📚Book #1 of a #YoungAdult #Scifi Series. @SueBavey Reviews Shadow House by @arsilverberry for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue Has been reading Shadow House by A R Silverberry

Book cover for young adult story Shadow House by A R Silverberry
Shadow House by A R Silverberry

Shadow House is a fairly short novel, but it is not lacking in depth of story. I found it sucked me in almost immediately and it was very difficult to put down.

The story is set in the not too distant future on “New Earth”, a dystopian future following the breakdown of society as we know it:

“History, as taught in school, proclaimed that New Earth had sprouted from a chaotic lawless time in human history, when small bands preyed on and slaughtered each other over dwindling resources. Johari believed that part of the account. It was the next part that seemed iffy. All at once, something happened. A mutation—a new species, some people claimed—appeared, like Cro-Magnon beside the Neanderthals. This new “more advanced” group broke away from the old one and traveled to New Earth. How that was done was sketchy at best. But even today people talked about the Freedom, a mass migration of millions to a new world. And the new world they created was, so they said, superior in every way to the one they left. It was a perfect society.”

I would have liked a little more information regarding this migration. I felt the author brushed it aside somewhat, but I am hoping perhaps it will be given more explanation in the next book. Perhaps it is another mystery that the main character, Johari, will need to solve.

The major portion of Shadow House revolves around four teenagers’ time inside the House, a kind of glorified magical escape room filled with monsters and peril, which teens must enter once during their lives. Not everyone comes out again and those who do not escape are never seen again. Once inside, stairways and doors disappear, herding the four main characters to desired destinations, where they have to face their pasts and personalities and be tested in sometimes terrifying situations.

“…he had difficulty shaking off the feeling that the House would be their tomb.“

““People get out; people get out,” he told himself. And some don’t. “

However no one knows what they will discover once inside, as it is forbidden for the survivors to discuss their experiences. The House itself is described really well, it sounds like the kind of building you might cross the street to keep away from:

“The House had a curious tinge, like an early photograph, faded and discolored. It was three stories and old beyond reckoning. The paint had peeled off. The wooden walls were weathered and sun-bleached a mottled gray. He wondered why termites hadn’t consumed the whole thing long ago. The house bulged on the right to accommodate a semi-circular tower rising two stories and culminating in a conical roof. A lower gable above the front porch was ornamented with scrollwork. But it was the upper gable that arrested his attention. The woodwork was much more complex, filling the whole triangular shape of the gable. In the center was a symbol of some sort. It might have been a flaming candle, but it seemed to Johari it was more like a hand held up in warning.”

The four teens had very different characters. Johari is the main point of view character and hero of the book. He is a mixed race orphan with gorgeous features who spent his childhood being tossed from one foster family to another, never really knowing love and suffering bullying. This often ended in his getting blamed and eventually in him being saddled with a criminal record. Despite his horrible childhood, Johari is very likeable, brave, and a team player. He is a natural leader and caring – concerned for Calista’s health. He is also the love interest for another of the characters, Greta. He is determined that if one of them manages to leave then they all must. Greta is observant and makes notes in each of the rooms as they explore the House. She is kindhearted and beautiful and Johari fell in love with her at a recent party where they first met. Due to a misunderstanding caused by Brice, the ridiculously wealthy party host, they are now unsure of each other’s feelings. This leads to expertly written romantic tension between Johari and Greta and typical teen angst which the reader experiences through Johari’s inner monologue. Greta’s friend Calista is also in the House. An asthmatic, she struggles with the dusty House but retains her wit and feisty nature. She proves to be resourceful, having grabbed bread from the kitchen, which they can no longer access once they reach the attic. The fourth main character is the entitled and unlikeable Brice, who was instrumental in Johari being arrested for stealing Brice’s father’s anti-grav car, when Brice actually leant it to him. He also paid Greta’s Mom to keep her grounded at home when she would have been a useful witness in Johari’s court case. He wants Greta to fall in love with him and is jealous of her attraction to Johari.

Sentenced to elimination in his court case, Johari sees the House as the only way out. If he is able to find his way out of the House he expects that his criminal record will be cleared. Society believes that only the very best people are able to survive and in this way it rids the world of evil:

‘It purifies,’ ‘It perfects,’ ‘It protects,’ ‘It eliminates war, disease, and poverty.’

There were elements of the book which reminded me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or the horror movies where one by one the main characters are callously picked off. It was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to readers who enjoy YA thrillers or dystopian mysteries.

