blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Crow Rider – Kalyn Josephson*

The thrilling conclusion to the epic Storm Crow duology that follows a fallen princess as she tries to bring back the magical elemental crows taken from her people.
Thia, her allies, and her crow, Res, are planning a rebellion to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia once and for all. Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to come to her aid, and Res’s show of strength is the only thing that can help her.But so many obstacles stand in her way. Res excels at his training, until he loses control of his magic, harming Thia in the process.

She is also pursued by Prince Ericen, heir to the Illucian throne and the one person she can’t trust but can’t seem to stay away from.As the rebel group prepares for war, Res’s magic grows more unstable. Thia has to decide if she can rely on herself and their bond enough to lead the rebellion and become the crow rider she was meant to be.

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Kalyn Josephson is a fantasy writer living the California Bay Area. She loves books, cats, books with cats, and making up other worlds to live in for a while. THE STORM CROW is her debut novel.
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My thoughts:

I really enjoyed The Storm Crow so I was super excited to read The Crow Rider, and it did not disappoint. The magic system and the fighting crows is really interesting and unique, with the different abilities.

This was a really enjoyable, fun read with all the loose ends and plots tied up neatly. In a way it’s a shame as there’s no further books planned, but hopefully this isn’t the end of the author and there will be more forthcoming from her soon.


*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: Masters & Beginners – Daley Downing*

When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong…

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Daley Downing is an autistic author, parent to special needs children, a dance teacher, and cat whisperer. She spends her days attempting to write just a few more words than in the previous 24 hours, and lovingly refers to her genre as suburban fantasy.

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Win a copy of the book here

My thoughts:

This was a really fun read, and will definitely appeal to fans of the Shadowhunter books, with its mix of magical beings, mortals and shape shifting cats (yes to more books about magical cats please).

I instantly connected with Sophie, who wouldn’t fall for a hot fey boy and want to be friends with faeries next door? And I hope the pixies are OK now they’ve moved house.

The only thing I found grating was the British-isms, which I think I only picked up on because I’m a Brit, so most people won’t and it’s a personal bugbear of mine, so ignore me.

I can see this developing into a really enjoyable and interesting series, with hints of Warehouse 13 (which I loved) and magical mysteries and did I mention the talking cats…

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

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Book Review: Bookish and the Beast – Ashley Poston

I was kindly sent this by a very nice PR person but as always all opinions are my own.

A tale as old as time is made new in Ashley Poston’s fresh, geeky retelling of Beauty and the Beast.

Rosie Thorne is feeling stuck—on her college application essays, in her small town, and on that mysterious General Sond cosplayer she met at ExcelsiCon. Most of all, she’s stuck in her grief over her mother’s death. Her only solace was her late mother’s library of rare Starfield novels, but even that disappeared when they sold it to pay off hospital bills.

On the other hand, Vance Reigns has been Hollywood royalty for as long as he can remember—with all the privilege and scrutiny that entails. When a tabloid scandal catches up to him, he’s forced to hide out somewhere the paparazzi would never expect to find him: Small Town USA. At least there’s a library in the house. Too bad he doesn’t read.

When Rosie and Vance’s paths collide and a rare book is accidentally destroyed, Rosie finds herself working to repay the debt. And while most Starfield superfans would jump at the chance to work in close proximity to the Vance Reigns, Rosie has discovered something about Vance: he’s a jerk, and she can’t stand him. The feeling is mutual.

But as Vance and Rosie begrudgingly get to know each other, their careful masks come off—and they may just find that there’s more risk in shutting each other out than in opening their hearts.

My thoughts:

I haven’t read the other two books in the Once Upon a Con series yet, but I will, because I am a fairy tale and folklore nerd.

When I wrote my MA dissertation it was about Neil Gaiman’s use of mythic tropes, fairy tales and folkloric elements – his Norse Mythology book didn’t exist yet, so I focused on American Gods, Anansi Boys and of course the epic Sandman series.

I own dozens of books of fairy tales, about fairy tales (like heavy academic ones) and collect retellings. My favourite is Kissing the Witch by Emma Donaghue, which is very excellent.

On to this book – there are a fair few YA retellings of Beauty & the Beast knocking about, I liked Of Curses & Kisses by Sandhya Menon last year, and I had my fingers crossed this one would be fun too.

And it is. So much fun, and silly, and thoughtful and sweet. Rosie and her friends (and Space Dad) are delightful, Vance and Elias are the Odd Couple of our times and the dog, look, I love animals, even fictional ones, and Sansa the dog is a cutie (although I kept picturing Nicole Cliffe’s Sansa who is a husky not an Alsatian).

I really loved how nerdy and genuine the characters are, and yay for Quinn living their life and running for Homecoming Overlord. Brilliant subplot.

Basically this was a joyful, fun, whimsical read and you should all go buy a copy.

Me, I’m off to read Geekerella and The Princess and the Fangirl.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Summoned Ones – Darryl A. Woods*

The Bericean army was in Malabrim for the ninth straight fighting season. Over the past 9 years, Zybaro, the leader of a small band of unknowns, had evolved from his days as a minor usurper of a tiny kingdom. Now, almost the entire country of Malabrim was under Zybaro’s control, and his army was large enough to easily challenge Bericea’s army. Still, Bericea continued its raids into Malabrim, hoping to stem Zybaro’s methodical progress and thwart his tyrannical means of control. Zybaro had seized village after village, forcing anyone capable of joining his army and enslaving all who remained in deplorable working conditions to supply his army.

This latest conflict with Zybaro had pushed General Darnon to a decision, one he had resisted making for over a year. Though he still held grave reservations about the Prophecies, he was willing to support the clerics who would attempt the summoning. The details of the ritual had recently been discovered in an ancient tome. The clerics were confident they could bring forth the Summoned Ones of Prophecy, those mysterious beings who would aid Bericea in its time of greatest need.

Darnon also had concerns about the location of the summoning. It would have to take place farther into Malabrim than they had ventured in many years. And even if the ritual was effective, it would be a great challenge to get the Summoned Ones safely back to Bericea, in addition to the soldiers sent to protect them. However, Darnon felt that morale was so low, if they survived this battle, he owed his troops the hope the summoning ritual could bring.

Join the soldiers of Bericea and the Summoned Ones through a life-or-death struggle. The Summoned Ones was made up of a small college aged group of friends from a small Kentucky town near the Daniel Boone National Forrest, who find themselves somehow brought to a chaotic world through magic. Their epic journey will push the Summoned beyond the limits of their endurance. This unlikely group will discover many truths about themselves and experience another world beyond their imagination.

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Darryl Woods is a storyteller who hones his craft entertaining coworkers. He also enjoys regaling family and friends with stories of his upbringing in rural Ohio, of the motorized contraptions his father fabricated, and of the timber cutting and sawmill work he did with his father-in-law. With an appetite for reading fantasy, it was inevitable he would choose to write about an epic journey in a world dominated by magic and sword fighting.

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My thoughts:

There’s hints of A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court about this tale of a group of friends pulled into another world and thrust into a war.

Each comes into their own as they aid the Bericean forces defend their homes and grow as people.

I liked the way the group traded knowledge with their new friends, swapping skills and working together. Instead of assuming that they’re better because the Bericeans are less advanced, they see that there is much to be learnt from one another.

This book was a fun adventure story, with well rounded characters and a clearly laid out narrative. Rather than masses of world building that would clog the plot, Woods adds just enough detail for the reader to picture the environment and characters, allowing the action to stay centre stage, which bodes well for the rest of the series.

*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: Knightmare Arcanist – Shami Stovall*

Magic. Sailing. A murderer among heroes.
Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.
So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more.
In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

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About the Author

Shami Stovall is a multi-award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction, with several best-selling novels under her belt. Before that, she taught history and criminal law at the college level, and loved every second. When she’s not reading fascinating articles and books about ancient China or the Byzantine Empire, Stovall can be found playing way too many video games, especially RPGs and tactics simulators.

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My thoughts:

This was a really fun read, with monsters and pirates and mythical creatures galore. The most important lesson the young apprentices learn is to trust your friends and work together. A quick read, and perfect if you like fantasy and adventure. With another 4 books (so far) there’s plenty to look forward to.

*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 Rules – Tracy Darnton – Guest Post from the Author*

Amber’s an expert when it comes to staying hidden – she’s been trained her whole life for it. But what happens when the person you’re hiding from taught you everything you know?
When a letter from her dad arrives, Amber knows she’s got to move – and fast. He’s managed to find her and she knows he’ll stop at nothing to draw her back into the extreme survivalist way of life he believes in.
All of a sudden the Rules she’s spent so long trying to escape are the ones keeping her safe. But for how long?

Comfort camping food for after the SHTF – Tracy Darnton, author of The Rules

The Rules has just been published – my YA thriller about a girl on the run from her prepper dad. Amber’s whole childhood was about preparing for a SHTF scenario – when the Shit Hits the Fan. Civil unrest or global pandemic, you name it, Amber and her family are ‘Prepared. Not scared’. Except her dad takes it to extremes and builds a whole set of Rules for living by which he scrawls on the walls. Amber has skills – foraging, camping, first aid, survival, to name a few.

Before we all ended up living in our own nightmarish SHTF scenario – something I didn’t ever contemplate when writing the novel last year – I was drawing on my own experience of wild (and not so wild) camping for research.

I grew up going on camping trips, mostly in Snowdonia.

Since then I’ve travelled round Australia with a tent, wild-camped on Dartmoor, stayed at endless campsites with friends and family and more recently sent my kids off to wild-camp in all manner of exciting places while I’ve looked for the nearest luxury glamping site.

I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite campfire recipes – the kind of thing Amber would be able to rustle up. I love the smell of the woods in spring when they fill with pungent wild garlic so I could share my recipe for wild garlic pesto served with hot damper bread and nettle tea. BUT instead I thought I’d share the comfort food recipe that reminds me of many camping trips. As we say in our family, camping is always an experience (just not necessarily a good one) so it helps to have a comfort recipe ready for all eventualities. Prepared. Not scared.

You will need to forage (probably from the campsite shop):

banana

Cadbury’s flake (other chocolate bars are available)

foil

Cut a thin slot part way down the banana skin and squash in half the flake. (Eat the other half)

Bake the banana direct on the fire coals/BBQ, or wrap in foil if you have some, until the skin has

blackened and the inside has turned into a delicious warm, gooey chocolatey mess.

Now that leaky tent with your nearest and dearest won’t seem so bad. And don’t forget to pack The Rules for torchlight reading, home or away.


Tracy Darnton’s The Rules is published by Stripes. Her first novel The Truth About Lies was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and was a World Book Night title. She lives in Bath and longs to get out of the house and go camping in Devon or Wales. She promises she will never moan about being on a camping holiday ever again.

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My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, Amber’s a smart, determined protagonist and when the Shit Hits The Fan, in the form of the reappearance of her awful dad, she grabs her Bug Out Bag and goes.

She doesn’t quite make the clean getaway she needs but with guts aplenty and a new friend she finds the strength to stand up to the tyrant in her life and make her own rules.

This is a fantastic read that reminded me a little of Meg Rosoff’s The Way We Live Now and that’s no bad thing.

I love a strong female lead and Amber is definitely one, I’ve met a few domineering men over the last few years and the growing number of paranoid preppers, especially in the States makes this a timely read.

*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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Blog Tour: The Short Knife – Elen Caldwell*

Today I’m hosting a Bookstagram tour stop for The Short Knife – follow along on #TheShortKnife and #DarkroomTours

It is the year 454AD. The Roman Empire has withdrawn from Britain, throwing it into the chaos of the Dark Ages. Mai has been kept safe by her father and her sister, Haf. But when Saxon warriors arrive at their farm, the family is forced to flee to the hills where British warlords lie in wait. Can Mai survive in a dangerous world where speaking her mother tongue might be deadly, and where even the people she loves the most can’t be trusted?

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Elen Caldecott graduated with an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and was highly commended in the PFD Prize for Most Promising Writer for Young People. Before becoming a writer, she was an archaeologist, a nurse, a theatre usher and a museum security guard. Elen’s debut novel, How Kirsty Jenkins Stole the Elephant, was shortlisted for the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Carnegie Medal.

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My thoughts:

This short and clever piece of historical fiction takes you to post Roman Britain and the struggle to stay alive in the face of invading Saxons and increased isolation. Gripping and moving, with a strong sense of time and place.

*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: Fall Out – C.G. Moore*

I am Cal Adams what does that mean?

Sixteen years old.

Black hair.

Blue eyes.

Short.

Gay.

For Cal, coming out is explosive, but that is nothing compared to the fallout from his family, friends and foes. When events in Cal’s life reach critical, he is shaken to his core. Can he rely on his loved ones to help avoid meltdown?

My thoughts:

This is not an easy read, Cal’s life is not happy, a victim of extreme bullying at school and dealing with issues at home, his life is bleak and heartbreakingly sad. He’s struggling to find a place in the world and becomes increasingly depressed due to these struggles.

While coming out can be traumatic for some young people, there is hope. Cal’s best friend Em, and Em’s feisty grandmother accept him for who he is and support him.

As he asks for help, which is so important, his life begins to improve and his family relationships start to heal.

I feel like pressing a copy of this book into the hands of teachers, mental health teams and parents to help them understand how hard some LGBTQ+ youth are struggling.

For anyone planning to read this, a trigger warning – there are some scenes of violence, abuse, self harm and suicide.

This is well written, moving and timely.


*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

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Blog Tour: The Falling in Love Montage – Ciara Smyth*

Find this tour on Instagram today – follow #TheFallingInLoveMontage and #DarkroomTours for all the posts.

Seventeen-year-old Saoirse has finished with exams and is facing a long hot summer before uni. She plans to party, get drunk, watch horror movies and forget all her troubles by kissing girls. Ever since the breakupocalypse with her ex Hannah, she’s been alone and angry, dealing with the hole left in her family by her sick mother’s absence. Worse, Dad drops a bombshell: he’s remarrying at the end of the summer. Enter the scene: Ruby, who might just be the prettiest girl Saoirse’s ever seen. A romcom fan and a believer in true love, Ruby challenges cynical Saoirse to try a summer romance with the serious parts left out, just like in the movies. But what happens when the falling in love montage ends?

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My thoughts:

Like a rom com in book form, this follows Saoirse (Seer-sha) and Ruby as they date in movie montage moments and learn that life isn’t like the movies.

Sweet, funny, clever and heartfelt, this was a delightful read that made me smile.

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