Audiobook Review: The Stand – Stephen King

Getting into an audiobook was a huge change for me.
I had tried some free ones before as a means to experiment with whether I liked them or not. I was still hugely undecided, but after much insistence from a very good friend who loves them, I signed up to a free trial on Audible.
When you sign up, you get a free credit to spend on any book you would like. I thought that was pretty reasonable – even the bestsellers are available! I half expected you to only be able to choose from a limited library, but I am glad I was wrong.
I deliberated long and hard about what to download for a while. I wanted my credit to be worthwhile, so I purposely chose a long book.
 
The Stand

Goodreads – The Stand

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.

By the time I had downloaded and began to listen to this, I had read a few of Stephen King’s books: The Green Mile, Pet Sematary, IT and the first book of The Dark Tower series. I love how King’s interpretation of the horror genre is very much based around the psychology of fear. I have to say it has almost become something of a fascination in me. Not being a lover of horror otherwise, the realisation came to be a pleasant surprise.

Do not get me started on budget horror films, unless you want to take an unconventional exit from the spotlight, (unlike all the highly stereotyped characters typically involved), by being bored to death by my incessant ramblings. I really could go on about it all day *sigh*

My point is this – King has contradicted every stereotype and shown me that not all horror is just a cheap shot at giving you an adrenaline rush. There is far more sophistication to his writing… and his in-depth understanding of people and the way they think is a scary thing in itself! It is almost as if King can see into your soul and just know your every thought, feeling and fear just by looking at you.
You must have gathered just how high he has risen in my expectations by now. I love his writing and the characters he creates. Although all of his stories are wildly different, they are all enjoyable in their own ways. The Stand explores how society rebuilds after a catastrophic event and the struggles it experiences with the forces of Good and Evil, embodied by Mother Abigail and The Walking Dude. All the while trouble stirs the pot from within, and things blow up in quite spectacular fashion.
This audiobook was an astounding 47hrs and 47mins long. The narrator, Grover Gardener was brilliantly consistent throughout. From the first minute to the last, there was no compromise in the narration or how well he brought each of the characters to life.
If I wasn’t sure about audiobooks before, I can assure you there is no doubt now. I am choosy about what I download and thankfully the sample option allows you to be. The next two books I have downloaded are ones that I was unsure as to whether I would actually pick up the physical book. Some stories are best told I think.
This however is definitely an exception, and I feel sure the next time I read this book, it will be a physical copy.
Rebecca mono

Sunday Summary – 4th March 2018

Happy Sunday everybody!!
I hope you got lots of reading done this week – a lot of people would have had the opportunity with the weather being the way it was. My parents were in Derbyshire and they experienced 8-10 inches of snowfall… and whilst the pictures are lovely I wouldn’t like to be stuck in it!!
Alas, here at home we only had a dusting of snow, so there were no reading days for me this week. *silently wallows in despair*
I could have used the time to finish my February TBR, but never mind. I set myself the target to read five books, but only made it about halfway through book four on the list. That being the case, I’ll have to sincerely apologise to ADSOM fans, because I am going to have to postpone this read for a short while.
Moving on to cheerier topics, I treated you all to two reviews this week! First I posted my review of Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio, in preparation for reading StoneKing for the ongoing Blog Tour. Then on Thursday I took part in another Blog Tour for P.J Reed’s The Torcian Chronicles. I would really appreciate if you could take a look at those if you haven’t already.
Finally on Friday I published a brief Reading List for March, called March of the Arcs! As the name would suggest, this month I am dedicated to reading some ARC’s received. The first book on my list was added at the request of the author, the second a Blog Tour (19th March) and the final three are Netgalley downloads that I have had for shamefully too long!
 

Books Read


 
This week I have been attempting to finish Living On A Rainbow by Calvin Wade. It is the last book that I managed to start in the month, and I am really trying to finish it so as to not set myself too far back for this month. I’m really enjoying it so far though, so hopefully I’ll be able to share my thoughts with you about it soon.
I also made a brief start on Copper Sky by Milana Marsenich, which the author has kindly asked me to read and review. Thank you to both her and OpenBooks for the opportunity and I can’t wait to get stuck in further!
On the audiobook front, I began listening to An Almond for A Parrot yesterday, whilst I was doing my housework of all things. I like to listen to books when I am doing mindless tasks, as it gives you something to concentrate on. I added this book to my TBR last year and it’s perfect to listen to. I love the narrator’s way of voicing characters – she has really brought them to life.
 

