Tag Archives: Books

Blog tour – Sons of Rome by Simon Turney and Gordon Doherty – Review!

Today its my turn on the blog tour for Sons of Rome by Simon Turney & Gordon Doherty, the 1st book in a new series!

Follow the tour!

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Here is the blurb –

Four Emperors. Two Friends. One Destiny.

 

As twilight descends on the 3rd century AD, the Roman Empire is but a shadow of its former self. Decades of usurping emperors, splinter kingdoms and savage wars have left the people beleaguered, the armies weary and the future uncertain. And into this chaos Emperor Diocletian steps, reforming the succession to allow for not one emperor to rule the world, but four.

Meanwhile, two boys share a chance meeting in the great city of Treverorum as Diocletian’s dream is announced to the imperial court. Throughout the years that follow, they share heartbreak and glory as that dream sours and the empire endures an era of tyranny and dread. Their lives are inextricably linked, their destinies ever-converging as they rise through Rome’s savage stations, to the zenith of empire. For Constantine and Maxentius, the purple robes beckon…

Review

Regular readers of my blog will no doubt recognise the names Simon Turney & Gordon Doherty, both have featured more than a few times and I must say they always know what I’m after as a reader. I’ve never read a jointly written book before but with these guys behind it I knew it would be a cracking read.

Sons of Rome follows the footsteps of Constantine and Maxentius as the grow from little boys into men fighting for the purple robe of the empire!

The prologue sets the scene for the series as we meet Constantine on the eve of battle against someone he once knew as friend.. how did they get here.. what happened to change those boys.

Power.. that’s what.. and paranoia.

As boys Maxentius and Constantine see Emperor Diocletian share his vision for the future, the empire is too big for one man to rule.. Diocletian wishes to create a new system to share power, A Tetrarchy, which will also inturn decide rightly who will rule when an Augustus dies.

The issue is both boys have fathers who are flawed and neither are really shown the love and affection a young boy needs.

As men both are overlooked and we see them navigate what can only be described as a nightmare of events for both of them..each always thinking of the other but never truly understanding the others motives..jealously and paranoia strike at every turn and while you hope for things to turn out ok nothing is going to stop the black events that are going to follow.

War and death stalk them…greed and the urge to show strength lead both men to do things they likely regret but can never admit.. to proud.. and scared to admit the truth…as they grow you see their hearts turn black, ever changed by the events that mould them into the men they are.

Knowing both authors styles I had no worries at all that the joint effort would be anything but a masterpiece, but they have surpassed all expectations and have given me a true highlight in what has been a pretty shitty year.. we’ve waited for this team up for sooooo long but it was worth the wait!

If you are a fan of the writers’ or just love the genre then I promise you will not be disappointed. It’s got the historic detail you won’t but mixed with a well woven and written plot that flowed almost effortlessly.

Oh, I loved it that much I pre-ordered a limtied editon signed copy from Parmenion Books (Parm was the 1st stop on the tour so do take a look and follow the tour)

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or you can Pre-Order on Amazon!

My thanks go to both Simon and Gordon along with the publisher for the exciting opportunity to be one of the first to read the book but to also be part of the blog tour to celebrate the release!

About the authors

Simon Turney is the author of the Marius’ Mules and Praetorian series, as well as The Damned Emperor series for Orion and Tales of the Empire series for Canelo. He is based in Yorkshire.

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Follow Simon

Twitter: @SJATurney

Website: http://simonturney.com/

Gordon Doherty is the author of the Legionary and Strategos series, and wrote the Assassin’s Creed tie-in novel Odyssey. He is based in Scotland.

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Follow Gordon

Twitter: @GordonDoherty

Website: https://www.gordondoherty.co.uk/

 

Follow Aries

Twitter: @AriesFiction

Facebook: Aries Fiction

Website: http://www.headofzeus.com

New Release! – Empires of Bronze: Thunder at Kadesh by Gordon Doherty – Review

Today I’m reviewing Empires of Bronze: Thunder at Kadesh by Gordon Doherty, book 3 in the Empires of Bronze series.

Here is the blurb –

1275 BC: Tensions between the Hittite and Egyptian Empires erupt and the two great superpowers mobilise for all-out war. Horns blare across the Hittite northlands and the dunes of Egypt rumble with the din of drums as each gathers an army of unprecedented size. Both set their eyes upon the border between their domains, and the first and most important target: a desert city whose name will toll through history. Kadesh!

Prince Hattu has lived in torment for years, plagued by the memory of his wife’s murder. Thoughts of her poisoner, Volca the Sherden – for so long safe and distant by Pharaoh Ramesses’ side – have sullied his dreams, blackened his waking hours and driven him to commit the darkest of deeds. Now that war is here, he at last has the chance to confront his nemesis and have his vengeance.

