It’s my turn on the #blogtour for #HalfaSoul #TenThousandStitches and #LongShadow – a Regency Faerie Tales series by @OliviaAtwater2 with thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n

I’m delighted to be a part of the Regency Faerie Tales series, consisting of a trilogy of novels: ‘Half A Soul’, ‘Ten Thousand Stitches’ and ‘Long Shadow’. With thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n at Compulsive Readers for the invite and @orbitbooks for the review copies.

Do keep scrolling for the blurbs and some bookish chat…

Regency Faerie Tales by Olivia Atwater

The Blurbs

HALF A SOUL

It’s difficult to find a husband in Regency England when you’re a young lady with only half a soul.

Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment – a condition which makes her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season – but when the strange, handsome and utterly uncouth Lord Sorcier discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous and peculiar faerie affairs.

If Dora’s reputation can survive both her curse and her sudden connection with the least-liked man in all of high society, then she may yet reclaim her normal place in the world. . . but the longer Dora spends with Elias Wilder, the more she begins to suspect that one may indeed fall in love, even with only half a soul.

TEN THOUSAND STITCHES

Faerie godfathers are supposed to help young ladies find love. Unfortunately, no one told Lord Blackthorn that.

Effie has most inconveniently fallen in love with the dashing Mr Benedict Ashbrooke. There’s only one problem; Effie is a housemaid, and a housemaid cannot marry a gentleman. It seems that Effie is out of luck until she stumbles into the faerie realm of Lord Blackthorn, who is only too eager to help Effie win Mr Ashbrooke’s heart. All he asks in return is that Effie sew ten thousand stitches onto his favourite jacket.

Effie has heard rumours about what happens to those who accept help from faeries, but life as a maid at Hartfield is so awful that she is willing to risk even her immortal soul for a chance at something better. Now, she has one hundred days – and ten thousand stitches – to make Mr Ashbrooke fall in love and propose. . . if Lord Blackthorn doesn’t wreck things by accident, that is.

LONG SHADOW

Proper Regency ladies are not supposed to become magicians – but Miss Abigail Wilder is far from proper.

The marriageable young ladies of London are dying mysteriously, and Abigail Wilder intends to discover why. Abigail’s father, the Lord Sorcier of England, believes that a dark lord of faerie is involved – but while Abigail is willing to match her magic against Lord Longshadow, neither her father nor high society believe that she is capable of doing so.

Thankfully, Abigail is not the only one investigating the terrible events in London. Mercy, a street rat and self-taught magician, insists on joining Abigail to unravel the mystery. But while Mercy’s own magic is strange and foreboding, she may well pose an even greater danger to Abigail’s heart.

My thoughts…

HALF A SOUL

This is the first book in a Regency Faeries fantasy series by Olivia Atwater – each book is a stand-a-lone set in Regency England, but one where faeries and magic exists. So, imagine Jane Austen merged with the fae folk who live at the bottom of your garden 😉

In ‘Half A Soul’ our protagonist, Dora, has a problem – and that problem began when a faerie came to claim her soul as a young girl. Fortunately, her sister was on hand with a pair of iron scissors, although a little late – in the nick of time to avoid complete disaster. The outcome: Dora lives her life with half of her soul missing; it’s the half where her emotions come from, so that does have its drawbacks. Regency society, as always, demands young ladies find husbands and this has proven challenging for Dora but not her delightful sister.

In the wider world England is protected by the Lord Socier – who happens to be rather brooding, but with hidden depth and feelings. His role is challenging enough but when children begin to be afflicted by an unusual plague, the role of protector becomes even more difficult, and this is how our love interests meet.

‘Half a Soul’ is a charming, fun read that dives you into a world of faerie escapism set within the popular literary Regency period, I’d recommend ‘Half a Soul’ simply because it’s lots of fun and enables you to escape reality for a few hours. It’s also my favourite of the three reads.

TEN THOUSAND STITCHES

This book follows the life of Effie, who is suffering from ‘Insta Love’ for the dashing Mr. Benedict Ashbrooke. Effie is a great character, who’s a skilled at stitching and embroidering, but socially has a problem with finding love with Mr. Ashbrooke – she’s a maid. So, here sets up the dilemma for the book – mixed into this is the delightful Lord Blackthorn from the faerie realm, who embroils Effie in the fae world, of selling souls and mischievous business – who generally tries to help in the only way he knows. It’s fun, light-hearted and a gentle read with some depth in terms of themes – the poor, servant classes and workhouses.