Books Discovered

This week I was *reasonably* tame.
By reasonably, I mean I bought two books… but here me out…
Over the next year or more, I am looking to save a lot more money than I do currently. I’m actually quite good at saving normally, but if I am saving for anything “extra” and I don’t see the reward in the near future, I find it more difficult to not spend money for that purpose.
So, knowing what I am like and knowing that I am looking to be saving this money over a long spell, I have decided to set up a reward scheme for myself. I have set myself a savings target every month, starting in April. Basically, if I save my target every month I am going to buy myself a Penguin Classics book as a reward! That way I get to grow my collection and see the benefits of saving my money. I think it’s a good idea and it’ll work for me.
So, finally, to that end, I started my collection to set the wheels in motion with Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

 

Coming Up…

Next week is blessedly going to be less manic and I am hoping to get plenty of reading done. I only have one post planned for you, which is a review of the first audiobook I listened to – The Stand by Stephen King.
I also hope to invest more time into discovering new blogs to follow this week – so I look forward to reading your posts soon! If anyone is feeling so kind as to post a link to their blog, either here or on my Twitter page, I would greatly appreciate it!!
Rebecca mono

Reading List: March 2018 – aka March of the Arcs!

I cannot believe it is March already!!
Spring is just around the corner, although if the weather is anything to go by you wouldn’t know it!! In an ideal world, it would be the kind of weather to stay at home in and snuggle up with a book – wouldn’t you agree?!
Unfortunately, living in your own Fantasy world doesn’t pay the bills, so I have to dig out every single pair of gloves I own and wear them simultaneously to venture into the frozen wastes to earn my keep *sigh*
We all have to have something to look forward to when the day is done though. I’ve spoken recently about the mini reading slump I have found myself in lately, and I have been trying to come up with some ideas for how to beat it. I have decided a change of routine is probably a good start, so I came up with an idea called March of the Arcs! I have a few (plenty of) arc’s due for review, so not only is this the change of routine I think I need, I hope the boost to my rating on Netgalley should also lift my spirits!! Fingers crossed I’ll also get introduced to some lovely new books too!
 
Copper Sky
Copper Sky
I was kindly asked to review this title by the author, who had seen a couple of my other reviews for OpenBooks… so thanks for asking me! So far I have read the first chapter and  I can’t wait to get stuck in to the rest!
 
StoneKing
StoneKing
Finally I get to read the much anticipated third book of this series!! I have been DEVOURING the previous books in order to catch up and participate in the current blog tour. I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts with you all on the 19th March!
 
Beowulf
Beowulf
I think this was one of my first downloads from Netgalley and I really want to give it a try. Admittedly, it isn’t the sort of book I would read normally – poetry isn’t really my bag, but since it is such an iconic piece of literature I feel I have to have a go! If nothing else, I am sticking to the brief of trying something new and breaking routine!
 
Ekata: Fall of Darkness
Ekata
This is also a Netgalley download that I have sat on for a few months and really need to read. It’s a kind of dystopian fantasy, as I recall… and both of these are genres I enjoy.
 
The Mansions of Murder
Mansions of Murder
This is my most recent Netgalley “Read Now” download, and it’s a historical fiction/murder mystery. I can’t say I have read anything like it before and I hope, if I enjoy it, I’ll be picking up more books in the genre. I am currently toying with the idea of trying Agatha Christie’s works, so this is my way of dipping my toes into the water, so to speak.
 
I hope you don’t mind that this list isn’t particularly detailed – it’s been a busy week for me here. If you have any questions or want to know more, please drop me a comment below!
For now though, have a wonderful Friday and a lovely weekend!!
Rebecca mono

Book Review: The Torcian Chronicles – P J Reed

Hi everybody!
Today I am taking part in a Blog Tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources for The Torcian Chronicles by P J Reed. When I received the invite to get involved, I dived in straight away!
The Torcian Chronicles

Amazon

Goodreads

Mesham sits dejectedly in a tiny garret above an inn, as the lands of Torcia fall to the magically-enhanced army of the infamous Mivirian Horde. One of the last surviving ancient warlocks of Torcia, Mesham knows he is marked for death.
The Torcian king knocks on Mesham’s door later that evening and offers him the chance of rejuvenation in return for a seemingly impossible mission into the heart of Mivir. Mesham reluctantly agrees, only to realise the evil of Mivir has spread to the very top of the Torcian government.
As Mesham undertakes his quest to complete the mission, he finds himself hunted by his king, by the mighty Torcian warbands, and by the Horde.
But he cannot fail, for the fate of Mesham’s beloved Torcia rests in his hands.

