Category Archives: Book Reviews

Gods of War (King’s Bane #2) by C. R. May – Review

Title – Gods of War (King’s Bane #2)
Author – C. R. May
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 332 Pages
Publication – August 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Spring 524A.D.
As the last settlers board the ships which will carry them to Anglia, Eofer and the men of his war band are sent to harry the Danish coast, drawing the enemy eastwards as King Eomær’s host lands in the west.

But the gods of war can be fickle, and the ravaging does not end as planned.

A warlord, Ubba silk beard, leads the counterattack. Driving the raiders from the kingdom he pursues them through the forests of Scania as the war of fire and steel rages on.

Other forces are at work, other ventures already in play.

Seizing his chance for kingship an assassin strikes, and a new power emerges from the ruins of the old as the young Danish king gathers his army and marches to confront the invader.

Gods of War is the second volume in the bestselling King’s Bane series, the genesis of England.

Review

Before you go any further why not read my review of Fire & Steel, book 1 in the series.

It’s taken me too long to get back to this series but i’m so glad I did.

We are back with Eofer, King’s Bane and it was genuinely a thrill to get back in the action with him and his warband.

For me what made this book a step up from the first is the bond Eofer has with his men. The connection they have with each other is more developed and believable.

This bond is strengthened throughout the book when Eofer is in need of his men more than ever.

The plot has a lot of meat on the bone as I like to say, lots to get to grips with but not so much that you are bombarded with too much info. If anything it was the sheer amount of action and the fast flowing plot that sucked me in.

The Angles are leaving, headed for what they hope is a better future but while the last of them race to get aboard a ship there’s still the chance of attack.

Eofer’s men have great comradery and some very fun conversations which give some light relief at times from all the heavy action.

Spearhafoc, who you may remember from the first installment is back and her story gets dark and complicated, I really enjoyed it but I do hope that her story isn’t over.

What I really liked about this book is the setting. As there’s not a lot of information known about the events it’s given the author the chance to weave a believable tale at times but also exercise his imagination. I want to say more but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.

For me this is a complex tale, it’s a battle to see which tale is more important, Eofer’s tale or the historical tale. There’s a lot crammed in with this one but it all worked for me. Fun, exciting and it’s left me wanting to get on to the next book in the series quickly.

The action is spot on but varied in such away it doesn’t feel repetitive. We are given raids, full on wars, surprise attacks and you just never know where the author will take you next and that made it all the more exciting to read.

There are a few really emotive scenes also which knock the wind from your sails, this gave another edge to Eofer and for me these moment stole the show, I hope the author throws in more moments like this in book 3.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

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Cometh the Hour by Annie Whitehead – Review

Title – Cometh the Hour – (Tales of the Iclingas Book 1)
Author – Annie Whitehead
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 249 Pages
Publication – September 2nd
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In seventh-century England, a vicious attack sets in motion a war of attrition which will last for generations.
Four kings, connected by blood and marriage, vie for the mantle of overlord. Three affect to rule with divine assistance. The fourth, whose cousin and sister have been mistreated and whose friend has been slaughtered, watches, and waits.
He is a pagan, he is a Mercian, and his name is Penda.
By his side is a woman determined to escape her brutal past. She aids his struggle against his treacherous brother and their alliance founds a dynasty with the potential to end injustice and suppression, if only they can continue to stand together…
A story that spans generations, and travels from Sutton Hoo to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne and back to the buried treasure of Staffordshire, this is the first volume of the tales of the Iclingas, the family who ruled Mercia, fighting to avenge their kin and to keep their people free.

Review

I’ve been a fan of Annie’s work for a while, Click to read my reviews of To Be A Queen and Alvar The King Maker if you’ve not seen them already!

Annie is great a weaving a historic tale that much I already know, so this one had to give me something more to top her last effort. I’m glad to say this indeed gave me the oomph I wanted.

What set this book apart from the rest was that it covers a wide period of time and you see events through many different perspectives. This gives you get much fuller picture of events as they flowed from one King to another, you can see how things fit together and overall get a much clearer picture.

