doesn't have any romantic scenes of explicit content. However, there are flashbacks from Jennifer/Selena's past that are explicit, as well as scenes containing some bad language and violence that may offend some readers, so I do not recommend this book for younger readers or those of a nervous disposition, or those who may have a triggered event by reading this book. Having said that, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love contemporary or paranormal romances, dark fantasy and/or urban fantasy genres. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of Vicious Rumer: Haunted. Hunted. Cursed. You've Never Met Anybody Like Rumer Cross by Joshua Winning

Vicious Rumer: Haunted. Hunted. Cursed. You've Never Met Anybody Like Rumer Cross - Joshua Winning

‘A gripping and moody psychological thriller. It'll keep you up all night’ – Closer Magazine

 

Rumer Cross is cursed.

 

Scraping by working for a dingy London detective agency, she lives in the shadow of her mother, a violent criminal dubbed the ‘Witch Assassin’ whose bloodthirsty rampage terrorised London for over a decade.

 

Raised by foster families who never understood her and terrified she could one day turn into her mother, Rumer has become detached and self-reliant. But when she’s targeted by a vicious mobster who believes she’s hiding an occult relic, she’s drawn into the very world she’s been fighting to avoid.

 

Hunted by assassins and haunted by her mother’s dark legacy, Rumer must also confront a terrible truth: that she’s cursed, because no matter what she does, everybody she’s ever grown close to has died screaming.

 

Review 4.5 rounded up to 5*

 

This is an intriguing crime thriller set in London, England. I loved it!

 

Rumer is a fascinating character. I found myself not only liking her, but also feeling sorry for her, though I also wanted to shake her at times too. She is nineteen years old, but seems more mature. This is due to her upbringing I think. She has grown up in foster care, knowing that her mother was a notorious assassin. Unfortunately, she believes herself to be cursed as everyone she comes to care for dies in the most terrible ways. Working for a private detective as a shadow (someone who follows, watches and listens to garner information), she is thrown into a life and death struggle when a mobster turns his attention in her direction seeking an occult relic last known to be in the possession of her mother, who died several years previously.

 

Although not YA like the author's previous works, this is an intriguing crime thriller that instantly caught my attention when I read the synopsis. Knowing that I would also be taken on an amazing journey was a bonus.

 

I started reading and didn't put the book down until I'd completed it. The story is told through Rumer's eyes and in first person. I found myself fascinated with Rumer and her life. I cannot imagine how knowing that you are the progeny of a criminal/assassin (even if deceased) would affect your life. Rumer emotionally distances herself from everyone in the hope that she will not 'kill' like her mother. She carries around a huge burden of guilt for things that she has no control over too. Understandable in some ways, annoying in others hence my desire to shake her at times.

 

There are several interesting characters introduced. Rumer's employer is Julian Hart and runs Hart Detective Agency, but he is only in a few scenes so didn't really get a feel for this character. Reverend Mara is the name of the mobster who is after Rumer and I found him to be a strange character. He is obsessed with locating an occult weapon called the Crook Spear. Then there is Bolt, an ex-policeman who befriends Rumer. I would have liked to have gotten to know him a lot more as there seems to be some chemistry between him and Rumer and would have liked for the author to have explored this a bit more. There are also a few other characters introduced, like George for instance and someone thought to be long dead.

 

Vicious Rumer is a pulse pounding read full of action, danger and violence. There are several twists and turns that surprised me and I found myself on an emotional roller coaster ride from beginning to end. I did find some scenes disturbing, particularly the one containing George and I shed a couple of tears for not only him, but Rumer too.

The occult weapon with the weird name is not what I thought it would be. However, so as not to spoil it, I will not say what kind of weapon it is. I will say that when it was disclosed I was completely thrown; I had a completely different weapon in mind. The end of the story sent chills up my spine. There could potentially be a sequel as it finishes ambiguously and ominously.

