books, reviews

Book Review: The Devil’s Blade – Mark Alder

The story of Julie D’Aubigny is well known. Her tumultuous childhood, her powerful lovers, her celebrated voice. Connected to most of the nobility of 17th century Paris, feted for her performance, unwilling to live by the rules of her society, she took female lovers, fought duels with noblemen and fled from city to country and back again.

But now the real truth can be told. She also made a deal with the devil. He gave her no powers or help, but he kept her alive for only one reason. To take revenge…

My thoughts:

This was such a fun read, spinning the real events of Julie D’Aubigny’s life into a fantasy featuring the Devil, the Duc D’Orleans and the Royal Court, all with sword fights, love affairs, ghosts and dripping with vengeance and blood.

books, LGBTQ+, reviews

🏳️‍🌈 Pride Month Reads 🏳️‍🌈

June is Pride month, a time to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and the people we’ve lost over the years.

Pride as an event spun out of the Stonewall riots and if it wasn’t for brave souls like Marsha P. Johnson we wouldn’t have the rights and freedoms we have and we must fight to keep them in the face of homophobia and transphobia.

It’s also a fab time to boost the sales of own voices books written by and about our community. Here are some of my recommendations, please leave yours in the comments.

This was such a fun, joyful read, set at an LGBTQ+ summer camp it follows Randy as he tries to become what he thinks his long time crush wants and learns a lot about himself along the way.

Lia has inherited her uncle’s crown, a kingdom with debts and a poor harvest, there’s conspiracies afoot and she will need her new spymaster Xania to help her save the country and her crown. I’ve read this several times now and love it.

This is madcap adventure where Edward and his friends indulge in some “creative vandalism” and attempt to get Edward into Juilliard. I adore this book, and its sequel Attack of the Theatre People, and even though this isn’t a recent book (it’s from 2004) it is immense fun. Can you tell I’m an overgrown theatre kid!

Fun fact the author and I went to the same secondary school but at different times.

Another gorgeous fantasy novel with a f/f love story, this also has dragons. It’s a chunky book so be prepared to spend some time on it as you follow Queen Sabran and spy/mage Eade as they try to prevent war between their queendom and its enemies.

Currently with 3 volumes published, Heartstopper, the adorable illustrated love story of Charlie and Nick is one of my absolute faves. Starting life as a web series this is now hugely popular, rightly so fyi, and just brims over with love and goodness.

So tell me, what are your favourite queer reads and writers?

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: We Ride The Storm – Devin Madson*

In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions no matter the cost in Devin Madson’s propulsive epic fantasy.

War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.

Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.

In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.

In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.

And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.

As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.

My thoughts:

This is an action packed fast paced novel, leaping between three first person narrators as the countries of Kisia and Chiltae go to war.

Without too much preamble or heavy back story, you’re thrust straight into the heart of the story, as Chiltae’s army captures Levanti soldiers and forces them into its ranks as it aims to conquer neighbouring Kisia.

I loved Cassandra, the whore turned assassin with a secret, annoying, passenger, who just wants to get paid, not dragged into politics. Snarky and grumpy, she’s easily the funniest character.

Miko is the most complex character, convinced she’s got to do the right thing for her family, her country, herself. Conflicted and never sure about her plans, she seems to just cross her fingers and hope it all works out.

I look forward to book two, We Lie With Death, as the ending to this gives absolutely no clues as to what might happen next.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Midnight’s Twins – Holly Race*

Fern King is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. An enchanted, mysterious place that feeds our own world – as without dreams, without a place where our imaginations and minds can be nourished, what kind of humans would we be?

But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.

But the world Fern discovers in Annwn, in this dream mirror of her London, is a fragile one, threatened by vicious nightmares. Nightmares that are harder and harder for the Knights to defeat. Something dark is jeopardising the peace and stability of Annwn, something that must be rooted out at all costs. And gradually, Fern realises that the danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts …

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Holly Race works as a development executive in the film and TV industry, most recently with Aardman Animations. Holly is a Faber Academy graduate, and Midnight’s Twins is her debut novel and the first in a trilogy. After spending several happy years in East London, a few streets away from where Fern lives, she now resides in Cambridge with her husband, their daughter and a large black poodle called Nymeria.

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My thoughts:

An interesting mix of Arthurian myth and London geography in dreamland as Fern and her twin Ollie follow in their mother’s footsteps to protect the dreamers of Britain from a threat they’re not aware of.

The first book in a projected series, I’m interested to see where this goes.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Venators Book 2 – Promises Forged – Devri Walls*

It has been mere days in the world of Eon, where Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and their friend Grey have been trapped, fighting for their lives. After discovering the truth of their ancestry, the three are far from home, and far from anything resembling their mundane lives of the past.

While Ryker is still held captive by the eerily beautiful Zio and her goblins, Grey falls into the clutches of Feena, the Fae queen. She begins to drain his soul bit by bit to feed her dark underground garden, and Grey has no hope of escaping on his own.

It is now up to Rune to save Grey, as his precious time slips away inexorably. But the Council has denied her permission to embark on a rescue mission, until she can harness her Venator gifts and prove herself capable of venturing into the Fae queen’s territory. As Rune discovers that promises in Eon are forged with life-or-death consequences, she realizes that she must act quickly, or else be swallowed and Grey along with her by the dangers of Eon.


Devri Walls is a US and international best-selling author. She specializes in all things fantasy and paranormal. She’s best known for her uncanny world-building skills, her intricate storylines, and the ability to present it all in an easy-to-digest voice. Devri loves to engage with her loyal following through online sessions organized for her readers and social media. Devri lives in Meridian, Idaho, with her husband and two kids. When not writing, she can be found teaching voice lessons, reading, cooking, or binge watching whatever show catches her fancy.

Author Q&A

What motivated you to begin crafting your own YA stories?

I was a theater major and a singer and had taken a break from everything while I was raising my children, but it left massive creative holes in my heart. I was desperately searching for something to fill it. In a strange series of events that are entirely too long to add here, I had the undeniable and unexplainable urge to write a book. It seemed insane at the time. But when I couldn’t ignore it any longer, I started my first project. Turns out, not only could I write; but, writing filled those creative voids better than anything else I’d ever dabbled in. I found my life’s calling completely on accident.

Whator whoinspired Grey, your Venators hero?

Oh, Grey. Grey was a very important character to me. I envisioned him, trudging with his head down, letting his hair fall to cover his features, hunkering down in that trench coathiding from the world. And I knew that he had suffered at the hands of abuse. Grey has endured sexual abuse from a young age. It was very important to me that the character in the book dealing with sexual abuse be Grey. It’s a topic not covered nearly enough. There has to be examples for people to read about that tell male victims of sexual abuse that they’re going to be all right. That they are not weak, or dirty or broken or less of a male because of it. The thing that I love the most about Grey is that he doesn’t allow this abuse to define or destroy him. It affects his life in so many ways, but it hasn’t darkened his heart or inhibited his kindness. In fact, it has fed his charity and created a true hero as one who seeks out the broken, the lost and downtrodden. Grey may feel broken and lost; but, he lifts everyone around him.

Whator whoinspired Rune, your Venators heroine?

Rune was the opposite side of Grey’s coin. In this story Grey came first, he was my original muse. And Rune was everything he once thought he wantedathletic, popular, came from a wealthy family and your typical, “appears to have it all” kid we all knew in high school. But Grey saw, as we soon do, that her life is not nearly as perfect as it appeared. I wanted a woman who suffers from toxic perfectionism that was forced on her. A girl who was drowning under expectations and responsibilities. It’s such a problem among so many women and the human population in general.

What do you wish you’d known earlier in your career as an author, and what key piece(s) of advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Honestly? I don’t think I would’ve given myself any more knowledge than what I had. Ignorance kept me going too many times. HA! But I would probably tell myself to relax a little bit more and enjoy the journey. Advice for others… Understand that writing and being a writer as your job are very different things. If you have no desire to ever have a bad review written, to spend time promoting yourself on social media, to help with marketing and working when you don’t want to, then being an employed writer is maybe not for you. But by all means, keep creating stories! You are no less a writer for choosing that path. If you really can’t imagine doing anything else and will pay the price for your career, then go for it.

What influenced your approach to building the book’s otherworldly realm?

Books like Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Although Venators is very different than both of these examples, both books built something enormous. Stories with vastly different cultures and geographic features spread across the land. They widened my mental horizons and said, yesthis can be done.

How would you describe your creative process overall?

A hot mess. Wait… am I allowed to say that? Probably ill advised, but I’m sticking with it. I am very much a “build as I go” kind of writer. This often leaves me with a very messy draft that I loathe. I should point out that it’s very difficult to work on something you hate. I have to go over my stories again and again, adding and tweaking as necessary until I’ve polished it into something beautiful. I’m reasonably sure this is the most painful way to create art, but it’s the only way I’ve found that allows my creativity to remain as unleashed as possible. With the high fantasy and fantasy blends that I write, being totally free in my imagination, has always lead to the most beautiful scenes in the end.

Both on and off the page, you’re passionate about empowering other women; how has that mission informed the characters you create?

I’m so excited to watch Rune on her journey as she tries to shed this old shell and learns to embrace who she really is. For the first time in her life, Rune will have to start making choices for herself. She will trudge through triumph, grief, guilt and pride, then roll over to do it again. I want to write REAL women. There was a trend in literature for a while to write more women, which was fantastic! But the pendulum swung a little too far the other direction. We started seeing book after book of “kickbutt women” which translated into, invincible, power-hungry, emotionless women. They weren’t the greatest role models as no one besides an AI can actually BE all of those things. I strive to write women who are strong yet flawed. Determined, yet emotional. Capable in some areas and weak in others. Because really, what is the point of reading about a fantastic female character you could never emulate or learn from? It’s like our world trying to actually become that Phototshopped, curated version of the pictures in magazines. But reading about a woman who struggles and gets back up again. Now that is inspiring.

What can fans expect next from the Venators series?

Oh. My. Gosh. You can expect everything!!! This series is going to just keep getting bigger and better as Rune and Grey venture deeper into Eon. Book two will deliver big time on what the fans have been begging for and that is more Beltran! We also get a twisted look into Queen Feena’s Fae garden that has Grey a little “wrapped up”, while Rune is forced to embrace a side of herself she’s not quite ready for. And book three?? Well, let’s just say the games will be of epic proportions!

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

books, reviews

Book Review: The City We Became – N.K. Jemisin


Every great city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got six.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs in the halls of power, threatening to destroy the city and her six newborn avatars unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

My thoughts:

I’d read the short story in How Long Til Black Future Month? that develops into this incredible, creative novel.

Jemisin is an amazing writer, The Fifth Season trilogy was rightfully awarded Nebula awards for each volume, and I can easy see this being garlanded in similar fashion.

Moving, dreamlike and intelligent, this is a modern fairy tale.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Daisy Cooper’s Rules for Living – Tamsin Kelly*

Daisy Cooper’s life has been pretty uneventful – until the moment it suddenly ends. Unfortunately, her death is (literally) an accident: Daisy wasn’t meant to die for another fifty years. One terrible, embarrassing clerical error is behind it – and Death himself is to blame.

As Daisy battles against her new reality, she starts to learn that letting go isn’t just a challenge faced by those left behind. And while she learns how to survive this impossible new reality, friendship, hope and even love begin to come alive in the most unexpected ways.

For Daisy Cooper, death was the perfect time to start making sense of life…

My thoughts:

A funny, touching and bittersweet novel about life and death.

Daisy dies suddenly and at the wrong time, at least according to Death’s filing system. As she becomes Death’s assistant, and pops back to Earth to visit her loved ones, she learns a few hard lessons about relationships and living.

Some parts of this book are really sad and quite hard to read, which feels apt as life is full of difficult moments.

As Death becomes more human and Daisy learns to embrace her death (and maybe Death?!?!), her need for the living starts to fade and she understands why most of the dead don’t pop back to see the living.

It’s a really sweet and charming debut and perfect for a little summer time reading.

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

books, reviews

Book Review: Bloodwitch – Susan Dennard


Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop a bloodthirsty horde of raiders preparing to destroy a monastery that holds more than just faith. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.


My thoughts:

And so we come to book three of the superb Witchlands series, I came to it a little late but I am fully on board.

And look, Blueberry the bat is on the cover, yay for giant friendly fruit bats.

I think this might be my favourite book in the series so far as it pulls all the Threads of the preceding narratives together (including book 2.5 Sightwitch).

We get a lot more Aeduan this time round and a lot more Iseult too, as the various plots start to come together headed towards betrayal on all sides and a huge battle against the Raider King, aka Aeduan’s dad.

I felt the characters were more fully realised in this book, no longer needing introduction or explanations of their powers and aims, allowing more room for the narrative and the interplay between them.

Owl is still probably my favourite character, although I do like cheeky prince Leopold and determined Vivia. It was also really good to get to grips with Aeduan’s story more, to see things from his perspective.

With the next book now announced, Witchshadow, due next February, which I am very excited for fyi, now is an excellent time to get caught up.

In UK paperback May 14th from Tor.

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Book Tour: The Book of Koli – M.R. Carey*

The first in a gripping new trilogy, The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation.
Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.
Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is — what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

My thoughts:

It took me a while to get into this book, the faux naive dialect it’s written in grated at first but once the plot got going and Koli was no longer just explaining things and was actually on his way in the world it definitely improved.

That can be the problem with the first book in a series which has to explain how much has changed from our reality – The Book of Koli is set in a future Earth after nature has revolted against humanity and become murderous, though not quite in a Day of the Triffids way.

It will be interesting to see how the story progresses through the rest of the trilogy.

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

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Girl & the Stars – Mark Lawrence*

East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown. On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals.

No one survives alone.

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed.

Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different. Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger.

Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people.

Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars.

Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol.

My thoughts:

Mark Lawrence’s last trilogy – The Book of the Ancestor, was some of my favourite recent reads so when I was offered the chance to review his newest book, set on the same world as before, Abeth, I jumped at the chance and I was not disappointed.

Abeth is a dying world, covered in ice where few people can survive, and while the Book of the Ancestor series was set in the narrow band of unfrozen land, The Girl and the Stars is set high up on the ice, and below it.

A brilliant, pulse racing adventure set below ground in a decaying city built by ancient people, the Guardians, a very long time ago, where abandoned children scavenge for iron and glowing rocks, known as stars, for the cruel priests who threw them away due to their perceived defects.

Yaz is special, the regulator wanted to keep her, but she chose to enter this underworld, to find her brother. She learns a lot about herself too, her strength, and some of the secrets of her world.

Yaz is a fantastic protagonist, she reminded me a bit of Nona, from the Ancestor series, fierce, independent and loyal to those she cares about.

The writing was as good as expected, the plot clever and complex, developing the history of Abeth deeper, and there were a few little links to the previous series for the eagle eyed reader. But you could easily read this without having read anything else by the author.

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