SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 BOOKS THAT DIDN’T FALL VICTIM TO MIDDLE BOOK SYNDROME…

Happy Sunday Bookish Folk!

Good evening all! How are we all doing? Great I hope. It may be the end of the weekend but worry not I have a treat for you.

I have been meaning to do this post for a little while now, so why not restart my Sundays Seven with this little gem!

Here I am going to give you seven books that I feel have been a solid second instalment in their series. As much as we love series’ sometimes the middle book is a weaker book. Don’t get me wrong they are still good books but they sometimes fall victim to middle book syndrome!

What is middle book syndrome do you ask? Well, you may know it as ‘Second Book Slump’. Either way it refers to those second books that don’t quite live up to the first book. There are tons of reasons for this and some are even worth it! Some authors opt for more character development. They have already won you over so now they take the time to build their characters. Which again is not a bad thing at all but it can mean a lag in pace and we always notice it!

I see a good amount of people calling out series’ that slump but I am not about that, because the books are still solid books, they just miss some of the marks we readers demand. We are needy folk!

Any who, away from my ramblings. Let’s get to it…

ON TO THE BOOKS…

THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN BY BRIAN MCCLELLAN

As the fantastic reviewer Petrik said in his review of this book “It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Crimson Campaign is a marvellous sequel that’s better than the first book in every aspect“.

Petrik speaks the truth!

McClellan showed huge improvements in this instalment, not to say book one wasn’t great, it truly was but McClellan gave us so much more in book two. Characters grew, the action increased, the magic became more prevalent and so much more!

Tamas’s invasion of Kez ends in disaster when a Kez counter-offensive leaves him cut off behind enemy lines with only a fraction of his army, no supplies, and no hope of reinforcements. Drastically outnumbered and pursued by the enemy’s best, he must lead his men on a reckless march through northern Kez to safety, and back over the mountains so that he can defend his country from an angry god. In Adro, Inspector Adamat only wants to rescue his wife. To do so he must track down and confront the evil Lord Vetas. He has questions for Vetas concerning his enigmatic master, but the answers might come too quickly. With Tamas and his powder cabal presumed dead, Taniel Two-shot finds himself alongside the god-chef Mihali as the last line of defence against Kresimir’s advancing army. Tamas’s generals bicker among themselves, the brigades lose ground every day beneath the Kez onslaught, and Kresimir wants the head of the man who shot him in the eye.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


STONES OF LIGHT BY ZACK ARGYLE

I recently read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it! This is another fantastic series, and while I loved book one, book two showed so much improvement! There are so many ways for an author to avoid the slump and Zack definitely did these in this instalment. We see more character growth, the stakes are raised and Stones of Light not only moves the overall plot forward it has its own story arc too!

The coreseal is shattered and a new darkness is coming.

Chrys swore to never again let the Apogee take control but, in a moment of desperation, he gave in. Now, he will learn what the Apogee truly wants.

In Alchea, Laurel will do anything to get her threadlight back, even if it means working for the leader of the Bloodthieves. But she has no choice…a life without threadlight is no life at all.

To the west, Alverax travels with the Zeda people to the large port city of Felia, where they seek refuge after the fires in the Fairenwild. But he shattered the coreseal, and no one quite knows what the consequences will be. They only know it won’t be good.

Together, they doomed the world…now, they must save it.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


PRIEST OF LIES BY PETER MCLEAN

I am a HUGE fan of this series. This is a series in which every book gets better and better as it goes on. Priest of Lies continues with Tomas’ utterly distinct and incredible narration.

This is another series in which the stakes get higher and the risk greater! We also see huge development to several characters who are all pivotal to the story. This book is incredibly written and evokes so much emotion.

Tomas Piety has been many things: soldier, priest, gangster…and spy. As Tomas’s power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become–until they can’t take it anymore. And when they rise up…may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen’s Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen’s Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people’s champion…or just a priest of lies.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


AN ECHO OF THINGS TO COME BY JAMES ISLINGTON

To some this might seem a slightly odd book to have on this list because it can definitely feel like a second book. Some very good friends and I decided it was a bridge book. It has some of the characteristic’s of middle book syndrome but Islington still manages to make this book shine, and I personally think that is a feat in itself. An Echo of Things to Come remains engaging throughout and despite its page count keeps you wanting to learn more about the characters and the world.

I think that is easily one of this series’ main strengths you are constantly asking ‘what is next?’.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


A FOOL’S HOPE BY MIKE SHACKLE

Oh my, is this a book that knows what it is doing! Mike raises the stakes, he ups the action and anything you thought you knew he obliterates.

I think this is easily one of the best second books I have read, hence why it makes the cut!

A Fool’s Hope is intense, filled with action, packed with emotion and does not hold its punches.

If you haven’t read this series then you need to start it! NOW!

War takes everything.

From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen’s sole protector, she must give everything she has left to keep Zorique safe.


It has taken just as much from Jia’s revolutionaries. Dren and Jax – battered, tortured, once enemies themselves – now must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.


For the enemy intends to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back. And if Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia’s heroes will need to be ready when they do.


The sequel to the darkly fantastic WE ARE THE DEAD: with more unflinching action, A FOOL’S HOPE sees Jia’s revolutionaries dig in their heels as they learn that wars aren’t won in a day.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


THE FIRES OF VENGEANCE BY EVAN WINTER

The Fires of Vengeance is a top quality sequel, one of which I hugely enjoyed. This is a series that I feel is going to keep getting better too. Which considering what an incredible book The Rage of Dragons was is very impressive!

This is a second book you just don’t want to end, it is another author who has you constantly wondering what is going to come next. There are cliff hanger’s throughout and the risks are immense.

It is another very intense book, which is fast paced but also has time to build on all you have already been introduced to and with exquisite detail. It builds on the already incredible The Rage of Dragons and takes you to new heights.

Desperate to delay an impending attack by the indigenous people of Xidda, Tau and his queen craft a dangerous plan. If Tau succeeds, the queen will have the time she needs to assemble her forces and launch an all-out assault on her own capital city, where her sister is being propped up as the ‘true’ Queen of the Omehi.If the city can be taken, if Tsiora can reclaim her throne and reunite her people, then the Omehi might have a chance to survive the coming onslaught.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!


VALOUR BY JOHN GWYNNE

Is it really a list from me if John Gwynne doesn’t feature in it? No. No it is, and so here be Valour by John Gwynne.

If you haven’t read this series then be prepared to be wowed with every book. John Gwynne doesn’t just do book two right, he does books three and four perfect also. As one of my all time favourite series I am so chuffed to tell you that this book is phenomenal and while Malice was near perfection, Valour brings you even more!

Gwynne reveals so much more in this book. You can expect intrigue, scheming, deception, villainous POV’s, heroics, humour and SO MUCH MORE!

The Banished Lands are torn by war as the army of High King Nathair sweeps the realm challenging all who oppose his holy crusade. Allied with the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren, there are few who can stand against him. But Rhin is playing her own games and has her eyes on a far greater prize . . .

Left for dead – her kin have fled and her country is overrun with enemies – Cywen fights to survive. But any chance of escape is futile once Nathair and his disquieting advisor Calidus realize who she is. They have no intention of letting such a prize slip from their grasp. For she may be their one chance at killing the biggest threat to their power.

Meanwhile, the young warrior Corban flees from his conquered homeland with his exiled companions, heading for the only place that may offer them sanctuary. But to get there they must travel through Cambren, avoiding warbands, giants and the vicious wolven of the mountains. And all the while Corban struggles to become the man that everyone believes him to be – the Bright Star and saviour of the Banished Lands.

Embroiled in struggles for power and survival, the mortal world is unaware of the greatest threat of all. In the Otherworld, dark forces scheme to bring a host of the Fallen into the world of flesh to end the war with the Faithful, once and for all.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS!

Some common threads I notice in these delightful books are:

  • Increase in the stakes;
  • Even though these are second books they still have their own plot arcs;
  • Increase in pace and intensity; and
  • Further development to not one but all of their book elements (characters, world, plot, reveals, etc).

Or at least that is what I think 🙂


There you have it, seven books from seven authors that know their craft and have produced an EXCELLENT sequel!

Thanks for reading.


BOOK REVIEW | STONES OF LIGHT BY ZACK ARGYLE

Hey there sweet thannngggg!

I am back with another review because your girl here is playing some serious catch up.

It is about time I reviewed this book for Zack! He is an incredibly writer and such a nice chap. I have actually read this book twice, once via paperback and once via audio. Which is FREAKING EXCEPTIONAL.

Anywho, onto the book..

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Stones of Light
  • Author: Zack Argyle
  • Series: Threadlight
  • Published by Zack Argyle
  • Pages: 342

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The coreseal is shattered and a new darkness is rising.

Chrys swore to never again let the Apogee take control but, in a moment of desperation, he gave in. Now, he will learn what the Apogee truly wants.

In Alchea, Laurel will do anything to get her threadlight back, even if it means working for the leader of the Bloodthieves. But she has no choice…she can’t live a life without threadlight.

To the west, Alverax travels with the Zeda people to the large port city of Felia, where they seek refuge after the fires in the Fairenwild. But he shattered the coreseal, and no one quite knows what the consequences will be. They only know it won’t be good.

Together, they changed the world…now, they must save it.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book…

  • A book that keeps on getting better;
  • Brilliant character growth;
  • Faster pace;
  • More intense battles; and
  • Stunning prose!

On to the full review…

This book ticks so many boxes for me it isn’t even fair! Ahh who am I kidding? Of course it is fair because Zack can write!

Let’s start with box number one that has been ticked…THE COVER!

Oh. My. Word. Give me a moment…

This book cover has me thirsting to get into it pages like…mmm, well never mind. Imma keep this PG. Where were we? Oh yes, THE COVER! It is quite literally perfection, not so different to its contents too I might add. The style, its stunning colours and the art itself. It is a fantasy book nerds wet dream. Annnnnd the cover for book three has been revealed to which quite frankly is just as stunning…

I think one of the biggest strengths of this book is that the writing is so accessible. This story has a fairly complex plotline and has several elements that all go their own ways, but these always manage to link back and at no point is the writing or the story overbearing. You can see the work that Zack has put into this book and ensuring it all works coherently. Which is essential considering how much more we learn in Stones of Light. We see more of this incredible world. We witness more of its magic and lore. Zack gives us ALL the goods!

Zack’s writing is also beautiful, it isn’t too flowery, nor is it bland or boring. It falls perfectly on the scale of descriptive. Oh, and if you like highlighting your kindle, chances are you will find several gems in Zack’s writing. There is without doubt lessons to be learnt in this book, which brings me on to the characters because these are all lessons they are facing.

In this instalment we also see more to all of our characters. Each one has grown that much more, even some of the smaller characters have shown delightful growth. I think this goes hand in hand with the increase in pace this book. The characters are constantly moving and being tested, which in turn shows us more of their minds. How they deal with the situations and what their responses are. Their interactions with new people and threats and revisiting those we were teased of in book one!

I think it is safe to say this is another series which shows you just how a second book should be done!

In summary, I loved this book. I read it when it first came out and listened to it when the audio became available and I have to say it gets better with every read!

Now, if you read my review of Voice of War you will know I ADORE Adam Gold’s narration. This still stands, he once again created a masterpiece.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I have this and Book One in HB and they are so dang beautiful! I cant wait to get Book Three!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE LEGION OF FLAME BY ANTHONY RYAN

Good Evening Bookish Folk!

Fuck! It has been a while…I don’t really have an excuse other than LIFE! Lets just say I needed a break, I have had a break and now I’M BACK!

And what a return review…The Legion of Flame by Anthony Ryan. This is the second book in the Draconis Memoria series and I think it is easily one of my favourite seconds in a series. Lets be honest many can fall flat. Not all, don’t shoot me.

Anywho, onto the book..

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Legion of Flame
  • Author: Anthony Ryan
  • Series: The Draconis Memoria
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 638

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Survival is the only currency…

For centuries, the vast Ironship Trading Syndicate relied on drake blood–and the extraordinary powers it confers to those known as the Blood-blessed–to fuel and protect its empire. But when the drake blood lines began to fail, a perilous expedition was mounted to secure them.

Claydon Torcreek survived the fraught mission through uncharted lands in pursuit of a myth that might have secured his people’s future. Instead he found a nightmare. The legendary White Drake was awoken from a millennia-long slumber, with a thirst to reduce the world of men to ashes, and the power to compel an army of Spoiled slaves to do it.

Spurred on by a vision he desperately hopes he can trust, Clay and rebel naval officer Corrick Hilemore hijack a warship and head towards the icy southern seas, searching for an ancient secret that may give them and their allies a fighting chance.

They are aided on another front by Blood-blessed agent Lizanne Lethridge. The spy and assassin will use her diplomatic status to infiltrate deep into enemy territory on a quest for a device to save them all.

As the world burns around them, and the fires of revolution are ignited, these few Blood-blessed are the last hope for all of civilisation.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book…

  • Fantastic character development;
  • An example of how a middle book should be;
  • Exceptional plot advancement and world building; and
  • A THOROUGHLY immersive and enjoyable ride!

On to the full review…

As I mentioned earlier, this book is the second book in this series and it was a brilliant middle book. I don’t feel like it lulled and dipped but in fact kept pace, if not exceeded its predecessor! While I adored book one and praised its ability to mix several elements one wouldn’t think go together, I appreciated the consistency in this instalment. The book felt as though is fell more securely into where it wanted to go and what direction it was heading you in.

Each chapter gave me all the things I didn’t know I wanted or needed. This isn’t a book you can pause at to make a brew, something always has you thinking ‘just a few more pages…chapters’. This isn’t just in respect of the plot either, the world-building is another constant tease! I am not a huge worldbuilding fan, I find it one of the more boring elements but Ryan proved me wrong on this front. Every world element, piece of lore or detail as to the origins of the drakes was fun to read. I wasn’t just reading a book, I was fully immersed in this world and exploring it with the characters.

I also fell even more in love with the characters, which doesn’t take much when I enjoyed them as much as I did in book one. With characters I can love them straight away purely on their potential so it was so excited to continue the journey with these and all of them fulfil that potential!

We even get a new POV and boy oh boy is it an new, insightful and fascinating POV!

This instalment was such a beautiful blend of character development, word building and plot progression and did not fall victim to middle book syndrome!


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

Fuck. I wish I had this in HARDBACK!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


FIVE STARS IN AUDIOBOOK NARRATION…

Hello Bookish Folks!

Well, it is official…I LOVE AUDIOBOOKS!

I think I now own over 50 audiobooks and even more on my Wish List! Now that might not be many to some, and I started this post a while ago so it has definitely increased. Point being, your girl hear loves audiobooks.

I HATED audiobooks at first, I couldn’t stand them at all but I persisted mainly due to the awesome David pushing me and guiding me through how to find ones I liked and tips of introducing myself to them.

Then I found maybe three narrators that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out and stuck with them, which really limited me to what I could listen to but the thing is with audiobooks once you have listened to a few then more narrators become enjoyable to you! It is 100% a transition, or at least it was for me.

Don’t get me wrong some narrators can butcher an amazing book, in my opinion, but there are also so many supremely talented voice actors. Now, I cant guarantee you will love the same people I do but here are five narrators that tick all the boxes for me as a listener.

ADAM GOLD

Adam Gold is an American voice actor, who despite only having performed one book I have read, has earned a spot in my top five narrators. Its helps that Voice of War and Stones of Light by Zack Argyle are absolutely fan-freaking-tastic reads but still Gold truly performs in his narrations of these books. Gold has a very distinctive voice, and despite this he still managed to make all the characters different and I still feel at any point like I couldn’t tell who was in the scene.

I definitely feel that Gold’s experience as an actor brings even more talent to his narrations. He embodies every character, it doesn’t come across a just a change of accent but an in depth understanding of every character, and for me that was reflected in this audiobook!

He has also narrated book two of the Threadlight series so definitely watch out for that release!

DAVID MORLEY HALE

Maybe I am biased here as a fellow Lancastrian, but Hale is a freaking phenomenal narrator. His voice has such a depth and is perfect for fantasy narration in my opinion.

His narration in Priest of Bones is pretty damned perfect, it is gravely and real and while I adore the books and own them I will likely never read them because he is who I need to read those books to me!

Hale possesses such a sense of emotion in his narrations, the rhythm and cadence of his voice made me appreciate every world the talented Peter McLean had written.

PRENTICE ONAYEMI

Prentice Onayemi was introduced to me when Twitter went crazy over Evan Winter’s epic debut, The Rage of Dragons, and I picked up the audiobook. Onayemi’s performance is outstanding, put simply, and it is no surprise considering the number of books he has under his belt.

There are several books I want to listen to that aren’t even in the Fantasy genre, he has so many books to his name. All of which I hope to listen to at some point.

JOE JAMESON

I must confess, I didn’t actually like Joe Jameson at first. Worry not though, I found the error in my ways and found a fantastic narrator with SO MANY amazing fantasy book under his belt! And I am talking about a LOT of books.

I had tried Jameson previously and found his narration not to my liking at first, it wasn’t until his narration of The Kingdom of Liars that I truly fell in love. I don’t know what it was but I couldn’t stop listening, then having had a full book of his voice I looked into his other performances and I was shocked at the sheer number of books he has narration. I then went on to listen to Snakewood and fell even deeper into his voice.

His voice is so distinctive, and again despite the number of books I have now listened to of his I don’t get mixed up or feel like it reminds me of another book. His voice is one which captures the characters, and I found he truly captures the essence of the character in his performances, be them arrogant, ignorant or young he delivers on all fronts.

COLIN MACE

Last but not least, Mr Colin Mace.

With a background in theatre, film and TV Mace brings a whole lot of skill to the table.

After listening to only the sample to Blackwing I was sold by Mace’s performance. I wanted more immediately. I then went in a search to fid more of Mace and again found another narrator with so many audiobooks to his name, and even better so many of those were on my TBR.

Performing the darker and grimmer books can sometimes trip up narrators, in my opinion, however this is not an issue for Mace. He manages to reflect the sombre nature of the world and life of the character but not to a point it is tiring listening to them. He has a voice that makes you feel like you are sat around a fire listening to him tell you a story of his life.



BLOG UPDATE | MEET THE ADDITIONS…

Hello Bookish folks..

When it comes to finding new contributors to ones blog, the search is one of great importance. Without incredibly talented contributors what would we all spend our down time reading when we don’t have our heads in a book? How would we continually increase our TBR’s without gushing reviews from the awesome bloggers out there? It would be a sad and lonely place without them…without you all!

I have been writing my own reviews and bookish posts for over a year now, and it always surprises and wows me when I find new people to connect with.

So, these last few weeks me, myself and I set out on a delightfully perilous journey through the innumerable threads and vast armies of followers to the most magical and dragon plagued world of TWITTER.

The goal: to hopefully find some more awesome contributors to join me.

After trekking through the immense world of social media, I stumbled across quite the find. So, in this update post today, we are going to introduce and get to know some of the awesome contributors joining The Book in Hand!

Sit back and relax, because I’m about to show you just who decided to join!

WELCOMING TO THE COURT…

Our first new blogger is a dark rogue, who is also a self confessed fantasy nut from all the way across the pond! He likes piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain…

Ok. For real! He likes to spill his thoughts about books, especially Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Thrillers. Some of his favourites are…

and is also branching out into the self-published world to with the likes of Will Wight!

Welcoming to the fold…

William from THAT DARK ROGUE REVIEWS

You can find him on Twitter talking books or on his blog!

@ThatDarkRogue | Twitter

THAT DARK ROGUE REVIEWS | Blog


Our second new face to the blog is a swordsmith and explorer of other worlds! His mission in life to read through as many amazing books as possible!

Some of this swordsmith’s favourites are…

Welcome…

PETER from THE SWORDSMITH

The Swordsmith | Blog

@Eldrazi56 | Twitter

@the_sword_smith36 | Instagram

Peter | Goodreads


Our third addition to the blog is a mercenary with many names and master debater from Finland!

Originating in southwestern Australia in the late 1970s, he was raised on a diet of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf and books by Douglas Hill as often as Hill’s poor imitators Asimov and Clarke. He was deemed “too annoying” to be permitted into his school Dungeons and Dragons club. This left him with more time to read.

ANDREW from Hatboys hatstand

Edpool was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 and decided to make a book out of the harrowing and hilarious series of social media exchanges he collected about the ordeal, from first symptom to final clean bill of health. For more info on that head here!

Hatboy’s Hatstand | Blog

@St_EdPool | Twitter

Chucky Hindle | YouTube

Andrew Hindle | Amazon

Andrew Hindle | Goodreads


Our last addition to the blog, but by no means the least is a world wandering genius who has come all the way from…dare I say it? Instagram!

Some of his favourite series’ are…

Welcome…

ARTHUR from NO cracked spines

@nocrackedspines | Instagram

Arthur | Goodreads


WHAT IS UP NEXT…

Well, you can expect beautiful photos and a well polished review of Dune from Arthur this Friday!

A certain dark rogue will also be giving us his thoughts on Gideon the Ninth on Sunday!

EdPool is currently reviewing a whole of host of glorious self-published Sci-Fi books for The Self-Published Science Fiction Competition so watch out for those!

Peter is getting us even more excited for the next Tide Child book with his thoughts on the series so far!



BOOK REVIEW | THE BLACK COAST BY MIKE BROOKS

Good Afternoon Bookish Folk!

Today I will be posting my review of, as the title of this post suggests, Mike Brooks’ book ‘The Black Coast’. I would like to thank Orbit for providing me with a copy of this book this book in exchange for an honest review.

I also bought this as an audiobook too as I was struggling to find the time to read it so opted to listen when I could too.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Black Coast
  • Author: Mike Brooks
  • Series: The God-King Chronicles (Book One)
  • Published by Orbit
  • Pages: 643

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

The Black Coast is the start of a series filled with war-dragons, armoured knights, sea-faring raiders, dangerous magic and battle scenes.

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book…

  • Fantastic world building;
  • A solid foundational book to start a series;
  • LGBTQ+ rep;
  • Political intrigue; and
  • Epic battles.

On to the full review…

The Black Coast first appeared on my radar when I was browsing through NetGalley, and if I am being honest, I probably would have kept on scrolling if I hadn’t loved the cover. It is amazing what a good book cover can do.

So, as you do I checked out the Goodreads page. The book sounded a little different but definitely intriguing and it had a few good reviews already attached to it so I decided to request it from NetGalley. I am happy to say that I am glad I did. While, I only rated this with three stars on Goodreads it was still a good solid read and a series I will continue.

This book was an interesting one, namely due to its focus on finding a peaceful resolution when war is the usual choice in such books. I honestly think this is what gave this read such a refreshing feel to it. Brooks still managed to create enough tension and hostility in his writing without it being outright war between these peoples.

I am not usually one to sing and dance about a books world building, I always appreciate it and will openly praise it, but as a reader I don’t need too much of it. I am the kind of reader that needs a little here and there and a good few distinctive features thrown in to the mix, then I can let my imagination run wild from there. However, saying this I was continually wowed by Brooks’ ability to build such a seamless world, and yet have so many different cultures woven into it. Brooks managed to throw these people together and create a believable environment, one in which some preferred certain elements of the others way of life and vice versa. Which as you can imagine was a great way to create tension between several character in a authentic and exciting way.

Brooks’ writing was easy to read and despite the level of detail found in its genders, cultures and languages it was still accessible and enjoyable. It is not easy to introduce such a new and detailed world and it not feel to the reader like you a trudging through mud to understand it, but this was not the case for this. It was easy to follow and you understand each cultures way of life quickly.

Brooks also deserves much praise for his dialogue in this book. I laughed, I frowned and I scowled. No word is wasted here, and all of it seems to go that few steps further to showing you who the characters are.

In terms of the characters I found myself enjoying certain ones over others and I found myself wanting to get back to their POV’s more often than not. I felt at times there was quite a disparity between several of the characters we meet, some were a lot more fleshed out than others which led to me not really connecting with some of them. I think we will definitely see more of them in the future books and learn more from them but in this instalment many fell into the background for me.

However, those that seemed to fall into the background a little were ones which seemed to be crucial to the beginnings of future plots. Those relevant to the main plot were utterly brilliant.

I enjoyed this book and the audiobook is great! While I had a few issues with the characters I am excited to see those that fell into the background grow and become more crucial to the plot. This book is definitely a foundational book and brings with it some of the flaws of focusing on preparing for the overall series but in the same breath has me so excited for the next book.

I believe that this will be a brilliant series, and once we get to know all the character to the level we have reached with some of them in this instalment, it is going to be magical.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

This is a book I would currently rank at BUY THE PAPERBACK, or audiobook with a credit. I was honestly going to rate this as a BUY THE EBOOK but then I remembered how much I liked listening to it via audiobook and if I am spending £7.00 on it via a credit then I would also spend that on the PB!

The Black Coast was a solid foundation to a series and one I will continue to read, I feel like this will be ranked higher when I have read more of the series because there is SO much potential here!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | THE KINGDOM OF LIARS BY NICK MARTELL

Hello!

I actually started writing my review to book two of this series and the when I tried to link the review to this I realised I hadn’t even written it yet! So, here it is now…

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Kingdom of Liars
  • Author: Nick Martell
  • Series: The Legacy of the Mercenary King (Book One)
  • Published by Gollancz
  • Pages: 544

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

In this brilliant debut fantasy, a story of secrets, rebellion, and murder are shattering the Hollows, where magic costs memory to use, and only the son of the kingdom’s despised traitor holds the truth. 

Michael is branded a traitor as a child because of the murder of the king’s nine-year-old son, by his father David Kingman. Ten years later on Michael lives a hardscrabble life, with his sister Gwen, performing crimes with his friends against minor royals in a weak attempt at striking back at the world that rejects him and his family.

In a world where memory is the coin that pays for magic, Michael knows something is there in the hot white emptiness of his mind. So when the opportunity arrives to get folded back into court, via the most politically dangerous member of the kingdom’s royal council, Michael takes it, desperate to find a way back to his past. He discovers a royal family that is spiraling into a self-serving dictatorship as gun-wielding rebels clash against magically trained militia.

What the truth holds is a set of shocking revelations that will completely change the Hollows, if Michael and his friends and family can survive long enough to see it. 

ORDER HERE: Audible | Amazon.co.uk

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book…

  • A brilliant debut;
  • Politics, family, brotherhood and many more great themes;
  • A distinctive and fun world;
  • A freaking fantastic audiobook; and
  • A mystery feel to the plot.

On to the full review…

The Kingdom of Liars was for me a huge surprise and one I am glad I got to experience. I didn’t really know much about this book and admittedly requested it on NetGalley without much thought on the matter. I know, bad me. However, I started reading it and as per usual work stole half of my time so I switched it up and started listening to it instead and all I can say was that I was so thoroughly hooked!

The Kingdom of Liars ticked so many boxes for me! We had mystery, adventure, magic, politics and so much intrigue. It was such an enjoyable read, that is not to say it is perfect but when I have this much fun reading a book I really don’t mind if it falters in a few areas. I enjoyed the characters, the world and the story.

Something I really liked about this book was the magic. It was refreshing to read and I always appreciate it when there are heavy costs to the use of said magic, which in this case was the magic users memories. Mix that in with a story in which the characters are constantly seeking out the truth, the risk of potentially finding something out only to loose it as a result of your magic use is quite frankly genius. It is such a simple concept and yet so damned effective, there is literally always the fear that you will find out the information you are so desperately trying to find only to lose it in a heartbeat because of a decision to save yourself or another. I mean if that doesn’t have you salivating as a reader I don’t know what will!

I also loved our main character, Michael. Yes he was a very VERY flawed character and he can be such a pity party to himself but lord knows I loved the kid! I saw his irritating traits and even rolled my eyes a few times at how he insisted on acting without all the information but I am not going to lie, I absolutely loved reading him. Michael was such a fresh take on the main character and as a result I found his internal thoughts and his interactions with other characters throughly engaging and enjoyable.

There were a few technical issues present in this debut and a few pacing issues but as I said earlier I loved the characters, the world and the plot so they didn’t bother me all that much. Yes, I noticed them but when you read as many books as I do it is hard not to spot them at times. The question is did they impact or decrease my enjoyment of this book? Absolutely not.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I also thoroughly enjoyed book two! Thus, I cant wait to read book three!


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I actually already have this book in Hardback and I stand by that purchase. So, this is a really easy rating for my…BUY THE HARDBACK


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK SPOTLIGHT | KINGS AND DAEMONS BY MARCUS LEE

A massive thank you to the fabulous TheWriteReads for arranging this blog tour.

Hello EVERYONE!

I have been away for a while now, with several attempts at coming back that I have failed at miserably but I am now officially back so we can expect content from me again!

I won’t bore you with the details and so I will move swiftly on to this post…

Today we are participating in the book tour for Kings and Daemons, you may or may not have seen my previous review of this book, so today I will be posting a spotlight post. Now, this is the first spotlight post I have ever done so pardon me if it sucks ass!

ONTO THE BOOK…

KINGS AND DAEMONS BY Marcus Lee

THE GIFTED AND THE CURSED | BOOK ONE

A few facts about Kings and Daemons:

  • Title: Kings and Daemons
  • Author: Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and The Cursed (Book One)
  • Publisher: Self Published by Mr Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 416

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

If you like fantasy tales of conquest, dark kings, daemonic heroes, and magic, you’ll love ‘Kings and Daemons’ by Epic Fantasy author, Marcus Lee. This is a spellbinding Dark Fantasy novel which will enchant you with its plot of ambition, revenge, love, and tragedy. What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.

—–

Over fifty years have passed since Daleth the seemingly immortal Witch-King, and his army conquered the Ember Kingdom.

Now, with the once fertile lands and its enslaved people dying around him, the Witch-King, driven by his insatiable thirst for eternal youth, prepares his forces to march on the prosperous neighbouring Freestates. It will be the beginnings of a conquest that could destroy nations, bringing death and destruction on an unimaginable scale.

Then, when a peasant huntress whose rare gift was concealed from birth is exposed, it sets in motion a chain of events that could alter the destiny of generations to come.


Sound good…I can confirm it is! If you want to pick up your own copy you can do so through Kindle Unlimited or treat yourself to a physical copy from Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com


A SNIPET OF MY REVIEW..

CONTINUE READING…

What Marcus had to say…

Writing hasn’t always been a serious hobby for me … but it has always been there, lurking in the shadows, serving me well when called upon.

As I look back over the years, I realise I was guilty of writing many short stories, as well as poetry, and I’d like to think, that even if they were never intended to be published, they were nonetheless warmly received by the intended recipients.

Then in 2019, I was inspired to write not just a short story, or poetry, but a book. Then, suddenly, one book turned into a trilogy and a labour of love, and it was a love I wanted to share with the world.

So, here we are. The pandemic that put my career in sport on hold also gave me the opportunity to lavish time on my alternative hobby, and now I’ve started, I don’t intend to stop.

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books and also other version of his book covers.

Marcus’ Twitter:

Go and follow Marcus, he is a great contributor to the Book Twitter community and is great to engage with too!

Marcus’ Facebook:

What I just said! But for Facebook…

PRAISE FOR KINGS AND DAEMONS…

KINGS AND DAEMONS is a multi-perspective fantasy tale that takes the reader on an exciting journey that both entertains and gives all of the familiar traditional fantasy feels that made me fall in love with the genre to begin with…”

Nick Borrelli @ Out of This World SFF

“I wasn’t expecting such an enthralling and well written book. I was hooked pretty much from the start…”

Cassidee @ FanFiAddict

“Deliciously dark fantasy, and a spectacular debut…”

Rowena Andrews @ Beneath a Thousand Skies

“Marcus Lee managed to write an excellent debut and I am really looking forward to reading the following two books of the trilogy…”

Lily @ Lily Reads

“Grim and hopeful at the same time, Marcus Lee’s debut is an enjoyable tale of magic, possessed knights, dark lords and Daemons…”

FBN @ FantasyBookNerd

Well, as usual thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and read about the book I am reading! I truly hope you pick this book up as it is such a great read!

Byee



AUTHOR INTERVIEW | ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY

Hello All!

Now that I have let you have a little breather between me posting my review of Adrian’s ‘Shards of Earth’ I will share with you my first ever interview!

No, I am joking! I had such fun with this little project. It was great fun researching Adrian and finding unasked questions!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR…

Meet Adrian, if you don’t already know his face…

Check him out on Twitter, Goodreads or his Website!

THE INTERVIEW…

Adrian, after a little internet stalking I managed to find out a few things about you. You’re a British author, studied Zoology and psychology., then worked as a legal executive before becoming a writer full time. You enjoy the natural world and have trained in various things and have some varied and interesting fighting skills.

So, tell me something about yourself that we don’t already know. Now don’t hold back on me this can be anything, from a random fact to a funny childhood story. Go…

AT: At university and for some years afterwards I was seriously into drama, acting – though not to the extent of actually being very good at it. However I did a lot of middling roles, and even wrote some plays that the local am dram group put on. I even met my wife while doing Shakespeare’s The Tempest. 

I can relate to that acting was always of some interest to me to, I think it is the drive to be creative, you know? Keeping on with your varied background, I noticed you studied Zoology and Psychology and then practiced as a legal executive.

How did you go from zoology to working in the legal sector? 

AT: When I got out of university the job market (mid 90s UK) was terrible. After a couple of dreadful jobs I ended up at the Legal Aid Board which processed lawyers’ claims for publicly-funded work. They were basically shifting over to a different system and had a huge backlog of paperwork to clear, so they were hiring just about anyone. That introduced me to the idea of the legal profession, but of course I had no legal training. What I did have, because of my writing, was a killer typing speed, so I managed to parlay that into a position as a legal secretary, then trained as a lawyer while working at that. 

Blimey! That is quite the change you made there! I note you also said in previous interviews that you have a love for the natural world…

What is your favourite landscape? I love the mountains but something about the rainforest just trumps it for me. 

AT: Honestly from my writing you’d think it’d be swamps, as they seem to turn up so often. I like anything that has an interesting biodiversity though. Rainforests are the top for that, but wetlands, reefs, even deserts given the amount of insects and reptiles and the like you can get there. For the purposes of the question below, however, let’s go for wetland/swamps. 

Ok, you are stranded in that terrain, which three fictional characters would you want to be stranded with and why? 

AT: I’m tempted to say Atreyu from Never-ending Story because he has a useful horse, but it’s probably too soon…

I’d go firstly for the Biologist from Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. I admit it’s a risky choice. You wouldn’t know if you could trust her, or just who was actually looking back at you from moment to moment. If you wanted someone who understood wetlands and how to survive in them, though, there’s nobody better. For a given value of ‘survive’ of course.

Next up let’s go for Patera Silk from Gene Wolfe’s Long Sun books. Partly because he’s somewhat omnicompetent – he has a genetic predisposition to pick up and master skills extremely quickly. Mostly because he’s very good company, one of the few SFF protagonists who would be a genuinely pleasant dinner guest or travelling companion.

Finally, to blow my own trumpet and as I’ve written plenty about horrible swamps, let’s have Mallen from my own Guns of the Dawn, as he’s another born survivor with a keenly enquiring mind and I could probably prevail on him, given I wrote him, to do most of the heavy lifting. 

I am still yet to discover the full depth of the world in Shards of Earth, but I did read Doors of Eden and loved it. The detail that went into it was phenomenal. I imagine your research can be quite the rabbit hole as you have to have a wider understanding of it to be able to condense it down for your stories.

When you are researching certain topics, how much of your research would you say goes into your writing and is it hard decided what is crucial to allow the readers an understanding without going it becoming to heavy and problematic to other elements, such as the emotional impacts of certain events and characters. 

AT: It’s one of the great writer’s arts to pare what you have learned on a subject down to the bare minimum. The temptation to show off your erudition is always very strong. Certainly it’s something my editors bring me up on quite often. And every reader’s different, and some may prefer more or less visible scaffolding. It’s a real case-by-case exercise, but you get a mental feel for those situations where you just haven’t joined the dots enough, or where readers might get tripped out of the immersion by questions about why or how something happened. 

Ok, I love Space as many do, it is so incredibly intriguing and terrifying. So, let’s talk aliens! The idea that we are alone in the universe is equally as terrifying as us not being alone. What is your take on this, do you believe in aliens? 

AT: Given the scale of the universe, the idea that we’re the one world with recognizable life is inconceivable. The universe has a common chemistry, the same elements produced from stars, that react together in the same ways. Carbon’s out there and it behaves in certain ways in conjunction with other elements. We know those complex interactions can cross over into becoming self-replicating life (because it did on Earth), and likely that’s just one pathway of many by which life systems could arise. And once even very simple life gets going, it will accelerate and adapt to every niche and environment accessible to it, once you have a self-replicating but fallible system with finite resources. It seems likely that the first alien life we meet – perhaps even within our own solar system – will be the equivalent of prokaryotic microbes, because the majority of the history of life on Earth is single-celled, but that’s still alien life. And, given enough time, there are various pathways that can leave to a higher-energy lifestyle, more complex organisms, larger and more varied life, even sentience. 

That is so incredible! I personally agree, I think it is just too big for there not to be anything, as like you said it would stile alien life, just maybe not as we think of it.

As a lover of sci-fi I have always watched sci-fi TV shows and movies. Especially when I was younger with my dad, we watched some great sci-fi shows. I always loved Farscape and Stargate SG1.

Did you watch any such shows and if so which one was your favourite? 

AT: Farscape remains my favourite TV SF show. Other favourites from back in the day include B5 and Doctor Who, which was my very first fandom. More recently there was the new incarnation of Battlestar Galactica (and yes, I was of an age to watch the original as well!), and masterpieces like The Expanse and Discovery, which are my current space-viewing. 

Yes! I am so glad you love Farscape! Doctor Who is amazing too. I feel like we are getting more and more sci-fi gems on TV of late, and I for one am here for it!

Moving on, or I will fangirl and not finish this interview!

Now, you’re a full time writer tell us a little about your working day as a full time writer. 

AT: Well right now and 18 months ago are a little different. Back before The Thing I tended to go write in coffee shops or the Waterstones café. Since the changes, I’ve adapted well enough to writing at home, up in the attic like the wife in Jane Eyre. I tend to write in a single block in the mornings, and depending on how things are going, possibly more later on. Or I may have edits or something similar to get down to later in the day. 

Ah I bet you miss that! Coffee shops are amazing. You are an incredibly quick writer having published several books now, 124 listing works if you ask Goodreads. And you publish them at such a fantastic rate! What is your average turnaround for a book? 

AT: I plan a great deal and I think that helps my output. I don’t write more per day than most, I think – at least based on the reports of those of my peers who talk about wordcount. I tend to produce a first draft that doesn’t need much editing before I can submit it, though. The pre-planning means things can fall into place without my going back to retcon and alter earlier chapters most of the time. Now I’m writing full time I would hope to get that first draft done in six months, perhaps, for a full length novel. 

Some of Adrians other works…

Keeping in with that vein of questioning, what is you writing process like. Do you plan and allocate time to certain phases such as researching, planning and writing or do you just sit down and let the stay cool out? 

AT: I don’t really allocate time, I just do. I always start with the worldbuilding, and any attendant research that might need. Ideally, by the time I actually start on the first chapter, I’ve got a world with all its axioms, histories, factions, species etc, from which have arisen both the characters and the events of the plot. I’ve got a chapter breakdown showing me where the book’s going to go. I hit the ground running, basically. And it doesn’t always work. I’ve had a couple of projects where the plan has fallen apart in the middle and I’ve had to go back and reorder and re-write large sections. And at that point I suspect I’m floundering where a writer more used to writing on the fly would just sail past. 

What would you say is your biggest change in the way you write now to the way you wrote early in your writing career? 

AT: I think it comes down to a kind of blanket awareness of how it all comes together. Partly a conscious understanding of the mechanics of narrative and language, partly a subconscious feel for what works. Plus, frankly, I’m older and better informed and hopefully have a broader understanding of… just stuff basically. So the decisions I make in the story are hopefully less naïve than they have been. 

So a little about your newest book!

Shards of Earth talk to me about that. You have some pretty unique races and politics involved. I loved the Hivers immediately with the whole hive mind concept, who was your favourite race to create and play with. 

AT: So Shards of Earth and the Final Architecture series, yes. I had a cracking time putting the universe together for those books – both the human factions and groups and the various alien species that interact with them. It’s hard to choose, but I suspect the Essiel are my favourites, just because they’re so maddeningly obscure. They have a huge space empire, which scared the crap out of the humans who first met them. They have dozens of other species as subject races, and yet they’re not remotely aggressive or interested in invading. They’d just love it if humans joined their collective, but, you know, no pressure. Except the problem with the Essiel is that they’re really not very human at all, and so all negotiations with them go through alien interpreters, and then through the weird human cult that’s decided the Essiel are saviour gods, and couch everything in religious terms. And then you have the human diplomats hearing all this ecumenical business and trying to work out what it is exactly that the Essiel really want. And then of course humans learned what the deal was, a little too late, because the Essiel had already met the world-reshaping Architects a while back, only the translations never quite got to that part. 

What were some of your influences for Shards of Earth? 

Honestly the biggest influence was all the sublight travel in Children of Ruin. I was very ready to go a bit further from the hard science just so I could have FTL travel. And when I’d made that decision, I had to work up a nice, novel system for how FTL might work in this universe, and that kind of expanded to take over the book, as you’ll see. The lead character, Idris, is an Intermediary, which means among other things that he’s an unspace navigator. And unspace, where you go when you need to get around the universe faster than light does, is a nasty place, and allegedly something even nastier lives in it, and Idris has been living with that for decades. And so the basic SF concepts aren’t just futuristic conveniences for the characters or the plot, they’re shot all the way through the book. And it all kind of flowered out of that. The Architects themselves, of course, are a take on that classic SF staple, the Big Dumb Object, except in this case they’re also a creature, and they kill planets. And the first human contact anyone has with them is when they come and kill Earth.

Well, Adrian, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions! It has been such fun! I hope we can do it again sometime!


There you have it folks, my first ever interview! I hope you liked it and enjoyed Adrian’s answers I know he had me giggling at a few. I would love to keep doing this as it is to fun, so if you can think of any fun questions I could have asked et me know!

Thank you for reading, feel free to comment or head on over to my Twitter account and we can have a talk all things bookish!