 

Joshua Winning has written an intriguing crime thriller with a kick-ass heroine. I love his fast paced writing style, and the story flowed beautifully. He is one of only a handful of male authors who I have added to my favourite authors list and I can't wait to see what he will come up with in the future.

 

Due to the nature of the story (danger, violence, bloodshed), I do not recommend this book to young readers or those of a nervous disposition. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love crime thrillers with kick-ass heroines. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of Tormented by Susan Clayton-Goldner

Tormented - Susan Clayton-Goldner

Father's Anthony's devotion to God and His Church begins to unravel the moment Rita Wittier steps inside St. Catherine’s Cathedral in San Francisco. He struggles to control his feelings, but two years later, he is a man obsessed.

 

In an attempt to rediscover the priest he intended to become, Anthony flies back to Delaware to visit Father Timothy. If redemption can be found anywhere, surely it can be found in the church of his childhood and in the soothing Irish brogue of his former mentor.

 

The months pass, 60 Minutes does a special on Father Anthony and the Shepherd Academy—a school he started for disadvantaged children. He’s become a national hero— nicknamed the Good Shepherd. But he can’t get Rita out of his mind. He wants her more than anything—even God—and can no longer deny it. Six hours after he tells her how he feels, Rita is found dead in her car from an apparent suicide. Or is it murder?

 

Review 4*

 

This is an interesting psychological thriller/murder mystery. I really enjoyed it!

 

Father Anthony is an interesting character. I liked him and felt for him as he finds himself questioning his life as a priest when he begins to have feelings for one of his parishioners, Rita Wittier. When she is found dead in an apparent suicide not long after he confesses to her about his feelings, he finds himself torn between grief and determination to find her killer.

 

I started to read this book and was quickly hooked. Set in 1971, the story takes the reader on an emotional journey of a priest who suffers from a crisis of faith. This story is told through various characters' view points, which made it more interesting so that a reader gets to see what's happening at different points throughout the tale. Tormented is an apt title, as each character is beset by doubts and emotional angst. Besides Father Anthony, the reader is also introduced to Rita's husband, Konrad, who's a criminal lawyer, her nine year-old daughter, Connie, and her brother, Gordon (or Gordy as he's known by) who is a fashion designer/artist. We also are introduced to the investigating policeman, Detective Paul Harley Stanwick.

 

There are several twists and turns in this story that had me doubting myself, as well as a few well placed red herrings that kept me from guessing who the main suspect was initially. I should have listened to my gut. Even though I had an inkling as to who it was who killed Rita, at least by the half-way point, I was still surprised by how the author gave the reveal a twist. The character I felt for the most was Connie. Being only nine, she has to deal with a lot of emotional baggage, which strips her of her childhood innocence. The tale is a riveting read of danger and suspense. I reached the end of the book with mixed feelings - sorry for the characters but glad that the culprit was caught. I really enjoyed the story though.

 

Susan Clayton-Goldner is a new author to me, as I've never read any of her other books before. I love her writing style, which is not particularly fast-paced even though it kept me turning the pages. The story flowed wonderfully from scene to scene, which made it easy to picture in my minds eye. I would consider reading more of her books in the future,

 

Due to some moderate violence (implied not shown), I do not recommend this book to younger readers. However, I recommend this book to those who love psychological thrillers or murder mysteries. - Lynn Worton

 

*****

 

Please note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author before the publication in May 2018 with no expectation of a positive review.

Book Review of Giselda and the Dragon by J S Rumble

Giselda & The Dragon - J.S. Rumble

Giselda feels terribly guilty that she stole from the dragon on the mountain top. It's also worrying her that he might be holding a grudge against the schools because of what happened.

Unable to forget what she did she decides to travel up the mountain and face the dragon once more. It is safe to say the encounter has an unexpected outcome and Giselda is thrown into more exciting and terrifying adventures...but does she find what she is looking for?

 

Review 5*

 

This is the next book in the Giselda series of children's chapter books. I loved it!