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Book description

What Do You Do If You’re Trapped In A Nightmare …

New Earth’s Supreme Council dooms Johari Hightower to Elimination. Never mind that he’s innocent. His only hope is the House, a rite shrouded in mystery. No one says what happens inside. And those who don’t make it out are never seen again.

But what do you do if the girl you love is inside?
What do you do if she’s cozy with the guy who set you up?
What do you do if you’re running for your life?

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🃏’I loved the uniqueness of the playing card theme’. @SueBavey reviews #YA #Fantasy Bloody Spade by @BMWillows for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows.

Book cover for young adult fantasy Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows, set against a free photo of a woman throwing playing cards from Pixabay.
Bloody Spade by Brittany M Willows

Bloody Spade is Book 1 in the Cardplay Duology, and is a YA urban fantasy. I enjoyed this book immensely! I was initially drawn to the cover of this book, since purple is my favourite colour and I love to play card games. The figure with the cat ears was also intriguing!

The premise of the novel is that seven years ago real, powerful, dangerous magic returned to a world whose inhabitants were used to thinking of magic as cheap tricks and sleight of hand, entertainment for the masses. The new magic which reentered their world was far from tricks, however. Magic users have a varied range of abilities. Some can harness the wind, others can control light, or fire.

I loved the uniqueness of the playing card theme that ran through this novel with Cardplay being the good guys, taking on Blackjack, the shady underground organization, and with each Suit having a Keeper.

I found the world-building in Bloody Spade mostly solid, although in some places there was a little too much information given all at once, which made it hard for me to remember details, and the different levels of the realms were somewhat confusing – I am still not completely clear on the connection between the Void, the Domain, the Dreamscape and the human world and how they relate to one another.

Bloody Spade is a unique take on the age-old good versus evil theme. A fast paced novel with plenty of action, believable characters and relationships, a little romance, teenage angst, fear of rejection, of being different and fear of lack of acceptance by peers. I would recommend it to anyone who loves superhero type stories, or fans of fiction similar to that of Cassandra Clare’s novels or Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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Book description

The era of magic was once thought to be a myth, but after the Reemergence ushered forces both dark and light into the mundane world, it has since become a harsh reality. Now those affected by this strange power—a specialized group of Empowered called Jokers, known collectively as Cardplay—must protect their world from the darkness that threatens to consume it, all the while fighting for equality in a society clinging to normalcy.

But the Reemergence was only the beginning.

When another influx occurs on the seventh anniversary of that fateful event, an unfortunate encounter at ground zero lands Iori Ryone, a teenage boy in possession of a corrupt and legendary magic, in the care of recent Joker graduate Ellen Amelia Jane. From him, she learns the Reemergence may not have been the inevitable natural disaster it first seemed. Someone is trying to tear down the barrier that separates the magical realms from the mundane. The question is, can Cardplay stop them before it’s too late?

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🐶Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert, is reviewed by @SueBavey for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue.

She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sue has been reading Adventure Caravanning with Dogs: It Never Rains But it Paws by Jacqueline Lambert.

Book cover for Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert, set against a photo of a dog sat on the beach from a free photo from Pizabay.
Adventure Caravanning With Dogs by Jacqueline Lambert

Jackie’s writing is extremely witty and clever. She makes you feel like you are travelling alongside her and Mark and their four adorable dogs, due to her chatty and engaging nature. This comes across well in her “Adventure Caravanning with Dogs” series. In the case of “It Never Rains but it Paws”, the story takes place against the backdrop of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the fourth book in the series, but each one can be read as a standalone. The shortish chapters keep the story flowing as the couple and their four dogs travel around Europe. Jackie and Mark  are up against a deadline to set off before Brexit happens, in order to escape the bureaucracy caused by travelling with four dogs and a caravan around Europe. They aim to travel through France and spend the ski season in Italy. Delays due to family illness cause them to panic as their deadline looms nearer,, but eventually they are off on their way! Jackie includes plenty of historical detail and background information about the places they visit  to make you want to go to the locations on their trip, although possibly not during a pandemic!! Their experiences of lockdown in Italy, up a mountain in a deserted ski village with scarcely any Italian between them were eye opening.

A highly entertaining adventure!

