Cover Compare

Posted On 12 February 2017

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 20 responses

Here it is – I wondered when this little beauty would make it’s appearance – the UK cover for Mark Lawrence’s Red Sister:


I love this.  It has a beautiful crisp feel doesn’t it  And, here are both covers together:

So, which is your favourite.  I admit that I’ve always been rather partial to the US covers and I do love the US cover here – but, in this case, the UK cover is my favourite.  I just really like the font style and colour, the way it’s so startling against the cold background – the darkness beyond the ice.  Yep.  The UK cover is my favourite this time around.

Stop on over to Mr Lawrence’s blog where there are a couple of other alternative covers and choose your favourite.

And, in case you missed it, here is the description:

“I was born for killing – the gods made me to ruin”

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy young girls are raised to be killers. In a few the old bloods show, gifting talents rarely seen since the tribes beached their ships on Abeth. Sweet Mercy hones its novices’ skills to deadly effect: it takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist.

But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls as a bloodstained child of eight, falsely accused of murder: guilty of worse.

Stolen from the shadow of the noose, Nona is sought by powerful enemies, and for good reason. Despite the security and isolation of the convent her secret and violent past will find her out. Beneath a dying sun that shines upon a crumbling empire, Nona Grey must come to terms with her demons and learn to become a deadly assassin if she is to survive…

Not long to wait for this one people: April 4th/6th 2017

The best of the best of the best 2016

As is my tradition I’m breaking in the New Year with a little look back at my favourite books from 2016.  Another good reading year with plenty to choose from and I admit that I struggled narrowing this down to 10, in fact I singled out at least 25 in my initial search.  I really did read some most excellent books this year in fact I was lucky enough to get through 120 books.  My list for the year is here.  Without further ado my favourites for 2016 with links to the reviews.

  1. The Wheel of Osheim by Mark Lawrence
  2. City of Blades by Robert J Bennett
  3. The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky
  4. The Silver Tide by Jen William
  5. Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
  6. Company Town by Madeline Ashby
  7. Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz
  8. The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
  9. Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  10. The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I feel like I should also make honorary mentions for Monstrous Little Voices by Jonathan Barnes, Emma Newman, Kate Heartfield, Fox Meadows, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards, 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, The Hike by Drew Magary, Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel and The Facefaker’s Game by Chandler J Birch





Final Batch of books: My first book #SPFBO

FullSizeRender-10November 1st saw the start of the second stage of the SPFBO – the Self Published Fantasy Blog off organised by Mark Lawrence.  All the details can be found here.

There can be only one – could be the catchphrase for this competition.  We started off with 300 books and 10 bloggers.  Each blogger was assigned 30 books and chose one to take forward into the next round.  For the final stage each blogger will now read and rate the books selected by the other 9 bloggers and when the ratings are jotted up hopefully we will have an outright winner.

I am really looking forward to this stage – there are some great looking books put forward into this round and I’m excited to pick them up.  As with round one, my book order has been chosen at random (basically numbers drawn from a hat – I’m not kidding) and as for the first stage I’m going to spotlight each book before I read it followed by my review upon completion.

So, the first book out of the hat was:

The Shadow Soul (A Dance of Dragons #1) by Kaitlyn Davis – synopsis from Goodreads copied below.  This certainly sounds intriguing ‘an age of myth that is about to be reborn’ – not to mention ‘perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Tamora Pierce!’ Strong praise indeed.  The story is told in alternating male/female POVs – I’m keen to see how that works out and basically with the above comparisons – I can’t wait to dive in.

Described as ‘a solid YA fantasy’ this entry was put forward by Fantasy Literature:

shadowsoulFrom bestselling author Kaitlyn Davis comes a fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Tamora Pierce! Told in alternating male and female perspectives, THE SHADOW SOUL has been hailed as “an amazing start to a new series that is going to have people of all ages wanting so much more.” (Happy Tails & Tales Reviews)

When Jinji’s home is destroyed, she is left with nowhere to run and no one to run to–until she meets Rhen, a prince chasing rumors that foreign enemies have landed on his shores. Masquerading as a boy, Jinji joins Rhen with vengeance in her heart. But traveling together doesn’t mean trusting one another, and both are keeping a deep secret–magic. Jinji can weave the elements to create master illusions and Rhen can pull burning flames into his flesh.

But while they struggle to hide the truth, a shadow lurks in the night. An ancient evil has reawakened, and unbeknownst to them, these two unlikely companions hold the key to its defeat. Because their meeting was not coincidence–it was fate. And their story has played out before, in a long forgotten time, an age of myth that is about to be reborn…

Watch this space!


