Second Skin – Blog Tour

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Blurb:
The moon was being devoured.

Estranged from birth and raised on tales of the great mountain castle of Idrith-Core, where her distant father serves as Lord Commander and confidante of the King, Aledra Jewel-Wing was now going there to court.

As one of the Drakkoni, a race of powerful shape-shifters and conquerors of a wild land, she joins her stepmother at the festival for all peoples. But when in attempting to save a life, Aledra shifts into her Drakkoni Secondskin – her beautiful second soul: a giant flighted lizard with flaming breath – she breaks an ancient oath, and the tremulous peace between the Drakkoni and Esrans is shattered.

Branded a fugitive, hunted by her father, and aided in escape by the master-mancer who raised her, Aledra begins a journey for survival across a war-torn continent.

Book Information:
Format: Kindle Edition
Publisher: Endeavour Venture (18 July 2019)
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
Language: English
ASIN: B07SLLJMW4

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

I was really excited to read this. I mean, come on, dragons. Who doesn’t love dragons/fire breathing lizards/fire breathing anything [let’s be real]?

This is also the start of the Bridge of Fire books, so it’s great when you get to start off with a new series.

In this book, Bentley gives us a pretty awesome take on dragons. They’re shapeshifters, their flying fiery forms are called their ‘second skins’ and they have two hearts, essentially they are two souls, their two-legged human-looking forms and their dragon forms. These shapeshifters had to leave their homeland and make a new land home, crossing a land bridge that is now gone, they made it to the lands where human tribes have ruled. These tribes all have their own cultures and leaders and ways of life, but they’re quickly conquered with a peace treaty put in place.

No second-skins will be used not even in a ‘peaceful’ manner in this new land.

This all recalls the invasion of the Americas to me and I loved that she took something like that and gave it a huge fantasy spin, a new land, new world, new people, and all of it steeped in heavy world building.

You all know me, I love world building, this did cause the pacing for Aledra and her story to slump a bit in the middle but I would say that the ending more than made up for it.

That’s another thing, it took me a while to appreciate Aledra after sh leaves the comforts of her people, but, I really enjoyed her as she developed, especially in the last four chapters. I love the choices she makes and how Bentley steers her toward something that allows her room to grow.

Penda was absolutely one of my favorite characters and I can only hope that there’s more of her to come. I mean, I fangirl her, she’s amazing.

Aledra’s father is complex and so layered that it made me happy to get to the parts with him. I really think there’s so much more to him than Aledra sees and I love the complexity of their relationship.

There is love, there is war, there are dragons and tribes, and a girl who wants nothing more than to have the freedom to choose. So pretty much a guaranteed like in my books when I read it.

Jubal is Aledra’s companion during a good chunk of the novel and he was an interesting character but I would say he paled in comparison to Aledra, her Father, and Penda.

Overall a great solid start to an intriguing fantasy series, and you can bet I will be happy to read book two and see where Aledra goes next.

Three cups of coffee!!

Thanks to Anne Cater, Sue Bently, and Endeavour Venture for a chance to read and honestly review this as part of the Random Things Blog Tour!

 

About the Author

Sue Bentley Author Pic

Sue lives in a house surrounded by a wildlife hedge so she can pretend she lives in the countryside. She enjoys reading, walking, cinema, researching her books, and painting and printmaking, when she’s not writing – which isn’t very often!

Author Links

Website Twitter

 

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The Closer I Get – Blog Tour

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Tom is a successful author, but for the first time in his life, he has writer ’s block. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her sick father and her social media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world collapses, whilst Tom is free to live his life again, and to concentrate on writing.
But things aren’t adding up. For Tom is also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he’s powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.
PRAISE FOR THE CLOSER I GET
‘A terrifying portrayal of the online world and the blurred lines into real life, the characters are top notch, the writing sublime, and the storyline chillingly plausible. This is dark twisty fiction at its very best.’ -Susi Holliday, author of The Lingering

‘The kind of book you read in one breathless gulp.’ – Cass Green, author of Don’t You Cry

Danger is just a like away…

Book Information:
PUBLICATION DATE:
11 JULY 2019
PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
| £8.99 | ORENDA BOOKS

 

My Review

This was certainly a solid read as far as thrillers go. Fatal Attraction meets social media, haha, I loved it. A little too plausible and creepy which is what made it such a good read. Tom is a man who likes flattery, it’s a vice of his and it leads to him indulging an online friendship with Evie. [Please note that though I mentioned Fatal Attraction there is no romantic relations/relationship between Tom and Evie] It starts out innocently enough, but when Tom realizes he’s in over his head, it’s a bit too late.

In enters Tom going to the police to file for harassment and eventually to Evie being found guilty and slapped with a restraining order. It’s clear that Evie’s mind is different, her logic not that of what you would assume of a ‘normal’ person, but, does all the blame rest on Evie?

Tom finds out the hard way what keeping secrets can mean.

All the while trying to escape Evie, Tom’s thoughts keep leading him back to her, he’s a writer, he has writer’s block and possibly a source of inspiration now. But what happens when secrets unravel and the truth works against the author?

I loved how Tom was not just a clearly innocent character, he didn’t deserve harassment and I do respect his decision to go to the police in a world where we sometimes judge men for not being able to ‘handle’ women on their own or are seen as weak for going to authorities. What made Burston’s tale so creepy was that it was just that believable.

Tom used people, and when called out upon it, it doesn’t seem to phase him. He’s not here to be the innocent victim, in fact despite being a victim of harassment, Tom strongly hates being labelled as such.

I had no sympathy for most of the characters, which was refreshing, sometimes you just want to dislike people [or maybe that’s just the Slytherin in me] and this gave me the perfect opportunity to do so.

He wrote with a talent for giving you characters you just weren’t sure were right or wrong and with a pacing that left you wondering just when everything would ‘hit the fan.’ I really didn’t want to put the book down once I started it, and that ending! Oh, that ending!! Brilliant and so unexpected!!!

I would say more, but, spoilers. If you enjoy thrillers and are looking for a creepy and fun summer read I would strongly suggest Paul Burston’s The Closer I Get.

PS: You may be afraid to use Twitter after reading this.

Thanks to Anne Cater, Orenda Books, and Paul Burston for a chance to read this chilling thriller and to honestly review it!

 

About the Author

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Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel The Black Path, was a WHSmith bestseller. His first novel, Shameless, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, Lovers & Losers was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, The Gay Divorcee, was optioned for television. He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including Guardian, Independent, Time Out, The Times and Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world.” He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing and the newly announced Polari Prize.

 

About Orenda Books

Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme. Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been short- or long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions. Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.

Orenda Books Twitter

 

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The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston – Blog Tour

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Abandoned and alone, thirteen-year-old Joe’s world is shattered when he enters a deserted council house and becomes trapped within a labyrinth protecting the last magical places on earth. There, Joe discovers a book charting this immense no-man’s land, without time or place, its thirteen doors each leading to a different realm. Hunted by sinister foes, the boy is forced ever deeper into both the maze and the mystery of his missing parents. What will he find at the labyrinth’s centre, and can it reunite him with the family he so desperately needs? 
Crossing through diverse landscapes from Victorian Britain to fifties New Orleans, The Stranger’s Guide to Talliston is inspired by the internationally famous house and gardens dubbed ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’ by the Sunday Times. It is a classic YA tale of adventure that introduces readers to an otherworld hiding in plain sight, cloaked in magic and steeped in imagined history. Yet beyond its fearsome huntsmen and battling magicians dwells the secret that lies within all of us – the power to live extraordinary lives.

Book Information:
PRICE: £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-78352-724-3
FORMAT: Hardback
BINDING: Royal HB
EXTENT: 384 pages
SIZE: 240 × 159 mm
CATEGORY BIC: FM

 

My Review

Starting this novel, I wasn’t sure what I was in for, and I’m glad of that. This book had so much to offer and I was really pleased with Tarrow’s take on this YA fantasy.

