BOOK TOUR REVIEW | THE END OF DREAMS BY MARCUS LEE

Hello Bookish Folk!

How are we all doing today? I hope you are all well.

Today I am once again thrilled to be one of the many incredible bloggers coming together to review Marcus Lee’s final book in The Gifted and the Cursed trilogy! This tour is hosted by Storytellers on Tour, who I have had the pleasure of working with on a few previous occasions, so definitely check out their site!

I would also like to take this time to thank Marcus for sending me a copy of this book!

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The End of Dreams
  • Author:  Marcus Lee
  • Series: The Gifted and the Cursed (Book Three)
  • Published by Marcus Lee
  • Pages: 403

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

‘What the gods give with one hand, they take away with the other, for if you are gifted, you shall also be cursed.’

The End of Dreams is the nervewracking and glorious conclusion to The Gifted and The Cursed trilogy.

—–

As Daleth the Witch-King and his horde ready themselves for the final battle, a small alliance prepares for a desperate last stand.

However, the alliance is weak and fractured, led by a king interested only in retaining his wealth and a lord commander consumed by his thirst for revenge. With a seemingly unbeatable army before them, invisible foes amongst them, and broken hearts between them, the alliance appears destined to fall.

Yet in these dark times, her light almost extinguished, a peasant huntress is soon to be queen. But if she can find what was lost, she might prove to be more powerful than two kings combined.

This war will bring about the end of dreams, but for whom, the gods have yet to decide

ORDER HERE: Paperback | Kindle (Free with Kindle Unlimited)


Review:

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

  • A dark fantasy romance;
  • Epic battles;
  • A far reaching and magnificent world;
  • Deep, complex and nuanced characters; and
  • An utterly satisfying end to a great trilogy.

On to the full review…

I feel like I have been on such a journey with these books, from its characters and their journey all the way down to mine. I have the joy of saying that I have been able to participate in a book tour for each book from this series, and I am honoured to have been one of the many bloggers to have come together to share our thoughts on these books.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series as a whole and this final book was not a disappointment. I have loved, throughout reading this series, the the detail Lee puts into his writing, it is the little things I wouldn’t think of like Kalas’ armour being to bright to give appropriate camouflage, and it just adds that little extra to his writing that makes all the difference to the readers immersion into the book. 

I also really enjoyed Lee’s knack for showing us the camaraderie amongst those who had survived Tristan’s Folly, and the introduction of new people into their ranks, though I did feel at times that anyone who wasn’t a part of their group were untrained simpletons and that at times felt a little unrealistic.

Lee manages to draw out some serious emotion towards the characters. Lord knows the moment I saw Yana’s name I was sighing at the bitch. Girl, please. He ain’t your man!! But then she surprises you and has you agreeing and appreciating certain aspects of the same damn character and it is such a real and human reaction. You don’t simply hate someone and instantly dislike every word out of their mouth and I like that Lee is able to showcase the complexity of several of his characters, especially within his darker less “good” characters. 

Lawdd, help me but I just cannot get enough of Lee’s ability to blur the lines between what is typically good and evil! It allowed for us to see so many shades to several different characters every time we saw it from their eyes. 

Damn, Daleth!

The man got darker in this instalment, suffering many near fatal wounds at the hands of Kalas he was bitter, showed slight signs of redemption, became even darker and more! I think that is what makes him a great villain, and while they were utterly despicable they were such a great addition to this character and story overall. I think Daleth was one of my favourite characters!

The characters that have filled the pages of this series are all great, some you love, some you hate and some you just can’t decide! But regardless of that I’m sad to see an end to their stories and happy because this was just such a satisfying ending!

It gives you everything!

It wraps up the tory brilliantly, it makes you sad, then happy, then sad again, then smug and so much more. It is simply one of those ending that is truly satisfying.

I don’t want to say much about the plot because you have so much to experience when you read this but know it is very satisfying, we travel and get to experience so much more of this incredible and vivid world Lee has created. It is a world that just keeps giving, I absolutely adored the insertion of the Horselords. I loved them, they are such a great addition to an already great book. It is the fear of their savage nature, the unknown and so much more that I enjoy about these elements and Lee managed to execute it so well, you were genuinely worried about the outcome of certain plot points surrounding them, so kudos to Lee for brilliantly weaving them into this story and with such suspense and tension.

I do have one gripe, and it is petty but the overuse of the word ‘for’ bugged me to no end. It was everywhere, I loved it in the other books because it wasn’t used nearly as much as it was in this book. I got to a point where I scowled each time I saw it.

However, despite my petty gripe this book and series in general is a fab one! When I think bak to the books of this trilogy I just smile, it is one of those trilogy that has a lot of scenes and moments that I love, I can pick out so many scenes that I LOVED and get excited about these books all over again!


You know the drill, On to the rating…

THE RANKS: 

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

I am happy to say that Tristan’s Folly is a BUY THE PAPERBACK! Yayyy

  • As I said in my review, I enjoyed this book. I have book one and two so it would be rude t not have the complete set!

ABOUT MARCUS LEE…

What Marcus Lee has 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, or if demand dictates my new career.

However, only you, the reader, will decide whether this trilogy, which is still a work in progress, will be my first of many.  I genuinely hope so.

Who knows, now these creative juices are flowing, I might just keep on writing anyway.

Epic fantasy has been my favourite genre since I first read The Odyssey and the Illiad as a seven-year-old.  Now it’s my turn to see if I can bring another world to life in the imagination of others. 

Ways to get in touch with Marcus…

Author Website:

Head on over to Marcus’ website where you can see his upcoming books, other reviews, artwork and more,

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:

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK OF THE MONTH | FEBRUARY

Hello Bookish folks!

It is that time of month where I talk about the book I have read in February and guys I read a lot in February, too much to be honest. While I enjoyed the books I read after so many I got serious book fatigue. My pace dropped and I had a mini slump of sorts, it wasn’t the slump in which no book sounded interesting but a literal inability to focus and read more than a few paragraphs without being distracted by tiny things!

I overdid it!

Though, I have to admit I am seriously impressed with my month at the same time, I made such a big push because I want to get through my ARCs both physicals and from NetGalley, and I was able to up my NetGalley ration through the five reviews I was able to get through.

On top of that I dealt with a two physical ARCs and worked my way up to a few other NetGalleys…the ones where I may have, and by may have I mean definitely did, request book three of a series which then got accepted and so meant I have to read the two earlier books…

I know, its a shameful thing to do!

What I am reading currently…

I am currently reading The Light of All That Falls by James Islington with David S from FanFiAddict and Eleni from Late Night Books! I am also about 70% of the way through The End of Dreams by Marcus Lee as a part of the Book Tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour and finally I am listening to The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell in preparation for one of those shamefully requested NetGalley.

ALL ARE GREAT SO FAR!

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS MONTH?

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them – the Gifted – are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion’s Four Tenets, vastly limiting their own powers.
As a young Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and his friends are despised beyond their school walls for the magical power they wield: a power that Davian, despite his best efforts, cannot seem to control. Worse, with his final test approaching and the consequences of failure severe, time to overcome his struggles is fast running out.
But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that will change his life – and shake the entire world.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, more so because I had the joy of reading this with some amazing book friends but I cannot deny it is an amazing debut!