#SPFBO Spotlight : the sixth set of books: Update + Winner Announcement


This is my sixth and final batch of books for the SPFBO and my final update post!  I’ve listed below my links to updates and reviews for the first/second/third/fourth and fifth batch of books with links to the books chosen from each round.

The book choices were all randomly picked. I aimed to read about 20% of each book or five chapters although in quite a few cases I read considerably more.  Basically, if one of the books stood out above the other four then that became the clear choice from that batch.

My final set of five books are below.  I’ve added underneath each a synopsis (taken from Goodreads) and also linked up the titles so they’re easy to check out. These are only very quick thoughts, given that I’ve not read the full book in most cases it’s not possible to give a full review.

fallen-shep1. The Fallen Shepherd Saga by Peter Ravlich

The dark ones never forget a hunter. For Antonio, newly-former priest, that’s not a great thing. It gets worse when he’s confronted by two bodies and the unmistakable trail of a succubus. Why the Hell did it have to be a succubus?

He might have lost his title, lost his identity, lost his backup; but he still has his blade, and this hunt might offer a chance at redemption, a chance that Antonio desperately needs.

The Fallen Shepherd Saga was originally published as a three-part serial story. This volume is an expanded omnibus edition.

The Fallen Shepherd is an urban fantasy type story in which The Fallen Shepherd of the title is Antonio.  Previously a priest Antonio is, at the start of the story, on the trail of a succubus who has just murdered a police officer.  I didn’t get too much further into the plot with my 20%.  The writing was quite engaging and I enjoyed the chapters I read.  I did feel that there was a certain element of telling rather than showing.  So, for example, Antonio, he makes lots of noises about being an expert hunter and yet he walks right into a fairly obvious trap early on and in spite of saying that you can’t afford to make mistakes in his line of work. That being said I did enjoy the chapters I read – not sure if it brings anything new to the UF genre but could be an interesting read nonetheless.

vengeful2. The Vengeful Half by Jaclyn Dolamore

This novel contains interior comics and art by the author.

Olivia might look human, but she’s grown up with a heavy secret: her mother is a potion-maker who fled her home in a parallel world, the Hidden Lands.

Alfred is the blind, charismatic young heir to the illegal potions trade. When Olivia’s mother is kidnapped by the magic dealers with whom she once made a bad bargain, she has no choice but to trust Alfred’s offer of help. They travel to a strange new world of bootlegged American pop culture, lifelike doll people, and reincarnation. Alfred finds himself putting his position on the line to defend Olivia against his family’s conniving plans. Maybe he has morals…or maybe he’s just falling in love.

When Olivia escapes from an attack by a curiously familiar sorceress, she learns that potion dealers weren’t the only thing Mom was hiding from. Dark secrets lurk in Olivia’s past, and now Olivia must kill or be killed by the girl with whom she once shared everything…

I quite enjoyed the writing for the Vengeful Half the author has come up with some good ideas for her Hidden Lands although I confess that I was surprised when we actually travelled there to find that they were basically very similar to our own – which I wasn’t expecting.  Unfortunately I was unable to check out the artwork so I can’t really comment about that or whether it added to the read overall.  Having read the first 20% I don’t really have a good enough grip on the story yet to make an overall judgement about the plot and in terms of the characters, I haven’t at this stage been able to form an attachment to any of them.  Given the chapters I’ve read so far I think this could be an enjoyable YA read.

magic-banquet3. Magic Banquet by A E Marling – this book was a swapped title.  Originally I was due to read Off Leash by Daniel Potter but I exchanged books due to a conflict of interest.

Dragon steaks, ambrosia, and chimera stew. In the Magic Banquet, one guest always dies of joy. Or so they say. The street waif, Aja, just wants a few mouthfuls of the first course, but this is a party not easily left.

The dishes lavished upon Aja do more than entice. They enchant. They endanger. They change her. When she learns that a dragonfruit will make her mature, she eats it all. She is tired of being seen as a child, of being excluded and overlooked by respectable families and that other girl at the banquet, who is the empress in disguise. But Aja ages too fast, too much, and too soon. She is dying. She must replenish her lifeforce by eating a phoenix before she can even think of escaping the mortal banquet.

Guest List:
Aja, a thirteen-year-old girl who stole into the banquet before anyone could tell her she’s too young.
Janny, an old woman hungry for eternal youth.
The Empress Nephrynthian. But she’ll insist on you calling her Ryn.
Her guard, Fos Chandur.
Solin, graceful on his crutches and deadly with his magic.
And a dark lord.

Another book that caught my attention quite early on and showed some promise.  However, for me personally this feels like a quite young read, probably early teens – and I’m not just basing that on the age of Aja, the main protagonist, but more the feel of the read up to the point I read.  From the portion I did read I felt that this had a coming of age type of feel and I think that a younger audience would enjoy Aja as she progresses through this banquet.

ninth-wind4. Ninth Wind by Moses Siregar III

“In THE NINTH WIND, Moses Siregar takes readers to a fascinating new world where politics, magic, and adventure mingle in exciting and profound ways. If you like fantasy, you’ll love this!” –NYT Bestseller David Farland


The Ancestors whisper of rebellion, their breath a cold blue wind in the forests and hills of Andars. The Rezzian occupation lingers, dragging the folk of the hills through bitterness and despair.

Three siblings stand ready to challenge the Kingdom of Rezzia. Their fates have long been seen by the primordial Orns: one by Angst, one by Fidelity, one by Wrath.

Idonea searches the dark wood to master the magic of the three sacred trees. Skye pursues omens to lead his shield-brothers to victory over Rezzia’s legions. As armies battle for control of the Andaran hills, Dag calls out so that he may become as impenetrable as Altrea, allowing nothing to bend him, or turn him, or break him, so that he may stand and defend his kin. The ten gods of Rezzia and their lions stand in his way.

The Ninth Wind is the long-awaited return to Moses Siregar III’s award-winning epic fantasy series, Splendor and Ruin. Drawing on Norse, Greek, and Indian mythologies, the Ninth Wind is a tale of betrayal and retribution, of gods and sages and witches, of fearless journeys and magical awakenings.

It is a tale of honor, devotion, and valor. An adult tale of the children of wind and wood.

As soon as I started The Ninth Wind I thought it showed a lot of promise.  This is my favourite from this batch of books and my review will follow.

the-fall5. The Fall by Michael DeAngelo

Icarus must intervene before a wicked ritual is completed, or humanity will be banished from the world of Tellest forevermore. But his people, the elves, have determined that humans are too dangerous to share the realm. How can he protect the friends that he has made without betraying his race?

Samael is a man scorned, whose only desire is to enact vengeance on those who have wronged him. However, his involvement is the deciding factor in the call to banish humanity. For the sake of all the races of Tellest, he must work with Icarus to put a halt to the foul dealings.

The Fall was actually quite an intriguing read that got off to a good start and I read further than the 20% I’ve allocated for each book.  The writing was easy to get on with and the world quite well imagined, but, I had the overall feeling that I was missing something, or that The Fall was only a small piece in a larger puzzle.  I could of course be wrong with that as I haven’t read the full book at this point. 

In conclusion, I’ve chosen The Ninth Wind as my favourite of this particular batch of books and my review will follow shortly.

SPFBO Posts:

  1. Cover Lover
  2. 1st Batch of books + update + book review
  3. 2nd batch of books + update + book review
  4. 3rd batch of books update + book review
  5. 4th batch of book + update + book review
  6. 5th batch of books + update + book review
  7. 6th batch of books + update + book review

Overall winner:

At this point (although I haven’t yet reviewed the sixth book) given that I have chosen a book from each round I feel that I am now in a position to choose the book I’d like to take forward.   The final six were:

  1. Rebel’s Honor by Gwynn White
  2. Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little
  3. As the Crow Flies by Robin Lythgoe
  4. The Amber Isle (Book of Never #1) by Ashley Capes
  5. Outpost (The Fylking #1) by F T McKinstry
  6. The Ninth Wind by Moses Siregar III

And, the book I will take forward to the next round will be:

Outpost by F T McKinstry


Unwilling Souls by Gregory D Little a close second.

I would like to thank all the authors who submitted their work to the SPFBO – I’ve enjoyed taking part and making my way through all the entries.

I’ve tried to give overviews for all the books and give full reviews for the ones I’ve read completely.  My final post will be my review of The Ninth Wind which will follow shortly.


#SPFBO Spotlight : the fifth set of books..


This is my fifth batch of books for the SPFBO.  I’ve listed below my links to updates and reviews for the first/second/third and fourth batch of books.

The book choices are being randomly chosen. I’m aiming to read about 20% of each book or five chapters (which I think should be enough to give me a fair idea of whether or not the book could be my potential final choice).  Basically, if one of the books is standing out above the other four then that will be the clear choice from that section.

My next set of five are below.  I’ve added underneath each a synopsis (taken from Goodreads) and also linked up the titles so they’re easy to check out.j

  1. Outpost by F.T. McKinstry

outpost.jpgIn a war-torn realm occupied by a race of unseen immortal warlords called the Fylking, trouble comes with a price. Using the realm as a backwater outpost from which to fight an ancient war, the Fylking taught human seers to build and ward over an interdimensional portal called the Gate. The Fylking’s enemies, who think nothing of annihilating a world to gain even a small advantage, are bent on destroying it.

After two centuries of peace, the realm is at war. Seers are disappearing and their immortal guardians are blind, deceived by their own kind. A Gate warden with a tormented past discovers a warlock using Fylking magic to gather an army of warriors that cannot die. A King’s ranger who defends the wilds of the realm is snared in a political trap that forces him to choose between love and honor. And a knitter touched by the gods catches the eye of a dark immortal with the power to summon storms.

Forced to find allies in unlikely places, these three mortals are caught in a maelstrom of murder, treachery, sorcery and war. When they uncover the source of the rising darkness, they must rally to protect the Gate against a plot that will violate the balance of cosmos, destroy the Fylking and leave the world in ruins.

2. Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent by Kristy Tate

fortuneWhen Petra Baron goes into the fortuneteller’s tent at a Renaissance fair, she expects to leave with a date to prom. Instead, she walks out into Elizabethan England, where she meets gypsies, a demon dog and a kindred spirit in Emory Ravenswood.

Emory must thwart the plans of religious zealots. His mission is dangerous, his enemies are fanatical, and Petra Baron is a complication that Heaven only knows he does not need. Or does he? Although Emory is on Heaven’s errand, he learned long ago that Heaven does not always play fair.

As Petra slowly falls for Emory, she wonders if he really is who he seems, or if he is just as lost as she is. How can they have a future while trapped in the past? Or is anything possible Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent?

3. Mechanical Dragons: Fire & Water by Bobbi Schemerhorn

mechKhaly has only attended Pifianka Academy of Polytechnics School for a short time since moving to Vlarlee, but already she knows that she doesn’t fit in. She is relieved when the new kid, Bancroft, proves to be competent, even pleasant, when they begin work on a mechanical dragon for their school project. He even stands up to her nemesis, Jahallah. But when she discovers that she is capable of magic, a whole new world opens up to her and she sees that she is not alone. Her world is torn apart, however, when she is thrust into a battle that she was not even aware existed around her. Suddenly, she and Bancroft are forced to flee for their lives and must now learn how to control and develop their magic. The Guild is fighting to create a new world order … one without magic. Khaly and her group cannot let this happen, but are they ready for the war to come.


4. Evermage by Trip Ellington

evermage.jpgAs a wizard’s apprentice, Mithris always seemed to feel like a duck out of water. Clumsy, awkward, naive, and frequently a nuisance to his mentor wizard, it was hard for Mithris to believe he’d ever become a great and powerful wielder of magic…

But everything changed for the young apprentice one day when vicious and foul creatures attacked his master’s tower, killing his mentor, and driving Mithris into exile in the wild world outside.

Alone and left to care for himself for the first time in his life, Mithris must find the strength and courage to become the very thing he never expected he could be…A powerful wizard…

And he must do it in time to stop the monsters, avenge his master’s death, and save the world from the clutches of a power-hungry wizard.

5. A Darker Shade of Sorcery by Will Collins

adarkerThe lonely and grieving Evan Umbra is the newest Venator to enter Veneseron, the school for demon hunters.

A Venator is a wizard, a spy and a demon hunter rolled into one. They’re taught how to wield their sorcery and enchanted weaponry by orcs, elfpires and aliens alike.
Their missions range from battling monsters and saving countless lives in the multiple worlds, to the more peculiar, like wrangling killer unicorns and calming down drunken yetis.
In their free time Venators enjoy goblin soap-opera’s and underwater bubble travel, but they also understand that every new mission they’re given could be their last.
Whilst learning how to manipulate the elements, summon magical creatures and shoot Spellzookas, Evan meets a girl who makes him feel nauseous; but in a good way.

He makes the first friends he’s ever had in the carefree Jed and the reckless Brooke. Whilst Jed gets on the wrong side of a rival Venator, Brooke finds herself falling for the enigmatic demon hunter who brought her to Veneseron, not knowing he isn’t quite human. But it soon becomes apparent that Evan is more than just a Venator. Everyone wants to kill or capture him, from demons to Dark-Venators and even people he’s supposed to be able to trust.

Evan reckons he probably won’t survive his first year at Veneseron.

SPFBO Posts:

  1. Cover Lover
  2. 1st Batch of books + update + book review
  3. 2nd batch of books + update
  4. 3rd batch of books + update
  5. 4th batch of book + update + book review
Next Page »