Tag: bookreview

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Book Review: Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag lives a totalitarian life. The government says books are dangerous… and dangerous they are. They provoke thought and opinion, encourage individuality and ideas. They must be burned. Montag is a fireman, charged with the destruction of the prohibited material. But curiosity gets the better of him, and he finds himself on the path to his own destruction…

Goodreads – Fahrenheit 451

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television ‘family’. But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people did not live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known.

 

My Thoughts…

Can you really imagine a world without books? As a source of entertainment and knowledge, they are one of the most precious things to me! In Fahrenheit 451 literature is publicly spurned for its contradictory nature; the uncertainty and the confusion it causes is blamed for the unhappiness in the world. (Of course, living a life in which you are stifled of all opinion and individuality has NOTHING to do with it…)

Then, one day, a young girl walks into Guy Montag’s life. She starts to question him, his life and the world they live in. She plants a seed. He was so sure of what he was doing… what role he had in society, now he isn’t. So, he seeks the truth and turns his attention to those materials he is entrusted to destroy for answers.

Being sat on the other side of the fence to this dystopian novel, it is easy to criticise Montag for just accepting what he is told and not thinking for himself. We are used to having an opinion and the freedom to express it. Ask my work colleagues, they’ll tell you I’m one of the most opinionated people on the planet. Consider never having that choice; imagine growing up to be told something just is and you never question it.

 

They walked still further and the girl said, “Is it true that long ago firemen put fires out instead of going to start them?”

“No. Houses have always been fireproof, take my word for it.”

 

As a book-lover, I can’t help but champion Montag’s awakening. His transition from a brainwashed man who knows what he is told to one who can think for himself is liberating. It’s a change we often see in dystopian novels, but somehow it’s still refreshing every single time. Knowledge is a powerful force against tyranny, and reading of Montag’s rebellion sparks a small fire in all of us.

Would we do the same in his shoes? I hope I never have to find out.

 

 

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Book Review: The Swan Keeper – Milana Marsenich

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

Girlhood, courage, nature, and flight from a tyrant’s hand in post-frontier Montana.

Goodreads – The Swan Keeper

The Swan Keeper is an historical, coming of age novel set in Northwest Montana’s Mission Valley in the late 1920s.

Lillian Connelly loves trumpeter swans and vows to protect them from a hunter who is killing them and leaving their carcasses for the wolves and coyotes to ravage.

On her eleventh birthday Lilly’s family visits the Cattail Marsh to see the newly hatched cygnets. The family outing turns tragic when Dean Drake shows up with his shotgun and fires on not only the swans, but on Lilly’s family. Unable to prevent tragedy, Lillian witnesses Drake kill her father, injure her mother, and slaughter the bevy of trumpeter swans.

The sheriff, Charlie West, thinks that Lilly is reacting to the trauma and blaming Drake because of a previous conflict between Drake and her father. Lilly’s mother, sister, and her best friend, Jerome West, the sheriff’s son, all think the same thing: that Lilly is trying to make sense of a senseless accident.

Left alone to bring Dean Drake to justice, Lilly’s effort is subverted when Drake woos her sister, courts her mother, and moves into their home.

 

My Thoughts…

Who cannot love a girl who will risk her life:

1.       for the sake of the truth and;

2.      the lives of innocent trumpeter swans?

She has guts; some would say gall, but Lilly will not be chastened. Too young, she is forced to grow up and face the harshest realities of life, and that no one takes an impulsive eleven-year-old seriously.

As in Copper Sky, the natural beauty of the Montana landscape shines throughout the narrative. Picturesque mountains and vivid descriptions set the scene of Montana in the 1920’s. The changing of the seasons mark the passage of time as Lilly transitions from a child into the headstrong, confident young woman she is meant to be.

Nothing is impossible for this young girl. When everyone refuses to believe that she witnessed her father murdered by the man he feuded with, she sets out for justice against all odds. But Drake is on to her? What lengths will he go to, to ensure that no one believes her?

Having already read Copper Sky, I know the high standard of writing and character development from Milana Marsenich. Once again she has proven her ability to write strong, memorable characters. During a time when a family is tested to its limits, the bond holding them together proves that blood is thicker than water. Two squabbling sisters are able to pull together when it matters most. Hardship and struggle are themes that Milana can write incredibly well. Death, loss and sad kind of acceptance are all feelings we can relate to. Experiencing such a tragedy from the perspective of a child makes those feelings all the more profound.

