#Halloween #BookReview of ‘Starve Acre’ by Andrew Michael Hurley #netgalley @johnmurrays #andrewmichaelhurley #StarveAcre

What’s it all about?

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

My thoughts:

I was falling over myself trying to get an ARC of Starve Acre, having loved The Loney so much that it makes my top ten every time I’m asked! I was beyond excited when I was accepted by the publisher. Thank you so much Netgalley and John Murray Press.

Starting with the sudden death of their five-year-old son, Ewan, Richard and Juliette are trying to cope with the aftermath. Juliette is unwilling to let go, and we soon suspect that there is more to this than mere grief. Her authoritarian sister, Harriet, arrives to try to prise Juliette from the house and back to her parents, but realises there is no chance until the Beacons, a seeming innocuous group of occultists have visited to impart some other-worldly knowledge upon the bereaved parents. Great characters, deliciously chilling folklore, adept capture of the divisive nature of grief, and perfect setting.

Dripping with menace, it plays on our darkest fears and intensifies the superstitious mindset of some British countryside folk. It’s gorgeous.

The story reminded me of Henry James and the best of MR James, and one Stephen King novel in particular *feels hair on arms rise. It’s brief; I read it in one sitting. It feels like I’ve been given a flash of something awful in the torchlight and now all I can do is think about it and let my imagination do the rest. This is also a BBC Radio 4 Book At Bedtime. Sleep well listeners….

Having experienced the worst nightmare of my adult life halfway through reading The Loney, I am pleased to confirm that Starve Acre is another masterpiece of modern folk horror. My only regret is that I read this on a sun lounger in Morocco and not cosied up in a chair, with a suitable autumn storm blowing wildly outside. I’m going to read it again in the dark when the weather turns. Stunning, Andrew Michael Hurley. I can still feel this one in my bones.

To snare yourself a copy:    Wordery

Amazon UK

 About the author:

Andrew Michael Hurley picture
Andrew Michael Hurley has lived in Manchester and London, and is now based in Lancashire. The Loney, his debut novel – was first published in October 2014 by Tartarus Press, a tiny independent publisher based in Yorkshire, as a 300-copy limited-edition. It won the Costa First Novel Award 2015 and went on to be named Debut of the Year and Overall Book of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards in May 2016.

#BlogTour #BookReview of ‘Weave of Love’ by Rachel J. Bonner @racheljbonner1 @rararesources #bookreview #choicesandconsequences #giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Rachel J Bonner’s third instalment in the Choices and Consequences series, ‘Weave of Love’. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on the tour, and for my copy of the book.

Weave of Love correct front

The Blurb:

What if the choice you have to make has devastating consequences for others?

How can anyone know the right thing to do?

Leonie chose to sacrifice everything to save other people. Now those around her have to face the consequences – and those consequences are not what they expected.

Prospero must deal with his own guilt. He was the one who gave Leonie the tools she needed – her life was in his hands. To make the most of what she did, he will have to face up to all the family issues he has avoided for so long. Whatever he chooses to do, someone he loves will be hurt. For Leonie’s sake, is he now strong enough to make the choice he couldn’t make before?

The crisis predicted by Lord Gabriel has come and gone. But his task isn’t over. Leonie’s very existence may be out in the open but Gabriel discovers that the past is never what it seems – and nor is the present. How can he use what he now knows to bring together those who have been enemies for as long as anyone can remember?

If he fails in this, everything he’s had to do so far will be in vain.

My Review:

I read ‘Weave of Love’ having not read the first two in the series, and from the outset realised that I had arrived in a story wishing I had read the others. There is a brief and very helpful summary of the action so far, and I did try to glean as much as I could from other sources to understand what I had missed. This is such an involved story and I felt that I had arrived at the immediate aftermath of something very significant, without properly understanding what had gone before, and there is no substitute for reading the series in order I think!

Having said this, Weave of Love is an character driven and absorbing read. I think it’s probably the least action packed of a series which so far must have had a great deal happen, but it is intriguing, emotional and tense, just the same. There is a Christian theme, but this by no mean limits the intended audience for this series and could be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of belief system. It’s really well written with convincing dialogue and great character dynamics.

It is post-apocalyptical and complex, with tense situations, yet the love, belonging and selflessness pervades throughout the story and it feels very comforting somehow. I wouldn’t mind spending a while with Perry’s family!

Without knowing more, and I do think I would like to read the previous books, it seems to be a story which concentrates more on relationships between people rather than being fast paced and action driven. This makes this a very individual and personal book, and I suspect, series.

The Gifts and Shields are a really interesting premise and I enjoyed how this in particular, played out between some of the drama between the various important families in House St. Peter.

All in all, I’d highly recommend ‘Weave of Love’ to fans of character driven romance, with the caveat that the series must be read in order! ‘Strand of Faith’ is the first, and ‘Thread of Hope’, the second. I must get on with it myself!! For an exciting bookish giveaway, please read on below.

Purchase Links to buy for £2.99!:

Amazon UK

Associates

Other Retailers

Google Play

Author Bio:

Weave of Love Author Photo

Rachel J Bonner is the author of the compelling and enthralling four book Choices and Consequences series. The first book in the series, Strand of Faith, was published in November 2018. Book 2, Thread of Hope, released on 2nd May 2019, followed by Weave of Love on 24th October, and Cloth of Grace at the end of February 2020.

Getting a degree in engineering, followed by a career in accountancy is probably not a conventional path to becoming an author, particularly in fantasy or romance. Rachel says that, although accountancy isn’t anything like as boring as everyone thinks, writing is a lot more fun.

When not writing, she can be found walking in the beautiful countryside near where she lives, which has influenced much of the scenery in her books, or shooting things with her local archery club. Shooting targets only, honest. Nothing to worry about. (Okay, sometimes we shoot Polo mints. Or cabbages. Still nothing to worry about.)

She also enjoys swimming, eating chocolate chip cookies and growing aromatic herbs, especially thyme and rosemary. It’s no coincidence that her heroine likes the same things.

You can find out more about her books and sign up for Rachel’s newsletters at www.racheljbonner.co.uk

To connect with Rachel J Bonner:

Author page

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

***GIVEAWAY!!!***

Win signed copies of Strand of Faith, Thread of Hope and Weave of Love, plus a selection of bookmarks, plus three MixPix acrylic photo tiles (Open INT)

Weave of Love Giveaway 1

Enter here!

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Finally, as usual, this is a blog tour, and there are many other reviews, guest posts, extracts and interviews to read, and I would urge you to read them! The other bloggers on the tour are listed on the banner below:

Weave of Love Full Tour Banner

‘Tangled Roots’ by Denise D. Young @rararesources @ddyoungbooks #BlogTour #TangledRoots

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Denise D Young’s paranormal fantasy ‘Tangled Roots’, the first book in her Tangled Magic series. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually and impartially.

Tangled4

The Blurb

A beautiful witch lost in time. A brooding farm boy with magic in his blood and a chip on his shoulder. Dark secrets and shadowy magic. Paranormal romance with a time slip awaits in the first book of this new series.

Cassie Gearhart casts a spell in the forest in the summer of 1974. The next thing she knows, she wakes up to find the world irrevocably changed.

It’s 2019, for one thing. For another, all of her coven members have vanished, leaving behind only one man who holds the key to their secrets.

Nick Felson has sworn off magic, until a confused Cassie knocks on his door in the middle of the night, somehow missing forty-five years’ worth of time. But Nick knows falling for the captivating witch means letting magic back into his life—and that’s one line he swore he’d never cross.

Can Cassie unravel the mystery that transported her decades into the future? And can Nick resist the powerful magic and heart-pounding passion that swirl in the air whenever he and Cassie are together?

The Tangled Magic Series is intended for readers 18-plus who enjoy fast-paced reads, wild and witchy magic, swoon-worthy kisses, and small-town charm. The series is best read in order.

My Review

Paranormal fantasy is not a genre I have much dabbled in, and so I did not really know what to expect from this book. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a swoony romance type of girl, but the first thing about Tangled Roots that struck me was the quality of the writing. It has an intense, almost poetic style and an ethereal feel; the author is clearly competent in wordsmithery!

It’s brief but immersive, a passionate romance which thankfully didn’t get bogged down in erotica, which would have put me off!

I enjoyed the witchy aspect and the sensations relating to nature as the identity of each person’s magic, and how Nick and Cassie’s romance develops so quickly because of this. It is mysterious and although the brevity of the novella doesn’t allow us to get to know the intricate ins and outs of the characters, we know enough to feel their fears and desires and to wish for them to work out what is going on, even if it means they could be separated by time again.

Willow Creek became familiar very quickly, so the scene had been set well. Small town gossip is very accurately described and elicited a few wry smiles from me.

I enjoyed Tangled Roots, with its many goings on squeezed into a quick read, but it is a good story which is well-paced. Fans of adult paranormal/magical fantasy will no doubt enjoy it.

If you wish to buy Tangled Roots and set off on what promises to be a great series, please click here.

About the author

Denise D Young2.jpg

 

Equal parts bookworm, flower child, and eclectic witch, Denise D. Young writes fantasy and paranormal romance featuring witches, magic, faeries, and the occasional shifter.

Whatever the flavor of the magic, it’s always served with a brisk cup of tea–and the promise of romance varying from sweet to sensual.

She lives with her husband and their animals in the mountains of Virginia, where small towns and tall trees inspire her stories. She reads tarot cards, collects crystals, gazes at stars, and believes magic is the answer (no matter what the question was).

If you’ve ever hoped to find a book of spells in a dusty attic, if you suspect every misty forest contains a hidden portal to another realm, or if you don’t mind a little darkness before your happily-ever-after, her books might be just the thing you’ve been waiting for.

To connect with the author:

Website

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Pinterest

As always, this is a blog tour, and there are many other perspectives, extracts and guest posts to read. The other bloggers involved are shown here on the tour banner:

Tangled Roots Full Tour Banner

Happy reading!

‘Empire’s Daughter’ (Empire’s Legacy, Book I) by Marian L Thorpe @marianlthorpe @rararesources @gilbster1000 #amreading #bookblogger #bookworm #bookreview #giveaway

I am very pleased to be on the book tour today for Empire’s Daughter, the first in the Empire’s Legacy series, by Marian L Thorpe. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually and impartially. Also, don’t forget to enter the exciting bookish giveaway at the end!

Empires Daughter ebook cover

The Blurb:

For twenty generations, the men and women of The Empire have lived separately, the women farming and fishing, the men fighting wars. But in the spring of Lena’s seventeenth year, an officer rides into her village with an unprecedented request. The Empire is threatened by invasion, and to defend it successfully, women will need to fight.

When the village votes in favour, Lena and her partner Maya are torn apart. Maya chooses exile rather than battle, Lena chooses to fight. As Lena learns the skills of warfare and leadership, she discovers that choices have consequences that cannot be foreseen, and that her role in her country’s future is greater than she could have dreamed.

My Review:

This novel has a great premise, and really appealed to the lover of Roman and medieval history in me. It diverges slightly and intentionally to make the story work, but this neither matters nor disappoints.

The story begins in a village called Tirvan which is entirely comprised of women, who undertake all the work to supply the Empire, and are visited by men, twice a year only, at Festival. This is a time where willing women of age can form brief relationships in order to bear children. This system is known as Partition and is governed by an agreement made between men and women, some years hence. They undertake the work of the Empire, to support the ongoing military campaigns. At seven years old, male children are permanently removed from their families for army training.

Most women are for the remainder of the time, in same sex relationships. Seventeen-year-old Lena is partnered with Maya, and together they skipper a fishing vessel. Her mother is one of the village leaders, and the local political system is participative. Lives are peaceful and ordered, until the arrival of a male emissary, Casyn, who has been sent from the Emperor to warn them that there is going to be an invasion from the island of Leste. He tells the village women that their coastline is going to be one of the landing points, and they must be taught and organised to fight. Lena secretly relishes the excitement of this, but Maya is angry.

I don’t want to spoil the story from there, as Empire’s daughter is a book well worth reading for yourself. I would class it as YA historical fantasy, as the story centres around young people, but as a 41-year-old, I enjoyed it too! There are some great themes around history, gender, politics, relationships, family, love, loss and adventure. The world building is rich and well thought through.

The women all appear literate and have always had a key role in making decisions in society, down to the arrangement of Partition years ago and the level of female empowerment was not as I expected, and great to read about.

Lena has a range of emotions and convictions that I simply did not have at seventeen. In the context of the time though, when boys were sent into military training at seven, it seems appropriate that Lena behaves more like someone in their mid-twenties at such a young age in this novel. I lost track of the characters quite often, as there are many, and I had to refer to the character page at the beginning a fair bit to refamiliarise myself. The author clearly preempted readers like me! I was well invested in the storyline of the main characters though. I didn’t envy Lena for the choices she had to make, but I enjoyed the plot very much.

Those who enjoy strong female characters, keen world-building and the history of civilisations and how they evolve will, I think, really enjoy Empire’s Daughter. I am looking forward to reading the next instalment.

Purchase Link – buy here!

About the author: Marian L Thorpe

Empires author photo

Writer of historical fantasy and urban fantasy for adults. The Empire’s Legacy series explores gender expectations, the conflicts between personal belief and societal norms, and how, within a society where sexuality is fluid, personal definitions of love and loyalty change with growth and experience.

The world of Empire’s Legacy was inspired by my interest in the history of Britain in the years when it was a province of the Roman Empire called Britannia, and then in the aftermath of the fall of the Roman Empire. In another life, I would have been a landscape archaeologist, and landscape is an important metaphor in the Empire’s Legacy trilogy and in all my writing, fiction and non-fiction.

I live in Canada for most of the year, England for the rest, have one cat, a husband, and when I’m not writing or editing, I’m birding.

Social media links:

Author website

Twitter

Facebook

EXCITING GIVEAWAY!!!!

Giveaway to Win all 3 paperbacks of the Empire’s Legacy trilogy  (Open Internationally)

Empires Giveaway Prize

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter here!

As usual, of course, this is a blog tour and there are many other insights into Empire’s Daughter, the series and the author. Please do check them out!

Empires Daughter Full Tour Banner

#BookPromo of ‘False Flag’ by Rachel Churcher @rararesources @Rachel_Churcher #BattleGroundBookSeries #falseflag #blogtour

Today, I am delighted to be promoting ‘False Flag’ by Rachel Churcher on my stop of the blog tour. Thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. ‘False Flag’ is the sequel to ‘Battle Ground’ and is part of the Battle Ground series, which imagines a dystopian near-future UK after Brexit and Scottish Independence. As a Brit, this is a very interesting premise and an engaging topic for young adults facing a post-Brexit future.

False Flag Rachel Churcher cover

The Blurb:
Ketty Smith is an instructor with the Recruit Training Service, turning sixteen-year-old conscripts into government fighters. She’s determined to win the job of lead instructor at Camp Bishop, but the arrival of Bex and her friends brings challenges she’s not ready to handle. Running from her own traumatic past, Ketty faces a choice: to make a stand, and expose a government conspiracy, or keep herself safe, and hope she’s working for the winning side.

There has been some enormous enthusiasm for this series so far, and here’s what the good people on the blog tour have been saying:

“Before reading this book I thought I knew how I felt about all the characters, but now I’m torn & unsure, & I’ll be going into book 3 feeling very confused on where my loyalties lie. Rachel has made this series a lot deeper & dangerous by choosing to write book two how she has done, & if anything, it just goes to show how much of a talented writer she is.” Writing with Wolves

“for the intended target YA audience, this one gets 5*.” Ayjaypagefarerbookblog

“Rachel Churcher is fantastic at world building and character crafting” Jessica Belmont

“I am enjoying this fascinating and plausible series and I’m looking forward to reading book 3” Just Books

“Frighteningly close to real” … ”While these books focus on young adults, the situations and the ways in which Churcher handles them are, by necessity, very grown up. This should appeal to all fans of dystopian fiction (or, as some folks are calling it: Current Events).” I feel you, Joe’s Jots!

“Churcher pulls off a real trick by giving us exactly the same events but from a completely different viewpoint.” Rea’s Reads

“This is again a fast paced book that is full of action conspiracy and has a challenging reader dilemma.” Me and my Books

“I found False Flag to be a fascinating read. It was more thought-provoking, seeing how things played out from a different character’s perspective” Jazzy Book Reviews

Check out all the other reviews by following the author’s social media links, or @rararesources on Twitter!

False Flag Full Tour Banner

I’m sold! I don’t know whether it is the current political atmosphere, which I’m fairly sure should be making me anxious, but I have a real penchant for dystopian fiction at the moment. The series so far is going for a song at  Taller Books.

Author bio:

Rachel Churcher Author photo.JPG

Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction.

In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.

She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.

Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.

To connect with Rachel:

Goodreads

Twitter

Instagram

Blog

#Book Birthday Blitz for ‘Sleeping Through War’ by Jackie Carreira @rararesources @JCarreirawriter #blogtour #bookreview #bookbloggers #birthday

It gives me great pleasure today to be on the book birthday blitz for Jackie Carreira’s ‘Sleeping Through War’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey from Rachel’s Random Resources for including me, and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader; honestly, individually and impartially.

Sleeping Whole cover copy

The Blurb:

The year is 1968. The world is changing. Students are protesting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three women, life must go on as normal. For them, as it is for most ‘ordinary’ people, just to survive is an act of courage.

Rose must keep her dignity and compassion as a St Lucian nurse in London. Amalia must keep hoping that her son can escape their seedy life in Lisbon. And Mrs Johnson in Washington DC must keep writing to her son in Vietnam. She has no-one else to talk to.

Three different women in three different countries. They work, they bring up children, they struggle to make ends meet while the world goes around and the papers print the news.

History is written by the winners – and almost all of it has been written by men. The stories of women like these go unremarked and unwritten so often that we forget how important they are.

My review:

1968 was a year of extraordinary political turmoil across the world. The Vietnam War was being lost and being exposed as such, despite all assurances to the contrary from the men in charge, comfortable in Washington DC. The civil rights movement was mobilised, and juxtaposed against this extraordinarily tumultuous backdrop, the lives of three women are the focus of this poignant and thought-provoking story. Womanhood, motherhood and sisterhood are the pertinent themes.

The women’s accounts are all presented differently. Amalia’s story is told in the third person, Rose’s in the first and Mrs. Johnson’s, through a series of letters written to her son, who has been posted to Vietnam.

Amalia, in Lisbon, is a wonderful mother, but having suffered widowhood in her 20s she is forced to make sufficient money to support her young son in the only way she knows how. She shows enormous strength and I admired her for the tough decisions she makes.

Rose, in London, travelled to work as a nurse from St. Lucia during Harold Wilson’s time as prime minister when he encouraged workers in from abroad, stating that the time for racial prejudice was over. Sadly, the will of the general public is slower to catch up, and Rose tolerates casual and overt racism with extraordinary stoicism. Her friendship with Brenda, and the manner in which she undertakes her job, show her extraordinary kindness and thoughtfulness, and I loved her.

Mrs. Johnson broke my heart. Her rambling letters to her son, who she is missing terribly, are all the things she wants to say to her husband, but can’t. The public demonstrations against the war are affecting her very deeply, and her private correspondence to her son reflects her turmoil. Enormously poignant.

Most of us, I think, prefer our lives to be quite small and to retain our privacy and dignity where we can. Reading about other lives which are lived in the same way was an emotionally exposing experience, and I don’t mind one bit admitting that I had a little cry when I had finished reading.

‘Sleeping Through War’ is so well-written, thoughtful and compassionate. It really demonstrates that during a time when the rulebook is effectively being torn up, the effects have not filtered through the layers of patriarchal strata to let more than a drop or two fall upon the lives of these three women.

I enjoyed it immensely, and highly recommend Sleeping Through War. In actual fact, my mum popped over today and I’ve downloaded this on to her Kindle.

 

Purchase Links:

Wordery
Waterstones
UK Amazon

Author Bio:

Jackie Carreira
Jackie Carreira is an award-winning novelist, playwright, musician, designer, and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. A true renaissance woman, or a Jack of All Trades? The jury’s still out on that one.

She grew up in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood in Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Sleeping Through War was inspired, in part, by some of the women she met when she was young.

One of her favourite places to write is the coffee shops of railway stations. Her second novel, The Seventh Train (published by Matador in 2019) was born in the café at Paddington Station. Jackie now lives in Suffolk with an actor, two cats and not enough bookshelves.
To connect with Jackie: 
Twitter
Facebook
Website

Chronicles of the Pale by Clare Rhoden @rararesources @ClareER #bookreview #booktour

It is my pleasure to be on the blog tour today for Clare Rhoden’s trilogy, ‘Chronicles of the Pale’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for including me. I have read all three books, and I am most grateful for my copies of these, which I have reviewed honestly, impartially and individually.

The first in the series is ‘The Pale’.

ThePale_Cover

The Blurb:

The Outside can be a dangerous place.

But so can the inside.

It’s been years since the original cataclysm, but life has been structured, peaceful, and most of all uneventful in the Pale. The humachine citizens welcome the order provided by their ruler, the baleful Regent.

However, when one of their own rescues a human boy, Hector, from ravenous ferals on the Outside, their careful systems are turned upside down.

As Hector grows more and more human-strange, the citizens of the Pale grow uneasy.

What will happen when the Outside tries to get in?

Purchase Link –The Pale

The second is ‘Broad Plain Darkening

9781925652024-Cover.indd

The Blurb:

The safe world of the Pale is under threat.

Inside the policosmos, the new Regent Adaeze strives for dominance over the all-powerful Senior Forecaster, but the Pale’s humachine citizens are unaware that their city is close to collapse.

Outside on Broad Plain, the exiled human Hector undertakes a dangerous trek to find a safe haven for the orphaned twins.

How can anyone survive as their world shifts underneath them?

Purchase LinkBroad Plain Darkening

The third is ‘The Ruined Land’

The Chronicles - RuinedLand_inprogress

The Blurb:

Exiled from the Pale, humachine Hector has found a home with the tribes Outside.

Or has he?

While the canini struggle to care for the human twins, Feather travels Broad Plain to reunite them with their father. But his own family is scattered as the Pale sends out its terrifying army and the land itself buckles beneath them.

Can anyone survive the ruination of the land?

In this gripping conclusion to the Chronicles of the Pale, the citizens of the mighty Pale have as much to lose as the communities of the Outside.

My review:

So, it’s been the summer holidays and boy, it’s been busy. I only started reading this trilogy about 8 days ago, and I was worried I wouldn’t do it in time, having deposited four youngsters back into school, one child’s subsequent illness and another’s broken arm! Such is life though, and I will state from the outset that I haven’t enjoyed a series of books this much for years, probably not since Raymond E Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, and this, dear author and readers, is what has carried me through in time!

Clare Rhoden explains a complicated dystopian new world order very capably, through superbly written prose and convincing dialogue between her characters.

In The Pale, we learn that there has been a past event known as the Conflagration, an event set in a version of human future, so cataclysmic that all species are displaced, and have had to organise themselves once again. The current time is 197pc (post-conflagration), and the Pale has the highest population of organised life. If you can call it life. Humans in the past had abused the use of technology and science to disastrous effect, but in the Pale, humachines are the nearest relation to how some humans (probably the ones in charge) had become. They are propagated as engineered eggs, population is strictly controlled and there is an important distinction between those more important, and those not. They are ruled over by a regent, who is given the information needed to rule by a selection of senior advisors. They are protected by formidable walls and weaponry and there is total subservience and adherence to protocol, which lands serviceman Tad in trouble.

Broad Plain is also home to the Settlement, ruled by a chief and the religious leader of the Temple. This operates on a version of a caste system, whereby only those who have been assessed as a perfect example of the human species are permitted to breed. A lower town works to maintain the comfort of the higher town. This feels more familiar and uncomfortable than any other place written about.

The protectionist attitudes of the walled cities dictate that, although other places, humans and species exist, there should be no interaction (beyond Settlement trade). When it does happen, regardless of their rules, can this be tolerated in any circumstances?

The canini are genetically altered canines, who live free from their human masters in large family groups. One of the legacies of their human interaction, pre-conflagration, is their ability to use mindspeech, not only amongst themselves, but to communicate with other species who are receptive. They are wonderful.

There are numerous tribes of humans, and we are introduced to the Storm, who live lightly on the land and move around regularly to limit their impact. They have no walls, and so are considered to inhabit the Outside.

The Outside is a dangerous place now. Not only could you run into pantheras, strikebeasts and snakes, the engine ferals are enough to give anyone nightmares, and they are our own fault.

So, I suppose we could say that we can see how we could, how we do, and perhaps how we should live, all within these stories set on Broad Plain.

In the first of the trilogy, there is an aftershock, a massive geological event following the first conflagration. There is massive damage on Broad Plain, and the communities must reassess many aspects of how life is managed.

More than once during the reading of these Chronicles, my part of our joint cognitive dissonance felt a distinct tremor of its own, particularly with regard to treatment of other species, our environment, and acceptance of technologies developed for who knows what, really.

We get many equal third person perspectives from multiple characters, who are all expertly drawn. I don’t think there is one voice louder than the others in the telling, and I loved how my interest in the story was maintained by moving from one to another character’s experiences.

My guilty pleasure was in the form of the magnificently Machiavellian Senior Forecaster of the Pale, Jaxon Tangshi (think Petyr Baelish/Peter Mandelson, but with longevity). Most of the *gasp, no! moments happened because of him, so I just loved his character although he is completely hateful.

Progressing through the series, I was in awe of the author’s ability to handle grief and intense drama, yet bring hope, faith, loyalty and kindness into such abysmal chaos.
If there is one thing I would have liked (to risk sounding a bit like a disgruntled GOT fan), it is that there would just have been one more chapter near the end set in the Pale.

However, to criticise based on merely wanting more is not a failing at all. I totally loved Chronicles of The Pale and will be raving about them. In fact, Drew, if you’re reading this post at all, I think you’ll love these books.

If this is where we are headed, we need to be afraid. Should I have to face it, I would only do it, if I could, with a dog by my side as my equal, and on the lookout for friends.

Purchase Links:
UK – The Ruined Land
US – The Ruined Land
AU – The Ruined Land

Author Bio:

Clare Rhoden
Clare Rhoden is a writer, speaker and reviewer inspired by politics, culture and the march of history. Her thought-provoking stories and popular characters inspire hope and optimism through challenging times, with novels ranging from wartime history to the dystopian world of the Pale.
To connect with Clare:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Exciting giveaway!!!: Enter here

Giveaway to Win Signed Copies of all three Chronicles of the Pale books & wolf-dog toy made by Borchetta Plush Toys of Australia (Open INT) * see terms and conditions below:

The Chronicles - Giveaway - All 3 books

The Chronicles - Giveaway Prize - Wolf Toy

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

‘In The Company Of Strangers’ by Awais Khan @rararesources @AwaisKhanAuthor #bookreview #bookbloggers #blogtour

It is my pleasure to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Awais Khan’s debut novel ‘In The Company Of Strangers’. Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey, from Rachel’s Random Resources, for including me, and to the author for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader; honestly, individually and impartially.

In The Company of Strangers Cover

The Blurb:

Mona has almost everything: money, friends, social status… everything except for freedom. Languishing in her golden cage, she craves a sense of belonging…

Desperate for emotional release, she turns to a friend who introduces her to a world of glitter, glamour, covert affairs and drugs. There she meets Ali, a physically and emotionally wounded man, years younger than her.

Heady with love, she begins a delicate game of deceit that spirals out of control and threatens to shatter the deceptive facade of conservatism erected by Lahori society, and potentially destroy everything that Mona has ever held dear.

My Review:

The prologue, which sets the scene for this story, makes us party to the tormented final thoughts and observations of a suicide bomber who is making his way into a crowded area in order to avenge his family. When he puts his finger to the detonator, he sets in motion a devastating chain of events.

Ali’s little brother is caught up in the blast, with life changing consequences. To pay for the medical bills, Ali must return to the sleazy work he had hoped to leave behind, despite being extremely successful. He becomes a top billing for the Lahori socialite Meera, who has been newly reunited with her best friend from her youth, Mona, who had married Bilal, a construction magnate, many years earlier. Their social circles are the same; glamourous and bitchy, a superficial whirlwind of parties and home visits which are very amusing to begin with, but palpable tension builds up throughout the story.

It is through Mona and Ali, our star-crossed lovers, that the story is told. The warmth with which these characters’ experiences are told is utterly pervasive and compelling.

I was struck with the author’s ease of writing from a female perspective. I lived and breathed with Mona for the duration of this novel. She has a sense of abstraction from the Lahori high society to which she belongs, allowing us to see the cracks and strains in her life and the lives of those around her.

Although the men believe they are the controlling force in society, there are some very formidable women too. Meera, thrice divorced and fiercely independent, makes it her mission to supersede all others in the pursuit of high society domination. This incenses the cunning and calculating Shahida Elahi, an older woman with a social agenda of her own. Mona’s mother in law, Nighat, is a complex character and I think I ended up liking her, despite her treatment of Mona throughout most of the story.

Away from the high life in Lahore, where secular conservatism is being espoused, young men are becoming radicalised. The dangers of charismatic leadership have been well documented throughout history, in all walks of life and fields of influence and Mir Rabiullah is no exception. He is a monstrous character, and unlike all others in this book, one who the author does nothing to redeem.

Mona experiences huge anxiety about the bomb attacks in Pakistan, which seem to be increasing in frequency and moving closer to the circles in which she moves. She is treading a dangerous path herself and there is great risk in what she does.

The plot of the novel is so compulsive; I found myself reading through the night to find out how Mona and Ali’s troubling situation would resolve.

I have experienced Istanbul through Orhan Pamuk, Kabul through Khaled Hosseini and now Lahore through Awais Khan. He is an author to watch, and I hope that he continues to write much more. As English speakers, to have language barriers broken down for us by skilled writers and translators, we are gifted access to recognise ourselves in others and to see the similarities in human society, no matter the location or culture.

Without reservation, I highly recommend In the Company of Strangers. It is an emotionally charged, stunning debut with masterful characterisation and a tremendous sense of place.

Trigger Warnings: domestic violence, bomb blasts and associated injuries, self-sacrifice, pregnancy related triggers.

This is of course, a blog tour, and there will be many unique perspectives on ‘In The Company of Strangers’ and I would urge you to read them. Some have interviews with the author and on others there are extracts from the novel.

In The Company of Strangers Full Tour Banner
If you would like to order a copy, please follow one of these purchase links:

The Book Guild

Waterstones

Foyles

Amazon

About the Author:

Awais Khan photo

Awais Khan is a graduate of Western University and Durham University. Having been an avid reader and writer all his life, he decided to take the plunge and study Novel Writing and Editing at Faber Academy in London.

His work has appeared in the Missing Slate Magazine, Daily Times and MODE, and he has been interviewed by leading television channels like PTV, Voice of America, Samaa TV and City 42, to name a few.

He is also the Founder of The Writing Institute, one of the largest institutions for Creative Writing in Pakistan. He lives in Lahore and frequently visits London for business.

To connect:

Instagram

The Writing Institute on Instagram

Facebook

Review Policy

My blog is run for enjoyment, and to help me remember what I have read and how I felt about it. I always read and review for free. I enjoy being able to share a review of a book I have enjoyed with the author, other readers and bloggers, who may have an interest in a different opinion. I read and review only as a reader and have no claim to book review as a professional career.

I am extremely sorry, but for the time being, I will only be reviewing books that I have purchased, requested on Netgalley, or as part of an organised blog tour/at publisher request. I know lots of authors contact me about their books, and while I would love to read all of them, I simply don’t have the time at the moment. I will change my review policy should this change.

My reviews will always be my honest and objective opinion of the book. If I cannot finish or did not enjoy, I will not publish on my blog or any other site. I would then contact the publisher, blog tour organiser, or Netgalley to inform them of this. I don’t give star ratings on my blog but will do so on Goodreads and bookseller sites as required. My reviews are also shared on Twitter and Facebook and I love to recommend good books in my online book group.

I don’t exclude myself from any genre, apart from erotica. My preferences are fantasy, ghost/horror, literary fiction, classics, and literary, crime, historical and contemporary fiction. I also like to read some non-fiction and autobiographies.

I am happy to read in any format. I prefer paperback or hardback, but have a Kindle so e-books are fine, provided that they are compatible.

My best wishes,

Jill

‘Smile of the Stowaway’ by Tony Bassett @rararesources @tonybassett1 #bookgiveaway #competition #rafflecopter #bookblog #bookreview

I am delighted to be on the blog tour today for Smile of the Stowaway by Tony Bassett. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on the tour, and for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually, and impartially.

Smile of the Stowaway cover

The Blurb:

A married couple, a stranger from far away and a murder that rocks their lives. Desperate to reach England, a bedraggled immigrant clings precariously beneath a couple’s motor home as they cross the Channel. Once holidaymakers Bob and Anne overcome their shock at his discovery and their initial reservations, they welcome the friendly stranger into their home in defiance of the law. But their trust is stretched to the limit when the police accuse the smiling twenty-three-year-old of a gruesome murder. Could this man from six thousand miles away be guilty? Or is the real killer still out there? Former national newspaper journalist Tony Bassett tells how Anne turns detective, battling against a mountain of circumstantial evidence and police bungling to discover the truth. This gripping first novel concerning a death in a remote Kentish country cottage is packed with mystery, suspense and occasional touches of humour.

My Review:

Imagine travelling back from a trip abroad in your motorhome, ignorant of the fact that a desperate stranger has boarded the underside of your vehicle, only finding out when you pull on to your driveway, and he drops to the ground, ready to run. Would you call the authorities immediately, or might you take pity on an exhausted human being who has undertaken a hellish journey in order to reach a safe country which he hopes to make his home? This is the precise dilemma that suburban couple Bob and Anne face in Smile of the Stowaway, the first crime novel written by ex-Fleet Street journalist Tony Bassett.

The choice they make places the Eritrean illegal immigrant, Yusuf, as a new fixture in their lives, and one who they come to regard with concern and affection. When Yusuf is able to take up a job locally, due to the deniability of the way he has arrived, and his being in possession of a passport, all appears to be going very well.

Then, there is a brutal murder, and the shadow of suspicion falls upon the stowaway with the beautiful smile. Anne is convinced that Yusuf is innocent, and goes on a one-woman mission with her husband Bill (through whom this story is recounted) in tow, to prove it.

Yet, will her faith be misplaced, and is Yusuf really the genial, kind and hardworking man he appears to be?

Some of the problems encountered in this book seemed to me to have solutions which were a little too quickly resolved. I felt that the writing would have benefited from fewer descriptions of some minor points, and greater complexity in other areas, particularly with regard to police procedure and legal process. As a layperson, I would have liked to have understood these things better within the context of this as a crime novel, and this subject, which I found very interesting. I am glad that the author chose to tackle illegal immigration from the perspective he did.

The plot moves forward quickly, and the author is at his most comfortable when he is writing about the private investigation process that his amateur sleuth, Anne, undertakes (although I did have to suspend disbelief on occasion!). I’m sure that this must in no small part be attributable to his extensive journalistic experience.

The book uproots the typical negative tabloid story we used to be confronted with on a regular basis concerning illegal immigrants, and makes our perspective focus on the individual rather than the headline. This is more in keeping with the new, more compassionate style of journalism which appears to be turning the tide against the people traffickers, and eliciting our sympathy for those seeking safe harbour, often failing so tragically.

The author uses his main characters to demonstrate the value of friendship and compassion to those who risk everything to reach a safe place, but also lets the plot unfold in such a way that the complex issues faced by illegal immigrants are exposed.

To take part in an exciting giveaway…

Giveaway to Win 6 x PB copies of Smile of the Stowaway (Open INT)

Rafflecopter Giveaway

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Purchase links:

Amazon UK  

Amazon US

About the author:

Tony Bassett picture

Tony Bassett, who was born in West Kent, grew up wanting to be a writer from the age of nine when he edited a school magazine.

After attending Hull University where he won a `Time-Life’ magazine student journalism award, he spent six years working as a journalist in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff before moving to Fleet Street.

Tony spent 37 years working for the national press, mainly for the `Sunday People’ where he worked both for the newsdesk and the investigations department.

He helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial for the `Evening Standard’, broke the news in the `Sun’ of Bill Wyman’s plans to marry Mandy Smith and found evidence for the `Sunday People’ of Rod Stewart’s secret love child.

On one occasion, while working for `The People’, he took an escaped gangster back to prison. His first book, `Smile Of The Stowaway’, is one of four crime novels Tony has written over the past three years.

He has five grown-up children and eleven grandchildren. He lives in South East London with his partner, Lin.

To connect with Tony,  please follow the social media links below:

Facebook 

Twitter

Tony Bassett Author Page