I wanted to love this book – I really did.
When given the opportunity to take part I jumped in immediately, as I felt this would be a book right up my street. Theoretically, it is – fantasy is my favourite genre after all!
There are so many great books to choose from, making competition in the genre fierce. There were elements of the book that reminded me of other writers; the adventure undertaken by Mesham and Shadral struck me as rather Tolkien-esque, as the they stumble from pitfall to pothole and fight their way out of every danger lurking around the corner.
This wasn’t the review I had hoped to be writing; I had high expectations for this book, but unfortunately it just didn’t work for me. The plot has promise and I enjoyed the tale, but I struggled most with the way in which it was written.
The biggest make-or-break factor for me is the narration… and I have no qualms in admitting that I am very particular about it too. Some parts were written really well, but there were several I struggled with too. There are places in which the descriptions are repetitive and would benefit from being more concise. I appreciate fantasy requires world-building, but I feel some paraphrasing of descriptions could have achieved that better.
You may think I am pernickety in mentioning this, but whilst reading the book I picked up on a number of inconsistencies and contradictions in the text. I am really sorry to say it, but this is a pet hate of mine. If I read conflicting information to that I’ve been told already, I’m going to go back and check, and that ultimately breaks the reading flow. That makes reading take longer and it feels less of an enjoyable pastime and more of an exercise in concentration.
I think this has promise to be part of a good series that I am sure many others will love, but it turns out this first instalment just wasn’t my cup of tea.
 
P J Reed
P.J. Reed – Writer of warlocks and other magical creatures.
P.J. Reed is a writer and poet from England. She holds a BAEd from Canterbury Christ Church University and an MA from Bradford University. She has been widely published in anthologies and collections.
P.J. Reed currently lives in Devon, with a handful of teenagers, one feral cat and a dog called Fizz.
Social Media Links –
Website – http://fantasyworlds.jigsy.com 
Twitter-  https://twitter.com/PJReed_author
Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/TheTorcianChronicles
 

Book Review: Fiskur – Donna Migliaccio

I don’t usually binge read a series, so to read Fiskur immediately after Kinglet isn’t normally the sort of thing I would do. I like to savour a series, *torment* myself a little while about getting around to reading the next book whilst juggling a number of other series’ for which I want to do the EXACT same thing!

*only being slightly sarcastic here – can torment be a good thing?

That being said, consecutive reading does have its benefits. For starters, I can actually remember what happened in the first book as it is still fresh in my mind. I don’t have to dredge through the four corners of my brain to remember who THAT character is and what they are up to.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I have been catching up with the series in preparation for the ongoing Blog Tour. I will be reviewing StoneKing, the third book of the series, in the penultimate slot of the tour on the 19th March.
If you want to check out my review of where the series begins, you can find that here.

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by Fiery Seas Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

Fiskur

Goodreads – Fiskur

With his family’s talisman in his possession, Kristan Gemeta is ready to face the Wichelord Daazna – but he has no inkling of the scope of Daazna’s power, nor the depths of his hatred.

With the recovery of his family’s protective talisman, Kristan Gemeta has found hope, courage – and perhaps even the first stirrings of love. With the aid of Heather Demitt, her band of rebels, a shipload of Northern brigands and the legendary Kentavron, he readies himself to face the Wichelord Daazna. But neither he nor his comrades realize the strength of Daazna’s power and hatred. The Wichelord’s first blow comes from a direction Kristan least expects, with horrific, lasting consequences.

 

One of the most poignant observations I made in my review of Kinglet was how stereotypically perfect, handsome and charming our protagonist Kristan Gemeta is. In particular, I commented on how much these characteristics are very stereotypical and how I would have liked to see more individuality from Kristan.

I have not been left wanting.

Without saying too much, Kristan seriously “falls from grace” from being the perfect prince. I would go so far as to say I really didn’t expect the level of change we see in our MC, but I love it! After falling off the pedestal, so to speak, we get to see a far more complex and developed side to his character. His newfound cynicism contrasts his former innocent, comparatively childlike self and whilst the circumstances are tragic (still no spoilers), I think it is a step Kristan needs to take in order to grow into his role as the Gemeta and the opposing force to Daazna.

