blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Bright Steel – Miles Cameron*

Every war come down to the flash of bright steel.

Even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to tear the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they cannot fail anywhere or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together?And can he and his friends build enough trust to overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces?

Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . . ?

Aranthur is a student. He showed a little magical talent, is studying at the local academy, and is nothing particularly special. Others are smarter. Others are more talented. Others are quicker to pick up techniques. But none of them are with him when he breaks his journey home for the holidays in an inn. None of them step in to help when a young woman is thrown off a passing stage coach into the deep snow at the side of the road. And none of them are drawn into a fight to protect her.
One of the others might have realised she was manipulating him all along . . .
A powerful story about beginnings, coming of age, and the way choosing to take one step towards violence can lead to a slippery and dangerous slope, this is an accomplished fantasy series driven by strong characters and fast-paced action.

Some are warriors, some captains; others tend to the fallen or feed the living.

But on the magic-drenched battlefield, information is the lifeblood of victory, and Aranthur is about to discover that carrying messages, scouting the enemy, keeping his nerve, and passing on orders is more dangerous, and more essential, then an inexperienced soldier could imagine . . . especially when everything starts to go wrong.

Battle has been joined – on the field, in the magical sphere, and in the ever-shifting political arena . . .

 

My thoughts:

This is not a series you can skip reading in order, otherwise it makes no sense. Aranthur and his friends work as Cold Iron – a secret ring of powerful people protecting the Empire from within. They’ve come through wars fought on battlefields and in boardrooms, councils and soldiers alike.

Now they must finally defeat the Pure, a quasi-religious organisation intent on taking over the world.

This is a cracking series, racing along as Aranthur is dragged deeper into the web of conspiracies and lies at the heart of both the Empire and the Pure cult; his friends are sometimes revealed to be more than they originally appeared and he learns a lot about trust and honesty as he goes along. Becoming more and more powerful and showing the people who mock him for his ethnicity and innocence, precisely why they shouldn’t.

This series may be fantasy but the truths about friendship and loyalty are universal themes that too often get lost in the clash of swords or the swirl of magic.

I think this series will appeal to fantasy fans of all types; there’s magic, mischief and battles within the pages, as well as firm friendships, love and passion.

 

Bright Steel blog tour graphic

 

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: We Are The Dead – Mike Shackle*

The first book in The Last War series: a debut epic fantasy full of crunching revolutionary action, twisted magic, and hard choices in dark times.

The war is over. The enemy won.

Jia’s people learned the hard way that there are no second chances. The Egril, their ancient enemy, struck with magic so devastating that Jia’s armies were wiped out. Now terror reigns in the streets, and friend turns on friend just to live another day.

Somehow Tinnstra – a deserter, a failure, nothing but a coward – survived. She wants no more than to hide from the chaos.

But dragged into a desperate plot to retake Jia, surrounded by people willing to do anything to win the fight, this time Tinnstra will need to do more than hide.

If Jia is to get a second chance after all, this time she will need to be a hero.

With all the grit of Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence and Ed McDonald, this is fantasy with the sharpest of edges.

 

My thoughts:

I devoured this, seriously, it took me a few hours to romp through this cracking book. Inspired by Japanese culture and history, this book is absolutely brilliant. Well written, pacey, and packed with interesting characters. The plot crackles along, and the apparently disparate story lines weave together very nicely.

The first in a planned series I am already eagerly anticipating book two, which the author has probably barely started.

We Are The Dead Graphic .png

 

*I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour. All opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Books You May Have Missed*

Here’s a mini round up of some books I’ve read recently that might not have come to your attention. Definitely worth sticking on your TBR.

Lord of Secrets (The Empty Gods Book 1) by [Teintze, Breanna]

Outlaw wizard Corcoran Gray has enough problems. He’s friendless, penniless and on the run from the tyrannical Mages’ Guild – and with the search for his imprisoned grandfather looking hopeless, his situation can’t get much worse.

So when a fugitive drops into his lap – literally – and gets them both arrested, it’s the last straw – until Gray realises that runaway slave Brix could be the key to his grandfather’s release. All he has to do is break out of prison, break into an ancient underground temple and avoid killing himself with his own magic in the process.

In theory it’s simple enough. But as secrets unfold and loyalties shift, Gray discovers something with the power to change the nature of life and death itself.

Now Gray must find a way to protect the people he loves, but it could cost him everything, even his soul…

You Die Next: The twisty crime thriller that will keep you up all night (Starke & Bell) by [Marland, Stephanie, Broadribb, Stephanie]

In a dangerous alliance with troubled amateur sleuth Clementine Starke, DI Dominic Bell must hunt down a ruthless killer targeting a group of urban explorers who risk their lives exploring abandoned London locations. Can Starke and Bell identify the masked victims before it’s too late?

A group of anonymous urban explorers stumble into a murderer’s kill room in a derelict film studio. Terrified, they run, thinking they are safe as no one in the group knows their identities. When one of them is brutally murdered during an exploration of an abandoned underground station, they realise they are being hunted.

