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Book Review: A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Reviewing George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is hard.

That might sound really daft. I’ve written more than my fair share of book reviews in my lifetime and I can assure you that I am, by nature, a very opinionated person. I guess what it comes down to is perspective. These books are hugely popular, and thanks to the TV series they have gained even more of a following. I doubt there is anything I can write here that you do not know about it already.

That isn’t really the point though. My blog is a place for me to explore my opinions. They may not make a shred of difference to your opinion of the books/series, (especially for such a series as this) but I have to show my appreciation somehow!

Before reading on, you can check out my reviews for A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings using these links. If you wish. Pretty please?

 

A Storm of Swords – George R. R. Martin

Goodreads – A Storm of Swords

Here is the third volume in George R.R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Together, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

Of the five contenders for power, one is dead, another in disfavor, and still the wars rage as alliances are made and broken. Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne, the uneasy ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. His most bitter rival, Lord Stannis, stands defeated and disgraced, victim of the sorceress who holds him in her thrall. Young Robb still rules the North from the fortress of Riverrun. Meanwhile, making her way across a blood-drenched continent is the exiled queen, Daenerys, mistress of the only three dragons still left in the world. And as opposing forces manoeuver for the final showdown, an army of barbaric wildlings arrives from the outermost limits of civilization, accompanied by a horde of mythical Others—a supernatural army of the living dead whose animated corpses are unstoppable. As the future of the land hangs in the balance, no one will rest until the Seven Kingdoms have exploded in a veritable storm of swords…

 

My Thoughts…

Some of my favourite events of the book series (so far) happen in A Storm of Swords. Weddings are less of a celebration and more of a curse. King’s Landing is reeling from the recent Battle of the Blackwater and their plans for their allegiance go… awry, to put it mildly!

In A Storm of Swords we say goodbye to two Kings in Westeros – one far more reluctantly than the other! The first time I read this book, I had a tantrum after the Red Wedding. I couldn’t pick the book up for a couple of days whilst I sulked. Turns out things weren’t QUITE as bad as you are initially led to believe. Screenrant classifies the TV episode “The Rains of Castamere”, the episode in which The Red Wedding plays out, as the “most shocking” and “peak moment” of the series. It’s clear it had a profound effect on a lot of people – not just me.

Looking north, Jon Snow is in the thick of it too. Surrounded by enemies, he is spying amongst the Wildlings to discover their secrets and then head back to the Wall. Many are mistrustful of his deflection to the Wildlings and he is treated with suspicion by many.

To the east, Daenerys is coming into her own. She is conquering the corrupt cities of Essos and fighting the losing battle of abolishing slavery. Her ambition has always been to make it to Westeros to reclaim the family throne. Her decision to stay and rule to protect the people in the east is very mature of her. It’s one of her defining moments, in my opinion.

As always, George R R Martin manages to balance the narrative and events to keep us hanging on for the next chapter. Even though there are a number of character perspectives contributing to narrating the tale (10-12), the gaps between each perspective aren’t so long that their part of the story is forgotten.

The depth of the history in his fantasy world and the number of characters (and their families) the chronicle contains is phenomenal. How George R R Martin can keep track and ensure everything is consistent baffles me.

A Song of Ice and Fire is an iconic series that I think will live up there with the greats. It’s my unrivalled favourite fantasy series and I have no doubt that shows in my review!

Have you read A Storm of Swords or watched the TV series? What do you make of the events in this book?

 

 

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Book Review: Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean

Earlier this year, I received an ARC of Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean to read, for the purpose of an honest review. Firstly, can I say a huge thank you to Gollancz for the opportunity to read such a beautiful, stand-out book?!

Today, I want to tell you how glad I am that I requested this book to review! I do read a little YA fantasy, but I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader. Instead, what compelled me to request the book is the Japanese influence and culture. Most fantasy I read is heavily influenced by Western ideals and society… so Empress of All Seasons was going to be a completely new experience for me!