But as the ancient world goes to war, Hattu will learn that the cold, sweet kiss of revenge comes at a terrible price.

Review

To say I’ve eagerly been awaiting this release would be an understatement.. I just needed to know if Hattu would get his revenge on Volca for the murder of his wife.

Volca isn’t the only threat Hattu and the Hittite’s face after a failed attempt at peace with the Egyptian empire.

The Pharaoh is amassing an army.. he blames Hattu for the death of his brother and his only goal is to do what his father could not.. kill Hattu and every single Hittite if he has too!

The size of the armies is mind boggling, around 50 thousand on each side.. this really is the battle to end all battles..

Each side has their setbacks in the race to Kadesh, the staging point for the war. The first there holding the advantage.

We see some very interesting subplots going on with Volca worming is way in at any chance.. he really is vile but god he’s the perfect bad guy..his luck will run out one day but will it end there for Hattu? Not likely.. some people were born for battle.

Hattu himself is blind with vengeance.. King Muwa his brother can see this but Hattu doesn’t care… He just wants to see Volca die by his hand. For this reason Muwa nearly leaves him behind but the men of the Hittite army admire Hattu and the King needs them to be confident..strong..and he will take any help he can get.

The goddess Ishtar still plagues Hattu’s dreams but we do see a glimmer of hope arrive… I’m not going to spoil that one 😊 let’s just say things get interesting.

There are some brilliant twists and turns but eventually war will catch-up to Hattu.. and it’s brutal..each side use their wits to trick the other but at the cost of thousands of lives.

When all is said and done many friends will be dead.. but Ishtar has other plans for Hattu.. and more pain and bloodshed await.

What I love about Gordon’s work is that he never fails to offer up something epic.. something flawless and beautifully prefect… you can tell how much time he must put into these books.. there’s no way you could rattle a tale off like this without devoting yourself fully, no matter how good of a storyteller you are.. The author continues to put everything he has into his work and it pays off..you are right there with them in those destroyers alongside the men of Troy basking in the sun..what a sight those armies must have been.

I loved the detail given too when describing the different cultures, the vassal King’s and the way each group dressed.. the weapons they used.. that detail just sucked me in and had my own imagination firing.

The climax of the book reveals secrets you felt were coming.. but god it’s good.. there’s deception all around and it’s a good job Hattu has a goddess watching his back.

I know the day will come soon when we must say goodbye to Hattu.. history is already written.. but I can’t wait to see Gordon Doherty weave his magic with it. Just take my money now!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Bloodaxe (Erik Haraldsson #1) by C.R. May – Review

Today I’m reviewing Bloodaxe, Book 1 in the Erik Haraldsson series by C.R. May.

Here is the blurb –

Under the iron rule of Harald Fairhair, Norway has been a land at peace for half a century.

Groomed for the succession, the king’s eldest surviving son has lived the life of a Viking prince; harrying wherever his longships can reach, from the frozen forests of Bjarmaland to the rocky shores of Brittany and beyond.

But none expected Harald to live so long, and as the king enters his ninth decade his powers begin to wane.

Seizing their chance other Haraldssons move to snatch the crown for themselves, and a brother war sweeps the land as Erik fights to defend his birthright…

Bloodaxe is the first volume in a trilogy which will tell the story of one of the Viking Age’s legendary kings.

Review

Bloodaxe is the story of Eric Haraldsson, son of  Harald Fairhair, King of Norway.

You’d always imagine in the modern day that being heir to a throne would be an easy, sheltered life. Not so in times past! It just leads to bloodshed.

I loved Eric from the start, the guy just oozes confidence and strength, he’s got something about him.

As a young boy Eric was sent away to live with one of Harald’s most trusted, he learns the ways of a warrior and soon starts to build a relationship of sorts with his father.

It’s the real brutal Viking tale you’d expect as Eric leave a path of red behind as he makes a name for himself and earns the respect of the men who fight at his side.. he’s going to need those men.

Eric isn’t one to shy away from a fight, he’s got wits and knows when to use them. I think he proves early on that he has the qualities needed to become King when Harald eventually dies.. but the old king has been rather promiscuous to say the least and there is many with a claim to the throne.

What we see then is a rather brutally vivid and well actioned series of events to see Eric claim power… there’s no time for niceties.. he’s going to seize power one way or another. It’s not an easy ride for Eric but you see him prove time and time again he’s got the qualities needed to rule.. yes he’s still up for a good slaughter but he’s learned to pick his battles well.

C.R. May effortlessly transported me back to the age of Vikings and showed how rough life would have been for them.. It’s a fight from day 1..You have to prove yourself and if you aren’t a warrior you might as well be dead already.

