Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Christmas Sale




Don't miss out on the post-Christmas sale.
For the second year running, YA author Angela Kulig, has put together a list of kindle ebooks that are $0.99 or less (or £0.77 or less for other UK people).

Not only is everything set out in nifty, easy-search categories, where you can find over 100 books by 60 different authors.
But you can also WIN a KINDLE along with a $50 Amazon gift card.

I think that's perfectly good incentive to click here to visit Angela's blog for all the details.
Get cracking, the sale ends soon!

To find out more about Angela Kulig, stalk away via the following links:

Author website/blog
Facebook
Twitter
Amazon author page

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Indie Booktubers

Ok, so earlier this year Mark Shaw, the creator of #IndieBooksBeSeen, approached a bunch of booktubers, to see if they would be interested in reading work from Indie authors.
There was a fantastic reaction - a lot of these people that post their book reviews on YouTube had never considered picking up something that didn't come from a traditional publishing house.  Some didn't realise that indie books existed.


It seemed like every week there was a new booktuber uploading their video of an indie book haul or review.  All I can say to those people is thank you so much, thank you for taking the time and effort, for the feedback and support.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Beast of Burden



Beast of Burden (The Hidden Blood #2)

by A.Z. Green

4 out of 5

Synopsis
*Warning - graphic content*
Pack Leaders who were allies at the time of the Vikings, had rings made to remind them of who they were and what they stood for. Weremen of peace, justice and loyalty. We try to stand by that principle.

After the attempt on Nik's life, he and Jaz leave Deer Creek to escape the dangers and judgements on both their heads. But many are determined to find them and drag them back. 
Curs are creeping out of the woodwork and making themselves known by the increase of deaths, kidnappings and rapes but it seems the Head Council are looking the other way. 


Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Hidden Blood Giveaway!


http://www.amazon.com/Beast-Burden-Hidden-Blood-Book-ebook/dp/B00QBDTG32

BEAST OF BURDEN (Book Two in The Hidden Blood Series)

By A.Z. Green


Genre: Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance

Pages: 320 pages


Pack Leaders who were allies at the time of the Vikings, had rings made to remind them of who they were and what they stood for. Weremen of peace, justice and loyalty. We try to stand by that principle.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Hell Beckons

Hell Beckons

by Richard L. Becker


3 out of 5

Synopsis
A beautiful witch and a serial killer fight The War On Terror for the President of the United States.


Do the ends justify the means? You decide as Sandy and Johnny battle our enemies on the streets of American cities and in a war-torn Middle East nation, in a cascade of violence, sex, lust and revenge.


Review
Becker brings us a story of murder and intrigue, involving the White House, secret societies that employ the supernatural, and a fight against terrorism.  It's dark and sexy, and embraces a bigger world than you can imagine.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Author Interview - Richard L. Becker

Author Interview - Richard L. Becker


Ok people, it's time for another little insight into an Indie Author.
My guest/victim this month is Richard L.Becker, a novelist who is not afraid to strike out across different genres.

His first taste of horror, Hell Beckons will be up for review next week.


1) When did you first decide you wanted to be a published author?

Friday, 5 December 2014

One Lovely Blog Hop

This blog hop is designed to show our readers a more personal side to ourselves. We've been challenged by another author/ blogger (somewhat like the 'ice bucket' challenge) to list seven interesting facts to help cast light onto that tough writer’s/ blogger's persona we all like to project. But we want to show that behind every story is a story, our story, my story, and like everyone else I have dreams, hobbies, problems and goals. This blog hop is a way to share some of them with you, my readers.

The rules are that I share 7 Lovely Facts about myself, and links to at least 15 blogs that I enjoy reading. If I’ve nominated your blog, please don’t feel any obligation to join in but, if you do, please link back to the blog of the person who nominated you (that would be D.B. Nielson), share 7 facts about yourself and nominate 15 blogs (or as many as you can).


I was reading some of the other blogs on this tour. There are some remarkable and gifted writers here and I’m happy to be in their company. Many thanks to D.B. Nielson, author of Seed, for adding me to the blog hop! Dee is the YA/ urban fantasy author of the Keepers of Genesis series.  The first book, Seed, is scheduled a lovely review right here in the New Year.
Her blog includes Indie book updates, reviews and insight into the life of a writer.

So here are seven insights into the dull life of me:

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Deceived

Deceived (Soul Keeper #1)

by L.A. Starkey

5 out of 5

Synopsis
They say a soul is the immaterial essence, the animating principle, the actuating cause of an individual life.

But what if you had to share yours with the one person you hated the most?

The soul mate principle states that for every one soul there is another that will recognize its match, hence creating the perfect union.

But what if you had two soul mates, which would you choose? 

What if your choices had eternal ramification?

Friday, 28 November 2014

Beast of Burden - book release!



BEAST OF BURDEN

(Book Two in The Hidden Blood Series)By A.Z. Green Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance320 pages (approx)






Pack Leaders who were allies at the time of the Vikings, had rings made to remind them of who they were and what they stood for. Weremen of peace, justice and loyalty. We try to stand by that principle.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Brew

Brew (Salem's Revenge #1)

by David Estes

4 out of 5

Synopsis
Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter's foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Indie Christmas Time!

