Posts Tagged ‘fiction’

DamselKnightpart2

Sometimes the best knight is a damsel.

In a world where women are seen as weak, defenceless creatures for men to protect and own, one orphan girl wants to be different. She dreams of being a knight. Slaying dragons, taking down armies with her father’s sword. Only her foster parents don’t agree with her views. On the night of her betrothal to a man over twice her age, the King’s soldiers come to their tiny village, and in the chaotic aftermath she’s left with a choice. Go back to life she knows and marry a man she despises, or journey onward and risk death to earn the knighthood she dreams of.

The road forward isn’t a safe one for a girl travelling with only her foster brother as company. Magic lurks in dark places. Vengeance burrows deep in many equally dark hearts. And all around the circle armies are gathering to defend the Kingdom against a threat that has not been seen in a thousand years.

In the second part of this four part 140 thousand word fantasy, Bonnie and the others team up with an unlikely ally to escape the witch’s clutches, but escape is not as easy as it sounds when your enemy has magic and a forest full of lost ones on their side.

 

Great news guys! Part two of the Damsel Knight series comes out today! For my post on part one go here. 

Part two is here for only $2.99, or you can preorder the complete collection here for only $6.99. A saving of 41% over buying each individual part.

If you like some epic fantasy with girls who want to be knights, dragons afraid of heights, and the odd zombie cow thrown in, then check it out.

Parts 3, 4, and the complete collection are available for preorder now. If you decide to preorder any of them, expect part 3 arrive on your device on the 6th November, part 4 on the 20th November, and the entire collection on the 4th December.

To always be informed when there’s a new release, sale, or free review copies, sign up to my mailing list: here.

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DamselKnightcomplete

Sometimes the best knight is a damsel.

In a world where women are seen as weak, defenceless creatures for men to protect and own, one orphan girl wants to be different. She dreams of being a knight. Slaying dragons, taking down armies with her father’s sword. Only her foster parents don’t agree with her views. On the night of her betrothal to a man over twice her age, the King’s soldiers come to their tiny village, and in the chaotic aftermath she’s left with a choice. Go back to life she knows and marry a man she despises, or journey onward and risk death to earn the knighthood she dreams of.

The road forward isn’t a safe one for a girl travelling with only her foster brother as company. Magic lurks in dark places. Vengeance burrows deep in many equally dark hearts. And all around the circle armies are gathering to defend the Kingdom against a threat that has not been seen in a thousand years.

Part one is out now here: USA   UK

Parts two, three, and four will be released every two weeks. Two weeks after part four comes out, the complete collection will be published.

To save over 41% over buying each individual part get the collection, available for preorder now. Here’s the links: USA   UK

This epic fantasy took a loooong time to write. It’s almost 140k! And that’s after editing. But I told the story I wanted to write. There’s a big coming of age theme in here. Lots of choices and identity finding going on amid the action, along with a few ‘what the heck is my gender?’ moments. The main character has a lot of growing to do, and she ends the story very different to how she starts.

In case you missed that, yes the main character has some gender questioning going on. The questioning is designed to suit the specific character and circumstances she grew up in, so don’t expect her experience to be representative of all. For one thing, if you happen to gender questioning or in any way non-cis yourself, I doubt your experience involved going on missions to slay dragons.

If it did, send me pictures! I want to see!

There are few extra layers to this book if you’re willing to look for them. If not then enjoy the surface tale of a girl dragging her foster-brother along on her journey to become a knight, in a world where females are expected to be nothing else but damsels. They meet some interesting friends along the way, and a lot of enemies too.

Another Dennis Lehane. Love this guy.

This one was harder to read than my previous one of his: ‘A drink before the war.’ They both deal with difficult topics, but this one seemed to go deeper. I don’t think it was any more graphic, but as a lot of the book was based around one event that tied the three main characters together: one of them getting abducted and abused as a child, and this character was a pov character, it went deeper into the psychology.

Here’s the blurb:

Reluctantly, Sean Devine confronts the world of violence and pain when his childhood friend’s daughter is murdered and the investigation brings him face-to-face with a vigilante killer and a man with a dangerous secret.