This tale really shows that being King wasn’t always the position you’d want to be in, war can breakout at any time, you are constantly watching your back as even your friends might not be as loyal as they say they are and marriage is a political tool and to survive you need to be able to navigate all.

Penda was the biggest draw in the book for me, a lot focuses around him and rightly so, but what I really enjoyed was insights into the man I’ve read about before. I know we don’t know truly what went through people’s heads but we do have a lot of evidence to events that happened and I like how Annie manages to put fact and fiction together in a way that brings life to a historical individual.

What the author gets spot on for me is the flow of the story, effortlessly mixing detailed descriptions of places and people but at the same time never slowing down the pace of the tale.

Religion plays its part in this book and I felt the author depicted this period of transition well, when people changed from worshipping one god to another and highlighted how many would not change their beliefs along with some who would gladly worship anyone as long as it meant they would come out on top.

I’m not going to give away the plot of the tale but it really shows the political nature at the time. Sons are groomed to be King’s while daughters are simply seen as bargaining chips to create power links to other kingdoms.

To sum up, a wonderfully detailed account of the power struggles during the 7th century. There’s a lot of players involved so don’t rush it, take it slow and enjoy. Annie Whitehead has manged to again give me another action packed, engrossing historical read that I highly recommend to all.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Blog Tour – The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp – Review

 

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Keeping of Secrets by Alice Graysharp, here’s the blurb –

Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 289 Pages
Publication – 5th September 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

The keeper of family secrets, Patricia Roberts grows up isolated and lonely. Trust no one and you won’t be disappointed is her motto. Three men fall in love with her and she learns to trust, only to find that their agendas are not her own. With secrets concealed from her by the ultimate love of her life, and with her own secret to keep, duplicity and deceit threaten their relationship. In a coming of age story set against the sweeping backdrop of the Second World War – evacuation, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, buzz bombs and secret war work – Patricia ultimately has to decide whether to reveal her deepest held secret for the sake of her future happiness.

Review

The Keeping of Secrets is a coming of age tale that unfolds as World War II erupts.

Now I’m going to start this review off a little differently than usual. I’m going to talk about the end of the story first. I’ll admit stories can really move me at times but this one literally made me shed a tear at the end, I was so racked with emotion. I’m telling you this now as I really want you to know just how moved I was by this one.

The story follows Pat, a young girl on the cusp of womanhood. Set in the backdrop of World War II it really made me consider what it must have been like growing up at that time, being shipped off for your own safety, not knowing if your parents are safe and well.

There’s a lot of emotion in this tale, love and lust high up there. At first Pat needs to fend off an unwanted love interested then when she finds someone she likes he moves a little fast but leaves a lasting impression. Obviously I wasn’t alive at the time but I could really understand the urgency placed on love at the time..the uncertainty..the fear.

Pat is a strong person but she holds her cards close to her chest, she doesn’t open up easily so trust needs to be earned. The most amazing thing about Pat is her determination to have a career rather than settle for being a housewife. It showed the attitudes at the time and how things have changed since.

We follow Pat’s life through the ups and downs, the anxiety and fear everyone must have been feeling so we see her forced to grow up rather quickly.

I’m no lover of romance, I’ve always made that clear but this one is done perfectly as it’s encompassed by the sheer emotion of the time. It’s an historical fiction book about life and love during what would have been a very hard period to live in for all. Wonderfully written, so much so I flew through the book .

Alice Graysharp has given readers a wonderfully emotive tale that will sick with you.

I received a copy of the book for a review but I loved it so much I bought a copy too. My thanks go to Authoright and the author for the chance to be part of the blog tour.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon


Alice has very kindly wrote a piece on the inspiration behind the book, I hope you enjoy it –

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Family History as Inspiration behind The Keeping of Secrets

Until I became closely involved in another family through marriage I thought all families constantly reminisced about past events and long dead relatives in such vivid and immediate terms that you felt somehow you’d been there too or known them personally. I don’t know if my family was unusual, but certainly my childhood was steeped in such reminiscences, often told with humour and irony.