 

Empress of All Seasons

Goodreads – Empress of All Seasons

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy.

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren’t hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy.

 

My Thoughts…

The Eastern culture really shines through in this novel, as I hoped it would! Combined with several well developed main characters, a complex social structure and growing unrest giving rise to conflict and rebellion, Empress of All Seasons is the whole package.

Mari is the fierce strong female lead I hoped she would be. She is brought up to take part in the competition to win the title of Empress. She is naturally competitive, thanks to her mother’s tutoring. But she has a secret. She isn’t the girl her mother thinks she is. Mari fights to become Empress to end depravity against her people. She longs to be treated as equal.

Animal wives, in human form, are famed for being the most beautiful. They seduce and marry rich men so they can take off their wealth and have their children to sustain the population. If caught, they are enslaved. Mari’s village is isolated and remains hidden from everyone for protection. Such is the price of freedom from the collar. Mari longs to change that.

As Empress of All Seasons is so different from my usual reads, immersing myself in Emiko Jean’s fantasy world, steeped in an unfamiliar culture, took a little getting used to. I spent three or four days of picking this up and putting it down periodically to digest who was who and what was happening. At that point, I had only gotten around halfway through the narrative, but quickly after that everything fell into place. The conflict in the plot piqued and I was hooked. I read the rest of the book in less than two days.

Mari, Taro and Akira are all vastly different characters whose lives collide in this tale. Even though they each have their different backgrounds and privileges, what struck me the most is that despite this, they are all desperate to break away from the expectations others have of them. That’s something I think we readers can all relate to.

For all the reasons above, Empress of All Seasons is a really enjoyable standalone read. For that reason, I think it will appeal to all fantasy readers – especially those in the market for a breath of fresh air in a popular, saturated genre.

 

 

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Blog Tour Review and GIVEAWAY: Storms of Babylon – Jennifer Macaire

Good morning everyone! Are you having a good day?

I am really excited to be taking part in a blog tour for Storms of Babylon, book four of the Time for Alexander series by Jennifer Macaire! I have been reading the series since January and loved it so far! The series is predominantly historical fiction, but with elements of science fiction in them too.

As always, a huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read up on the series so far, you can check out my thoughts on the first three books in the series by following the links below: –

 

Also, don’t forget to check out the giveaway that is also being run in conjunction with the tour – details of which you’ll find later in the post!

 

Storms Over Babylon

Goodreads – Storms Over Babylon

The Time for Alexander Series Book 4

From the scorching plains of Persia to the opulent city of Babylon, Ashley and Alexander continue their sensuous and passionate journey through history.

Alexander the Great is now king of Persia and Greece – but his reign will be short.

Time-travelling Ashley knows when her husband will die. She’s determined to cheat Fate and save Alexander and her children, even if it brings the gates of time crashing down.

Following Alexander on a tour of his new kingdom, she plans her moves and bides her time. She must, however, convince Alexander to abandon his crown and his kingdom.

 

Purchase Links –

Accent Press      Amazon      Kobo      Barnes & Noble

 

My Thoughts…

Storms of Babylon is as foreboding as it sounds; a dark time is fast approaching the lives of Ashley, Alexander and company. Years of planning are about to either come to fruition or fall apart dramatically. Can Ashley risk it all and save those she loves from their own terrible Fate?

This fourth instalment to the series is quite different in tone from the previous books. We have watched Alexander flourish and grow, journey and conquer new lands. Now, Alexander returns home and the cracks between his people start to show. Alexander the Great’s empire is destined to crumble without him to hold it together. Fate can only be changed so much, after all, or risk being erased altogether…

Ashley has blossomed from the emotional Ice Maiden stranded thousands of years in the past and completely out of her depth. Her capacity to love and empathise is admirable, but I like to see that an element of the strong-minded woman from the future remains. Using her knowledge of history and intuition, she attempts to prevent Plexis’ and Alexander’s deaths without altering the course of time.