Now I'm a bit of a bah-humbug-scrooge at this time of year.  I'm the type of person that plugs my ears up whenever those same old songs come on while you're shopping; shutting my eyes to block the constant toy adverts that feel five hours long; an eye-roll reaction every time people panic that over work rotas and how they're going to cope (come on, it's a couple of days people, even shorter than the Easter weekend!).  In fact, a couple of years ago when I was living in London, I basically stock-piled so I didn't have to leave home for the week leading up to the big day (have you seen how violent people are with metal shopping trolleys in the final countdown?).

The day I look forward to, is actually Boxing Day.  Our tradition is to go on a pub-crawl on horseback, and dress up like this:
(Don't we look lovely and scruffy!)
(And yes, that is my posh dressage horse wearing antlers!)

Yes, this is a thing.  It's not a Hunt, it's just a gentle hack around the Yorkshire countryside with about 40 riders singing and drinking.  I've been doing it every year since I was 14 years old.  No matter where I was living (London, Bristol, Wales, Ireland...) I always make sure I get back for it.

Luckily, I have found a group of people that will help me be more positively festive between now and Boxing Day.
I have been a lucky participant in the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement since it's conception earlier this year.  Mark Shaw, the creator, is a lovely chap that is brimming with ideas.  You might have seen the day we took over Twitter with a deluge of Indie writers and their book covers on July 1st.  Or heard about the booktuber incentive to read and review Indie books.
#IndieBooksBeSeen is not about pushing sales of one author or another (although let's face it, that is a bonus), it is about spreading awareness to readers around the world that there are hundreds, even thousands, of fantastic books, that you might otherwise discard because they didn't come through traditional publishing.
Sure, there are a few crap ones out there - anyone who has read my blog can attest to my opinion on that!  But only as many crap traditionally published books anyway.  I've often said that the reason I started writing, and thought I had a chance as a writer, was because I was bored with all the tosh on the bookshelves.

Ok, I'm getting distracted.  Back on topic.
As those of you who have been stalking my blog will have noticed, there is a big Christmassy-looking box wrenched in at the top right corner --->
a) I haven't worked out how to make it look cleaner fiddling with the dimensions yet, so let's just pretend it looks perfect.
b) If you haven't been stalking yet - why not?

So basically, D.B. Nielsen, writer of the Keeper of Genesis series (review coming in the next couple of months), and a firm supporter of #IndieBooksBeSeen, has set up a competition for all you lovely people to enter.
It is a raffle where you have the chance to win one of over 70 paperback or ebook copies.
These include fantastic books like The Summer Solstice; Deceived (which I am reading and loving at this very moment); along with many others you can see in full at the #IndieBooksBeSeen website.

So get to it, you have until the 15th December to enter!

The Winners list has now been emailed out to all who have won - go check your email inbox and junk tray!!!

Congratulations to Michelle Buxton for winning a paperback copy of The Shadow Rises!


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Dark Prophet

Dark Prophet (The Chronicles of Koa #2)

by K.N. Lee


4 out of 5

Synopsis
Not all vampires are created equal...
Koa is a half-blood vampire with not only the ability to fly, but survive in the sun's light. She will do anything to protect her mother, and break her curse. The demon, Bund, wants more than her mother's life. He wants something from Koa, a power that she doesn't even know she has, and will rip through as many humans as he can to get her to surrender.

Agent Koa Ryeo-won, and her boss, Halston, formed a crew of supernatural agents to stop Bund. But is a prophet, a temptress, a War-Breeder, a half-blood with an enchanted sword, and a few angels enough to stop what Bund has planned?

In the midst of a war between the humans of the mortal world, and the creatures of the Netherworld, Koa discovers the truth of her past. She finds herself torn between two men, and in the center of everything. Faced with all of her returned memories, Koa also finds herself more powerful than ever. Being a half-blood is hard enough, but what exactly is Koa's other half?

The truth can save...or destroy everything.

Will the Netherworld Division stand behind Koa once they learn her secret?


Review
((Click to have a peek at my review of Netherworld, The Chronicles of Koa #1))
Koa and her non-human allies are all that stand in the way of vampiric King Greggan, who is ready to unleash the Netherworld demons to enslave the human world.  This is deliciously dark, with graphic violence throughout.

Dark Prophet picks up right where that frustrating cliff-hanger in the first book left off.  In the middle of a battle in the Netherworld, with Koa awakening memories that she didn't know she had lost.
That first realisation - wow.  The first book leads you to believe that Koa is the Princess to vampire royalty, Jax.  A young, handsome Netherworld vampire and one of the good guys (relatively speaking).  ((spoiler)) But to find out that Koa was actually the 12 year old bride, forced to marry Jax's sadistic father, King Greggan; in a political move orchestrated by none other than Halston??? Good move Ms Lee, very good move.

It then follows in a wild ride to discover allies and stop Greggan, and the unpredictable demonic Bund, who tear through England's population of humans and vampires alike.  They must also find out how to remove the curse from Koa's mother, after all, no one wants their most powerful weapon stuck as a cat.