In Joe we find a young boy who is alone and struggling to follow the rules his parents made to keep him safe. With his parents not around and the hiding place no longer safe, Joe finds himself starting an adventure that he never imagined could even exist as he tries to locate his parents and get ‘home.’ Wherever home is.

There’s so much depth and research put into this and the creativity was fun to watch unravel if not a bit anxiety fueled as I kept wondering what’s in store, when is it, and where in the labyrinth is he in regards to Joe and his journey.

This is a classic Fantasy in a lot of ways, we have a child who has had greatness thrust upon him in a sense. Joe must travel through Talliston to get home, but as he ventures to each new room and time, there’s the sinking realization of just how much is at stake. There’s betrayal, young love [though not too much and it’s not the focus], kinship, family found, family lost, and magic, and of course the battle between those both good and evil [and in between]. It’s a recipe for a tale that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.

The guardians of Talliston’s rooms that Joe encounters are some of my favorite parts of the book not to mention getting to go through so many different times, future, current, and past! You can go from 1950s New Orleans to futuristic Japan!

Where Joe starts off afraid and just wanting to go home, he has great character growth thanks to the people he meets along the way both good and bad, he becomes stronger and realizes that he must make his own decisions in regards to Talliston. The question at the end of the day for him isn’t how can get he get home, but, how can I help -where Talliston is concerned- and he finds his answer. Joe also learns that though rules are in place to protect, some rules, are meant to restrict and are made to be broken.

I adored every side character both good and bad and Tarrow does a great job fleshing them out and I think the way Joe progressed through the story was one my favorite aspects to the book.

I actually look forward to my daughter reading this in a couple of years when her reading level is more advanced. I good 4/5 cups of coffee read for me.

It also doesn’t hurt that this book is absolutely drop dead gorgeous/stunning. Honestly, it’s like holding a magical tome in your hands.

A few other neat notes:

The house and gardens featured in the story are real. The author spent twenty-five years transforming an ordinary house in an ordinary street into what the Sunday Times called ‘Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home’. The project is internationally famous. 
Talliston House is featured in the Netflix-commissioned programme Amazing Interiors, which will reach an audience close to 100 million in 120 countries. 
The ‘Stranger’s Guide’ journal mentioned in the novel is a real entity; a leather-bound, hand- calligraphed volume that could appear as a companion publication (like The Spiderwick Field Guide).

Thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour and thank you to John Tarrow and Unbound for sending me a copy and allowing me to honestly review this!

 

About the Author

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John Tarrow is a novelist, poet, storyteller and award-winning writer. His fascination with folk and faerie tales has taken him around the world, gathering threads of story and legend to weave into his own mythologies: his extensive studies in Lakota Sioux and Druidic traditions offer readers stories resonant with magic, folklore and the wonders of the natural world. He spent twenty-five years transforming a three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex- council house in Essex into the world-famous Talliston House and Gardens. 

Author Links

Website [Includes Purchase Links]

 

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JSS Bach- Blog Tour

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Blurb:

J

SS Bach is the story of three generations of women from either side of Germany’s 20th Century horror story – one side, a Jewish family from Vienna, the other linked to a ranking Nazi official at Dachau concentration camp – who suffer the consequences of what men do. Fast forward to 1990s California, and two survivors from the families meet. Rosa is a young Australian musicologist; Otto is a world-famous composer and cellist. Music and history link them. A novel of music, the Holocaust, love, and a dog. The author’s writing is a wonderland, captivating and drawing the reader in to the presented world. Time becomes no object as a literary universe unfolds and carries the reader through eighty years, where emotions are real and raw and beautifully given.

Book Information:
Hardcover: 200 pages
Publisher: Wrecking Ball Press; Hardcover edition (4 Mar. 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1903110629
ISBN-13: 978-1903110621

Where to Buy

Amazon UK

 

My Review

 

Where do I start? This holds all the horrors and beauty of mankind. The fact that even when someone isn’t good they can still do good. It’s a book that shows how the past echoes on in the future, how it really affects people rather than the imprint it just leaves in history books.

