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 REVIEW | DARK OAK BY JACOB SANNOX & NARRATED BY NIGEL PEEVER

Good Evening Bookish Folk!

This was planned to be an earlier post considering I’m currently at work 🙈 but I forgot to post it before leaving like a dope. Thankful, while I am currently sat on my break eating the most amazing Lotus biscuits I remembered. Yay me. So here it is.

Today, as the post title suggests I will be reviewing Jacob Sannox’s fantasy novel Dark Oak! I received this book free from the author in exchange for an honest review but I also listened to this via audiobook to. I usually listen to non review books via audio and treat them as my personal reads but I was a little behind with reviews and honestly the audiobook sounded great.

A few facts about Dark Oak:

  • Title: Dark Oak
  • Author: Jacob Sannox
  • Narrated By: Nigel Peever
  • Series: The Dark Oak Chronicles (Book One)
  • Published by Jacob Sannox (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform)
  • Pages: 314
  • Narration Length: 12 Hours 59 Minutes

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from Dark Oak:

  • A high fantasy novel that is beautifully magical but with a darker core feel;
  • An intriguing and unique story concept;
  • INCREDIBLE creatures and magics;
  • Political intrigue; and
  • An incredibly raw and emotional punch from several aspects of this book.

A little bit about the narration…

This was a really good narration, it is the first narration I have ever listened to that has sound effects. Now, I know that for some the may not be a great thing but it really added to the story for me. I LOVED them. It wasn’t overbearing and it wasn’t disruptive my my listening experience. Well, for the most part, there was one single time that it became difficult to listen to, at the point when a group of Dryads were talking as one, pair that with the creaking of their wooden limbs and the throaty tone of their voices I genuinely didn’t know what was said. Luckily, I had the a physical copy so I was able to read that bit. Other than the once instance though I found I really liked the sound effects. They were, more often than not, subtle and only added to my listening experience.

As a narrator I found Peever to be quite good, his pace was easy to follow and his male voices were nicely distinct. Some of his female voices however sounded a like little old cackling witches…

Though saying all of the above, I will listen to the next book via audio narration. Thats how little it put me off.

Now on to the full review…

As I said above Jacob sent me a copy of Dark Oak in exchange for an honest review along with his two other books; The Ravenmaster’s Revenge and Agravain’s Escape. This book is currently sitting with 61 ratings and 25 reviews and has a decent rating of 3.67. I would love to see more people pick this book up as it deserves it, if you look on Goodreads it seems to have a bit of a mix of reviews so many people have loved and a good number haven’t but I would honestly give this book chance!

Dark Oak is a richly imagined world and one I really enjoyed journeying into, it is an incredible fantastical world that is very much in the traditional vein of high fantasy with creatures such as the Dryads, the water folk and even more wonderful elemental beings. Dark Oak gave me Lord of the Rings vibes in terms of its imaginative world!

Jacob does wonderfully at bringing his world to life through his writing and it is a story rich in detail and beautifully described. He brilliantly weaves in the magic that surrounds this world and showcases it impressively, especially the Dryad’s , yet all the while not making you feel as though they are infallible despite their evident power.

At the start of this book there is quite a bit of exposition, which is wholly appropriate and enjoyable. This isn’t the story of the battle that Queen Cathryn won that led our character to be where they are now but in order to fully understand the present you need to know the facts of the past. I really liked the exposition, it was magical and I felt like I was sat wrapped in a cozy blanket cradling a warm cup of tea in my ever cold hands while being told a grand old tale by a wisened old story teller! And that Is something I love.

Each of the characters you come across in Dark Oak are all really good, some I loathed but understood, others I saw the manipulation and others I was rooting for them with everything I had. Some of the character could have had a little more consistency and been a wee bit more well rounded but overall I really enjoyed all of them for some reason or another. While Dark Oak is very high fantasy to me, it has such a dark core to its world and its characters. I knew it had a darker tone before reading it but goodness I didn’t expect what I got! At all.

The Dryads…they are AMAZING! I was so impressed with them as a race, the things they can do, the power they hold and their origins were all so utterly interesting I loved every single moment in which a dryad appeared.

I think for me the strongest point of this book was Jacob’s ability to shock you so profoundly you are left in a state of both confusion and understanding. There are several sequences within this story that you do not see coming, even in the slightest, but once they do happen no matter how shook up you are you understand the reasoning behind it. Which is testament to Jacob’s ability to showcase his characters motivations and emotional states. In a world so vivid and creative the realness of his character and very human responses become all the more impactful, it is touching, sickeningly raw and quite intense at times.