Lilly’s youthful determination and Drake’s easy arrogance are but two examples of how each of these characters is brought to life. These two are opposing forces of nature and they catalyze one another. The depth and complexity of humanity are explored in each and every character, though. I’m a firm believer that Milana’s experience in mental health therapy lends a greater understanding as to how we, as people, tick, especially under stress.

The Swan Keeper is a beautiful novel. Tragic and heartfelt, yet with its own admirable beauty and appreciation of nature, the novel is not just an entertaining read. It’s a journey.

 

 

Author Bio – Milana Marsenich

Milana Marsenich lives in Northwest Montana near Flathead Lake at the base of the beautiful Mission Mountains. She enjoys quick access to the mountains and has spent many hours hiking the wilderness trails with friends and dogs. For the past 20 years she has worked as a mental health therapist in a variety of settings. As a natural listener and a therapist, she has witnessed amazing generosity and courage in others. She first witnessed this in her hometown of Butte, Montana, a mining town with a rich history and the setting for Copper Sky, her first novel. Copper Sky was chosen as a Spur Award finalist for Best Western Historical Novel.

She has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from Montana State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Montana. She has previously published in Montana Quarterly, Big Sky Journal, The Polishing Stone, The Moronic Ox, BookGlow, and Feminist Studies.

She has a short story included in The Montana Quarterly book: Montana, Warts and All. She has two published novels, Copper Sky and The Swan Keeper.

Bio Source: https://milanamarsenich.com

Blog Tour Review: Facing a Twisted Judgment – K J McGillick

I am really looking forward to today’s blog tour post for Facing a Twisted Judgment by K. J. McGillick. I was kindly invited to the tour by Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources. A massive thank you to both of you for enabling me to enjoy this thrilling read!

 

Purchase Links: Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk

Goodreads – Facing A Twisted Judgment

 

Synopsis

What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labeled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system?  Probably not.

After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner Samantha Bennington disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.

When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.

As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.

Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.

 

My Thoughts…

Give me a crime novel with any number of suspects and I’ll sit there and try to deduce my way through it like a very amateurish Poirot. The measure of a good crime novel is whether I THINK I’ve hacked it or not. As I said, I’m not very good at these things. I’m always wrong, but I enjoy the attempt nonetheless.

I was kept guessing throughout this book! I doubted everyone and everything I was told, trusting none of the characters…well, except Dalia. Was it truly the cold and calculating husband? Maybe it was the psycho sister or brother serving time for fraud. The investigation targets the husband very quickly and the evidence starts to mount up against him.

The narrative is clearly constructed from two perspectives; Dalia, employed by the company trying to recover several pieces of artwork valued at 130million dollars, and suspect number one himself. Dalia’s background as an attorney means she cannot help but take a natural interest in the disappearance of Samantha and subsequent investigation. Her narrative is balanced between developing her character and current events. Of all the characters in the book, I found Dalia to be the most authentic and relatable. As a newcomer to the team and the investigation, we unravel the mystery through her eyes.

Alex is far from a likable character, but his portrayal in the narrative is intriguing and wonderfully written. He is an attorney himself, but with a shady past, a long list of ex-wives and a cold/calculating demeanor, he is far from squeaky clean. When this newlywed’s wife goes missing along with some of her most valuable assets, Alex’s primary concern for the insurance claim on the artwork paints a sinister picture.

I loved reading the chapters from Alex’s perspective because I was intrigued by how emotionally detached he is as a person. Psychology is a subject that I been interested in since the age of 17; Alex makes an interesting test case. His almost split personality can turn at the flick of a switch. His need for control and ability to manipulate people is unnerving. When his wife plans to go against his wishes with the assets he helped her win in court, what lengths will he go to in order to get his way?

A concise narrative makes Facing A Twisted Judgment easy to pick up but hard to put down.

 

About the Author

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?

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 – Facebook   Twitter @KJMcGillickAuth

http://www.kjmcgillick.com/

 

 

Throwback Thursday Review: The Inheritance Cycle – Christopher Paolini

Today’s Throwback Thursday review of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini is going to be a mixed bag. It’s a series I started and loved in the beginning, but ultimately I have DNF’d it.