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Book description

Five years after giving up work to travel full time, Dog-ma Jacqueline (Jackie) and Dogfather Mark race against time to leave the UK before Britain exits the EU. If Brexit happens, their four Cavapoos (Cavalier/Poodle cross) Kai, Rosie, Ruby, and Lani will lose their puppy passports, and the Lambert Family will be unable to travel together. But Brexit isn’t their only obstacle. A few months into their adventure, the pandemic suddenly shatters their plans, and leaves them trapped in the epicentre of Europe’s No. 1 coronavirus hotspot.

The fourth road trip Europe adventure in author Jacqueline Lambert’s “inspirational and hilarious” series of true travel memoirs invites you to join the couple as they discover even more amazing and little-known places, this time in France and Italy. However, this isn’t just a priceless escape travel story filled with humorous mishaps and mountain adventure. The coronavirus pandemic separates the family from their loved ones at home, and leaves Jackie stranded alone during a blizzard in a remote Italian village, with Mark thousands of miles away, back in the UK.

Between terrible weather, political mayhem, and a global pandemic, Jackie and Mark try to take lessons from each hardship. Yet, even with a positive attitude, a sense of adventure, and a caravan full of loved ones, you can’t stop all the obstacles life rolls your way. These “amusing and informative” travel stories are certainly proof that It Never Rains… But It Paws! 

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🕵️‍♂️’The seamier side of London is brought to the fore here’🕵️‍♂️@SueBavey reviews supernatural #mystery Eat The Poor by @TomCW99

Today’s team review is from Sue.

Sue blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

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Rosie’s Book Review team

Sue has been reading Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Book cover for supernatural mystery, Eat The Poor by Tom Williams, set against a picture of a gargoyle, from a free photo from Pixabay.
Eat The Poor by Tom Williams

Eat the Poor is the second supernatural detective fantasy featuring the unlikely pairing of Chief Inspector John Galbraith and the vampire, Chief Inspector Pole, following on from Something Wicked which I read and reviewed last year. This time Pole and his mysterious police department “Section S” are on the trail of a creature that has been attacking deer in Richmond Park, dogs and more recently a human. Could the offender be a werewolf?

Once again I enjoyed the unlikely camaraderie of the two main protagonists, thrown together by the unusual nature of the local murder case. They are very different characters, Pole a 500 year old strait-laced vampire with refined tastes and Galbraith a down to Earth middle-aged detective whose waistline is spreading and hair is greying, beginning to consider his next steps within the police force. Seconded to Section S for the duration of this peculiar murder case, he soon finds himself dining with Pole at his abode most nights as they go over the particulars of the case and the body count begins to rise.

In addition to this fantasy series, the author is a writer of historical fiction and he often includes historical details in the story which make it richer and lend authenticity to the world in which the story is set. The seamier side of London is to the fore here, with murder victims coming from the ranks of the serial unemployed, their bodies being unceremoniously dumped in the garbage areas of the tower blocks of the seedier neighbourhoods in which they live.

We are told fairly early on who the perpetrator of the crimes is and are then able to watch the detectives follow clues until they figure it out for themselves and the pace speeds up until the final “edge of the seat” confrontation. What happens after this confrontation, I found to be quite surprising – it was not what I expected in terms of a conclusion to the case at all. This light-hearted police procedural and its surprising ending was a breath of fresh air and since it is a novella and therefore fairly short, it was quick to get into the action of the story and to grip my attention. I particularly liked how odious the Conservative MP Christopher Garold was. Anyone following British politics lately will not find the idea of a murderous werewolf that far-fetched when it comes to the dirty little secrets of those in power:

“…though the staff were good at turning a blind eye to peculiar behaviour from MPs, the sight of a wolf strolling through the corridors of power would, he thought, be too much for them to ignore.”

Anyone who likes a detective story with a little supernatural edge should give this book a try!

Book #1 Something Wicked was previously reviewed on Goodreads by Sue.

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Book description

A werewolf is on the loose in London.

Chief Inspector Pole, the vampire from the mysterious Section S, teams up once again with his human counterpart to hunt down the beast before the people of the city realise that they are threatened by creatures they have dismissed as myths.

Time is short as the werewolf kills ever more recklessly. Can Galbraith and Pole stop it before panic spreads through London?

Galbraith and Pole start their search in Pole’s extensive library of the arcane, accompanied by a couple of glasses of his excellent malt whisky. All too soon, though, they will have to take to the streets to hunt the monster by the light of the moon.

But the threat is even greater than they think, for in its human form the werewolf is terrifyingly close to the heart of government.

This is Tom Williams’ second tongue-in-cheek take on traditional creatures of darkness. Like the first Galbraith & Pole book, Something Wicked, this will appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London.

You never know when the forces of darkness may be released and there will be no time for reading then. Buy Eat the Poor before it’s too late.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

‘A highly enjoyable spy story’ @SueBavey reviews #Histfic Burke and the Pimpernel Affair by @TomCW99, For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Burke and the Pimpernel Affair by Tom Williams

Burke and the Pimpernel Affair is book six in a series of adventures involving Major James Burke, an actual person who existed according to the author. This is the first of these I have read, and worked very well as a standalone. It is a story of post war politics and intrigue, with Burke sent to France by his superior, Colonel Gordon, to act as a British spy in the Paris environs, seeking the weakness in a chain of safe houses run by the Alien Office, from where a number of British agents have been disappearing.

As the author details in his Historical Note at the end of the book most of the historical detail of this book is accurate and a lot of research was involved. This makes for a believable and richly detailed tale of a spy much in the same vein as James Bond, if James Bond were alive in the Napoleonic Era. The hero, James Burke, even has the same initials and irresistible roguish, yet gentlemanly way with the women as Bond.

I really enjoyed the camaraderie between Major Burke and his partner Sgt. William Brown immensely. They saved each other’s lives without a second thought however dangerous the rescue attempts they had to mount.

Their adversary, Fouché, the chief of the Parisian police force, was supposedly impossible to deceive, having eyes and ears everywhere, and yet with luck mostly on their side, Burke and Brown managed to pull the wool over those eyes repeatedly.

There were some humorous escapades which I found very welcome and a touch of romance between Burke and one of Empress Josephine’s attendants, Amelie.

To sum up this was a highly enjoyable spy story with believable detail and vivid descriptions of the world of Paris under the Emperor Napoleon, which allowed the reader to imagine the setting easily. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction – particularly involving a loveable roguish spy with luck on his side.

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1809: when a mission running agents into Napoleon’s France goes horribly wrong, it’s up to Burke to save the day. With the French secret police on his trail, can he stay alive long enough to free British spies from imprisonment in the centre of Paris? And how does the Empress Josephine fit into his plans?

Burke’s most daring adventure yet sees him and his loyal companion William Brown using all their cunning and courage to survive as they move from the brilliance of Napoleon’s court and Society parties to the darker Paris of brothels and gambling dens.

A thrilling story set against a convincing historical background.

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‘The hilarity flows so well’. @SueBavey reviews #comedy #shortystory collection Why Odin Drinks by @bjornlarssen #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Why Odin Drinks by Bjørn Larssen

Why Odin Drinks is a collection of four comedic fantasy retellings of the Norse myths. The stories are peppered with familiar names from the Norse myths and stories which have been told many times in Norse fantasy, but never before with such snarky and irreverent humour. Larssen’s take on the myths is truly original and well worth reading.

In the first story, Creation, which was previously published as a standalone, we see Odin and his lesser known brothers Vili and Ve on a creation spree with wide eyed abandon.

Odin philosophizes about what makes a thing alive and whether it is OK to eat such things. Vili continues making pretty things and Ve makes things that cause pain and destruction.

When humans are added to the mix the author includes some social commentary.

Chaos ensues until a tragedy occurs and gives the gods pause. Then Odin turns introspective while considering that actions have consequences – even those of the gods…

Creation’s tongue in cheek humour is refreshing and makes for many laugh out loud moments.

The second story is Loki Runes Everything, in which Odin is continuing to haphazardly create things without any kind of order or planning – until he comes to the conclusion that he needs both a plan and someone to organise him – he needs a wife!  I’m sure many people will be able to relate to this feeling. And wouldn’t it be perfect if his wife could see the future and help decide which order to create things in? Enter Frigg. Now everything will be perfect, right?  It isn’t long before the reality of living with said wife and trying to satisfy her every whim kicks in.

Frigg sees everything in the future all at once which is highly overwhelming – particularly since she doesn’t have any coffee, pillows, Manolos or concealer yet!! What has Odin been playing at?!

In this story Larssen includes the myth where Odin hangs from the World Tree, Yggdrasil with a spear in his side in order to procure the power of runes, Loki having trussed him up and stuck the spear in him as per Odin’s request. Up to this point, his main advisor has been Madam A (Angrboda from the myths), whose propensity for bondage has given him ideas suggesting being hanged from a tree might be enjoyable at some level.

