Review of ‘Golden Sea’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

Golden Sea is the second in the Mapmaking Magicians series by Emma Sterner-Radley. I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release, as I loved the first book, Silver Beasts.  The four friends are back at the Hall of Explorers, but things have changed. The King is determined to carry on with his agenda and is now less willing to stick to the original plan. No wonder the students are worried. As well as dealing with their forthcoming dangerous mission, their emotions cause them further confusion. Dealing with them will not be easy.  

Wonderfully descriptive language takes the reader into the world of Cavarra, a world that has been meticulously created. I loved how the story opened out and in some ways things became clearer. We learned more about the history and backstory, but the author also teased us with tantalising titbits of adventures to come. It’s a YA story, but its appeal goes far beyond that audience. The fantasy, magic and mystery within the story makes it a great read for a much wider audience. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next in the series. 

Kitty’s Top Ten Books of 2020

We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.

I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems. 

I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton

The Lost Temple of Psiere by K Aten

The Thing About Tilly by G Benson

Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks

Spirited by Julie Cohen

Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey

Without A Trace by Mari Hannah 

Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley

 

Review of ‘Once In Sweden’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

‘Once In Sweden’ is the story of two women, both hurting and confused. Nurse Aubrey has made a decision that has caused so much pain. Did she do the right thing? Looking back she’s not so sure. Elina is in a dark place after a break-up and her friends decide she needs a break away from it all to recover. Will she let them help her? Does she have the strength to get over it?

I like the Swedish setting. It was so refreshing to read a story set somewhere different. I was fascinated to learn about life there, the customs, the differences. The story was emotional and tear-jerking at times but also passionate and loving. It includes one of the most intense sex scenes I’ve read. It was pivotal to the story and written with such feeling. The story was  about heartbreak, and realising that opening oneself up to love can sometimes mean risking that heartbreak. But it can also mean the chance for true love. Beautiful, empowering love. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Silver Beasts’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

‘Silver Beasts’ is the story of four teenagers chosen to represent their respective counties at the Hall of Explorers, a prestigious training academy. Their aim is to learn all they can before they leave for new lands, where they hope to find a way to escape the silver beasts that threaten their very existence. Cavarra has been blighted by these insects, mutated into metal by absorbing magic. Avelynne, Hale, Sabina and Eleksander must work hard if they are to save their people. Do they have what it takes? And is everything quite as clear cut as they are lead to believe?

This story had impressive world-building, magic, a steampunky vibe and mysteries and secrets that kept me engrossed. But it was also about finding out the truth and discovering who they really were and what they were capable of. The young people began to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I liked seeing how they they grew in confidence and changed as they got to know each other. The writing was skilled and imaginative and I really enjoyed being in Cavarra for a few hours.

It’s obviously the first in a series and left me keen to find out what happens next. I hope Emma Sterner-Radley doesn’t keep us waiting too long.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Greengage Shelf’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

Greengage Shelf by Emma Sterner-Radley is the third story in this series. It is set in a wonderfully quirky island, chock full of eccentric characters. Our heroine, Kit Sorel, is the local librarian and an incomer to the island. She has  a gift for sorting out other people’s problems, and because of this, local lady, Widow Caine, asks her to look into a puzzling problem. The mysterious case of the missing book has Kit and her girlfriend Laura embroiled in all sorts of happenings – and finding out things about their neighbours they’d probably rather not know. Ms Sterner-Radley has a delightful writing style that has a gentle humour woven with lovely descriptive elements. She sees the ridiculous in every situation and her use of footnotes in this novel had me giggling. The island is the place that time forgot and is old-fashioned and endearing. There is a lovely cosy feel about the whole series and I must admit to enjoying cosy. It really works as a well rounded mystery and romance and I was delighted to be back spending time in Greengage. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Greengage Plots’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

greengage

‘Greengage Plots’ is sweet, romantic and hilariously funny. The island setting is quaint and full of interesting and quirky characters. I loved the two main characters, Kit and Laura, and want to know more about how life treats them. Kit has recently moved to Greengage island to work in the library and meets the much-loved local girl Laura. Laura belongs to one of the feuding families on the island and is totally adorable, kind and caring. Oh and also seemingly straight! Kit is sincere and would do anything for a friend. She’s also mad about Laura. Their growing friendship is lovely and you can feel Kit’s yearning for more jumping off the page.