 

Goodreads – Eragon

Goodreads – Eldest

Goodreads – Brisingr

Goodreads – Inheritance

Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders?

When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it is the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy; perhaps it will buy his family meat for the winter. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he is thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. With only an ancient sword and the advice of an old storyteller for guidance, Eragon and the fledgling dragon must navigate the dangerous terrain and dark enemies of an Empire ruled by a king whose evil knows no bounds. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands. . . .

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Eragon whilst I was at school. I have a particular friend whom I aspired to be like at school. She was into the same books as me – in fact, it was unusual to meet her without a book in hand. (She is also the person who introduced me to Terry Pratchett, I might add).

I had seen her reading Eragon before I had picked it up, so naturally, I had to read it too! I loved the fantasy element of the book; at that time, the young-boy-coming-of-age trope was still exciting. And who doesn’t love dragons?!

If you don’t… you have no soul. Just saying.

I really enjoyed reading the first book; it is magical – and the worldbuilding! I found it very immersive.

I would say that Eragon is a book that I read in my bookworm infancy. At that point, I hadn’t really refined my preferences. I was drinking up everything I could. By the time I got around to Eldest, though, I had started to formulate my own ideas of what I liked and what I didn’t. It’s not that I didn’t like Eldest particularly, I did. I have fond memories of ignoring my duties of supervising younger kids during break and being stood next to a radiator with these books instead. Much more fun, yes?

So, what do I think went wrong?

If I am 100% honest, I think I just outgrew these books. I recall finding the second book immature in the plot and writing style. Frustration peaked because I feel the book could have been better. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t get past the barrier that presented itself.

I haven’t attempted Brisingr or Inheritance because I don’t think I can bring myself to. The plot is well and truly lost to me so I would be back at square one, with far less appreciation for the tropes it relies on. I don’t think I will enjoy it and I don’t think I need a better reason to not read these books. If we cannot take enjoyment out of reading, then what is the point?

 

Sunday Summary

Sunday Summary – 25th November 2018

Hi guys!

So, some of you may have noticed that I didn’t publish a Sunday Summary post last week. More than likely… no one noticed at all! That’s okay though, I spent some great time with family and got some Christmas shopping done!

Yes, I said it. Christmas. Shopping.

I may have bought myself one or two things whilst away… you know, strictly one or two.

 

I am also a little late in publishing this one. Sorry guys! Unless you have a death wish, going back into the office without treats after a holiday is a dangerous affair. It’s all stares and disgruntled mutterings but you just know you have that black mark against your name. In fairness, it hasn’t been a great week there (not because I wasn’t there – I don’t think THAT MUCH of myself), so I decided to do the best thing I could and baked.

You can see the picture on my instagram – they went down a treat at work. Brownie points for Rebecca!

 

So, personal life antics aside… what else have I been up to?

Well, skipping back over the last couple of weeks, I published a review of Frankenstein that was much overdue. I found myself in a little bit of a writing slump, so I can’t say I’m overly thrilled with the review. It passes (I hope)… but it certainly isn’t my finest work.

I also put together a review for Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor! Whilst I was away I had a couple of hours to myself… so I put them to good use. I really enjoyed reading Muse of Nightmares because there is so much more to it than Strange the Dreamer. I expected the book to be different, I’ll add, but the actual story is far better than I could have EVER imagined. Read it. Seriously.

After getting back home from my jollidays, (yes, I really did just say that) I decided to review the TBR again in another Down the TBR Hole post. It’s the sort of thing that you really need to keep on top of, so I like to chip away at it. By that, I really mean that I try to break even. I keep adding new books to the list all the time!

 

Books Read

My time off work this month has been a lot busier than last month, so I haven’t gotten as much reading done. I have made more progress with reading A Game of Thrones. Having looked back at my last Sunday Summary post, I’ve actually read more than I thought! I have jumped from just less than 50% to 88%. I managed to fit a bit of reading in whilst commuting on my trip, but never really for any length of time. Since I have nearly finished this book, I am going to try to finish it tonight – tomorrow at the latest!

Before my trip away, I was also reading Season of Storms by Andrzej Sapkowski. I don’t really feel I have made a lot of progress with this book so far. I’m finding the pacing to be a little slow at the moment, but it should pick up in time. I haven’t actually touched this book since my return yet; I’ll have another bash at it once A Game of Thrones is ticked off the list.