There are times within this book that you see some inconsistencies in the characters voices, and it can at times feel a little jumpy from POV to POV. This book isn’t perfect and if you going in looking for little hiccups you will find them, as you would with many books, but if you are going in to experience a brilliant and imaginative world filled with REAL characters with REAL motivations you are in the right place. There is a rawness to this book and an emotional grittiness that you don’t see often in books and it was brilliant to experience it within Dark Oak’s pages.


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 would definitely pick this up in its paperback form if I didn’t already have it and would strongly recommend the audiobook if you don’t have an issue with narrations accompanied by sound effects, I get that might be a hard no for some people, but im not one of them and I loved it! I actually want to find more with it in so yanno, its a winner to me!


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


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!


COVER REVEAL: AMETHYST BY JESSE NOLAN BAILEY

Hi there, everyone!

Today I am super excited to be taking part in the Amethyst Cover Reveal hosted by the incredibly hard working and brilliant Storytellers On Tour, and I’m so very exited to bring to you one of the first looks at Amethyst, a adult fantasy fiction by the amazingly talented Jesse Nolan Bailey.


The Blurb

Rashell’s brother has vanished. When the local villagers express no concern, she enlists the help of a stranger from a faraway city to find Teth.

Investigator Derrik discovers the people worship a massive stone known as the Amethyst. Even more bizarre, an ancient relic of a mummy fuels their reverence.

Given limited time, Rashell and Derrik confront these mysterious elements at play, all the while striving to uncover what happened to Rashell’s brother. 


Amethyst will be available September 24th 2020! and can be picked up here FOR FREE TODAY!

Genre: Fantasy (New Weird)

Keep scrolling for the cover and a little bit more about Jesse Nolan Bailey.

Without further ado, I am honoured to present to all of you…

JESSE NOLAN BAILEY’S AMETHYST

ABOUT JESSE NOLAN BAILEY…

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Website

Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel, THE JEALOUSY OF JALICE, and his shorter fiction, AMETHYST, released to the masses, he can now claim such title with re-lief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats and two mini-aussies.


Thanks for checking out our cover reveal! Have a great day!


7 SELF PUBLISHED BOOKS I HAVE READ AND 7 I WANT TO READ…

Good Afternoon book folk and welcome back to my blog, yes it is the one in which I promise a weekly feature and forget said weekly feature! My bad, I am sorry but sometimes work just gets in the way. However, worry not as I am going to give you the goods today!

Maybe I should call today Missed Posts Monday. Mmm, yeah that could work…

So, as it turns out I actually forgot TWO Sunday’s Seven posts…

To compensate you for said loss I am going to give you 14 books!

As we are still in September’s Self Published Fantasy Month I am going to be giving you 7 self-published books I have read and enjoyed and 7 self-published books I am due to read!

7 SELF PUBLISHED BOOKS I HAVE READ AND ENJOYED…

Kings and Daemons

by Marcus Lee

Synopsis:

A tale of conquest, dark kings, and daemonic heroes. A spellbinding story that will enchant you with its plot of ambition, love, betrayal, sacrifice and redemption.

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

My Thoughts:

Kings and Daemons is Marcus Lee’s debut novel and the first in the series, I loved it and I am excited to read the next book in the series. I truly loved Marcus’ writing, it read perfectly to me, and by perfectly I mean it is exactly the tone and style of writing I adore in fantasy. 

MY REVIEW

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

Blood of Heirs

by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

Synopsis:

Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. 

Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him.

Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?

My Thoughts?

Blood Heirs is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heirs due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters… 

MY REVIEW

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

The First of Shadows

by Deck Matthews

Synopsis:

How do you kill a shadow? 

As a raging storm descends on the Blasted Coast, the crippled young rigger, Caleb Rusk, meets a stranger on the road. Little does he know that the encounter will pull him into a conflict that threatens everything he holds dear—and change the course of his life forever. 

Meanwhile, in the Capital of Taralius, a string of inexplicable deaths have captured the attention of the Ember Throne. Second Corporal Avendor Tarcoth is tasked with uncovering the truth behind a danger that could threaten the very fabric of the Realm. 

My Thoughts?

A delightfully fast paced and easy flowing novella which gives you the feels of a larger epic read while not bogging you down with the page count! AND the map! This is a map that is even outstanding on my Kindle soo imagine it on paper!

