Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

Blog Tour: A Shadow on the Lens – Sam Hurcom

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-08T223719.935
Release Date:
September 5th 2019
Publisher: Orion Books
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The Postmaster looked over my shoulder. As I turned to look I saw a flicker of movement from across the street. I felt unseen eyes peer at me.
He walked away without another word. I watched as he climbed onto his bicycle and sped away down the street. I turned back and looked over my shoulder.
Someone had been watching us.

1904. Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers, is called to the sleepy and remote Welsh village of Dinas Powys, several miles down the coast from the thriving port of Cardiff. A young girl by the name of Betsan Tilny has been found murdered in the woodland – her body bound and horribly burnt. But the crime scene appears to have been staged, and worse still: the locals are reluctant to help.

As the strange case unfolds, Thomas senses a growing presence watching him, and try as he may, the villagers seem intent on keeping their secret. Then one night, in the grip of a fever, he develops the photographic plates from the crime scene in a makeshift darkroom in the cellar of his lodgings. There, he finds a face dimly visible in the photographs; a face hovering around the body of the dead girl – the face of Betsan Tilny.

Review

Copy of book cover (55)This is the dark and creepy tale of Thomas Bexley, one of the first forensic photographers who is sent to Dinas Powys in Wales after the body of a young woman is discovered in the woods. Her body is found bound, mutilated and burnt, so the police turn to Bexley to solve the case. As Thomas begins to uncover the case, he finds the locals reluctant to help and a growing sense of unease in the village – could there be more to this brutal murder than Thomas first thought?

This is quite a short book, but it absolutely packs a punch. It’s really dark and eerie, a murder mystery with just that hint of the supernatural. If I hadn’t read this already I would definitely have read this on Halloween because it’s that perfect spooky story. I loved the setting of this story. This sleepy little village where everyone knows each other. As Bexley tries to uncover the secrets behind the murder I loved the way the tension climbed as that feeling of unease grew and grew.

Thomas was a really interesting character and I found the Victorian forensic photography so interesting. It was something I didn’t know much about so I really liked seeing him carry out his work. The author has a gorgeous writing style and some of the scenes (particularly the one in the basement!) really sent a shiver up my spine.

There are plenty of twists in this that I didn’t see coming, and a fair few scary moments. It’s a quick read because it’s so easy to fall into the story and I am really looking forward to reading more from this author. A Shadow on the Lens is a fantastic debut, a chilling read that fans of Gothic horror will absolutely adore!
4 stars

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

Blog Tour: Kingdom of Souls – Rena Barron

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-09-08T105953.222
Series:
Kingdom of Souls #1
Release Date: September 3rd 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 496
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I received an E-ARC of this through Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Magic has a price—if you’re willing to pay.

Born into a family of powerful witchdoctors, Arrah yearns for magic of her own. But each year she fails to call forth her ancestral powers, while her ambitious mother watches with growing disapproval.

There’s only one thing Arrah hasn’t tried, a deadly last resort: trading years of her own life for scraps of magic. Until the Kingdom’s children begin to disappear, and Arrah is desperate to find the culprit.

She uncovers something worse. The long-imprisoned Demon King is stirring. And if he rises, his hunger for souls will bring the world to its knees… unless Arrah pays the price for the magic to stop him.

Review

Copy of book cover (67)Kingdom of Souls follows Arrah, the daughter of two incredibly powerful witch doctors. She has a lot to live up to, and things are made worse by the fact that she doesn’t seem to be able to use magic at all. As she returns to the Kingdom she hears that children have been mysteriously vanishing and when she uncovers the reason why she discovers she might have to pay the ultimate price to stop an ancient evil being released.

I’ve really been loving dark, addictive fantasy books so this sounded right up my street. I was hooked straight away and this book ended up being a whole lot darker and grittier than I was expecting. It’s full to the brim with magic, sacrifice, demons and power. It does also contain quite a few trigger warnings, so please bear that in mind before reading.

The story is quite a complex one, there are quite a lot of characters and at times I found myself getting a bit lost with who was who. Our main protagonist Arrah is brilliant though, I really liked her perspective and she undergoes lots of character development as she goes from being a young girl desperate for magic to trying to stop the demon king at any cost.

The world building is also fascinating, the author has steeped the whole world in magic and lore and there’s so much detail surrounding the magic system, the gods and the demons. I really love when stories really built an in depth world and it really felt easy to fall into the world of Kingdom of Souls.