In the times where a lighter read was required, I have been reading I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson. I have actually read part of this book before; I borrowed it from my school library years ago! It definitely has the laugh out loud humour I’ve needed. The other two books make for quite heavy reading, so needing a break is not unreasonable. I don’t normally read contemporaries/women’s literature. I have to be in the mood for it. I’ve managed just over a hundred pages last week alone, so that isn’t such bad going either.

 

Books Discovered

My self-imposed book ban is now OVER!!!! Thank goodness for that! I was restraining myself knowing that November was going to be an expensive month. Now it’s over, I can spend however much I like on books hahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

Obviously, that’s a lie. I haven’t finished Christmas shopping yet so I shouldn’t celebrate too early. But, I don’t have flights, hotels, food and spending money to worry about… so I can breathe a little easier.

On Tuesday, the last day of my trip, I decided to use some of my leftover budget to get myself a copy of Fire and Blood. It was publishing Day and half price. The illustrations are beautiful and so is Martin’s writing. I’d have to be daft not too!

 

Coming Up…

It will be good to finally get things back on track! Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time! I hope to be able to go away and see my sister again before too long. But, it’s nice to get back to the familiar, to get back into routine.

So, what am I posting on my blog this week? Well, this week I want to write another Throwback Thursday Review. I started this series so I had the chance to feature books read prior to starting my blog. They have all played their part in making me the bookworm I am today, so it makes sense to make a space for them here. This week’s post will be a mixed review because it is a series I loved initially, but have stopped reading.

 

In terms of reading progress, I am pushing to finish A Game of Thrones tonight. At the latest, I want to finish this tomorrow.  I am also going to try and finish I Don’t Know How She Does It, because I need to start my next read for an upcoming Blog Tour.

How has your week been? What have you been reading?

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Book Review: Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor

It took me about a year after purchasing the book to read Strange the Dreamer, the first book of Laini Taylor’s duology. I didn’t make the same mistake when it came to Muse of Nightmares! After devouring Strange the Dreamer (not only reading it alongside an existing TBR that it wasn’t on, but also reading it all in pretty much one weekend solid) I couldn’t wait for Muse of Nightmares. As soon as I could pre-order a copy, I did. The fact that I got my hands on a limited edition copy with sprayed edges is a bonus!

I pre-ordered Muse and an agonising wait for publication date began. I waited. And I waited.

And then FINALLY… publication day arrived! I didn’t receive my email from my local store to tell me it was available for collection until just before 5pm, so as soon as work was done I bombed it there! No word of a lie. I got about as close to running as I ever will do! That, my friends, says it all.

 

Goodreads – Muse of Nightmares

Sarai has lived and breathed nightmares since she was six years old.

She believed she knew every horror and was beyond surprise.

She was wrong.

In the wake of tragedy, neither Lazlo nor Sarai are who they were before. One a god, the other a ghost, they struggle to grasp the new boundaries of their selves as dark-minded Minya holds them hostage, intent on vengeance against Weep.

Lazlo faces an unthinkable choice—save the woman he loves, or everyone else?—while Sarai feels more helpless than ever. But is she? Sometimes, only the direst need can teach us our own depths, and Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, has not yet discovered what she’s capable of.

As humans and godspawn reel in the aftermath of the citadel’s near fall, a new foe shatters their fragile hopes, and the mysteries of the Mesarthim are resurrected: Where did the gods come from, and why? What was done with thousands of children born in the citadel nursery? And most important of all, as forgotten doors are opened and new worlds revealed: Must heroes always slay monsters, or is it possible to save them instead?

Love and hate, revenge and redemption, destruction and salvation all clash in this astonishing and heart-stopping sequel to the New York Times bestseller, Strange the Dreamer.

 

My Thoughts…

I started reading Muse of Nightmares pretty much as soon as I got it home – that is how excited I was for it! I took my time reading this second book a little more than I did the first. I simultaneously as wanted to devour and savour the experience. 

