Category: Blog Tours

Blog Tour Review: Warrior Prince – J.C. Duncan

It’s time for another book review and I’m excited to share it as part of the blog tour for Warrior Prince. I personally chose to pick up the book as I wanted to read something with a Viking theme. At the same time, I wanted something a little different from other books on the market focussing them in a Saxon setting.

Warrior Prince does just that, and more besides! Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I will firstly say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and to the author, J.C. Duncan. I appreciate the opportunity to review the book as part of the tour.

Now, let’s get to the bit you are here for – the book!

 

Warrior Prince – J.C. Duncan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 355

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 23 Oct 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Warrior Prince

Prince. Mercenary. Exile.

The lost throne of Norway must be won in foreign lands.

1030 AD

Some men are gifted a crown. Others have to fight to claim it.

Exiled from Norway, Harald Sigurdsson, brother to murdered King Olaf, must battle mercilessly for survival in the lands of the Kievan Rus.

His brother’s legacy gifts him a warband of hardened warriors and entry to the court of Prince Yaroslav the Wise. By his wits, sword and skill in battle, Harald must learn not just to survive but to triumph.

He fights for glory, for fame, and to regain his family’s battle-stolen throne. But his greatest

challenge may not come from battlefield foes but from those who stand by his side.

The first instalment in a remarkable story of an exiled boy’s incredible journey to become Harald

Hardrada; The Hard Ruler and The Last Viking.

Perfect for fans of Matthew Harffy, Peter Gibbons, Bernard Cornwell and Christian Cameron

 

Purchase Link – https://mybook.to/warriorprincesocial

 

My Thoughts…

 

Plot

Warrior Prince is full action and daring. Harald Sigurdsson is exiled from his homeland. In order to build reputation to one day claim the throne, he sets out with a warband of battle-hardened men loyal to him. His travels take him to Prince Yaroslav the Wise, and from there, across territories contested and hard fought for by many… including Harald and his men.

The battle scenes and conflict are the main drivers of the plot, and they are the scenes I most enjoyed in Warrior Prince. They are the essence of life as a Viking warrior. To emphasise their importance, they are very well written to immerse us in each battle as they play out. The danger of every moment is apparent, and has us questioning whether our favourite characters are safe throughout.

However, there is more to the book than endless battles. Harald, in the service of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, has to deal with court politics – something he is not used to or adept at. In his quest to make a name for himself and become a leader, he has to learn when words serve better than swords, and who to watch to avoid a knife in the back…

  

Characters

Harald is already established at the beginning of the book as a capable man with a weapon. What becomes apparent quite quickly is that he has very little knowledge or experience when it comes to diplomacy; if he can’t use his sword to get his way, he’s lost.

It’s a character arc we see develop over the course of the narrative. It doesn’t seem to come naturally to him. But, Harald proves his determination to become a leader by learning from his shortcomings as they present themselves. He and his warband are tested repeatedly, and by individuals out to discredit or outright kill them. As a result, we see this repeatedly over the course of the book!

 

Setting

It was for the book’s unique setting that I wanted to pick it up in the first place! I have read a lot of Viking fiction based around conflict for and within English land. And I have enjoyed those books very much. However, I was excited for the promise of something a little different. Warrior Prince is set across Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries. It’s not a setting I have read before, and consequently, it provided a unique and compelling narrative.

Naturally, there is far greater scope for travel and new scenery… and of that we see plenty. Harald and his band travel extensively over the course of the book, and we get to see and experience more variety in characters, setting and culture.

Each location, and even the narrative whilst traveling, is finely balanced between description and action. There is plenty of detail to paint a vivid description in a reader’s mind whilst not bogging down the action within the plot.

 

Narrative Style

Warrior Prince is told in the form of a recollection of one of Harald‘s right-hand men. When I realised this was the format of the book, I got really excited. It is a style I have loved in fantasy books such as Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind, R. R. Virdi’s The First Binding and Jay Kristoff’s Empire of the Vampire. All of these books got a five star rating from me. Consequently, I went in to this book with high expectations. Warrior Prince met them! 

It is an interesting narrative style, because it makes us question the perception we get. Is the story being told from a wiser and more rounded individual than that same person in their youth? Or, are their perceptions of events coloured through time and/or outcomes? For example, would battles in this book be considered foolhardy in circumstances of defeat, where they are painted as phenomenal feats when recalled after victory? I suppose we will never know. But, if you enjoy thinking about that sort of thing, then it adds a layer of complexity to the narrative. Do we believe all we are told?

 

Summary

Full of action and intrigue, Warrior Prince gives us everything we’d expect from a Viking novel, but in a new setting and with new challenges to face. Unable to know what is immediately around the corner for Harald and his men, the book keeps us readers on the edge of our seat throughout!

Firstly, having read books in the genre by Bernard Cornwell, Matthew Harffy and Peter Gibbons, fans will enjoy Warrior Prince. Secondly, the book has its own unique spin on the genre and deviates from these authors in a way that makes it readable and standalone in its own right. So do it – you won’t regret it!

 

Author Bio

J. C. Duncan is a well-reviewed historical fiction author and amateur bladesmith, with a passion for Vikings.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JCDuncanAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JCDuncanauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/j.c.duncan/?hl=enn

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-c-duncan

Blog Tour Review: The Puppet Maker – Jenny O’Brien

Happy Friday friends and welcome to a highly anticipated review. I’ve been looking forward to sharing my thoughts on The Puppet Maker since I finished the book about a week ago.

Before I jump into my thoughts on this fantastic book, I always like to take the chance to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Jenny O’Brien, for giving me the chance to read this book and share my thoughts today.