Pssst…RTC.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

Limbo

by Thiago d’Evecque

Synopsis:

The fate of the world hinges on a forsaken spirit, a mad god in a sword, and 12 mythological beings.

The Limbo is where all souls — human or otherwise — go to after dying. Some don’t realize where they are. Death is a hard habit to get used to. Gods and mythological figures also dwell in the plane, borne from humanity’s beliefs.

A forsaken spirit is awakened and ordered to dispatch 12 souls back to Earth to prevent the apocalypse. Many don’t take kindly to the return. Accompanied by an imprisoned mad god, the spirit must compel them.

Each of the 12 unlocks a piece of the forsaken spirit’s true identity. Memories unfold and past wounds bleed again.

The journey will reveal buried truths about gods, angels, humanity, and the forsaken spirit itself.

If you like epic fights, diverse mythology reinterpreted, and surprising plot twists, Limbo is for you. 

My Thoughts?

Limbo is a strange tale to be told, interesting and quite creative with its mixture of many religions, legends and folklore tales. It was interesting to read one story which is made up of many historical tales coming from Asia, Europe and all across the world and done so skilfully as not to feel disorientating.

MY REVIEW

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

Paternus: Deluge, A Short Story

by Dyrk Ashton

Synopsis:

“Deluge” is a stand-alone backstory of two characters from The Paternus Trilogy. In this short story, myths, fables, and legends from around the world are combined to recount the adventures of Fintán mac Bóchra and Myrddin Wyllt in ancient Ireland, and tell the “true” tale of the global disaster known as the Great Flood. 

My Thoughts?

I have been eyeing Ashton’s Paternus books for a while now so saw this little gem and took it for the perfect opportunity it is, and I can safely say I loved Ashton’s writing and will be reading his other book in due time!

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

The Sword of Kaigen

by M.L. Wang

Synopsis:

A mother struggling to repress her violent past,
A son struggling to grasp his violent future,
A father blind to the danger that threatens them all.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

High on a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’

Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

My Thoughts?

This book is just, wow. I would say I have no words but that’s a lie! I could praise this book all year round. This is easily one of the best books I have read this year

MY REVIEW

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |

The Heart of Stone

By Ben Galley

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.

My Thoughts?

Ok, I know this one is technically cheating because I am still in the process of reading this book but its going well so far so I’m going to chuck it in! Go judge me.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

AVAILABLE FROM: | AMAZON UK | AMAZON USA |


7 SELF PUBLISHED BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ BUT PLAN TO…

Sufficiently Advanced Magic

by Andrew Rowe

Synopsis:

Five years ago, Corin Cadence’s brother entered the Serpent Spire — a colossal tower with ever-shifting rooms, traps, and monsters. Those who survive the spire’s trials return home with an attunement: a mark granting the bearer magical powers. According to legend, those few who reach the top of the tower will be granted a boon by the spire’s goddess. 

He never returned. 

Now, it’s Corin’s turn. He’s headed to the top floor, on a mission to meet the goddess. 

If he can survive the trials, Corin will earn an attunement, but that won’t be sufficient to survive the dangers on the upper levels. For that, he’s going to need training, allies, and a lot of ingenuity. 

The journey won’t be easy, but Corin won’t stop until he gets his brother back.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

What Remains of Heroes

by David Benem

Synopsis:

Lannick deVeers used to be somebody. A hero, even. Then, he ran afoul of the kingdom’s most powerful general and the cost he paid was nearly too much to bear. In the years that followed, his grief turned him into a shadow of his former self, and he spent his days drowning his regrets in tankards of ale. 

But now an unexpected encounter casts Lannick upon an unlikely path to revenge. If he can just find the strength to overcome the many mistakes of his past, he can seize the chance to become a hero once more. 

And with an ancient enemy lurking at the kingdom’s doorstep, he’d better…

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Asunder: A Vatan Chronicle

by L. Steinworth

Synopsis:

Alden knew life in the Shadowen Thieves Guild would cost him greatly, but when their next mission means abducting Princess Mayli Drake of Ammos, the price was too high. Defying the guild, Alden sets out to return Mayli safely home in hopes of restoring peace with the kingdom of Brimley. 

Mayli feels as though her life has torn asunder after being taken captive. However, if she is to survive, she must come to trust the renegade thief loyal to her mother’s killer. As Alden pleads for Brimley’s innocence, Mayli begins to question what she thought she knew about her kingdom’s enemies.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Frozen Rage

by Steve McHugh

Synopsis:

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. 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

The Thief Who Spat In Luck’s Good Eye

by Michael McClung

Synopsis:

Amra is a thief with morals—she won’t steal from anyone poorer than she is. Fortunately, anybody that poor generally doesn’t have much worth stealing! Holgren is a mage with a distaste for magic and a soul bartered away to dark powers who will transport him to an eternity of torment on the instant of his death. Together they embark on a quest for the fabled city of Thagoth, where the secret of immortality is rumored to be hidden. 

But Amra and Holgren aren’t the only ones after the secret. Many others seek to utilize the hidden magic for their own twisted ends. And waiting in the ruined city with dark plans for the world are the twin gods Tha-Agoth and Athagos, a brother and sister whose illicit passion is as destructive and vengeful as they are. 

Now, as potent sorceries clash in a violent struggle for dominion over all that lives, Amra and Holgren face a choice between the unthinkable and the unbearable—with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. . . . 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Parasites

by Matthew Samuels

Synopsis:

Parasites is a YA science fiction, solarpunk exploration novel that takes place at the end of the universe, just as it slowly starts to contract in the ‘big crunch’. On the planet Lyra, humans evolved late, on a resource-poor world, in a resource-poor solar system. The Lyrans master space flight, only to discover that their nearest worlds have also been stripped of resources. The population begins to decline, until a scientist discovers a technology allowing people and vehicles to travel through ‘thinnings’ – patches of space linking universes. 

Kael and Alessia are explorers, charting where the thinnings go and bringing valuable resources back to Lyra, trying desperately to extend the lifespan of their home world. Alessia’s father, Ben, set out two years ago to uncover another species’ reference to a ‘solution’ to the big crunch problem – but never returned. A chance discovery leads Kael and Alessia to a clue, prompting another expedition to see if they can avoid the mistakes of the past and help to unravel the mystery. 

Kael, Alessia and their gruff bodyguard Basteel retrace Ben’s steps, seeking closure for Alessia, a solution for Lyra and together begin a voyage through wild, weird and wonderful planets.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS

Voice of War

by Zack Argyle

Synopsis:

Chrys Valerian is a threadweaver, a high general, and soon-to-be father. But to the people of Alchea, he is the Apogee—the man who won the war.

When a stranger’s prophecy foretells danger to Chrys’ child, he must do everything in his power to protect his family—even if the most dangerous enemy is the voice in his own head.

To the west, a sheltered girl seeks to find her place in the world.

To the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

Together, they will change the world—whether they intend to or not.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS


There you have it folks, my Missed Posts Monday feature, the day in which I make up for missed posts! I have a good few more Self Published books I want to read so feel free to check out my Self Published List on Goodreads! It is always growing so you may find something you are yet to read!


Review: The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about The Sword of Kaigen:

  • Title: The Sword of Kaigen
  • Author: M.L. Wang
  • Series: Theonite
  • Publisher: Self published by M.L. Wang
  • Pages: 651

I read The Sword of Kaigen on my Kindle first but I enjoyed it so much I bought the paperback for my shelves.

Synopsis:

*Winner of the Self Published Fantasy Blog-Off, Hosted by Mark Lawrence*

A mother struggling to repress her violent past,
A son struggling to grasp his violent future,
A father blind to the danger that threatens them all.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

High on a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’

Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

Review:

This book is just, wow. I would say I have no words but that’s a lie! I could praise this book all year round. This is easily one of the best books I have read this year, I think it is maybe second 🤷‍♀️ quickly thinking what I have read so far this year. 

I found this book from stalking the judges of Mark Lawrences self-published SFF contest on Goodreads because lets be honest they find some diamonds!

I was bound to love this from the start, I have always loved Eastern Asian cultures, and the concept of warrior families holding such high regard for honour, something about it has always gripped me. So, this being a Japanese inspired military/warrior world with magic it ticked all my boxes. 

Mamoru, what a character! This boy, way beyond his years, is so incredible. He has such depth and so well written. By the first chapter I loved this boy, his energy and drive was infectious. He is so complex and so strong. He grew so much throughout the book, facing the realities of his world and understanding his place in his world. I think he is one of my favourite characters ever written. 

Misaki, again, wow. This woman made me feel strong yet beaten. I was pulled so far from myself and thrust into her sorrow and dislike of her life, it was truly remarkable. I longed for her to return to what she was and to take her sons, and understand the were hers too and not just her husbands. I was demanding she know she is more. This character was such an emotional roller coaster. Again, as with every character in this book, she was so well written. She was strong and flawed. Her growth was also incredible. It was truly something magic to experience her grow and accept the realities of her life. Her relationship with her husband was such a profound journey and one I love.