Strange the Dreamer introduces an already complex, beautiful fantasy world. I pretty much expected Muse of Nightmares to build upon the existing world already established… But to suggest that is the case would be an absolute lie and I would be doing the book no justice. Laini Taylor has developed the tale far beyond the realms of imagination (at least mine anyway, and I would say mine is pretty vivid). The plot far exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed unravelling the truth of the past and what really happened all those years ago to the city with no known name. 

Where Strange the Dreamer focuses on the attraction of Lazio and Sarai, Muse of Nightmares takes a different tack. Instead, Sarai takes centre stage, and through her kinship to her fellow gods we pull apart the myth and uncover the darkest secrets of their existence. The relationships between characters is phenomenal, as can only be expected from Laini Taylor. I’m not a huge fan of mushy romance in books, but O wasn’t pushed away from these books for it. I like the relationship that blooms between Lazlo and Sarai as it stems from a need to belong; a need for companionship. In addition to the characters we are already acquainted with, we are introduced to two sisters… Kora and Nova. Inseparable since children, they dreamed of awakening godly powers and being taken away from their dreary life. When their fates drive them apart, they will stop at nothing to be reunited. The bonds between the characters are strong, complex and built to last. 

If there is one lesson that this book can give, I would say that it goes to show the influence of corruption. It’s easy to label good and bad, but in fact there are so many shades inbetween that we all find ourselves within the spectrum. Discrimination is easy when you can villainize the other party. Yet, the children are not their parents. They have been born into a world ( one of many) that victimises them for crimes they haven’t committed. For that, you can’t help but route for them in making their own way. 

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Book Review: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

The first time I read Frankenstein, I absolutely hated it.

Reading the book was part of the school curriculum for my class, and my fourteen-year-old-self did not appreciate it at all.

In hindsight, I attribute that to the particular teacher I had. Teachers, you do a fabulous, grueling and hard-working job. Most of you are very good at what you do and I wouldn’t be the same person if not for your influence. This one though… she has to be the most unpleasant teacher I have ever had.

Anyway, no need for more of that negativity here. It is a regular occurrence though; all the books I read for school, I didn’t like…. almost. I think the only exceptions are Stone Cold by Robert Swindells (there’s a story for THAT teacher too) and Of Mice and Men – eventually. I didn’t take to it straightaway, but came to love it by the time we had finished studying it.

Books should be read and appreciated without being analysed to death, okay? If ANYONE thinks that’s fun, they need their head read.

Source: Giphy

Their heads READ… get it?!

Alright – I won’t give up my day job just yet…

 

Frankenstein

Goodreads – Frankenstein

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

 

My Thoughts…

I was inspired to pick this book up again after watching an event held during the Manx Litfest. A re-telling of Frankenstein was performed by Ben Haggarty and Sianed Jones – and an excellent performance it was! So much so, I picked up the book as soon as I got home.

Regardless of how much you read into the story – it is an enjoyable one. That everyone knows of Frankenstein’s monster and the basic story speaks volumes about the success of this book. I enjoyed reading it this time around, unlike my first experience with this book. If you haven’t read the book before, then I really must insist you do! If there is a bucket list of books, this ought to be on it!

Some of the ideas brought to the table are philosophically sophisticated, which is astounding considering Mary Shelley was so young when she wrote this book! I can’t say I walked away from the book debating the nature of life and science, but hey, you can if you want to. I guess this is what makes the book a favourite for school curriculum’s… if not students!

I’ll admit attending the re-telling made the book more approachable. Ban Haggarty narrated the story in a way that everyone can understand. The book itself, due to its age and (the style of literature at the time), is grammatically more complex than modern text. I did struggle with this a little at times, particularly once I had been reading for a while. Frequent breaks helped me get over this though, so it isn’t a huge stumbling block.

I definitely appreciate the book now I am older and reading it for my own enjoyment. Studying books is just soul crushing… okay? Why do we force kids to do it?! Whether I enjoyed studying the **** out of this book or not, there is plenty of food for thought.

 

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Another Kind of Magic – Elizabeth Davies

Caitlyn is back once again for another historical adventure; embroiled in a narrative laced with political intrigue, love and devious plotting! A huge thanks to Elizabeth Davies and Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour!

 

Pre-Order Link: Another Kind Of Magic

“I am a cat. But I am no ordinary cat. I am a witch’s familiar. I am also a woman, with a woman’s heart and a woman’s frailty.”

