Review of ‘This Charming Man’ by C.K. McDonnell

‘This Charming Man’ by C.K. McDonnell is the second in The Stranger Times series. I haven’t read the first one, but got most of the jist pretty quickly. That said reading the first one will give a greater understanding of what on earth is going on from the get-go. 

The Stranger Times is a publication reporting on the very odd things happening around Greater Manchester and beyond. This weird group of characters involved in the paper work together in the most bizarre circumstances. Yet they manage to keep a sense of humour – well most of them do. When it appears vampires are on the loose in the city, wreaking havoc and leaving bodies in their wake, an investigation is demanded. What will they uncover – and can they really trust what they find?

It was funny, irreverent and just plain bonkers. But lots and lots of fun. This urban, supernatural fantasy kept me laughing. The author sees the bizarre in every situation and keeps the reader engaged until the end.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ by T.A. Willberg

‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ is the second in this series by T.A. Willberg. The year is 1959, and as the Cold War heats up, Scotland Yard is baffled by the discovery of murder victims with roses branded on their bodies. They turn to Miss Brickett’s agency for help. Marion is once again tasked with helping solve to solve the mystery, and working on one of her own. One of the new first year recruits should not be trusted. But which of them is up to no good? 

I enjoyed being back with Marion and her fellow Inquirers, working within the tunnels and underground passageways beneath London. This is a well-imagined series, full of intrigue and mystery. There is danger and darkness, but also camaraderie and hope. Marion had more confidence and a sense of purpose. She could see that her talents were appreciated and this made her push on in pursuit of justice. 

I enjoyed the group dynamic, as her friends and colleagues played a part in the case. The interactions between them were important and bode well for the future of the series. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali

‘Turbulent Waves’ by Ali Vali is a romantic fantasy novel set in Atlantis and New Orleans. Vivien could never forget meeting a girl on the beach years ago. She appeared to dip beneath the waves in the company of sharks – but how could that be? Years later she finds out when Kai Merlin, heir to the Atlantean throne, comes back into her life and they fall in love. As they plan their wedding Vivien finds out about the world beneath the sea and is astounded at the scope of it all. But Atlantis is under threat and the women must fight for their lives and the home they will now share. 

This is the second in the series and I feel reading the first one is important to understanding the whole story. It’s a truly amazing world and the concept is so well thought out. I loved finding out about the history and technology of the Atlantean people. The love story between Kai and Vivien is beautiful and tender and extremely hot. The heat level is scorching, with very descriptive love scenes. But underneath all of the happiness at the impending wedding is an undercurrent of fear and tension as they battle an enemy from the stars. I loved to wallow in fantasy and this let me do that. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten

‘Elemental Attraction’ by K Aten is the first in her new MythWorld Series. It’s a beautifully crafted tale of shapeshifters, mythical creatures and destiny. Ellys is a half-elven swordsman and a great one at that. She hires out her skills to help keep body and soul together for herself and her companion steed, Roccotari. When dragon shapeshifter, Aderri offers her more than the usual rate to help her get home for an important family ceremony she agrees. But the journey is fraught with danger and the threesome find themselves dealing with more than they bargained for. Add in the beginnings of an attraction that grows hotter as they near Aderri’s homeland. As each grapple with their own and others expectations, life becomes a whole lot more interesting. 

The world-building is superb in ‘Elemental Attraction’ and K Aten has once again hooked me with her imaginative storytelling. The mixture of different creatures is fantastic and seeing how they interact with each other made me laugh and sometimes shed a tear. Ellys is strong and fearless and loyal. She strives to achieve balance in everything she does. Her relationship with Roccotari is funny, sarcastic and joyful. They have an amazing bond and it is the most significant relationship for both of them. As they travel with Aderri we begin to see that love does not have to be static, and change can be embraced. I loved the banter between the three, but also the traditions, mythology and history that made them who they were. A great story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Midnight Murder

‘Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder’ is a wonderful story, with the most fantastic, strange and  imaginative elements. Marion Lane works in a run-down bookshop after a family friend secured her a post there. Or does she? In reality she works for a mysterious investigate organisation, hidden under the streets of London. She must tell no-one and even her own grandmother is oblivious to the reality of Marion’s life. When a co-worker is murdered, Marion must find out the identity of the murderer, to save someone dear and to save the existence of the secret world she has grown to love. 