One of my favourite elements of The Road to Alexander is the overlap of historical fiction and science fiction. I was glad to see this overlap play its part in Storms of Babylon once again. It’s such an interesting combination – one that’s not put together in the detail as it is in this series!

I have been really looking forward to the events that unfold in Storms of Babylon. Jennifer Macaire has succeeded in balancing a storytelling narrative with character progression that keeps us invested in each the characters. The tension and foreshadowing of the previous books boil over into an intense, exciting and at times, unexpected plot line. I would go so far as to say that Storms of Babylon is my favourite book of the series to date!

I cannot wait to see how events unfold next after such a twisty ending!

 

Author Bio –

Jennifer Macaire lives with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

Social Media Links –

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

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jennifermacaire/

twitter @jennifermacaire

https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

 

Giveaway to Win a $10 Amazon gift certificate (Open INT)

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

 

Now we’ve gotten the dull bit out of the way… if you would like the chance to win a $10 gift certificate, you can enter the giveaway following the link below!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494241/

 

I’d also love if you could check out the other stops on the tour!

Until next time,

 

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#BlogTour Book Review: Three – K. J. McGillick

Good morning everyone! Haven’t the last few days been absolutely fantastic?! We’ve had glorious practically wall-to-wall sunshine… and I’m spending the time at work! Oh well, I have some time off coming up in a few weeks, so I can keep my fingers crossed that the weather holds!

Today gets even better, however, as I have the opportunity to feature one of my favourite authors for another blog tour! I have read several books by K. J. McGillick now, thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. If you would like to check out the other books I have read, you can find my reviews of Facing A Twisted Judgment, Karma Never Loses an Address and Trust Me using the links.

 

THREE: Deception Love Murder

Goodreads – Three

Inviting a stranger into your home can be dangerous. Inviting a stranger into your life can turn deadly.

How would you feel if you discovered your death was meticulously planned by someone you loved? You didn’t know how or when or even why. All you could do was wait.

Emma has it all-a job she loves and a man who professed to love her.

Or did she? How could she be so blind?

When her lover’s car is found burned and abandoned in another state, the police come asking some hard questions. What she discovers upends her world completely. Jude had been living a double life right under her nose. A deceitful life, a treacherous life. Who was this man that had already groomed another woman to take over Emma’s life? A woman who was Emma’s body double and now dead.

Why had she so easily trusted this psychopath with her heart? Betrayed on every level, consequences not of Emma’s making were nipping at her heels. Tick. Tock.

THREE is a gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked. A fast-paced psychological thriller that has been compared to the works of Dan Brown. It can be read as a standalone and serves as the first book in the Path of Deception and Betrayal series.

Purchase Links:    Amazon US      Amazon UK

Three will be 99 p/c for the duration of the tour.

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/nxVD9MOsLss

 

My Thoughts…

K. J. McGillick is an author that I repeatedly go back to, and her latest novel Three hasn’t disappointed! Full of last-minute twists and turns, the FBI has its work cut out for them if they are going to take out a sophisticated crime cell linked to terrorism.

With each book I have read by the author, the knowledge she has of the art world and the opportunities for criminals within it is phenomenal. It’s a lucrative and unregulated business, making it a playground for anyone wanting to make money… or make it disappear for a while.

I really enjoyed how events unravelled, all starting with an unknown deposit box. I felt sympathetic for Emma throughout; discovering the man you are building a life with isn’t the man you thought and trusted him to be, must be devastating! Things go from bad to worse for meek, naive Emma as the case unfolds, but from the experience, a bold and more confident young woman emerges.

There is an element of romance to the narrative, but it’s not so intrusive that anyone not a fan of romance, like me, can’t read it. Depending on how it’s written, intense character relationships can make me feel uncomfortable. I’m not a prude or anything like that. Relationships, by nature, are very personal and if I feel like I’m intruding I get uncomfortable and it breaks my reading flow. As the relationship is a budding one, I was almost guaranteed to be safe from that.