Emma Sterner-Radley has hit all the right notes with this beautiful romance.  She shows off her sense of humour at its very best. The story flows so well and I want more of the same. A well-deserved 5 Stars!

I received this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Tinderbox Under Winter Stars’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

tinder

I have been looking forward to the second book in the Tinderbox series by Emma Sterner-Radley and I was not disappointed. ‘Tinderbox Under Winter Stars’ is even better than the first.  Elise and Nessa are on the run from the Queen, who wants Elise back. Her extreme vanity and sense of entitlement won’t let her accept that Elise loves another. Their life in Storsund is full of new and exciting places and things to see. Nothing is familiar. I loved the descriptive writing and felt as if I was right there in the freezing new world. The world building is seriously impressive. As they meet new people we get to find out about the political situation there and how that may come to impact Arclid and the women themselves. I especially liked Anja, the woman who steps in to help them and shows them so much as they try to settle in their new environment. She may have seemed grumpy at first but there was so much more to her. The character development of Elise and Nessa was wonderfully done – but the author did not restrict this to the two main characters.  I appreciated how she allowed us to see more of the the people around them and how they changed over time. The camaraderie was evident amongst all of the characters. There is always an underlying tension in the story as the women are hunted and can never let their guard down. It was an exciting story with depth and scope for much more in future books. Ms Sterner-Radley wickedly left a little clue and that thrilled me! 5 Stars and very highly recommended

I was given this ARC in return for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Long Distance Coffee’ by Emma Sterner-Radley

coffee

Emma-Sterner-Radley’s writing is funny, absorbing and perceptive. She sees into the very souls of her characters and lets the reader understand so much about their motivations. ‘Long-Distance Coffee’ tells the story of Erin, a personal trainer and new mother Isabella. Their relationship is told through their interactions on social media and this piqued my interest. It is an unusual idea but it worked. I liked how they each began to change and realise why they needed to spend their nights chatting to a complete stranger. A good start to a new series by a talented writer.

I was given this ARC by Ylva Publishing in return for an honest review.

Review of Making a Tinderbox by Emma Sterner-Radley 


I really loved this story of Elise Falk, a noblewoman, and Nessa Clay, a farmer’s daughter who run away to the big city together for a new life . Their relationship is one of friendship and platonic love but there is more, though neither will admit it. They appear to want very different things from a partner. Meeting new people and becoming part of this fascinating city on the brink of greater industrialisation gave depth to the novel. There was a bit of a mystery in the background and the promise of more in future instalments. I certainly want to find out much more about these two ladies. Emma Sterner-Radley has enticed me in and I can’t wait for the second in the series next year. And I must mention the beautiful cover which must be my favourite this year. It is stunning. 
I was given this ARC by Heartsome Publishing in return for an honest review.

Review of ‘Life Pushes You Along’by Emma Sterner-Radley

Life Pushes You Along by Emma Sterner-Radley

 

Zoe’s life is stuck in a rut.  With little confidence and motivation she just needs a push in the right direction and the right person to come along to do that.  Her massive crush on older woman, Rebecca seems destined to stay a day dream until brother Jamie and his girlfriend Helen step in.   This is a wonderfully sweet story, romantic and touching and guaranteed to leave the reader feeling all mushy and happy with a silly grin on their face.  It is about taking a step into the unknown because sometimes that is the only route to happiness.  I’m a sucker for a beautiful love story and this is a perfect example.
I was given this ARC in return for an honest review.