It is often said that in our darkest moments we realise just what we are capable of, and I cannot help but feel this moment is gradually creeping up on Kristan. His newfound mindset is written remarkably well and Donna clearly has an expert ability to step into her character’s shoes in order to convey them perfectly on paper. From joviality to abjectness, no emotion remains unexpressed.

Fiskur features many of the characters we know and love from Kinglet, and each has their role to play. Heather, Kristan’s low-born love interest has refused to conform with the proprieties of being a woman and she earns herself a reputation as a warrior. Obviously, I am hugely biased – but I am loving the display of “girl power” here. I want to pull myself up here for even calling it that. Courage and a fierceness of character shouldn’t be defined or characterised by gender. The point I am trying to make is that we get to see this in characters of both genders (although Heather truly is the ladies “champion”) and I am glad to see the inclusion.

Heather and the remaining “rebels” find themselves taking on new responsibilities in the fight against the force of Daazna. I personally really like when books have an element of politics in them; for me, it brings a whole new level of sophistication into recognising the motives or potential rivals and countering them cleverly to retain control. I hope to see more of this in the next book as it *could* introduce an additional conflict to an increasingly captivating storyline.

*I hope it does now I’ve said that!!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fiskur and watching the wider plot of the series unfold. The book seamlessly picked up where we left off yet introduced some unexpected developments to keep us as the reader on our toes. I don’t know about you, but I for one cannot wait to see what StoneKing brings us.
Rebecca mono

Cover Reveal: Breachers – Anthony Thomas

Hi everyone!!
Today I am pleased to be taking part in the cover reveal for Breachers by Anthony Thomas! I think the book sounds amazing and I feel more than sure I’ll jump at the opportunity to read it once it’s published in September this year!
For now though, here is the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the cover and find out a little more about the book:-
Breachers
 
Breachers
By Anthony Thomas
Fiery Seas Publishing
Science Fiction
September 18, 2018
 

Jason Conners is the last person you’d expect to run into a burning building, unless of course there was something inside worth stealing. Call him what you want: criminal, thief, asshole, but hero? Absolutely not. Jason’s questionable behavior and disturbing antics can only be attributed to one secret.
He can change the future, but with great power comes great responsibility? Hell no. His ability makes him the best thief in the city, and nothing is off-limits. Until Jason’s carefree attitude gains the attention of the Rogues, and the government.
The Rogues want him to stop catastrophic events from taking place, and the government has their own agenda. When the hunt begins, Jason is caught in the crosshairs and learns that breaching is not as limitless as he thought.
Can this anti-hero give up a life of easy money and become the savior the Rogues need, or will it cost him everything—even his immortality?

 
Doesn’t that look fantastic?! I had read the book synopsis prior to the cover reveal on the publisher’s website and was interested at that point, but I know that seeing that on a bookstore shelf would definitely catch my attention!
What do you think? Is this a book that would catch your eye? Want to find out a little bit more?
 
Anthony Thomas
About the Author:
Anthony Thomas settled in the city of sin, though part of him will always remain in the small farming town in Northern California. When he’s not hunched over a keyboard, Anthony enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and two dogs.
Social Media:
Website http://www.anthonythomasbooks.com/
Twitter  https://twitter.com/anthonythomasAU
 
 

Sunday Summary – 25th February 2018

I’m glad to report a comparatively more successful week this week.
It feels like I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately… so I’ve been trying my best to work out a way to get out of it. Admittedly, I am still working on a couple of ideas, but hopefully this motivational lull doesn’t last too long.
I kept things reasonably quiet on the blog this week, with just of couple of posts shared. The first post, and the only one I had planned to publish was my review of Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio. I have been reading the series in the run up to the Blog Tour of StoneKing, which I am really looking forward to!
I also published an additional post last night, which I hadn’t really anticipated to share at all when I first wrote it last month. I had written it as a way to vent some frustration and it has been playing on my mind ever since. I must have been feeling particularly salty last night, because I finally decided to share my opinion (be it wanted or not). If you want to take a look at my heated ramblings and perhaps have a giggle or two, take a look at my Unpopular Advice for Authors post here.
 

Books Read

I started off this week finishing Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio. As I mentioned above, I am making my way through The Gemeta Stone series in readiness for the third instalment, which has just been published!
Next I moved onto The Torcian Chronicles by P. J. Reed, and I am going to be perfectly honest and say that I ended up skim-reading this as I am reviewing it for a Blog Tour next week. I don’t want to say too much prematurely, so if you are interested in what I have to say on this, check out my upcoming review.
Lastly, I have started reading Living on A Rainbow by Calvin Wade. I downloaded this book a few months ago when you could access it for free and I am currently about 30% through at the moment.
 

