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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by TJ Klune (@tjklune) A fable/fairy tale for adults full of whimsy and quirky characters with a hopeful message #LGBT #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you a review with an addendum because… Well, you will see why.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

A NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY, and WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER!
A 2021 Alex Award winner!
The 2021 RUSA Reading List: Fantasy Winner!
An Indie Next Pick!
One of Publishers Weekly’s “Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2020”
One of Book Riot’s “20 Must-Read Feel-Good Fantasies”

Lambda Literary Award-winning author TJ Klune’s bestselling, breakout contemporary fantasy that’s “1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in.” (Gail Carriger)

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.

Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

“1984 meets The Umbrella Academy with a pinch of Douglas Adams thrown in.” —Gail Carriger, New York Times bestselling author of Soulless

https://www.amazon.com/House-Cerulean-Sea-TJ-Klune-ebook/dp/B07QPHT8CB/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Cerulean-Sea-TikTok-made-ebook/dp/B095Z4YRLP/

https://www.amazon.es/House-Cerulean-Sea-English-ebook/dp/B07QPHT8CB/

Author TJ Klune

About the author:

TJ KLUNE is a Lambda Literary Award-winning author (Into This River I Drown) and an ex-claims examiner for an insurance company. His novels include the Green Creek series, The House on the Cerulean Sea and The Extraordinaries. Being queer himself, TJ believes it’s important—now more than ever—to have accurate, positive, queer representation in stories.

https://tjklunebooks.com

https://www.amazon.com/TJ-Klune/e/B005LDJ9Z8/

My review:

This is the first book I have read by TJ Klune, and I didn’t know much about him or his books before. This story feels like an adult fairy tale, although I think it would be suitable for teens and YA as well. I also think it can fit into the category of an adult coming-of-age story, as the protagonist, Linus Baker, finds himself and learns to be his own person throughout the story, which covers just a few weeks of his life.

Linus Baker, the main character, is a grey man who lives in a grey world and has a grey job. The reviews mention 1984 and the similarities with the protagonist of George Orwell’s story are evident (minus the political angle. This book feels much more YA than that), and it also reminded me of the protagonist of Brazil, working at his little desk, and swallowed up by a strange world whose rules he tries to live by. Linus has no close friends, he doesn’t get on with his peers or his superiors at work either, and he only seems to care about his cat (it doesn’t appear to be mutual), his music (he loves to listen to records), his sunflowers (a splash of colour in his otherwise grey life), and his job. He lives by the book of Rules and Regulations of his organization and reads it as if it were the Bible. Suddenly, he is sent on a special mission, an extremely secret one, and he discovers an orphanage on an island very close to his dreams of a tropical paradise. The sea is blue (well, cerulean), the skies are sunny, and everything would be wonderful, almost like a vacation, if it weren’t for the peculiarities of the magical children who live at that orphanage. Well, and of the master of the orphanage and…

The novel looks at prejudice, persecution, harassment, intolerance, fear of the other, and the way society tends to lock away those who make it feel uncomfortable or don’t easily fit in. We are all familiar with such issues, that thankfully, have been changing in recent times, but not everywhere, and there’s still plenty of room for improvement. The novel is also full of hope; it explores the idea of found and chosen families; of finding a place you really belong to, and of how we can all help change things, one step at a time. There is also love (a couple of sweet ‘queer romances’, as they are described by the author) although it doesn’t become the dominant element of the novel, and the main romance is one of those “will-they/won’t they” situations where everybody else sees what is going on before the protagonists do.

The six children living at the orphanage are magical in totally different ways: some can do things, some are just… well, nobody knows exactly what kind of being they are, others have powers that can turn them dangerous, and all of them have been abused and marginalised because they don’t fit in. In a society that encourages compliance, surveillance, and uniformity, they are too visibly different. And that causes fear in the population, and it is encouraged by the powers that be.

Linus is reluctant and suspicious at first, but it seems that his superiors misjudged him. He is not just a bureaucrat without a heart who follows blindly the rules and remains detached and professional at whatever cost. He is genuinely devoted to the spirit of the job and cares about the children’s welfare, and that means he learns to see them for who they really are.

I loved the characters, especially the children, and Arthur and Zoe, the adults on the island, as well (later we meet some of the inhabitants of the town who are also formidable, Helen, the mayor, most of all); the way the story is told, like a fairytale; Linus’s transformation (which never becomes overdramatic or unbelievable); and the wit, humour, and quirkiness of it all. Some of the descriptions are as magical as the story, and by the end of the novel, I wanted to visit the island and meet the children and the rest of the characters as well. There are some reveals too, as things are not as they seem in more ways than one, but I wasn’t surprised by what we discover, and I think many readers will have guessed, or at least suspected, what we find out. But that didn’t spoil the enjoyment for me, and I hope that will be the case for most readers.

If I had to mention something I liked a little less, it would probably be the fact that “the message” of the novel is made quite evident and repeated in different ways, and readers who prefer subtlety and are fond of a less-is-more approach might feel it is heavy-handed. This fable makes its point clearly and somewhat forcefully, but it does have its heart in the right place, and the style of the story does fit into the genre, as does the fact that the story is not set in a specific time or real location (there are some vague references, mostly to do with music, but that is all). Some readers also felt that there are too many negative comments about the weight of the protagonist, but as we see the story from his point of view (although it is narrated in the third person), this seems to be another element of his lack of insight into who he really is, and further evidence of how much he has internalised society’s standards and opinions.

