#Tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview The Olive Branch by Jo Thomas #romance

This is a quick review because I just have to share this book with you all. First as always here’s the blurb from goodreads…

Escape to Italy with THE OLIVE BRANCH. The irresistibly romantic new novel from Jo Thomas, award-winning author of ebook runaway bestseller THE OYSTER CATCHER.

It’s amazing what you can buy online these days:
Memorabilia
Fashion accessories
A crumbling Italian farmhouse…

After a Prosecco-fuelled girls’ night in gets out of hand, Ruthie Collins awakes to discover that she has bid for her dream Italian home online – and won. Recently out of a relationship, a new start is just what Ruthie needs. Anything is better than sleeping on her mum’s settee.

But arriving in Southern Italy, Ruthie doesn’t know the first thing about running an olive farm. And with new neighbours, the tempestuous Marco Bellanouvo and his fiery family to contend with, all Ruthie wants is to go back home.

Life can change with the click of a mouse. But all good things – friendship, romance, and even the olive harvest – take time to grow. Can Ruthie finally put the past to rest and find her own piece of the Dolce Vita along the way? Goodreads

the olive branch

My review

The Olive Branch drew me in from the first page and I couldn’t stop reading or thinking about it. It had me laughing and crying, and wishing for my own adventure in Italy.

This is the second book I’ve read my Jo Thomas and I’m now planning to stock up on the rest of her novels. She picks wonderful locations and transports you to them, immersing you in the place and the culture of its people. Not only that, but you learn something too. In The Olive Tree I learnt about the olive groves and the olive harvest. It really was fascinating to live in Ruthie’s shoes for a few days. I also got to experience a dream of moving and renovating a rundown home, but without any of the hard work!

I really do recommend Jo Thomas’ books and can’t wait to dive into the next adventure. Have to read any of her books? Can you recommend my next read?

Here’s my review of Late Summer in the Vineyard

Oh and in case you were wondering, this is a heart-warming 5 star read!

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview How to write a fantasy book description by Jesper Schmidt @SchmidtJesper

My review of ‘How to write a fantasy book description’ will follow, but first take a look at the blurb.

Blurb

Do you find it difficult to write the blurb for your book? Do you hate writing book descriptions? 

If your synopsis always comes out bland and boring, with no chance of leading to more book sales, then this guidebook is for you.

How to Write a Fantasy Book Description is a step-by-step approach. It lays out everything you need to know in five simple and effective steps.

Learn how to hook readers by:

  • Writing incredible taglines that grabs attention
  • Escalating the tension throughout your blurb and captivate readers
  • Using spellbinding words to dazzle customers
  • Learning how to avoid meandering into subplots and instead make your blurb a joy to read
  • Understanding how long your blurb needs to be and how to use cliffhangers effectively
  • Discovering easy methods to format your blurb before uploading to online retailers like Amazon

In addition, you will find bonus chapters on how to write book descriptions for series, box sets and non-fiction.

If you like easy to follow instructions, sprinkled with helpful examples, then How to Write a Fantasy Book Description is for you.

Jesper Schmidt is a fantasy author. He is the creator of several how-to books, like the bestselling Fantasy Map Making and Twitter for Authors.

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My Review

I follow Jesper Schmidt’s newsletter and when he asked for people to join his launch team for this book I jumped at the chance of an ARC. I have read both his other How to books and found them very helpful. Here’s my review of Twitter for Authors.

Fantasy Map making is a book I plan to use in the future and I will review it once I have created the world maps for my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy.

I find writing book descriptions very difficult and with the publication of my second book looming, the timing of this how to guide was perfect. Mr Schmidt starts with how important book descriptions are and gives 5 common mistakes authors make.

He then talks us through 5 steps to creating a great blurb including tag lines and character introductions. He uses examples of current blurbs on Amazon to showcase his points and there are task lists at the end of each chapter to help you keep focused.

What I found really helpful was the author using his own fantasy book blurb and walking us through the process of how he came up with his killer blurb, including his mistakes.

After helping you draft your blurb, the book focuses on the editing stage and gives you areas to check like repetition and boring middles.

There are a couple of extras which are handy – blurbs for box sets and series, formatting and an appendix of words relevant to fantasy.

The whole process of writing a book description feels much less daunting when following these steps. I highly recommend this book to all fantasy authors out there.