“A life of dangerous adventures might seem worth it now, when you are young and seemingly invincible, but one day, you will have children, and you will not want that life for them.”

Every character in this book was rich and well written. Her sister in law with her infectious personality. Hyori with her vulnerability. Gods, I could give an example of a character and identify something that was uniquely them for each character written.  

At one point, a secondary character is telling the tale of the Matsuda history and I swear I was so sucked in, I was sat in the house after a harrowing journey and was listening to a history I knew already but seeing it in a completely new light, and I felt the significance of it all. The way in which this book is written is phenomenal. It is so real, for lack if a better word, and is so rich in detail and history. This book is truly a worthy winner of the SPFBO. No doubt.

I loved the world that was created, it was so unique to have this village that was so set in the old ways, and traditional yet the rest of the empire was in such a technical age. The trials they faced because of it. This world held nothing back. 

I loved the plot, it was so well paced. Every single word gripped me and held me tight. It was such an intense book, and the magic system is one of my favourite. I really like elemental magic, and this gave the The Last Airbender vibes at times. I almost imagined the fights scenes as a dance sequence, much like a kata.

Overall, this is exceptional and a must read! It is exceptional read, rich in the smaller details such as clothing and decoration. Im not familiar with the honourifics but each one I checked was spot on.

PLEASE EVERYONE READ THIS BOOK!!


Review: Blood of Heirs by Alicia Wanstall-Burke

My Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A few facts about Blood Heirs:

  • Title: Blood Heirs
  • Author: Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Series: The Coraidic Sagas
  • Publisher: Self published by Alicia Wanstall-Burke
  • Pages: 335

I read Blood Heirs on my Kindle.

Synopsis:

Lidan Tolak is the fiercest of her father’s daughters; more than capable of one day leading her clan. But caught between her warring parents, Lidan’s world begins to unravel when another of her father’s wives falls pregnant. Before she has time to consider the threat of a brother, a bloody swathe is cut through the heart of the clan and Lidan must fight, not only to prove her worth, but simply to survive. 

Ranoth Olseta wants nothing more than to be a worthy successor to his father’s throne. When his home is threatened by the aggressive Woaden Empire, Ran becomes his city’s saviour, but powers within him are revealed by the enemy and he is condemned to death. Confused and betrayed, Ran is forced to flee his homeland, vowing to reclaim what he has lost, even if it kills him.

Facing an unknown future, and battling forces both familiar and foreign, can Lidan and Ran overcome the odds threatening to drag them into inescapable darkness?

Reviews:

Blood Heirs is a promising debut and sets itself up for a darkly entertaining second book. I enjoyed reading Blood Heirs due to the amazingly beautiful writing style that is Alicia Wanstall Burkes and the great characters, but I did find myself wondering where the story was going. 

The beasts, magic/curse, ghosts and monsters are all really enjoyable to read and bring the world to life. 

Both Lidan and Ranoth were great characters and I enjoyed their journeys so much, though both did fall flat at times for me. Thankfully, when I found myself wanting more or getting a little bored (for lack of a better word) the POV switched and the pacing shifted, balancing it out nicely. 

Wanstall Burke also did amazing to create complex and well developed secondary characters. Sellan and Erlon were great, as was Ran’s ghost friend and, although a small part, Brit. They fleshed out the word and added much appreciated detail to the characters journey and emotions.

At times I did feel like the two POVs were too separate, they felt worlds apart and totally disconnected. Having read the first installment I am still yet to see the bigger picture. To me this book felt more like a build-up to the second book as a lot, if not everything, is left unanswered. I will definitely read the second book as Wanstall Burkes makes it difficult not too. 

This is definitely a character-driven book, we see Lidan and Ranoth deal with their own problems and emotional turmoil. Both characters worlds are turned upside down and each is faced with a world-wind of emotions. The two need to decide who they are, what person they want to be, in a world filled with betrayal and deep family bonds, and what they want in the end. 

I did enjoy Blood Heir and I am intrigued to read the next book but I found the plot to be a little bland, which is silly because so much happened. I don’t know, it didn’t feel like it had a build up or a climax, and because of that I wasn’t able to rate it higher. Though, that is my only issue really, everything else about this book is brilliant.