I did enjoy this book, although not as much as the first one if I'm completely honest.
From the start, the story splits off in several different directions, to follow Koa; to follow Halston; to follow Alice and Raven; to follow King Greggan...  After the first book just following Koa's story (for the main part), I found it very hard to get into.  I will say the second half is better than the first, when the stories all begin to merge and tie together.

I think my favourite character in this book was probably Halston (or Ian, Ian was cool).  It very much follows his journey and his choices, and how far he's willing to fall.
It was a shame with Koa - in book one I loved her, she was a spunky, kick-ass fighter in every sense of the word.  In Dark Prophet, I felt that she held back a lot.  Of course, it's understandable when you've just had a hellish new history dumped on you, but I missed the old Koa.

Anyways, a good story.  Netherworld and Dark Prophet are simply two halves of a story, both need to be read to complete it.  I imagine these can be read as a "two-part-standalone" (yes, I know I made that up) within the rest of the series.

I'd give this a 3.5 out of 5; but I guess I'll round it up to 4 for tidiness.

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Friday, 31 October 2014

Searching For Katherine

Searching For Katherine

by Melissa Holden

3 out of 5

Synopsis
Jennifer and Katherine are living the typical post-university life, drinking lots of tea and going clubbing. But when Katherine is kidnapped in a night club, Jennifer’s whole world is turned upside down. 
Could her luck finally have changed for the better when Marcus enters her life, or is it about to get a whole lot worse?

Review
After her best friend goes missing, Jennifer is left to go on with her life.  But no matter what she does, no matter how her family grows, she can never forget that Katherine is missing.

I found this novella very hard to review.  To be honest, I don't think I've reviewed a novella before, and I think that Holden's story was too big for 129 pages.
"Searching For Katherine" starts with the lead up to the night when Katherine disappears; it goes on to the immediate aftermath; and then proceeds to cover several years of Jennifer's life.
The second half covers Katherine finding Jennifer, and how they move on from the nightmare together, plus a few chapters to answer the final questions.
That's a lot to fit into a full-length book, or even in a series.  In novella form it felt more like a review of a good story, rather than the meat of it.

I think the condensed style made some aspects hard to believe.
((spoilers - look away now!))
That the police gave up finding Katherine so quickly; that her family and fiance seemed resigned to the fact that she was dead, and how quickly they lost touch with Jennifer.  How passive Katherine is in her relationship with Marcus; how she managed to finally escape...
I felt that if the book was slowed down and looked at what was actually going on, and gave a bit more background as to why the people have moved on, it would have been easier to connect with.
I also thought that the characters' reactions were... non existent.  You've been held captive by a man that abused you for years and you're finally free - Katherine was as calm and composed as though she'd just been to the shop.

As I said, I would have preferred something longer, taking more time to explore some of the darker moments, and the light.
Or... actually, I kinda wished it had been written in a different format - it focusses so much on Jennifer's life in fast-forward; I would have really liked it to be "One Day"-esque - one day a year, looking into Jennifer's life and where she is, and how she's coping with her missing best friend.

Not a bad piece from a young writer, I will look forward to Holden's future work.

Amazon.co.uk

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Author Interview - Melissa Holden

Author Interview - Melissa Holden


This week, in the run-up to the release of her new novella "Searching for Katherine", I've been lucky enough to get an interview from author Melissa Holden.

Melissa Holden is an undergraduate at Canterbury Christ Church University (Creative and Professional Writing BA Hons). As well as studying at university, Melissa is also an Editor for CCCU Her Campus. 

She is originally from Dartford, Kent where she grew up but has since moved to Canterbury in order to study. 

Along side her writing, Melissa is a supporter and member of the movement Indie Books Be Seen which helps indie authors work together to promote self-publishing. 

Melissa has been writing professionally since 2012, but has been an avid writer, reader and general creative her entire life. She is a big supporter of self-promotion and encouraging up-and-coming creatives to get their names out there. 


1)  Congratulations on your new book!  Where did the inspiration for "Searching For Katherine" come from?

Oh no, that's a tough one! I think it came from me and my old housemate drinking loads of tea and gossiping. I can't remember the exact moment I came up with the idea, it just sort of burst into my head and refused to leave until I wrote it. 

2)  What advice would you give to other Indie writers?

Never give up. Also, I never considered the traditional publishing route because indie-publishing really works for me. I think you should feel confident with how you produce your work. Also, you should check out #IndieBooksBeSeen because it's an incredible, supportive indie author movement. 

3)  You have quite the following with your blog, Twitter and YouTube channel.  How much of a support is your fanbase?

It's been a long year in the making, and my fanbase are the ones that kept me going. It's really nice having readers that accept you not only as an author, but as a human being too. My fans are my rock! 

4)  What do your friends and family think of you being a published writer?

My family aren't that into it, although recently my mom has been very supportive. My brother and sister have been incredible since Day 1 with the books. My friends are there for me day-to-day, but I suspect they're getting a bit sick of hearing about my writing by now. 