Three brilliantly balances a complex plot, an array of characters and a great deal of knowledge in all matters (il)legal, with art as a specialist topic! I really enjoyed reading the book, as I have other novels by K. J. McGillick. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who enjoys crime/suspense or thriller novels!

 

Author Bio –

K. J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorker’s do. Right? A Registered Nurse, a lawyer now author.

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/KJMcGillickauthor/

Kathleen McGillick

@KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

https://twitter.com/KJMcGillickAuth

https://www.goodreads.com/Kmcgillick

Audiobook Review: Lock In – John Scalzi

Today, I am reviewing Lock In by John Scalzi…. and it’s my first audiobook review in quite some time. Whilst I listen to them most days, I only get to enjoy them in short bursts. As a result, it takes me a little while to finish an audiobook. Then I forget to review them entirely because they are so infrequent. Good plan, neh?

Yeah, not really, but there we are! So, I have a few catch-up reviews to write. Let’s jump straight in!

 

Lock In – John Scalzi

Goodreads – Lock In

Not too long from today, a new, highly contagious virus makes its way across the globe. Most who get sick experience nothing worse than flu, fever and headaches. But for the unlucky one percent – and nearly five million souls in the United States alone – the disease causes “Lock In”: Victims fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus. The disease affects young, old, rich, poor, people of every color and creed. The world changes to meet the challenge.

A quarter of a century later, in a world shaped by what’s now known as “Haden’s syndrome,” rookie FBI agent Chris Shane is paired with veteran agent Leslie Vann. The two of them are assigned what appears to be a Haden-related murder at the Watergate Hotel, with a suspect who is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden client, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

But “complicated” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Shane and Vann began to unravel the threads of the murder, it becomes clear that the real mystery – and the real crime – is bigger than anyone could have imagined. The world of the locked in is changing, and with the change comes opportunities that the ambitious will seize at any cost. The investigation that began as a murder case takes Shane and Vann from the halls of corporate power to the virtual spaces of the locked in, and to the very heart of an emerging, surprising new human culture. It’s nothing you could have expected.

 

My Thoughts…

Even though Lock In delves into the realms of science-fiction, it’s an almost plausible reality. A deadly virus attacks the population; millions die and many recover, but an unlucky one per cent lives with “Lock In”. They are stuck in their own bodies and unable to communicate. Technology eventually intervenes and allows those “Locked In” to live a semblance of a normal life via the use of Threeps – essentially, a robot.

After the initial shockwave of the disease sweeps through the population, corporations are quick in recognising that a new market is emerging. Lock In patients need healthcare; there needs to be research into developing a treatment or cure. There’s profit to be made and the corporation wars begin. Things start to get pretty hostile when we get thrown into the narrative.

Agent Shane is one of the most famous Haden’s victims. Through his father’s influence, he became a poster-child for the Threep. Now an adult and keen to make his own way in life, he is assigned to work with Agent Vann in his new job with the FBI. Despite his privilege, Chris Shane is incredibly switched on to the ways of the world. His scepticism and dry wit had me laughing out loud almost constantly. Agent Vann is much the same, if not a little blunter. The duo works so well together that their partnership is effortless and enjoyable to listen to.

 

Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome

The storyline and development behind the flu-like virus, how it affected people and the long-term consequences for its victims has been so well thought out! The version of the audiobook I listened to, narrated by Will Wheaton, had a novella tagged onto the end about the entire history of the fictional virus. I really enjoyed the multiple perspectives in this novella – it’s composed of reports by various medical professionals and participants of medical trials etc. It had a fresh feel compared to Lock In, which was more consistent in chapter length and narration.

