Saturday 17 May 2014

The Grower's Gift by Vanna Smythe - Cover Reveal

Todays' Blog post is a cover reveal (with link for the uk  version and book description - I'll post US link if I can find out how.....I am a novice at this kind of thing) by one of my favourite new authors, Vanna Smythe (author of the Anniversary of the Veil series)

The book is The Grower's Gift (Progeny Of Time#1) and is certainly going straight on my kindle. Anyway, without further ado, here it is:

Product Details

In 2102 the Earth is plagued by draughts, floods, and blizzards that come in the middle of summer. The rich and powerful of North America have pulled back into the six remaining megacities, erasing all trace of a central government and leaving the millions displaced by the environmental crisis to fend for themselves in the dying world. But sixteen-year-old Maya is certain she was born with the power to heal the Earth and make it habitable again.

The only place she can learn to use her gift is a school, which is run by the ruthless head of the city of Neo York. But the school is only a front for a facility where they will extract Maya’s magic and then discard her. Only Ty, the heir to the city, can keep Maya from being destroyed at the facility. And Ty’s loyalty to his family has never wavered. Will his growing love for Maya be strong enough to save her?

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Home and Hearth by Angela Slatter (a review)

Home and Hearth is the latest chap book from Spectral Press. As such it is only short, 25 pages or so, but oh what a tale you get within these pages.

The story starts as Simon, a school age boy, returns home after a trial for "a bad thing" (I'm not going to drop spoilers on you if I can help it!). His mother, Caroline, is glad to have him home but as time goes by she starts to wonder if she really wants him back.

The feel of the character of Caroline is really good - you get a sense of the shame she feels when outside, the love of a mother for her child but also the fear of what that child is or may become. Overall, I found this to be a tense, well told tale and must say, the end surprised me a little but, again, was really well done - I don't think I saw the swerve coming until it happened.

Another winner from Spectral Press and another author I will be looking out for more from in the future

Monday 12 May 2014

Keira's Quest: Perceptions by Kristy Brown(a review )

Perceptions is the third in the Young Adult series of novels, Keira's Quest.

As with the two previous books, this starts off more or less straight from where book 2 finished (so don't go thinking you can go hopping in mid series). At the start Keira is stuck in Zakk's realm while the Witch Queen is on Earth and has taken Keira's image.

For the most part this is a book of two halves. The Keira parts are interesting as we get to see more of the people and places in the realmand there are some interesting ideas here. For me, personally, though the strongest and most fun sections are those with the Witch Queen in our world.

As she has taken Keira's identity we, and her friends and allies get a totally different "Keira". Its entertaing watching her sow seeds of chaos and disruption amongst the friends.

Will Keira be able to get back home? Will any of her friends still be talking to her if she does ? Trust me, it's fun finding out ;-)

I guess my only gripe is that this is another short book. I would like to see more of tje people and places of the Realm. But don't let me put you off, this is another strong part of the whole tale.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Friday 9 May 2014

I wish I was at Stonewylde - a post a year in the making

I have been planning to write this post for nearly a year but for some reason all attempts seemed to fail. I couldn't find the angle I wanted I guess. Then, last night, driving to work a magnificent heron flew across my line of vision, and I thought to myself "I wish I was at Stonewylde". And that, I guess, was my lightbulb moment.

I have also been wanting to start a series of posts along the lines of  "The book that....." to highlight some of the books that have influenced my reading life. This post will also contain the first of these I guess, but more on that later.


The Stonewylde series consists of 5 books, starting with Magus of Stonewylde. In 'Magus' we meet Sylvie, the joint lead in the story. She is in hospital, due to being allergic to modern living. As a possible cure, or at least a chance of respite, she is offered the chance, with her mother, to go to Stonewylde, an enclosed community in the heart of the English countryside. At Stonewylde the people live a more self sufficient life and follow the old ways. It is an idyllic place and Sylvie soon starts to adapt to the way of life and her health starts to improve.

While at Stonewylde she starts up a friendship with a young man, Yul but it is frowned on, as the leader of the community, Magus, despises Yul and is determined to make his life a misery. This is where you start to see the dark underside to Stonewylde, and  believe me, at times it really is brutal enough to make you wince as you read.

I am not going into too much detail of the story here as I have already posted reviews elsewhere. Here I just want to say how much the books affected me. The community itself felt like somewhere I would want to be. The author Kit Berry being very knowledgeable about the 'old ways' and the festival's. The descriptions of the lifestyle, the flora and fauna all touch the soul and leave you with a sense of the magic. A truly beautiful series.

The series is set in two parts, the first three covering the arrival of Sylvie, Magus' reign of terror and his battles with Yul. The second set is the books four and five which see (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) Yul and Sylvie grown up and running Stonewylde. Things are good for now, Stonewylde is thriving, but evil is never far away and Yul and Sylvie's love will be tested and threatened.