5)  What is the best and worst thing about being an indie-published author?

Best thing: the creative control! I love being in charge of every detail of my novel - it's my baby! Also, the support from other authors. 
Worst thing: the editing and the money. Now, I'm not in it for the money, but I spend more making my books than I've ever earned from them. It would be nice to get a decent sized pay cheque every now and then. 

6)  What has been your favourite book?

To write? I think this one because it's the longest, and I've spent the better part of a year working on it. It's been an incredible experience for me and I wouldn't change it for the world. 

7)  What came first: the desire to be an author; or the creative writing degree?

The desire to be an author! I've wanted to write books since I was a little girl, but I was never encouraged to write and read as a child. It was only when I did my A Levels that I realised that I was any good! I love my degree and it's taught me so much, I would definitely recommend writing courses. 

8)  What has been your favourite piece of work to date - fiction; advice; or poetry?

I love writing fiction and poetry, but the advice seems to come naturally - especially when I blog about writing. 

9)  Who has been your best critic?

My author friend, Eliza James - she's been great beta reading Searching For Katherine. 

10)  What has been your favourite review/comment?

It was actually a bad review I got on my novella, The Snow Killer. It made me realise that even though he didn't like the book - he still finished it and took the time to review it. I remember being really mad at first, but as time goes on I love that review - it's humbling! 



If you'd like to find out more about Melissa Holden and her books, she has a very handy list of links on her website:

And don't forget to look out for the shiny new Searching for Katherine, that I will be providing a review for this week.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation

Yesterday: A Novel of Reincarnation

by Samyann

5 out of 5

Synopsis
A tender love story pulls the reader back to previous lives and a time richly elegant. In modern day Chicago, deja vu draws together a handsome mounted policeman and the beautiful young woman who saves his life.

Yesterday is also a harrowing tale of escape through the American Civil War, the heart wrenching love of slaves for their young white charges, and The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In this historical romance, Mark fights through Amanda's rejection to prove that she will love again as she once loved - Yesterday.

Review
A freak accident brings Mark and Amanda together as they each risk their life to save the other.  Then Mark can't get the girl out of his head - or the thought that somehow, he already knows her.
Amanda feels the same way, but knows that she can't let anyone else into her life right now, as she can't handle losing another loved one.
Throw in a clock and a history that seeps forward and you have a glimpse of Yesterday.

There was a lot to enjoy about this debut novel.
There are two stories weaved together: Mark and Amanda in the present day, trying to overcome the emotional barriers that Amanda has but up; and the story of Bonnie, a girl caught up in the Civil War.
My favourite storyline would change every other chapter, as you become engrossed in one, then switching to another.  It is very clearly set out and easy to follow, despite it jumping to different points in the timeline.

The history itself plays a major factor in this book, and it is very well done by Samyann.  I am British, which means I know absolutely nothing about American history.  But even I found it self-explanatory, without coming off as lecturing; and most-importantly it was absorbing and entertaining.
Throughout the book, I was so impressed by the Civil War era sections, I hope that Samyann has plans to write one solely based then and there.

The not-so-good bits.
I'm not sure why the harassment by the press thread was involved.  In the beginning, Amanda becomes an instant hero and media darling.  A chapter or so later, it's dropped and never mentioned again.  It just felt a little unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. Especially after Mark gets shot and is a hero cop.  You'd think the press would love that.

Overall it was a very nice read, a pleasant meander through Amanda and Mark's blossoming romance; and the mystery of Bonnie's life.
It often hovered between a 4 and 5 star for me and is a very strong debut!

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Forbidden

Forbidden (The Arotas Trilogy #1)

by Amy Miles


1 out of 5

Synopsis
Roseline Enescue didn't ask to become an Immortal, to have all of the guests at her wedding slaughtered, or be forced into marriage with a man whose lust for blood would one day ignite the vampire legend. Willing to risk everything for a chance at a normal life, Roseline escapes to America. Terrified her husband Vladimir will find her, Roseline enrolls as a senior in Chicago's elite Rosewood Prep school. Mingling with humans is the last place he would look for her. But her transition into the human world isn't easy. Mortal men flock after her while cutthroat girls plot her demise. Yet Roseline remains relatively unfazed by the petty hysteria until she falters into the arms of Gabriel Marston, reluctant MVP quarterback, unwilling ladies man, and sensitive artist in hiding. Troubled by the bond that pulls her towards the mortal boy, Roseline tries to ignore him, but Gabriel is persistent. As their lives entwine, Roseline begins to realize that Gabriel is much more than he appears. His ability to toss a football the entire length of the field and grind concrete into dust pales in comparison to the glowing blue cross tattoo that mysteriously appears on his forearms. Despite the forbidden bond between them, Roseline can't help wondering what Gabriel is: He's not human. He's not Immortal. So just what is he?

Review
Roseline has endured over 300 years of her own personal hell, when she finally decides to break away from her violent vampire husband, or die trying.

I've done it again, haven't I... I've been seduced by a pretty cover, thousands of high ratings and a synopsis that promises more than- actually, scratch that.  There is no story beyond the synopsis; that's a more honest way of putting it.