I’m not sure that blurb does the best job describing it. Mystic River is a mystery. Most of it revolves around Jimmy’s, Sean’s childhood friend’s daughter being murdered. Sean is detective in the case and sets out to find out who did it. And then there’s Dave, the friend abducted while they were playing. He came home the night Jimmy’s daughter was murdered covered in blood.

I guessed all the twists before they came about, but that didn’t stop it from being a good read, even if I puzzled out who did it a short way through the book. Lehane gives enough clues for the reader to be able to work things out before the conclusion, and while I prefer being shocked, I didn’t mind that. Sure, the puzzle was interesting while it lasted, but it was still rewarding to see the characters find their way to the truth.

Disclaimer here: I’m told I’m unusually good at puzzling out who done its, so the twists may not be as obvious as they appeared to me, and even if they are, it’s nice sometimes for the reader to feel cleverer than the characters.

Lehane’s writing was great. Don’t expect the humor you get in his Kenzie and Gennaro series, but you still get the emotional poignancy. Even though I knew the twists were coming, they still wacked a emotional punch.

Everything wrapped up pretty neatly by the end, even if some bits were so darn sad. All in all, I’d say this was a good read. If you liked the film, read it. If you like mysteries, read it. I think the only people I’d warn not to read this are those who only like ‘happy, happy, rainbows’ books. This is not one of those.

For more reviews on this book see: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21671.Mystic_River

 

An awesome zombie book (and series if you go on to read the following books). I loved, loved, loved this book. I’ve read 22 books so far this year, and I think this one may be my very favorite.

Here’s the summary:

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

As for why I liked it so much: it had a great mystery to it, complex characters and deep down was about a girl finding herself in a world of zombies. Mary’s world is very dangerous, and only gets more dangerous as the book goes on. A lot of people die in this book, including some main characters. The zombies are interesting. Mostly they’re your typical moaning dead, shuffling for a taste of human flesh, but Carrie Ryan somehow makes it feel fresh. And there are a couple differences.

More than any other zombie book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a lot) forest of hands and teeth makes you feel how menacing the zombies are, and it doesn’t have to give them a whole load of new bells and whistles to do so. Again and again it reminds you of the volume of the dead. A person is bitten, they change, then they go on to bite another two or three people. It’s simple math. They never die, but the living do. So you end up with thousands, millions of walking dead, and the living dwindle down in numbers.

I love the world created in these books. I’d never want to live in them, but they seem so rich and interesting. Most of all there’s a constant theme in the books of surviving, of pushing on and living no matter how bad things get. Of having dreams, even in dark times.

Now for the bad. There’s a love triangle. Ick. But this does help the main character grow and learn what she wants in life. She doesn’t want to stick with what she knows, she wants to push herself and explore. Sure, she worries about who she should love, but more and more as the book goes on she looks to bigger issues like how she should live. Plus the zombies don’t let her dwell on her romantic issues too long.

Her major goal is a little strange. She wants to see the ocean. She pushes herself and the others toward this goal. At times this can seem a little stupid. At one point, she’s in a great house safe for the moment with the guy she’s been dreaming of being with forever, but she isn’t happy. She wants to see the ocean. She wants to know more about the dead. In a lot of ways this is a story about a girl’s descent into madness. Things pile up, and she cracks a bit. But she cracks in a cool way, a risk taking way, not a curl in a corner and hide way.

The characters have depth. There’s this one guy who you hate a bit at the beginning because he seems selfish, but then as you read more you see him as a guy who’s human and in love. A guy who makes mistakes. All the characters make mistakes at one point or another. No one is perfect in this book.

The main reason I love this book is harder to explain. There’s something so addictive about reading it. Usually I hop about a little between books, but reading this one I had to make a bee line from this book, to the next and the next. I vacuumed them up. It was difficult to get anything else done. I think it’s knowing they’re never safe. There’s always something else coming around the corner to shake their lives up. And yet they don’t stop living. Sometimes they consider giving up, but the main characters push on and on without stopping.

There’s a scene in the very last book that sums up the whole series. The main character is stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation but she doesn’t give up. She tries, tries, and then tries again. She just keeps moving forward, even with dead on her heels, even when all seems lost. That determination to keep going is what made me love these books so much. It gives me faith in the human race. Some might give up when things get bad. Others go along with the flow and don’t think for themselves. But a few will keep fighting no matter how bad things get. And that is a beautiful message.

Want to check out more reviews on this book? Here’s the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3432478-the-forest-of-hands-and-teeth

There is one word for this book: Awesome.

I’ve read quite a few paranormal romances the past couple of years, but this one ranks right up there with my favorites. I love the world it’s set in. It’s just such an original idea when so many books are variations on the same story. I won’t tell you all of it, that’d be telling, but it’s a different look at angels and demons. I recognize snippets from a few different religions and cultures., but it put them together in an interesting way.

Here’s the summary:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Prague was a great location for this story. The descriptions were rich, but not overused. The writing was great, and I loved how it seemed to be inspired by old fairy and folk tales. Remember those really dark fairy tales you read about mysterious beasts and witches who will give you wishes in exchange for things like hearts and souls? Reading this reminded me of them a lot, particularly old Japanese tales. Only, this story is very much a YA fantasy romance. It’s an interesting mix.

I will warn you about one thing.  When I started the book I thought I’d hate it. The opening was very jarring and difficult to follow. Then a chapter or two in and it really started to flow. I’m not sure if the writing smoothed out, or I needed to get used to the writing style, but it was worth it. So if you experience the same problem stick with it and see if it gets better.

Also there’s not as much going on as I’m used to. A lot of it is stumbling around confused looking for answers. There’s action, and it gets big in places, but there’s also a lot of standing around not doing much. That said, the answers when they’re given are pretty mind-blowing.

Characters is another problem area. The characters are cool and quirky, but there isn’t much development in secondary characters, or even in some of the bigger ones like Akiva. I liked all the characters, but nothing much changed about them.

The ending: could be better. There’s a big reveal that’s cool, but it’s a lot of talking. Like I said, not much action in this book.

Overall though, I enjoyed it. The world building was my favorite part. It’s worth a read for that alone. The characters are likable, and the plot is pretty good. I think my problem with the plot is it started out so promising, then the action fizzled out.

My recommendation: worth a read. It has its flaws, but it has a lot of good parts too.

Link to more reviews on the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8490112-daughter-of-smoke-bone

I’m feeling a little ‘eh’ about this book. I’m not sure if that makes me a bad person because so many people loved it.

Let’s peek at the summary for those not in the know:

A searing, post apocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

I watched the film first and loved it, so of course I went looking for the book. There are some things I loved about the book. There’s an overwhelming feeling of despair through the pages. A man and a boy wander through a gray world, and it seems like Cormac McCarthy really wanted to put the reader in that world, so he made the writing simple to the point of bland.

This is good because you do get the sense of this being an empty world with little hope, but on the other hand it’s also, well, bland. It feels like a shopping list at times. He did that. He did this. Then this happened.

This bland feeling carries over to the plot. There are a few big moments, but most of the time it’s just the man and the boy walking, looking for food, and not doing much else. This is not an action packed novel. Again, this is good, and this is bad. The novel might have been more enjoyable to read if it had more direction instead of their mostly aimless wanderings, but it would have taken from the atmosphere of the story.

Overall I did like the book. It was a quick read and did leave a lasting impression. I’m just left a little lost about what exactly to think about it. I suppose it’s like looking at impressionist art. Is it art? Or is it just scribbles? On the one hand I could talk about the great message it gave about hope, and about sticking to your morals no matter what. On the other the lack of cohesion makes me wonder whether those messages are intentional or happenstance.

I read the book, and I enjoyed it, but I was left not knowing if I saw it as ‘good’ or not. I think it was. I think it was just different enough that my mind’s a little confused. I’d say, if you like trying things a little different, then try this one.

Take a look at more reviews on this book. Some of them are just as confused as me: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6288.The_Road

This one is another graphic novel, but don’t walk away if that’s not your cup of tea, you might surprise yourself. I’m very picky about which graphic novels I read because I don’t usually enjoy them as much as books. For me reading a graphic novel is like eating desert, it’s fun, but it doesn’t fill you up like books can. This one is worth a try.

