Tag Archives: S.J.A. Turney

Eagles of Dacia (Praetorian #3) by S.J.A. Turney – Review

Title – Eagles of Dacia (Praetorian #3)
Author – S.J.A. Turney
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 412 Pages
Publication – 16th November 2017
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

At the mercy of the scheming Imperial Chamberlain, Cleander, Rufinus is dispatched to Dacia, a land of untamed beauty at the edge of the Roman world, with orders to investigate the two legionary commanders there for signs of treason.

Uncertain what to expect from his mission, the two generals, or the land itself, Rufinus travels east with Senova and his faithful hound, Acheron. But machinations and skullduggery are afoot in Dacia, and the young praetorian is walking into the heart of empire-changing events.

As the generals Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger work to put the province right following recent invasions and revolts, Rufinus begins his investigation, suffering insubordinate soldiers, unseen attackers and dangerous locals.

At the edge of the world, Rufinus is about to stumble across a web that will put him in direct danger and threaten the empire to its core.

Welcome to Dacia.

Review

It’s a welcome return to the world of Rufinus. He’s had quite a wild ride hasn’t he so far. Well the great game continues and Rufinus is in for the toughest trial yet.

Cleander is powerful man and Rufinus just so happened to get on his bad side.. because of this he’s charges with a mission..the mission is basically just a way to keep Rufinus as far away from Rome as possible.

One lucky thing for our hero is he’s sent away with Senova his lover and Acheron his ever faithful hound. I still love Acheron..I always get excited when I see the name pop up as those scenes are the highlights of the story for me. Acheron steals the limelight at every turn.

Senova develops well in the book.. even Rufinus see changes in her and not all of them he likes. Being a freed slave there’s a stigma attached and Rufinus tries to shield her from this as much as he can but Senova only see’s this as Rufinus being embarrassed about her past.

Cleander sends Rufinus to Darcia to test the loyalties of the border legions and what is uncovered could blow the empire apart.

Enemies are everywhere and Rufinus finds himself stuck. Never quite sure who to trust and If you’ve read any of the authors work before you’ll already know Rufinus won’t get out of this without at least a few scars.

Along the way Senova is given a slave boy Luca who becomes much more to her than that and he was a great addition to the tale although it just gives Rufinus one more thing to worry about.

It’s difficult to put into word the epic life or death struggle Rufinus finds himself in as it would give too much away but some things I really enjoyed about the plot were the never-ending twists..nothing is ever simple and you really do get sucked in wondering if Rufinus will ever be able to get out of this with his head intact.

The Praetorian series is a brilliant adventure, each book links so well with the last but at the same time is completely new and fresh..it grows each time into a bigger adventure and I’m excited for more.

Overall I love the series, the plots are interesting and gripping. The writing flows well with a decent amount of time given to descriptive elements without it becoming boring or repetitive. The characters grow each time and I feel we see real changes in them as they develop as you would growing up naturally.

A great little series to get stuck into.

To find out more head to Goodreads or Amazon.

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Looking for a good book this weekend?

Once in a while I like to promo some books/offers that are just too good to pass up.

Well today I’ve seen three books at bargain prices that I’d like you to know about.

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The first book is a short story by Pam Lecky called In Three-Quarter Time. It’s only 22 pages so perfect for a quick read. I’ve not read it yet but will be doing so myself this weekend and will be reviewing shortly so I’d love to see what you make of it.

The blurb –

A WW1 Era Love Story

Dublin 1914 and war is declared. Each of the Cusack family must face the consequences in their own way. Josie and her young man, Anthony Lanigan, have plans for the future. But her sister Lily is also secretly in love with Anthony and has no idea if her feelings are returned.

Anthony is about to emigrate to America to make his fortune. Will he ever return, and if he does, who will eventually win his heart?

Set against a pivotal time in Irish history, from the Dublin Lockout in 1913 through the First World War to the brink of the birth of the Irish Nation, this story will take you through a family’s experience of war and tragedy, loss and love.

