Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Cover Reveal: The Children of Chaos

Thank you to Trudie for giving me the opportunity to show off her cover on this fine Wednesday.

Here's my review of the first book: The Thirteenth Hour

When the saints call, the sinners answer.

Chaos stalks the steam-powered city of Chime and threatens the existence of the gods and their domains. Kayl swore to protect Chime's mortals from their gods' cruel whims, but when she agrees to represent the mortals of a god long thought dead, Kayl is thrust into a political role that goes against everything she's ever stood for.

As the newly appointed ambassador to the god of time, Quen's goal is clear - protect Chime and the domains by any means necessary. But as the gods make their demands, Quen is caught between his loyalties and his conscience.

To ensure a future for all mortals, Kayl and Quen must unite the gods against the threat of chaos and decide what they're willing to sacrifice for Chime - before the gods choose for them.

For the gods are capricious and have their own divine plans.

Artist: James T. Egan of Bookfly Design

Release Date: October 13, 2022
Pre-order Links:

Doesn't it just look GORGEOUS? I cannot wait!

About Trudie Skies: Trudie Skies has been living inside fantasy worlds ever since she discovered that reality doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Through the magic of books, she wishes to share these worlds of hope and heroes with other weary souls. Living in North East England, Trudie spends most of her free time daydreaming about clouds, devouring whatever fantasy books or video games she can get her hands on, and chasing after her troublesome dogs, who would like to reassure you they are very good boys.
Her debut YA fantasy series, Sand Dancer, was published through Uproar Books. Trudie is now writing adult gaslamp fantasy with her new series, The Cruel Gods.
You can chat with Trudie on Twitter @TrudieSkies

Sunday, 20 March 2022

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi

Book Title: The Kaiju Preservation Society
Author: John Scalzi
Genre: Science Fiction Adventure
Source: Blog Tour (Thank you to Black Crow PR for the copy!)

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot: Jamie’s dream was to hit the big time at a New York tech start-up. Jamie’s reality was a humiliating lay-off, then a low wage job as a takeaway delivery driver. During a pandemic too. Things look beyond grim, until a chance delivery to an old acquaintance. Tom has an urgent vacancy on his team: the pay is great and Jamie has debts – it’s a no-brainer choice. Yet, once again, reality fails to match expectations. Only this time it could be fatal.
It seems Tom’s ‘animal rights organization’ is way more than it appears. The animals aren’t even on Earth – or not our Earth, anyway. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures roam a tropical, human-free world. And although Kaiju are their universe’s largest and most dangerous animal, they need support to survive.
Tom’s ‘Kaiju Preservation Society’ wants to help. However, others want to profit. Unless they’re stopped, the walls between our worlds could fall – and the consequences would be devastating.

What did I think?

Lately I've found it hard to read. Have you seen the world? Bring me a tub of ice cream and let me weep.

Books require focus, a lot more than mindlessly watching Netflix (or worse TikTok), and at the same time they allow the mind to wander (unlike video games.)

I've opened dozens of books in 2022, read a few paragraphs, closed them again.

Along came Scalzi. Finally. I'm not kidding when I say I was really bloody grateful for this book!

I ended up reading the Kaiju Preservation Society in one afternoon. I didn't want to put it down. It was far too much fun. It made me forget about the world, my responsibilities, and I felt like a little kid watching a Godzilla movie at the cinema.

That's all you really need to know.

With his newest book Scalzi offers a vibrant world, dialogue filled with impeccable humour, giant beasts, alternate dimensions, and pages filled with light-hearted fun. The plot moves at a break-neck pace, the characters are authentic and likeable, and the villain is a total prick.

Overall, the Kaiju Preservation Society is silly entertainment much like a popcorn movie but in book-form. Filled with cultural references, and served with a dollop of genuine humour, this read is sure to bring some joy to a rainy afternoon.

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Spotlight: Princess Ever After

Title: Princess Ever After
Series: The Rosewood Chronicles
Author: Connie Glynn
Genre: Middle Grade (Fantasy; Fairytale)
Publisher: Penguin

Check out the entire series on Amazon UK.

And on Goodreads.

Read my review of the first book here.

I love the covers, they've chosen wonderful colours, and this series looks beautiful on my bookshelf!

Blurb: Ellie is a rebellious princess who is no longer hiding her real identity.
Lottie is her Portman, wishing that she could shield Ellie from the threat of Leviathan.
Jamie is Ellie's Partizan, a lifelong bodyguard sworn to protect the princess at any cost - but has mysteriously disappeared.
Not all of the trio have made it back to Rosewood Hall. Can they be reunited? And at what cost?
With the crown at risk, the stakes have never been higher...

About the Author:

Connie Glynn has always loved writing and wrote her first story when she was six, with her mum at a typewriter acting as her scribe.

She had a love for performing stories from a young age and attended Guildhall drama classes as a teenager. This passion for stories has never left her, and Connie recently finished a degree in film theory.

It was at university that Connie started her hugely successful YouTube channel Noodlerella (named after her favourite food and favourite Disney princess). After five years of publicly documenting her life and hobbies to an audience of 900,000 subscribers on YouTube, Connie closed the book on the Noodlerella project in a bid for more privacy and to pursue her original passions in the performing arts.

Connie now writes music and fiction full- time. Follow Connie on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr @ConnieGlynn

Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Undercover Princess by Connie Glynn

Book Title: Undercover Princess (Rosewood Chronicles)
Author: Connie Glynn
Genre: Middle-Grade Fantasy
Source: Blog Tour (Thank you @WriteReads for including me in this tour.)

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot: When fairy tale obsessed Lottie Pumpkin starts at the infamous Rosewood Hall, she is not expecting to share a room with the Crown Princess of Maradova, Ellie Wolf. Due to a series of lies and coincidences, 14-year-old Lottie finds herself pretending to be the princess so that Ellie can live a more normal teenage life.

Lottie is thrust into the real world of royalty - a world filled with secrets, intrigue and betrayal. She must do everything she can to help Ellie keep her secret, but with school, the looming Maradovian ball and the mysterious new boy Jamie, she'll soon discover that reality doesn't always have the happily ever after you'd expect...

What did I think?

To celebrate the release of the fifth book in the Rosewood Chronicles, I've finally read the first one, Undercover Princess.

This is a whimsical and engaging Middle Grade adventure that I would have gobbled up as a ten-year-old.

Personally, I found the writing a bit clunky in places, but the story more than made up for it.

The characters are likeable. The protagonist is one hard-working Lottie Pumpkin (yes, that is her name!) who has been accepted to attend a prestigious boarding school on a scholarship. That's where she meets Ellie.

Ellie is the kind of character I love. Rebellious, sassy, laughs in the face of authority, and causes trouble wherever she goes.

Their blossoming friendship is one of the highlights of this book.

My favourite part was the setting. Rosewood Hall is quintessentially British, and I adored the quaintness of the gothic boarding school. It reminded me of curling up with Enid Blyton novels as a child.

I'd recommend this series for children aged 10-14, who enjoy both Harry Potter and The Princess Diaries - I'm showing my age here, whoops.

Undercover Princess is essentially an adorable fairytale with princesses and fencing. What's not to like?

Monday, 6 December 2021

An Altar On The Village Green by Nathan Hall

Title: An Altar on the Village Green by Nathan Hall
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy (grimdark)
Source: Kindle Unlimited

Plot: My faith called me to become a Lance. My compassion drew me into one of the fallen lands. Through my connection with the Chained God, I alone can find and destroy the Horror that stains the land.
Death can no longer chain me.
But I couldn’t have imagined the madness waiting for me in this village. I’m not sure my faith can withstand the secrets I’ll uncover. Or that my compassion can survive the violence to come. This Horror may swallow me whole.
Death can no longer free me.
A creature stalks in the dark. Buildings burn. People die. An altar has been built on the village green.

What did I think?

As an avid Bloodborne...addict, this was one of the best books I've read in 2021. I'm not exaggerating, this book made me feel...things.

At times, it felt as though Nathan Hall had written this book specifically for me. Admittedly, that thought is a bit creepy, but...somehow this book was exactly what I wanted it to be.

The prose is exquisite (truly), the world-building while definitely inspired by the Dark Souls games is unique, and the atmosphere, oh the atmosphere...

I breathed this book! I lived this book.

It's rare, at least now that I'm an adult and my brain is racked by the constant reminders of endless responsibilities, that a book simply absorbs me.

I didn't want to look up, I didn't want to stop!

The pacing is...a bit like playing a Dark Souls game. You have to work for it, but the payoff is absolutely worth it. This isn't a book to be devoured in a few hours, it's to be relished, slowly, while sipping something warming.

The only slump I found noticeable was shortly after the halfway point: the pacing had slowed, my initial excitement died down and just for a brief moment, I found myself...dare I say, struggling?

By that point the protagonist had died a dozen times and was one or two deaths away from being consumed by madness, and it occurred to me that perhaps...perhaps Nathan Hall had slowed the pace on purpose.

Right at that point, my mindset mirrored the protagonist's. Frustrated, itching to try again, itching to succeed. Onwards! What a book!

Whether you're a fan of the Souls games or just like dark atmospheric fantasy, do yourself a favour and give this one a try.

Monday, 1 November 2021

Every Star A Song by Jay Posey

Book Title: Every Star A Song (The Ascendance Series #2)
Author: Jay Posey
Genre: Science Fiction
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: Hardback sent by publisher

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot: Far in the future, human beings have seeded themselves amongst the stars. Since decoding the language of the universe 8,000 years ago, they have reached the very edges of their known galaxy and built a near-utopia across thousands of worlds, united and ruled by a powerful organization known as the Ascendance. The peaceful stability of their society relies solely on their use of this Deep Language of the cosmos.
Elyth—a former agent of the religious arm of the Ascendance, The First House—is on the run after the events of Every Sky a Grave, when she and the fugitive Varen Fedic exposed the darker side of Ascendance hegemony on a planet called Qel. Though she just wishes to put the past (and Varen) behind her, she is soon tracked and cornered by the Ascendance agents. Surprisingly, they aren’t there for punishment. Instead, they offer her a deal in exchange for her help in exploring a new planet that seems to have appeared out of nowhere. If she agrees, her sins against the Ascendance and the First House will be forgiven.
Elyth reluctantly agrees to join the team of elite agents (including some former allies-turned-enemies) but almost as soon as they touch down on the planet’s surface, things start to go awry. Strange sounds are heard in the wilderness, horrifying creatures are seen stalking the forests, and even the landscape itself seems to change during the night.
But as expedition members start dying, two things become clear: the planet is conscious, and it’s trying to kill them.
What did I think?

Every Sky a Grave was my first ever read by Jay Posey, and I really enjoyed it, despite the rather slow middle.

Posey is an incredibly skilled wordsmith. In fact, the prose is what I liked most about The Ascendance Series. It's descriptive and at times, it was like reading poetry. It's obvious that every word is chosen with care.

The Deep Language is such a clever idea. As a reader, the fact that language is essentially unlimited power in this world won me over.

Overall, the world building is intricate and creative, reminding me of the epic scope in Alastair Reynold's work (especially House of Suns). While Posey took great care in developing his setting throughout the first book, the world building takes a backseat in the second book. Every Star A Song is much more fast-paced - there is no slow middle - and almost the entire book is filled with action instead.

It definitely makes for an easier read.

The protagonist, Elyth, is a smart, knowledgeable and curious woman. She's intelligent and I quickly found myself rooting for her. She's fiercely independent, loyal at first but grows into her own during the first book.

In Every Star A Song, Elyth has to give up some of her independence and work together with a team to solve the mystery of the planet that has appeared seemingly out of nowhere. The supporting cast is made up of intriguing characters, and I enjoyed the dynamics among the rather uneasy companions.