 

Lock In is part sci-fi, part psychological thriller in its narration and execution. It’s a truly enjoyable narrative. I fully anticipate more of John Scalzi’s books landing on my bookshelf, and not just the sequel, Head On…

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Lynmouth Stories – L. V. Hay

For the second time this month I’m featuring a blog tour post for a collection of short stories. A huge thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

 

The Lynmouth Stories

Purchase Linkhttp://myBook.to/LynmouthStories

 

Beautiful places hide dark secrets …

Devon’s very own crime writer L.V Hay (The Other Twin, Do No Harm) brings forth three new short stories from her dark mind and poison pen:

– For kidnapped Meg and her young son Danny, In Plain Sight, the remote headland above Lynmouth is not a haven, but hell.

– A summer of fun for Catherine in Killing Me Softly becomes a winter of discontent … and death.

– In Hell And High Water, a last minute holiday for Naomi and baby Tommy  becomes a survival situation … But that’s before the village floods.

All taking place out of season when the majority of tourists have gone home, L.V Hay uses her local knowledge to bring forth dark and claustrophic noir she has come to be known for.

Did You Know …?

Known as England’s ‘Little Switzerland’, the Devon village of Lynmouth is famous for its Victorian cliff railway, fish n’ chips and of course, RD Blackmore’s Lorna Doone.

Located on the doorstep of the dramatic Valley of The Rocks and the South West Cliff Path, the twin villages of Lynton and Lynmouth have inspired many writers, including 19th Century romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, who honeymooned there in 1812.

PRAISE FOR L V HAY:

‘Well-written, engrossing & brilliantly unique’- Heat World

‘Prepare to be surprised by this psychological mystery’- Closer

‘Sharp, confident writing, as dark and twisty as the Brighton Lanes’- Peter James

‘Prepare to be seriously disturbed’ – Paul Finch

‘Crackles with tension’ – Karen Dionne

‘An original, fresh new voice in crime fiction’  – Cal Moriarty

‘The writing shines from every page of this twisted tale’- Ruth Dugdall

‘I couldn’t put it down’ –  Paula Daly

‘An unsettling whirlwind of a novel with a startlingly dark core’ – The Sun

‘An author with a fresh, intriguing voice and a rare mastery of the art of storytelling’ – Joel Hames

 

My Thoughts…

If you’re looking for a short crime fiction story or two to see you on your way to work, or to enjoy with a quiet cup of coffee, then The Lynmouth Stories are right up your alley! Set in the rural tourist town of Lynmouth, Devon, the location each tale is set in is about all they have in common. One thing is for sure, L. V. Hay sets such a dark and sinister atmosphere that I definitely won’t be visiting unless it’s peak tourist season…

These stories are really short; I managed to read all three in around half an hour. Even though each they aren’t all that long, there is no lack of character, plot and setting the scene. To pack in such detail into a narrative so concisely is a skill (and one I envy). I read these in-between collections of short stories with other themes. Touching base with a genre that I really enjoy reading is refreshing.

The Lynmouth Stories aren’t the only short stories I am reading this month – I’m actually making a bit more effort to read some. I tend to read longer books with complex plot lines and a whole host of characters in them. Having said that though, I’ve enjoyed The Lynmouth Stories because trying something new is fun!

Reading shorts like The Lynmouth Stories is also a great way of discovering new authors. Based on these tales, I’ve added her debut novel, The Other Twin to my TBR. The author’s approachable writing style is one that I could read for hours.

 

Author Bio –

Lucy V Hay is a script editor for film and an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspaper, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, is an ebook bestseller. Her next title is Never Have I Ever for Hodder Books.

Social Media Links –

www.twitter.com/LucyVHayAuthor

www.facebook.com/LucyHayB2W

www.instagram.com/LucyVHayAuthor

Blog Tour Review: Game of Crones – Jay Raven

Today’s blog tour post is for a series of deliciously dark short stories, revolving around powerful, mystical powers and the women that wield them.