The book starts off well, a young, well-to-do girl is bartered in marriage by her socially ambitious parents.  But her betrothed is none other than Vladimir Enescue, a vampire who slaughters the wedding party and turns Roseline to be his beautiful and long-suffering bride. (I think there was some mention of him being Vlad the Impaler, but you really don't have to worry about it, he's just the big bad in the background for most of the book)
Cut to 300+ years later and Roseline is finally escaping from her abusive husband.  She escapes the Romanian castle with a little help from her best friend Fane, then gets on a train and a plane and is soon "living" a new life in America.
It goes downhill from there.

Ok, I'll start with the plot.  Why?  Just plain why?
Why on earth does a 300 year old vampire go to high school?
Come on, in Twilight it's because the younger the family start out the longer they can stay in one place, pretending to be human.  In Vampire Academy, they are actually that young.  In Vampire Diaries, it's to stalk a girl.
Reasons.  Some better than others.
Roseline has absolutely no reason to go to high school.  Sure, she was 17 when she was turned, but she could probably pass for a stunning 21, be an adult and have no one question it.  Perhaps she could have gone because it was a major human experience that she missed - but she spends her entire time at school trying to be invisible, keeping her head down and stressing from any attention.

Even ignoring the inanity above, I did not get on with Roseline.  She is not likeable.  She's a whiney, selfish little madam.  She is moaning because all the guys are drawn to her vampiric super-hotness, and it's just so plain tiring.  Except for when she's internally miffed that she's not getting attention, when she is clearly vampire super-hot.
She spends so much time being beautiful-but-shallow; I find it very hard to believe she's spent three centuries being a down-trodden victim of domestic abuse.
Nor does the way she interacts with the boys concur with the way she has flashbacks to being a seductress.  Seductress?  Really?
Plus, is she really a vampire?  Does she really have a desire for blood?  Because the only time it seems to crop up is after the car crash.  (Don't get excited, the car crash has little to do with the plot or any actual action; it is just a machination for Gabriel to realise that Rose isn't human)

The supporting cast limp along.
Sadie "the best friend" deserves a mention.  She's like, totally alternative and troubled and dies her hair and everything.  She stereotypically hates the cool kids.  Except she sort of is one of them, is spoilt (and judgemental) enough to think that Roseline is weird for only having one car, plus the whole alternative look is merely a fashion statement, not a lifestyle.

Nicholae, the foreign exchange student from Roseline's home town, has a stilted role.  He's just wedged in there as an exchange student, who's a little quiet and not pretty.  That seems enough of a reason for Roseline and Sadie to treat him like shit.
Oh, but it turns out that he's actually a vampire hunter that had followed Roseline to make sure she didn't hurt any humans... oh for crying out loud - how come he could find her, when the big bad Vladimir with the deadly long reach couldn't?  How come Nicholae, a young and untested hunter, was sent alone against Vladimir's wife?
Deep breath.
(...and how come Nicholae was actually really hot in the end, and was only making himself look unappealing at the high school.  Answers on a postcard, please.)

Gabriel, the love interest, is a little better than the others.  But just.
He's a poor little star quarterback, going out with the most popular girl at school.
But really, he just wants to paint; and his choice of girlfriend is decided by his step-father.  Because, hey, that's what step-fathers are for - pimping out their teenage sons to their bosses' daughters.
But it turns out that Gabriel is more than he seems, he is more than human.  Oh wait, it says that in the synopsis.  Don't worry, you don't have to read the book to find out.

Just one more thought - four high school kids decided that they would follow their brand new friend to Romania, so they just got on a plane.  Because that's how families and parents work.

Dull.  Turned into a skim read.  Won't be continuing the series.
But it is free to download from Amazon, so go see for yourselves.

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Series Review: Emperor's Edge


The Emperor's Edge

by Lindsay Buroker


After my last review, where I prattled on about my disappointment of The Staff and The Sword series, I happened to be chatting to a fellow book geek and realised something terrible.
I have had a book blog for over a year and I have not mentioned The Emperor's Edge.

I cannot begin to explain what a sin this is.
I have mentioned the series, the author and the characters in many of the interviews I have given; promoting them as clear favourites.

So let me correct this oversight by giving my first series review.  I won't go into detail of each book, but allow me to give a quick introduction to the first in the series:

The Emperor's Edge #1
*Free to download from Amazon*

Synopsis
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed. 

Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead. 

Review
There is nothing I don't like about these books.
Amaranthe is an original heroine, there's nothing particularly special about her, all she hopes is to become the first female Sergeant in the empire.  But events conspire to bring her to the attention of the young Emperor Sespian and the questionable Commander of the Armies Hollowcrest, who throws her into the path of infamous assassin Sicarius.
Amaranthe can take care of herself when it comes to a fight, but she has a real skill for talking her way out of (and back into) trouble.  She is a very "wholesome" character, who doesn't always know when to shut up.