I really enjoyed The Puppet Maker. It’s been a little while since I picked up a book of this genre and it was a great re-introduction!

 

The Puppet Maker – Jenny O’Brien

Genre: Police Procedural

Pages: 298

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Storm Publishing

Publication Date: 17 Oct 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The Puppet Maker

The scrap of paper looked as if it had been torn from a diary. The words written in faint pencil. The letters rounded, almost childlike: Please look after her. Her life and mine depend on you not trying to find me.

When Detective Alana Mack arrives at Clonabee police station, in a small Irish seaside town on the outskirts of Dublin, she doesn’t expect to find a distressed two-year-old girl sobbing on the floor.

Abandoned in a local supermarket, the child tells them her name is Casey. All Alana and her team have to go on is a crumpled note begging for someone to look after her little girl. This mother doesn’t want to be found.

Still recovering from a terrible accident that has left Alana navigating a new life as a wheelchair user, Alana finds herself suddenly responsible for Casey while trying to track down the missing mother and solve another missing person’s case… a retired newsagent who has seemingly vanished from his home.

Forced to ask her ex-husband and child psychiatrist Colm for help, through Forensic Art Therapy, Alana discovers that whatever darkness lies behind the black windows in Casey’s crayon drawing, the little girl was terrified of the house she lived in.

Then a bag of human remains is found in a bin, and a chilling link is made – the DNA matches Casey’s.

Alana and her team must find the body and make the connection with the missing newsagent fast if she is to prevent another life from being taken. But with someone in her department leaking confidential details of the investigation to the media, can Alana set aside her emotional involvement in this case and find Casey’s mother and the killer before it’s too late?

Heart-pounding and totally addictive, The Puppet Maker is the first in the Detective Alana Mack series that will have fans of Ann Cleeves, Angela Marsons and LJ Ross racing through the pages late into the night.

 

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0C9JJ5XYB/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C9JJ5XYB/

 

My Thoughts…

 

Plot

The Puppet Maker has a lot of dark and difficult themes. That shouldn’t come as a surprise in a narrative whose synopsis involves body parts. There’s a lot more to it than that, however. Poverty, abuse, illness and disability also have their place this book. It colours what could be a beautiful setting (and I’m sure it is when painted in a more natural light) into a city with an underbelly… and that’s perfect for this type of book. It’s gritty and highlights the less savoury side of life – something we are perhaps too keen to look away and ignore otherwise.

The plot unravels at a perfect pace to keep us readers on our toes and guessing what could possibly come next. Every chapter has a purpose, from setting the scene to sharing pivotal information. Overall, I enjoyed the balance in establishing the setting and characters with the action within. I enjoy both aspects, so taking time  to make the most of both appealed to me as a reader.

 

Characters

I enjoyed the representation in our protagonist Alana. It isn’t very often we find ourselves with a detective with a disability. Alana’s disability is physical and the book does a fantastic job of illustrating difficulties wheelchair users suffer… even down to being able to perform such basic and mundane tasks by themselves. Taking the time to explore such detail within this complex narrative adds to the overall setting and makes for an immersive experience.

That said, Alana isn’t defined by her disability either. She is a complex character with a strength of spirit even before you consider her recent history. Alana has suffered more misery than the loss of her legs. It’s abundantly clear to us readers that this has a profound effect on her, but she’s doesn’t let it drag her down into the darkest depths either.

Alana is just one character amongst a complex cast. Whilst she unravels the mystery of a young girl and a missing parent, there are lots of other characters that add to this interesting narrative. Casey’s mother is also a really exciting character to read the perspective of. Could you imagine leaving your daughter in a supermarket in the hopes that someone will take her in and care for her? A lot of people might consider that unthinkable, but believe me, she has her reasons and those come to light as the book unfolds.

 

Narrative Style

The Puppet Maker is multi perspective, which really worked for me. This writing style is my preference, and with this type of book and narrative it works really well to unveil plot twists and secrets to the reader in a timely fashion and maintain suspense until all the pieces come together.

The chapters are a great length. Each voice has plenty of page-time to explore their own stories within the wider narrative. At the same time, they are concise enough to get the message across and have us compulsively reading the next chapter for a further revelation. This balance, in my opinion, was perfect for the genre and subject of the book!

Each character and perspective has a distinct voice and narrative style, so we know whose perspective we are reading at any given time. With a decent number of characters to pull off, this is well managed throughout.

 

Summary

The Puppet Maker is a compulsive page-turner with an intricate and twisty plot line to keep readers engaged. It’s a wonder I managed to put the book down from time to time and actually function as an adult. Well, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion, eh?

 

Author Bio

Born in Dublin, Jenny O’Brien moved to Wales and then Guernsey, where she tries to

find time to write in between working as a nurse and ferrying around 3 teenagers.

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 is represented by Nicola Barr of The Bent Agency and published by Storm Publishing and HQ Digital (Harper Collins).

Social Media Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ScribblerJB
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/scribblerjb/

Blog Tour Review: The Trail – M. A. Hunter

Hello, my reading friends! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Trail published under the pen name  M.A. Hunter. If you are looking for a dark, atmospheric and spooky read for the upcoming season, then stay tuned for today’s review!

Before I dive into the details, I always like to open these posts with a thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, the author, and Boldwood books. I really enjoyed picking up a brand-new read from an author I had yet to try, and I have a great reading experience to share with you!

Without further ado, let’s journey into The Trail…

 

The Trail – M.A. Hunter

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Pages: 340

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 08 Sept 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The Trail

Sometimes it’s best to let the past stay buried…

Thirty years ago, Jess’s mother, Nora, disappeared while on a charity hike in the US. The devastating loss has afflicted Jess well into her adult life and even inspired her decision to become an investigative journalist.

So when Jess receives an anonymous tip telling her that remains have been recovered in the spot her mother disappeared, she wastes no time in jumping on a plane.

They say the Appalachian Mountains have secrets, but as she begins to ask around, she learns that the locals do too. But no matter how much they lie, she is determined to find the truth – even if it will irrevocably change her future.

Someone wants to keep the past buried. And they will stop at nothing to keep Jess as quiet as the tranquil mountain trail itself…

Purchase Link

 

My Thoughts…

 

Plot

Tense and cleverly written, what seems at first an innocent story about uncovering the truth gets a whole lot more sinister. The townsfolk of Rockston, among others along the Appalachian Trail (AT), hold themselves apart from strangers. When one such stranger, Jess, hastily heads out to the Trail in pursuit of the truth after a body is uncovered, trouble looms.

There are lots of elements to this story. Some are rational, others less so. And yet, anything feels possible in this isolated world away from home. The boundaries of reality vs. imagination seem a lot thinner in the peaks…

The nature of the book and the storyline have you trying to read between the lines. If you get on with books that encourage you to think about what’s going on beneath the surface, then The Trail is perfect for you! I never quite knew what to expect from the ending of The Trail, and I definitely didn’t anticipate the twist!

 

Setting

The Appalachian Trail makes for a great psychological thriller setting. With wild stories about the trail and those that surround it, it’s easy to buy into the sinister tales and fear of those living off the grid, and the magic and occult that’s intwined with their existence. With any small town setting, there are ample opportunities for conflict, both within the town, but also towards strangers like Jess. We get to experience all the perks and tension that come with this niche.

Jess (and 30 years ago, her mother Nora) are out of their comfort zones on the trail. Away from the safety net of home and a wealth of resources, they are subject to the whims of everyone and everything around them. And not everyone is their friend…

 

Characters

The Trail has a full cast of characters that add to this spooky narrative. If they don’t make your skin crawl outright, you definitely find yourself questioning underlying motives and whether you are being told the truth or not. Nobody wants Jess poking around into the truth of her mother’s disappearance, and her questions quickly lead her into danger.

Coming towards the end of the narrative, I started questioning whether Jess could trust anyone on her quest for the truth. Nothing and no one are quite what they seem. The small town community vibe, combined with this wild wilderness setting, add to her isolation and vulnerability.

 

Narrative Style

One of the huge selling points for this book is the dark and sinister atmosphere that the author maintains throughout. With short, punchy chapters that alternate between two timelines that take place 30 years apart, we really don’t know what’s coming up in just a few short pages.

The chapter lengths are a great way of keeping a fast-paced and lots of tension, but also make it really easy to pick up and put down this book as and when you need. Not that you’ll want to, mind. Generally, I am the kind of person who prefers a slightly lengthier and meatier chapter length, but this still worked for me. That’s just a matter of personal preference. The way the book is set up definitely worked with and in favour of this story. 

 

Summary

If you’re looking for a dark, atmospheric read to pick up this spooky season, you should check out The Trail by M.A. Hunter. If I haven’t convinced you, then please check out the thoughts of my fellow reviewers on the tour! More on ther details below. 

With a twisty narrative and deceit around every corner, what else could you possibly want to read?

 

Author Bio

M. A. Hunter is the alter ego of Stephen Edger, the bestselling author of psychological and crime

thrillers, including the Kate Matthews series.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMAHunter/

Twitter https://twitter.com/Writer_MAHunter

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MAHunterNews

Blog Tour Review: Protector of Mercia – M.J. Porter

I’ve taken part in the blog tours for every book of the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles series so far. When I got the invite to review the newly released fifth book in the series, Protector of Mercia, I jumped at the chance!

If you are new to the series and want to catch up on any of the prior books before this one, you can find my reviews for Son of Mercia, Wolf of Mercia, Warrior of Mercia and Eagle of Mercia using these links.

One last thing before getting into the details of this latest book and my review! A massive thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and to M.J. Porter for giving me the opportunity to read the book as part of the tour!

Now, let’s get stuck in!

 

Protector of Mercia – M.J. Porter

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 334

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 05 Sept 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Protector of Mercia

A deathbed oath leaves the lives of two infants hanging in the balance.

Tamworth AD833 After successfully rescuing her husband from the Island of Sheppey, Icel hears the deathbed confession of Lady Cynehild which leaves him questioning what he knows about his past, as well as his future.

In the unenviable position of being oath sworn to protect their two atheling sons when Lord Coenwulf is punished and banished for his treason against the Mercian ruler, King Wiglaf, Icel is once more torn between his oaths and the secret he knows.

When the two children are kidnapped, Icel, good to his word, and fearing for their safety, pursues their abductors into the dangerous Northern lands, fearing to discover who is behind the audacious attempt on their lives: the queen, the king’s son, or even Lady Ælflæd, a friend to him in the past, but now wed to the king’s son and aunt to the two abandoned children.

Alone in the Northern lands, Icel finds himself facing his worse fears. Can he rescue the children from their captor, or will he fail and lose his life in the process?

 

Purchase link

 

My Thoughts…

 

Plot

Where earlier books in the series centre on Viking invaders and Saxons repelling them, Protector of Mercia turns inward to the internal conflicts between Saxons themselves. I enjoyed the change of focus, as the undercurrents to the previous books got their chance to shine here.

Throughout the narrative, the threat of Viking warriors continues to loom; Saxons continually make preparations. However, the plot is largely a near-solo quest to locate and retrieve two children. They have a claim to the Mercian throne and are kidnapped under dubious circumstances. That’s not to say that we don’t get to see the camaraderie and group battle scenes we have come to know and love throughout the series though!