LONG SHADOW

This book opens with yet another problem – this one’s rather a big drama, as young, marriageable ladies in England are mysteriously dying! The books ties in more to ‘Half a Soul’, as our protagonist is Abigail – the daughter of Lord Sorcier and Dora. The problem seems routed in the court of Lord Longshadow.

Abigail soon finds an ally to help her investigate these dark events, it’s a young woman called Mercy – who’s a ‘street rat’ and a self-taught magician’. The pair set out and work together to find out what’s going on and who’s to blame. Along the wat Abigail and Mercy find out that they are falling for each other too.

This book has some great themes and world building, although a slower pace than the first two, it’s still fun to read with some more serious themes pushing through.

The tour closes today with my post but do check out all the fabulous bloggers on this tour and more bookish chat. Please buy from Independents if you can XX

It’s my turn on the #Blogtour for #WithFireInTheirBlood by @katdelacorte with thanks to @The_WriteReads & @penguinplatform

A simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. . .

The Blurb

When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn’t impressed.

A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and ‘purity’. . . whatever the cost.

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn’t sure she can trust anyone — not even herself.

And then she accidentally breaks Castello’s most important rule: when the General’s men come to test your blood, you’d better not be anything more than human…

My thoughts

The city of Castello seems to be falling apart and far removed from civilised society – almost like a dystopian Brigadoon (although not appearing every 100 years) through the clouds. It’s to Castello that our protagonist Lilly arrives, relocated with her father from Maine, and she immediately senses something very strange is lurking in the city. Graffiti sprawls on the city walls ‘All witches burn’ and ‘The Saints Live’ but without any Wi-Fi Lilly feels isolated. The opening pages bombard the reader with mysteries and questions and seemingly shifts the setting into the past. It’s clear Lilly’s life has already been challenging and her arrival in Castello looks set to be a rocky ride.

After arriving at school Lilly meets an eclectic bunch of students, from the over enthusiastic, to the withdrawn and the openly hostile. She learns quickly that The General is in control and dictatorship rules. The Sign sprawled on the wall at the school from Dante’s Inferno is a big alarm bell: Abandon all hope, you who enter here’.

This is a YA fantasy read, so you have all the usual threads and angst you’d expect. I did find myself drifting on several occasions – I’m not of a YA age, but I do read and review many YA books. For me, the characters seemed so adrift and Lilly was very irritating at times, particularly how she was drawn to several people at once, and seemed to be easily swayed – maybe she’s just an open relationship kind of girl. I liked the character of Nico, although he was kept to the sidelines, but I assume he’ll play a key part in the next in series.

Overall, this book creates a great fantasy setting, where control, fear and manipulation rule. There’s an undertone of Romeo & Juliet in terms of the warring families.

Do check it out if you enjoy angst ridden drama, with multiple love interests, in a supernatural fantasy setting with a mystery at its core.

The Author

Kat Delacorte was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn’t looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.

#BookChat #MiniReviews ‘Deepwater King’ by Claire McKenna (Book 2 of the Deepwater Trilogy) and ‘Mimic’ by Daniel Cole @orionbooks @HarperVoyagerUK

The Blurb

Since losing her great love to the Queen of the Sainted Isles, Arden must fulfil an impossible promise before she can return home – she must complete the dangerous Rite that will return Jonah’s spirit to the abyssal Court of the Deepwater King.

This sets her off on a journey far out at sea to find believers of the old religion on the oil-slick and mysterious islands beyond the horizon. But such a responsibility will not come without sacrifice, for the Deepwater folk who worship the King require the most desperate payments the soul, and with one man Arden may have to pay the greatest price of all…

Astonishingly original, with world-building to rival the depths of the ocean, McKenna has drawn a rich tale of longing and courage – penning the perfect oceanic steampunk fantasy.

My thoughts

You’ll need to read the first book in the series, ‘Monstrous Heart’ before reading ‘Deepwater King’ as it begins shortly after the first book ends. I enjoyed ‘Monstrous Heart’ and the developing relationship between Arden and Jonah up to the dramatic and disturbing climax of the opening story in this, I believe, trilogy. This was a huge part of the enjoyment of the first book and sadly, for me, it was missing from ‘Deepwater King’, however saying that, there was plenty of dark drama and action to hook you into the narrative.