She brings together a very unlikely band of heroes, a scholar; a charming fop; a mute foreigner and a teenage wizard with an attitude problem.  Not to mention an assassin.
The assembled cast are a brilliant squabbling family.  Each book focusses on a different character, their history and the ambitions that drive them to repeatedly risk their lives for the empire.  The team is full of mistrust and of clashing personalities; but they work well together when it counts.

Then there is Sicarius.  I love Sicarius, he is simply one of my favourite characters across any series.
He has been honed into the most dangerous living weapon, with as much personality as his daggers.  He is driven only by logic and survival, and will kill anyone he considers a threat.
He has his own reasons for joining Amaranthe's team, and swings from being it's biggest asset to its biggest problem.
It is constantly entertaining to see the interaction between him and Amaranthe; and to see over the whole series as he becomes a little more human.

The first four books are individual adventures, but all build into the overall arc of the series.  The final three books see them becoming a real rebel force and taking on Forge.
Buroker has provided a series that is impressively creative, the story is always moving forward and developing, while maintaining its charm and humour.  This is how you write series, people!

If you hadn't already guessed, this series is rated a 5 out of 5.

My recommendation now, is to go to Amazon and download the first book for free - you won't regret it!

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Hero's Lot & A Draw of Kings

The Hero's Lot & A Draw of Kings (The Staff and the Sword #2 & 3)

By Patrick W. Carr


5 out of 5

Synopsis
Riveting Sequel from Christian Fantasy's Most Talented New Voice 
When Sarin Valon, the corrupt secondus of the conclave, flees Erinon and the kingdom, Errol Stone believes his troubles have at last ended. But other forces bent on the destruction of the kingdom remain and conspire to accuse Errol and his friends of a conspiracy to usurp the throne. 
In a bid to keep the three of them from the axe, Archbenefice Canon sends Martin and Luis to Errol's home village, Callowford, to discover what makes him so important to the kingdom. But Errol is also accused of consorting with spirits. Convicted, his punishment is a journey to the enemy kingdom of Merakh, where he must find Sarin Valon, and kill him. To enforce their sentence, Errol is placed under a compulsion, and he is driven to accomplish his task or die resisting.



4 out of 5

Synopsis
Their journey to Merakh should have made Errol and his companions heroes of the realm. Instead, much is changed on their return. In the wake of the king’s death, Duke Weir is ruling the country–and his intentions are to marry Adora to bring an heir.
With Errol and the others imprisoned and the identity of the rightful heir to the throne still hidden in secrecy, Illustra is on the verge of civil war–and at growing risk from the armies of Merakh and Morgol.
A dangerous mission to free Errol succeeds, but the dangers facing the kingdom are mounting with every passing moment. The barrier has fallen, ferals are swarming toward the land, and their enemies draw near. Will the revelation of Illustra’s next true king come in time or will all be lost?


Review
Before I start - it says "Christian Fiction", and promotes it as such.  Ignore that bollocks, this is a cracking series regardless of genre.  Plus, it is not something I would even class as Christian Fiction.  Yes, the church plays a major part, but religion drives this story only as much as it does in LOTR, Narnia, or any other great series.

So, here's a first - a double review!
I have to confess that I enjoyed the first book Cast of Stones so much I decided to keep the rest of the series as a treat when I finished writing The Shadow Falls.  Five months and a lot of stress later, my own book was published, and I immediately went and bought The Hero's Lot... which was read within a week and I straight away got the third part.

The Hero's Lot picks up where the Cast of Stones left off.  Despite the many obstacles, Errol and the other Callowford men are at the capital.  They must prepare against war that threatens the borders, as well as fighting the internal politics and betrayals in church and court.
Errol forms a band of unlikely heroes to venture into Merakh to hunt down the escaped Sarin Valon.

This book was worth the wait.
We learn more of the threats to both Erinon and Errol.  The Merakhi have sold their souls for the chance to overrun the Kingdom, their enemy for generations.  There had been hints of them in the first book, the ferals and those possessed by Mallus.
It was great to see Errol assemble some of the influential characters that made the first book so good.  Ru and Rokha are great additions, it wouldn't be the same without them.
We see more of Princess Adora, who wants to prove that she is more than a damsel in distress and a pretty face.  The interactions between her and Rokha were some of my favourite parts of the book.
Then there are the revelations concerning Errol and Liam; and Errol's father (well that one ruined my theory - shocking!).

A Draw of Kings had a lot to live up to.  The Kingdom is on the brink of being overrun by enemies from all sides; the long-standing authority of the church is in question; and their heroes are again sent into danger.
I'm really struggling to work out what to say, so as not to spoil anything!

I am disappointed.
I followed a friend's advice to mull over this review and not be too rash in my judgement.  I am still disappointed, but I've decided that the book is worth 4 stars.
It is good.  If I had to judge this book on its own merit, I would rate it highly.
There is excitement and danger.  Love and sacrifice.  It is suitably epic.