Nearly two hundred years have passed since Caitlyn was trapped by supernatural forces and black magic, and she has known many mistresses. This time, the witch she is enthralled to is Joan, wife of Llewelyn, Prince of Wales.

At first, this mistress appears no different to any of the others Caitlyn has served – until Llewelyn captures William de Braose, and Joan falls in love, risking everything, including Caitlyn, to fulfil her desire.

Caitlyn, meanwhile, has her own cross to bear in the form of the gallant and reckless Hugh of Pembroke…

 

My Thoughts…

Magic has kept Caitlyn alive for nearly 200 years. Enthralled to the whims of another witch, she finds herself in the middle of Welsh court – almost back where she started all those years ago! Caitlyn lacks some of her previous fire for life, which is only understandable. Living for so long at the beck and call of other women willing to risk your life to better their own position must be tiresome. In timed of need, however, she really pulls herself together. She has some brilliant moments; I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of her antics.

Caitlyn (being Caitlyn) lands herself in some precarious situations in this last installment of the series. Her skills of discretion and subterfuge escape her and she finds herself being watched far more carefully than she would like.

There are many “minor” characters that shine through in this book. Caitlyn has a strong personality, but I find it is her relationships and interactions with others which make her so. This naturally draws attention to the other characters of the book as well as Caitlyn. They are very distinct individuals as well, so even though they only provide a supporting role, they don’t fall flat on the page.

For a while after reading A Stain on the Soul, I wondered how Elizabeth Davies was going to conclude the series. The magic binding Caitlyn, so far as we know, is absolute and powerful. Will she be freed of her burden? Will she die whilst doing the bidding of her mistress? I had so many questions and a desperate need for answers.

I got them.

Obviously, I wouldn’t be doing the book any justice if I spoil it for you. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. What I will say is that Elizabeth has, in my opinion, ended the series well. Some books can leave you walking away unsatisfied or with unanswered questions. For me, Another Kind of Magic ended as it should have; loose ends are tidied up nicely. It is rare that I can finish a series and be completely satisfied with how everything turns out… but I have.

 

If there is any higher praise I can give, I cannot find the words to express it.

It;’s a fantastic series – and once again a huge thank you to Elizabeth Davies and Rachel’s Random Resources to have had the opportunity to read it!

If you would like the chance to read the series, then there is an opportunity to enter a giveaway in which you could receive signed copies! Please see the details below:-

 

 

Giveaway – Win Tote bag and a signed paperback copy of each of the three books in the Caitlyn series. (Open Internationally)

*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

Enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494152/?

 

Author Bio –

Elizabeth Davies is a paranormal author, whose books have a romantic flavour with more than a hint of suspense. And death. There’s usually death…

Social Media Links –

Website – www.elizabethdaviesauthor.co.uk

Twitter  – @bethsbooks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ElizabethDaviesAuthor/

Instagram – @elizabethdavies.author

 

 

Book Review: The Hidden Face – S. C. Flynn

***I was kindly provided with a copy of The Hidden Face by the author in exchange for a review. All the opinions stated are my own***

Goodreads – The Hidden Face

A face without a face – an unmasking that leaves the mask.

Once every few hundred years the sun god, the Akhen, takes on human form and descends to earth. Each Unmasking of the Face of the Akhen ends one era and begins another; the last one created the Faustian Empire. Where and when will the Face next appear, and who will he – or she – be?

Dayraven, son of a great hero, returns to Faustia after years as a hostage of their rivals, the Magians. Those years have changed him, but Faustia has changed as well; the emperor Calvo now seems eccentric and is controlled by one of Dayraven’s old enemies. Following the brutal murder of his old teacher, Dayraven is drawn, together with a female warrior named Sunniva, into the search for an ancient secret that would change the fate of empires.

The Hidden Face is an epic fantasy novel drenched in the atmosphere of the early Middle Ages and in Kabbalistic riddles and is the first book in the Fifth Unmasking series.

 

My Thoughts…

The Hidden Face is a new, promising fantasy series. In a land shaped by political conflict and the influence of a God, the setting of this novel is rich in history and warfare. The novel begins with a prophecy. Dayraven and Sunniva are tasked with protecting its secret; the timing and identity of the next Unmasking. It isn’t my favourite trope of the genre, but I can tell a lot of time and planning has gone into the development of the plot and the prophecy (past and present).