Snakewood by Adrian Selby

This debut epic fantasy from a British writer of incredible talent tells the tale of the Twenty, a band of mercenaries hunted by an unknown killer. Filled with unique voices and incredible worldbuilding, this stunning novel will delight fans of Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, Joe Abercrombie or Mark Lawrence.

Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through their cunning, their closely guarded alchemical brews and stone cold steel. Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days behind them and their genius leader in hiding, the warriors known as the ‘Twenty’ are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.

A lifetime of enemies has its own price.

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Snakewood was a really great and an amazing introduction to the works of Adrian Selby, it is a format that some may not like. It has an actually name but I cant remember it but it is when the book is made up of a collective of journals and accounts to make up a story. Either way I really enjoyed it.

THE LIBRARY OF THE DEAD by T. L. HUCHU

When ghosts talk, she will listen . . .

Ropa dropped out of school to become a ghost talker – and she now speaks to Edinburgh’s dead, carrying messages to the living. A girl’s gotta earn a living, and it seems harmless enough. Until, that is, the dead whisper that someone’s bewitching children – leaving them husks, empty of joy and life. It’s on Ropa’s patch, so she feels honour bound to investigate. But what she learns will change her world.

She’ll dice with death (not part of her life plan . . .) as she calls on Zimbabwean magic and Scottish pragmatism to hunt down clues. For Edinburgh hides a wealth of secrets. And in the process, she discovers an occult library and some unexpected allies. Yet as shadows lengthen, will the hunter become the hunted?

Opening up a world of magic and adventure, The Library of the Dead by T. L. Huchu is the first book in the Edinburgh Nights series.

Review Link: Here

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This was a different read to my normal, I enjoyed it and its main strength is definitely its main character Ropa.

Northern Wrath by Thilde Kold Holdt

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.

A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.

A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

Review Link: Here

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Now, this wasn’t my favourite read as I had a few issues as to character depth and its length but I can appreciate its prose, world-building and captivating plot.

THE SHADOW OF THE GODS by John Gwynne

Set in a brand-new, Norse-inspired world, and packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance, The Shadow of the Gods begins an epic new fantasy saga from bestselling author John Gwynne.

After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrið.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

Now, as whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods . . . 

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

As usually John Gwynne has knocked it out of the park! He is such a great writer, I was only discussing the other day with a friend that in some ways we love these books because we trust John Gwynne as an author. So while usually I might not like something, say I don’t know like a cliffhanger! I really don’t mind with Gwynne books because he has done nothing but deliver in the past and has earned my trust as a reader!

THE LEGION OF FLAME by ANTHONY RYAN

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. 

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Anthony Ryan is another author who has my trust a a reader, I really love these books and I am so sooo excited to start book three! This is a brilliant second instalment to an already amazing series.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by ALIX E. HARROW

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters–James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna–join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book, it was a nice refreshing read for me and one that timed perfectly with my mood at the time, proving that just sometimes being a mood reader rocks!

The Ravenmaster’s Revenge by Jacob Sannox

It is the autumn of 2019. Merlin’s wayward apprentice has escaped from the Tower of London with his raven familiars. Legend foretells that the White Tower, then England, will fall.
Can King Arthur, a weary veteran of the English Civil War, Waterloo and the Somme, prevent the Ravenmaster from exacting his revenge?

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This book is a great reworking of an Arthurian legend, and one which I enjoyed, a strength of this book for me was the authors ability to show the effects of immortality on a person, something I have seen other more popular authors not do half as well.

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

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.

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Here

My Thoughts:

An impressive and standout dark fantasy sequel from Peter McLean for a series which is shaping up to be an all-time favourite.

A ​Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas 

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she’s struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can’t seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre’s Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta’s orbit. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable, and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance-and healing-in each other’s arms.

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This is a typical SJM fantasy romance, and one I enjoyed very much!

An Echo of Things to Come by James Islington 

Darkness spreads across a land in need of heroes.

In the wake of the devastating attack on Ilin Illan, an amnesty has been declared for all Augurs – finally allowing them to emerge from hiding and openly oppose the dark forces massing against Andarra. However, as Davian and his new allies hurry north towards the ever-weakening Boundary, fresh horrors along their path suggest that their reprieve may have come far too late.
In the capital, Wirr is forced to contend with assassins and an increasingly hostile Administration as he controversially assumes the mantle of Northwarden, uncovering a mystery which draws into question everything commonly believed about the rebellion his father led twenty years ago. Meanwhile, Asha begins a secret investigation into the disappearance of the Shadows, determined to discover not only where they went but the origin of the Vessels that created them – and, ultimately, a cure.
And with time against him as he races to fulfil the treacherous bargain with the Lyth, Caeden continues to wrestle with the impossibly heavy burdens of his past. Yet as more and more of his memories return, he begins to realise that the motivations of the two sides in this ancient war may not be as clear-cut as they first seemed . . .

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Another second instalment that was brilliant, while this did feel lie it was setting up the third book a little it was still a great book and one I loved!


Ok, so the bit of the post you actually wanted to read…

This months BOOK OF THE MONTH is…

THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

Once again I have been very lucky in the books I have read this month, but John Gwynne has this one in the bag and it is much to do with the fact the book is bloody brilliant but also to do with the fact that this book got me out the book fatigue/slump I was talking about earlier.


Well that’s is fellow book friends! Thank you for reading, feel free to comment here or on Twitter if you have read and loved/hated any of my reads this month. Also, let me know what your favourite read was this month.


BOOK OF THE MONTH | JANUARY

Hello my fellow bookish folks!

Well the best month of the year has gone and it has flown by! It’s been a good month, I celebrated my birthday along with a lot of other cool people too, so that is always fun. I bought several new books this month and some slob clothes too, because if I’m locked down and on furlough I want to be comfy while I read an ungodly amount…so give me all the joggers and wide leg soft pants! Attractive I know but…

So, as far as starts to the year go it hasn’t been a bad month for me.

I’m not sure I want to address how much reading I plan to do, they suspect my furlough will run until mid march, possibly up until July so TBR get ready.

This isn’t my biggest month for reading as I have been dabbling in Inkscape a lot this month, as some of you may know I’m slowly making my own ‘bucket list’ post of 100 fantasy books to read so thats taking a bit of time. I finished another one today, and that was for Eragon…

I’m pretty impressed. This is such fun but worry not I am not neglecting reading completely. I am actually reading a few books!

I have Priest of Lies by Peter McLean going via audiobook which I am buddy reading with Queen Timy! I also have another Buddy Read with two amazing people, David and Eleni, and that is for the incredible (so far) The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington and finally I am also reading and a little listening of Snakewood by Adrian Selby.

ALL ARE GREAT SO FAR!

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS MONTH?

