A Second Chance – Jodi Taylor

35150831In Book #3 of The Chronicles of St Mary’s, time-travelling historian Max travels to 17th Century Cambridge to meet Sir Isaac Newton, the Trojan War, and the Battle of Agincourt.

I enjoyed the first half of this book a lot. Max’s trip to Cambridge to see Newton was as hectic and funny as ever, while the Troy adventure was detailed and (although maybe not historically accurate) really interesting. Some of it was a little bit heavy going (the Greeks did massacre the Trojans, after all), but generally not too difficult to read and added a good level of seriousness to an otherwise light and entertaining story.

However, about halfway through the book, the plot takes quite a surprising turn and the rest of the story focuses much more on some of the ongoing relationships of the series. I actually thought some of the author’s decisions were pretty lazy in terms of plot development, until things played out further and her plans became a bit clearer. Although I could accept that she had things play out a certain way for a reason – not just laziness – I’m not totally sure I liked what she did with the story.

The Chronicles of St Mary’s are still decent, funny and worth giving a go, but I hope Book #4 is better than this because there are too many of them to keep reading if they’re only going to be mediocre.

Goodreads | Amazon

I Go Quiet – David Ouimet

45894175._SX318_In this magical, slightly haunting picture book, a young girl struggles to communicate with other people and make herself heard. Feeling separate from the world around her, the girl stays silent, using books to escape and develop her imagination until she realises that when she is ready to be heard, she will find her voice.

I Go Quiet is really beautiful. The story and the message it carries is wonderful, while the illustrations are stunning. It’s honestly one of the most visually pleasing books I’ve read; I absolutely love the way the words are incorporated into the images instead of simply being added as straightforward captions.

The only thing I wasn’t too sure about is the target age-group of this book. It gives a brilliant message for young children, and the picture-book style with such a small amount of text suggests quite a young audience. However, it’s pretty dark and I don’t know how appropriate it would be for very young readers.

Whatever the intended readership may be, I (at 24 years old for a couple more months) thoroughly enjoyed it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

October TBR

It’s October, which means it’s the start of the season of snuggling down in front of the fire in cosy pyjamas with a good book. And most importantly for this month, a spooky, Halloween appropriate book.

I’ve tried not to be too overly ambitious with my TBR list for this month, but I doubt I’ll finish all of them. So, these are the books I’ll be choosing from this October:

Survivors by G X Todd

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Ghost Stories: Classic Tales of Horror and Suspense by Lisa Morton and Leslie S. Klinger

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Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

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We Call it Monster by Lachlan Walter

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Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker

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I’ll Find You by Liz Lawler

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Cold Storage by David Koepp

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Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo

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Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey

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Have you read any of these?What are you reading this October? Will you be tailoring your TBR to the season?

In at the Deep End – Kate Davies

42089727._SY475_.jpgJulia hasn’t had sex in three years, and she’s about to learn that she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places. Embarking on an eye-opening journey into lesbianism, Julia opens herself up to some brand new and pretty niche experiences, including an LGBT swing dance class, raves, conceptual art shows, polygamy, S&M and sex clubs. She has well and truly jumped in at the deep end.

On the surface, this book really doesn’t sound that great, but something about it had me completely hooked.

There is a tonne of sex. It’s frank and filthy, but in a very direct, explanatory kind of way. The sexual activities throughout the story are pretty detailed (including strap-on dildos, fisting, etc) but not erotic at all. This book is filled with pure filth, but it isn’t designed to turn you on – which makes it remarkably readable (even for someone quite prudish like me).

While about 70% of the book is filled with sexual content, Julia spends at least 20% of it crying. In at the Deep End is surprisingly emotional, with some great characters who I found myself really caring about.

Julia herself is a great lead character. She’s witty, likeable – despite her denial and poor taste in girlfriends – and very real, and there’s a full cast of fantastic secondary characters, like Julia’s swing-dance friends and her WWII-veteran pen-pal. My personal favourite was her therapist, who absolutely should not be qualified to do that job but was brilliant nonetheless.

This book is a brilliantly written, straight-talking, up-front and funny read which I enjoyed way more than I expected to.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane

43666435._SY475_.jpgThis is the story of two neighbouring families, the friendship between their children, and a tragedy that tears them apart. Kate and Peter live next door to each other and were born six months apart. They are best friends, but their families just don’t get on. One horrific night, their bond is pushed past its limits. But can they move on from the events of the past when they meet again, years later?

