Rosie’s Book Review Challenge – Karen reviews The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes.

Our review today comes from Karen. She blogs at

Rosie's Book Review Challengers 1

Karen chose to read “The Birr Elixir” by Jo Sparkes

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

Here is her review.

The book introduces you to Marra, a young apprentice in a herb shop. Drail, a comet player, asks for an energy potion. Her instructor, Britta, is dead, and she brews a potion similar to one in Britta’s Book. Drail’s team wins, and they rescue her from her new boss. It is a story of new beginnings, moral values, and belief in one’s capabilities. I will not tell you more about the story than shown in the Goodreads plot description. This would spoil the fun of reading this book yourself.

With The Birr Elixir, Jo Sparkes has created a fantasy story of unusual travel companions, a global ball sport and important contests, rivalry between two nations, and intrigue. The Birr Elixir is an entertaining, gripping, and fast-paced read, making you want to read more. I was drawn into the story right away. I felt quite close to the travel companions and their experiences. All characters were believable, still leaving room for the readers’ imagination. The Birr Elixir is a great story for fantasy and sports lovers. The Birr Elixir is the first book of The Legend of the Gamesmen series. The second book in this series, The Agben School, will certainly be one of my next reads.

This is a book to read again.

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The Agben School by Jo Sparkes

The Agben SchoolThis is the second book in The Legend of the Gamesmen Fantasy Series. The story continues with Drail’s team The Hand of Victory arriving in Missea. Home to the great Skullan Gamesmen. With them travels Tryst, kidnapped and disguised Prince of the realm and Marra herb girl or Brista to the team. Each time the men play she brews a special elixir for them to drink to improve their skills on the playing field.
But Tryst is denied access to the palace. Everything has changed since he left over a year ago on his epourney. A journey to see the world and come home an experienced man. Rumours have spread that Truemen have murdered the Prince and that an imposter may be in his place.
Meanwhile Drail and his Gamesmen must begin at the bottom of the Gamesmen league after a humiliating start in the Gold Harbour arena. Marra is in danger and goes to the Agben school to learn more about herbs and potions. Here they discover she has a rare and natural talent and she uses her skills to help both Drail and Tryst uncover a deep and sinister plot.
This series just gets better, I really enjoyed all of Marra’s experiences at the Agben school and the games of Comet are mush easier to follow now that I’m into the second book. The story will continue in the next book.
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Guest Author Jo Sparkes

Today our guest is Jo Sparkes author of yesterday’s book The Birr Elixir. Here is a link to my book review if you missed it.

Jo Sparkes

Let’s find out more about Jo and her writing.

1) Where is your home town?
Rison, Maryland. Right next to Washington, D.C.
2) How long have you been writing?
Since before I could read. I actually use to scribble on paper, and tell my mother I was writing. I wrote my first full length book when I was twelve years old. For some reason, it was rejected by the publisher.
3) Do you have a favourite genre to write in and why?
I don’t think so — although there are those I doubt I’ll ever attempt. I get caught by a situation, a character in a circumstance. Somehow everything else springs up from that. I do think there should be various elements in any good story — some humour in a drama, adventure in a horror, etc. That lends it depth.
4) What was the one idea which sparked the Gamesmen Legend series?
I knew a very great athlete — and was mesmerized by his spirit. I suppose it was an easy step to create a young apprentice, a girl trying to make her place in the world, who reaches past her ability to help him. And in doing so triggered an amazing adventure.
5) How many books are you planning for the series?
Three. The second one, The Agben School, comes out end of July.
6) Can you tell the readers a bit about Mistress Britta, was she an Agben?
She was in the past, but had left. In the second book, we may wonder exactly what her role was in the kidnapping of the Prince.
7) For readers who might be tempted by the book can you give us a quick guide to the game of Comet?
There’s a basket and four balls. The basket is in the centre of the field of play, and each ball is worth certain points when sunk — but that value is hidden beneath a sticky dust that slowly comes off as the game is played.
And there are four teams of four men — which can make it a rather violent game.
8) Why is the Mark of Health necessary for travel in this world?
On the Great Continent, the Skullan race is disdainful of the Trumen race in general, and believe Trumen from the desert continent to be little above animals. They claim they fear some sort of desert disease, although the cost of gaining such a mark is so high it naturally keeps most from ever leaving the desert.
9) Can you give us a few hints as to what to expect in the next book? Do you have an expected publication date for it?
Tryst gets to Missea — but finds getting into the Palace to see his father is not easy. The conspiracy goes to the highest levels. For Drail, his dream comes far too easily — and then blows up in his face.
And Marra finds herself in deep trouble after trying to help Tryst — and has nowhere to turn but the mysterious Agben School.
Book 2 is called The Agben School, and will be released soon — at the end of July.
10) What else have you written? Where can readers find out more about you?
I have a few non-fiction books, including Feedback  How to Give It  How to Get It. It’s what I’ve learned in writing for some interesting producers — about handling feedback properly.
You can find more about me here:  or talk to me on twitter, @Sparkes777.
Thanks, Rosie. It’s a pleasure talking to you.
It’s been a pleasure Jo, Good Luck with the next book.
The Birr Elixir
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This book is part of the book review challenge, do think about giving it a read.

The Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

The Birr ElixirThe Birr Elixir by Jo Sparkes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Birr Elixir is book one in the Legend of Gamesmen series. It is a fantasy with several themes going on which will pan out further in later books. Tryst is a Prince who must set out on a coming of age journey into manhood called a epourney. He must travel the realm to learn about the people and the land before he can become their leader.

Marra works in a potions shop. Sadly Mistress Britta died before her studies were complete, but she can still learn from Britta’s book. Treated badly by Britta’s brother, Marra is rescued from the shop by Drail.

Drail is a Gamesman. He and his team play a fast ball game called Comet. Britta becomes their Brista, a potion maker. She brews a potion to give them strength before their games. The Gamesmen travel the country playing matches and hope to be able to enter the Solstice Championships in Port Leet.

When Drail rescued Marra, they also found a heavily drugged man, they took him with them. He slept for days before Marra could awaken him. The mystery man, realises he’s been kidnapped and must find a way to return to the Great Continent. His chance comes when Drail and his team earn the Mark of Health Tatoo and can board a ship travelling away from the Wavering Continent.

This is a well thought out fantasy world and the game of comet is fascinating. I look forward to reading the next book and finding out where it leads the characters.

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View all my reviews on Goodreads.

Jo will be our guest author here on the blog tomorrow, do come back and find out more about her writing.

The Birr Elixir is one of our featured books in the book review challenge. You can request your own copy of this book to read and write a review .