DI Dominic Bell and his team are investigating the series of murders but cannot find the connection between the victims. The only person who can help is Clementine Starke, who is researching adult thrillseeekers as part of a university research project. However, Clementine is haunted by dark and violent obsessions, primarily her former relationship with DI Dominic Bell.

The Academy of Chaenbalu has stood against magic for centuries.

Hidden from the world, acting from the shadows, it trains its students to detect and retrieve magic artifacts, which it jealously guards from the misuse of others. Because magic is dangerous: something that heals can also harm, and a power that aids one person may destroy another.

Of the Academy’s many students, only the most skilled can become Avatars – warrior thieves, capable of infiltrating the most heavily guarded vaults – and only the most determined can be trusted to resist the lure of magic.

More than anything, Annev de Breth wants to become one of them.

The Migration by [Marshall, Helen]

When I was younger I didn’t know a thing about death. I thought it meant stillness, a body gone limp. A marionette with its strings cut. Death was like a long vacation – a going away.

Storms and flooding are worsening around the world, and a mysterious immune disorder has begun to afflict the young. Sophie Perella is about to begin her senior year of high school in Toronto when her little sister, Kira, is diagnosed. Their parents’ marriage falters under the strain, and Sophie’s mother takes the girls to Oxford, England, to live with their Aunt Irene. An Oxford University professor and historical epidemiologist obsessed with relics of the Black Death, Irene works with a centre that specializes in treating people with the illness. She is a friend to Sophie, and offers a window into a strange and ancient history of human plague and recovery. Sophie just wants to understand what’s happening now; but as mortality rates climb, and reports emerge of bodily tremors in the deceased, it becomes clear there is nothing normal about this condition – and that the dead aren’t staying dead. When Kira succumbs, Sophie faces an unimaginable choice: let go of the sister she knows, or take action to embrace something terrifying and new.

Tender and chilling, unsettling and hopeful, The Migration is a story of a young woman’s dawning awareness of mortality and the power of the human heart to thrive in cataclysmic circumstances.

 

 

*I was kindly gifted these books from the publishers with no requirement to review or share, but as I enjoyed them I have done so.

books, reviews

Book Review: Howling Dark – Christopher Ruocchio*

Howling Dark (Sun Eater) by [Ruocchio, Christopher]

Following on from the first volume of the Sun Eater Sequence (Empire of Silence – I suggest reading it first so this one makes more sense), Howling Dark finds Hadrian Marlowe travelling through space with his ragtag band of fake mercenaries, the Crimson Company, having entangled himself with the Sollan Empire again.

He is on a quest for the lost planet of Vorgossos, a place of myth, hoping it holds the keys to resolving the conflict with the Ceilcin – an alien race determined to destroy anyone who stands in their way.

Hadrian, being Hadrian, doesn’t exactly go about this in a calm and rational manner, all sorts of chaos and carnage ensue, as Hadrian and his friends ricochet around the far reaches of the galaxy following leads, both useful and not, trying to be a diplomat and not always succeeding.

I loved Empire of Silence and couldn’t wait to get stuck into this chunky boi. Hadrian is a brilliant protagonist, eminently flawed and prone to acting like an idiot, despite his previous experiences. There were fewer new locations than book one, as he bounces around following leads, but the world building (or galaxy building) is strong and while I can’t quite picture the creepy Ceilcin, I see them as a bit like the alien in Alien, but creepier.

The ending twists and turns, and I am not remotely sure what will happen next!

 

*This book was kindly gifted to me by the publisher with no requirement to review but as I enjoyed it, I thought I’d share!

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Shadows of Short Days – Alexander Dan Vilhjàlmsson*

A slice of Icelandic fantasy today, in a version of Reykjavik where humans live alongside an oppressed minority of faerie folk. Saemunder was studying magic at the university but was expelled for breaking rules and getting too deeply in galdur – a form of magic that if unleashed could cause chaos.

His friend Garün is a half human, half huldafólk, an outcast on a solo war against the government utilising her artistic skills with magic infused graffiti.

As things build to a head and the friends become more entangled with the growing protest movement against the regime, their lives will be changed forever.

This an interesting, original fantasy world influenced by Icelandic folklore and culture. I don’t know a huge amount about Icelandic mythology and history, but this is a fully realised piece of world building and I hope the author revisits it; although it’s a standalone book, the concept could support multiple stories.

This is an accomplished first novel from a talented new writer and hopefully between his editorship of Icelanfic SFF magazine Furôusögur (Weird Stories) and career as vocalist and lyricist of black metal band Carpe Noctem, he will be writing something interesting for book two.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – John Tarrow*

Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’sland, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm.

Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs?

Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to another world hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens.

My thoughts:

Ok, so this book is inspired by a real place, that you can actually visit, in Great Dunmow, Essex. So I’ve added that to my list of places to go to asap.

A really accessible, clever, funny fantasy novel, full of little references to other fantasy books (and at one point Disney’s Pocahontas – at least to me!)