I really enjoyed the story in this one, it was gripping and engaging. I think this book would have been a five stars for me but I just felt the pacing was a little off in the second half of the book, losing its edge a little toward the end. Despite that I still thoroughly enjoyed Kingdom of Souls – it’s a dark, vivid tale of family, magic and sacrifice and it’s definitely worth checking out and I’m so looking forward to book two!
4 stars

Blog Tour: Brightsteel – Miles Cameron

Blog Tour: Brightsteel – Miles Cameron

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-08-27T223247.223
Series:
Master & Mages #3
Release Date: August 22nd 2019
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 448
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

Every war come down to the flash of bright steel.

Even when the air is full of magic . . .

Aranthur and his friends have come together across different continents and realms with one purpose: to strike back against the forces which have torn a hole in the heavens and threaten to tear the world beneath them apart as well.

With time running short, and treason at home, there are battles to be fought on the field, in the magical arena, and in the ever-deadly realm of politics, and they cannot fail anywhere or everything will fall. Victory will require enemies to trust one another, old foes to fight together, spies to reveal the truth and steadfast allies to betray long-corrupt rulers.

Is Aranthur, a twenty-year-old student, really the master strategist to bring it all together? And can he and his friends build enough trust to overcome aeons of lies when their plans inevitably fall to pieces?

Do they even know, for sure, who the enemy is . . .

Review

Copy of book cover (48)The Master and Mages trilogy has been one of my favourite series of late, and I’ve absolutely loved each instalment in this fast paced and enjoyable tale. In Bright Steel Miles Cameron takes this epic story to even new heights, and I loved every minute of it. This is a brilliant series from start to end, and definitely should not be missed.

It’s difficult to talk about the plot of the third book in a series without giving away spoilers, but we continue to follow Aaranthur our protagonist from the previous two books. Aaranthur makes for a wonderful hero in this story and it’s really fascinating seeing him develop and grow over the course of the story. He is constantly pushed to the limit, and fighting that line good and bad. I really liked that he’s not your absolutely perfect hero, he makes mistakes, questions his judgement and grows as a person.

One of my favourite aspects of this series is definitely the writing. Cameron really sucks you in and Bright Steel has a really engaging plot that will keep you wanting more. It’s so easy to fall back into the story and the world building is incredibly well done. The story has something for everyone with plenty of action, politics, betrayal and magic.

If you’ve read the previous two instalments, you are definitely not going to be disappointed in the conclusion. If you haven’t had a chance to start this brilliant series yet, now is the perfect time to binge the entire series.

4 stars

bright-steel-blog-tour-graphic

Blog Tour: All the Bad Apples – Moira Fowley-Doyle

Blog Tour: All the Bad Apples – Moira Fowley-Doyle

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Release Date:
August 1st 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 352
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book to review through Fantastic Flying Book Club
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.

Review

Copy of book cover (47).pngI have long been meaning to pick up a copy of Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moira Fowley-Doyle and haven’t gotten around to it yet, so when I spied this online I was really eager to read it. I’m so glad to say I absolutely loved this book and will definitely be seeking out her other works.

The story follows Deena, a young seventeen year old girl living in Ireland. Her free-spirited sister Mandy has gone missing and the rest of the family assume she has committed suicide. Deena finds a mysterious letter in Mandy’s handwriting alluding to a family curse that has destroyed so many of her ancestors. Deena goes on a quest to find her sister and discover the roots of this mysterious curse.

All the Bad Apples is a hard hitting story of family, of survival, of being who you want to be and I absolutely could not put it down. I raced through this book and ended up reading it in a day. I completely fell in love with the authors beautiful almost dream like writing and I got totally swept along in the journey of Deena and her family.

The story jumps around a bit in time, having chapters in the present day (2012) and jumping back to various time periods when Deena’s ancestors had dealings with the curse. I really liked the diverse cast of characters and there was lots of excellent representation too.

All the Bad Apples deals with a lot of really tough subjects including abortions, slut shaming and rape but they are handled well and it makes for a really hard hitting and emotional that I could not put down. If you’re looking for a beautifully told and incredibly important tale, this should definitely be your next read.
4 stars

Book Review: Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Nicole Lemon

Book Review: Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Nicole Lemon

BOOK REVIEW - 2019-08-21T170915.848
Release Date:
March 7th 2017
Publisher: Abrams & Chronicle
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.

Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Review

Copy of book cover (46)Done Dirt Cheap was a book that really surprised me. I kind of expected a wild Son’s of Anarchy type of book full of biker gangs and crime, and while that was part of it, it was really so much more. The story of Tourmaline and Virginia and fascinating, two women sticking together despite the odds and defying the odds.