Many were of the Second World War, like the night, following a series of raids, my paternal grandfather (who was a shoe repairer by day and an air raid warden by night) was determined to have a bath, but every time he was about to hop in the siren sounded again and this continued through the night so that he never got his bath after all. I recall my grandparents laughing uproarously as they told the story. Or the time my father dived beneath an armoured vehicle as enemy fighters swooped only to find himself stuck when the raid was over and having to wait for his army mates to jack the vehicle up to release him. Not so amusing, though, was the one of my mother in the dentist’s chair, her close brush with death bringing a chill to the spine.

In 2011 I took my widowed mother to the Spring Meeting of St Martin-in-the-Fields Old Girls’ Association held at the school. Having never been there before I was astonished by the school’s elegant Georgian building and its sense of history. That and driving around the streets of Brixton where my mother grew up brought me a three dimensional  aspect to the past – Acre Lane, Water Lane, Brockwell Park, Tulse Hill, to name but a few places I’d heard of so often, all echoes from my mother’s and my grandparents’ lives experienced vicariously.

Later that year, realising my mother was not getting any older and wanting to capture her stories for all time, over a series of Sunday afternoon visits I took notes as my mother recalled her wartime experiences, which I wrote up as a narrative and which she read and approved for publication. I also wrote the first term’s evacuation experiences as a short fictionalised biography.

In  2015, following my mother’s death, I thought to write a novelised memoir based on these recollections in her honour. However, in adapting the short story and planning out how to move it on to become a full book, I found the main character was proving not to be the same person as my mother but instead a person with a life of her own and her own story to tell. So I moved away from the ‘memoir’ approach and  instead came to regard the information I had amassed rather as source material for a novel. This gave me the opportunity to take the storyline and the characters in it where I felt they would go, my parents’ and grandparents’ recollections being my inspiration rather than my text.

Thus while I have identified the evacuated school St Martin-in-the-Fields and I quoted from the school song, all the teachers and pupils depicted in the novel are the product of my imagination. Further, St Birstan’s school is wholly a figment of my imagination. While my mother’s school was evacuated to Leatherhead, there is no school there by the name of St Birstan’s, not the buildings or the location described, and the St Birstan’s pupils referred to are entirely my invention.

However, I thought the story of the night in the theatre was too good to miss out. When we went to that theatre in the 1980s my mother pointed out the wall against which she had lain, just as in the novel, with her mother outside her and  her father outside them, ‘to protect my virtue.’

The Beaver Club did exist and my grandmother worked there during the War. A poignant reminder remains with my family, a square of lace given to her by a Canadian soldier on leave in late 1944 or early 1945 who had taken pity on one of many starving Belgians lining the roads during the Allied advance desperate to sell anything for food, and bought it from them.

In an era now where oral tradition is virtually lost and many people know little of the generations that went before them, I hope The Keeping of Secrets provides a window into the lives of ordinary people like my mother living through those extraordinary times.

AliceGraysharp_Banner

 

The Reaper’s Touch (The Ripper Legacies Book 2) by Robert Southworth – Review

Title – The Reaper’s Touch (The Ripper Legacies Book 2)
Author – Robert Southworth
Genre – Alternative History/Fantasy
Length – 308 Pages
Publication – August 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

London 1890, William Harkness is summoned to the scene of a grisly murder. The victim is not a woman of the night, nor a member of the underclass. Nonetheless, Harkness is certain the Ripper has resumed his slaughter. He and his men resume the hunt for the infamous killer but all is not as it seems. William Harkness soon realises that hunters can also be prey…

Review

For me this has to be one of the most hotly anticipated releases this year. Rob likes to tease us readers and keep us waiting but it’s worth it. Rob’s never given me anything other than a 5* book previously and he’s done it again.

What I’ve always really enjoyed about Rob’s work is that I’ve been there from the first book and I can really see how he’s grown. Don’t get me wrong.. I never found fault with any of his books but this one just seems a step above the last as he continues to rattle out fun and mesmerising tales that really suck you in.