The plot was very enticing to say the least and while history can be a little incomplete at times I loved that C. R. May offers up a plausible storyline but at the same time hits the high notes with the use of descriptiveness to an awe inspiring level. Bloodaxe isnt a book you can just skim read.. it’s not the kind of book you read a chapter here and there..No, Bloodaxe instantly sucks you in.. immerses you in Viking world.. It’s vivid and packs a punch and the turmoil/fear is real.

Take your time to enjoy Bloodaxe, there’s a lot to get to grips with.. so many names…why did Harald have so many sons? Ha.. It’s worth savouring.. sit down in your favourite chair and watch the hours fly by.

I don’t think you’ll find a better example of an Historical Fiction novel as the author perfectly demonstrates his knowledge of the subject expertly woven with his imagination and storytelling skills.

The only word to describe C. R. Mays’ work is “detail” he knows his stuff and these detail shines through to give us the most beautifully brutal book I’ve read in a long time!

Bloodaxe is the 1st in what can only be an epic saga!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Legionary: Eagles in the Desert by Gordon Doherty

Today I’m reviewing Legionary: Eagles in the Desert by Gordon Doherty.

Eagles in the Desert is a short story and prequel to the Legionary series.

By trying this book you’ll also be making a difference – 100% of the proceeds from this short story will go to the blood cancer charity Myeloma UK https://www.myeloma.org.uk/

Here is the blurb –

360 AD: A Roman legion is trapped and surrounded in the blistering Persian desert… and a great saga begins.

Review

So we thought we had seen the last of Pavo but we were wrong.. Well he doesn’t play a big part in this short story but he’s never far from your thoughts as we follow Falco! Pavo’s Father.

The Persians are on the offensive and the legionaries must hold Bezabde.. they know they hold little chance of doing so.. but they must have hope.. courage!

For a fan of the series it’s quite a thrilling tale and it was great to see the similarities between father and son. In the main series Pavo dreams of his father daily… in Eagles in the Desert we see Falco thinking of his son often. The connection between the too has been there all along even though fate does not treat them kindly.

I love the Legionary series and this offering just cements my love of the authors work.. how can anyone make such a good story in 34 pages? Oh and it was bloody nice to seethe withered old crone appear.. A must for any book in the Legionary series!

I think this book works well as a little standalone to introduce you to the series but for anyone like me it just reminds me how good this series really is. There is a tonne of detail for those who love an author setting the scene but also plenty of action driven moments for the adrenaline junkies. What’s not to enjoy?

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Do look out for more from the author soon! 

Empires of Bronze: Thunder at Kadesh (Empires of Bronze 3) due for release 24th September 

Sons of Rome (Rise of Emperors Book 1) a joint effort with the awesome Simon Turney due for release 15th October.

 

 

Rise of a Champion (Legend of the Cid Book 1) by Stuart Rudge – Review

Today I’m reviewing Rise of a Champion by Stuart Rudge, Book 1 in the Legend of the Cid series.

I stumbled upon Stuart Rudge by chance while on Twitter, promoting his 1st book. I had a lot on my TBR list but I liked the sound of the plot so I thought what the hell.. I’ll buy a copy. Now I’m the first to admit word of mouth tempts me in…and I started to notice others tweeting about this book..every day, 2 or 3 mentions…then when I heard book 2 was just about to be released I thought it high time I find out what the fuss is about.

Here is the blurb –

Antonio Perez is the son of a knight and a returning war hero, yet he loathes the idea of following in his father’s footsteps. But when his father is executed for alleged treason against Fernando, King of Leon-Castile, he launches a desperate bid to save his life and clear his name. Antonio soon learns that the world is much crueller and darker than he ever could have imagined.

Bereft of hope and condemned to slavery for his sins, he finds himself in the household of a young knight named Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, a man destined for greatness. Together, they must face their demons and put an end to the man responsible for the downfall of the fathers; known as Azarola, renowned for his fox like cunning and malice, and one of the most powerful lords of Leon.

Rise of a Champion is the epic beginning to the Legend of the Cid.

Review

Antonio is book smart.. he’s not like his father, a war hero, and he’s got very little common with his brother too. Little does he know his life is soon to change and his strengths and weaknesses will be put to the test.

For Antonio life is simple.. he loves to learn and only has eyes for 2 things.. books and Jimena, the daughter of a local count.

Things are not meant to be easy for Antonio and he is to be separated from the girl he yearns for.. he’s going to learn to be a fighter one way or another if his dad has anything to say about it!

Things don’t quite go to plan.

Tragedy soon strikes a heavy blow when Antonio’s father is executed for treason! A crime he did not commit.. but what can Antonio do about it? He’s got to save his own neck first as the men charged with the execution want him too!