Joe is the relatable, every kid hero, who encounters magical birds, strange and powerful mystics, travelling through time and space via a mysterious house and its labyrinth.

I really enjoyed reading this, it’s a romp and so well written that it pulls you into the story swiftly, with its use of different myths and legends, locations, time periods and cast of unique characters.


*I was kindly gifted this book in return for taking part in the blog tour.

blog tour, books, reviews, steampunk

Blog Tour: Geminicia – Nicholas Lovelock*

Revolution, romance and technological wonders are all in a day’s work for the decorated hero of Alavonia, Sir Arthur Pageon.

An acclaimed explorer and inventor, Sir Arthur Pageon takes his unofficial role as defender of the realm of Avalonia very seriously. A fantastical world, Avalonia is home to the Discoucian Monarchy, as well as monstrous creatures and secretive academies for the highly gifted.

Upon returning from his most recent exploits aboard on his personal flying galleon The Nostradamus, Pageon is treated to a hero’s welcome and celebratory procession through the streets of Avalonia’s capital, Evermore. Little does Pageon know he’s being followed by a mysterious group known as the Purple Guard, whose devious leader is his estranged sister, Queen Lily Pageon of Harrha Island. Fiercely intelligent, Lily specialises in dastardly technological inventions with the aim of bringing down the Discoucian Monarchy so that she may reign as its dictator. However, the heir to the throne is one Princes Josephine Oladine, whose youth and royal position masks her role in the Discoucian Secret Service.

Joining forces, Princess Josephine and Sir Arthur’s adventures will take them across the whole of Avalonia — from the fog-bound shores of Karga, to the secret underground shanty town beneath the frozen prison of Icester, south to the verdant city of Proceur and from there to the affluent Starfall Academy — in their quest to foil Lily’s revolutionary plans.

The second part of Arthur and Jo’s strange adventures throughout the land of Discoucia, and a time when Archie the Water Goddess has made the ultimate sacrifice to rid the world of her nemesis, Cordelia Paradise, the Fire Goddess.

However, things rarely go to plan and Arthur finds himself at war with Archie’s hidden agenda rather than the insane task that he has to help Archie complete.

Hidden around Discoucia in its sixteen major cities are sixteen gems that Archie must collect before a year is up. If she wins then Cordelia will disappear to another dimension and not return until she agrees to stop causing forest fires, volcanic eruptions and droughts.

Team Archie has Arthur and Jo, who both have the understanding that by collecting these gems a natural order can be brought back and maybe Jo’s father will get well again. Team Cordelia has Alicia May, who has a talent for becoming anyone and a deep malicious streak; and Iren, who has a fanatical hatred for Archie, which Archie herself doesn’t like to talk about.

Along the way they meet old friends and old enemies, as well as Archie having to perform miracles without the use of divine power. From the murky ruins of Tanalos to the haunted corridors of Ashin Dance Academy, the frozen caverns of Icester and the verdant streets of Proceur, the adventure will take them around Discoucia and beyond, unless Cordelia and Alicia May can stop them first…

About the author

Nicholas Lovelock lives in a small village in Oxfordshire and has already published Discoucia, the first part of the Alavonia Series which spans multiple novels set to be released in the future. He enjoys riding around the countryside as well as illustrating his own works, as can be seen in his second novel Gemenicia. These Illustrations in stark black and white provide a glimpse into the world of Alavonia and how he sees it, as well as showcasing the different locations and characters that make up the Alavonia series universe.

He is a keen musician capable of playing the electric guitar as well as the acoustic and the piano, often trying to play like his musical heroes David Gilmour, Jimmy Page and Jeff Lynne. His coin collection has transformed from a hobby to a passion and obsession as he attempts to collect one of every issued coin in Great Britain. He is over halfway in that respect collecting such treasures as a 1675 Charles the Second Crown and an extremely rare Edward the Seventh Half Crown of 1905, and has begun metal detecting in an effort to tick some boxes in the Hammered Coinage section.

His love of Steampunk literature and cinema has been with him from a young age when he first saw the film ‘Wild Wild West’, sought out the original series and discovered a world of fantasy that he has painstakingly tried to pay homage to in his novels, to bring the wild west to an English setting and to create something that has never been done before.

History has always been a major passion of his as he makes many references in his literature, from characters whose personalities resemble those of eccentric historical characters or monarchs. The ability to change history through literature was one of the things that attracted him to become an author in the first place, to create similar timelines and put a unique spin on the mundane.

My thoughts

At first I struggled a little to get into the first book, its unique style and the mise en scene opening took a minute to engage with. These books are great, quirky romps through a colourful world a little like ours but mostly completely different. The characters of Arthur and Jo are vividly drawn and you get swept up in their adventures. If you like steampunk, fantasy and adventure these are worth a whirl.

Find them on Amazon here:

Discoucia

Geminicia

*I was gifted these books in exchange for a review, all thoughts and opinions remain my own.