What I really enjoyed about this plot is that with a hint of history and a pinch of imagination Rob gives us something completely original and so god damn exciting.

So this is the second book in the Ripper Legacies. If you’ve not read the first book click here to read my review.

We are back with William Harkess and his rabble of men as he joins forces with Inspector Abberline to hunt down The Ripper. This time his foe is more dangerous as William becomes more of an annoyance to him.

The book has some rather vivid moments where some unfortunate people do meet their end. While this is a completely new tale it does link well with The Ripper’s own handiwork, it makes it so much more believable and sets the tone/period of the story perfectly.

Another plus for this tale is that this time the heat is really turned up on William. Not everyone will make it out alive and this really built up the pressure.

Rob did a great job of quickly reminding me of the main players in the story and also helped me remember the previous tale in the series by mentioning a few certain characters and events that brung everything flooding back.

Southworth develops his characters well, each has their own role in the tale and there’s a few great additions to this one. I won’t spoil it but Bessie and Faraday really made an impression on me.

Do you like twists? I know I do. Well this book had a couple that hit hard..In a good way. What I expected was turned on its head within a page then the author pieces everything together nicely leaving you to wonder why you didn’t see it from the start. To be honest with Robs work I do very little thinking.. I simply enjoy the tale.

The ending sets up book 3 nicely, leaving you craving more.

All I know for sure is Rob keeps offering up brilliant stories so I’ll certainly be buying the next book as soon as it’s released.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

The Road to Farringale: Modern Magick, 1 by Charlotte E. English – Review

Title – The Road to Farringale: Modern Magick, 1
Author – Charlotte E. English
Genre – Fantasy
Length – 187 Pages
Publication – July 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

In 2017, little remains of magick save scattered, beleaguered pockets of magickal community and scholarship – and a vast, but rapidly decaying, heritage. How can any of it survive the pace of modern life?

As an agent of the Society for Magickal Heritage, Cordelia “Ves” Vesper has an important job: to track down and rescue endangered magickal creatures, artefacts, books and spells wherever they are to be found. It’s a duty that takes her the length and breadth of Britain, and frequently gets her into trouble. But somebody’s got to keep magick alive in the modern world, and Ves is more than equal to the job.

In this first adventure, Ves meets her new partner, the Waymaster Jay. Their mission? Find the source of a magickal disease that’s decimating Britain’s troll enclaves – and fix it. Simple in theory, tricky in practice, for the only place that might hold the information they need is the ancient and inconveniently lost enclave of Farringale…

Review

Charlotte E. English is back with a new fantasy tale and once again it’s a real treat for us readers.

Magic is real, hidden away and on the decline. There are a few out there who are doing their best to keep the community alive..Ves is one such person. She’s a rather intriguing character. She’s quite an internal person so in the inner thoughts of Ves really help you learn what kind of person she is, she strong and capable and you can’t help but grow to like her.

While Ves is on a mission she discovers an alarming issue with the Troll community..something that is threatening to wipe them out..could the answer to this mystery lie in a long-buried enclave?

Along the way we meet some fun characters. Jay who has a rather special ability to transport over great distances using ancient portals. Val had to be the character I enjoyed most.. anytime you need to know something she’s the one to go to and if you find anything juicy she will be the first there to investigate further.

I really enjoyed Milday and House..yes I said house. House is where Ves works for the Society for Magickal Heritage, and this house isn’t like any other you’ve been in. It’s magical and if it likes you it will be kind, if not don’t expect to get to where you plan to go anytime soon as this house can change itself, move and adapt. Ves reports to Milday and Milday and house work in partnership, but like any good partnership they don’t always agree and it’s this very unique dynamic that I really loved.

With the help Baron Alban Ves sets out to save the Trolls from extinction and while doing so she may just solve a long forgotten mystery. I loved the Baron, like all good chracetrs you learn more about him as the tale unfolds and his mysteriousness is what really entriged me.

The book builds its pace nicely and you are left hoping more will come. I enjoyed the ending but knowing how good the author is you are left in no doubt there must be more tales to come.