From there his life hits a downward spiral. He survives with this brother and cousin at his side but they are very much chalk and cheese.. Inigo his brother is mean and controlling and they are soon involved in events Antonio will live to regret.

I’m not going to spoil what happens but as the synopsis suggests Antonio soon ends in the household of Rodrigo, a fair but harsh man when needed. This relationship sees Antonio grow from a boy into a man.. a man Antonio never thought he would be.. A man his father would be proud to see.

War is brewing and with this comes the chance to exact revenge on the person Antonio believes is responsible for his fathers death.. Azarola.. it’s not going to be easy though.

What I really enjoyed with this tale more than anything was the mix of detail and plot.. the fight scenes were immense and heart stoppingly gripping..not only did you get an overall picture of events of the period the tale is set but you get to see it from Antonio’s eyes, blinkered at times.. with sight only for Azarola.. but can that hatred and lust be tamed? It’s a great balance of history and the authors creative skills allowing him to stamp his mark on the world.

I also really enjoyed that we get to meet Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, who will become known as El Cid, through the eyes of Antonio. I’ll be the first to admit I’ve heard the name.. and heard of the movie from the 60s but that’s as far as my knowledge goes. I love when an author can help introduce me to real history while writing their tale..Not only do a get a wonderful book to read but afterwards I find myself doing my own research.. reading more..and now I can’t wait to get to grips with book 2 in the series!

I love history but largely my knowledge is what I learned at school… so very little since there’s so much out there to learn.. teachers can’t possibly share it all. I really do believe tales this this have a big part to play in keeping history alive. Loved it!

4/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

Shield of the Rising Sun by Adam Lofthouse – Review

Today I’m reviewing Shield of the Rising Sun by Adam Lofthouse, the third book in the Path of Nemesis Series.

Here is the blurb :-

War still rages at the edge of empire while centurion Albinus Silus fights at its beating heart.

Gone is the boy who joined the legions. What remains is a man torn apart by the savagery of battle, the heartache of lost love.

He does not know what became of his wife, and now he must balance being both a soldier and a father.

And yet, for all his pain, he shall have to endure more than he ever thought he could. His valour in the northern wars has not gone unnoticed, and now he is to be given a special mission.

Marcus Aurelius’ star falls with his health. One day the sun will rise on his successor and son, Commodus. But he must be ready, must know what it is to lead. Centurion Albinus has been chosen to educate him.

From Pannonia to Rome, to the far reaches of the east, Albinus must protect Commodus from enemies both inside the empire and out.

Can he keep the Caesar safe? Can he nurture him, teach him what it is to be a man? Can he be The Shield of the Rising Sun?

Review

What a beautifully heart pulverising read! You’d be forgiven for assuming this tale followed on from the last instalment, same style, same pace.. wrong…it flows on but the style is different..It’s a thousand times better if that’s even possible since I’ve loved every book in the series.

I had high expectations based on previous offerings from the author but what a real treat they gave me this time… it’s not just the story of Albinus Silus.. It’s the story of Licina, Calvus, Habitus and so many more as we learn the fate of Albinus through the eyes of his son Faustus as told by the ever protective Calvus.

An air of melancholy surrounds Faustus and while we learn of a few events quickly.. some take more time to play out.. the wounds run deep.

Calvus has sworn to take care of Albinus’s boy no matter what.. it’s time he learned about the man his father was. As the plot progresses you really do see similarities between father and son.. they both struggle with being associated with their father..they feel as if they are in their shadow fighting to just be accepted as who they are.. but do they really know who they want to be?

What worked super well in the story is the historical setting…Young Commodus! Yes please. It was the perfect amount of historical detail weaved into a spectacular tale. It’s the kind of historical novel I like.. I love the historical detail, but I don’t always need reams of description. Sometime I just want action ha ha.

When I read the 1st book in the series I commented on the emotions Albinus and his solider brothers openly showed.. It wasn’t something I was used too.. I’m used to my soldiers farting, pissing and dying but in a bit of a turn of events it’s exactly what I needed in this instalment and the author got it spot on..I’ve been emotionally invested in these guys all along and I didn’t know it until it came to the end..the end hurt..like a sword thrust to the chest.. it hits hard.. and even through you knew all along something like this could happen you never thought the day would come.

I’ve read all of Adam Lofthouse’s books so far and every time I feel the same thing.. this is the best yet from him.. He always has me hooked… I never quite know where the plot will go and those twists give me the good old hand over mouth “oh sh*t” type moment.

What I want from a book.. what I need.. is that urge after reading it to tell everyone about it. If you get a knock at the door it will just be me selling Shield of the Rising Sun!