When Odin meets the three Norns, they have an interesting lesson in verb tenses for Odin, which must have been extremely difficult to write and/or edit, with each sister speaking in their own tense the whole time, with Odin getting more and more confused:

““So I am sitting here with time?” Odin asked, paying less attention to Skuld’s words than he will think he should. Had. Would have will.”

Story 3 is Fashionteller and features Frigg as a future-telling fashion victim goddess. I enjoyed Frigg’s description of her visions as “future burps” and her unhealthy obsession with a future tv show called Blabbing with Bjarnisdóttirs. There are so many things she has seen and wants to own now, but her voracious appetite will not be slaked if she cannot describe the things properly to Odin, their creator.

When Freya and Freyr show up from Vanaheim, Freya’s condescension towards frumpy Frigg reminded me of Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek.

Frigg’s constant disappearing into visions of the future are annoying Skuld since the things Frigg sees will now have to happen and that complicates the Norns’ tapestry of Time.

I really enjoyed Frigg’s characterisation. No wonder she is cranky when she can’t yet have all of the lovely future things she sees and is constantly being mansplained to by people who don’t know anywhere near as much as she does and can’t take their eyes off her chest.

Larssen has an engaging way of addressing the reader without actually doing so directly:

“The list kept expanding anyway in a slightly deluded way, not unlike what would be called TBR piles in the future. Unfortunately, similar to all owners of TBR piles, Frigg didn’t know which of her expectations were unrealistic.”

The final story is The Well of Wise-Dom which has a number of insightful and somewhat prophetic comments to make about war. Sir Daddy Mímir is the leather-clad Wise-Dom who tries to stop Odin from seeking all knowledge by drinking from his well. But Odin being Odin is stubborn  and determined to do whatever he wants. He gains insight into how to win wars – by having the best, strongest and hardest warriors:

“The only way to stop a great army is to have an even greater army.”

“…What I’m saying is that there is no such thing as inevitable when you have control.” Bjørn Larssen is a very talented comedic writer. His timing is perfect and the hilarity flows so well that you can read each of these novellas in one sitting. However, there is always an intelligent social commentary to be found not too far beneath the surface satire of his stories. If you are a fan of absurd humour with a point of view, you will love this book as much as I did!

5 stars.

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Ever woken up being a God, but not knowing how to God properly?

Poor Odin must restrain his brothers, who create offensive weapons such as mosquitoes and celery; placate his future-telling wife, Frigg, who demands sweatpants with pockets; listen to Loki’s Helpful Questions; hang himself from Yggdrasil for nine days with a spear through his side (as you do); teach everyone about nutritional values of kale (but NOT celery); meet a Wise Dom, Sir Daddy Mímir, in order to outwit those who outwit him; and, most importantly, prove he is The All-Father, while his brothers are, at best, Those-Uncles-We-Don’t-Talk-About.

This nearly (except in Vanaheim) universally acclaimed retelling of the Gods’ first millennium answers way too many questions, including ones on Freyr’s entendre, horse designing… and why Odin drinks. 

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‘For fans of Dungeons and Dragons style adventures and comedic #fantasy’ @SueBavey reviews Waxing Lyrical by @AdamJacobBurge1

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Waxing Lyrical by Adam Jacob Burgess

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Firstly I should state that Waxing Lyrical is a sequel and having not read the first book in the series I was a little at a loss as to the background relationships among some of the characters. However, this did not hamper my enjoyment of this irreverent tale of a determined lute-playing gnome called Sawsse. Sassy Sawsse is set on becoming the best musician in the world by winning an esteemed competition. Her quest to find a lyrics teacher called Órga Dán to help her on her path forms the main drive for her story arc. Her lyrics really do leave something to be desired at the beginning of the story!! Sawsse is a member of a guild called Actum Tempus and some of her fellow guild members, shape-shifting Ruby and Rangrim the dwarf accompany her on her quest, which eventually takes them to Athrú, home to the Valley of the Roaming Winds. Two other guild members, Larn and Corinne, have been sent to Athrú to investigate a magical scroll which has turned all of its readers into babies.

