blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Pretty Deadly – Kelsey Josund

Cinna would quite literally kill for the throne.

She’s spent years forced to serve her wealthy cousins rather than attend society events alongside them, waiting for the chance to prove herself and exact revenge. When a ball is announced at the castle, promising to bring many powerful people to town, she seizes the opportunity to strike.

She bets her best friend, a small-time thief and con-man, that she can land a greater score the night of the ball than he can. They embark on parallel heists. But as their plots unfold, things begin to unravel: by the end of the night, the castle’s on lock down, a duchess is dead, a mansion has burnt to the ground, and Cinna hasn’t stolen anything. Or has she stolen something more valuable than gold and jewels?

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Win a signed copy of Pretty Deadly & a signed copy of Platformed

Excerpt
How interesting, Cinna thought. She had spent so many hours bent over a stove in the kitchen or crouched before the hearth, stoking flames carefully that refused to light. But she had prepared: this house was waiting tinder, ready to be consumed.
She couldn’t hear the screams over the roar of the flames, but surely they were there. Strangely, she didn’t feel cheated to have not heard their voices. It was fine that they died in silence.
It did not take long for the neighbors to begin streaming out of their own houses, and she did hear their screams. They swarmed around the flames, politely mute once they realized they could not do anything, full of awe before the enormity of the fire. Cinna blended into the crowd, nearly invisible in her costume.
At last, just as she had always pledged she would, she watched the house fall in on itself.

I am a software engineer and author living and working in Silicon Valley, California. I studied computer science at Stanford University, but I’ve always loved stories in all their forms. I approach writing fiction the same way I approach writing code: I like to know where it’s going, but I want to figure out the details as I go along. Good software is a lot like a good story, full of neat and clever solutions to tricky problems, beautiful at a granular level but also from a distance.

Originally from Seattle, I love getting outdoors and living in places that allow me to escape to the mountains on the weekends, and I care deeply about the ecosystems that humans impact and that impact us. My writing explores these issues while also following classic coming-of-age arcs in science fiction and fantasy. I’m also very interested in stories and characters that complicate the traditional and familiar, leading me to fairytale retellings from unexpected angles. Kelsey Josund | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

My thoughts: this was really good, Cinderella but if she was the villain. A really clever, interesting take on the fairytale with strong characterisation, a deeply dislikeable protagonist, a plot that keeps you guessing at her schemes, and a heck of an ending. What might happen next?

Cinna is working as a servant for her mean cousins, and committing crimes on the side. She bets her friend Johann that she can get away with the biggest heist at the Royal ball, he thinks “game on” but her plots are deadlier and darker than mere theft. Unwitting Johann is a pawn in her evil scheme. As is pretty much everyone else. I enjoyed this so much, I love a fairy tale retelling (I know a ridiculous amount about them thanks to my dissertation) and this was such a joy, a dark, twisted pleasure.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Birth of the Fae – Danielle M. Orsino*

Ride on the backs of fire breathing dragons with the Dark Fae and watch the Light Fae play in the shadows of primitive humanity as they build their magical world. Abandoned by their creator, two factions of powerful angels remain on earth after the Great War with Lucifer. They struggle to comprehend their Creator’s plan while their angel wings, a symbol of their angelic lineage, slowly and painfully decay.

With no hope of returning to the Shining Kingdom, two groups of angels denounce their angelic lineage and develop into separate factions – the Court of Light, led by Queen Aurora, a former Virtue Angel, and the Court of Dark, ruled by King Jarvok, a former Power Brigade Angel. The two monarchs have opposing views on how to govern their kin, but the one belief they agree on is that human worship equals power.

Abandoned by their creator, two factions of powerful angels remain on earth after the Great War with Lucifer. They struggle to comprehend their Creator’s plan while their angel wings, a symbol of their angelic lineage, slowly and painfully decay.

With no hope of returning to the Shining Kingdom, two groups of angels denounce their angelic lineage and develop into separate factions – the Court of Light, led by Queen Aurora, a former Virtue Angel, and the Court of Dark, ruled by King Jarvok, a former Power Brigade Angel. The two monarchs have opposing views on how to govern their kin, but the one belief they agree on is that human worship equals power.

Birth of the Fae: Locked Out of Heaven is an epic fantasy adventure of heartbreak, rebirth, and hope that examines the bonds of family, friendship, and love. It is a fantastic tale of good vs evil in a beautiful world, where the Light Fae and their potent elemental magick are tested by the raw power of the dragon riding Dark Fae warriors.

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Danielle M Orsino, destined to be a writer from a young age, was working as a nurse and treating a patient who needed some distractions during long I.V. Treatment sessions. So, Orsino reached back to a forgotten skill, a childhood dream. Danielle had wanted to be a writer and so she decided to tell a story. Little did she know the seed would grow into a fantastically epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and rebirth — Birth of Fae: Locked Out of Heaven. Drawing from her passion for comic books, Cosplay and fantasy along with her expert martial arts expertise, Orsino brings forth an electric and hopeful debut.