Buy a copy! 🙂

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

 

 

 

RELEASE DAY!!!! The Northern Throne (Warrior Druid of Britain Book 3) by Steven A. McKay – Review

Today I’m reviewing The Northern Throne by Steven A. McKay, Book 3 in the Warrior Druid of Britain series! It’s just out today!!!

First things first.. that cover! I’m bloody well quoted on it!!! Now is that going to make me take it easy on McKay? No no no.. If my name is added to something it bloody better be a 5* read!

Here’s the blurb

Northern Britain, AD431, Spring.
Bellicus the Druid and his friend Duro, a former Roman centurion, have already suffered a great deal in recent years but, for them, things are about to get even worse.
Britain is changing. The Romans have gone and warriors from many different places seek to fill the void the legions left behind. In the south, the Saxons’ expansion seems unstoppable despite the efforts of the warlord Arthur, while north of Hadrian’s Wall various kings and chieftains are always looking to extend their borders.
In Dun Breatann, Bellicus believes the disparate northern tribes must put aside their differences, become allies, and face the Saxon threat together, under one High King. Or High Queen…
Small-minded men don’t always look at the bigger picture though, and, when Bellicus and Duro seek to form a pact with an old enemy, events take a shocking and terrible turn that will leave the companions changed forever.
This third volume in the Warrior Druid of Britain Chronicles is packed with adventure, battles, triumph, and tears, and at the end of it a new course will be set for Bellicus.
But at what cost?

Review

Times are changing for Bellicus.. the land is in turmoil, the Druid order’s reach is being curtailed by the growing Christian faith and there is a real threat being posed by the Saxon’s. The only way to save Alt Clota along with his ways is if everyone bands together to face the Saxon threat..but that’s easier said than done.

No one trusts each other and there is more than one person who feels they should be High King.. Or Queen.

Bellicus sets out to unite the people and face the threat head on and that means joining the warlord Arthur.. he is in great need of men and Bellicus and Duro are just the ones to help!

Clearly things aren’t going to just go their way..that’s the way of war.. and it wouldn’t be much of a story if it did..we see our heroes face probably their biggest challenge to date. I was torn as I read, I felt a wedge growing and was dreading either one not making it out alive.. or simply parting ways.

I’m going to skip Bellicus a little.. not that he isn’t a major part of book because he clearly is.. but Duro.. my god Duro.. what a guy.. this is his book for me. He has got to go through some of the worst trials in his life and that’s saying something after losing his wife.

Bellicus has his own challenges to face, mainly being human.. I think the power given to a Druid made Bellicus a little blind at times and he’s certainly knocked down a peg or two as he is shown his own weaknesses.

I’m a big fan of flow.. a book has to progress at the right speed but McKay did something I didn’t see coming. He’s used recent events of the global pandemic/lockdown to feed his plot..lets just say Duro has some hard times ahead.. our lockdown is nothing compared to his ordeal. Was I bored? Did I skim read.. NO! McKay managed to keep the story flowing even when I didn’t see/feel it.. I was just honestly hooked in.

I really don’t want to spoil the plot at all but I was very pleased to see Cai make his “mark”.. who doesn’t love a faithful hound?? I’m also already in love with Aife, A Pict who I’m sure we will be seeing more of… She is clearly one to watch.

As a fan of the author when he started this series I was torn a bit.. I loved the comfort of his Forest Lord series and Robin Hood but that only had so much life in it… The Druid series has given the author the time to showcase his skills more..it feels like anything is possible.

For the people of Alt Clota war is coming.. it’s going to be brutal for sure and the build-up has been immense and gripping. For the actions junkies there is definitely some heart stopping moments. (you know, those moments you stop reading, sit up and focus, take a breath before continuing) and a few good twists thrown in there.

One thing I really liked about the book was the detail.. the numbers given to the warbands. You imagine a fight scene with hundreds..thousands.. sometimes all it takes is 20!

Overall I think this book packed a punch, the author manged to give me exactly what I needed but at the same time through some curve balls to give me a little scare… remember no one lives forever.

The plot was superb and leaves me in little doubt more will follow..

I eagerly wait the next instalment!

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

 

Blog Tour – The Summoned Ones: Book 1 Flight to Bericea by Darryl A. Woods – Review!

Today is my turn on the blog tour for The Summoned Ones: Book 1 Flight to Bericea by Darryl A. Woods, organised by the brillant Emma @ 𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚙𝚙𝚎𝚋𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖. I received a copy of the book for review but loved it that much I’ve bought a copy too!