The conflict may arise from different sources in this book, but the execution of storytelling, tension and intrigue is just as great as every book in the series to date. Protector of Mercia is a compelling read, leaving you wondering how Icel is going to face the next challenge that is invariably around the corner.

 

Setting

Throughout the series we’ve ventured far and wide across the land of the Saxons. Protector of Mercia is no exception… and we get to explore new territory in this narrative. Icel finds himself venturing into new and unfamiliar lands. On his quest to secure the safety of the kidnapped children, he finds himself isolated and endangered at every moment.

The change of setting and circumstances of Icel’s quest keeps us (along with Icel) on our toes. He is not quite floundering, but he is far more unbalanced and unsure of his actions, creating tension and leaving us guessing as to what could happen next.

 

Characters

Icel remains a standout character for me throughout this series and in the genre more widely. He has come a long, long way from the youth who couldn’t bear to pick up a seax, even in his own defence. Yet, for all the personal growth and development over the course of the books, he retains a strong sense of self. He doesn’t relish his duty as a warrior – it is purely his responsibility. He has never lost touch with his penchant for healing and his allies greatly benefit from his skill after leaving a battlefield.

Given the more political nature of Protector of Mercia, we get to explore the natures of other Saxons that make up the background of not just this story but help augment what has already happened to date.

On top of the troubles with inheritance for the Mercian throne, Icel has his own secrets and preoccupations. We know far more about Icel as a character and his history than we did in Son of Mercia. The revelations of his past, and the potential consequences that may have are an overarching storyline spanning across the series. I’m sure we’ll see far more of this in future books, and I can’t wait to see how it all unravels.

 

Summary

Protector of Mercia varies slightly from the previous books in the series in terms of focus, but not in terms of enjoyment. I really appreciated the change of setting and conflict, and the worldbuilding we got as a result, but with the nail-biting (at times) tension that keeps us on the edge of our seat.

The Eagle of Mercia Chronicles series still has plenty of offer, and I already can’t wait for the next instalment!

 

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/m_j_porter/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

Blog Tour Review: Brothers of the Sword – Peter Gibbons

In today’s blog tour post, I have the privilege of sharing my thoughts by reviewing Brothers of the Sword by Peter Gibbons.

As always, I’ll take the opportunity here to thank both Peter and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour and giving me the chance to be a part of it. I had a great time taking part in the blog tour for the first book in the series, Warrior and Protector!

Now, let’s find out more about this latest book in the Saxon Warrior series.

 

Brothers of the Sword – Peter Gibbons

Genre: Historical fiction

Pages: 312

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 02 Aug 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Brothers of the Sword

An epic battle where heroes fight and die to protect a Kingdom from Viking invasion…

991AD

King Aethelred the Unready’s Kingdom of the English is threatened. Olaf Tryggvason and his fleet of Viking warships snap at the coastal edges like ravenous wolves, and Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes, has landed in East Anglia with an army of battle-hardened warriors.

Ealdorman Byrhtnoth of Essex must stand against them faced with overwhelming odds, forging his legend in the blood of his deadly enemies.

By his side, his Thegn, Beornoth, a brutal warrior and savage Saxon fighter is torn between his need to protect his loved ones, and his duty to fight for his Lord.

As the Vikings raid and slaughter, Beornoth is forced to fight for the survival of his oath sworn

brothers, his Lord, and the Kingdom itself when all roads lead to the fateful Battle of Maldon.

Can Beornoth protect his people and survive one of the most famous battles of the Viking Age?

A thrilling story, packed with war, vengeance and visceral combat.

 

Purchase Link

 

My Thoughts…

Plot

Following on from the earlier books in the series, Warrior and Protector and Storm of War, we are once again thrown into an action-packed novel. The life of a Saxon warrior is never a quiet one. Especially not for someone as reputed as Beornoth.

As ever, Vikings continue to raid and plunder throughout the kingdoms of now England. Despite attempts to pay the Vikings off to leave, these bloodthirsty men keep returning to English shores. It is Beornoth’s duty to cast them back into the sea.

I’m sure it goes with the territory with this book and setting, but it’s only fair to mention that the narrative in places is quite violent and in some places, graphic. I personally enjoyed this level of description, although I appreciate it may not be for everybody. I knew going into this book that it was going to feature a lot of war and battle scenes.

 

Setting

If Viking troubles weren’t enough, ongoing internal political conflict throughout the kingdoms divert the attention of those warriors who would protect the innocent. The particular time period this book’s set in is around the time when England first started to operate as a single country rather than independent kingdoms. It is apparent that this is still a recent development in the books as there are still shadows of division present, both in the events of the book, as well as the attitudes of characters. Although a work of fiction, Peter Gibbons incorporates historical elements in an interesting, but still informative way.

There is a lot of travelling that takes place throughout these books, and that gives us the opportunity to appreciate how vastly different locations were at the time. From established, fortified burhs to small villages on the roadside, a slightly geeky side of me enjoyed experiencing the architectural and technological advancements ongoing at the time. Compared to our modern day life, it seems very primitive. Even still, the descriptions are beautifully vivid, and so help immerse you into Beornoth’s world.

 

Characters

Beornoth was established as a multi-dimensional character from the first book. Even still, he continues to grow throughout the series. He is a well-known Saxon warrior, renowned for his skill and courage in fighting to protect Saxon land. He has his fair share of troubles. Having suffered at the hands of Vikings as a younger man, he detests those who would cause harm to others. And he fights against them savagely, and doesn’t shy away from putting himself in danger in order to try and protect others.

Even so, he is far from an altruistic character. Hellbent on revenge, a character from the second book (whom Beornoth deliberately debilitated in the previous book), makes a real appearance in Brothers of the Sword. Beornoth’s actions in Storm of War come back to haunt him, as the circumstances of the maiming of this character have spurred the Vikings into trying to dominate the Saxons for good… more savagely than ever!

As with all people, Beornoth is multifaceted and at times, morally grey. It makes him a very plausible character in terms of motives and understanding how he thinks, as well as allowing for growth in learning from his mistakes. Overall, I really enjoy Beornoth’s perspective on events. Whilst he may not be perfect, he more often than not has the best of intentions.

 

Summary

Brothers of the Sword is an exciting sequel to the Saxon Warrior series. I’m really enjoying the amount of action and conflict present throughout each of the books. The events of this particular book show that the author does not pull his punches – something I really enjoy. It’s more exciting to read a book if you don’t know if everything will work out in the end. In every battle scene, I was questioning whether my favourite characters were going to make it out alive. After the heat of battle, I couldn’t help but wonder what was next on the horizon for the survivors!

 

Author Bio

Peter Gibbons is a financial advisor and author of the highly acclaimed Viking Blood and Blade trilogy.

He comes to Boldwood with his new Saxon Warrior series, set around the 900 AD Viking invasion during the reign of King Athelred the Unready. He originates from Liverpool and now lives with his family in County Kildare.

Social Media Links –

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/petergibbonsauthor

Twitter https://twitter.com/AuthorGibbons

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/petermgibbons/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/PeterGibbonsNews

Blog Tour Review: Death at the Caravan Park – Susan Willis

Happy weekend folks and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Death at the Caravan Park by Susan Willis. It’s been a few months since I last took part in a blog tour. I’ve been taking the time to chip away at my ever-growing reading list. However, I’m excited to be back and sharing my thoughts on a book and genre I haven’t picked up for a while!

As always, before I share and discuss details the book, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank both the author Susan and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour. I always enjoy the chance to pick up something a little bit new, and to feature new novels and different authors.

Now, let’s find out more about the book!

 

Death at the Caravan Park – Susan Willis

 

Genre: Cosy Crime

Pages: 229

Audience: Adult

Publication Date: 20 Jun 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

 

Clive Thompson heads for Whitley Bay caravan park to finish writing his novel. He’s never had a caravan holiday before and is warmly greeted by the manager, Liz Mathews, who lives on the park.

She is single and cares for her ninety year old mother who has Alzheimer’s Disease. Clive meets the people in neighbouring caravans and has an amazing view from his veranda over the sea to St. Mary’s Lighthouse. However, Audrey goes missing during the night and Liz is beside herself with worry. The police are out looking for her, but disillusioned by their efforts, Clive begins his own investigations.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK       Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Plot

Clive Thompson is a writer, looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life in order to finish his second novel. Having never taken a trip to a caravan park, he decides that this is the perfect place to retreat, and finds himself in Whitley Bay.

However, there are plenty of goings on that distract him from his project. From a vast array of interesting characters, to a dark history of the place and events that he cannot help but get sucked into… there is plenty to enjoy about this novel.

Death at the Caravan Park was the perfect length for me. There is more than enough page count in order to explore the genre and events that take place. At the same time, the book is a great length to pick up and make progress with very easily. It’s an approachable read for all abilities and reading stamina.

 

Setting

I really enjoyed the northern setting of the book. This was very apparent throughout through a lot of the language and dialect integrated into the story. If you’ve ever watched Vera, you’re on the right lines of what to expect in this book.

I haven’t stayed in a caravan for a very long time. In fact, I was a child when I last went to one! However, I still remember the atmosphere and what it was like to stay there. This book and its setting very much reminded me of that holiday! It’s cozy in its quintessential Britishness. Seasides and fish and chips are typical British holiday staples. I’m very fortunate to have these things on my doorstep, and the immersion of setting vs reality is on point.

 

Characters

As someone who has some experience with a family member having both Alzheimer’s and dementia, I could feel for both Liz and for her mum Audrey. Thankfully, I was never in a position where I had to care for my relative, but I can understand what it would be like to do so. Audrey embodies a very typical case of a sufferer. Good days and bad days keep Liz on her toes – as if she doesn’t have enough to do running the caravan park that Audrey spent her life building from the ground up. 

When Audrey goes missing, you cannot help but sympathise with Liz and her concerns for her mother. Given there are days where Audrey doesn’t even know who she is, there is very little chance that she will return home of her own volition. As a mystery writer, Clive cannot help but embroil himself in the investigation to find her. Along this journey, he discovers lots of characters and faces on the caravan park… some better than others.

 

Summary

If you enjoy cosy crime novels with distinct and intriguing characters, then Death at the Caravan Park is an ideal read. I enjoyed picking up the book as a quick foray into a genre that I haven’t picked up for a little while.

There are some other great reviews that have come out as a result of the blog tour. If you’re interested in reading a bit more about the book, The Book Magnet and Lacy Ace Book Reviews shared similar thoughts.

As of this post, the blog tour is only halfway through its progress. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for more posts about the book over the coming days!

 

Author Bio

Susan is a published author of eight novels and six novellas with short stories published in Women’s Weekly magazines. She is now retired from Food Technology and scribbles away in County Durham.

Writing psychological suspense and cosy-crime novels with strong, lovable North East characters, is her passion. Last year, she brought us, Clive’s Christmas Crusades, set in York. Following the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, Susan wrote six Curious Casefiles which is now published by Northodox Press. She has incorporated up-to-date issues: poor mental health in a kidnap scene, the perils of social media, and an intruder on Skype.

Social Media Links –

You can find Susan’s books here: https://amzn.to/2S5UBc8

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https://twitter.com/SusanWillis69

Blog Tour Review: Eagle of Mercia – MJ Porter

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Eagle of Mercia by MJ Porter.

Eagle of Mercia is the fourth book in the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles. If you are interested in catching up with the earlier books in the series, you can find my reviews of Son of Mercia, Wolf of Mercia and Warrior of Mercia by following each respective link.

I always like to thank the author MJ Porter, Boldwood Books and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. It is a privilege to take part. Not only that, but I am really excited to be one of the bloggers kicking off this tour… and on publication day no less! So, let’s get into it!

 

Eagle of Mercia – MJ Porter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 320

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 03 May 2023

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Eagle of Mercia

A mercy mission in the heart of Wessex is beset with deadly, bloody dangers.

Tamworth AD831

Icel’s profile continues to rise. Lord of Budworth and warrior of Mercia, he’s acknowledged by King Wiglaf and his comrades to keep Mercia safe from the ravages of Wessex, the king-slayer of the East Angles, and the Viking raiders.

But, danger looms. Alongside Spring’s arrival comes the almost certain threat of the Viking raiders return.

When Lord Coenwulf of Kingsholm is apprehended by a Viking and held captive on the Isle of Sheppey in Wessex held Kent, Icel is implored by Lady Cynehild to rescue her husband.

To rescue Lord Coenwulf, Icel and his fellow warriors must risk themselves twice over, for not only must they overpower the Viking raiders, they must also counter the threat of Mercia’s ancient enemy, the kingdom of Wessex as they travel through their lands.

Far from home and threatened on all sides, have Icel and his fellow warriors sworn to carry out an impossible duty?

 

Purchase Link – Amazon

 

My Thoughts

I say this with each book I have reviewed in the series so far, but my favourite thing about this series is the protagonist Icel. Way back in book one, Icel was a young boy who had been raised in a small village, assisting the local healer. He quailed at the thought of having to raise a weapon… even in his own defence. Throughout the series, he has matured and developed into the warrior of renown he is in Eagle of Mercia. Through the development that has already occurred, we see a very different young man. His fundamental values and beliefs are still there. He doesn’t necessarily enjoy being a warrior, but he is more than capable and steps up to his duty to protect others.

Eagle of Mercia is an action-packed addition to the series. In this book, we are taken off Mercian soil as a group of Wessex warriors attempt to rescue own of their own, Lord Coenwulf. The rescue attempt is already fraught with danger, as the promise of battle with Danish Vikings looms heavy. However, the band also risk discovery and a further fight from Wessex men. As a result, the urgency of the mission and danger element make for a fast-paced narrative, which I liked.

Eagle of Mercia is a perfect size to book for anyone to read. Each book in the series has been approachable so far, and this one is the same. At 320 pages, there is plenty of capacity for all the political intrigue, action and character development to unfold in the narrative. At the same time, it isn’t so chunky that the narrative becomes dense or unapproachable. So much so, I read Eagle of Mercia in just a few days. All in all, the pace of the book and the natural flow of the writing style make this very easy to pick up and devour!

If you enjoy historical fiction set on English soil, or are set around the time Vikings came to Britain, then this book/series won’t disappoint! An example of popular books with a similar setting is Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom series. Without a doubt, I strongly recommend this series to fans of Bernard Cornwell’s series. 

I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog tour review. Don’t forget to check out the other posts that form part of the tour over the coming days. If you are interested, I share some details of other bloggers taking part below.

Thanks for reading!

 

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood, Son of Mercia, was published in February 2022.

Social Media Links 

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Blog Tour Review: Thanks for Sharing – Eleanor Tucker

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Thanks for Sharing by Eleanor Tucker. Before I jump into today’s review, I’ll take the opportunity to say thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, and also to the author for the opportunity to read and share this book with you on its publication day!

I set out to read Thanks for Sharing to get inspiration on ways in which I can make a difference in terms of sustainability – personally, and through influence as a ‘Sustainability Champion’ at work. Thanks for Sharing has given me plenty of ideas to think about! I don’t doubt that all readers can take away ideas to make small changes for themselves as well. I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to start a more sustainable lifestyle.

 

Thanks for Sharing – Eleanor Tucker

In this fascinating book, Eleanor Tucker sets out a bold vision of how sustainable sharing can save us money, and lead to a happier future.

What is the Sharing Economy? How can it help us live more affordable, more sustainable, and ultimately more fulfilling lives? What would happen if for one year a family pledged to share as much as they possibly can? Instead ofowning more and more stuff, what it’s like to stop owning things and borrow, lend, rent and swap instead?

These are big questions, but features writer Eleanor Tucker sets out to answer them in this thoroughly absorbing and entertaining guide to sustainable sharing, or as it is also known, ‘collaborative consumption’.

In this engrossing study, Eleanor straps us into on her year-long experiment along with her somewhat reluctant family. Over the course of the year, with the aid of various sharing apps, they will pledge to buy as few new things as possible, instead relying on the power of sharing, lending, renting and borrowing to supply their needs.

Each chapter introduces a different type of sharing into her day to day life, from the little ‘things’ (food, clothes) to the bigger ’things’ (cars, furniture, the space around us), and shows how the growth of tech has revolutionized an age-old practice.

The book contains best-for recommendations based around different types of sharing, to create an easily accessible shortcut into sharing.

Written with warm and relatable humour as well as a deeply-researched knowledge of the history of sharing, this unmissable guide could truly change the way you consume.

 

Purchase Link – https://geni.us/ThanksforSharing

 

My Thoughts

I have recently been appointed a local ‘Sustainability Champion’ in my workplace. We are at the stage where the team is quite new and ideas are fresh, so I wanted to look at the topic from a different perspective. Ultimately, my aim was to gain ideas as to what improvements we can make. I got that from this book!