Danielle had wanted to be a writer and so she decided to tell a story. Little did she know the seed would grow into a fantastically epic adventure of heartbreak, hope and rebirth — Birth of Fae: Locked Out of Heaven. Drawing from her passion for comic books, Cosplay and fantasy along with her expert martial arts expertise, Orsino brings forth an electric and hopeful debut.

Danielle is taking on her biggest challenge to date: taking the story born from the long treatment sessions with a patient into a fantasy book series – Birth of the Fae: Locked out of Heaven. Expanding her love of writing, comics and exploring the world of fantasy novels, she delves into the realm of fairies and retells their origins from a completely new perspective. Orsino has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise science and is an LPN with a special interest in Lyme disease research.

Orsino has been widely recognized from her influence and experience in martial arts realm, training for over 20 years and with over 500 tournament wins, and accumulating national and world titles. She has performed for former President of the United States Bill Clinton and has been featured on “Soap Talk, Fox Five news CBS, TLC and E! With this experience, she worked as a Fight Choreographer on ”Wonder Woman: Balance of Power” and has worked with the likes of martial arts legend Vincent Lyn and WWE marvel and action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Nothing Danielle ever does is simple, look at what NY times Bestselling author Clete Barrett Smith has to say about her debut endeavor: “After summoning this world into existence through an imaginative force of will, Danielle has scoured every inch of the landscape several times over. Critics often praise a story’s world building by saying that it feels “lived in.” Well, the world of the Fae certainly seems like that because Danielle herself has happily lived there for years as she worked to put all of this together…

My favorite part of this story is that it is gloriously depicted in vibrant images.

Expanding her love of writing, comics and exploring the world of fantasy novels, she delves into the realm of fairies and retells their origins from a completely new perspective. Orsino has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise science and is an LPN with a special interest in Lyme disease research.

Orsino has been widely recognized from her influence and experience in martial arts realm, training for over 20 years and with over 500 tournament wins, and accumulating national and world titles. She has performed for former President of the United States Bill Clinton and has been featured on “Soap Talk, Fox Five news CBS, TLC and E! With this experience, she worked as a Fight Choreographer on ”Wonder Woman: Balance of Power” and has worked with the likes of martial arts legend Vincent Lyn and WWE marvel and action star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Nothing Danielle ever does is simple, look at what NY times Bestselling author Clete Barrett Smith has to say about her debut endeavor: “After summoning this world into existence through an imaginative force of will, Danielle has scoured every inch of the landscape several times over. Critics often praise a story’s world building by saying that it feels “lived in.” Well, the world of the Fae certainly seems like that because Danielle herself has happily lived there for years as she worked to put all of this together…

My favorite part of this story is that it is gloriously depicted in vibrant images.

The Birth of the Fae

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Giveaway:

1st place 1 book (autographed) 1 map of the veil and 1 10 Amazon e card and one birth of the Fae candle

2nd place 1 autographed book and candle

3rd place 1 autographed book.

My thoughts:

This is a beautiful, lyrical tale of how the fae evolve from angels banished from Heaven following Lucifer’s fall and war with God.

The Court of Light is led by a former Virtue, and the Court of Dark by a warrior angel. Both wrestle with anger towards their Creator for abandoning them but channel their emotions in different directions.

Aurora creates a protected realm of beauty and goodness whereas her dark opposition trains his followers as fighters and wrecks chaos on humanity. He challenges the Light Court to war, refusing to allow them to co-exist.

Creative and mythical this is a delightful start to a new series of stories about the fae.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

Book Tour Schedule

November 30th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt)

I Love Books & Stuff (Excerpt)

Quirky Cat’s Fat Stacks (Review)

@Better_Off_Read (Review)

@bookmarkedwithchris (Review)

Josh Whitworth (Review)

December 1st

Breakeven Books (Excerpt)

@a.p.reading (Review)

@love2dazzle (Review)

Rambling Mads (Review)

Sophril Reads (Review)

December 2nd

@pillowreader (Review)

Ity Reads Books (Review)

@my_fantasy_bookshelf (Review)

@DreaminginPages (Review)

@myyorkshirelitmosphere (Review)

Ma Book Yard (Review)

December 3rd

Dark Whimsical Art (Excerpt)

MyBookishLifeTime (Review)

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review)

Jessica Belmont (Review)

@thecrookedhouse (Review)

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Orfeia – Joanne M. Harris, illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins*

The stunning new novella from No 1 bestselling author Joanne Harris: Orfeia is a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins.

When you can find me an acre of land,

Every sage grows merry in time,

Between the ocean and the sand

Then will you be united again.

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or her freedom itself . . .

Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French writer, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories.

Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy.

In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. CHOCOLAT has sold over a million copies in the UK alone and was a global bestseller.

She is an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16 and runs the musical storytelling show Storytime.

Joanne lives with her husband in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born.

Find out more on her website or follow her on Twitter

My thoughts:

As a Joanne Harris fan, I knew this book would be a treat but I didn’t know how much it would be for a fairy tale and mythology nerd like me.