Books Discovered


 
Before this week I had never heard of Don Quixote. I only came across it when I was watching a fellow bloggers YouTube channel and she was discussing reading it for her university studies!
I then read up a little more about this mammoth of a book and decided I wanted to add it to my list of classics I wanted to collect.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a book I distinctly remember borrowing from the school library years ago. I don’t ever remember ACTUALLY reading it though…
I used to do that a lot.
I’ve decided that I should also pick up this iconic book at least once in my lifetime.
 

Coming Up…

 
Next week is going to be a busier one on the blog!
I am taking part in a cover reveal tomorrow for Breachers by Anthony Thomas, a science fiction novel being published later this year. Also going to state my intentions here and say that it sounds like it’s right up my street. I hope there is a blog tour for it later on this year, as I would love to take part!
I have two reviews to share this week – on Wednesday, I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Fiskur, the second book of The Gemeta Series and on Thursday I am reviewing The Torican Chronicles. I hope you can join me for those!
We are also welcoming in a new month this week, so I will be sharing my reading list with you all on Friday!!
What books are you looking forward to reading?
Rebecca mono

Unpopular Advice for Authors

I have always been an avid reader, and since beginning this blog, I think I am more so than ever!
I have read a variety of new books and genres from authors over a wide spectrum of backgrounds… new, up-and-coming authors and established ones alike. From my newfound experience I want to share some advice with you, my dear author. Inevitably, I think a lot of my advice is not going to be relevant to J.K Rowling’s and Stephen King’s, to name but two examples, as they have the best backing behind their writing. I daresay many experts in the literary industry would bite their own arm off for the chance to work with these legends, but unfortunately, we can’t all have the same support and success… at least not right away!
If you are newly published, or about to publish and ever want the chance to reach the highbrow heights of literary success, I ask politely if you could at least entertain my thoughts on an argument that keeps cropping up in my mind.
Lately I have read a number of books that have entered the market either through self publishing or small, independent publishers. Now I am aware that this is a huge market and that is why I wanted to share this post, because I hope it makes you re-think your options if you are about to do what I consider to be the greatest sin in publishing…
 

Self-editing

 
Maybe you have a degree in English Language or Literature. That’s great.. Congratulations! You have set yourself up as best you can to write a book. The bad news is, you still shouldn’t rely solely on editing your own work. Yes, it costs money to pay someone to look at it for you, but if you really are serious about getting your book out there, it should be worth every penny. Consider it an investment – it will pay you dividends (or royalties) in time.
“But there are many authors out there that self-publish?” I hear you say.
Yes, there are, and there are many that do well from it. I don’t dispute that, but I really think you will be putting your best foot forward by getting a professional to edit your work.
As an author, you can never be fully qualified to edit your own book simply because you are not (and never will be) impartial. You can put the book away for a couple of years and distance yourself from it, sure, but you will always read what you are TRYING to say as opposed to what is ACTUALLY on the page. A book is best reviewed by somebody that has no connection to it whatsoever.
I offer this advice for one reason only – if a book hasn’t been edited properly, 99% of the time, a reader can tell. I can tell. Be it a loophole or inconsistency, I have come across so many spelling mistakes, repeated phrases and even continuity issues. If the text doesn’t flow, it breaks the reader’s concentration and that could make them put the book down – for good!
To give an example, in a recent reading experience, a character’s actions in relation to time were unrealistic. School bells were ringing left, right and centre (when the text clearly says they are fifty minutes apart), but the character’s actions barely filled five minutes between each bell. I understand you want to move the text on to where the action happens, but there would have been so many ways to achieve this without trying to brush off the whole thing hurriedly. I DNF’d that book for that reason. I’m sure the last thing an author wants is for a reader to put their book down prematurely and never pick it up again.
A second and more recent example is of a main character who’s age and states of dress changed within a matter of paragraphs. To explain, he was drinking such a cheap wine that it burns holes in his clothes if he spills it, but this doesn’t always happen in the narrative even though you know it should. Later on, there was an occasion on which he was supposed to be undressed, but then he suddenly had a robe on out of nowhere – it’s the little errors like these that can add up and put someone off continuing.
Lastly, the thing that takes the cake with this book for me was the following description:-

…taller birch trees that loomed over the living forest with disdainful indifference.