I’ve read Pam’s previous work The Bowes Inheritance and absolutely loved it so I’m certain I’ll enjoy this short tale too.

In Three-Quarter Time is currently FREE! so you’ve got nothing to lose. Click the image above to head to Amazon.


The next book you should all be downloading is The Serpent Sword by Matthew Harffy. You can check my review of the book here.

The Blurb –

Beobrand is compelled by his brother’s almost-certain murder to embark on a quest for revenge in the war-ravaged kingdoms of Northumbria. The land is rife with danger, as warlords vie for supremacy and dominion. In the battles for control of the region, new oaths are made and broken, and loyalties are tested to the limits.

As he closes in on his kin’s slayer, can Beobrand mete out the vengeance he craves without sacrificing his honour… or even his soul?

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Matthew has become one of my favourite authors and at 99p this is a steal! Click the image above to head to Amazon.


Last but by no means least is The Price of Treason book 2 in the Praetorian series by S.J.A Turney. You can read my review here

The blurb –

Two years have passed since the emperor’s loyal Praetorian guardsman Gnaeus Marcius Rustius Rufinus foiled Lucilla’s great assassination plot. Plagued by the ghosts of his past, Rufinus has enacted his own form of justice upon the praetorian cavalrymen who murdered the imperial agent Dis two years earlier.

But the Fates will not let Rufinus rest. Rome is beginning to seethe with rumour and conspiracy as Perennis, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and Cleander, the imperial chamberlain, continue to play their ‘great game.’ With the tide of opinion turning against their commander, Rufinus and his friends embark upon a mission to save the Prefect’s family, only to uncover a plot that runs deep… to the very heart of the empire. Armed with rare and dangerous evidence, Rufinus faces insurmountable odds in an attempt to bring the truth to light. To save his prefect. To save Rome. To save everyone he cares about.

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I’ve loved every book I’ve read from this author but boy has he wrote a lot ha ha. If I want a book to read I’m guaranteed to enjoy Turney is the man! At 99p it’s a bargain! Click the picture above to head to Amazon.


 

Please let me know what you think of the books if you’ve already read them. It’s always fun to read others views on books I’ve read.

Have good weekend everyone!

BLOG TOUR – Insurgency by S.J.A Turney

Ok so today i’m taking part in the blog tour for SJA Turney’s new book Insurgency. I’m going to be reviewing this book in the near future and i can’t wait to read it… if you’ve read my reviews you’ll know i love his work!

For more info on Insurgency head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazom.com

As part of the tour Simon has very kindly wrote a piece on his top emperors throughout history and it’s a very interesting read. Take a look


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Top 10 Emperors by S.J.A. Turney

In honour of my new release Insurgency – a tale of an emperor and his family at a moment when their world crumbles under external pressure, I thought it might be nice to do a run-down of my top ten emperors. And to keep it simple, I’m going to limit it to Rome and Byzantium, not including people like Ming the Merciless or Napoleon. But when I thought about it, I figured: is this top ten good emperors, top ten most interesting, or top ten bad ones? So let’s make it interesting. These are my top ten most interesting emperors, whether they be good or bad, and in no particular order:

  1. Julian the Apostate (355-363)

I’ve often thought about writing a novel about Julian. Constantine is famed for making Christianity the state religion of Rome, and following on from him his menagerie of sons saw no reason to buck the trend, keeping tight with the Christian faith. Julian saw Christianity as endemic of the decline and corruption of the empire and attempted to reinstate pagan worship. But for all the power and importance of that decision, which makes him the last ever pagan emperor of Rome, Julian was much more. He was an excellent administrator, a strong general, a philosopher and writer of philosophical treatises, a social reformer who temporarily slowed the decay of the state, a philanthropist and, very possibly, a vegetarian. Julian is one of history’s great ‘what if’s’. Had he not died of a wound only 8 years into his reign, what might have happened?