But as part of the series, it failed to inspire me the way the first book did.
It feels like it's missing a lot of Errol's naive charm and humour.  Fair enough, he's a Captain of the watch now, and the whole of the Kingdom is looking up to him as a hero.  He knows he might have to make the ultimate sacrifice, but is more concerned with the men that would willingly die for him.
It seems like Carr realises this and tries to make up for it with the introduction of Owen, whose sole purpose is to allow redemption for Martin and Cruk's previous mistakes in ignoring Errol's struggles in Callowford.

Aside from that, I felt that the whole book was all dark, no light.  Yes, there was danger.  Followed by danger and insurmountable odds.  Switching to another character's dire, inescapable position.  Concluding with more danger.  Oh, and did I mention that it was desperate and not winnable?
It got a bit tiring and I was glad to get to the end.  Which isn't how I wanted to feel after being completely swept away by The Cast of Stones.

If I am honest, I would recommend the first two parts of the trilogy, because they are amazing.  The third book is simply necessary to finish the story.

Goodreads links:
The Hero's Lot
A Draw of Kings

Amazon.co.uk:
The Hero's Lot
A Draw of Kings

Friday, 5 September 2014

Exciting times...

Drumroll please...

Big news first - the final part of the Witch-Hunter trilogy has been released.

The Shadow Falls
available in paperback and kindle

Synopsis:
Hunter Astley has always known that he is different: being a witch-hunter that can use magic has sealed his fate. He must destroy the Shadow Witch once and for all, with the help of some unlikely allies.
We delve even deeper into the world of the Malleus Maleficarum; into myth, rumour and history that refuses to stay in the past.

Which is absolutely bloody brilliant news!
To celebrate the release, the first part of the Witch-Hunter series is free to download from Amazon for the whole weekend - Friday 5th to Sunday 7th.
The Shadow Rises

I am torn - a large part of me is currently bouncing around with excitement and telling anyone who will listen that book number 3 is real and ready to complete Hunter's story.
But I'm also a little scared.  It has been a lifelong ambition to be a published writer, and now that has been accomplished.  Oh, don't get me wrong, that isn't it.  There are going to be plenty of other books coming from me in future.
It is a little depressing that Hunter's story is finished.  I've had him, Sophie and James; the MMC and the witches, all jumbled up in my head for nearly ten years.  It's like saying goodbye to old friends.
...ok, I admit there is going to be a prequel to the trilogy released next year.  What can I say, I couldn't resist; plus a lot of reviewers have asked for more insight into the MMC and how Hunter got into it all.  I couldn't ask for a better excuse to indulge the Witch-Hunter world once more before putting it away...




I'd like to take this opportunity to make a few "thank yous", without sounding too indulgent.
First of all, my books look stunning.  Now aside from sketching horses when I was younger, I have next to no artistic talent.  Luckily, I got put in touch with someone who has more than made up for it.
As I have said before, Beth Syler has made my books look addictive.  I would highly recommend checking out some of her other work.
I'd like to say thank you to my friends, who have not only supported me when it came to buying books; they helped to spread the word; and they even managed not to get too upset when I disappeared for weeks at a time to write.
Coming out as a writer was one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do. (Yes, I have read that.  Yes, I did mean to write it.)  I don't care about negative opinions from strangers, but opening myself to being judged by people I knew, that terrified me.
I am truly flattered and honoured that instead of laughing at my ambitions, without exception, everybody has been so encouraging.  You have no idea how much your support has meant to me, and means to me going forward.
Ok, emotional bit over.

Finally, I'd like to thank my readers.  Thank you for joining my mad world; thank you for all your comments.
So we get onto your chance to win the entire series in paperback.
All you need is to live in the UK or the US, and be a member on Goodreads.

The giveaway is open until the end of September:



Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Shadow Falls by K.S. Marsden

The Shadow Falls

by K.S. Marsden

Giveaway ends September 30, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, 25 August 2014

Summer Solstice: Enchanted

Summer Solstice: Enchanted

by K.K. Allen

4 out of 5

Synopsis
The Summer Solstice Enchanted is the first in the Summer Solstice Series – a lighthearted Young Adult Fantasy set in Apollo Beach, Florida.

Katrina "Kat" Summer has been sheltered and void of much social interaction her entire life. But her world changes drastically when her mother dies unexpectedly and she is forced move in with her grandmother and caretaker.

In the picturesque town of Apollo Beach, which dwells on Florida’s West Coast, is where Kat’s world takes on enchanting new beginnings. Her grandmother, Rose, a whimsical old lady with wild tales of the Ancient Greek gods and goddesses from which their family descends, encourages Kat to understand their heritage. But the more Kat learns the more she realizes how many secrets her mother kept from her growing up.

Leading up to her 16th birthday, Kat is occupied with enigmatic visions and disturbing dreams with prophecies much too real to ignore. And after a run-in with the boy-next-door, a good looking guy her age named Alec Stone, Kat is more resolved than ever to find out the truth about her families’ past and what that has to do with her future.

What Kat finds is a mythology surrounding the Summer Solstice that forever transforms her from the awkward teen she once was, to the enchanted Katrina Summer.

Review
Kat's life inevitably changes when her mother dies unexpectedly.  She goes to live with a grandmother she knows nothing about.  It is here that she learns about a world her mother had tried to hide from her - the world of the Solstices.