Charlotte is the queen of the short story for me and she’s done it again. She effortlessly manages to suck you and give you so much story in so few pages..I never feel short-changed when I buy her work, if anything I’m just eager to read it and to find out when the next instalment is due J

English has given me another 5* book, the tale is quirky and fun and I couldn’t ask for more. Anyone who is a fan of the authors work will love it as it has her usual unique charm but at the same time gives the reader a fresh tale.

Charlotte E. English has to be top of list for author you need to read!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Liefdom: A Tale from Perilisc by Jesse Teller – Review

Title – Liefdom: A Tale from Perilisc
Author – Jesse Teller
Genre – Dark Fantasy
Length – 262 Pages
Publication – August 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

A zealous guardian in a peaceful city, Gentry Mandrake is a fairy unlike any other. Cast out and hated for his differences, his violent nature makes him wonder at the purity of his soul. He hunts for belonging while fighting to protect the human child bound to him. Explore the mythical realm of The Veil, the grating torture of the Sulfur Fields, and the biting tension between power and purpose in this wondrous struggle against a demonic wizard and his denizens. Can Mandrake overcome such terrible foes to defend those he loves?

Review

I’m a massive fantasy fan I’m not going to lie. To me there’s so many possibilities with fantasy but at the same time this means you’ve really got to hit a high standard to have me enjoy the story.. Well Jesse Teller certainly delivered.

Mandrake isn’t like other fairies.. he’s different in so many ways, and isn’t accepted by anyone. Little do the fairies know Mandrake is their champion and their going to need him very soon.

What really fascinated me about the story was the connection between the fairies and humans and how the actions of one could affect the other.

Because of this connection Mandrake knows his child Is in danger and not only does he have foes to battle in his realm he must also help save his child in the human world..but how can he?

It’s a magical tale. There’s lots of action but there’s a light-hearted feel at times as Mandrake deals with emotions that he’s never felt before.

What Teller gets spot on is the development speed of his characters versus plot..they develop naturally together and nothing is forced on the reader which means you can really get sucked in and enjoy this one.

I also really loved that some characters are a mystery and until the book develops you never quite know which way their loyalty lies.

Overall it’s very well written with fun and mesmerising plot that gives you just the right mix of action/non action scenes.

Often I find little things I don’t like about books, a certain word here or a development with a character that just didn’t feel right but this was perfect to me, no other word to describe it. It ticked everything I want and more.

A fast paced action packed entertaining read.

My thanks go to Rebekah Teller for bringing the book to my attention and provided a review copy. Loved it so much I paid Amazon for an official copy 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon

Digital Fortress by Dan Brown – Review

Title – Digital Fortress
Author – Dan Brown
Genre – Thriller
Length – 512 Pages
Publication – July 2004
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

When the NSA’s invincible code-breaking machine – encounters a mysterious code it cannot break, the agency calls in its head cryptographer, Susan Fletcher, a brilliant and beautiful mathematician. What she uncovers sends shock waves through the corridors of power. The NSA is being held hostage…not by guns or bombs, but by a code so ingeniously complex that if released it will cripple U.S. intelligence.

Review

Digital Fortress is my first step into the mind and works of Dan Brown.

Was I impressed? Most certainly.

This was the author’s debut. I’m late to the party I know but better late than never.

What we get is a very good story of deception and intrigue based around the release of a piece of code which has been introduced into a top secret code-breaking machine designed to crack any code.. but it can’t crack this one.. it’s stuck.

Susan Fletcher is caught up in the all mess when she notices the machine has been working on cracking the code way longer than it should. Susan’s partner is also sucked into this mess when he is sent off to find the code that will kill the program.

There’s some very good twists to this plot in my opinion. I always felt I had an idea of what was happening until the author throws in a spanner to twist the tale in another direction. You never quite know who is behind everything until the end.

Honestly within the first few chapters I made assumptions on how the plot would develop.. How wrong was I? Very..

Pleasantly surprised indeed. I tend to read more self-published/ Indie authors so this was a break to my norm but it was well worth reading and I’ll make sure to follow up on the authors subsequent books.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon