Blog Tour: The Caged Queen – Kristen Ciccarelli

Welcome to my stop on a tour that I have been very excited about: The Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli. I hope you enjoy my review, and do remember to check out the other stops on the tour (which you can find details of at the bottom of this post).


40873495.jpgIn the second instalment of the Iskari series, Roa and Dax are the new queen and king of Firgaard. Far from home and married to a weak king who doesn’t keep his promises and was responsible for the death of Essie, her beloved sister, Roa feels alone and frustrated. Trapped in bird-form for years, Essie’s time is finally running out and Roa will do anything she can to bring her back; even kill the king.

I love this series. The world and the characters are fantastic, and I enjoyed reading from a new perspective. However, I did find Roa quite annoying with how indecisive she was and I didn’t enjoy reading about her as much as I did with Aasha in The Last Namsara. Dax, on the other hand, was a fantastic character. He was much deeper and more layered than romantic side-characters usually are, which really added something to the story.

The plot contained multiple love triangles which usually wind me up, but the story and the writing were good enough that I was able to get past these easily. The romance between Roa and Dax was very organic and lovely to read.

As in the first book, there are short chapters inserted throughout the story describing a mixture of past events and folklore which were probably my favourite parts of this book. It’s such an effective way to include background information without interrupting the narrative.

Final comment: There weren’t enough dragons.

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

Goodreads | Amazon


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Blog Tour: Grist Mill Road – Christopher J. Yates

Another day, another blog tour! Today, I’m taking part in the tour for Grist Mill Road by Christopher J. Yates. Below, you can find my review and an extract from the book. Enjoy!


39506861Patrick watched as Matthew tied Hannah to a tree and shot out her eye with a BB gun. He watched, and did nothing. Years later, Patrick and Hannah are married, each keeping big secrets from the other about what really happened all those years ago, until Matthew reenters their lives with devastating consequences.

Like many crime thrillers, this story is told from two timelines: one in 1982 describing past events from Patrick’s perspective, and one in 2008 following Patrick and Hannah’s life together. The real problem with this book was the 2008 thread. The majority of it was filled with long and boring descriptions of food blogging and the history of a cement company. Yes, it is as boring as it sounds.

However, the 1982 thread was much more interesting, and things did eventually come together and picked up a lot. There isn’t very much that can be said about Grist Mill Road without taking away from the reading experience, so I will stop there.

In short, I did enjoy reading this book, but with more action and more emotion behind the story-telling, it could have been better.

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

Goodreads | Amazon


Extract:

PATCH

I remember the gunshots made a wet sort of sound, phssh phssh phssh, and each time he hit her she screamed. Do the math and the whole thing probably went on for as long as ten minutes. I just stood there and watched.

I don’t know when I realized I was counting. Eight, nine, ten. For a long time it seemed as if all sensation, everything but my eyesight, had been switched off. But once I realized I was keeping track of the shots—eighteen, nineteen, twenty— it felt like something I could cling to because my sense of balance had been switched off along with everything else.

I was standing on the nauseating brink of something I didn’t want to fall into, a world beyond comprehension. Twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight. This wasn’t real life, this was a show. And this show wasn’t for me, I wasn’t even allowed to stay up late enough to watch this sort of show. No, none of it made any sense, a silent movie with Russian subtitles.

And yet I watched.

What does it mean to watch? When a crime takes place in front you, what is watching? Is it a failure to act or is it simply keeping your eyes open?


Please do check out the rest of the tour!

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Blog Tour: The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas

Today is my stop on the tour for a book that I’m really excited about: The Psychology of Time Travel by Kate Mascarenhas. I hope you enjoy my review, and do check out the other stops on the tour.

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40803091In 1967, four female scientists build the world’s first time travel machine. But, just when they’re presenting their invention on live TV, one of them has a mental breakdown. In order to prevent negative attention being drawn to the project, she is exiled from the team. Fifty years later, the exiled pioneer and her granddaughter receive a newspaper clipping from the future, reporting the murder of an unidentified woman. Is Granny bee the victim? Who would want to kill her? And can the murder be prevented?

The Psychology of Time Travel covers a lot of very real issues in  time travel that other books ignore. The psychological effects of time travel (through not being able to change events, seeing family and friends die, etc) were really interesting and it was great to see a book based around this.

Besides the interesting topic, the story is really good. Told from multiple perspectives in different time periods, there are a lot of different story threads that all connect to the main event. This was a little confusing and difficult to follow, but it was also very effective in reflecting the general difficulty of keeping track of events when you can travel through time. Because every thread linked together, the actual order of events didn’t really matter, which made the jumping from one person and time to another much easier to cope with.

This is a fantastic science-fiction novel, combining time travel with mystery, mental illness and characters filled with personality. I loved it.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Star-Touched Stories – Roshani Chokshi

36396341.jpgStar-Touched Stories is three magical stories set in the world of The Star-Touched Queen and A Crown of Wishes. You don’t need to have read either book to enjoy this one, but it would help in order to understand some of the characters. Roshani Chokshi’s writing is pure magic. I don’t think I’ve ever read any books quite as magical as hers (and I read a lot of fantasy).