Amazon link

On a personal note – I  used the knowledge from this book to update my blurb for The Lost Sentinel before I ran a kindle countdown deal on Amazon. I’m glad to say that I sold more copies than I had with previous promotions!

Check this how-to guide for yourself on Goodreads

 

#Tuesdaybookblog The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave #bookreview #children’s

My mini review of a beautiful and touching children’s book – The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave.

First let’s start with the cover, isn’t it beautiful.

the island at the end

Blurb

Ami lives on Culion, an island for people who have leprosy. Her mother is infected. She loves her home – but then islanders untouched by sickness are forced to leave. Ami’s desperate to return before her mother’s death. She finds a strange and fragile hope in a colony of butterflies. Can they lead her home before it’s too late?

 

Mini Review

My daughter recommended this to me and I’m so glad she did. The book is very different to my expectations of a children’s book. It deals with some very serious issues and has a message that people are just people, despite illness or deformity.

Ami is a really likeable main character and you feel for her as she is taken away from her home and put in an orphanage. You follow her struggle with this new life and her determination to get back to her mother.

You really have a sense of the two islands the story is set on and the writing draws you in from the start. I felt every moment of Ami’s story. Towards the end I had to stop reading for a while as I knew the tragedy that was about to happen. When I came back to the story the next day, I found the scene touching and emotional. The author handled the inevitable situation beautifully.

This is a sad story but it is also one of love, hope and endurance.

I highly recommend this story and rate it 5 stars.

 

 

#Tuesdaybookblog 4 star #bookreview of The Lost Sentinel #fantasy

Today I’m really happy to share this 4 star review of The Lost Sentinel from Sofia on her blog A Book. A Thought.

via Double Short Reviews: The Lost Sentinel by Suzanne Rogerson & Freefall Summer by Tracy Barrett

#Tuesdaybookblog The Sentinel’s Reign Pre-order now and call of help #indieauthor #fantasy

The Sentinel’s Reign is due out on 29th June 2018, but you can pre-order your copy here. It is book 2 in the heroic fantasy series Silent Sea Chronicles.

The Sentinel's Reign ebook complete

At present I don’t have plans to run a blog tour, but I would love as many bloggers as possible to post about The Sentinel’s Reign before, during and after its release. Please get in touch and I can send you the promotional bits beforehand.

I am also looking to send out ARC copies if anyone would like to review Book 2 in the series (books should be read in order, but please get in touch to discuss).

My last request for help is that I am tweaking the blurb, so I would love your help to make this really appealing to new readers.

Blurb

The new Sentinel’s reign is doomed to failure unless Tei can prevent the Kalayan people from plunging into war.

With the new Sentinel initiated and the magic restored on Kalaya, the future is thriving for Tei and the exiles. But Rathnor’s plans for war soon escalate and thwart any chance of a peaceful life.

Brogan’s position on the Assembly becomes tenuous as rumours circulate that he is an exile spy.

Farrell is recovering from an attempt on his life and is more determined than ever for his people to build a home on Stone Haven. But the council have their sights set on Kalaya and Farrell struggles to steer them away from the temptation of war.

As trouble festers within and outside forces gather against them, can the exiles keep their hold on the magic, or will this spell the end of Kalaya and its people?

The Sentinel’s Reign is a heroic fantasy. If you like character-driven adventures then you will love The Sentinel’s Reign.

This is the second book in the Silent Sea Chronicles and should be read in order.

***

Thank you for your help. I will be running a belated paperback and e-book giveaway for Book 1 – The Lost Sentinel in the next few days so keep an eye out for news of that.

 

#tuesdaybookblog #Bookreview The Sand Scuttler by Rosalyn Kelly #fantasy

Today I am excited to share my review of The Sand Scuttler, which has just gone on sale today. I received a ARC copy from the author ahead of its publication (1st May 2018).

sand scuttler

The Blurb

Ripped from her mother’s arms and forced into slavery, the beautiful Jakira is soon sold. Destined to become her new master’s bed slave when she matures, she’s put to work in the kitchen.

But whilst Jakira is being branded, she discovers she can tame fire.

Determined to gain her freedom and find her mother before Jakira comes of age, she uses her magic to ask the bloodthirsty God for a miracle.

When this fails, a desperate Jakira goes in search of a mysterious creature, the last of its kind, who lives deep in the vast desert. Known as the Sand Scuttler, it can bestow great power on the one it deems worthy.

For centuries it hasn’t met that one, until now.