Here is the blurb –

The Bericean army was in Malabrim for the ninth straight fighting season. Over the past 9 years, Zybaro, the leader of a small band of unknowns, had evolved from his days as a minor usurper of a tiny kingdom. Now, almost the entire country of Malabrim was under Zybaro’s control, and his army was large enough to easily challenge Bericea’s army. Still, Bericea continued its raids into Malabrim, hoping to stem Zybaro’s methodical progress and thwart his tyrannical means of control. Zybaro had seized village after village, forcing anyone capable of joining his army and enslaving all who remained in deplorable working conditions to supply his army.

This latest conflict with Zybaro had pushed General Darnon to a decision, one he had resisted making for over a year. Though he still held grave reservations about the Prophecies, he was willing to support the clerics who would attempt the summoning. The details of the ritual had recently been discovered in an ancient tome. The clerics were confident they could bring forth the Summoned Ones of Prophecy, those mysterious beings who would aid Bericea in its time of greatest need.

Darnon also had concerns about the location of the summoning. It would have to take place farther into Malabrim than they had ventured in many years. And even if the ritual was effective, it would be a great challenge to get the Summoned Ones safely back to Bericea, in addition to the soldiers sent to protect them. However, Darnon felt that morale was so low, if they survived this battle, he owed his troops the hope the summoning ritual could bring.

Join the soldiers of Bericea and the Summoned Ones through a life-or-death struggle. The Summoned Ones was made up of a small college aged group of friends from a small Kentucky town near the Daniel Boone National Forrest, who find themselves somehow brought to a chaotic world through magic. Their epic journey will push the Summoned beyond the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover many truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

Review

A war is being fought and the Bericea army need their champions, the prophesied Summoned Ones to enter the fray. The opening chapter introduces you to some of our heroes in this war.. as soon as I turned the page, I knew I needed more.

The Summoned Ones aren’t battle hardened warriors though.. They are a bunch of friends whisked away from their home on a magical journey to another world.

As Epic fantasy goes this ticks the boxes…book 1 is about laying the foundations and developing the characters. The author takes time to cover each main player in the book in detail, you learn their strengths in this new world.. each has their own role to play in the events that will follow. The connections.. their traits.. it all leads to the characters being very likable and interesting.

It’s rare for me to say I enjoyed every characters but I truly did.. no one seems out of place.. each has their own story being told. I loved the good guys… and I loved the bad guys.

I love a book to flow well and I’m not overly keen on long chapters.. if you are going to do long chapters you need to capture the audience which this author certainly did superbly.. it was enthralling..

There is a lot of detail in the book but nothing felt forced.. rather it is given when needed and not overdone. The detailed descriptions helped me envisage the world the author created, and I easily managed to immerse myself. I found the whole idea of how the magic was harnessed/used fascinating.

I felt the tone is set right for a young adult epic fantasy novel.. It’s clear from the start what roles the Summoned Ones play but I liked that.. I liked seeing them develop as when they arrive they just aren’t ready for the task ahead. They need to grow.

The last chapter really stood out for me.. it’s slightly darker and we learn more of Zybaro and his dark arts.. but wow! More of that please!

Overall a great start.. who doesn’t love the idea and sword fighting and magic? foundations laid perfectly for the series and I’m intrigued to read more.

4/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon. (Shop local if you can though)

My thanks go to Emma @ 𝚍𝚊𝚖𝚙𝚙𝚎𝚋𝚋𝚕𝚎𝚜.𝚌𝚘𝚖. for having me on the tour.. why not follow along?

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NOD by J.M. Stephen – Interview & Review!

So today I bring to you an interview with author J.M. Stephen along with a review for her wonderful, thought provoking book NOD!

Here’s the book blurb – 

“And Cain left the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.” – Genesis 4:16

Nod is never mentioned again in the Bible. Where was it? Where did the people of Nod come from? What became of Cain? Now we have the story of Nod, as told through the eyes of Lailah, the first person to encounter Cain outside of his family. The story of Cain and Abel is brought alive, and the aftermath examined in a way never before told. But more than that we get the story of a primitive people becoming aware of the world around them.

Please enjoy the interview below and check out my review!


 

Hi Jessica,

First of all I’d like to thank you for being a guest on my blog. I hope you are keeping well in these uncertain times.

Your latest book, NOD, was released earlier this month, would you like to tell us a little bit about the book?

NOD explores the Land of Nod, the place the Biblical Cain went after he was banished from home when he killed his brother, Abel. Cain is a character in NOD but the protagonist is a woman named Lailah, she’s a strong, independent woman who wants to explore her larger world. The novel really focuses on this primordial land, the world just after it ceased to be “formless and void” when people were still figuring out what humanity was. It is in many ways an exploration of humanity and explores how we got to this place with our social constructs, our economic systems, our prejudices but also our celebrations of life.

What made you decide to write a book on this subject?