Please, just think about it.
I don’t want anyone to take any of the above points to heart… this is not an exercise in slander. I understand your work is precious to you. I make these points for constructive purposes only.
If your work is that important, would you not take that extra step to make it the best it can be? If you want to be taken seriously as an author, I really think you should.
Rebecca mono
 

Book Review: Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio

I first discovered this series when I took part in a Blog Tour back in November for Fiskur, organised by Fiery Seas Publishing. This is the second book in the series and I was gutted that I hadn’t discovered it earlier. If I’d had the time to catch up with the first book and read second for the Blog Tour, I would have done!

Alas, I didn’t. Sometimes, it isn’t meant to be.

My stroke of luck finally came in January, when I contacted Fiery Seas Publishing to express interest in beginning the series. My review request schedule had freed up considerably, so it was the perfect time to enquire. Catherine, an absolute hard-working gem, very kindly sent me both Kinglet and Fiskur to read and review in time for the publishing of the THIRD book of the series (which celebrated it’s publishing date yesterday!)

To have even one book published is a huge accomplishment, so to see the third book of a series published must be absolutely amazing!! Congratulations Donna!!

Go, get you GIF.gif

I have the privilege of reading StoneKing as part of the current blog tour. I’ll be using the penultimate slot of the tour, on the 19th March, to share a review with you… I hope you can join me for that!

Today though, I’m talking about where it all begins:-

***I was very kindly provided with a free copy of this book by Fiery Seas Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All the opinions stated below are my own ***

kinglet

Goodreads – Kinglet

Kristan Gemeta has lost everything: his crown, his kingdom, his courage – even his name.

In the vast wilderness of the Exilwald, he’s known to the other outcasts as Kinglet. As long as Kristan stays hidden, he can elude the bounty hunters, brutal soldiers and terrifying spells of Daazna, the Wichelord who killed his father and destroyed his life.

But when a new band of pursuers comes looking for him, Kristan’s wariness gives way to intrigue. For bounty hunters they’re oddly inept, and a young woman in their company is leaving enigmatic drawings wherever they go. As they plunge deeper into the Exilwald, Kristan follows. He discovers the drawings symbolize the Gemeta Stone, an ancient family talisman seized by Daazna but now in the little band’s possession.

With the Stone’s protection, Kristan might stand a chance against Daazna. He could regain his birthright and his honor. But to obtain the Stone, he must reveal his true identity and risk the one thing he has left…his life.

If asked what my favourite genre is, I would tell you that Fantasy is by far the most entertaining read for me. I have been busy enjoying some different genres for a while, so to come back to a favourite, written so well as this… what can I say? I fell in love straight away!

That being said, I’m not a huge fan of all the tropes in Fantasy. If I’m honest, I think the orphaned child is one that is used time again – I’d go so far as to say a little overused for my taste, but some people like that. There are some other stereotypical elements to Kristan’s character – he is kind, noble and forgiving…. way too forgiving! Oh, he’s handsome too. Did I forget to mention that?! Again, these are typical traits that are very common among our Fantasy leads.

The only author I can think that has completely flipped these traits on their head with their protagonist is Mark Lawrence, in his The Broken Empire series. The protagonist’s character is extremely well developed; his most defining features are his flaws… and believe me, there are many! I found his unique character a refreshing change; there were times I loved to hate him, and then others I couldn’t help but pity him. He stands out from the crowd of fantasy protagonists by stepping away from the norm, which I really appreciated.

As much as Kristan’s character encapsulates a lot of the favourable and stereotypical traits one might expect and we commonly see, that isn’t to say I didn’t like him. I felt an affinity to him from the start, even from his brief spell at the beginning as a youth, always under pressure to adhere to high expectations and trying to understand the world and its workings from an early age. Not to put this across as a negative point (I’m more in favour of calling it a constructive one), I would have liked to see a little more originality to Kristan’s personality.

I really enjoyed the magical element being introduced straight away. We are thrown into the action first and gradually our understanding of the motive is built upon later. With world building in Fantasy, it is very easy to try and ‘info dump’ a lot of background before anything even happens. This is far from the case, and rightly so, because that can ruin a book for me. Bogging a reader down in details is a turn off, but gradually integrating ideas, clues and other information is the best way to move narrative in the right direction. Donna achieves this effortlessly.