Thanks for Sharing is split into two sections. The first mainly focuses on smaller and individual changes that people can make to reduce waste, or mass production of goods that are used infrequently and can be shared. The second half of the book deals with more of the ‘big’ ideas. For example, the impact of commuting and travel and how people can reduce their carbon footprint.

I enjoyed looking at both sides of the same coin. When we think about the environment and sustainability, we often think of these large, mass scale results that need to take place in order to see a global benefit. However, the first section of the book goes to show that we can do that by each taking small steps. Not only that, but it emphasises the point that taking any step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all.

Let me say that again. Taking any step in the right direction is better than doing nothing at all.

I must admit, when reading some of these examples of sharing, I would think “yes, but…”. There are plenty of reasons why the suggestions made ‘as is’ in the book wouldn’t work for me. A lot of that is down to where I live, or my lifestyle. But, there’s more to the suggestions than just taking them as given. For example, food sharing apps are talked about in the early parts of the book. They wouldn’t be practical for me because food is listed and disappears quickly. Frankly, I don’t have the time to manage that. However, there is no reason why I can’t manage the food I buy and use more effectively. That part of the concept isn’t complicated, and I have plenty of other ways to make sure that food gets redistributed to someone who can use it.

Another surprising element I really enjoyed about this book, is the humour. Through Eleanor‘s narrative, we really get to know her and her family. We get to laugh at mishaps/irony of children puking on carpets just after the borrowed carpet cleaner is returned. We experience sullen children/teenagers that you can’t get off games consoles, or who make themselves scarce so they don’t have to help pitching a borrowed tent in the rain. I laughed out loud throughout reading this book.

Even though Eleanor has gone well out of her way to try different aspects of the ‘Sharing Economy’, we see a family life that we all recognise in amongst all this change. The familiarity goes along way in helping readers visualise ways we can incorporate similar changes into our daily lives. 

 

Author Bio

Eleanor Tucker is a former advertising creative and features writer for The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, Marie Claire, and Psychologies, commentating on gender, society, sustainability, tech and lifestyle. She now writes, speaks, and advises startups all over the world on the sharing economy space.

She is on the board of the CBI council Sharing Economy UK, and also co-founded and chairs the committee of the Sharing Economy Global Summit. Passionate about the potential of online platforms to democratize, empower communities and help us live more sustainably. Elle advises on gig and sharing economy models – working internationally to help start-ups and scale-ups to launch, grow and thrive. Originally from Oxford in England, Eleanor was educated at Edinburgh University in Scotland, where she now lives with her husband and two young children. THANKS FOR SHARING is her first book.

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Blog Tour Review: Warrior of Mercia – MJ Porter

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour review of Warrior of Mercia by M. J. Porter. This is the third book of the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles, and I have had the pleasure I’ve taken part in blog tours for the first two books of the series. If you want to catch up on those before jumping into my review of Warrior of Mercia, you can find links to Son of Mercia and Wolf of Mercia here.

Before I begin my review in earnest, I would like to say thank you to the author, Boldwood Books and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour. It is the last day of the tour, and there are a number of fabulous bloggers who have contributed as well. I’ll share more details on those below.

Now, let’s find out more about the book!

 

Warrior of Mercia – M. J. Porter

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pages: 316

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Publication Date: 09 Nov 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – Warrior of Mercia

Icel is a lone wolf no more.

Oath sworn to Wiglaf, King of Mercia and acknowledged as a member of Ealdorman Ælfstan’s warrior band, Icel continues to forge his own destiny on the path to becoming the Warrior of Mercia.

With King Ecgberht of Wessex defeated and Londonium back under Mercian control, the Wessex invasion of Mercia is over.

But the Wessex king was never Mercia’s only enemy. An unknown danger lurks in the form of merciless Viking raiders, who set their sights on infiltrating the waterways of the traitorous breakaway kingdom of the East Angles, within touching distance of Mercia’s eastern borders.

Icel must journey to the kingdom of the East Angles and unite against a common enemy to ensure Mercia’s hard-won freedom prevails.

 

Purchase Link – Amazon

 

My Thoughts…

If you enjoy historical fiction novels so full of action that they keep you on the edge of your seat, Warrior of Mercia is for you! With each new chapter, the detailed narrative and political landscape Icel lives in deepens.

Icel has come a long way from the first book in the series, Son of Mercia. By and large, he has kept to his roots and has far more affinity for healing people as opposed to causing harm. However, his character development throughout the series allows him to expand into a more traditional role expected in ninth-century historical fiction novels. England is divided, and invaders from the Norse lands threaten their every way of life. Icel has transitioned from a boy who quails at the idea of harming someone to a young man who will raise his seax willingly to defend his people.

That isn’t the typical plot development you would expect from these kinds of novels. However, it is for this reason that this series really works for me. It offers something different and unique. Icel’s perspective is, at least for me, unseen so far in this historical setting. Whilst comparable to the likes of Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles has a tale of its own, and from a fresh pair of eyes.

Warrior of Mercia is a fast-paced read. At just 327 pages, it is very easy to pick up and makes for a quick read. The chapters are also nicely broken out so none are too long. It is a small thing but makes a difference to the reading experience. It makes it easier and more enjoyable. You have the option to pick it up and put it down relatively easily – although, you won’t want to! Even though the page count isn’t too onerous, the quality and quantity of the narrative isn’t compromised. On the contrary, the narrative is full of in-depth battle scenes and political machinations. If these are elements you enjoy in your books, just as I do, then you will be just as thrilled with the book as I am.