THE COMBAT CODES by ALEXANDER DARWIN

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: The Combat Codes Review

My Thoughts:

This was a super fun and enjoyable read for me. I loved the heavy influence martial arts had and the character were a joy to read but I think I enjoyed it that much more because of the heavy dose of nostalgia this book game me!

PRIEST OF BONES by Peter McLean

Check it out on Goodreads

Review Link: Priest of Bones Review

My Thoughts:

I listened to this book via audiobook this month and I so thoroughly enjoyed it. It has heavy Peaky Blinders influences but with magic…Whats not to love?! I think this might have been my favourite audiobook this month. I am remembering how much I enjoyed it because I am currently listening to book two via audio also!

A RITUAL OF BONE by LEE C CONLEY

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I didn’t know how much I needed to experience this zombie fantasy. To say how much I love zombie movies I think this is my first zombie book I have read and im so glad there is a book two so I can continue this series because its simple…I need more of this book!

COLD FROM THE NORTH by D. W. ROSS

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Goodreads will say I finished this today but I actually finished it yesterday and forgot to update it! This is a solid debut from Ross, he is a superbly talented world builder and writer. I shan’t say to much then I can entice you to read my review when I write it!

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by KATHERINE ARDEN

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK!

I have read a lot of heavy and dense books this month, and as much as I enjoy them coming off the back of a book like Gardens of the moon can be tiring. I actually chose it on a bit of a whim, I had every intention of reading it but it was a little spur of the moment choosing it straight after Gardens of the Moon but I am so glad I did. It is everything I needed in that moment and it was a captivating and magical read.

GARDENS OF THE MOON by STEVEN ERIKSON

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Ohhh boy was this a complex read, I am so so glad I read Gardens of the Moon and will certainly continue series but man did I need a break. This book is odd, I really enjoyed my time reading and liked everything about it in terms of its world and the characters that fill it but overall for such a huge read I expected more of a feeling of satisfaction on completing it. Again, wait for m review to find out more but I will be finishing the recaps before I review it!

CROW by A. ZAVARELLI

Check it out on Goodreads

My Thoughts:

Ok, don’t judge! Your girl needed some Irish mob/mafia romance in her life this month! I love reading romance, they are always quick reads for me but I often miss tense and angsty romances in adult fantasy! I only really read crime/revenge romances or fantasy romance, I don’t really gel with contemporary. I still need some craziness in my reads but I like the drama, the tension, the crime worlds and revenge plots and I just like these books.


Ok, so the bit of the post you actually wanted to read…

This months BOOK OF THE MONTH is…

THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE BY KATHERINE ARDEN

I have read some incredible books this month and I have enjoyed them all but this book really stole the limelight this month, it was fun, captivating, magical and I can’t fault it at all. It might have had issues but I was enjoying it that much I sure a shit didn’t notice anything but the amazingness that is this book! It gave me serious Spiderwick Chronicles vibes in terms of house spirits that not everyone can see and it’s fun feels just it was set in Russia.


Well that’s is fellow book friends! Thank you for reading, feel free to comment here or on Twitter if you have read and loved/hated any of my reads this month. Also, let me know what your favourite read was this month.


BOOK REVIEW | THE COMBAT CODES BY ALEXANDER DARWIN

Hello Bookish Folk!

Today I am happy to be reviewing one of the SPFBO Finalist’s this year, and that is The Combat Codes by Alexander Darwin.

SPFBO Award Finalist for Best Fantasy Book (2020)

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: The Combat Codes
  • Author: Alexander Darwin
  • Series: The Combat Codes Saga (Book One)
  • Published by Insight Forge
  • Pages: 408

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

“We fight, so the rest shall not have to.”

In a world where single combat determines the fate of nations, the Grievar fight so that the rest can remain at peace.

Cego is a mysterious Grievar boy forced to fight his way out of the slave Circles into the world’s most prestigious combat school. 

At the Lyceum, Cego will learn a variety of martial arts from eclectic teachers, develop deep bonds of friendship and fight against contentious rivals to climb the school’s rankings. 

But, Cego will find far more than combat studies at the Lyceum. He will find the mystery of his past unraveled by forces greater than he could ever imagine. 

Review:

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

  • A martial arts inspired gem;
  • Excellent and raw fighting sequences;
  • Master and apprentice vibes;
  • Incredible military academy; and
  • Friendships and family.

Art By ryanbestart (Shop)

On to the full review…

I started reading The Combat Codes on January 1st and it was such a great book to start my reading year off with! I LOVE martial arts in all of its forms so to see such a great Jiu Jitsu inspired SFF novel was super cool.

My experience reading The Combat Codes was one of nostalgia, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was such fun! Every time a pointer was given or a stance adjusted I knew what the Cego was feeling, it was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me to be honest. I remember having my hips wobbled and being told to get good and get strong or I would blow away like a leaf in the wind and that my stance wasn’t balanced, my arm was to low, firm taps to my elbows and wrists showing the weak points in my blocks! So this book hit a few great memories I have of Karate and MMA.

“We fight, so the rest shall not have to.”

And man do they fight! This book has some of the finest hand to hand combat I have read, you can totally see Darwin’s in depth knowledge and love of the art in his writing. It is like when you read John Gwynne’s books and you feel so many things in his writing because he has such a vast knowledge of battles and such due to his reenactments and such. So, yeah Darwin knows his shit!

I really loved the characters in this book, they were so well crafted. Cego and Murray are brilliant in their own rights but not only that, Darwin has created a world of fabulous characters even the ones that are not massive parts of the plot. They each add something different, they all had something they learnt from their own history that was imparted in someway onto our main characters. Each character, big or small, had a clear and distinguishable personality.

Another thing I really enjoyed in this book was the unraveling of Cego’s past, he is pretty mysterious at first and it was a joy to learn more about the role he has to play and where he has come from.

I think while this books world definitely feels more sci-fi in nature with it technological advancements but one of its keys components, the alloys, were so magical in my eyes. There were like a magic system in their own science-like way. Though, I don’t plan to say much in resect of these because they are such a joy to learn about.

There is quite a lot to this story, it has so many elements and little twists and it is enjoyable. Though, it did feel uneven at times. Yet the plot never stopped moving, it was always progressing and it was so fun to keep moving forward with such incredible characters but I sometimes felt like I lacked direction overall. Each section had its own direction but I felt the overall plot was slightly uneven.

The Combat Codes is an entertaining story, and its character are some of my favourite to read. Darwin has created a fascinating world and I will definitely be reading book two.


THE RANKS: 

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

BUY THE PAPERBACK! This is an easy one for me, I read this on Kindle through my Kindle Unlimited subscription and will very soon be purchasing the PB of this book with its brand new amazing COVER!

ORDER HERE: KINDLE | PAPERBACK | AUDIOBOOK


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK OF THE MONTH | DECEMBER

Hey All!

I hope you all had a great and safe New Years Eve. Well, it is the first day of the new year and what a year 2020 was.

Ok, so this month was my last stand against my Goodreads Challenge! I was so sure I wasn’t going to make it. It was the December 22nd and I was 23 books away from my goal of 150! I wasn’t even going to push for it until I wrote my last Sundays Seven of 7 Books to Help You Reach Your Goodreads Reading Goal! And I thought maybe if I get some shorts I could do this, completely forgetting about graphic novels too!