I’m not a religious person but I was raised in a fairly religious household and I’ve met some compelling people of faith in my life and work and that helped inform how I looked at the subject of Cain and Abel as an archetype. I also just wanted to examine and explore primitive people and how they might have looked at the larger world. (Where do we come from?)and (Is there more out there?) are questions that truly fascinate me and I wanted to tell a story that explores those ideas fully. I also really fell in love with the character of Lailah once I started writing about her. She’s so independent and she’s not like the other women in Nod. She marches to her own drummer but there’s something caring about her that fascinated me.

I must admit I was very curious to read the book. I’m not religious but know of Cain and Abel and I wanted to see how you would approach the subject. Did you worry at all about writing a book based on biblical characters?

I’ve written a couple of books based on stories before and so I had an idea of how it was done. My first novel Betwixt and Between (under the pen name Jessica Stilling) is a literary retelling of Peter Pan and my second literary novel The Beekeeper’s Daughter (also under the pen name Stilling) looks at the life of the poet Sylvia Plath. But The Bible was a whole other challenge and I wanted to explore those stories while also building on them and creating a unique world and a unique take. I think storytelling in general has moved away from the idea that there is just one villain and they are the bad guy and there’s no wiggle room and so I wanted to create sympathy for Cain while also keeping Abel good. I wanted us to like Cain and understand him, but to also see what evil lurks inside of a man even when they try to do good. That was a challenge not only because of the baggage the story of Cain and Abel carries but because I did want to create a fantasy world that was also based on some reality.

As I read the book I found myself reflecting on life as we know it. Did it have the same effect on you as the writer? I mean, life would be so much easier if we just shared things and a value was not placed on items. At some point in time humans have decided to create the concept and we’ve went with it ever since.. I can’t imagine how it all started but NOD really gives you an idea..you can see the evolution of the people of NOD.

It’s funny you should ask that because there is definitely a subtle sense of anti-Capitalism in the book. I live in America and something the Coronavirus has taught many of us is that Capitalism is harming the people here. I won’t go into a long lecture on that right now, but I wrote this book many years ago, and edited it and then spent some time looking for a publisher and so it’s gone through many drafts. In all the drafts there is a sense that sharing and cooperation is better than blatant Capitalism. And the end, when Capitalism seems to have taken over, it feels like a defeat to people like Lailah, who just want the world to be good. This came from my research, older societies had more cooperation and more trade and I wanted to reflect that but then, I wanted to show how this turned to something that looks more like Capitalism. But when I got the final edits for the book we were deep into the Coronavirus scare and I decided that I needed to push the cooperation vs. Capitalism angle a little harder because I was seeing what it was doing to so many people in the US.

I’m always keen to know where an author draws inspiration from. Has there been anyone out there that really inspired you or is it just something you have a passion for?

 

I definitely feel like it’s a little of both. I have wanted to be a writer since the third grade when I wrote a short story about a horse for class and everyone really liked it. That story came out of nowhere and since then, I’ve loved stories and I’ve loved telling them. There have been people who have helped me along the way. My parents were always very supportive, some of my professors in my MFA program, especially Linsey Abrams and Felicia Bonaparte. Virginia Woolf is my favorite author. I just love her work and her life story.

What’s currently on your own bookshelf?

I own many books. I have about seven overfilled bookshelves in my New York City apartment and I know I need one, maybe two, more. My to-be-read pile for the summer consists of Morton Cohen’s Lewis Carroll biography, The Bone People, Susan Minot’s Evening, Hermoine Lee’s Virginia Woolf biography (I have read about seven Woolf biographies, but last year I went to a lecture Hermoine Lee was giving on Woolf and got her book as well) and Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. I’ve read it many times before but I also love getting inside Woolf’s head.

What would you say to convince readers to give your book a go?

The novel is simple but it will make you think deeply. The characters are real and compelling in their realness but they are also consciously and unconsciously a part of something bigger and their search for more drives them. NOD explores what it means to be human and what it means to be living alongside those who are more than human.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently working on a dystopian sci-fi novel set in the future, maybe about 150 years from now. It explores issues of climate change, the theme of human thought and human consciousness (and just what it is and how it drives our human understanding)…and there are aliens. I’m also working on a literary novel called Between Before and After that examines themes of nostalgia and the relationship between a mother and son. The second novel in my YA series The Chronicles of Pan (Book I is called Into the Fairy Forest), which is also published under the pen name JM Stephen, will be coming out later this year as well.


 

Let’s get to the nitty gritty!!!

Review –

This a story based around the biblical characters Cain and Abel along with the people NOD.