I recommend The Ascendance Series to all science fiction fans who don't mind a touch of fantasy in their books.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

The Thirteenth Hour by Trudie Skies

Book Title: The Thirteenth Hour
Author: Trudie Skies
Genre: Fantasy, Gaslamp, Steampunk
My Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Source: I beta read this one, but yes, I bought it!

Goodreads, Amazon UK

Plot: Cruel gods rule the steam-powered city of Chime, demanding worship and tribute from their mortal subjects. Kayl lost her faith in them long ago, and now seeks to protect vulnerable and downtrodden mortals from their gods’ whims. But when Kayl discovers powers that she didn’t know she had—and destroys a mortal’s soul by accident—she becomes Chime’s most wanted.
Quen’s job was to pursue sinners, until the visions started. Haunted by foreboding images of his beloved city’s destruction, Quen hunts soul-sucking creatures made of aether who prey on its citizens—and Kayl is his number one target.
To ensure Chime’s future, Kayl and Quen must discover the truth of Kayl’s divine abilities before the gods take matters into their own hands.
For a city that bows to cruel gods, it’ll take godless heathens to save it.

What did I think?

I was one of the beta readers, so I'm probably biased, but look at that cover! It's so gorgeous.

"Time had run away from me again, but I couldn't afford to let it escape, not today."

The book opens with Kayl being late. Again. But even though she's chasing a tram right away, The Thirteenth Hour is fairly slow-paced at first as Skies takes her time to build her world.

It's a wonderful world, clever, innovative - a world I've not seen done before. It's also a fairly complex one, and it took me a few chapters to find my bearings.

There are twelve domains, twelve gods, and twelve mortal races. It's a lot, but damn if it isn't one of the most fascinating worlds I've ever had the joy of discovering. Then there is Chime, a mortal city where the gods cannot tread.

The social structure and hierarchy, and Skies' critique of it is executed in a subtle yet impactful manner. While the author's disdain for Victorian Workhouses (and their modern counterparts) is practically spilling from each page, Skies' social commentary is cleverly packed into a fun fantasy adventure with loveable characters.

The Thirteenth Hour is told from the point of view of Kayl and Quen, both written in the first person (the first switch confused me, but after that I could quickly tell them apart thanks to Skies' distinct prose).

Kayl is a bit of a scatterbrain with a healthy dose of sharp wit. She embarks on a journey of self-discovery, staying true to her principles and beliefs throughout the book. "If I was a pious woman, I'd be praying. But I was a Godless woman, and the gods left me to dictate my own fate."

Quen, on the other hand, is a quirky gentleman dork, and I love him. He likes a biscuit with his tea, and I'd adopt him and offer him our guest room any day. He's just so charming, albeit a bit grumpy at times, as well as incredibly tortured by his past, which makes him even more charming. "The tea they'd offered me was serviceable at best. [...] Things could have been worse. They could have offered me coffee."

Yes, there is some romance, but it's a wonderful romance and I'm here for it! (Which is a rare thing for me to say, I know!)

The writing is - I've been trying to come up with a way to describe it - devilishly charming, filled with the very best Britain has on offer (tea and biscuits and more importantly, "Thou must not violate the sanctity of the queue!") and also British humour. British humour is arguably the best in the world (don't @ me)!

On a more serious note, Trudie Skies' writing is incredibly charming and witty. The prose is easy to read and even the slower parts flow smoothly.

And before you know it, you're reading the second half of this wonderful book, and suddenly the pace picks up, throwing one twist after another at the unsuspecting reader.

Need more reasons to read The Thirteenth Hour? Read this blog post written by the author herself, which will give you a whole thirteen reasons! The most important ones that I haven't mentioned yet? LGBT+ representation and the found family trope! (The found family trope is one of my favourite tropes out there, and it's incredibly well done here.)

I recommend The Thirteenth Hour to all fantasy readers who enjoy character-driven gaslamp or steampunk stories.