I decided to push for it, I didn’t complete my last years challenge. Then I thought I definitely won’t if I don’t try, and try I did and it paid off! I completed my challenge and with so much support from my big ass book family!

Now, it is tie to see what I read in December.

Goodreads here I come…

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS MONTH?

THE FIRST LAW TRILOGY by JOE ABERCROMBIE

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novels

Review Link: The Blade Itself Review

My Thoughts:

Mmmm, guys this series…I am so late to this party but better late than never, right? These books are great it is grimdark and yet so filled with heart and humour. Nothing is guaranteed in this world and the people that fill it have to fight to survive. I loved the characters in this book and really enjoyed my first journey into Abercrombie’s world and writing.

POWDER MAGE SHORT STORIES by BRIAN MCCLELLAN

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Short Stories

My Thoughts:

I can only say good things about these stories! Lord knows I needed to go back to this world and I was so happy to actually return to see what made some of my favourite characters who they were. Though, now I just want to reread the main trilogy! McClellan is one of my favourite authors so it felt good that is was the Powder Mage universe that helped me towards my Goodreads Goal!

SAGA VOL 3 – 9 by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN & FIONA STAPLES

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Graphic Novels

My Thoughts:

I am so glad I read these, they popped up on my radar when I asked Twitter to give me Sci-Fi recs and I’m so glad someone said these! Then Richard was kind enough to send me the first four, the rest I picked up on the Kindle! These are such fun to read. They are emotional, fun and so much more! I cant wait for more to be released.

WE MEN OF ASH AND SHADOW by HL TINSLEY

Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an unlikely mentor.

Charged with hunting down the killer of two guards left washed up on the banks of the canal, the further Vanguard delves into the underbelly of the city the more he finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies. A prominent aristocrat is missing. Crime lords, con men and harlots run amok and the city teeters on the brink of another revolution.

With his already precarious reputation hanging by a thread, Vanguard must piece together how and why the last war came to pass, find a way to earn redemption for his mistakes and come to terms with the past in a city where few survive, and even fewer can be trusted.

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Short’ish

Review Link

My Thoughts:

We Men of Ash and Shadow is a thoroughly enjoyable book and a great start to its following books. The characters are brilliant and while the plot is more of a setter-upper it is still a great read.

DARK OAK by JACOB SANNOX

Humanity has finally defeated the Dark Lord, but Morrick fought on the wrong side. Though he was a slave, he is branded a traitor and must earn the trust of new lords in order to return to his family – if they are still alive… 

Now that their common enemy is dead, the nobles begin to forget old loyalties, and Queen Cathryn’s realm looks set to plunge into war once more. But there are older and more terrible powers dwelling within the forest, and when they are awakened, Morrick will decide who lives or dies. 

BE A PART OF THIS NEW EPIC FANTASY SERIES FROM THE VERY BEGINNING…

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novel

Review Link

My Thoughts:

Jacob was kind enough to send me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review and I am glad he did. It is such a magical book and is firmly in the classical fantasy realm, he has created a beautiful world with a really cool concept and ran with it.

THE HALL OF THE DIAMOND QUEEN by ANTHONY RYAN

Wraith Queen Sharrow Met, servant of the Voice, discovers a terrible truth at the moment of greatest victory.

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: SHORT

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this short story and could definitely read a full length novel of Sharrow-met and her world.  It is a short and simple story but one that still manages to pack a few punches. It is a quick easy read and one that leaves you wanting to know more of the character involved, where certain relationships could go as well as all the before and after of this tale.  I’d be down for a fill length novel or more shorts in this world, maybe how she began bonded with Keera or her time spent gaining the sisters loyalty. It would be pretty freaking cool. 

RING SHOUT by P. DJELI CLARK

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark returns with Ring Shout, a dark fantasy historical novella that gives a supernatural twist to the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror.

D. W. Griffith is a sorcerer, and The Birth of a Nation is a spell that drew upon the darkest thoughts and wishes from the heart of America. Now, rising in power and prominence, the Klan has a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Luckily, Maryse Boudreaux has a magic sword and a head full of tales. When she’s not running bootleg whiskey through Prohibition Georgia, she’s fighting monsters she calls “Ku Kluxes.” She’s damn good at it, too. But to confront this ongoing evil, she must journey between worlds to face nightmares made flesh–and her own demons. Together with a foul-mouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter, Maryse sets out to save a world from the hate that would consume it.

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: SHORT

My Thoughts:

I loved this, it is such an incredible Novella and one worth reading if you haven’t already read it. It has a little darkness, historical fiction and incredible characters and it really packs a punch despite its fast pace! I can’t recommend this book enough.

TRISTAN’S FOLLY by Marcus Lee

Tristan’s Folly is the stunning sequel to the acclaimed Kings and Daemons, and the second in The Gifted and the Cursed trilogy.

Tristan’s Folly. An ageing fortress built over fifty years ago to repel the invading hordes of the Witch-King, an invasion that never materialised – until now.

Now it’s a crumbling reflection of its former self and set against Daleth’s savage horde of a hundred thousand men are a mere fifteen hundred defenders, who are surely doomed to fail.

As Kings and Daemons face one another, there is but one shining light that pushes back the darkness, but even her flame might be extinguished thanks to Tristan’s Folly.

In this epic tale of a battle against the odds, the best and worst of humankind will show itself … sacrifice, honour, bravery and love, set against depravity, betrayal, greed and hatred.

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novel

Review Link

My Thoughts:

Tristan’s Folly is a fast paced book, that is another classic feeling fantasy. It continues the story of some much loved character while showcasing a beautiful writing style. I really like these books and cant wait to read the finale.

DESCENDER VOL 1 – 3 by JEFF LEMIRE & DUSTIN NGUYEN

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Graphic Novel

My Thoughts:

These graphic novels are BEAUTIFUL, the artwork is just amazing. It is minimalist and yet packed with detail. I have a new found love for watercolour art. Though, these aren’t simply awesome for the art the characters are incredible also and the world is brilliant. I ant wait to read the other three in this series.

GUILTY PLEASURES by LAURELL K. HAMILTON

Anita Blake is small, dark, and dangerous. Her turf is the city of St. Louis. Her job: re-animating the dead and killing the undead who take things too far. But when the city’s most powerful vampire asks her to solve a series of vicious slayings, Anita must confront her greatest fear—her undeniable attraction to master vampire Jean-Claude, one of the creatures she is sworn to destroy… 

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novel

My Thoughts:

This was a fun read, it sets up a pretty coo world and the main character is dang cool too. I like these reads for when I am a little unsure of what to read because they are easy to consume and I know exactly what I am getting more often than not.

THE FIRES OF VENGEANCE by EVAN WINTER

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.

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novel

My Thoughts:

Well, this book is freaking amazing! It is just as brilliant as book one and gives you so much more of the world. I’m not going to say to much as I plan to review this real soon.

