Friday Face Off : Chaos

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Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I just would mention that I’ve not been very active blog hopping this week.  I have a problem with the internet and have someone due out to try and fix things in the next couple of days.  I’ve been managing to post by simply using my mobile data but it runs out so quickly so I’m being careful.  Anyway, hopefully, fingers crossed, wi-fi will be back to normal shortly.

This week’s theme:

Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one?

Okay, I’ve gone for a cover that I really like for this theme which seems contradictory.  Veil of the Deserters is the second book in the Bloodsounder’s Arc series by Jeff Salyard.  I haven’t read this one yet even though I really enjoyed the first and do own a hard copy of this one.  The cover I was recalling is crazily chaotic and really stands out.  There are only two covers for this one.  Take a look:

My favourite:

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I just love it – the colours, all the action, there’s such a lot going on here but in a good way.

Do you have a favourite?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next Week : The Motel

2021

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

#SPFBO Review : Book of Secrets (Merged Series #1) by Claudia Blood

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Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood is the third book from my Second Batch of books that I’m aiming to read and review this month (my fourth and final book from this batch will be posted on Saturday followed by an update post on the following Monday.  I have read the fourth book now so I have eight books tucked under my belt and 7 more remaining.  You can find feedback from my first batch of books here and further information on SPFBO here. (Links to all reviews so far are posted below).

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Joshua Lighthouse is the main character of Book of Secrets and also the reluctant hero.  Almost 300 years ago the world as we know it experienced an event that has become known as the Merge.  During a meteor shower the earth and the world of myth collided.  Since that time humans and those known as Others (a term that covers many species of fictional supernatural characters) have existed on the same plane – although not amicably so.

As a result of tension the Human Protection Agency was established, as the name suggests, to protect humans.  Over the course of the years Joshua worked his way to the top of the Agency, always closely guarding a secret that could change his fortune – at the same time becoming (ironically) responsible for a powerful book known as the Book of Secrets.  With the 300th anniversary of the Merge fast approaching it seems that this knew world is under threat from those who want to see their fortunes reversed.  Joshua finds himself discredited and the Book of Secrets stolen out from under him.  He’s in a race against time before the world he now knows is unmerged and his unlikely ally is a Pack member called Serene – herself one of the ‘most wanted’ from the Human Protection Agency.

I would describe Book of Secrets as urban fantasy.  I quite liked the idea of the merge although I did find the execution a little clunky as the book began and also maybe a little rushed as we immediately jump forward almost 300 years to reconnect with Joshua – who has matured and is now an adult, but clearly an adult with an unusually long lifespan – this is accounted for but I won’t share the explanation here.

We largely follow Joshua as he is dragged unknowingly into  a string of events that will bring everything he knows crashing down – at the same time he meets Serena who has experienced the loss of her pack and is determined to find out who is responsible and why. This element of the story develops into a romance although this doesn’t take over the main story.

Book of Secrets is, I felt, quite plot focused.  The pacing is fast, you’re thrown into Joshua’s new world and expected to hit the ground running.  Having read a good deal of UF in the past I didn’t particularly find this a problem, I didn’t mind the fast pace and thought the author came up with some original ideas which is quite an achievement given that this is a popular genre of fantasy.

However, I did have a few issues.  I felt like the characters were a little flat and this made it difficult for me to connect with them or really invest in any potential threats and I struggled in some ways to visualise the world – in my head I was picturing this as a modern world but then in others I was wondering how the Others fit in – what did their part of the world look like, and what developments had occurred in the time that had expired (300 years is a long time after all).  I guess in some respects it felt as though plot dominated the other elements but at the same time I recognise that this is a first in series and I always feel with UF that the first book is usually trying to hook readers and more substance and backstories will follow in later editions.

Book of Secrets didn’t completely win me over in the way I’d hoped, mainly due to the intense pace of the story which prevented other areas from being fully explored or attachments to form but, I think, if you like urban fantasy with a hint of romance and a story that bursts out of the starting blocks then maybe this could be the one for you.

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

Books already reviewed for SPFBO :

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The Rise of the Red Monarch (Brontë Sisters Mystery #3) by Bella Ellis

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : The Rise of the Red Monarch (Brontë Sisters Mystery #3) by Bella Ellis.  I really enjoyed The Diabolical Bones so can’t wait for this.  Here’s the description: 

The Brontë sisters’ first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her friend Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry’s life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of…The Red Monarch.

Expected publication : November 2021

#SPFBO Review : Stone Magus (Hidden Gems Saga #1) by Stephanie C Marks

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Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks is the second book from my Second Batch of books that I’m aiming to read and review this month.  You can find feedback from my first batch of books here and further information on SPFBO here.

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This is going to be a difficult review to write and quite possibly a short one because it will be difficult to really elaborate on either the plot or the characters without giving spoilers away which I don’t intend to do.  This does however make it tricky to discuss likes or dislikes

As the story begins we meet Opal, travelling back to her childhood home (although not happily given bad memories).  Travelling with her mentor/master Olog the two are part of a religious/magical Order that retrieve and care take magic artifacts, they’ve been sent on a mission to retrieve an item of importance. Unfortunately something nasty still lurks within Opal’s former home, a shadow creature with a particular design in mind, and things don’t go as well as planned.

Next we meet Ruby, Opal’s sister – a scholar as opposed to a warrior/fighter.  Ruby is a gentle female, less assertive than Opal, in fact Ruby was traumatised by the events at the childhood home and has retreated a little.  That is until she struck up an unlikely relationship with a Dwarf called Baerdun – unlikely because Ruby is half elf and many others consider such a coupling beyond unnatural.  In spite of such prejudices though their relationship has blossomed into love and the two are unhappy about the likely split that looms when Ruby will be required to return to the Order – surprisingly, Baerdun decides to accompany Ruby leaving his blacksmithing behind.

Both Opal and Ruby are strong mages but during the course of their travels they encounter an illness and, without spoilers, their magic is traded for a cure.  From there onwards the story involves the return to the Order, accounting for what has happened and trying to find a way to return the girl’s powers.  Understandably both of them are seriously unhappy about this strange turn of events.

Now, I would say that Stone Magus is paranormal romances or fantasy romance if you prefer.  Basically though, I would say that although this is a fantasy setting with elves, dwarves, mages, etc, the real focus of the story is Opal, Ruby and Baerdun and the relationship that the three of them share.  In fact although during their journey they encounter hardships and prejudices along the way, I would say their personal journey is the real purpose here.

 I don’t tend to read a lot of romance but it’s not unknown for me to pick up the occasional book here and there and I have no problems at all with the romance elements here.  However, I did feel like the fantasy side of things played something of second fiddle and, to be honest, I’m not totally sure, even at this point, how much I enjoyed the main concept.  Of course, I can’t really discuss that element further because there is a twist in the tale – and it certainly is a very unique twist indeed – I’m just not really sure at this point how I felt about it.  On the one hand I think its very original and it certainly surprised me, but, on the other hand, it just felt a little awkward in some respects.

In terms of the romance I would mention that things become a little bit hot and steamy as the relationships progress although this is towards the last third/quarter of the book.

To be honest, although this one didn’t totally work for me I wouldn’t discourage romance readers who enjoy a fantasy setting.  

My thanks to the author for providing a copy.  The above is my own opinion.

Books already reviewed for SPFBO :

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris

Come With Me by Ronald Malfi

Posted On 26 July 2021

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : I absolutely loved this book

Comewithme

This book just blew me away.  I couldn’t get enough of it to be honest, I loved the way it was written, I was instantly hooked and it took me down a number of routes that had me twisting and turning before finding myself at a dead end.  Seriously, I could read this book again right now and in fact I think I’d probably enjoy it as much if not more than my initial read.

This is going to be a gushing, chaotic, crazy rambling review.  I don’t think I can do justice to the book to be honest because it gave me the chills, it had a ghostly-type horror vibe at the same time as coming across as a dark murder mystery, it looks at relationships and how well you know the person you’re living with and more than that the inspiration for the book is an emotional gut punch.

Where to start.  I’m going to avoid spoilers because I really don’t want to give anything away but the story is told by Aaron Decker.  Aaron’s wife was recently killed in a shopping mall shooting incident.  He finds himself, as you may imagine, a bit untethered, unable to settle and constantly second guessing with a string of ‘what ifs?’ – what if he’d accompanied his wife that fateful morning when she actually asked ‘Come with me?’  Of course, there’s no turning back the clock and Aaron, led by a strange series of weird occurences, all that can be written off as forgetfulness or other random hiccups, begins to go through his wife things – almost as though he is being guided to do so.  In doing so he uncovers a secret side to his wife, something that leads him to start his own investigations and before he knows it his world has changed irrevocably and he finds himself becoming equally obsessed with the desire to find answers.

At its heart this is a gripping murder mystery, dark, creepy, twisted and intelligent.  It also manages to throw in a scattering of paranormal-style occurences that create a spooky atmosphere and add to the tension.  I love the way the author pulls this off by giving us a central character who is level headed enough not to become ‘spooked’ at the same time as realising that he might be putting himself, and others, in danger.  It’s a fantastic balancing act that I have to applaud.  I mean, if this had been me, I would have been running in the opposite direction to Aaron – literally running as fast as my little legs could carry me away from the goosebump inducing scariness.

We join Aaron as he follows in his wife footsteps, working his way backwards, speaking to people she herself spoke to and uncovering a different side to her that he would never have imagined.  It’s brilliant because we go through the same thought processes at the same time as he does, feeling mystified, betrayed, scared or overwhelmed, having our ideas teased out and then finding that we’ve gone astray somewhere along the line.

We travel up and down the country, the miles stacking up as Aaron seeks out more clues before eventually finding himself in the small town where his wife grew up.  There’s a real horror vibe going on at certain points – not a blood-slashing trail of bodies horror type story so much as a Silence of the Lambs uncovering of a dark and twisted mind style tale.

I’m not sure what more I can add to this other than to say do yourself a favour and pick up a copy. I was gripped, I was tense, I couldn’t stop reading.  I just loved it from start to finish and can’t recommend it enough.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks, the above is my own opinion.

My rating 5 of 5 stars

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