Inspired by the myth of Orpheus, who travels to the Underworld of Hades to bring his wife Eurydice back to the living world, this magical novella sees Fay descend to Death’s realm to ask for her daughter Daisy’s life back.

Along the way she encounters the fairy King Alberon who tries to convince her to stay in his realm, the Night Train full of the dead, that never stops, and other strange beings, like a singing tiger.

I could see shades of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, the story of Persephone, and so many others peeking out through this beautiful tale. I also liked the inclusion of the correction about who perches atop the fountain in Piccadilly Circus – it’s not Eros, but Anteros.

Which also features stunning illustrations, conjuring images of Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, and the otherworldly creatures that haunt traditional folklore.

This is altogether an absolute delight, a tale of love and loss, both a retelling and a completely new myth.


*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Cursed – Edited by Marie O’Regan & Paul Kane

ALL THE BETTER TO READ YOU WITH
It’s a prick of blood, the bite of an apple, the evil eye, a wedding ring or a pair of red shoes. Curses come in all shapes and sizes, and they can happen to anyone, not just those of us with unpopular stepparents…
Here you’ll find unique twists on curses, from fairy tale classics to brand-new hexes of the modern world – expect new monsters and mythologies as well as twists on well-loved fables. Stories to shock and stories of warning, stories of monsters and stories of magic.
TWENTY TIMELESS FOLKTALES, NEW AND OLD
NEIL GAIMAN
JANE YOLEN
KAREN JOY FOWLER
M.R. CAREY
CHRISTINA HENRY
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN
TIM LEBBON
MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH
CHARLIE JANE ANDERS
JEN WILLIAMS
CATRIONA WARD
JAMES BROGDEN
MAURA McHUGH
ANGELA SLATTER
LILLITH SAINTCROW
CHRISTOPHER FOWLER
ALISON LITTLEWOOD
MARGO LANAGAN

My thoughts:

I am always available for new takes on fairy tales and folklore, so this collection was a treat. A mix of poems, short stories and vignettes focusing on the role of curses in classic fairy tales, twisting them into new creatures.

A host of established and critically acclaimed authors offer up their takes on being cursed.

I was kindly sent a copy of this book with no obligation to review.

feminism, films, ramblings

Why I won’t be rushing to see the new Beauty & the Beast

I remember the animated version being released – I think I was 8. We went to see it at the cinema, I had a jumper with Belle’s face on it (My cousin had the exact same one – I think my grandparents bought them), I got the video for my birthday. 

I still have a soft spot for those animated classics, there’s a fair few in my DVD collection. Of the most recent ones I enjoyed Brave, Tangled, The Princess and the Frog, and even Frozen (I have some issues of its apparent origins being Hans Christian Andersen’s Snow Queen – a very different story.) 
However I haven’t seen any of the new “live action” films – not sure how that much CGI can be considered live. 

Pete’s Dragon is one of my favourite films and nothing will replace a cartoon dragon called Elliot for me – I saw some stills of the updated version – just no. 

A CGI Baloo just won’t cut it after the delights of the animated one and Cinderella has been done to death.

Emma Watson isn’t my ideal Belle, and that’s fine – can’t please anyone. But I saw a review calling it ‘authentic’, which I can’t agree with. 1. It’s set in France, so Belle and everyone else would speak French, 2. It’s a fable – it’s about vanity and love overcoming all odds. 3. The Beast – do I need to expand. 
Like most fairy tales this had a slightly darker heart originally, the Prince becomes a Beast because that’s what he is inside – vain, selfish, cruel, monstrous. He’s cursed to learn his lesson. But he doesn’t, he becomes even worse, hence the kidnapping of Belle’s father. 

The film versions do away with Belle’s sisters – who demand jewels and furs from their merchant father, while the youngest daughter requests a single perfect rose. There’s more than a little King Lear in this tale as the youngest daughter atones for her father’s crime. 

Watson has spoken about making the film more feminist – erm, it’s about a woman who sacrifices her freedom for her idiot father and is kept prisoner by a monster – feminism didn’t exist in 15th century France (or at all) and I just don’t get how you can make this story less twisted and more feminist while keeping that key storyline. 

Anyway, I know people are raving about how beautiful it is, how they’ve kept the songs (why no Angela Lansbury?) etc. But it just isn’t for me. Rather than keep doing this  (Mulan is up next – but with no songs, fingers crossed they at least cast Asian actors) why can’t Disney go back to making fun, musical animation? 
I hear Moana is brilliant and I will be watching that next. 

If you do want a Disney film where the female characters are aces, here’s a little list. 

⭐Brave ⭐Tangled ⭐Frozen ⭐Zootropolis ⭐Mulan ⭐Pocahontas ⭐Robin Hood (I defy you not to love Clucky) ⭐Bedknobs & Broomsticks (oh Angela Lansbury, I do think you’re marvellous) ⭐The Princess & the Frog ⭐

Let me know if I’ve missed any Disney heroines who deserve to be mentioned (tbh most of the traditional princesses are a bit hopeless). 

Are you going to see this new Beauty & the Beast? Or will you be watching the 90s classic for the millionth time like me.