THE ENGINEER by DARRAN M. HADSHAW

When the Engineer, Actaeon, arrives at Pyramid in the heart of Redemption, nothing goes according to plan. Mysterious raiders pursue him relentlessly across the shattered remains of the ancient metropolis, and the leaders of his homeland pay no heed to his ambitious ideas. Meanwhile, deep beneath Pyramid, a deadly creature stirs. And, when Actaeon meets a skilled young Knight Arbiter with brilliant blue eyes, he starts down a path he could never have imagined. 

The vast, fallen city of the Ancients is home to a new people who face the constant struggle to find resources needed to survive in the dangerous ruins. For the Engineer, however, Redemption is a treasure trove of technology, opportunity, and answers. But his unique skills make him a target for those who would use his talents to achieve their own dreams of power and control. 

In his endless quest for the truth, will Actaeon discover the fallen city’s greatest secrets? Or will he share the same fate as the Ancients of whom nothing remains but a whisper? 

One thing is certain: in Redemption, everything comes with a cost. 

Check it out on Goodreads

Book Type: Novel

My Thoughts:

Another one I plan to review real soon, so I won’t say too much. The Engineer is a great read, it is a chunky boy but it is such a well crafted world and you see some brilliant world building.

DNF:

  • KINGDOM OF THE WICKED
  • MY SISTER, THE SERIEL KILLER

Ok, so the bit of the post you actually wanted to read…

This months BOOK OF THE MONTH is , once again no easy task to decide, as you can see I read A LOT this month and I have enjoyed most of them! This month, I am giving my Book of the Month to…

RING SHOUT BY P. DJELI CLARK

Despite having read some amazing book Ring Shout is like nothing I have read before and I LOVED it so much. It is so much more than its story and you should all read it!


Well that’s is fellow book friends! Thank you for reading, feel free to comment here or on Twitter if you have read and loved/hated any of my reads this month. Also, let me know what your favourite read was this month.


BOOK REVIEW | WE MEN OF ASH AND SHADOW BY HOLLY TINSLEY

Hey Bookish Folk and happy Monday!

It is a good Monday for me as I don’t work Mondays or Tuesdays! Though, I will be getting up stupidly early on Wednesday and rocking a 12-hour shift on Christmas Eve as well as working Christmas Day! It going to be a week for sure!

Today I am reviewing Holly Tinsley’s debut book ‘We Men of Ash and Shadow’.

A few facts about We Men of Ash and Shadow:

  • Title: We Men of Ash and Shadow
  • Author: HL Tinsley
  • Series: The Vanguard Chronicles
  • Published by HL Tinsley
  • Pages: 296

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Amidst the gas lamp shadows former soldier-turned-mercenary John Vanguard hunts criminals at the behest of his corrupt employer, Captain Felix Sanquain. Shamed by his deserter past and seeking to make amends for his many misdeeds, a chance encounter with Tarryn Leersac – a skilled young would-be-assassin fallen from the graces of high society – leads Vanguard to become an unlikely mentor.

Charged with hunting down the killer of two guards left washed up on the banks of the canal, the further Vanguard delves into the underbelly of the city the more he finds himself entangled in a web of secrets and lies. A prominent aristocrat is missing. Crime lords, con men and harlots run amok and the city teeters on the brink of another revolution.

With his already precarious reputation hanging by a thread, Vanguard must piece together how and why the last war came to pass, find a way to earn redemption for his mistakes and come to terms with the past in a city where few survive, and even fewer can be trusted.

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from We Men of Ash and Shadow :

  • Serious Gangs of New York Vibes;
  • An utterly fascinating world/city;
  • A unique and refreshing writing style;
  • Brilliant characters carved by a sinister world; and
  • A great start to this series.

On to the full review…

“We are men of ash and shadow. We endure the darkness so that others might see the dawn.”

This book came to my attention from the author, I’m sad to say that had Holly have not contacted me I’m not sure it would have come up on my radar! Thankfully, the totally polite and lovely Holly sent me the best review request I think I have had so it did, but this is not a review of Holly’s social etiquette this is a review of her grimdark fantasy We Men of Ash and Shadows

As I think back to my reading of this book I find that I am quite fond of this tale and its characters. Holly writes in such a unique way, I don’t really know how to explain it. I’ll try, obviously, and I will hope my wittering does Holly’s distinctive and brilliant writing style the justice it deserves.

One thing that Holly really excels at in her writing is her dialogue, I enjoyed every conversation that this book offered, which seems like a really bizarre compliment but they all felt really authentic and representative of the character’s personality, even the side characters. The more and more I read of this book the more I came to agree whole heartedly with my above statement.

“Henriette stood. As she went to leave she placed a hand on Vanguard’s shoulder. “Be careful what you show her. She will see the world through rose-tinted glass and throw herself into a pit of snakes thinking it’s a flower bed. Girls like her die outside these walls. I should hate to have to kill you.”

As I said above Holly has a really unique way of writing, it’s almost 50/50 show me and tell me. Now I know books get slated for telling you something rather than showing you but Holly has managed to do this, twist and remake it into something unique.

Now, having said that I want it known that all of the above is all complimentary to her writing style, so don’t think for one instance think this book is lacking in detail because of it, it isn’t, this book plunges you into the depths of it’s world and has you fully absorbed. There was just such a ‘tell me’ vibe to Holly’s writing style. And you know what? I really fucking liked it. It felt utterly new. Like I said it isn’t lacking in description or world-building. Holly manages to make the smallest things such as the wearing a nightgown and robe relevant to the scene at hand. It’s the little details that add to the tone of the upcoming conversation and the words spoken.

I think my only real criticism, which is one constructive in nature, would be that there could have been a degree more fluidity. There were a lot of characters we had perspectives from but the rate at which they switched sometimes became a tad bit jarring.

With this being a shorter book it meant that some relationships could have been a little more, it wasn’t so much lacking in detail but it could have been made better by more time being spent with them. I would have loved to have seen this book a little longer with more emphasis on character relationships and general characterisation because the characters that filled this book were amazing!

It took me a little bit longer than usual to read this book considering it is less than 300 pages long, but that is nothing to do with the book and everything to do with my work schedule! I have to admit though, I’m a little thankful as I wouldn’t have noticed my next point had I not have read it the way I did.

We Men of Ash and Shadow felt like an old friend, weird praise I know but hear me out.

This book felt like an old friend in the sense that I could not read this book for a few days, a week or however long and when I went back to read it , it felt like I had only put it down an hour ago. We Men of Ash and Shadow is so incredibly easy to slide back into, I didn’t need a moment to reacquaint myself with the characters or the world at all. I read a few words and I was once again absorbed into this world.

We all know the pros’s and cons of a books cover, right? Well, Holly truly demonstrated this to me. Don’t get me wrong I know the uses of a cover but it wasn’t until We Men of Ash and Shadow that I truly understood that the cover is as much a part of the story for some books as the writing inside is. It’s the start of the journey, I went into this world with just the book cover and it’s blurb and as soon as I read the first page the world burst from it’s pages. There is such a sly, unfair and sinister feel to this world and Holly incorporates it into every aspect. It is in the world-building, the character interactions and well, just about everything. Holly has got the tone of this book down! 

“There was a thin line between mercenary and soldier, and an even thinner one between mercenary and murderer.”

We Men of Ash and Shadow is a great book and the world that Holly has created very much reminded me of Gangs of New York just in Victorian England. It is filled with bloody crimes, sewer riddled districts and a bustling and territorial underworld. D’Orsee is a fascinating city and one I am eager to know the rest of its story.

I know I mentioned earlier that more characterisation and the relationships would have benefited from greater detail, but I also have to compliment those characters. It is something worthy of praise that I still loved the characters that filled this book despite my earlier criticism. Vanguard is such a compelling character and he is someone I am excited to see grow even more in any following books. He has such a rich and harrowing history and you can feel the emotions he feels, his tiredness and so much more. I also LOVED Mandego, and I would love to see more of him in the future.

“Mandego’s face changed. “You come into my home, with your hands dripping in the blood of my people and have the gall to insult me by telling me that you need my help?”

Every character in this book has been carved and defined by the world in which they reside and it has led to hardened people who have little choices in the direction their lives will go.

“They were both relics of the past trying to live in the new world.

We Men of Ash and Shadow is a thoroughly enjoyable book and a great start to its following books. The characters are brilliant and while the plot is more of a setter-upper it is still a great read.


THE RANKS: 

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

I would happily pick this book up in its paperback form, I really enjoyed this book. I would definitely reread this book when it comes time to read the second. The cover is great and oh so appropriate.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK TOUR | FROZEN RAGE BY Steve McHugh

Hello Bookish Folk and welcome to my stop on the Frozen Rage Book Tour hosted by Storytellers on Tour.

I am absolutely thrilled to be partnering with an incredible author and an incredible book tour organiser again! Don’t stop here though, I am one of many incredible Bloggers participating in this tour!

For more details on who has already posted and who is yet to post simply head over to the Frozen Rage Book Tour Main Page.

Firstly, the giveaway…

Click on the picture above for a chance to win a paperback copy of the brilliant Frozen Rage!

A few facts about Frozen Rage:

  • Title: Frozen Rage
  • Author: Steve McHugh
  • Series: Hellequin Chronicles (Book 6.5 but can be read standalone)
  • Publisher: Published by Hidden Realms Publishing
  • Pages: 117

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Realm of Dreich is a getaway for the rich and powerful, a medieval-inspired town in the middle of a vast frozen wilderness. Now it’s the site of a wedding, intended to join two feuding families who have spent centuries in an uneasy truce with each other.

When Tommy Carpenter asks his best friend, Nate Garrett, to help him with the security of the wedding, Nate reluctantly agrees, knowing that it will be a long weekend of work and, in all probability, treachery.

It is only a matter of time before members of each family are found murdered and it is up to Nate and Tommy to find the killer before more bodies fall, potentially reigniting a war. 

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from Frozen Rage:

  • Serious murder mystery vibes;
  • Intrigue;
  • Shapeshifters;
  • A kick ass lead;
  • LGBT;
  • Break-neck pace filled with bloody and brilliant action;
  • CHAOS.

On to the full review…

If you don’t want to read it already from the above details then let me tempt you a little bit more.

This book is such an enjoyable read, I didn’t realise how much I wanted a fast paced whirlwind murder novella until I picked this book up. I had engaged with Steve on Twitter a bit in the past over games, so when I saw this book tour I couldn’t help but join in. I have been in a bit of a time slump at the minute so this book was perfect for my current circumstances.

Firstly, let me point out this is a technically a standalone and for me has acted as the perfect introduction to Steve’s series as a whole, having not read his other books prior to this. This wasn’t an issue for me as I still felt like I could follow the plot and connect with the characters involved. The only downside of this is there are a few mentions of previous events and previous characters within the world you don’t fully appreciate or understand and there is an assumption you are indeed familiar with the world and its races.

BUT LET ME REMIND YOU THIS IS MY FAULT AND NOT A FAULT OF THE BOOK. IT IS BOOK 6.5 FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, THE CHARACTERS ALREADY HAVE A SIGNIFICANT HISTORY PRIOR TO THIS.

This novella has actually made me want to read all the books prior to this series so I can get those details, I want to see the relationships between characters start and grow and the events that have made Nate such a bad ass!

Frozen Rage is actually a little bloodier than I expected, I’m not overly sure what I expected but I was shocked and impressed at the level of bloody murder within this book. This book is as Nick Borelli said in his review “an interactive experience”. One of the first things I noticed when reading this was that there is quite a bit of dialogue between the characters and it is this for me that made this read so much more interactive. I genuinely felt like I was a part of the conversations between characters, I was stood there nodding along and putting in my two pence about why Viktor is a dick.

Steve does great in this novella to show you the little realm of Dreich, it honestly sounds like somewhere i’d be happy to go, less the murder though! You can imagine the whole realm from the people that fill it to the landscapes that surround it.

The investigatory nature of this book is also well written, it is fast acting and unravels the way you would want a investigation to be handled. There is no lollygaggin between clues and revelations and you don’t stop until you have it uncovered.

Also, the ending….pretty fucking epic!!

A final note too. The Cover. OMG it is beautiful!

As you are now aware I rate on a buy the hardback, buy the paperback, buy eBook or borrow/sale scale. I am happy to say Frozen Rage sits nicely in the BUY THE PAPERBACK rank!

  • The novella is reasonably priced
  • I would read this again, though after the other books
  • THE COVER!

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

Or be a little more logical than me and start at the beginning! Book One is ‘Crimes Against Magic’ and can be ordered through Amazon.co.uk OR Amazon.com 🙂


About Steve …

Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson.  Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language.  The follow up “One boy and his frog” was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is now available to purchase.
He was born in a small village called Mexborough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.

Ways to get in touch with Steve…

Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Amazon |

Thank you for reading!


BOOK REVIEW: THE HEART OF STONE BY BEN GALLEY

This is my first review with a new rating system, it is pretty simple but if you want further details then head to my Rating System Page.

So, the basics.

Rather than rate books on a numerical scale from one to five I am going to give them one of the following tags:

  • Buy the Hardback
  • Buy the Paperback
  • Buy the Kindle eBook
  • Rent from the library OR wait for a sale

There is still an element of loved it or liked it but I’m going to move forward with this and see how it goes. This is totally new and will likely end up with a few holes in the logic but I don’t mind, it is new and exciting! Also, if you really want a star rating I will still be using Goodreads which has the five star system.

I’m also going to start this review a little bit differently to what I usually start my reviews like. I’m aware that people read these on a time constraint or just want to get to the end summary or generally just want a shorter review. So this time I’m going to give you a few bullet points of the things you can expect within the story, it won’t be a review it will literally be something like the types of themes, feelings the books gives you or generally the elements we love to see in a book in bullet point form. Then you can read that and be like  ‘damn yes, I love brotherhood feels, battles or blood and gore’. Then from there you can either read the rest or just add it to your TBR. I mean I hope you read it all but I get it…Maybe ☺️☺️

A few facts about The Heart of Stone:

  • Title: The Heart of Stone
  • Author: Ben Galley
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: BenGalley.com
  • Pages: 406

I read The Heart of Stone on my Kindle which is currently only £0.99 on Amazon (UK)! I would love to buy a physical copy too but alas it is only audio or eBook to my knowledge.

Synopsis:

Golems are built for war and little else. In centuries past, they were a terrifying staple of the battlefield. Empires were conquered on the backs of golems. Now, time and fear have whittled their kind down to a precious few, kept only by kings and warlords.

Task of Wind-Cut is one such machine of war.

Task was built to kill. Built to win. Thousands have died at his stone hands. He cared once, perhaps, but far too many years have passed and too much blood has been spilled. Task has become numb to the chaos he wreaks for his masters. A slave to the spells that bind him.

Now, Task has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund is in the grip of civil war, tearing itself in two over coin and crown. This time, Task will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.

Beneath his formidable stone, Task longs for change. For an end to this cycle of warfare. For proof of light and good amongst the foul darkness of humanity and war. It will take the mind of an unusual stable-girl to change his.

Review:

As promised, here are a few things you can expect from The Heart of Stone:

  • Big brother/Little Sister Vibes – An utterly wholesome and well developed relationship which came across vey sibling like in my opinion;
  • Double agents, spies and political intrigue;
  • Brilliant word-building of a country ravaged by war;
  • Memorable characters who you will think about even while not reading the book;
  • Violent Battles and Civil War;
  • Dry Humour ;
  • HEART

On to the full review…

Bloody hell! Right, I have a really weird relationship with the beginnings of novels. I really do. I either love them or hate them, obviously there is a middle ground in which I keep plodding on but sometimes, just sometimes a book has me in the first page! And it doesn’t have to be anything huge either. I’ll tell you what it was for this book…it was the sentence:

”He felt heavier than a mountain.”

See what I mean, that’s odd right?!

But that sentence just gave my crazy imagination so much. To feel heavy as a mountain you have to be pretty drained, pretty tired and dang near defeated! Why? Who is this person? Why so heavy? What life have you lead to warrant such a feeling! Then to be followed by a writing style I can love which paints such a vivid picture in my head…I’m feeling like I’m onto a winner, no? YES. 

Now don’t get me wrong this can change but I’m starting a book with the best possible start when this happens.

While it seemed to take me forever to read this book, I really enjoyed it! This book has so many elements to it, of which are all beautifully intertwined to create a compelling and intriguing plot. Though, this books biggest success to me was quite simply its characters.

I really liked Task, I found his personality brilliant. What was likely not necessarily meant to be humour had me chuckling quite a bit. Task does not mince his words and has a dry and blunt personality. 

‘I didn’t hear you. Well done. Now leave me alone.’

Ahhhh, Lesky! Little Lesky (or leaky if my autocorrect had it’s way) was amazing. How can you not adore a driven young person striving to make better of their situation and with a dream big enough to guide her?! The answer is you can’t. You must love the spirited little love and I did! I adored her character and her budding relationship with a big grump of a golem. 

Lesky shrugged. ‘Mam says that fighters fight and survivors survive, but cowards cower. “You got to do what you are to be what you are”, and I ain’t no coward.’

This was the first book of Galley’s that I have read I was really impressed with the writing style, it was detailed enough to bring out such vivid and incredible images while not falling into tedious or the over embellished category. My first introduction to Alabast was marvellous and Galley’s ability to create such a brilliant world is deserving of much praise. I instantly liked Alabast and his introduction greatly reminded me of a certain character introduction from Jonathan French’s ‘The True Bastards’. I appreciated it then and even more so in ‘The Heart of Stone’ for the fact it sets up the character personality quickly and effectively! 

Another thing that I liked in this series was, and this is going to sound silly so let me try and explain it 🙈 so Pocahontas was my favourite Disney girl and colours of the wind was my favourite song yanno the bit 

”I know every rock and tree and creature has a life has spirit has a name…”

Yeah that, always loved it. Always will so when I saw hints at Task listening to the stones stories and feeling the current of the earth like they were whispering to him the secrets of battle I bloody loved it. Like I said a bit weird but we all have our clicks 😂

The mass of beating hearts, the nervous shiver of countless feet, the crashing of drums and shields… He felt them all, and through them he felt more than just stone.

I could really write a ton more on this book. The plot, the characters, the world and the writing are all amazing but I’m aware I have waffled a fair amount in this review..

So let me round this up by saying this is a great read, it is a solidly written fantasy with some dark fantasy feels too. It focuses on the characters and their growing relationships while maintaining a dynamic and interesting plot. Galley also filled a brilliantly written world with a great number of flawed, morally grey and wholesome side characters.

He could not fight for the Truehards; not for Huff. But he could fight for men and women like these. Men and women who were shackled by the sway of their betters, just like him.

Any way that’s it from me, and now as you are aware I will be rating my books on a buy hardback, paperback, kindle or rental/wait for a sale system…

The Heart of Stone is definitely (if it wasn’t just published for audio and eBook) a book I would get in paperback form!

  • It is a book I would read again
  • The cover is also great
  • I would feel honoured to have this on my shelves at home

Thanks for reading!


BOOK OF THE MONTH: AUGUST

Goodbye August, its been a pleasure.

Well, it has been another month, one of which has been and gone into the abyss that is 2020. I can’t believe that we are coming into September, it is just flying by.

I really didn’t feel like I had actually read much this month, but having done this post I realised I have still read a fair amount despite having a ton of other things on my plate this past month. I am a month into returning to work and still haven’t found my routine. Im still trying to do all the things I was doing while furloughed in half the time! So I am genuinely really happy and proud I have go through the amount of books I have!

So, to the books.

WHAT HAVE I READ THIS MONTH?

This month didn’t really have any type of theme or selective reading aims, it was a mood reading month if you will! Which is great. I did have two book tours to honour and thoroughly enjoyed participating in them!

So, this months reads…

The Medina Device by T.J. Champitto

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review Link: The Medina Device

My Thoughts:

Overall, this was a great introduction to a new genre for me, I read it quickly and was pretty gripped by the plot and its characters, while I probably wouldn’t read this book again (more because once you know the twists and ending its not as suspenseful) I would definitely read future books written by this author.


Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

My Rating: 4

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: RTC. Promise.

My Thoughts:

I REALLY enjoyed this book! That’s it. They are my thoughts, I plan to write a review later in the week.


Kings and Daemons By Marcus Lee

My Rating: 4

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: Kings and Daemons

My Thoughts:

This book is really good, and I can’t wait for the next book in the series, it was a super easy read and you will find yourself reading and reading and reading.


Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

My Rating: 4.5

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice

My Thoughts:

Overall, I am so impressed with this book and have already started the next book. I am reading them considerably slower than usual but that is more to do with a busier schedule than anything but I am almost grateful for it as the time I am giving these books when I can is that much more treasured.


May Day by Josie Jaffrey

My Rating: 4.5

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review: I will. At some point. I have my notes just need to make it coherent!

My Thoughts:

This was a fun and quick-reading vampiric police investigation story. I flew through this and really enjoyed it.


Saga Volume One and Two by by Brian K. Vaughan (Author),  Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

My Rating: 4 to both

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Review: I will. I have my notes, I again just have to make it coherent! Though I think these will be very short ones, so I may review them as a whole. We shall see…

My Thoughts:

These have been great reads that I have slotted in between other reads, they take no more than an hour or so and are filled with colourful and quirky art!


Still Reading…

Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb

My Rating: N/A

N/A – Still Reading

Review: Got to read the book first, yanno.

My Thoughts (so far):

I am REALLY enjoying this book! I have found I have fallen into the rhythm of this book easier than Assassin’s Apprentice because I already love the world and the characters, so yanno the usual with a second book.

Ok, so the bit of the post you actually wanted to read…

As you can see I have read a little bit of a variety his month. We have had graphic novels, epic fantasy and vampiric urban fantasy so this is a wee bit harder because these books vary so much.

It is another tough one to call this month, again I have read some great books and again I am bouncing between two books. Now, some of you may be thinking it obvious out of what I have read but the two contenders I am toying between are both similar in genre but different in writing style and detail.

After quite a bit of deliberation and switching between which one will be titled BOOK OF THE MONTH I settled on…

KINGS AND DAEMONS BY Marcus Lee

While Assassin’s Apprentice is a phenomenal book and one I really enjoyed I chose Kings and Daemons instead for a good many reasons. Obviously, as my review shows I enjoyed this book but what has topped this was generally my overall experience. Kings and Daemons was my first blog tour hosted by Story Tellers on Tour and I really enjoyed participating. On top of that I chatted a fair amount with Marcus, the simple fact that an author actively engages with his fans is such a great thing and really adds to the whole experience and Marcus actually helped me out in areas other than his book. So, there you have it Marcus Lee‘s Kings and Daemons takes this months title of BOOK OF THE MONTH!


Well that’s is fellow book friends! Thank you for reading, feel free to comment or on Twitter if you have read and loved/hated any of my reads this month. Also, let me know what your favourite read was this month.


BOOK REVIEW: ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE BY ROBIN HOBB

Oh gosh, I feel like I haven’t written up an actual book review in so long so don’t judge, I feel a little rough around the edges!

My Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Assassin’s Apprentice:

  • Title: Assassin’s Apprentice
  • Author: Robin Hobb
  • Series: The Farseer Trilogy (Book One) and First trilogy in the Realm of the Elderlings series.
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager
  • Pages: 401

I read Assassin’s Apprentice on my Kindle which is currently only £2.99 on Amazon! I do plan to buy physical copies too!

Synopsis:

Young Fitz is the bastard son of the noble Prince Chivalry, raised in the shadow of the royal court by his father’s gruff stableman. He is treated like an outcast by all the royalty except the devious King Shrewd, who has him secretly tutored in the arts of the assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill–and the darker knowledge of a child raised with the stable hounds and rejected by his family. As barbarous raiders ravage the coasts, Fitz is growing to manhood. Soon he will face his first dangerous, soul-shattering mission. And though some regard him as a threat to the throne, he may just be the key to the survival of the kingdom. 

AVAILABLE FROM: | WHSMITH | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA | BLACKWELL’S | WATERSTONES

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Review:

As it is with the well established series of the fantasy genre, and even more so ones of this magnitude, there are always tonnes of opinions. What the book did wrong, how it depressed some readers, how it was slow but amazing or any number of other comments. So it is more than likely you will see some similar views within this review but I like talking and reviewing books so I’m still going to write this despite what I have just said 😀

As we can see I’m pretty late to the Robin Hobb party but I don’t think it is a book I could have tackled any earlier. I had this trilogy on my TBR for a while but always veered away from it because I knew it was an older fantasy book and a classic. Though, I can safely say that I am happy I joined the Hobb party no matter how late.

So Assassin’s Apprentice has some fairly long chapters, at one point I was tired and thought ‘Ohhh I’ll just read to the end of the chapter’. Ummmm, no. I quickly looked how long it was and was like ‘nope, I can’t do it. I can’t make it that long’ 😂 

Straight off the bat, I knew I would love Hobb’s writing style. It is soo stunningly written, and being told her other trilogies only get better is amazing and has be insanely excited. 

With writing like Hobbs it often goes hand in hand with immense world building and this book is no exception. Hobb treats you to such detailed and colourful world building, there wasn’t a time I didn’t feel utterly involved in the book, in both larger scale plot events and smaller interactions.

One thing I really loved about this book was the time spent with Fitz as he grew up, I really enjoy these starts to a book and this one kinda reminded me of Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song. Now, I know this came out first but I read Blood Song first, so if I say it reminds me of Blood Song just take that as it is, ok? Ok. I loved Blood Song, so as soon as I met a young nameless boy being carted off to somewhere other than what he thought was his home and be thrust into the unknown I was eager! Even more so for this tale to begin the way it did with the snippets of narrator texts (again reminded me of Blood Song) it was already off to an amazing start.

Though, while I mention this and as I said I enjoy these beginnings because we see incredible character developments it does make for a far slower pace. This isn’t really an issue for me, least all in a first book but I know it may be for some people.

Hobb has done a damned fine job at building an incredible collection of characters. I loved the depth of Fitz as a character, he had so much personality and as a reader you genuinely felt a whole range of emotions. What made him even more intriguing was the fact that he never truly showed anyone himself wholly, he always kept something from someone! It provided a lot of options for the book, is he going to slip up with one person, tell the wrong person something they don’t know, show them a side of him he simply cannot? It is brilliantly written.

You do spend a lot of time in Fitz’s head, and this isn’t really a bad thing but i did find myself at times hoping for a character interaction and not getting one. 

This story goes far beyond Fitz alone, you become invested in nearly all the characters and Hobb both gives you the goods and doesn’t. Chivalry for instance, isn’t a character we got more from and I really wanted to see more of him, but where this is the case Hobb seamlessly interweaves the characters relationship to him to satisfy it. We see the way Burrich thinks of him, and the level of loyalty he shows, this alone shows us more into Chivalry’s character. His relationship with his brother and with Patience. It is quite masterfully done, we create a relationship with a character who isn’t even there so imagine the goods you get from those we do come into contact with.

Now, I don’t often mention magic systems in my reviews, I probably should because the are an intrinsic part of the fantasy genre but honestly I don’t feel qualified in magic systems yet having not read some of the leading ones of the genre. That’s not to say I don’t have an opinion on them but you won’t get me talking about hard magic or rule based ones and so forth. Buuuuut, saying all that I am going to say how much I liked the magic in this book. We have Wit and Skill and they are so simple in nature yet the way Hobb weaves them into the plot and the characters development just puts them a step above others I have read. Hobb also teases us with the potential for these magics to play a far greater role in the future books of the trilogy.

Overall, I am so impressed with this book and have already started the next book. I am reading them considerably slower than usual but that is more to do with a busier schedule than anything but I am almost grateful for it as the time I am giving these books when I can is that much more treasured.