  1. Elagabalus (218-222)

 

Elagabalus is very much the fruitcake’s fruitcake. As far as weirdos go, they don’t come much stranger. A member of the Severan dynasty, Elagabalus was a fifteen year old priest of the sun god in Syria when he became emperor.  He brought a lump of sacred black stone to Rome from Emesa, making his Sun god the chief god of Rome to the consternation of the Roman elite. He built a new temple on the Palatine to Sol Invictus, married a Vestal priestess, breaking all Roman law, and his reign was characterised by nepotism, matriarchal control and wild sexual excess. He reputedly liked the company of men in the most bizarre ways, pretending to be a woman in Rome’s brothels where he would solicit himself to other men. A curious and colourful individual, Elagabalus did not last long before the weight of senatorial disapproval brought an end to him. To some extent he might be remembered for introducing Sol Invictus to Rome, a god who would become a soldier’s favourite alongside Mithras, but I doubt that is what he will ever be most remembered for.

 

  1. Justinian (527-565)

 

I could include Justinian for the Haghia Sophia alone, but he was so much more. By far the most influential and interesting of the Byzantine emperors, Justinian set down a series of codes that still influence laws to the modern day, fought to reunite the empire, attempting to return Italy to the fold under his general Belisarius, lived through the Nike Riots – the worst riots in Roman history – reinstating order through force backed by the strength and influence of his wife Theodora, and built some of the greatest structures in Roman/Byzantine history, many of which are still extant today. Justinian represents for me the high point of the later Roman world. Examine the great buildings of Istanbul and check how many of them are linked with this man.

 

  1. Caligula (37-41)

 

Oh he’s the most despised of all emperors, isn’t he? But who’s the real Caligula? You see, I’ve recently written a work on this fascinating man and, while he was clearly acerbic and quick to anger with a somewhat odd, hit-and-miss sense of humour, there is some argument that the great stories told of his madness were largely the invention of his enemies after his death. But whether he intended to make his horse a consul or was merely joking that doing so would make better consuls than the extant aristocrats of Rome, it’s still a great story. Whether he punished his rebellious legions by making them carry chests of seashells back from the English Channel, or whether he really considered them the spoils of war, it’s a colourful moment in history, and his reign is peppered with them. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the powerful appeal of this character.

 

  1. Probus (276-282)

 

One of Rome’s unsung heroes, in my opinion. One of the hard ‘soldier emperors’ from the Balkans, Probus came to power in a time of wars and troubles and tough leaders. He was a strong general himself, spending much of his reign fighting wars both external and internal, and yet found time to finish Rome’s great circuit of walls, build numerous projects in Egypt, drain dangerous marshes on the Danube and the Nile, and restored much that had been damaged by decades of war. But here’s his real value: in order to rebuild the economy of Gaul, Probus developed viticulture in Gaul, using military labour. In essence, it might be said that Probus was the father of French wine. How’s that for a legacy?

 

  1. Trajan (98-117)

 

Everyone knows Trajan, right? The first non-Italian emperor. From the city of Italica in southern Spain and with one of the most memorable faces in Roman sculpture, Trajan holds a number of reasons to be on this list. A conqueror, he added Romania and Arabia to the empire, bringing it to the greatest extent it would ever have and overcoming two ancient enemies of Rome. He is the second of Rome’s ‘Five good emperors’. An able commander, he was also an excellent administrator, as is recorded by a set of letters exchanged between him and Pliny while the latter was a governor in Asia Minor. But if Trajan will be remembered for anything throughout eternity, it will be his building projects. In Rome alone he left the great markets, column, baths, forum and aqueduct. In Ostia he created the new great port. With his architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, he truly changed the face of the empire.