Game of Crones: Tales of Witchcraft and Wickedness

 

Welcome to a world of cruelty, hexes and treachery, where malicious magic rules and you are but a single necromancer’s spell away from eternal terror.

From malevolent medieval magicians to Wild West witches, this spellbinding volume by a master of the macabre is packed with frightening fables guaranteed to send a supernatural chill down your spine.

Amongst the haunting historical horror stories, you’ll meet:

  • A half-crazed girl locked up in a high security mental hospital by those accusing her of causing a devastating earthquake.
  • An impoverished French noblewoman who’ll stop at nothing to marry her daughter to a wealthy prince – even if it means dabbling with a dangerous love potion.
  • The hated public executioner Pandora whose fabled box has already killed 55 men – without leaving a trace of violence on their bodies.
  • Wily witch Merta who uses all her wits and trickery to turn the tables on the corrupt Mayor who wants her burnt alive at the stake.
  • A faery mage without conscience or pity with the perfect plan to make Mankind turn on itself – and all it takes is one innocent baby.
  • A drought-stricken frontier town that seeks magical help from the local Indian tribe to make it rain, but learns it comes at a terrible cost.
  • The doubt-ridden King, plagued by nightmares of his death, who consults an enchantress to learn the most of hidden of secrets: just when the Grim Reaper will claim him.
  • A Mid Western widow who is convinced her homesteading husband is still alive, held hostage by a sorceress.

If you’re thrilled by exciting dark fantasy tales, with cunning twists, edge-of -the seat tension and unexpected shivers, you’ll love Game of Crones. Pick it up today. If you dare…

Purchase Links:      Amazon US      Amazon UK

 

My Thoughts…

After briefly starting this before bed one night, I read 90% of this book in one sitting the following day. That’s how quick and enjoyable it is! I’m not really in the habit of reading short stories. Saying that, I am giving several a try this month. I dabble in a little bit of writing, so reading a variety of short stories will only be of a benefit to me.

Each story is nice and short, easy to read and distinctly different from each other. We meet a variety of characters, but the one thing they all have in common is a woman able to wield supernatural powers over us mere mortals with terrifying consequences. As I started each new tale, I couldn’t wait to see how events unfolded! I couldn’t anticipate how each story was going to end. A few of the stories are almost fable-like, with a lesson in the morality of seeking out such power…or meddling with the wrong person!

The setting of each story was completely different to the next, which makes each individual story memorable from the other. The women themselves also come from different backgrounds; some are revered, others reviled and some are living right under your nose.

This is a really enjoyable quick read! I recommend this to anyone who loves witchcraft, sorcery or sinister tales with unexpected endings… Based on these, I’ll certainly be making more of an effort to pick up short stories for a refreshing read!

 

Author Bio

 

Jay Raven is the author of Gothic chillers and historical horror reminding readers that the past is a dangerous place to venture, full of monsters and murderous men. He blames his fascination with vampires, witches and werewolves on the Hammer Horror films he watched as a teenager, but living in a creepy old house on the edge of a 500-acre wood may have something to do with it.

If you would like to be informed of new releases, enjoy free short stories and access exclusive giveways and competitions, please subscribe to Jay’s monthly newsletter on his website at www.jayraven.co.uk

Social Media Links –

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

Twitter: @JayRavenAuthor

Website: www.jayraven.com

 

 

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Book Review: The Drawing of the Three – Stephen King

One of the first books I picked up last month was The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. I read The Gunslinger back in June 2017 – TWO YEARS AGO?! – I really wanted to get back to the series after such a long break!

 

Goodreads – The Drawing of the Three

 

While pursuing his quest for the Dark Tower through a world that is a nightmarishly distorted mirror image of our own, Roland, the last gunslinger, encounters three mysterious doorways on the beach. Each one enters into the life of a different person living in contemporary New York.

Here he links forces with the defiant young Eddie Dean and the beautiful, brilliant, and brave Odetta Holmes, in a savage struggle against underworld evil and otherworldly enemies.