Meanwhile also in Athrú, a twelve-year-old girl called Agnes has been chosen by ‘The Magic’ to be the latest member of ‘The Twelve’ a gathering of the twelve most powerful mages, and finds herself with uncontrollable magical powers and no one to advise her on how to use them. She is also suffering from disturbing night terrors. These story arcs converge and Sawsse is left looking after Agnes while trying to meet her own deadline with Órga Dán.

The scene-setting in this short novel is imaginative and leads to an easily visualized world populated by gnomes, dwarves, goblins, ogres, trolls, imps and many other fantastical races, including a living mountain called Greg, a waistcoat-wearing stork and a bunch of necromancers:

“Thick snowflakes fell faintly there during winter, softly kissed the earth, and then remained untroubled for weeks. In other words, naff all ever happened on these serene lowlands. There wasn’t very much that could happen, because there wasn’t very much there. There were several farms, but the soil wasn’t rich enough to produce any decent crops, like cheesecorn, rhubarbham, and courgettes. Instead, the plains were blanketed with wildflowers like Silentus Witnessium, Broadus Churchus, and Morseus. Between the huge stretches of flowery fields ran long thin winding lanes. The road started in Pax, by the ruins of Zell, but when it reached the Tranquil Plains it split into myriad bridleways, pathways and laneways. It eventually did connect with the eastern side of Esh’areth, toward Dringle and the Bounce Lands, but it took a bum-achingly long time.”

Fans of British drama series will recognize the references in there and there were other similarly amusing references and puns peppered throughout the book. I particularly liked the name of Sawsse’s musical rival, the dwarf Vuvu Zela. There are also plenty of footnotes throughout the text which can break up the narrative but were more often hilarious. These footnotes are often snippets from the Gnomeopedia which is a little like the guide in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a manual for gnomes handily explaining everything and everywhere.

As well as puns and humorous references, the book relies on many tried and trusted fantasy tropes: found family; an unlikely hero; a quest – and the author uses them expertly to craft a highly enjoyable and at times laugh-out-loud adventure. There are plenty of unexpected twists along the way.

I would recommend this book for fans of Dungeons and Dragons style adventures and comedic fantasy – but I would recommend starting with book 1 in the Actum Tempus Saga: In The Grip Of Time in order to fully do it justice!

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The second exciting, hilarious, excitingly-hilarious instalment in The Actum Tempus Saga.

All Sawwse wants is to find master lyricist Órga Dán, learn everything there is to know about lyrics and win Esh’areth’s premier talent competition. Instead, she finds herself face-to-face with terrifying sea monsters, lonely necromancers, war-forging Little Kings, and even a pernickety dragon…

Still, this is all par for the course when babysitting the most powerful wizard in the world.

Especially when she happens to be twelve years old.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Recommended to fans of #YA #steampunk stories and lovable rogues’. @SueBavey reviews Rise of the Sky Pirate (The Adventures of Captain Keenan Book 1) by @SWRaine1

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading Rise of the Sky Pirate by S.W. Raine

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Rise of the Sky Pirate is a prequel to The Techno Mage novel by this author. It tells the story of Benedict Keenan and takes place in an alternative contemporary steampunk world where airships with rigid balloons are powered by alchemical infusions, and where there are steam powered carriages on the ground. The worldbuilding in this novel is intriguing. There is now an Upper London and a Lower London with the more affluent people living in Upper London having decided to separate themselves from the commoners down below. This is the case all over the world, not just in London and the different levels are known as The Lands Below and the Upper Lands. Benedict, an orphan is from Lower London:

“the upper class separated worldwide by detaching entire cities from the ground via alchemical infusions, nobles and alchemists were no longer commonly seen wandering among the tech users in the filth and grime of the Lands Below.”

When we meet Benedict Keenan, he has just escaped jail. He refers to his origins as making him:

”a dirty tech user of an orphan.”

His goal is to be seen as a nobleman and to move to the Upper Lands, hopefully sooner rather than later. He joins the crew of an airship on a rogue mission and quickly becomes an important crew member due to his many and varied skills.

Benedict is a lovable rogue, a slippery eel who can’t seem to be contained by the law authorities. He has escaped jail at the beginning of the story, and later we see him talk himself out of being incarcerated once again. He saves the life of Matthias, a concerned surgeon with a formal turn of phrase, whose only goal is to help people – yet he turns in Ben to the authorities in a moment of spite. The two eventually learn to trust one another and become friends.

Another close friend of Benedict’s is Kitch, a tart with a heart.  She has been his friend from their shared orphanage days and looks after his clothes and other possessions for him when he’s in jail. She clearly cares deeply for him and they have become each other’s found family. I would have liked to see her play a larger role within the story, rather than being left behind in London.

Lady Catherine was Benedict’s beloved, but she died in a horrible incident caused by Captain Thomas Davies of the Gilded Cannon Rovers, a renowned sky pirate who has now become a frightening cyborg, with a red cybernetic eye and machinery for arms and hands:

“built like a brick house”. 

Benedict still loves and misses Kate and vows to exact revenge on the cyborg pirate.

There are multiple locations in this story, which add interest, and there is plenty of fast-paced action between swashbuckling sky pirates and a plot to steal a mind altering alchemical infusion from a lab within a military building. There is also plenty of peril, torture, violence and mention of rape – but not done in a gratuitous way and not in any great detail, either.

I would recommend this novel to fans of YA steampunk stories and lovable rogues.

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Before becoming the infamous sky pirate from The Techno Mage, Benedict Keenan was a disorderly drunkard from London Below—and in this spin-off series, his story is finally being told.

Straying from his dream of living like the nobles in the Upper Lands for far too long, Benedict takes on an easy mercenary job with a band of rogues to quickly get back on his feet. But when a surgeon from the Upper Lands—the sole survivor of a sky pirate attack—is found in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Benedict is suddenly thrust into a dangerous high-stakes race against a poisonous alchemical infusion set to be released into the Great Lakes. What’s worse is that a man from Benedict’s past is at the center of it all. Can he foil the sky pirate’s plans and return to living his dream life, or will he find a new ambition?

For fans of Pirates of the Caribbean, Rise of the Sky Pirate is an action-packed steampunk adventure that reaches for the stars while saving the world along the way.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A wholesome ten-year-old hero’, is The MC of #Ya #Fantasy The Fellowship Of The Flame by @arsilverberry. Sue Reviews this tale for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading The Fellowship Of The Flame by A. R. Silverberry

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The Fellowship of the Flame is a short YA prequel novella set in the fantasy realm of Purpura, the same setting as Silverberry’s award winning novel “Wyndano’s Cloak”.

Despite its short length it is engaging, exciting and has a main character, Cap who is a wholesome ten-year-old hero who is full of heart. Brave and kind, we meet him stealing breakfast from the evil usurper Queen in order to feed his gang, and the hungry children of the slave village, ‘Desperation’.

During this escapade, the Queen ends up with whipped cream on her face, much to the delight of Cap’s gang when he tells them about it. The resistance to the queen’s rule is known as the ‘Fellowship of the Flame’, and Cap longs to become a member but alas, they do not accept children.  He thinks his stunt with the queen’s breakfast may change their leader’s mind however and hopes to find the location of the Fellowship’s next meeting:

““On her face?” Rabbit asked. “Dripping off her nose,” Cap replied. They stared at him as if he were a god. “That oughta cinch us a place in the resistance,” he said, when he’d finished his tale.”

A younger version of Robin Hood perhaps? He is certainly full of empathy and compassion. Cap’s Gang of four comprises himself as leader,  Falcon, Rabbit and Sparrow. I especially liked Rabbit’s endearing pronunciation of potato as ‘tapato’. The gang brought to mind the Lost Boys from Peter Pan, with their brave and fearless daredevil leader.

The Queen is understandably none too happy about her breakfast being stolen and the fact she ended up with whipped cream on her face so she recruits a relentless tracker, Caggrill, to hunt down Cap and bring him to her:

“Caggril the Great, Caggril the Tracker, Caggril the Man Hunter, who mopped up four battalions with a handful of soldiers.”

From this point the pace of the novella picks up and an exciting chase takes place through varying types of countryside:

“Maybe he could lose Caggril in the brush. The man was stronger, his legs longer, but the low shrubs would slow him down, and the silky darkness would obscure signs of Cap’s flight. He took a random course through thickets, zigzagging, circling, scurrying left and right, gradually climbing higher. Let him puzzle that out!”

The world-building in this story is excellent, with locations ranging from a medieval style town, the Shady Bone tavern, a castle, forested land and a dangerous swamp. I loved Silverberry’s descriptive turn of phrase:

“The biggest danger in the swamp were the insects—mosquitoes, poisonous spiders, and especially devil babies. An old gypsy told him that when a group of them sang, like rattling bones, it was an omen of someone’s death.”