The premise of a secret world underground is fascinating, and T.A. Willberg uses the most beautiful language and descriptions to pull the reader into the fantasy. I wanted to know what lay in every nook and cranny, and around every corner. It was mysterious and scary. It was exceptionally well-written and left me wanting much, much more of Marion Lane and her life below the streets of London.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Threadneedle’ by Cari Thomas

ThreadNeedle is stunning. The writing is intensely beautiful, and carried me off into a world of magic and love, secrets and lies. Anna has been warned of the dangers of magic, but as she approaches her sixteenth birthday, things begin to change. Effie and Attis come into her life, and it becomes more difficult to resist that magic and believe what she has been told. Joining The Binders has been her fate. But is she ready for a life of pain and denial? Her Aunt is determined she will do as she is told, but Anna’s eyes are opened to new possibilities. As the story unfolds we enter a world of wonder, of magical libraries, of underground secrets hidden from the ‘real’ world. I was hungry for more. The story was brilliantly conceived and I couldn’t put it down. I want more and more of the same. 

I was given this ARC to review.

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. 

Review of ‘A Hint of Hope’ by Nita Round

‘A Hint Of Hope’ is the second prequel in the Towers of the Earth Fantasy series. I loved being back with Magda and Ascara, as they join with pirates to free thousands of captured slaves from a tyrannical regime – and in the process try to capture the world’s most advanced airship. The mixture of steampunk, the gifted with special powers and an exciting adventure had me hooked from the start.  We get to find out more about the world they inhabit and about the people living in it. The more I find out the more I want to know. This enthralling story was full of wonder and imagination and it has made me desperate to find out what comes next for the pair. Roll on the next instalment.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Sovereign of Psiere’ by K Aten

K Aten has made me very happy. I loved ‘The Sovereign of Psiere ‘ , the first in a new series, where mystery, fantasy, sci-fi and romance come together in a fascinating story. Olivienne is the heir to the throne, the connate, and also a Historical Adventurist. Her work involves trying to translate the mysterious scrolls left behind by the Makers. But she is a handful and her security detail find it hard to keep up with her. None have managed to stay the course – until the dashing and committed officer, Castellan ends up in her sphere. Their story is immersive , as they work to solve mysteries that have stumped those before them. Their growing attraction was intense and very sexy. I enjoyed seeing them become closer. I also enjoyed the world-building – the word-building too. It was familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. I like her writing style. Although she explains a new world and new ideas and people, she makes it easy to grasp. K Aten has managed to create a place I want to revisit again and again. She has laid a perfect foundation for the series in this novel. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Spinning Tales’ by Brey Willows

Maggie McShay leads a boring life, in a boring apartment, with a boring job – and with a cat who doesn’t seem to like her. What she wants is some magic in her life and when she answers an ad to look after a fairy tale cottage it appears that things may be looking up for her.  The story is of Maggie and her friends as well as a world of fairy stories. It is told in a way that you will not doubt this place really exists. As they work together to save the world from evil villains, Maggie finds out much more about herself and this new world than she could ever have imagined. 

From the minute she answers the advert you feel the excitement along with her. We learn as she does and it’s fascinating. I adored Maggie. She was curious, sweet and feisty. Kody was hot, hot, hot – and didn’t Maggie know it. The whole cast of characters in this book leapt off the page – they were vivid and exciting.

The story was wonderfully, magically imaginative. And you know, I didn’t doubt for a minute that the cottage existed exactly where she said it did! The self-discovery by Maggie was pivotal and her growing feelings for Kody were sensitively dealt with. I loved the story and the imagination behind it but most of all I was enthralled by the use of language. It was beautiful and poetic and lyrical. The skilful use of metaphor and simile took the writing to another level. The descriptions of people and places came alive for me. ’Spinning Tales’ is excellent and I highly recommend it.

I was given this Arc for review by Bold Strokes Books and Netgalley.