Once again, Stephen King has masterfully interwoven dark, evocative fantasy and icy realism.

 

My Thoughts…

The Drawing of the Three has a completely different feel to The Gunslinger. That kinda worked for me though. In the first book, we come to learn a lot about Roland and his history, the Dark Tower and his quest to reach it. Consequently, we spent a lot of time venturing through his world. The Drawing of the Three differs from that completely! Instead, we flit between Roland’s homeworld and a modern-day version of New York.

Roland seeks supporters in his quest to the Tower and fight against the dark. Eddie Dean and Odetta Holmes’ lives change completely when Roland barges into their reality. Each with their own demons, Roland has his work cut out for him if he wants them fighting fit on his side, especially since he could be dying himself.

The Drawing of the Three has a greater emphasis on characters, in my opinion. That may be the nature of the book, as Roland doesn’t actually seem to get that far in terms of his quest. I enjoyed the inclusion of the additional characters. Overall, they give the narrative more depth. No man can achieve everything by himself after all.

Eddie and Odetta haven’t had the easiest lives so far – Eddie has grown up with drugs as his crutch. Both he and his brother are in deep when Roland drags him out of that dark cycle. Odetta’s struggles are borne from an ‘accident’ that took her legs years before. Her challenges aren’t just physical though – the psychological trauma that accompanies it has scarred her more in the long run.

Watching each character fight their own battles (with a little help from one another) is entertaining, but more importantly, incredibly and hauntingly realistic. Only once they have put their own demons to rest can they face even greater darkness – The Dark Tower. I cannot wait to read the next book. Stephen King is one of my favourite authors and I am glad he has dipped into the fantasy genre. I won’t be waiting two years to read the next one, that’s for sure!

 

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Book Review: The Watcher of Dead Time – Edward Cox

Today, I am really looking forward to sharing my honest thoughts with you all about the final book of an amazing trilogy. Before I was offered a copy of the series by Gollancz in exchange for a review, I’ll freely admit that I hadn’t heard of Edward Cox before. The Relic Guild series has made a huge impression on me… so much so that Edward Cox has been added to the small list of authors I’ll auto-buy books for.

Quite an impression, wouldn’t you agree?

If you haven’t read my reviews of The Relic Guild or The Cathedral of Known Things, please take a minute to check these out!

 

The Watcher of Dead Time

Goodreads – The Watcher of Dead Time

 

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching…

The dramatic conclusion to the award-nominated fantasy trilogy which began with THE RELIC GUILD.

 

My Thoughts…

There are so many amazing things that I really enjoyed about this series that I don’t really know where to begin! The world-building, magic system, characters – each is unique, refined and complements the other. They work together to build a detailed, cohesive narrative that flows and lulls us on to read the ever-famous “just one more chapter”.

First, let’s talk about the world-building! The concept of the Labyrinth and its history is unlike anything I have ever heard of before. Built to serve as a neutral place for warring houses, Labrys Town becomes a sought-after weapon. Each House is separated by what is called the Nothing of the Far and Deep, (which in my head I equate to something similar to Space) but portals can link these Houses and Labrys Town together. After narrowly neutralising the threat 40 years ago, most of Labrys Town’s portals have been deactivated. They are cut off from all houses but one. However, that puts them in more danger further down the line… Genii, powerful magickers strive to take over the Labyrinth.

The rich history of the world really shines through throughout the trilogy.

The entire narrative is split between two timelines, the first during the first Genii War and the second forty years later. Each timeline concludes in this final instalment. Whilst in the latter timeline we have a vague idea of how the war ended previously, there are enough secrets kept to make that ending just as exciting as the present day conclusion! Each timeline is also written cleverly so as to be well-distinguishable from the other. There are many overlapping characters in both timelines, but there are also enough subtle differences to serve as a reminder.