The third and fourth books also introduces their children and more of the beauty and magic of Stonewylde as the modern world starts to encroach.

And this brings me to........


That may sound a bit over dramatic but believe me Shaman of Stonewylde, the fifth and final book in the series left me emotionally ruined like no book before or since (and this is testament to Kit Berry's skill as an author.)

In 'Shaman' Stonewylde is facing it's darkest hour. Yul and Sylvie are more or less estranged, dark shadows loom over Stonewylde and things look beyond saving. The overall feeling is that the story ends with a death. I expected that, I even had it in my mind who would die. I didn't like it but I knew it was coming so I prepared.

I was wrong. It wasn't who I expected and prepared for.

It was so much more shocking than that! I'm not ashamed to say this book brought me to tears. Even now, writing this, I can feel the trickles on my spine.

It's taken me a year to write this, and only now do I feel I'm ready to go back and reread this wonderful, beautiful, emotional series of books.

So, the gates of Stonewylde are opening for me again, I'm going back. Why not join me.


Easy enough this bit. All I need to say is THANK YOU Kit Berry for writing these books and for being someone I think of as a friend. Job well done lass ;-)

Blessed Be

Tuesday 6 May 2014

The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers (a review)

The Haunting of Highdown Hall is the first in the 'Psychic Surveys' series - and a great start it is too!

The story revolves around Ruby Davies, who owns the Psychic Surveys business with her assistants/associates Theo, Ness and Corinna. They are based in the South of England, covering  Brighton, Lewes and the surrounding area. The purpose of the business is helping spirits/ghosts pass 'into the light'.

It seems there are quite a few hauntings in this area which helps the reader get used to the way the team works. Their way involves the use of communication (with the ghost) and the cleansing of the site with crystals, smudge sticks and the likes - no religion or exorcism here.

The main haunting here though revolves around the titular Highdown Hall and the ghost of Cynthia Hart, the biggest movie star of her day who died in the 1950's but refuses to move on. The present owner of Highdown Hall wants her gone and is prepared to ruin the reputation of Ruby and Psychic Surveys if they fail.

There really is something for everyone here- a ghost story first and foremost, it is also a mystery (what is stopping Cynthia moving on and who is the other figure she is so scared of?) and, from very early on, a romance angle when Ruby meets Cash, a website developer. Watching their relationship grow with the story is actually quite pleasant reading - it just feels natural, not cloying and sickly. Add to this the humour and 'awww' factor of Jed the ghost dog (hope he comes back for book 2) and you really do have a winning combination.

Romance and mystery with a proper English ghost story at it's heart 5/5 stars

Monday 5 May 2014

Rom Zom Com - a review

I'll be honest, I was starting to believe the zombie genre had been done to death. What it was really missing was a different angle, something to make things fun again.....and then this little gem from Knightwatch Press dropped into my inbox. Things are looking up.

What we have here is a collection of 12 stories that add a new section to the genre - the ROMantic ZOMbie COMedy. It starts with Generation Z - where Wes is made an offer but can anything (or anyone!) convince him to 'sign on the dotted line'?

I'm not going to go through every story - that'd be unfair to you, the reader, I don;t want to spoil things for you, but I will mention a couple of my favourites, namely 'The Ardent Dead', featuring a different take on zombies (they don't want to eat your brains they want to hump them out) and the question of what would you do for a loved one that's been turned, and Family Life, which is exactly what it says - a tale of undead family life...with a twist.

Basically, what you have here is everything you would expect from a RomCom - but with added zombies. Really, you can't go wrong.

Great fun - 4/5 stars

Sunday 4 May 2014

Who Is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace (a review)

Tom Adoyo, a breakfast radio news and weather reporter comes home to find a note from his girlfriend. It reads;

                                    I have not left you. But I am gone.
                                    Please just carry on as normal.
                                    Love always

And so begins a tale that is quite wonderful in its' quirkiness. Tom, as you would expect tries to get to the bottom of the mystery. Where is Hayley?, Is she coming back? Is she still his girlfriend?

It seems her friends, and colleagues were aware she was going somewhere but no-one is able  to tell Tom what is going on. His search leads him to a group of people with a slightly odd but fun hobby, but will they lead to Hayley and answers. And who is the girl that seems to be following him

This is a funny and clever novel of love, loss and finding yourself. It is very hard to say much about the principle idea of the 'group' but if you keep in mind the fact that Danny Wallace, the author, is the same man that;

                  a) Started a cult by accident (Join Me)

                   b) Started his own country (How To Start Your Own Country)

     and        c) Said YES for a year (Yes Man)

 you can expect that it is an off the wall idea that will become more believable as the story goes on.

I really recommend this book to one and all (and if you see it in the airport book shop as you fly out on your summer hols this would make an excellent beach/poolside book).

Read it before it is made into a film (as it surely will be) to really appreciate Wallace's gift as a storyteller

5/5 stars