And that’s the best thing about this graphic novel, you can try before you buy. Strictly speaking you don’t even need to buy, it depends on how much you want to support the wonderful artist / author Ashley Cope. Ashley very generously puts all her pages for this series (what’s in the book and much more) on a website for everyone to read for free. Here’s the link: http://www.casualvillain.com/Unsounded/

Unsounded is a lot deeper than other graphic novels I’ve come across. The world is rich and the characters are multilayered, and they grow as time goes by. Sette, one of the main characters has come such a long way from her first pages to the latest ones on the website. There are twists and so many things to discover as they go through their journey, and still more mysteries ahead. And the art is amazing!

Here, have a look at the cover as one small example:

Unsounded - Volume 1: The Zombie & The Brat

Nice, right? And believe it or not the art inside is actually better! Ashley draws these vibrant backgrounds, and she has this great skill to make the characters look so expressive. I have no idea how she does that for zombie Duane since his face is covered by that hood so much, but somehow she manages it.

Here’s the blurb:

Daughter of the Lord of Thieves, Sette Frummagem is on a mission, and she’ll lie, cheat, and steal to make sure it’s a success (she’ll lie, cheat, and steal anyway). Condemned to aid her in her rotten endeavours is a rotten corpse who seems oddly talented with the supernatural, and oddly not laying motionless in the dirt.

The road is long and no one is what they seem. Never trust a thief, and never trust anyone who won’t let you look into their eyes.

It’s funny, tragic, and heart pounding in all the right places. Seriously, this comic has so many feels it’s impossible to accurately describe them all in one short review. Ashley’s world building is immense, and her plotting in well thought through. Reading some of the comments on the site gives you a good picture. You have all these people predicting what’s going to happen next, and because of her awesome foreshadowing some actually get it right.

They discuss little bits of the world introduced through the comic like it’s some kind of religion. And the world is so thought through that you do pick things up, like the rules for prymary, or the caste system. One of the big ongoing mysteries (there are a few, and some wrapped up once you get to the latest pages) is how Duane is present mentally when all the other zombies seem to be more akin to the unthinking things we see on horror movies. We’ve had some clues, and there are several ongoing theories. People reference lines and emphasis that happened in the comic to try to work things out, and this comic is reliable enough that you can do that.

My verdict: go along to the site linked above and try the first few pages. It starts out as an adventure through a strange land with two hilariously incompatible comrades, both with mysteries we get to find out, and from there it gets richer and richer.

If you want to know what other people are saying about this comic follow this link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17372154-unsounded—volume-1

A few months ago I reviewed ‘Anna Dressed in Blood.’ Here’s the review for those that missed it: http://wp.me/p3Wf30-1l

I gave it five stars, it was that good. So of course when I heard about the sequel I had to read that too. Girl of nightmares wasn’t quite as good as the first book, but it was a decent enough book. What I liked about the first book is that Anna is genuinely scary at times. Too many times in paranormal romances the supernatural guy or girl seems like a normal if overdramatic brooding teenager. Anna doesn’t really brood that much, even though she has a lot to brood about: being dead for one thing, being made to pull people apart against her will, and the horrible event that led to her being how she is (revealed in the first book).

My first problem with the second book is that there isn’t much Anna in it. For most of the book she’s only there in bits and pieces. Now this wouldn’t be as much of a issue if our main character Cas had more direction, which leads us to my second problem with the book: Cas wanted to find Anna, sure, but he kind of meandered about for most of the book. He was all angst ridden and not doing much.

I think it would have been better if he’d had more of a journey to go on to get Anna back. Instead most of the book is him being angsty and asking people for clues, them saying ‘there’s no way,’ repeat a few times, and then out of the blue a clue lands in his lap, and he goes on a simple trip and gets his answers without much struggle. It was too easy. There’s some friend issues to deal with as conflict, but it didn’t take my mind off the lack of conflict in his journey to find a way to get Anna back.

Now after he finds his answers he gets conflict in bucketfuls . That’s where things got really interesting. The first chunk of the book wasn’t too bad, but the last chunk was awesome. The conflict was back and it was huge: life or death, and even bigger than that. There’s this heartbreaking decision he has to make near the end that had me on the edge of my seat.

My verdict is if you liked the first one, read the second. It isn’t as interesting, but does get better toward the end. And it has the same lovable characters that made the first book so enjoyable.

In case you want to read more reviews on this book follow the link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12507214-girl-of-nightmares