There is such a diverse range of characters that there is someone for every reader to relate to. Clara is new to the Relic Guild, having endeavoured to hide her power of transforming into a werewolf. She is the first Magicker in forty years. Through her we get to learn the history of the Relic Guild and their sacrifices for the residents in the Labrys Town. The veteran Magickers are easy to warm to as well. Despite their struggles to win an impossible war, we cannot forget how human and vulnerable they are. Old Man Sam, a mistrustful sharpshooter and Marney, whose power is empathic, are my favourite characters. I’m not one for gushy romance, but even I lamented the loss of Marney’s potential relationship with Van Bam.

The Watcher of Dead Time has a brilliantly immersive narrative. I was eager to see how events in both timelines reached their conclusions. Alternately switching between then and now keeps a steady momentum, but the chapter lengths aren’t so short that this becomes chaotic.

What’s next…

Once again, a huge thank you to both Gollancz and Edward Cox for the opportunity to read and review this amazing series! It’s the first series I have been sent in entirety to review and I am really glad I have!

I expect great things from Edward Cox, if The Relic Guild is anything to go by! I’ve already been looking ahead to see if he has any other works in the pipeline, and I wasn’t disappointed! The Song of the Sycamore is expected to be published in August this year! I can guarantee I’ll be picking this one up for sure!

 

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Sunday Summary

Book Review: Mythos – Stephen Fry

Hello everyone! I hope you have had a lovely week and are looking forward to the bank holiday weekend! I sure am!

Firstly, I’d like to express a quick apology for not posting my promised Top Ten Tuesday post this week. It turns out trying to choose your top ten characters in A Game of Thrones is quite hard! By Tuesday evening I had picked my candidates but only written up about half of them. I didn’t feel rushing the post was in my best interests. Anyway, I’ll talk more about it in my wrap up on Sunday.

For today, I’ll be reviewing a book I borrowed from my library in February… a book that also happens to be the first in my challenge to read more non-fiction. I was compelled to pick this up for two reasons. Firstly, reading The Road to Alexander in January piqued my interest in the subject since Greek mythology comes up in that quite a lot – particularly the tale of Persephone comes up a lot. I chose Stephen Fry’s re-telling because I have enjoyed another book of his previously. Back in September 2017 I read his book, Making History. It’s a fictional tale exploring the history of World War II and the consequences of Adolf Hitler not being born. Knowing that I enjoy his writing style, Mythos felt like a natural choice to take my first real steps into Greek Mythology with.

 

Mythos – Stephen Fry

Goodreads – Mythos

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

 

My Thoughts…

If you were to studiously explore Greek Mythology… you would be busy for quite a while purely because there are so many Gods/Goddesses. Some are names we know already – Apollo, Hermes, Aphrodite. There are many, many… many others. Although the book covers vast a number of stories about the different Gods and their interactions with each other, the book isn’t overwhelming.

Mythos’s narrative is written in an almost chronological manner, beginning with the Gods and Goddesses referred to as Olympians before moving on to their children… so on and so forth. Each tale is broken up into its own section, making it as digestible as possible. The subject matter, should you want to study it closely, can get complicated quite quickly. More than once I referred to infographics to follow the heredity.

The tales within Mythos could easily be read for entertainment or for educational purposes. Obviously, I have read it for entertainment and did so within a matter of days. I quite enjoyed the footnotes that accompanied the tales. They drop in context where appropriate and additional facts such as the names of the Roman God/Goddess equivalents. There are even some of Stephen Fry’s wittier comments for an element of humour.

The book is a great introduction to the topic. I knew relatively little about it and I’d recommend it to anyone else wanting to read up on the subject. You can read and take away as much or as little as you want. Stephen Fry’s humour and natural narrative voice make it easy to lose yourself in the heroics and follies of the Gods. So much so that you realise you are still awake and reading past your bedtime.

Not that I would do such a thing as that…

Obviously…

 

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