Set in the same ruthless world as the grimdark, epic fantasy novel Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) and twenty years before, The Sand Scuttler tells of the early life of Ammad’s mother Jakira.

This adult fantasy novella can be read as a standalone story, no prior knowledge of Melokai is required.
 
My Review
First of all I was drawn to this book by the cover. It feels to me as if Jakira is inviting you to read her story.
I’d heard of Melokai (book 1 in the series) and had it on my TBR list, but when the author called for advance reviewers in her newsletter I jumped at the chance to start with this novella.
From the start you are thrust into a vividly different world with a young girl ripped away from her family when her father sells her and her mother to pay off his gambling debts. In this one act, you realise how cheap life is for these people and that Jakira is not going to have an easy time.
The story of Jakira’s life in slavery draws you along and I found myself desperately turning / flicking the pages on the kindle to see what happens next.
The desert setting is very different to the fantasy I’m used to and is populated with a race of people who have humps on their backs – the richer the people, the smaller the humps as they live closer to the precious water source. I found this concept strange at first, but it’s well imagined and the history of the people is described within the story so there is no need for info dumps.
I really liked Jakira. Her determination to get free of slavery and save her mother made you will her to succeed. When she discovers her ability to withstand any fire, she starts to plan her escape with single-mindedness.
The supporting cast is well drawn including her disgusting master and the disfigured cook who befriends her. The Sand Scuttler is a mysterious and tricky beast, and is one I wouldn’t want to mess with.
I really did not want this book to end. As soon as I finished, I bought Melokai. I can’t wait to see what adventures will befall Jakira’s daughter.
You can pick up your copy of The Sand Scuttler on Amazon UK  Amazon US.

#Tuesdaybookblog Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford #bookreview

My Mini Review

Time Travelling with a Hamster is just as good as the title suggests. It’s fun, action packed and comes highly recommended by my 11-year-old daughter!

Time travel is something I’ve always struggled to get my head around – the flaws in any possible method and the repercussions of what you change in the past altering the future. This book deals with all aspects of time travel perfectly. Despite being aimed at the middle-grade audience, anyone can enjoy the book and I recommend it with almost as much enthusiasm as my daughter.

Al is a great protagonist, one I’m sure all children will be able to relate to. He does act rash, speak without thinking and get himself in difficult situations, but he learns from his mistakes and becomes a better person for them. Another standout character in the book is Al’s Grandfather, Byron.

The book deals with serious issues like loss and the difficulties encountered with a new step family. These issues are well handled, but I did not like the idea of a twelve-year-old sneaking out the house at midnight and stealing a moped etc. Still, if taken in fun, this is a true adventure story and I’m sure every child will enjoy it.

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I love the teaser line ‘My dad died twice. But only the second time was my fault.’ Who could resist reading on to find out more.

I rated this book 4.5 stars.

My daughter gave it a whole-hearted 5 stars. She asked me what could have been done differently to warrant 5 stars from me. I’m not really sure, I suppose it’s the little niggles as a parent that have held me back. Maybe you should read the book and let me know what you think.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads

“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve. The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn’t been for his ‘time machine’…”

When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…

Goodreads book link

#TuesdayBookBlog The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick #Bookreview #womensfic #romance

Although I planned to read just fantasy this year, I picked this book up one evening for a quick glance and just couldn’t put it down. The house and Cornish setting were the draws, but I just fell into the character’s stories and they wouldn’t let me go.

Here’s the blurb…

When artist Maddie inherits a house in Cornwall shortly after the death of her husband, she hopes it will be the fresh start she and her step-daughter desperately need. Trevenen is beautiful but neglected, and as Maddie discovers the stories of generations of women who’ve lived there before, she begins to feel her life is somehow intertwined within its walls.

But Maddie’s dream of a calm life in the countryside is far from the reality she faces – and as she pulls at the seams of Trevenen’s past, the house reveals secrets that have lain hidden for generations.

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My Review

First thoughts

Although it’s quite an intense subject dealing with loss and a heartbroken step-daughter, I didn’t find this story depressing or difficult to read at any point. There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, as you might expect from a story of second chances. But new friendships and healing play a big part in the story too. And as I expected, the house and its secrets kept me hooked.

Characters

I really like all the characters in this book, the main characters Maddie and her step daughter Hannah, Mark and Old Tom (OT), Tasmin and Will, plus the other characters that play a part in this small Cornish community.

Maddie is an easy protagonist to like and you feel every moment of her suffering and relate to the hard decisions she’s had to make. I also liked the fact she was an artist struggling to find her inspiration again after the loss of her husband.

Trevenen, the house, is a character all of its own. I’d love to inherit an old house like that and restore it.

Writing style

Told mainly from Maddie’s POV, we also get to see the story through Hannah viewpoint and this works really well.

Final thoughts

I loved the layers to this story, the different pieces that come together from the characters’ recent past and much further back in history.

The story intrigued me, the characters came alive and filled my head, I loved every minute of reading it. In fact, I would love to pick it up now and re-read the whole book again. I will definitely be reading more of Liz Fenwick’s books.

Recommend

To anyone who enjoy women’s fiction, not just romance but something a bit extra.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars, though I wish I could give it more.

Check it on Amazon and Goodreads.

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine #Fantasy #YA

This is the first book review I have written this year and what better way to start than with Book 3 in the YA fantasy series The Great Library. Originally thought to be the last book in the trilogy (at least by me) I was delighted to hear that Book 4 is due out later in 2018.

For those of you who don’t know the series, I can highly recommend it. Please see my reviews of Book 1 – Ink and Bone and Book 2 – Paper and Fire.

Here’s the blurb for Book 3 – Ash and Quill

Held prisoner by the Burner forces in Philadelphia, Jess and his friends struggle to stay alive in the face of threats from both sides … but a stunning escape guarantees worse is coming. The Library now means to stop them by any means necessary, and they’ll have to make dangerous allies and difficult choices to stay alive.

They have only two choices: face the might of the Great Library head on, or be erased from life, and the history of the world, for ever.

Win or die.

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My review

Ash and Quill picks up where book two finished, with Jess and the gang captured and transported to Philadelphia. It was interesting to get to know the Burners and there are some explosive moments in store!

It is harder to review books from a series without spoilers, so I just want to say that this is another exciting read, full of action, intrigue, plotting, double-crossing and a touch of romance. I love the interaction between the characters, especially Jess and Morgan, and I just want them to save the world and have their happy ever after. Of course that’s never going to happen until they take down the Great Library who have upped the stakes and will do anything, even commit mass murder to stop them.

As with the other books in the series, this is a fast paced story that drags you along and keeps you interested to the last page.

This is a 5 star read and I cannot wait for book 4.

Goodreads link

#tuesdaybookblog The Game Begins by Rebecca Howie @RebeccaH2016 #ya #mystery #bookreview

Today I’m reviewing a mystery book with a difference, it’s a YA featuring a budding young P.I. Sam Beckett.

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Blurb

It’s been four years since the car crash took away her father and Sam Beckett’s nightmares are back with a vengeance.

When her friend suggests she take a PI course to distract herself, Sam agrees, but she soon realises it won’t be as simple as she expected when her first case leads to a woman being killed, her husband accused of her murder, and a series of threatening text messages sent to her phone which lead Sam to believe that her father’s crash might not be the accident everyone thought it was.

My Review

I’ve always loved mysteries, even going back to my childhood when I couldn’t get enough of Scooby Doo. I’ve read countless novels and watched all the shows with their alcoholic, divorced or generally messed up detectives and P.I’s. For a long time I’ve been wanting something different. The Game Begins delivers an altogether different protagonist.

Sam is young (17 and still in school), and haunted by the accident that killed her dad. She suffered memory loss after the accident but she believes there is more to it than anyone else will admit. So she takes a P.I course, deciding to find out the answers for herself.

Her first case is something so mundane that you wonder if its worth her time. Then things start to spiral out of control.

Detective Marshall turns up on the scene and I really want Sam to trust him, but she soon feels she doesn’t know who she can trust.

Shocking events lead up to even more shocking revelations and towards the end you are rooting for Sam to get to the truth and get her life back together.

I really like Sam and Marshall, and I will certainly be reading the next book, A Woman Scorned, which is due to be released in December 2017.

My rating – I have been wavering between a 4 and 4.5 stars as I really feel this is a promising start to a new P.I. series.

There were a few typos and a couple of points in the story that I thought could have been more developed, but otherwise it was an entertaining read from a young, up and coming author.

FYI – Next month Rebecca Howie joins me for a guest post during book 2’s release.

You can check out her website for details.

The Game Begins is on Amazon UK and Amazon US and Goodreads.