Books of this genre aren’t rare. They’re full of drama and explore the darker side of family, but what makes this one stand out if that the catalytic event is truly shocking, while the fall-out is well considered and realistic. Issues around mental health and alcoholism are quite well (though not very sympathetically) explored, and suicide and sexual abuse are touched upon. Quite a lot of ground is covered, but it failed to keep my interest throughout.

Firstly, I would say that the pacing isn’t brilliant. The early portions of the book progress very slowly, and then things pick up speed as things start to happen later on. Because of this, the beginning of the story dragged a little and the end portions felt a bit rushed.

I did like the exploration of Peter and Kate’s marriage, and Kate’s commitment to Peter despite his problems driving her away and her family telling her to leave him. However, very little else stood out to me.

I would recommend Ask Again, Yes to fans of dark domestic dramas. The characters are well developed and their relationships are interesting, but I would steer clear if this isn’t your genre.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Lord of Secrets – Breanna Teintze

42922456._SY475_.jpgCorcoran Gray is an outlaw wizard, on the run from the Mages’ Guild as he tries to figure out a way to rescue his grandfather from imprisonment. When he gets tangled up with fugitive Brix and they both get arrested, things don’t seem like they could get much worse. That is, until Gray realises that Brix could be the key to finding and releasing his grandfather. All they have to do is escape from the Guild, break into an ancient underground temple, and survive a meeting with a deadly necromancer.

To be brutally honest, I don’t know why I read this whole book. I should have DNF’d it after the first few chapters. It isn’t terrible – it isn’t even bad – it just didn’t do anything for me.

There were aspects I enjoyed, the main one being the magical concept in this book: Wizards use magic by writing spells onto themselves, and suffer quite serious side-effects from it. This was an original and interesting concept, which was well developed throughout the book.

I had two real problems with Lord of Secrets which hindered my general enjoyment of the story. First, something about the characterisation just didn’t work for me. From the way Corcoran Gray was introduced, I pictured him as at least middle aged, possibly even quite elderly. I can’t pinpoint exactly what gave me this impression, but it really threw me off when I realised that he was actually meant to be in his early 20’s. Secondly, I absolutely hated the romantic element. The romantic relationship between Gray and Brix felt incredibly forced and rushed (not helped by my image of Gray as a 50-60 year-old) and I didn’t think the story needed it at all. I just couldn’t get on board with them as a couple.

Overall, Lord of Secrets really isn’t a bad book. It just wasn’t for me.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Relic – Bronwyn Eley

46218744._SY475_The Shadow is the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard and being the Shadow means certain death, because Rennard possesses one of the rare and extremely dangerous Relics, which slowly poison everyone else in its proximity. When blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to be the new Shadow, she understands that her life is forfeit. What she doesn’t expect is to uncover a plot to overthrow the ruling powers and destroy the bloodlines in possession of the relics.

Ultimately, Relic is a strong debut with a really good fantasy story-line. However, it took too long to really get going for me and could have benefited from a bit more explanation. I loved the idea of the relics and the shadow system, but I would have liked for the whole thing to be explained in more detail, earlier on. I guess the idea was to keep an element of mystery and intrigue surrounding the relics and their true power, but this wasn’t really necessary. The plot should have been strong enough to carry itself without keeping things vague to up the intrigue.

This book also could have benefited from a faster pace. The events laid out in the blurb take almost half the book to actually play out, which made a lot of it very predictable and lacklustre.

That being said, I thought that the world-building was excellent, and the city of Edriast was easy to picture as well as being a brilliant setting. Also, because so much of the story focuses on Kaylan’s daily life, we get to see some really great character development and it was a nice touch to have a main character in a fantasy-rebellion novel who didn’t immediately leap onto the side of the rebels and inexplicably become their leader and figurehead.

I would definitely recommend Relic to fantasy fans who appreciate a strong character focus and aren’t too fussed about seeing much action.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Ruin of Kings – Jenn Lyons

39863237Kihrin is a musician, and a thief. When he is claimed against his will as the lost son of a treasonous prince, he is drawn into the world of a powerful and dangerous family, as good as a prisoner at the mercy of his new family’s ambitions. Told in two simultaneous timelines, this is a rags-to-riches story involving magic, dragons, romance and a lot of action.

I can’t quite decide how I feel about this book, because it had many features that I really enjoyed and that made it really special, but it took me so, so long to read which is not generally a good sign.

I really, really liked the way the story was written, which was interesting. The story is told by two characters, Kihrin and Talon, in alternating chapters following different time periods. As such, the story is very non-linear and we are told two different parts of the same story at the same time. On top of that, the story-telling  exchange between Kihrin and Talon is compiled by another character, whose footnotes are added throughout the book (and I love a good footnote). This unusual method of story telling did make things a little bit difficult to follow at times, but was really unique and refreshing.

Kihrin is a likeable main character, with a lot of sass and wit, while other characters like Talon, Teraeth, Tyentso and more had their own great personalities. However, there were a few too many characters and it wasn’t easy to keep track of who was who and who was doing what, especially across both timelines.

The Ruin of Kings has a lot going on, and it’s well told. I enjoyed the story and I liked the writing style, but I definitely didn’t find it un-put-down-able and it took me a very long time to read.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Guest Post: How my past has influenced what I write – Bronwyn Eley

Hi guys! I’m very excited today because I have a very special guest post to share with you, from the briliant Relic author, Bronwyn Eley. In this post, Bronwyn will be talking about how her past has influenced what she writes. So, thank you so much Bronwyn and, without further ado, here’s her post!


How my past has influenced what I write, by Bronwyn Eley.

Like everyone, my past will always have an influence on what and why I write. My race, gender, socioeconomic status, schooling, religion and general life experiences all weave their way into my writing – whether consciously or subconsciously done.

Now that I’m reflecting a little bit, I can see how some of my past has subconsciously woven its way into my writing. In my novel Relic, I deal with many issues and one of those issues is surrounding abusive relationships. Not just abusive romantic relationships, but abuse in all relationships and in all its forms – physical, mental and emotional. The terror inflicting the abuse is, of course, Lord Rennard. He is, in a sense, a bully. Discontent, angry and afraid, Rennard takes his rage out on those closest to him, those who have been most loyal. Those he trusts.

This aspect of my novel wasn’t intentionally plotted; rather it came out naturally as something I clearly wanted to address. I have never experienced the physical abuse I address in my novel but it is something that has always resonated with me, as it does with most women. The fear of their partner turning cruel and physically (if not mentally and emotionally) abusing them. Not just the fear – but the questions: would I let it happen? Would I do nothing to stop it? Would I let him hurt me?

I have always been the type to boldly announce that I would never allow myself to be physically abused by a partner but I know it is a lot more complicated than it seems from the outside. In a very real sense, I am Kaylan in this regard: on the outside watching the horror and not understanding why someone would just ‘let’ themselves be abused; why they wouldn’t just walk away or fight back – only to realise that things are not at all that straightforward.

Then there are the things I consciously wove into my story.

Elias is an interesting and delicately constructed character. His alcoholism isn’t just in there for the sake of drama, it’s in there because I wanted a safe space to explore my feelings around it. I have known many alcoholics and heavy drinkers in my life and I have seen how it tears people apart, how it tears families apart and how it can take away more than you ever imagined.

Being Kaylan’s brother, Elias is an integral part of the story. I purposefully chose him to carry this burden because I needed Kaylan to learn lessons as my protagonist and she is going to learn a few of them through him. More to come on that in later books!

I also wanted to include something of my military life. My time in the Air Force was the best time of my life. It is the gift that keeps on giving. I emerged from my time there a hundred times more confident, more ambitious and more inclined to challenge myself. It was the hardest year of my life – yet the most rewarding. I have both good and bad memories. I laughed and I cried. I made lifelong friends – not just with the people in my course but with all military members. It’s like anything that is exclusive – a little ‘club’, if you will. Anytime I see someone in military uniform, I feel instantly nostalgic and connected with that person. I didn’t include much of my military life in the book but there is a line I put in there that Thorn says to Kaylan.

‘There’s a saying among the guards,’ Thorn mused. ‘One in, all in. If one person in the squadron makes a mistake, everyone suffers the consequences. It’s how they learn unity.’

This is a real saying we had in the military. One in, all in. And it was as Thorn said it – if one person made a mistake, the whole team suffered the consequences. At times it was a really hard concept to wrap my head around but it did teach us unity. In fact, it is one of my most treasured memories from that time. Even though a lot of difficult things happened as a result, we learnt valuable lessons and, in the end, it did bring us together.

Kaylan is a strong woman. Her interests and the way she deals with her emotions is very reflective on me. Novels always include aspects of the author and the main character often reflects traits that the author either has or wishes they had (at least, in my experience).

I’ve always said that I was born in the wrong era. That, despite all its hardships, the past calls to me. I say that if I got sent back in time, and I could do anything or be anywhere, I would want to be in Middle Ages/Medieval Europe or England, working as a blacksmith. So when it came time to choose a profession for Kaylan, it was easy! I chose the thing that I would want, something I could write passionately about. Something I would love to research and learn more of. I did a weekend blacksmith course and it was unbelievably fun. This time around, I created the experiences I needed to influence my writing and I can see a lot more of that happening in the future.

When you pick up Relic, I won’t be a stranger to you anymore. You will know a bit about me – what I like, dislike, believe, hope for, fear, desire. Writing is a vanity project with the added benefit of entertaining other people. As I said earlier, it’s a safe space for me to explore and have adventures and learn. My biggest hope is that readers will not only love the story but will come away thinking about the things I address in my novel and perhaps find something that they can relate to.

RELIC, Bronwyn Eley’s debut fantasy novel, is slated for release September 12.

About the author

Bronwyn joined the military right out of high school, where she learnt (among other things) to disassemble and reassemble a rifle blindfolded. After that she spent a lot of her time travelling around the world. Her favourite places (so far) are Scotland, Mongolia, Iceland and Ireland.

Bronwyn finally found her natural habitat when she landed her first job in the publishing industry. While she has always been a writer, it was only when surrounding herself with books that she realised her life’s dream was to become an author. Relic is her first novel.

Bronwyn lives in Sydney and spends her time eating chocolate, reading and practising her martial arts.


46218744._SY475_In the city of Edriast, there is no deadlier duty than to serve as the Shadow.

As the personal servant of the powerful Lord Rennard, the Shadow’s life is all but forfeit. Rennard possesses one of five rare and dangerous Relics – a jewel that protects his bloodline, but slowly poisons everyone else in its proximity. When the current Shadow succumbs to its magic, nineteen-year-old blacksmith Kaylan is summoned to take his place.

It’s an appointment that will kill her. 

As the time Kaylan has left ebbs away, hope begins to fade… That is, until she discovers a plot to destroy all five bloodlines in possession of the Relics.

A rebel force plans to put an end to Rennard’s rule and Kaylan suddenly finds herself embroiled in a cause that might just be worth fighting for. But no cause is without its costs…

As her life hangs in the balance and rebellion bears down on Edriast, Kaylan must decide where her loyalties lie – and how she’ll leave her mark on the world.

Relic is the absorbing first novel in The Relic Trilogy, a thrillingly dark YA fantasy series.

Amazon

Blog Tour: Sanctuary – V.V. James

I’m very excited to be part of the tour for Sanctuary by V.V. James today! This is a fun detective/fantasy crossover, featuring murder and witches, which I very much enjoyed. Thanks for reading my review, and please remember to go and visit the other stops on the tour (tour schedule is available at the bottom of this post).


Every town has its secrets. Sanctuary is built on them.

46189758._SY475_.jpgDaniel’s death looked like an accident: An alcohol-fuelled tragedy with no one to blame. But his ex-girlfriend Harper is the daughter of a witch, and they’d been fighting before he died. When someone accuses her of murder by witchcraft, the investigation into Daniel’s death takes a much more sinister turn. Was it really an accident? Was it revenge? Or – in this town of secrets – something much darker?

I really loved the general theme of this book: a detective novel involving witches, and the plot is very good. Sanctuary is proper detective mystery with a fun supernatural element. I enjoyed the way that witchcraft was a built-in feature of this world, without needed any other supernatural features to enforce it. Witches are a known and (somewhat) accepted people in this book, living openly alongside regular people, but they do suffer from discrimination just the same as any minority group does in the real world. I thought it was very effective to include discrimination in this way.

There are quite a mixed bag of characters. Because the plot is reasonably complex, we don’t get to see too deeply into most of the characters. The ones that we do get to know in more depth are quite different from one another. I liked Maggie, the detective. She was a compassionate character who was determined to do her job and get fair results. I also quite liked Sarah, Sanctuary’s resident witch, because it was easy to understand why she made the decisions she made, to protect her daughter. Abigail, however, I didn’t like at all. It felt like I was supposed to be able to sympathise with her, having just lost her son, but I couldn’t. She came across as nasty and vindictive, even outside of the events that followed the death of her son. On the whole, I think Abigail was the only part of this book that I didn’t much like.

Last, but not least, I absolutely adore that cover.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon


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