 

Giselda is a wonderful character and I really liked her when I was introduced to her in the first book. She's an eight year-old girl who found out that she's a witch. Now a student at Wigmore School for Witches, she has already had one deadly adventure. However, she is beset with guilt for her part in stealing hair off of a dragon. Determined to right a wrong, she must find the courage to face the dragon once more.

 

This book is a sweet children's book with an exciting adventure included. It is ideal for children with short attention spans.

 

The school is not your typical witch/wizard school, nor is it like Hogwarts. Wigmore teaches their students to be bad (not evil) and play tricks on others. The story continues from the end of the first book, Giselda The Witch. I love meeting Tom again. He is a young wizard who befriends Giselda through the fence that separates the two sections (girls and boys are taught separately). This time, the two set off on an adventure that introduces new characters. I was terrified of the dragon when the children faced him in the first book, but in this one we get to know him a little better. His name is Colin and he's not scary at all. We are also introduced to his friend Gerald, another dragon, as well as a mysterious mythological species called Pangles, who look like large black cats with wings.

 

This book takes the reader on a magical adventure that sees the two children and Colin looking for a magical mirror that had been stolen from Colin over fifty years previously. There are several challenges that they face throughout the story, with lots of magic and spells, and the action and adventure kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. I think I've lot my heart to the baby Pangle though. Where can I get one?? The story ends satisfactorily, but eludes to further adventures to come and I can't wait!

 

J.S. Rumble has written an entertaining chapter book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love her writing style, which is not particularly fast paced though easy enough for children to follow whether reading on their own, or being read to by their parents. The flow is wonderful too. I would definitely consider reading more of her books in the future.

 

I highly recommend this chapter book to young children aged 4-10, and to adults looking for a chapter book to keep their little ones entertained. - Lynn Worton

 

Book Review of Little Bear and His Chair by Claressa Swensen & Illustrated by Alena Paklina

 

Book Review of Little Bear and His Chair by Claressa Swensen & Illustrated by Alena Paklina

 

Review 5*

 

This is a wonderfully illustrated story for children aged between 3 and 8. I loved it!

 

I love the colourful illustrations done by Alena Paklina. They bring this short story to life and will engage a child who hasn’t fully grasped how to read yet, but who can follow the story with ease as it's been read to them by their parent. It compliments the short story written by the author so one is transported directly into the tale. Depending on the child’s age and reading ability, the author has written a charming story that is easy enough for a young reader to follow, as she uses simple words that will not confuse a child.

 

The story is a simple but important one about learning to share. Little Bear has a lovely chair but refuses to share it. Because of his selfish behaviour, he has been left out of the fun and become lonely, which is no fun at all. He learns that by sharing, he is included in all the fun and games with his friends. This then translates into teaching the young reader how it is better to share when playing with their friends or siblings. Some adults reading this book may decide that this book is also about bullying as Little Bear is not exactly nice to his friends. However, this is not the impression I found when reading it. I suppose it depends on your upbringing and what your life experiences have made to you as a reader, and how you interpret a book in a certain way. I can only go on my impression of this book and I think it’s a lovely book that can entertain as well as educate. Everyone’s opinion is different, so I will leave you to decide if, after reading the sample, whether you would want your child to either listen to you read it, or they read this book on their own.

 

This book is suitable to read as a bedtime story, or anytime at all, especially if a child has a short attention span. It is a quick read, so even if they haven’t settled down, the lovely pictures will entertain the children.

 

Claressa Swensen is a new author to me, as I have not read her other children’s books. However, I would definitely read more of her books in the future.

 

I highly recommend this book to children aged 3 upwards and to adults looking for a fun but educational read for their children. – Lynn Worton (Book Reviews by Lynn)

 

P.S. This book has not yet been published and will be on Kickstarter for a crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of May. Please consider donating to it. The link to the campaign will follow once it goes live on 1st May 2018.

Book Review of 'Til Death Do Us Part (an adult retelling of The Little Mermaid) by Dianna Hardy

'Til Death Do Us Part (an adult retelling of The Little Mermaid) - Dianna Hardy

BRAND NEW COVER! (Same content.)