Two years after the Gemeta’s flight from his home, his father’s death and the powerful mage responsible for it, a group of rebels leave Fandrall equipped with the magical stone that has been in the Gemeta’s possession for generations. They travel into the unknown Exilwald, his rumoured hiding place and home to a number of unsavoury characters.

The dynamic of our adventurers attempting to find the exiled King changes frequently. Family ties and friendships are tested, as would be expected from a group forced out of their homes with merely the clothes on their back.

hilst not the most companionable character of the group, I actually came to like Colin an awful lot. As head of the group, his predominantly negative attitude stems from his feeling of responsibility to protect.  In a lot of ways he comes across as an antagonist, but truthfully he is a man very much grounded in reality. He’s grumpy, miserable and completely pessimistic about the slim chances of completing the task at hand – a bit like me before my first coffee of the day really…

There are many things I could talk about that I really enjoyed, but to summarise, I’ll say this – it has a fantastic plot and an approachable narrative with a wonderful twist of many elements that make up a classic fantasy.

Rather than reading my positive ramblings, you could be reading this for yourself! Thank you to Donna and Fiery Seas Publishing for the chance to pick up this wonderful start to a new series! I cannot wait to read the next one!

Oh wait, I don’t have to!
Rebecca mono


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About the Author:

Donna Migliaccio is a professional stage actress with credits that include Broadway, National Tours and prominent regional theatres.  She is based in the Washington, DC Metro area, where she co-founded Tony award-winning Signature Theatre and is in demand as an entertainer, teacher and public speaker.  Her award-winning short story, “Yaa& The Coffins,” was featured in Thinkerbeat’s 2015 anthology The Art of Losing.  

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Sunday Summary – 18th February 2018

This week has been a little less productive on the reading front.
Saying that, it has been an unusual week all-round. It throws me a little off balance when it happens, but it’s safe to say that everything is settling down again now.
Earlier this week, it was also my birthday! I had a lovely day despite spending it at work (and working slightly longer to make up some time off I needed) and I was given some lovely gifts! Not all of them were book related, but I got one or two. I love them all!
I was late in posting my review of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which firstly I attribute to WordPress not working on Monday night, and secondly to my birthday. I had an inkling that I may not manage to get it written by Wednesday, so I hope no-one was too disappointed. If anyone hasn’t taken a look at this review, I would very much appreciate it if you did!

Books Read


I’ve made further progress this week in reading Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio, the second book of The Gemeta Stone series. I read the first book at the beginning of the month, and I will be reading/reviewing the last book as part of a blog tour next month, which I am looking forward to! Although I have made progress, I would have liked to have finished this book this week. A lot of my free time was taken up with other things, so I didn’t get as much reading time as I wanted. Perhaps I’ll be able to finish it if I make a final push on it tonight… I’ll try, at least.
As I said above, I have been working on some other things. A painting, in fact… to go on the wall of my living room. I have been working on it for weeks, to get it finished for my birthday, as I have been gifted the frame for it. I finished painting it last weekend, but I have spent a bit of time this week touching it up and perfecting it, putting the frame together etc. All that remains is for it to go up on the wall!
Whilst I have been working on this, I have taken to listening to audiobooks. With the amount of time I have put into it, I managed to finish this month’s download, The Girl on the Train, last night.
I’ve really enjoyed listening to it overall, as it is a book I don’t think I would have “picked up” otherwise. Paula’s use of the unreliable narrator is cleverly done.

Books Discovered


The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm was gifted to me for my birthday, as it was something I had my eye on for a while. I received the hardback edition, as such a classic deserves, and that currently sits proudly on my bookshelf. I can’t wait to take the time to read through the stories.
I became aware of The Long Earth, the first book of the series a little while ago, and knew that I wanted to give it a try. Stephen Baxter is one of my dad’s favourite authors and Terry Pratchett is one of mine, so it’s a no brainer really! When Bookbub notified me that The Long War was on sale, well, it would have been a crime not to…

Coming Up…

I don’t want to commit to too much on the blog this week, as I definitely have some reading to catch up on. Because of that, I’ll be sticking to two posts this week.
On Wednesday, (and this week it WILL be, I promise), I am posting my review of Kinglet by Donna Migliaccio, and I’ll round off the week with a Sunday Summary, as usual.
Hopefully I’ll have a bit more to talk about with you next week.
As a birthday related discussion point – what is the best birthday gift you have received?