I am glad I opted to take part in this blog tour. I had high expectations for the book based on the prior books in the series. Needless to say, Warrior of Mercia did not disappoint! It picks up nicely from events in the previous book. Events from the previous books are nicely summarised and spotted in quite naturally to refresh us as readers. Then, the narrative throws us back in to the tumultuous setting I have come to enjoy.

I hope I have inspired you to take a look at this book based on my review. If you are still unsure, I would like to find out more, there are a number of bloggers who have also taken part in the tour. David kicked off the blog tour with a smashing review. I agree with his view that the descriptions within the book are so immersive that you could be right there with Icel in the thick of it. I also enjoyed Amy‘s review. She correctly points out how well the narrative interweaves historical fact with elements of fiction for an all-round, entertaining read! These are but a couple of examples of contributors to the tour, and I hope you can take some time to check out their posts as well! 

I hope between us we can convince you to pick up Warrior of Murcia, or even the series as a whole if that’s your cup of tea! This book could be read perfectly well as a stand-alone, but I would personally recommend the whole series!

Author Bio

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, and in Viking Age Denmark. They were raised in the shadow of a building that they believed housed the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia – so their writing destiny was set. The first novel in their new Anglo-Saxon series for Boldwood Son of Mercia was published in February 2022.

Social Media Links

Twitter https://twitter.com/coloursofunison

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/m_j_porter/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/MJPorterNews

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mj-porter

Book Review: The First Binding – R.R. Virdi

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s review of the most epic of epic fantasy novels, The First Binding by R.R. Virdi. Advertised as The Name of the Wind meets City of Brass, this book appealed to me instantly and I added it to my TBR back at the beginning of the year. As a huge fan of Patrick Rothfuss and his The Name of the Wind series as a teenager, this book was full of promise… and a little touch of nostalgia.

And I got that from this book. The narrative style is just what I was looking for, and there’s even the odd little Easter egg that relates to the series if you can spot it.

I’m excited to share today’s review with you, which is just ahead of the publication of the book (18th August if you’d like to get yourself a copy). Before I get into sharing my thoughts on this book, I like to say a massive thank you to Gollancz for providing me with a copy of the book so I could read it and tell you all about it today. All the opinions expressed in this post are entirely my own, and shared voluntarily. 

 

The First Binding

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Pages: 832

Audience: Adult

Publisher: Gollancz

Publication Date: 18 Aug 2022

Rating: 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

 

Goodreads – The First Binding

All legends are born of truths. And just as much lies. These are mine. Judge me for what you will. But you will hear my story first.

I buried the village of Ampur under a mountain of ice and snow. Then I killed their god. I’ve stolen old magics and been cursed for it. I started a war with those that walked before mankind and lost the princess I loved, and wanted to save. I’ve called lightning and bound fire. I am legend. And I am a monster.

My name is Ari. And this is the story of how I let loose the first evil.

 

My Thoughts

Ari, known as The Storyteller, recounts his youth and introduction to the ten bindings all men must know. Written in the same vein as The Name of the Wind, fans of the series by Patrick Rothfuss will recognise and enjoy the narrative style. This is one of the primary reasons that I wanted to pick up this book for myself, and in every aspect, it didn’t disappoint!

Ari, aka ‘The Storyteller’ does not shy away from the dramatic. An expert narrator, he teases his audience and dabbles in anticipation to his audience. Slowly, his stories unravel in a way that steadily builds to a grand crescendo – it appeals to the audience. And with the very same craft and skill does R.R. Virdi tease Ari’s narrative across 800+ pages.

Capturing our attention from the opening lines, we go back to the very beginnings of Ari’s life as an abandoned child. From there we watch Ari advance in years and in his desire to learn about where he came from. Along the way, he encounters a vast array of characters. Not all of them are good. Not all of them are kind to him. Through sheer grit and determination, and with a few friendly faces to help him along, Ari struggles to find himself and his place in the world. He has no foundations from which to build, and so he is determined to make his own.

Epic in scope, and full of adventure, magic, and misdeeds, we reminisce on Ari’s early years. And the best thing is that this is just the beginning of the story. Of his story.

The First Binding is very well written. Full of in-depth and detailed world-building, with its own history and myths/legends, The First Binding is every bit as well developed as other popular and well-known fantasy series. In particular, I really enjoyed how the last chapter plays out, as we are almost taken back to the beginning. Almost. We have enjoyed this expansive journey with Ari, and yet the setting reminds us of where we humbly began. Consequently, it also inevitably leaves us wondering, what happens next?

Another point that really sold this book for me is how I enjoy magic systems in fantasy that have rules relating to the physical world. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson are favourites of mine because he also does the same thing.

This is also true to an extent in The First Binding. When magic takes place, things don’t just appear and disappear at will. The magic alters them in such a way that it changes their state, or where something is, for example. It is these same rules, rooted in science, that make the magic seem more plausible. They have limitations, meaning that any inconvenient plot point cannot just be made ‘right’ with magic. It must be a lot more difficult to employ a magic system that has such constraints, so I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to incorporate this, and well, and make the magic all the more believable!

Every good storyteller knows how to construct a cliffhanger, and R.R Virdi has done just that in The First Binding! I cannot wait for the sequel to see what happens next. Inevitably, there are still unresolved plot points that have not yet been explored in full detail (such as the ten bindings themselves – we only know eight of them). Some of these I expect to span over multiple books. As a huge fantasy fan, I really enjoy this depth and the promise of what is yet to come! 

Undeniably, The Fist Binding is one of my favourite reads of 2022, and I hope I have convinced you to pick this book up for yourself!

 

Author Bio

http://rrvirdi.com/about/