 

  1. Diocletian (284-305)

 

Diocletian is hard to work out. Was he a visionary or deluded? Was he an agent of change or a tyrant? Whatever he was, he changed Rome’s ruling system forever. Before him there had been a chaos of succession, often by murder or usurpation. Diocletian instituted the Tetrarchy, but which the empire would be split between east and west, each ruled by a senior Augustus and a junior Caesar. It didn’t last long, or course, and after him Constantine once more unified the empire, but the division created by Diocletian had long-reaching effects and he is the progenitor of the Byzantine empire every bit as much as Constantine. Moreover, his edict of Maximum Prices was perhaps visionary, and certainly is one of the most important administrative documents to survive from the ancient world. He left us the wonderful Baths of Diocletian in Rome (even if he had very little to do with it in reality) and he left the amazing Palace still visible in Split, Croatia. And perhaps the most fascinating thing? He is the first emperor to retire from the post, retreating to Split to grow cabbages.

 

  1. Maxentius (306-312)

 

Again, like Caligula, a man about whom I have written (an as-yet unreleased joint work with Gordon Doherty), and like Caligula a man maligned by history who can easily be viewed in a much more positive light. A man groomed for the throne and yet who still had to seize it, albeit possibly unwillingly. A man beset by tragedy, who lost his son in the Tiber, who lived a life married to the daughter of his enemy, who held Rome in a world where every other powerful man was his enemy and coveted his lands. And yet Maxentius held no persecutions of the Christians, held out against incredible odds until Constantine’s army were at his very gates, and who left us basilicas, baths, villas, circuses and more. I have a soft spot for this quiet, overlooked emperor. Watch out for our book. I think you’ll like him too.

 

  1. Philip the Arab (244-249)

 

Constantine is often hailed as the first Christian emperor, though he was baptised only on his death bed. Half a century earlier, this conservative, careful man may well have been the first Christian emperor, though that fact is highly debatable. During the height of the 3rd century crisis, when emperors came and went like the sunrise and sunset, Philip managed 5 good years and was lenient on the Christians of the empire. He made peace with Persia in the east and, unpopular though that was, that allowed him the leisure to fight wars at the Danube. In his reign he celebrated Rome’s 1000th birthday with great pomp and splendour.  A short-lived man, but an enigma, as far as I’m concerned.

 

  1. Andronikos Komnenos I (1183-1185)

 

One of the later Byzantine emperors of the Komnenian dynasty, Andronikos had a very colourful early life, debauching and warring, spending time as a prisoner of the Turk, attempting a coup against his cousin the emperor, and in exile at Antioch. As emperor he instituted tough, even brutal laws and measures to curb corruption among the nobles, relieving the empire’s lower ranks. For his harsh (if effective) rule, he received one of the most memorable deaths of all the emperors, losing a hand, an eye, his hair, his teeth, covered with boiling water, stabbed repeatedly and finally torn apart.

 

Insurgency is published by Canelo, priced at £3.99 as an ebook.

For more info on Insurgency head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazom.com

Crocodile Legion: A Roman Adventure by S.J.A. Turney – Review

Title – Crocodile Legion: A Roman Adventure
Author – S.J.A. Turney (Author), Dave Slaney (Illustrator)
Genre –  Historical Fiction/Young Adult
Length –   133 Pages
Publication – March 2016
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis 

The prefect of Egypt needs money. And the men of the 22nd Legion must brave mazes and tombs and curses and crocodile gods to get to it.

Marcus and Callie, orphaned in ancient Alexandria and taken in by their uncle, the standard bearer in the legion, are about to travel up the great river Nile with the legionaries in a tense and funny adventure to grab the gold of the Pharaoh Amenemhat.

Join the legion and discover ancient Roman Egypt.

Review

S.J.A Turney is well known to me as a historical fiction writer. After reviewing some of his previous books I couldn’t wait to see how he would write a story aimed at a younger audience.

I couldn’t help but enjoy this tale, it had the historical edge Simon is known for but with the added fun that comes from being written for a young adult.

This story was enjoyable from the start; the young kids give a fun feel to the story as we see it through their eyes rather than the adults.

The storyline itself was great, I won’t spoil it but there’s a brilliant twist that I didn’t see coming

I know myself growing up when I struggled to read, because of my eyesight and through my own laziness that I found pages full of words a bit daunting.. My only comment I would make is that maybe I would have broken down the chapters into smaller chucks within the chapter so when you flick through there are plenty of places to pause..That’s just my preference though.. I can honestly say I loved the book.

The story was well written, everything made sense and I wasn’t left with any burning questions.. Exactly what I want from a book like this.

Added to Turney’s wonderful story telling we have the added Illustrations from Dave Slaney which brought a smile to my face whenever they popped up. More of these please.. they were brilliant!

One of the best things about the book is simply Turney’s writing. He’s managed to write a brilliantly fun story without removing what I know him best for, the descriptive details, the character development.. It’s all still there.. it’s an adult story but just told in a different manner..

Add this one to your TBR piles!

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Tales of Ancient Rome by S.J.A. Turney – Review

Title – Tales of Ancient Rome
Author – S.J.A. Turney
Genre –  Historical Fiction/Short Stories
Length –  99 Pages
Publication –  Nov 2011
My Rating –  5/5 Stars

Synopsis

A collection of bite-size stories of varying styles all based in the world of ancient Rome. 12 tales of the ancient world, plus a bonus tale to finish.

The second edition contains two new tales not told in the 1st. Laugh, cry and shudder at:

Hold The Wall – Hadrian’s wall in the last days of the western empire
Vigil – A comedic tale of firefighting in Rome
*NEW* Rudis – A champion gladiator fights his last fight
*NEW* The Discovery – A Roman trader makes a surprising find in distant China
The man who bought an Empire – The lowest point of Imperial succession
Trackside seats – A slave helps his blind master at the circus
How to run a latifundium – A cautionary tale of estate management
A Reading – What does the future hold in Judea?
Exploratores – Trajan’s scouts on the trail of Dacian warriors
With a pinch of salt – A comedic tale of food in Claudius’ Rome
The Palmyrene Prince – Rome’s eastern border tells grim tales
Temple Trouble – A tale of the early days of Fronto (of the Marius’ Mules series)
Bonus tale: Aftermath in the Ludus – A fun finish.

Review

Yes I’m late to the party on this one I know…

As a reader I promise myself to go back and read all the books an author has wrote if I enjoy their work. It’s not always easy to fit all these wonderful tales in though..This however was perfect. I’ve been meaning to read more of Simon’s work and this was a easy read to stick in between other reads

It’s a collect of short stories which show off the author’s skills. It’s perfect if like me you want a quick read or this would also suit anyone as a great introduction to the author if you’ve not read his work previously

Some short stories leave me deflated, not bored but sort of wondering what I got out of reading them.. not this one. On numerous occasions I found myself grinning, especially when I read the sentence “oh dear, I think I shat myself” . This really was a selection of well written shorts which at times were very humorous which I think is a hard thing to do in such short tales.

My favourites were Temple Trouble & The Discovery

The book is currently free so why not grab a copy like I did.. you’ve got nothing to lose but lots to gain 🙂

To find out more head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Praetorian: The Price of Treason by S.J.A Turney – Review

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Title – Praetorian: The Price of Treason
Author – S.J.A. Turney
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 342 Pages
Publication – 17th December 2015
My Rating – 4/5 Stars

Synopsis

Two years have passed since the emperor’s loyal Praetorian guardsman Gnaeus Marcius Rustius Rufinus foiled Lucilla’s great assassination plot. Plagued by the ghosts of his past, Rufinus has enacted his own form of justice upon the praetorian cavalrymen who murdered the imperial agent Dis two years earlier.

But the Fates will not let Rufinus rest. Rome is beginning to seethe with rumour and conspiracy as Perennis, the prefect of the Praetorian Guard, and Cleander, the imperial chamberlain, continue to play their ‘great game.’ With the tide of opinion turning against their commander, Rufinus and his friends embark upon a mission to save the Prefect’s family, only to uncover a plot that runs deep… to the very heart of the empire. Armed with rare and dangerous evidence, Rufinus faces insurmountable odds in an attempt to bring the truth to light. To save his prefect. To save Rome. To save everyone he cares about.