All three stories are special in their own way, but my favourite was the first one: Death and Night. The Lord of Death and the Goddess of Night meet by chance and, contrary to their natures, fall in love. As their romance blossoms, both begin to question if they could be made for more than they’ve believed. Death and Night are both completely brilliant characters, and the setting of this story is just the best (especially the Night Bazaar). I loved the romance between these two, and all of the supporting characters were great as well.

Poison and Gold was my least favourite of the three (although, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it). In this one, Aasha is sent to train to become the kingdom’s new Spy Mistress. However, she has lost control over her power to kill and can’t understand why. That particular aspect of the story really got on my nerves, because it was SO OBVIOUS why she’d lost her control. She’s not a stupid character, so why dumb her down so much in this story? I also didn’t really like the romance between Aasha and the Spy Mistress (whose name I can’t even remember). It just came across as too forced and unnecessary.

Rose and Sword was a nice addition to the book. Vikram falls ill and is on the brink of death, so Guari travels to the land of the dead to retrieve his last breath and save his life. I was so happy to read more about Guari and Vikram (mainly Guari) that almost anything could have happened in this story and I would have enjoyed it. Just to make things even better, Kamala – the lovable demon horse – is back and as brilliant as ever. It was a lovely ending to Guari and Vikram’s story.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Wrecker – Noel O’Reilly

Hello and welcome to the final stop of the blog tour for Wrecker by Noel O’Reilly. Don’t forget to go back and take a look at the other stops on this tour!

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35436024Shipwrecks are a part of life on the coast of Cornwall. In the remote village of Porthmorvoren, things are no different. Bounty and corpses wash up on the beaches regularly, and the locals take what they can. On one such day, Mary Blight helps herself to a fine pair of boots from the body of a dead noblewoman, not realising that she has set herself up as the prime suspect for biting off the woman’s earlobes to steal her earrings. As word spreads of the so-called ‘Porthmorvoren Cannibal’, Mary’s safety becomes less and less certain. The arrival of a handsome Methodist minister to the village only makes matters worse.

Wrecker is the perfect book for fans of Poldark. The story itself isn’t particularly exciting. It’s a detailed snapshot of a time in Mary’s life where some unfortunate things happen to her, but nothing overly dramatic. There is no big adventure, no gruesome murder to solve, no epic romance. Just some interesting stuff happening to a pretty unlucky woman.

The quality of the writing is what brings this story up. I didn’t like the characters very much – especially Mary – but I still found myself caring about her. To be honest, she deserved a lot of the bad things that happened to her, but I was rooting for her nonetheless. My main takeaway from this book was that I felt really, really sorry for Johnenry.

My favourite thing about Wrecker was that it is written using old Cornish dialect (which is much easier to understand if you have watched Poldark). The character voices were so realistic and so full of attitude that, even though I found the story a teeny bit boring, it was a pleasure to read.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

Blog Tour: Ghost Virus – Graham Masterton

Today is my stop on the tour for Graham Masterton’s gory Ghost Virus. Thank you very much to Head of Zeus for having me; I hope you enjoy my review!


38195824A series of violent murders break out in the Tooting area of London, inexplicably linked by items of second-hand clothing. DC Pardoe and DS Patel are assigned to the case and, as the murders continue and get more and more gory, they start to wonder is something supernatural is behind the killing.

Ghost Virus was a LOT more gory than I was expecting. It’s the kind of book where crime/mystery and horror cross over – not for the faint hearted or easily grossed-out. But, at the same time, the graphic details weren’t unnecessary or merely there for shock factor; they were a part of the story, making them an unpleasant but effectual feature of the book.

To be honest, the premise sounds completely ridiculous: clothing becoming possessed by evil spirits and killing people. Not only that, but apparently the clothing is unstoppable (my first thought: grab a flame thrower). But, in fact, it’s great. I loved the writing. The detectives are classic (fictional) British cops, the kind we see all the time on telly and love. (There was a lot of cockney slang used throughout the book, though, which non-British readers mind find difficult to understand).

The relationship between Jerry and Jamila felt genuine and was fun to read about. They came across as believable partners with an attraction to each other, and none of it was forced. Thanks to the intense situation they find themselves in, neither of them act upon their feelings until a pretty realistic time, so the romance fitted into the story as a nice undercurrent and never eclipsed the plot.

Overall, Ghost Virus is gory, gross and a lot of fun. Definitely worth a go.

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

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: Trust Me by Zosia Wand

Hello! Welcome to my stop on the Trust Me by Zosia Wand blog tour. Many thanks to Head of Zeus for having me – I hope you like my review, and I’m also fortunate enough to be able to provide you with an extract from the book. Enjoy!


trustme.pngLizzie is a 27-year-old, with a 53-year-old boyfriend (Jonty) who has a 17-year-old son (Sam). Their family dynamic is unusual, but it works. Until Sam starts to act strangely. Lizzie is doing everything she can to keep their little family together, but everyone else thinks she’s to blame. How can she fix this when she doesn’t understand how it broke?

Although this book falls quite comfortably into the thriller category, it’s actually more of a family-drama and let me tell you, I was HOOKED. Lizzie is a great character. She’s relatable and real, and it was very easy to sympathise while her whole world fell apart around her. Jonty was the only real anomaly in the story because he was just generally an arse and I didn’t get why Lizzie was with him (I was actually rooting for the inappropriate Lizzie/Sam relationship, which I’m not sure we’re meant to). And then Rebecca. Just, ugh. Read the book and you’ll get it.

I really loved the way this book was written. The story unfolded kind of slowly, but this added a lot of depth and reality to it, and really built the tension. It was an easy and engaging read, full of excitement, confusion and drama. I would recommend Trust Me as a good introduction to the thriller genre, for those who don’t want something too intense or violent.

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

Goodreads | Amazon


Extract:

Sam works quickly, methodically, concentrating, eyes squinting, forehead lined. He’s competent. Masculine and adult. No longer a boy. I like watching him. The graceful sweep of his limbs, these strong, confident movements. Jonty lets him take the helm and he rests his hand on what I now know is the tiller, which somehow steers us. His faded blue T-shirt is billowing below his buoyancy aid, offering glimpses of a taut stomach above the waistband of the shorts I teased him about this morning. Feeling the cling of damp denim against my flesh, I can see the sense now.

This is Sam’s environment: the lake, the mountains, the wind. He could be one of those beautiful young men from that other world, gliding into a continental marina, ready to disembark for an evening of cocktails with a pretty girl.

It was Sam who suggested we take the boat out today, swallowing the last of his tea and taking the stairs two at a time to gather the kit. I grabbed the coolbag and threw in anything that might lend itself to a picnic, because I knew once we got to the lake we’d be here until sundown. Days like this can be rare. We might be lucky and have weeks of sun right through spring and summer, but that’s the thing about Cumbria, you can never predict the weather. If the sun is out and it’s at all possible, everyone drops what they’re doing and heads for the lake. The weather forces even the most reticent to be spontaneous because it rains a lot in the Lake District. I knew that before I moved here and I wasn’t looking forward to it, but what I didn’t know is what happens when the clouds part and the sun breaks through. It’s like someone has picked up a paintbrush and splattered the world with colour. Indigo lake reflecting the sky, mountains of lavender and mauve, grey blue slate. Today the first early buds are appearing on fragile branches; in a matter of weeks there will be green on green added to this palette, khaki through to lime, the purple hum of bluebells between. Our slice of paradise.

Sam’s body stiffens. He straightens up. I follow his gaze. Ahead of us the sky looks darker. There’s a menacing grey cast across everything.

Jonty laughs. ‘We’ll be fine!’ But he’s on his feet, taking the tiller from Sam, preparing for something.

The shining mirror of the lake has shattered, offering a broken reflection of the sky. The surface of the water is changing in texture, becoming rougher, matt. I shiver, suddenly chilled. ‘What’s happening?’

Sam is focused on Jonty. ‘We should reef, Dad. That wind from the valley is strong.’

Jonty laughs. He’s in his element, the wind on his face, his body alert, but Sam is nervous.

‘We should reef the sails while we’re still calm.’

‘We’ll be fine.’

I can hear the familiar edge to his voice and ask, ‘What’s reefing?’ to distract them from one another.

Sam explains. ‘We reduce the sail. It gives a smaller surface area and makes it easier to cope with the wind.’

‘Reefing’s for wimps!’ Jonty fixes his eyes ahead. ‘Let’s show you some proper sailing!’

My gut clenches. I want to say something, but I’m in a foreign place, without the experience or the words.

Sam gives me a reassuring nod, but he looks worried. ‘Just do what I say.’

I take comfort from the fact that there are other boats braving the wind, and half a dozen windsurfers riding the gusts like giant butterflies flexing their wings, but as we get closer I notice the boats ahead of us are leaning over, their masts conspicuously tilting away from the wind. They seem to be lowering their sails. I look back at Sam.

‘It’s all right. He knows the lake. If it gets too much we’ll turn around.’ But I can hear the anxiety in his voice. He guides me down to the front end. ‘We need to distribute our weight evenly across the boat.’

Stumbling, I fall against him as we pitch to and fro. He lowers me on to the bench along one side and sits opposite. Goosebumps pepper my arms, my hands are trembling. As the boat shifts this way and that, Sam leans back and then forward, following the rhythm, using his body to steady us.

‘What’s happening?’ I’m trying to understand. To prepare.

‘The air flow is more turbulent up this end of the lake. It’s disturbed by the landscape as it rolls over Torver Common – the contours of the ground, buildings, trees.’ Water sprays over the side of the boat as we pitch alarmingly to one side. Cold seeps through the seat of my jeans. Sam leans back to compensate and has to shout over the rush of the wind. ‘The further up the lake it goes, the more agitated it gets.’

‘Should I rock backwards and forwards like you?’

He shakes his head, leaning towards me, but Jonty barks, ‘Sit still! I’ll keep the boat steady.’

‘I’m just—’

‘I know how to sail a boat!’


Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

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