I’m certainly not religious and I’m going to state straightaway that the book really didn’t seem to be aimed to solely those who hold a religious belief.. more it just felt like a tale of a primitive group of people learning their way in life.

The story shows the people of NOD grow.. and struggle as they emerge. At first value has no meaning but as they progress you see them change.. most are happy to see things progress.. others not so.

Lailah was a joy to read. She always seems to see what others could not. She could see the good in advancements but could also see the negative effects it had on her people.

Cain and Abel, brothers.. they very much want similar things but their differences mean they come to blows with an ugly end. It’s a catalyst for the people of NOD and paves the way for new rules.. laws.. changes that again are both good and bad depending how you look at it.

Being based around religious characters I did wonder how the writer would tackle the subject, but they did a fantastic job of not alienating any reader. We hear of Adam and Eve… I felt it was written in such a way the reader can take from it whatever fits their own ideals. Cain shows up and has an almost magical effect on the people of NOD but wouldn’t that naturally happen if someone turned up with new ideas.. at one point in time fire was created for the first time.. that must have seemed otherworldly to those around at the time regardless of how Cain came to be..it must have been a wonderful time but also very scary.

After reading this book the thing that struck me the most is how it really made me feel..it had parallels with today.. there’s those who wish to take advantage..those who always want more..when life would be so much simpler if we could just share and help each other..but it just wouldn’t be possible.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like to live at a time when things were unknown..and then suddenly commonplace.. the first time a shoe was made… the first time a shelter was built that protected from the wind and rain fully.. just even a time before toilets and baths..we take so much for granted but we’ve come so far… yet….

I can’t give any less than 5*, if you can take this subject on and make me love it you’ve earned it.

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon or D. X. Varos

Betray Them All (Detective Solomon Gray #7) by Keith Nixon – Review

Today I’m reviewing Betray Them All (Detective Solomon Gray #7) by Keith Nixon

Here is the blurb –

Genre – Police Procedural Thriller

It’s 3am on a wet, dreary morning in the south of England. Detective Inspector Solomon Gray raids an ordinary-looking house, but inside he finds the exception: an illegal cannabis farm run by a sixteen-year-old held against his will.

Within minutes Gray rushes to another nearby incident. A homeowner has stabbed and seriously wounded a burglar. Semi-retired Charles Sowerby, claims self-defence against the intruder – a traveller by the name of Aidan Jupp, a man with a violent history of targeting society’s most vulnerable.

The stabbing heightens local tensions, inflamed by far-right anti-immigrant activists and the Press. Jupp’s family swear revenge on Sowerby. Then Gray discovers Jupp wasn’t acting alone, so who’s his partner?

Somehow the cannabis farm and the stabbing are connected. Can Gray figure everything out before local tensions boil over?

Set in the once-grand town of Margate, the now-broken and depressed seaside resort becomes its own character in this dark detective thriller, perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, and Peter James. Betray Them All is the seventh book in this best-selling series featuring Detective Inspector Solomon Gray.

Review

We are back with our favourite detective Solomon Gray, or Sol to those who know him well.

From the outset things look juicy. There’s a raid on a house, a cannabis farm is located but the boy found there is unwilling to talk.

There’s no time for Gray to do much more as he is called away to a burglary gone wrong. It seems clear cut at first. Intruder gets what’s coming to him as the homeowner defends himself, there are just a couple facts that don’t add up.

Tensions rise quickly. The burglar is part of a group of travellers. The locals do not like them and it’s only a matter of time before things come to a head and someone else gets hurt.

This is an extreme headache for Sol as there is little he can do, although he does manage to form an agreement of sorts with the travellers. They seem to like his style and approach to things, and they trust him though there is only so much they can control too. Sol must work fast.

As the blurb for the book suggests the cases are linked and I won’t spoil how but as always, the author manages to weave a wonderful complex tale. Nixon really is adept at this kind of story, effortlessly putting you there with Sol. Things click into place and there is that magical moment when all becomes clear.

As a fan of series it was great to see a recurring character pop up and for us to learn of his part in recent events. Again I cannot spoil it, but this ongoing situation of Sol’s is brilliant, and I do wonder how long it will be before Sol takes a fall.

Sol has the added stress of a baby on the way, it wasn’t planned and it’s even more complicated since she is a colleague, and no one knows about them. It’s this personal stress that really makes the character likeable. We all go through difficult events we would rather not, but to give him that human side enamours you to him.

As important as character development and plot are, I also have high demands when it comes to writing style, how the tale is paced, how language is used. Nixon just knows exactly what I need as a reader. The flow is perfect, chapter length spot on allowing you to really enjoy the tale. The only downside is I now must wait for the next book to be released!

Nixon is a master of the police procedural thriller and I eagerly await more 😊

5/5 Stars!

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.