Review

So we are back with Rufinus.. I’ve been looking forward to this day since I finished the first book and I wasn’t disappointed. Speaking of which click here to read my review of Praetorian – The Great Game

It’s been two years since Rufinus spoilt plans to usurp the emperor and it’s clearly been a hard two years as we see our hero has fallen from grace a little. Rufinus has one thing on his mind.. Revenge…

The book starts strongly with Rufinus out to get one of the cavalrymen who killed the frumentarius Dis in the previous book. The need for vengeance is strong and I can see this becoming a theme throughout the series.. and I like it.

The main focus of this tale though is based on Perennis and Cleander, I won’t spoil what turns out to be a fascinating read but lines are drawn, trust tested to the limits and not everyone will make it out alive that’s for sure.

So you want to know some good things about the book. Firstly Acheron is back.. I love that hound 🙂

We also see a lot of faces from the previous tale turn again which gave a greater depth to the tale, friendships have clearly grown in the two years.. some more than others. It was great to see the return of such characters as Peteos (the young boy who helped Rufinus in the first book)

We also see new characters introduced like Publis who I initially didn’t like but turned out to be the shining star in the book along with Cestius.. a new frumentarius for us to enjoy.

These new and old characters along with the well-researched and interesting plot lead to what I can only say is one hell of a sequel!
Throughout the story it felt I was reading a similar tale as the first book. Not that anything is the same, more that the undertone of urgency is always there. The book builds up until this final explosion of action. Superb!

So you want to know where the 4* rating comes from.. well one person in this book gets overlooked I felt.. Senova the love interest of Rufinus. It’s been two years and he’s hardly spoke to her. After the first book I just expected her to have a bigger part but if you read the story you can see why she doesn’t get much page time.. she just doesn’t fit in with the action. On a good note the ending of the book leaves me in no doubt she will return in book 3 and hopefully we will see more happen between the two of them.

Another excellent book from S.J.A. Turney!

The book is due for release on the 17th December! Go on Pre-order your copy now! – Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com 

A Year of Ravens: a novel of Boudica’s Rebellion – Review

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Title – A Year of Ravens: a novel of Boudica’s Rebellion
Authors – E. Knight, Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, Russell Whitfield, SJA Turney , Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, Ben Kane (Foreword)
Genre – Historical Fiction
Length – 483 Pages
Publication – 17th Nov 2015
My Rating – 5/5 Stars

Synopsis

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Briton . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen foresees the fires of rebellion in a king’s death. 

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war. 

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter. 

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people. 

A conflicted young warrior finds himself torn between loyalties to tribe and to Rome. 

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions. 

A pair of fiery princesses fight to salvage the pieces of their mother’s dream as the ravens circle. 

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Britons who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

Review

I was very lucky to receive an ARC of this book for review purposes.

This book follows the tale of Boudica and her rebellion against Rome and is split into 7 parts which are told by a different authors.

Each story is full of action and crammed full of emotion which you want but the best thing for me was that every story was told from a different characters perspective.

This is the first book I’ve read with this style of storytelling and I loved it, it’s what made it so enjoyable to read.

The way in which the tales are told add to the growth of the characters as throughout the book you see them through someone else’s eyes and I found myself liking people I originally didn’t.

There are some complex characters and relationships in this book and I particularly loved Sorcha & Andecarus. Each of these stood out for me. I also loved anything involving Duro.

In conclusion I felt everything worked well with this book, it was full of action, fast paced and a joy to read. I also felt having so many authors involved and the writing style of the book brought something to my eyes which was unique. I can see my book pile is going to grow after being introduced to some authors I’d previously not heard of.

It’s also made me want to look into some more stories about Boudica, she seems a very strong and complex character who I’ve not read much about. The one thing that really makes a good book for me is when the author leaves a spark with you.. leaves you wanting to find out more.. to read more. This book has certainly done that.

I feel quite privileged to have had the chance to read/review this before its release. This is a must read for anyone who enjoys the genre.

To find out more information head to Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com. Pre-order is available now!