 

The prophecy in itself is unique, which does diversify it from many other books of its type.

 

There are a number of vastly different characters in The Hidden Face. They all have an interest in the prophecy in order to better their own personal positions. Each has been written well; every character’s motive is clear and their actions consistent with their current scenario. Many of these characters are only really emerging in this first book, but they still stand out as unique individuals. Furthermore, what makes them more interesting is that their history and relationships with one another turn out to be more complex than first meets the eye.

Whilst not an overly long read, I will admit that it took a little while for me to become absorbed in The Hidden Face. In order to understand current events, there is a degree of setting the scene and introducing the main players to the conflict. Once acquainted with these details I found making progress with the present storyline a lot easier.

In my opinion, I think the book would benefit from the world-building being interspersed within the narrative a little more. The early chapters of the book aren’t heavy reading, but chopping between places and characters frequently to set the scene stalls the action from getting going straightaway.

 

As I have said already though, once the story was set the action is gripping and fast-paced. I blitzed reading the rest of the book and enjoyed watching events unfold.

 

I really enjoyed the book and I think this series has a lot more to offer! A further two books are expected in the series, with the second book expected to be published mid next year.

 


About the Author…

S C Flynn was born in a small town in South West Western Australia. He has lived in Europe for a long time; first the United Kingdom, then Italy and currently Ireland, the home of his ancestors. He still speaks English with an Australian accent, and fluent Italian.

He reads everything, revises his writing obsessively and plays jazz. His wife Claudia shares his passions and always encourages him.

S C Flynn has written for as long as he can remember and has worked seriously towards becoming a writer for many years.

THE HIDDEN FACE (November 2017) is his second novel and the first in the Fifth Unmasking epic fantasy series.

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Book Review: The Relic Guild – Edward Cox

My review of The Relic Guild by Edward Cox feels well overdue. I mean, I read this book towards the end of August! It’s a shame in a way that I have had so many other blogging commitments, meaning I couldn’t get around to writing this before now.

Better late than never, right?

 

The Relic Guild

Goodreads – The Relic Guild

Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.

It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.

Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.

The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.

 

My Thoughts…

I received a copy of The Relic Guild from Gollancz in exchange for a review, so firstly, a huge thank you to the team. It was one of many exciting book-post packages I received this summer!

Aside from the synopsis, the first thing I look at when deciding if I like a book is the author’s narration style. It’s make-or-break for me; it always has been. I have a natural preference for books narrated in the third person. The narration is also clear and descriptive, balancing the action of the story with descriptions of the Great Labyrinth and Labrys Town etc. The narrative also interchanges between two time periods; the War, which took place forty years previous and the present day. Chapters for each respective time period are clearly marked, making the story easy to follow.

The Relic Guild introduced a whole new concept of magic to me. The members of the Relic Guild are some of the last able to wield magic… and they each have different abilities. These abilities are almost second nature, or like a sixth sense, to the characters. Their attitude to the power differs greatly from each other too. In addition to this: weaponry, portals and other elements of the Labyrinth draw on external forces of magic. I have never found a book that as both “types” of magic, yet Edward Cox makes them work side by side so well.

I love the idea of the Labyrinth. It’s a magical place shut off from the rest of the world. In the centre, the remaining citizens live together in Labrys Town. Out in the maze surrounding the town, danger lurks around every corner. No-one can enter nor leave. Well, so they believed. Yet forty years on from the war he lost, Fabian Moor is out for his revenge against the Relic Guild. He may not be stuck in the Labyrinth, but he is a massive threat all the same.

There are a number of characters that have a crucial role to play and they are all distinct, well-developed people. Each member of the Relic Guild has a unique relationship with one another. With the exception of Clara, all were part of the War forty years ago. Clara, a former prostitute of Labrys Town has been hiding her gift. She is the first gifted person to be identified since the War, so she is a welcome surprise when the Relic Guild rescues her from danger. There is a lot of history, grudges and camaraderie between these characters and that is reflected well throughout the book. They feel like a community, a family even, as you would expect from such a close-knit group.

The citizens are protected by the Resident, who also happens to be head of the Relic Guild. His ever-watchful eye puts them in a position to observe the danger and attempt to protect the Labyrinth as disaster unfolds. The war isn’t over.

It has only just begun.