Makken is the brave and fearless leader of the Fellowship and Tich is his second in command whose name means “friend” in the common tongue. Tich is sent to accompany Cap while they try and figure out if he is genuine or a spy. We see Cap struggle with a moral dilemma regarding his tracker and make the right decision, albeit one that is not so great for his own chances of survival.

The Fellowship of The Flame is definitely worth spending a couple of hours with – I thoroughly enjoyed it and went straight to the author’s website to see what else was available.  I am hoping my thirteen year old will read and enjoy it as much as I did.

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A deadly hunter …
A boy with an ill-fated dream …
Only one can survive.

Caggril, ruthless mercenary and tracker, needs enough gold to release himself from the Purpuran army. Only then can he leave war behind and seek the near mythical land of Aerdem, by all reports a paradise.

Cap, a ten-year-old street urchin, knows it’s mad to attack the brutal queen of Purpura. But he’s hell-bent on realizing his dream. To join the Purpuran resistance, the Fellowship of the Flame.

Bent on revenge, the queen promises to free Caggril from his bond if he brings the boy back. But Cap has other problems. He learns that the queen is setting a trap for the resistance. With a wolf on his tracks and time running out, he has to warn the Fellowship. Or good people will die.

From the boundless imagination of A. R. Silverberry comes the first book in a breathtaking new fantasy series, The Chronicles of Purpura, tales of the brave deeds leading up to his award-winning novel, Wyndano’s Cloak.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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A Cosy Detective Story. @SueBavey Reviews How The Wall Crumbles by Elaine Spaan (@dehaggerty).

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Sue has been reading How The Wall Crumbles by Elaine Spaan

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How the Wall Crumbles is book 6 in the Knitting Detectives series, but works as a standalone. Set in Oklahoma, this cozy mystery is told from the perspective of Izzy, an honorary member of the ‘grandmas’ knitting and detective group since her grandma passed away.

The Knitting Detectives are five elderly ladies: Betty, Rosemary, Ally, Martha and Rose. We meet the ladies at a Halloween parade all dressed as Sherlock Holmes making the most of their reputations for solving crime in the town. As well as Izzy, her friends Jack and Dee are also members of the group who are dead set on solving a murder when Izzy’s police officer husband Noel receives a call during the parade to say a dead body has been found on a construction site..

The detectives come across as gossipy busybodies who mean well. They are mostly caricatures, Betty is deaf and correspondingly loud. She is also bossy and thinks she’s in charge. Ally is the quiet one, Martha is a matchmaker, Rose is church-obsessed, Rosemary is Dee’s actual grandmother and determined to become a great grandmother and Jack is an eye rolling, camp drama queen of a gay best friend. This use of well-known stereotypes for characters is hardly surprising since this is a very short book with not enough pages for in-depth characterisation.

Connor Foster, a worker on the construction site Izzy manages was killed by a wall collapsing. Izzy feels responsible, but if they can prove it was murder it won’t be Izzy’s fault.

The elderly ladies are endearing and irritating in equal measure – sticking their noses into Dee’s love life and family planning, barging in on Izzy’s meeting with Emma, the owner of the land on which the construction site is situated and offering unwanted advice and theories all over the place.

After reading the blurb for this book I had expected more of a Halloween theme, which was one of the reasons I chose to read it at this time of the year, but apart from the fact that it opens on the day of the Halloween parade with Izzy trying to squeeze into a Cinderella costume, there is nothing else ‘Halloween” about it. However this did not matter as I found this book entertaining and in places hilarious. I think it would be enjoyed by most fans of detective novels, knitting and tongue-in-cheek humour.

4 stars

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The last place I expect to find myself on Halloween – in a Cinderella costume no less – is the scene of a crime.

A wall at a construction site fell and accidentally killed one of the workers. Naturally, the gray-haired knitters are convinced the wall didn’t fall all on its lonesome. No, they claim, murder is afoot! They’re just looking for an excuse to start another murder investigation.

When the police discover the wall didn’t crumble like a cookie, the knitters are determined to discover who used the wall to cover up a murder. It doesn’t matter that absolutely no one – including the police – has a clue why the victim was murdered.

The gray-haired knitters haven’t failed to solve a mystery yet. And they’re not going to now either.

Can the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives find the killer when they’re plum out of suspects?

Each book in the Gray-Haired Knitting Detectives series can be read as a standalone, although they’re way more fun if read in order.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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