 

"The day you get married, is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. Dreams are made of such things. But I forgot. I could blame the witch if I wanted to - in fact I did, for quite a while after - but the fault can only lie with me. Being with him made me so happy - so very, very happy - that I chose to forget. I chose amnesia. If I had had any foresight into how my flippant choice would ruin him, I would have saved him the heartbreak. I would have forfeited my knowing him, my own selfishness, lived forever in the pain of unfulfillment, if it meant he could be spared...."

 

When you love someone so much that your heart aches without them in your life, would you give up everything you've ever known to be with them? Would you give up your identity?

 

This is exactly what Aria did. But her sacrifice comes at a great cost, with startling consequences. With no memory of her previous life, she's forgotten what she really is, and who she's left behind: a jealous, possessive God, who's finally found her, and will stop at nothing to keep her heart from ever straying again.

 

In this dark and passionate retelling of The Little Mermaid, can a love founded on humanity, stand the passing of time, an angry sea-God, and even death itself?

 

*Please note: this book is NOT "erotica". (It has been mistakenly placed in that category, and you will be sorely disappointed if you are buying this for titillation!) It is a dark fantasy gothic romance, containing only a couple of mildly explicit scenes. In the vein of many dark fantasies, it also contains some violence which may disturb some readers.

 

Notes: The English translation of the original story, Den lille Havfrue, by Hans Christian Anderson, works out at just under 10,000 words. This retelling is just over 10,000 words.

 

Review 4*

 

This is an interesting retelling of The Little Mermaid. I loved it.

 

Aria is a character I neither liked or disliked. I did find her a little selfish and self absorbed with her love of Simon. However, she also showed an inner strength when faced with difficult decisions, and also had to deal with an abusive situation.

 

This short story was a quick read, with lots of twists to keep the reader guessing as to what would happen next. There is a scene that could potentially upset some readers, which could also be a triggering event for them if they’ve been in an abusive relationship or been abused. So reader beware! I did enjoy Aria’s journey of emotional growth through the tale though. She matures within it. However, I’m not sure about the ending. It left me with mixed feelings even though it concludes satisfactorily.

This book is one of Dianna Hardy’s earlier works, which is why, I think, I found it a little disappointing even though I loved it. Her writing has improved a lot since this book was originally written. I love her fast paced writing style and I found no problem with the story flow, so as an introduction to her storytelling, this would be the ideal way to start.

 

Due to scenes of a sexual nature and abuse, I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 16. However, I highly recommend this book if you love paranormal/supernatural romances and adult-themed fairytale retellings. - Lynn Worton

Audio/Book Review of The Dragons of Dorcastle (The Pillars of Reality, Book 1) By Jack Campbell

The Dragons of Dorcastle - Jack Campbell

The first book in a thrilling new epic fantasy saga by Jack Campbell, the New York Times best-selling author of The Lost Fleet series!

 

For centuries, the two Great Guilds have controlled the world of Dematr. The Mechanics and the Mages have been bitter rivals, agreeing only on the need to keep the world they rule from changing. But now a Storm approaches, one that could sweep away everything that humans have built. Only one person has any chance of uniting enough of the world behind her to stop the Storm, but the Great Guilds and many others will stop at nothing to defeat her.

 

Mari is a brilliant young Mechanic, just out of the Guild Halls, where she has spent most of her life learning how to run the steam locomotives and other devices of her Guild. Alain is the youngest Mage ever to learn how to change the world he sees with the power of his mind. Each has been taught that the works of the other's Guild are frauds. But when their caravan is destroyed, they begin to discover how much has been kept from them.

 

As they survive danger after danger, Alain discovers what Mari doesn’t know – that she was long ago prophesized as the only one who can save their world. When Mari reawakens emotions he had been taught to deny, Alain realizes he must sacrifice everything to save her. Mari, fighting her own feelings, discovers that only together can she and Alain hope to stay alive and overcome the Dragons of Dorcastle.

 

Review 5*

 

This is the first book in a fantastic epic fantasy series called The Pillars of Reality. I absolutely loved it!

 

Mari is a fantastic character. I love her determination to do the right thing, even at the cost of her own life. She is an eighteen year-old mechanic... Sorry, Lady Master Mechanic as she loves to correct all her Guild elders who insist on dropping the honorific, even though she has attained it by qualifying as the youngest Lady Master Mechanic since the Guild was first formed. When the caravan/convoy she is travelling in is attacked, she finds herself travelling with a mage who was hired by the caravan to protect it as it travelled to Ringmon where she has a Guild contract to repair a mechanical device. As danger threatens, Mari finds herself torn between doing what is right, and her growing feelings for Mage Alain.

 

Mage Alain is also a fantastic character. I liked him a lot. He is seventeen years-old and one of the youngest Acolytes to achieve Mage status. He has been taught from a young age not to show or feel any emotions and that the world he lives in is an illusion, where nothing is real. When the caravan he's been contracted to protect comes under attack, he finds himself drawn to Mari, feelings long forbidden returning to the surface. As he begins to see through the illusion to the truth that had been kept from them, he realises that Mari is the woman prophesized to unite the people of Dematr. Can he protect her long enough to fulfil it?

 

I purchased this book in audio format in 2015 when it was recommended to me on Audible due to my listening and browsing history. I am kicking myself for not listening to it sooner. I kept putting it off for some reason unknown to me. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it at the time. Who knows? Anyway, now I'm seriously annoyed with myself for missing out on listening to this story, which is narrated by MacLeod Andrews. He does a fantastic job in bringing the story to life. Even Alain, who's voice is meant to be flat and emotionless comes across with subtle hints. You would think that Alain's voice would be monotonous, but it's not so. I love the way he brings all the characters to life with different accents, inflections and tones. He even makes the women's voices sound perfect for each character. As for his narration, he read the story clearly and concisely, and his pacing was perfect. I would definitely listen to more books read by this narrator.

 

This story introduces us to the world of Dematr. It is a mass of contradictions. There are two great Guilds who hold all the power over the common folk - The Mechanics and The Mages. These Guilds have held power for centuries and refuse to relinquish their hold and reject change of any kind. However, this is slowly strangling the world, making it harder and harder for the Mechanics especially as their technology is regressing. This story has a steampunk feel to it, with machinery being steam driven at times - trains for instance. Though there are some more modern items such as far-talkers (walkie-talkies to you and me), torches using batteries, and rifles and pistols that are decidedly more modern-day. Mages use energy from the land around them and some of their own energy to make spells. These spells can be used in various ways - from hiding oneself to creating a dragon.

 

This book is told through the eyes of both Mari and Alain and I found myself completely hooked from beginning to end. I was fascinated by how different the Guilds were, but also struck by how similar they were too. I loved getting to know the two main protagonists and watching (in my minds eye) the story unfold as I listened. I have no idea why, but as I listened to Mage Alain talking and thinking, I had a sudden picture of Richard Dean Anderson as he played Colonel Jack O'Neill in SG1 - with a dry wit and deadpan face. If they ever decide to make this book into a movie or TV series, I would hope they could find someone like that to do Alain justice. Anyway, back to the book. I found myself an emotional wreck near the end. I think my heart broke, it definitely felt heavy at any rate. However, the audiobook version (I can't speak for the book version) has a preview of the second book in the series and I am now looking forward to reading/listening to The Hidden Masters of Marandur as soon as I can.

 

Jack Campbell is a new author to me. I've never read or listened to any of his other books. However, I may have to add him to my favourite authors list, as he's found a fan in me. I love his writing style, which is fast paced and descriptive, and the flow of the story is good too.

 

Although there is no mention of any scenes of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers under the age of 15 due to some violence. I do, however, highly recommend this book if you love dark or epic fantasy, steampunk or action/adventure and supernatural/paranormal romance genres. - Lynn Worton

Book Review of Esher (Guardians of Hades Romance Series Book 3) by Felicity Heaton

Esher - Felicity E. Heaton

Prince of the Underworld and Lord of Water, Esher was banished from his home by his father, Hades, two centuries ago and given a new duty and purpose—to keep our world and his from colliding in a calamity foreseen by the Moirai.

 

Together with his six brothers, he fights to defend the gates to the Underworld from daemons bent on breaching them and gaining entrance to that forbidden land, striving to protect his home from their dark influence. Tormented by his past, Esher burns with hatred towards mortals and bears a grudge against Hades for forcing him into their world, condemning him to a life of battling to keep a fragile hold on his darker side—a side that wants to kill every human in the name of revenge.

 

Until he finds himself stepping in to save a female—a beautiful mortal filled with light and laughter who draws him to her as fiercely as the pull of the moon, stirring conflict in his heart and rousing dangerous needs long forgotten.

 

Aiko knows from the moment she sets eyes on the black-haired warrior that he is no ordinary man, just as she’s no ordinary woman. Blessed with a gift, she can see through his stormy façade to the powerful god beneath, and the pain and darkness that beats inside him—pain she grows determined to heal as she falls deeper under his spell and into his world.

 

When the daemon bent on turning Esher against his brothers makes her move, will Esher find the strength to overcome his past and fulfil his duty, or will the lure of revenge allow the darkness in his heart to seize control, transforming him into a god intent on destroying the world?

 

Review 5*

 

This is the third book in the Guardians of Hades series. I loved it!

 

Esher is a wonderful character. I love a tortured soul and Esher fits this mould easily. He is the middle child of seven siblings born to Hades and Persephone, and has power over water. Banished by his father to live in the mortal realm to guard the gates to the Underworld, Esher lives in Tokyo with one of his brothers. Due to an event in his past he struggles with his dark impulses to hurt the humans in his city, so he avoids them when he can or tries to ignore them when he can't. When he impulsively helps a damsel in distress, he finds himself captivated by her gentle soul. However, danger abounds. Will he be able to curb his dark impulses, or will he end up hurting the ones he loves?

 

Aiko is also a wonderful character. I liked her a lot. She is a gentle and loving woman with a huge heart, and the ability to see and speak to spirits. When she meets Esher she realises that he's not entirely human, but she is drawn to him and as she gets to know him, she begins to fall for him. As danger threatens to tear them apart, she finds herself targeted as a pawn in a dangerous game played by a mysterious opponent.

 

I love reading the Eternal Mates series, but this new series may give it a run for it's money. This story takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster from beginning to end. I started to read this story and didn't put it down until I'd finished it. I loved meeting the brothers again after almost a year since the previous book (Valen) was released. I love the little details the author has included, like Valen and Ares losing bets with their significant others and the forfeits they had to deal with. It made me giggle. They are obviously in love and complete saps to boot.

 

In this story, we get to meet Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, though it's not entirely a happy affair. But, this leads to an event that... Ugh! This would be a spoiler, so going to stop there. Nevertheless, I found myself shedding tears a few times in this story, so recommend you keep a tissue handy (just in case). There are new villains you will love to hate including a Valkyrie, but there is also a mysterious woman mentioned who seems to be the mastermind behind the plot to turn the world into the Otherworld that the three Fates or Moirai had warned about, but we (the readers) will have to wait for the next books in the series to find out who this person is. As I reached the end of the book, I found myself becoming even more excited for what is to come. I am now looking forward to reading Marek's story as soon as I can.

 

Felicity Heaton has written another fast paced, sexy paranormal romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. I love her fast paced writing style, which flows effortlessly from scene to scene. She is on top of my favourite author's list.

 

Each book of this series could be read as a stand-alone, as this one does not end in a cliffhanger, though I would recommend reading them in order. I do not recommend this book to younger readers due to the extremely HOT and explicit sexual scenes. However, I highly recommend this book (and series) if you love sexy paranormal romances full of gods and daemons. - Lynn Worton