I thought the characters were really striking and they’re what kept me hooked the whole way though the story. Tourmaline dealing with her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s secretive nature, as well as the fact that he’s the president of a biker gang. Then there’s Virginia, who has no real family and has to work for the local drug dealer in order to get by. I loved that these two characters didn’t really have anything in common, but they formed a friendship and they stuck together, no matter how tough things got.

The book was fairly well paced, though I did feel it slowed down a little in the middle as Virginia and Tourmaline were trying to lie low. The ending did definitely have me on the edge of my seat, rooting for the two girls to succeed. The book has a very feminist style feel to it, with the two main protagonists taking action and going where they need to – they definitely don’t rely on the male characters to do their dirty work or save them.

I also really loved the setting, with the beautiful American summer and the gleaming motorbikes. It really came alive, and I got completely sucked into the setting from my dreary Edinburgh surroundings. It features really strong and fierce women and it has everything from crime and trickery to romance. If you’re looking for a fun fast summer read about the friendship between two fantastic female characters, Done Dirt Cheap is exactly what you’re looking for.

4 stars

Blog Tour: The Undoing of Arlo Knott – Heather Child

Blog Tour: The Undoing of Arlo Knott – Heather Child

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Release Date:
August 1st 2019
Publisher: Orbit Books
Pages: 464
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

What if your life had an ‘undo’ button?

Arlo Knott discovers he can rewind time – just by a minute or two – enough to undo any mistake, say the right thing or impress his friends with his uncanny predictions…

But second chances aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. As wonderful as his new life is, a mistake in Arlo’s traumatic childhood still haunts him and the temptation to undo, undo and keep undoing is too much to resist.

Review

Copy of book cover (39)I became completely hooked on the tale of Arlo Knott. The story follows Arlo as he explores the rare gift he has – he can rewind time. Not by months or hours but only by a few minutes, enough to be able to make predictions, but not much else. We see Arlo attempt to understand his gift, and use it to write the wrongs of his past.

This is just the kind of book I love. It’s a story of family and life, with that little science fiction twist thrown in. The book was beautifully written and I really fell in love with this thought-provoking tale. We follow Arlo from a young age – during a particularly traumatic period – all the way to adulthood and we see him develop his gift, flaunt it and use it for power, as well as trying to stretch it and understand why he has been given it. The story is a really deep character study, really giving the reader the opportunity to get to know our protagonist. I thought Arlo was brilliant and I loved seeing him take this journey and develop from a grieving child to this fascinating adult. He’s a flawed character, particularly in his University years, but that makes for an all the more interesting protagonist.

The Undoing of Arlo Knott is the kind of book that sucks you in early on and keeps you turning pages faster and faster as the stakes get higher. While Arlo is the star of the show there is an interesting cast of secondary characters, and the whole book felt well written and engaging. The story packs a lot in, touching on friendships, love and finding your place in the world. The story is a pretty unique one and I loved the blend of everyday life mixed with this incredible power.

The Undoing of Arlo Knott is a must read – if you love fast paced stories with characters that leap off the page, this should absolutely be your next read.
4 stars
Arlo Knott

Book Review: Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer

Book Review: Aphrodite Made Me Do It – Trista Mateer

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Release Date:
October 1st 2019
Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
Pages: 224
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository.
Source: I was sent an E-ARC of this via Netgalley
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present.By the end of this book, Aphrodite make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.

Review

Copy of book cover (30)Poetry isn’t something that I read an awful lot of, so I’ve been trying to correct that a bit this year. I stumbled across this on Netgalley, and the title and cover really drew me in. This is also my first time reading any of Trista Mateer’s work, but I instantly fell in love with her beautiful prose and I’m definitely looking forward to picking up more of her work.

I absolutely loved the blend of Greek mythology and modern life. The poems about Medusa and Aphrodite were really fascinating and were my favourites in the collection. I found the poems in this collection very powerful and inspiring, I highlighted quite a few favourite parts on the Kindle. There’s also a wonderful selection of art within the book and I adored the mixture of prose and imagery. It was really striking and definitely left me itching for more.

If like me, you don’t read an awful lot of poetry this might be just the thing to get you hooked. I really like Amanda Lovelace’s work and had a similar feel and will completely capture your attention. It does deal with a lot of difficult topics like sexual assault, eating disorders and abuse so please bear that in mind if you decide to pick this one up. For me I really enjoyed this collection and am looking forward to trying more from Trista Mateer!
4 stars