There’s great worldbuilding, like book one, and the setting is a huge part of the books enjoyment – I really enjoy Steampunk vibes and loved this element. There are some great characters, both principal and minor – I did feel Arden lost the drive in this book at times (middle book syndrome?) – I hope the Arden/Jonah relationship drama will build up again to the level of ‘Monstrous Heart’ in the final book of the series. The story does builds to a dramatic crescendo and well, that ending – I need the next book!

I do enjoy this series and look forward to its conclusion.

The Blurb

DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are hunting a twisted serial killer who recreates famous works of art using the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – the killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Met Police, driven by a loss that defined her teenage years. She obtains new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, this new investigation reawakens their killer, the team in desperate pursuit of a monster hell-bent on finishing what he started at any cost.

My thoughts

I loved the RAGDOLL series, each book was contrasting in style and I really engaged with this variation and creativity. Daniel Coles books are always fun to read, despite taking you into dark places, minds and events. The thrillers are carefully plotted with both dramatic and creative deaths and crimes – so be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s a great and slightly unusual character driven team working on the central investigation: DS Ben Chambers, PC Adam Winters and the modern newbie DC Jordan Marshall.

The crime investigation initially begins in 1989 shifting to the reopening in 2006 and I enjoyed the changes of both the investigation, the development and changes of the 1989 investigators. A part of Cole’s books that add to their charm, even though it’s rather macabre at times, is the humour, which I’ve also really enjoyed in previous Cole books – so please expect a chuckle along the way, if dark humour works for you?

With the theme of art, specifically Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture opening this crime mystery, Cole has created an intelligent cold case crime at the heart of this thriller. The reader follows the team as they hunt the perpetrator of the sick crimes that haunt them, to find closure on the case and to seek justice. A gruesome crime thriller based on recreating famous works of art in the most macabre way.

An intelligent, absorbing and addictive read.

SCORPICA by G.R. Macallister, THE LAST LEGACY by Adrienne Young and introducing THE SHADOW GLASS by Josh Winning. Published by @TitanBooks

Some great fantasy reads to check out from Titan Books – keep scrolling to find out more…

The Blurb

In an ancient matriarchal world of magic, gods and warriors, the last girl – unbeknownst to the five queendoms – has just been born. As time marches on, the scribes of Bastian find no answers in their history books. The farmers of Sestia sacrifice their crops to the gods. Paxim, the empire of trade and dealings, has nothing to barter but boys and more boys. Arcan magic has no spells to remedy the Drought of Girls. And finally, Scorpica, where every woman is a fighter, their commander, their queen, has no more warriors to train. The lines of these once-great empires soon to die.

After centuries of peace, the ensuing struggle for dominance – and heirs – will bring the five queendoms to the eve of all-out war.

But the mysterious curse is linked to one of the last-born children, an orphaned all-magic girl, who is unaware she has a claim to the Arcan throne…

My thoughts…

‘Scorpica’ is the opening novel in ‘The Five Queendoms’ series by G.K. Macallister, and as you’d expect from a series starter there’s a lot of world building and set up. It’s a complex fantasy world, where the matriarch’s rule; I’ve seen it referred to as the female ‘Game of Thrones’.

The world is ruled by Queendoms, each having their own perspective on males and their roles. The female roles are vast and although the narrative pace is detailed and leisurely it held my attention. For those, seeking a more adventurous and pacey fantasy read, this may not be for you. Although, saying that, it is the opening and requires a lot of establishment – hold on in there!

‘Scorpica’ is heavy in POVs so it does take focus to track characters and relationships in each Queendom. With themes of violence, gender, politics, magic and female relationships this is a detailed and thought provoking read.

A fantasy novel of conflict, power and a world in crisis.

The Blurb

When a letter from her uncle Henrick arrives on Bryn Roth’s eighteenth birthday, summoning her back to Bastian, Bryn is eager to prove herself and finally take her place in her long-lost family.

Henrik has plans for Bryn, but she must win everyone’s trust if she wants to hold any power in the delicate architecture of the family. It doesn’t take long for her to see that the Roths are entangled in shadows. Despite their growing influence in upscale Bastian, their hands are still in the kind of dirty business that got Bryn’s parents killed years ago. With a forbidden romance to contend with and dangerous work ahead, the cost of being accepted into the Roths may be more than Bryn can pay.

My thoughts…

Set in the world of FABLE, (Young’s duology ‘Fable’ and ‘Namesake’) a new, smart and sassy protagonist is rejoined with her lost and detached family, setting the tone of the adventure. But there’s trouble ahead, with scheming, untruths, cons and pawns.

An fantasy adventure with a lead pitched against a ruthless adversary with a dash of romance to complete the journey. A quick, easy read for some wonderful escapism.

The Blurb

Jack Corman is failing at life.

Jobless, jaded and on the “wrong” side of thirty, he’s facing the threat of eviction from his London flat while reeling from the sudden death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, a film Jack loved as a child, idolising its fox-like hero Dune.

But The Shadow Glass flopped on release, deemed too scary for kids and too weird for adults, and Bob became a laughing stock, losing himself to booze and self-pity. Now, the film represents everything Jack hated about his father, and he lives with the fear that he’ll end up a failure just like him.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying home, a place creaking with movie memorabilia and painful memories. Then, during a freak thunderstorm, the puppets in the attic start talking. Tipped into a desperate real-world quest to save London from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with excitable fanboy Toby and spiky studio executive Amelia to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy while conjuring the hero within––and igniting a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do his father proud.

A new arrival to the TITAN bookshelf and something very different to build my eclectic reading style – I look forward to checking this one out and some more book chat 🙂

It’s my turn on the #Fireborn #blogtour by @fowler_aisling today. Published by @HarperCollinsCh @The_WriteReads @WriteReadsTours #UltimateBlogTour #TheWriteReads

Out September 30th 2021

FIREBORN

Lyra. Lucy. Percy. Once in a generation, a hero emerges whose story enthralls readers worldwide.

Fireborn is an epic quest, perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials and The School for Good and Evil series, that will spin readers into a magical world like no other–and introduce them to an unforgettable new heroine named Twelve.

Ember is full of monsters.

The Blurb

Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them–so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her.

But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny–and the very fate of her world.

Check out all the book chat for FIREBORN from amazing book bloggers!

My thoughts…

FIREBORN is a new pre-teen/middle grade (8-12 years) fantasy adventure book that’ll hook you in and send you into a high tension filled world threatened by dark creatures and brutish beasts. This opening novel to a new series shows great potential and I’d recommend you take a look inside to discover more about the world Fowler has created for her protagonist to journey through.

Our central character is Twelve, whose backstory is revealed as the main plot develops. She’s a complex enough character to keep the reader intrigued; we slowly begin to realise why she behaves and responds as she does. Twelve is damaged and is training as a Huntling to protect herself and others from the dangers that lurk outside.

Fowler’s world building is strong and the challenges faced by Twelve and those who rally around her fill the pages with turmoil and battles of mortal danger. I enjoyed the ‘team’ that pulls together after darkness threatens to destroy all Twelve knows and rescue a fellow Huntling from peril. What builds is a story of comradeship, acceptance, healing and friendship bonds despite difference and great odds.

Also, huge part of the enjoyment of this book are the sidekicks; we have Dog, who is made of stone and is a guardian of the Hunting Lodge – a key setting in the novel. Dog is great and battles to control and keep order on the quest. There’s also a squirrel called Widge to keep you entertained, a silent role but a key player and a great addition for readers to adore!

For a debut, this is a strong read and I look forward to see the author and the series grow from strength to strength.

An enjoyable fantasy quest read for all!

About the author – Aisling Fowler

Aisling Fowler

Aisling was born in 1985 and wishes that she had grown up in a magical, mountainous kingdom, but was actually raised in Surrey on a diet of books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her early ‘adventure’ stories involved surprisingly little action and her first novel (3 pages long) was politely declined by publishers at age 11. After earning a BSc in Biology and working as a support worker and then a nurse, the idea for her debut novel, Fireborn, came to her as she moved back and forth between London and the US. Now based in Hackney, when she is not reading or writing, Aisling loves cooking and plotting adventures (for herself as well as her fictional characters). Fireborn will be published by HarperCollins in 2021

Twitter: @fowler_aisling

#BlogTour for #TheMaskof Mirrors by @ma_carrick with thanks to @orbitbooks and @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

Praise for The Mask of Mirrors

‘Utterly captivating. Carrick spins an exciting web of mystery, magic, and political treachery in a richly drawn and innovative world.‘ S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

‘Wonderfully immersive–I was unable to put it down.’ Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

‘I was utterly entranced by this glittering world filled with masked vigilantes, cunning conwomen, and dark magic. A sheer delight!’ Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness

The Blurb

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.

But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

My thoughts

The Mask of Mirrors is an epic, and I truly mean EPIC opening to the series. There’s over 700 pages of tightly packed writing to devour, so this is not for the faint-hearted; it’s a layered fantasy novel with a multitude of characters to enjoy and puzzle out, and at the heart of it all is Renata Virdaux, who is immersed in pulling off a detailed con to secure a fortune for herself and those she holds dear. This is a long book, as there’s an epic journey for our principal character to go on and a world of new people to meet and manipulate. But it soon becomes clear that there are many players with their own endgames to play.

Now, a word of advice, there’s a dramatis personae and a glossary at the back of the book – this is really useful, but I didn’t find it until halfway through the book. I really enjoyed the lead character of Renata, AKA Ren, as our central protagonist and through her perspective we see a fully rounded fantasy city of nightmares and nobility, politics and power, with a dash of Zorro into the mix. Despite Ren’s dualistic and duplicitous nature, she comes over strongly to the reader as a fighter; her resilience to better her situation and those she cares about is commendable. I enjoyed her wit and dedication to win, but the strength of heart as well. There are several other characters who are great to get to know and add layers to the multi-faceted world Carrick creates. From cousins and culprits to captains to cons, the intrigue, deceptions and quests build in both pace and plotting through this detailed novel.

The world of this novel has a vibrancy that pulsates from the pages; its scope is vast, and, with relief, the authors do not overload the reader, they craft a gradual understanding of the politics, communities, economies and systems, magical and otherwise to be revealed and understood. It’s the events and actions of the characters that show the reader how this world operates.

If you’re looking for a new fantasy series with depth then do consider ‘The Mask of Mirrors’.

The Authors

M. A. Carrick is the pseudonym for Marie Brennan (author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of The Adventures of Mr. Mystic), yes, we pulled a fantasy version of James S. A. Corey because, why not?! With masked vigilantes, noble intrigue, and charming criminals, this is a dark, romantic, action-packed fantasy, perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and even The Princess Bride.


An intriguing, magical fantasy debut #BlogTour #TheBoneShardDaughter by @AndreaGStewart with thanks to @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #readers #newbook #bookchat

It’s lovely to be chatting about THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER today for the Blog Tour – many thanks to Tracy for the invite, and Orbit for the review copy. I enjoy reading fantasy, so this appealed to me straight away, and I wasn’t disappointed…

The Blurb…

The Sukai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, but a mysterious illness has stolen her childhood memories and her status as heir to the empire. Trapped in a palace of locked doors and old secrets, Lin vows to reclaim her birthright by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

But the mysteries behind such power are dark and deep, and wielding her family’s magic carries a great cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.

My thoughts…

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER is certainly an eye-catching book, and the title an intriguing one. I enjoy reading fantasy novels, so was delighted to read this one as part of its Blog Tour.

Firstly, I’m not usually a fan of too many narrative perspectives, in this book we see the story through several eyes, written either in the first or third person. Lin and Jovis are connected via their first-person narratives, and I personally enjoyed the immediacy and drive of these sections. I really liked both Lin and Jovis. Jovis in particular is very endearing as he copes with what life throws at him, but also the thought and dedication to maintain the search for his missing wife is very emotive; I loved the snatches of memory built into the story as we piece together the past. Ah, and then there’s the adorable evolving relationship with Mephi – a magical horned cat/otter type creature. Loved every moment with Mephi! I also enjoyed the third person narrative pulling into the story the lives of Ranami and Phalue that explores the relationship between two social classes and pulls in the revolution theme.

Overall, meticulous planning and structural format creates a multi-layered perspective fantasy set in a creative island-based world ruled by a failing Emperor. There’re all the elements fantasy readers expect, and importantly the world is carefully crafted in detail, so the transference from reality is seamless. This is a book of layers with a thought out embedded magical system – I found Pullman’s Dark Material vibes made creepy with the creature constructs lurking and spying. The idea is menacing, and Frankenstein vibes underscore the reanimated creatures. It’s really creative and explores more modern themes of experimentation and exploitation.

With themes of identity, control, loss, the past, memory, and connection this is an impressive debut; I’m be looking forward to the second book in the Drowning Empire Trilogy.

The Blog Tour

Please buy from independents if you can XX