#TuesdayBookBlog #Bookreview Poison Study by Maria V Snyder #YAFantasy

Poison Study is a brilliant, compelling read. Here’s the blurb…

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear…

poison study

My Review

This was my book groups choice and I am so, so happy they chose it!

It is such a compelling book. I took it on holiday and I just couldn’t stop reading it. The beauty of reading an old paperback copy is that you can take it everywhere with you and sneak in a few pages when no one is looking! I had some very late nights with this book as well, and it’s one of those that if you had the next book handy, there’s no way you could resist picking it up and diving straight into the next adventure. I have now brought the next two books – Magic Study and Fire Study and I’m itching to find the time to read them. I have another holiday coming up so I might have to sneak them in the suitcase.

Why I loved this YA Fantasy.

In one word – Yelena. She is a brilliant character to follow and I liked her instantly. The first person viewpoint helps you build a bond with her and her story. At the start she is in prison for a murder that she never denies committing, but you have no idea of the details surrounding it. That’s just a small part of the intrigue that keeps you reading. On the day of her planned execution she is given the chance to escape death by becoming the Commander’s food taster. Of course she accepts but quickly realises this isn’t to be an easy life. Her master, Valek, turns out to be a harsh and sometime cruel master – but he really grows on you. Both Valek and Yelena are my favourite characters and I can’t wait to see what happens in book 2.

I loved the little details in this book, in particular the lessons on poison tasting. I’m informed this is all well researched and that really comes across. I would have liked more focus on this aspect in the plot, just because I love herbs, potions and assassins, but it was still a highly addictive read. Every chapter forced you to read the next. It is a masterclass for authors on how to craft a pager-turner.

There are some darker elements to the story that as adults you will pick up on, but I hope younger YA readers just take what’s on the page and not think too deeply about what’s happened. I am looking forward to my (nearly) 14-year-old son reading these books and I think in a couple of years my daughter will love them too. It is certainly a book I wish I had discovered in my teens, and I don’t say that about many books.

Highly recommended – 5 very big fat stars from me!

Have you read it?

Here’s the Goodreads link if my review has enticed you to find out more. With almost 120K ratings, 10k reviews and an overall star rating of 4.15, you can see this books has been loved by many people!

#Tuesdaybookblog #bookreview The Exercise of Vital Powers Ian Gregoire @lonelyboy1977 #selfpubfantasymonth #fantasy

Here’s my short review of The Exercise of Vital Powers by Ian Gregoire. But first the all important blurb;

Some Lessons Must Be Learned The Hard Way

Since its inception, The Order has been dedicated to the prevention of the misuse and abuse of magic. For seven decades this mandate has guaranteed peace and stability throughout The Nine Kingdoms. But a potential threat to the peace has emerged, and its source is much closer to home than the leadership of The Order may realise.

Arrogant, manipulative, confrontational and angry. Undesirable qualities in a person at the best of times, but more so in a young woman born with the power to bring kingdoms to their knees. Kayden Jayta, precocious apprentice of The Order, is all these things and more, yet wholly unwilling to acknowledge and rectify her many troubling traits.

Unbeknown to anyone, Kayden’s resolute determination to join the ranks of The Order is born of a secret that puts her priorities at odds with the precepts of the organisation, setting her inexorably on a collision course with the most powerful institution in The Nine Kingdoms.

If Kayden is to be dissuaded from walking the path she has chosen, averting tragic consequences in the process, two unanswered questions must be answered: What is the dark secret guiding Kayden’s actions? And, why has a legendary figure within The Order, with a secret of her own, taken undue interest in Kayden’s future?

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The Exercise of Vital Powers was entered into SPFBO in 2017 and was a semi finalist in it’s group, which is a very big deal in my opinion. Having followed the author for a while (and appearing on his blog last year) I know he made the brave decision to unpublish the book in order to re-edit it and source a professional cover.

It was re-released in July 2018 and I was quick to snap up a copy. If the cover is anything to go by, I’d say Mr Gregoire made the right choice. I adore this cover and having just finished the book I feel it depicts the main character, Kayden, perfectly.

cover-artwork

I enjoyed this novel very much. It takes place over a few days in Kayden’s life when so many things change and she learns much about herself. The Order and the magic system are well thought out, and the world brought to life with descriptive writing. I really liked Kayden’s mentors Fay and Ari, and Kayden is pretty cool once you get past her arrogant front. At points I just couldn’t stop reading and stayed up way past bedtime because I had to know what happened next.

I felt there was a little too much information at times, which slowed the story down. However, there was a lot of historical battles and background to get across, and you need these slower passages to understand the current situation in the Nine Kingdoms. I think it also sets up possible ideas of the troubles to come in future books.

I can’t believe the author managed to fit so much in over so little time. I feel this is the start of a great adventure and I am very much looking forward to the second instalment of what I believe will be a 5 part series.

I give this book 4 stars and recommend to those who love detailed world building and love being transported into magical worlds.

Why not check it out for yourself on Goodreads.

#Tuesdaybookblog mini #bookreviews of my favourite #fantasy books in Rainne’s Five on Friday feature

During my blogging break I shared some mini book reviews of my favourite fantasy books over on Rainne’s Rambles. Please pop over to take a look at the Five on Friday feature and see what books inspired my love of all thing fantasy.

Rainne's Ramblings

5onFriday

Five Books – Five Authors – One Reviewer

Looking for a new fantasy to read this weekend?
Try one of these books, reviewed by Suzanne Rogerson


I finally have space to bring back my Five on Friday feature and I’m kicking off with a guest reviewer:

Suzanne Rogerson is a self-published author of epic and heroic fantasy, who loves reading books almost as much as she love writing them.

“When Rainne asked if I would like to take part in her Five on Friday, I was excited to have a go and share some book love. But after many false starts, I just couldn’t work out which books to showcase. It’s so difficult to pick just five. In the end, I’ve opted for five fantasy books I’ve loved but never reviewed on my blog. Here they are…”

Title: Dream-weaver
Author: Jonathan Wylie

2030986As civil war threatens the land of Ahrenia…

View original post 1,578 more words

#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.

write a fantasy desc book

 

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.

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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