Goodman immediately drops you into the story, he doesn’t waste time on flowery prose and shows you the heart of the matter, the journey he wants to take you on. It’s one that’s not for the faint hearted. He also is brilliant at describing history in such a modern and stark way. He shows how ugly things were, how brutal it was, and yet his words are elegant, poignant, guiding you through brutal honesty and lyricism of music.

Three generations of women from the same family have been entangled in Otto’s life, whether they know it or not. Katja is the origins of it all and her character is not an easy one to appreciate, but, Goodman does a good job showing you enough about her to at least have some understanding on certain parts of her workings. I can appreciate the struggles she went through though they are justified in many ways.

Her daughter Uwe broke my heart, if there was ever a character that I wanted to reach out and cherish, it’s her. The child of two Nazis, and yet just an innocent life herself. She bears the burden of the shame brought on to her by her parents, hated by others for simply being born to them. It’s a hard life to live, and really it was a heartbreaking read overall but especially for her, Otto, and Greta. In fact the reason I rated this 4.5 instead of 5 is simply because I wish there would have been more to Uwe’s story, and the women in general but this story in reality is about Otto more than anyone else in my opinion.

Otto himself is a character full of turmoil, tragedy, and isolation. Goodman breathes him to life, there’s not one moment where his actions are believable, the way he lives his life, the choices he’s made. The only thing I struggled to believe was a certain moment that occurs in the book once it’s back to 1994, but I won’t say it and spoil it, it was quite a small issue, and one though I don’t agree with, it makes sense why Goodman put it in. In fact the rest of the story is pretty flawless, I just wanted more because I think it needed more about the women but it’s hard to argue with the choices Goodman has made. Otto though, he is the true main character in my humble opinion, and your heart will be gripped by him.

Rosa is Katja’s Granddaughter and Uwe’s daughter, raised by Katja, she’s grown up in a world knowing the stark truth about her grandparents but never knowing her own past entirely, told that her father had died, and not at all knowing who he was. She is tugged by the past onto a path that will eventually lead her to Otto.

And at the heart of everything, the main reason I wanted to read this, is music.

Otto is a brilliant cellist and composer, Katja was a musician until she went deaf (not a spoiler as you find out within the first few pages she is indeed unable to hear), and Rosa is a musicologist. Fun fact, My postgrad is in Musicology, so I was a bit critical of the musical aspects of this, and Goodman certainly did his research, I was pretty impressed and he didn’t overreach, it was a perfect balance. Music connects Otto to his family and to Katja, to Rosa later on, and it draws people in and strips them down to the bare bones of their pain and joy, its something that can’t be quantified or explained but I loved the way Goodman wrote about it, the sensations it brings in emotions and to our bodies.

As I stated earlier, this book is not for the faint hearted. This shows the brutality and violence of WWII, there are Nazis before and after the war, there are people who are cruel, but it’s never needless cruelty or violence in Goodman’s writing, it all adds purposefully to the story.

4.5/5 Cups of coffee and I tip my hat to Goodman. This was a brilliant novel that broke my heart in the best ways. Thanks to Anne for letting me be part of this tour and thanks to Goodman for the copy of his book. [I don’t typically write this in blog tours but of course my honest opinion was given in exchange]

 

About the Author

Martin Goodman Author Picture

Martin Goodman was born in Leicester, and has lived and worked in China, Qatar, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and France. Travel forms a large part of his writing: both for strictly travel-related books and also for novels and biographies. His first novel ON BENDED KNEES was shortlisted for the Whitbread prize, and his most recent biography SUFFER AND SURVIVE won 1st Prize, Basis of Medicine in the BMA Book Awards 2008. He is the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Hull. He lives in Hull, London and the French Pyrenees. ‘Such narrow, narrow confines we live in. Every so often, one of us primates escapes these dimensions, as Martin Goodman did. All we can do is rattle the bars and look after him as he runs into the hills. We wait for his letters home.’
– The Los Angeles Times