This book reminded me of the Secret Circle (which is never a bad thing), with the steady pacing and style of writing.  I would definitely recommend this as a summer read!

I love a bit of greek mythology, and I think that Allen got the perfect balance of information and entertainment without breaking the flow.
The whole Solstice bloodlines and history is nicely creative and original, gradually building throughout the book.

I like Kat as the main character.  She's open-minded and you learn about the Summer family and the Soltices along with her.
The rest of the supporting cast are, for the most part, amiable characters.  Iris and Ava were entertaining.

The bad bits:
There was nothing bad exactly.
I thought it was quite formulaic, it ticked all the YA boxes - the new girl, the cute guys smitten with said new girl, the shallow and bitchy girl(s).
That being said, it's better than half the YA stories out there.
It's a very nice read, I felt that it was less an adventure in itself, and more an introduction to the series to follow.
Which I will definitely be reading - only a few months to wait for The Eqiunox!

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Beasthood

Beasthood

by A.Z. Green

5 out of 5

Synopsis
The bloody, raw meat was tantalizing her; calling to her. She hated it and yearned for it all at once.
Stop, she ordered. What are you doing?!
So hungryyyyy, snarled a primal voice deep within her.
Don’t you dare! she screamed back.
But the primal hunger ignored her pleas and took over her body, forcing her rational voice deep within the crevices of her mind.



What would you do if you discovered you weren't human? That you turned into a bloodthirsty monster against your will?
What if your instincts, emotions and desires were torn between your own and the dark, dangerous animal lurking inside of you?
If it could make you yearn for someone you shouldn't, make you say and act in ways you wouldn't and overwhelm your whole existence?
If everything you'd ever known about your life was a lie?

In a world where a deeply hidden community is swathed in mystery, deadly secrets, betrayal and murder, Jaz Barker struggles to fight against the dangerous Beast within her and the emotions and desires it thrusts her way.

When tensions ride high and people she cares about are put in danger, she will have to decide how much of her newly awakened animal-side she's willing to let in.

And if it is worth the risk...


Review
Jaz is content with her lot in life, she has reasonably normal parents and a small but loyal group of friends.
Even with her severe iron deficiency that leaves her struggling with fatigue and on pills for the rest of her life is ok.  The nightmares and regular visits to a therapist means that her life is far from perfect, but Jaz has accepted all of this, and is making the most of her life.
Until she is kidnapped and dragged into a world of Weres and shifters she never knew existed.

I thought this book was fantastic and thought-provoking.  Oh, and not for the faint-hearted; if you want a cozy read, go elsewhere.
I realise that I have a habit of giving slightly shorter reviews when I actually like a book, because I'll let you in on a little secret - sometimes I struggle to explain what I like about a book without giving away plot and details, I like the idea of the reader going through the same process as me.
But with Beasthood, Green has given more to like than just the story itself.

First of all, the originality.  Yes, this book feels like something original and new in a category that is currently overflowing.  There's a lot of love for werewolves, paranormal, and paranormal romance at the moment.  But Green throws all that away and doesn't allow herself to be influenced by current trends.  This.  Is.  Original.

I also love how dark this story is.  Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't class it as a horror, but it feels real.  Which is a refreshing change after all the eye-roll-inducing fluffy pieces where girl meets bad wolf, is terrified + fight (a.k.a. sexual tension) = rainbows.
When Jaz is kidnapped, it is a completely terrifying experience.  She is drugged and examined, and the whole scene made me sick.  At no point does Green romanticise something as terrible as kidnapping.

Jaz is a great character.  She's falling into a crazy world,  with new politics and rules that she can barely grasp; instead of curling up into a ball crying, she survives with a quiet (sometimes not so quiet!) strength.
Her human moralities and upbringing casts the world of Weres in a very harsh and unforgiving light.  She sees them as the monsters they are, and she's in no rush to join them.  She is truly repulsed by what's inside of her.

The "romance".  Yes, there is the romantic aspect of the "creepy but hot" Driver, a guy that unsettles Jaz and not in a good way.  Add the fact that he was involved in her kidnapping, and has the brutish Were morality mind-set (plus some other negative tidbits); you have a very unappealing hero.
There were times that I held my breath, wondering if Beasthood would copy so many paranormal romances where the woman overlooks all the flaws to be so totally in love.  All I can say is congratulations on that front; the outcome was more than satisfactory!

The not-so-brilliant bits:
The major issue I had that dropped it a star, was with the flow of the story.  The chapters jumped around on the timeline - sometimes I felt for no real reason.
One moment you're with Jaz today; the next you're with her aunt last year.  One moment you're with Fraya next week; the next with Jaz "the evening before".
Primarily, I found it hard to work out what day it was.  The chapters are titled with "the day before", but it didn't always click with me the day before what, until halfway through the chapter.
I understand the author wants to add a bit of background, and that certain information should only come to light at certain points; but it just broke the flow for me.

Ok, so anyways, this comes out at about a 4-4.5 for a cracking debut... Oh hell, let's round this up to a nice 5.  It is a very confident piece for a new author and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk