books, reviews

Book Review: The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart – Margarita Montimore

A remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of order.

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

My thoughts:

This is a really clever take on time travel, Oona wakes up each time at another point in her life, completely unaware of how old she is and what’s happened recently.

Clever, funny and well written, this romp through one woman’s life, completely out of order as she tries to find some.

The supporting characters of Oona’s mother and assistant are great too, as the holders of Oona’s secret they could be the villains but they choose instead to help her and fill in the blanks.

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

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Blog Tour: Hidden Magic Anthology

No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic.

From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes twenty-three stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world. This collection features:

Elderly antiques experts interacting with souls

Shamans growing outlawed magic

Baby chimeras battling for their lives

Children sprouting fluffy tails

A king’s boat thrown off-course

A perfect life coming at a not-so-perfect cost

Vikings defending a village against the unseen

A lone shifter atoning for his past mistakes

Trolls and pixies tumbling through the doorway to another world

And more!

Fans of Patricia Briggs and Tamsyn Muir will love Hidden Magic, first of the Magic Underground trilogy of anthologies… Get it today!

Authors in this anthology include: USA Today Bestseller Joynell Schultz, L.C. Ireland, USA Today Bestseller Melinda Kucsera, Seattle Times regional bestseller & multi-international award winner Raven Oak, Tiffany Shand, Alesha Escobar, USA Today Bestseller Lee French & Erik Kort, H.B. Lyne, Anela Deen, Majanka Verstraete, Krista Ames, C.K. Rieke, Devorah Fox, Leah W. Van Dinther, C.S. Johnson, Barbara Letson, Toasha Jiordano, Gwendolyn Woodschild, H.M. Jones, Stephen Wallace, AR Johnston, and William C. Cronk.

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“Mail Order Witch”

It didn’t take long for the word of an enchanted item shop to spread throughout Watersedge like a fire in a used bookstore. Gawkers walked slowly by the front window during the month it took me to enchant supplies and set up the shop, staring inside like I was on display at a zoo. What kind of animal did they think I looked like? A flamingo with my long legs and too-short body? A black panther with my dark hair? Or maybe I looked like a pig—I mean I could devour the aforementioned pumpkin pie almost as quickly as my sister.

Or was I just a perfect specimen of a witch, with the natural blue highlights in my hair that I refused to cover like so many witches did?

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Book Review: Belle Rèvolte – Linsey Miller

Emilie des Marais is more at home holding scalpels than embroidery needles and is desperate to escape her noble roots to serve her country as a physician. But society dictates a noble lady cannot perform such gruesome work.

Annette Boucher, overlooked and overworked by her family, wants more from life than her humble beginnings and is desperate to be trained in magic. So when a strange noble girl offers Annette the chance of a lifetime, she accepts.

Emilie and Annette swap lives—Annette attends finishing school as a noble lady to be trained in the ways of divination, while Emilie enrolls to be a physician’s assistant, using her natural magical talent to save lives.

But when their nation instigates a terrible war, Emilie and Annette come together to help the rebellion unearth the truth before it’s too late.

My thoughts:

A French inspired, queer, role swap story with magic.

I thought this was great fun, Emilie and Annette are great characters, as her friends and allies, as they fight to save their country and stop the corrupt king and generals from slaughtering innocents and dragging their people into endless war and mayhem.

The plot is clever and full of joy, even as it heads towards the culmination of the story and the two girls join forces to fight back against their enemies.

From discovering their gifts and learning how to use them, to falling in love and finding their person (Annette’s gentle kitchen based romance with Yvonne is a delight).

Miller explores gender identity and queerness through these characters, but doesn’t make it the focus of the characters’ side plots, just part of who they are – which is refreshing.

While it works well as a standalone novel, the ending leaves it open to the possibility of a sequel, which would be interesting.

I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review.

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Blog Tour: Venators Magic Unleashed – Devri Walls*

Welcome to Eon.

An alternate dimension where fantasy and paranormal is reality, and humans sit at the bottom of the food chain. In this world of unadulterated power and ability, the innocent suffer greatly.

The ruling council of Eon has selected two humans, born of the Venator bloodline, and brought them through the gate—wishing to manipulate their strength and special abilities for the council’s corrupt purposes.

But, Grey and Rune have very different ideas. When their college dorm is infiltrated by creatures from another realm, Rune Jenkins, her twin brother Ryker, and old friend Grey Malteer are thrown into unexpected, twisted chaos. While Rune and Gray are able to escape, Ryker is kidnapped away to Eon, the alternate world from whence these dark beings came. With the help of a supernatural guide, Rune and Gray must now travel to Eon to save Ryker, and discover the illuminating truth about their ancestry.

In this new world of fae, vampires, werewolves, and wizards, power is abundant and always in flux. Rune and Grey are being set up as pawns in a very dangerous game and must find their way through – and out of – Eon before it consumes them.

Devri Walls is a US and international bestselling author. Having released five novels to date, she specializes in all things fantasy and paranormal. She is best known for her uncanny worldbuilding skills and her intricate storylines, and her ability to present this all in an easy-to-digest voice.

Now gearing up for her first national release, Devri is excited to introduce her sixth novel, book one in the Venators series. She loves to engage with her loyal following through social media and online sessions she organizes for her readers.

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.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting idea – two humans are pulled through a portal into a world inhabited by magical beings. Humans are at the bottom of the heap and have limited powers of any sort.

This was very readable and enjoyable, Devri is a good writer with a strong understanding of plot and world building.


*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 Mermaid of Black Conch – Monique Roffey


April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song.

My thoughts:

This was a really interesting folktale set in the modern age, where a mermaid falls for a fisherman, who unfortunately decides to take her from the sea.

Others lay claim and she yearns for her watery home.

Akin to the stories of other ocean dwellers trapped on land, like selkies, and indeed other mermaids, the existence of such a beautiful creature stirs desire and greed in the hearts of many and places these mythical beings in peril.

Roffey writes with confidence and assurance – as befits an accomplished writer.

Written in Trinidadian dialect, the cadences of people’s speech really adds to the sense of place and gives it an authenticity and character all of it’s own.

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

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Book Review: The Wolf of Oren-Yaro – K.S. Villoso

“They called me the Bitch Queen, the she-wolf, because I murdered a man and exiled my king the night before they crowned me.”

Born under the crumbling towers of her kingdom, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves. It nearly tore her nation apart. But her arranged marriage to the son of a rival clan heralds peace.
However, he suddenly disappears before their reign can begin, and the kingdom is fractured beyond repair.
Years later, he sends a mysterious invitation to meet. Talyien journeys across the sea in hopes of reconciling their past. An assassination attempt quickly dashes those dreams. Stranded in a land she doesn’t know, with no idea whom she can trust, Talyien will have to embrace her namesake.

A Wolf of Oren-yaro is not tamed.

My thoughts:

This is an excellent start to a new fantasy series, inspired by the author’s Filipino heritage, by a new voice in a growing field of excellent writers from Asia.

Tali is a fantastic character, trained by her father to be a ruler, but now in an unfamiliar place, where despite her title, she has no power.

The plot is gripping, witty and smart, the writing clever and engaging.

I finished it and wanted more but I think I might have to wait a while for book two as this has literally just been published.

I was sent a copy by the publisher (this was originally self published before being picked up and introduced to a wider audience) with no obligation to publish.

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Blog Tour: Soot – Dan Vyleta*

Welcome to a world where every desire is visible, rising from the body as a plume of Smoke. A world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, anger, greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice – some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever.

Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe.

Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He’s an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty, newly-risen East India Company.

And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.

In a story that crosses continents – from India to England’s Minetowns – these three seek to control the power of Smoke. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms: the Smoke will either bind them together or forever rend the world.

My thoughts:

There were times reading this book that I got a bit bewildered, it’s a bewildering book, and I mean that in a good way.

A lot happens and the plot roams the globe, from Canada to England, India to Brazil, the Himalayan heights and the Northern mining depths, offering an alternative history of the early 20th Century.

There are references to real events and people mixed in with the imagined and it feels like you’re reading a dense involved novel of the 18th or 19th centuries, again a good thing.

This is a book that needs you to focus, to pay attention, but is also a fun, at times irreverent, adventure story, with pirates, miners, strange creatures and actors. There’s a whole world housed between the pages.

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

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Cover Reveal: The Identity Thief – Alex Bryant

A shapeshifting sorcerer called Cuttlefish unleashes a terrifying wave of magical carnage across London. A strange family known as the River People move into Cassandra Drake’s neighbourhood. Are the two events connected?

Reasons to buy this book:
✔ Good cover.
✔ Cheap. Seriously, the Kindle version only costs as much as about 3 mangoes. What would you rather have – 10 hours of gripping urban fantasy, or 30 minutes of biting into sweet, succulent mango flesh?
✔ OK, I shouldn’t have used mango, objectively the best fruit, as a comparison. But buying this book doesn’t stop you from buying mangoes, if that’s what you insist on doing.

Public praise for the advance readers’ edition:

“I was barely even a few sentences in and I was already hooked! This is such an interesting book, I really hope it gets published so I can read more of it!” ★★★★★ – Lottie Carmichael

“This book is perfectly suitable for younger readers, but still enjoyable for older. The premise is new and intriguing, while the writing style is entertaining and fresh. I loved the heroine. She was relatable, strong, and yet imperfect. You untangle the very complicated plot-line alongside her. I also enjoyed the deeper ideas, the writer was expressing that tie-in with current events. Very thought-provoking.” ★★★★★ – Carolyn Sachs

“This was a lot of fun to read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to the published version.” ★★★★★ – Declan Tarstie

“Better value for money than three mangoes.” ★★★ – Alex Bryant

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Blog Tour: The Great Devil War Book Three – The Wrongful Death – Kenneth B. Andersen


An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

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I WAS BORN IN DENMARK ON A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT IN NOVEMBER 1976 …

… and I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than thirty-five books for children and young adults in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated tv series is currently in development.

A musical of The Devil’s Apprentice opened in the fall 2018 and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

About THE GREAT DEVIL WAR: The Great Devil War was published in Denmark from 2005-2016, beginning with The Devil’s Apprentice.

Even though the story (mostly) takes place in Hell and deals with themes like evil, death and free will, it is also a humoristic tale about good and evil seen from a different perspective. A tale that hopefully will make the reader – young or old, boy or girl – laugh and think.

Welcome to the other side!

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The Garden of Eden

The darkness of night turned into the light of morning, and although Philip did what Lucifer recommended and pulled his hood over his eyes, he was momentarily dazzled by the light. Slowly his eyes grew accustomed to the change, and out of the blinding whiteness, the Garden of Eden emerged in all its splendor.

Philip felt something pulling at his soul, even though all he saw was an ordinary forest. That’s because it wasn’t just an ordinary forest.

Not at all.

First of all there were the colors. The green moss that lay like a thick carpet on the floor. The blooming flowers. The luscious tree canopy overhead and fruits hanging in bunches. The sky that was more blue than Philip had ever seen. The sunlight that fell between the leaves in warm streams of gold.

Secondly there were the smells. So many, and so clear, that Philip became dizzy and had to hold onto Satina so he didn’t stumble.

Then there were the sounds. A storm of bird songs, monkey cries, and distant, thundering waterfalls, and yet… quiet, so quiet.

Then, to top it off, the atmosphere—the feeling of the place… It carried him off his feet. The forest, the air, it inspired a feeling of pure joy that Philip had never known before. It made the hair on his arms rise with delight and made his heart, yes, his very soul, feel like laughing. It felt like… Well, like he was in Heaven.

“Horrible place, right?” Lucifer said, closing the door to the rock wall. “Too cold and much too bright in my opinion. Come on, it’s this way.”

Philip and Satina followed the Devil, who with long, decisive steps led them through the summer forest.

“We’re in Heaven,” Philip whispered as he heard the mild breeze softly stirring the leaves in the canopies overhead. “I can’t believe it. We’re in Heaven!”

“Not quite,” Lucifer corrected. “It’s merely the earthly Paradise that lies between Earth and Heaven. This is where the saved souls go after they die. They help tend the garden.”

Between Earth and Heaven?” Philip said, confused. “I thought you went to Heaven when you died. If you’re good, that is.”

“No. You get this far and no farther. I realize a lot of people think that, Philip. There are even more who think Paradise is about lying in a hammock all day and letting God’s angels attend to your every need. But it’s never been like that. It would quickly lead to many of the seven deadly sins—laziness, gluttony, and greed, just to name a few—and that doesn’t exactly harmonize well with this place. No, living in Paradise means hard work. Of course, it’s nothing compared to working conditions down where we are.”

“What is Heaven, then?”

“Heaven is home to Jehovah and the angels. The angels come to Paradise, but they don’t live there. They live in Empyrean, the city of light. It’s even worse than this place. It makes my eyes itch and my nose starts running like a faucet. I’m definitely more comfortable here.” Lucifer plucked a flame-red rose, and it immediately lost its color and shriveled up. He smelled it and tossed it aside, the now metallic-gray flower disintegrating to ash as it hit the ground. “I have some good memories from this place.”

There was a subtle snap on their right as something in the forest stepped on a branch.

Philip turned his head and froze in his tracks.

It was a tiger. It ran toward them, its giant paws soundlessly bounding through the forest, and its amber eyes locked on Satina, who hadn’t noticed the wild animal.

Watch out!” Philip shouted and pulled her toward him as the animal came bursting out of the brush, a cascade of yellow and black and teeth and claws.

“Philip, take it easy!” Beyond the rush of blood roaring in his ears, he heard Lucifer laughing. “It wouldn’t harm a fly.”

Fear turned into confusion and then amazement when he saw the tiger had stopped and just stood there, curiously watching them. Curious and…friendly?

“It won’t?” he muttered and let go of Satina. “Sorry, but I thought… Are you okay?”

She nodded.

“That’s what I’m saying, Philip. Paradise is a gruesome place. So sad and boring. Just look at this guy.” Lucifer walked over to the tiger and patted him on the back. “Tame as a lamb. Wild animals aren’t even wild here. In the afterlife they peacefully coexist.” The Devil sadly shook his head. “I get nauseous just thinking about it.”

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Book Review: Last Smile in Sunder City – Luke Arnold*

I’m Fetch Phillips, just like it says on the window. There are three things you should know before you hire me:
1. Sobriety costs extra.
2. My services are confidential.
3. I don’t work for humans.

It’s nothing personal – I’m human myself. But after what happened, it’s not the humans who need my help.
I just want one real case. One chance to do something good. Because it’s my fault the magic is never coming back.

The Last Smile in Sunder City is the debut novel from actor Luke Arnold – known for his lead role in Black Sails. This contemporary fantasy introduces Fetch Phillips – a character destined to be loved by readers of Ben Aaronovitch, Jim Butcher and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

My thoughts:

This was really fun to read, I enjoy the whole “the magic has gone, now what?” concept and this has a PI whose been there done that attitude is right up my street.

The writing is fresh, entertaining and enjoyable, it does remind me a bit of Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant books, but with its own unique voice.

I’m looking forward to book two, as the overarching plot has more to unravel.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book with no obligation to review, all opinions remain my own.