Author Links

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The Seventh Train Blog Tour

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“Ingenious, great fun, and wholly original” – Fay Weldon CBE, on The Seventh Train

Moving from stage to page, The Seventh Train has taken the scenic route from Jackie Carreira’s award-winning play to a second novel that promises to be as well-received as the first (Sleeping Through War, 9781788038539)

The Seventh Train is a ride – a ‘road movie’ on the railways. It’s a journey that Elizabeth invented; the only original thought she has ever had in her previously uneventful life. Unbeknown to her, she is not travelling alone. If only she’d pretended that the spare seat was taken.

Although, by turns, hilarious and life-affirming, part of the story tackles serious issues of suicide and mental health, specifically the alarmingly high incidents on public transport. As Jackie says: “This is something that’s been in the news a lot recently, especially as suicide rates on the UK rail system increased by 9.1% last year. It’s a hugely important issue. Having said that, it’s not a gloomy novel at all, but actually full of hope and a good dose of wit!”

It’s a project that has been part of Jackie’s life for years. Originally conceived as a stage play, it was her theatrical debut and went on to become one of the winners of The Kenneth Branagh 10th Anniversary Award for New Drama at the Windsor Fringe Festival. From there, it just kept chugging along until it became the novel Jackie is releasing now.

With a wonderfully eclectic cast of characters, The Seventh Train takes its passengers on a journey from the tragic to the strange, arriving finally at hope. By turns heart-breaking, thought-provoking and hilarious, this tale is a life- affirming exploration of the human spirit via the British railway timetable!

Book Information:
RELEASE DATE: 28 June 2019
ISBN: 9781789018936 Price: £8.99
GoodReads Link

 

My Review

So when you read the words above, you’re intrigued but you’re still not totally sure what you’re getting into! I’m a big lover of theatre and not just musically inclined ones but I live and breathe plays when I get to them, they transport you and just utterly captivate you if they do their job right, so hearing this was a play first really got me to say ‘yes please!’

As for what this book is about, it’s about whatever you make it to be, it reminds me in its essence of Waiting for Godot where you could spend your time dissecting it or you could simply enjoy it.

Our main character who starts the journey with us is Elizabeth and she’s a woman who wants to be on her own, she’s realized her unhappiness in life and decides that something has to change. Her solution? Well, you’ll have to read and find out but just know it heavily involves numerous seventh trains.

Elizabeth is joined by a wonderful cast of characters, three others who are going through their own journeys, and all connected by a/the seventh train. It’s a great look into the human psyche and going in a little blind, I can only say that this book was the ultimate pleasant surprise in that it was such a journey to take on its own and the story so relatable that I was left with such a satisfying feeling as I finished it.

Not to mention the ending was brilliant, a hail to the start and I loved it.

If you’re looking to go on a train ride that will leave you looking at what it means to be human and what it means to feel lost and then found, I suggest reading this. Carreira’s writing is fluid and the transition from play to book seems effortless on her part, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to anyone who is intrigued and/or loves the theatre. It was a joy to read this and I want to thank Anne Cater and Jackie Carreira for my copy and the chance to be in this blog tour!

 

Content Warning: Suicide mentioned, discussed, and described. It is not the point of the book but it does play heavy in the journey for some. It is not ideation, however.

 

About the Author

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Jackie Carreira is a writer, designer, musician and co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company. British-born of Portuguese parents, she grew up in East London and lived for a while in Lisbon as a child. After travelling the world playing music for 12 years, she hung up her bass guitar and picked up a pen. She’s been writing ever since and twice been a winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama. Some of her plays are available online via lazybeescripts.co.uk. If Jackie could have another life, she would be a full-time philosopher and get paid to ask questions all day.

http://jackiecarreira.co.uk/

 

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