I have mentioned that the children have suffered abuse in the past, and they aren’t the only ones in the novel to be victims of prejudice. This is not described in too much detail, and it is mostly left to readers’ imaginations, but I would advise caution to those who feel they might be upset by such topics. You might also want to read my addendum to the review, as that might affect your feelings towards reading it.

The ending is as happy as it should be, and there is a final surprise thrown in (well, a couple) that will delight readers.

 Readers who are fond of fantasy, fairy tales, fables, and particularly enjoy adult coming-of-age stories and those who like quirky characters and Young Adult books should check this novel. It does have a positive message, and it wraps it up into a whimsical story full of heart. Highly recommended.

Just a few quotes as a taster:

These children aren’t animals. You aren’t on a safari with binoculars, watching them from a distance. How are you supposed to evaluate the children if you don’t even take the time to know them?’

‘We all have our issues. I have a spare tire around my middle. His father is Satan. Nothing that can’t be worked out if we try hard enough.’

‘Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as you remember you’re not alone, you will overcome. ‘

‘Why can’t life work whatever way we want it to? What’s the point of living if you only do it how others want you to?’

 Addendum:

When I was checking the reviews of this novel, having almost finished it, I found out that there was a fair bit of controversy going on about it. Many reviewers that had given it good (or at least fair) reviews at first, went back to change their reviews and give it only 1 start (You can check the novel’s entry in Goodreads if you want to read about it in more detail).

It seems it all stems from this interview:

https://www.jeffandwill.com/biggayfictionpodcast/2020/03/16/episode-232-tj-klune-on-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea-extraordinaries-and-greek-creek/

In the interview the author refers to this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop

Here another article about it, this time from the Indigenous Foundations:

Sixties Scoop

There’s plenty of information about the Sixties Scoop available, but it seems that a lot of the people who read the novel had never heard of it. I hadn’t either, although, unfortunately, such things have happened before (and we can but hope they won’t happen again, but perhaps they are already happening) in other places, and other things that share similarities with it have happened, even though the circumstances were different. (In my country, many children from Republican and/or communist families were removed from them and “given” in unofficial adoptions to people loyal to Franco’s regime in the years after the Civil War and up to the 1970s. The case of the Australian aborigines is well-known, and I have reviewed books talking about similar subjects before).

Some readers felt the author was exploiting the story and the children and the communities involved.

If we take into account that nobody would have known about it if the author hadn’t freely mentioned it on one occasion (I read some other interviews, and it never came up); it doesn’t appear as if he was trying to use the historical events and people’s interest in it to sell his story, but I know these days it is difficult to know what might or might not cause outrage. I am sure many writers have read some horrific stories or news items that have sent them down a pathway that has resulted in a book that is very far from the original event, because authors are influenced by many things, and inspiration can take bizarre forms sometimes.

In any case, you don’t need to worry about the book upsetting you because of mentioning the real events or being very close to the facts. That is not the case, although that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have an emotional impact, because it does. But you can always read the reviews, the comments, and counter-comments and make your own minds up.

Thanks to the author for this book, thanks to all of you for reading, commenting, sharing, and liking, and remember to keep smiling and keep making the best of things. ♥

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DEAD OF WINTER: JOURNEY 14, THE VEIL by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene). All is well that ends well. A fitting ending to a totally immersive journey

Hi all:

I promised recently that I’d bring you the review of the last journey in Dead of Winter pretty soon, and here it is. What an ending!

Dead of Winter: Journey 14, The Veil by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 14, The Veil by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

From the very beginning, a prophecy from a creepy voice threaded throughout this story. “Winter is coming!” it warned. As the Journeys progressed, we became aware of additional related prophesies like one of the “lost white brother” and “the frozen sands.” Both of those are touched on in this concluding novella.

Other threads from the previous thirteen Journeys also come together in this volume, which concludes Dead of Winter.

As many readers said they don’t want these Journeys to end, in the final chapter, I added hints about potential future adventures for many of the characters. These are food for the imagination of readers, so that the story can continue in the mind.

This has been as much of a “journey” for me as it was for Emlyn. I’ve seen truths about myself along the way. Perhaps the same applies to you.

“Who can say? What is true for us? That with which we are born? Or that which is the manifestation of our heart and soul? I like who and what I am, as well as the way I see the world I see around me, when I am a dragon.”

Thank you for being an important part of the Journeys of Dead of Winter.
Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Universal Purchase Links for Dead of Winter: Journey 14, The Veil

Journey 14, The Veil

Kindle:  relinks.me/B0B41FF3FX

Paperback:  relinks.me/B0B3RVHG1S

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

My review:

It is with some mixed feelings that I write this review. Not about this journey or Dead of Winter, of course. No need to worry. The ending is everything I could have hoped for, and even more. But, after a year and a half of following Emlyn (and the rest of the characters) in their adventures, it feels very strange to get to the end. No matter how well it all works and how fitting the ending is, knowing that I don’t have more journeys to look forward to makes me a bit sad. At a time when reality proved dire and challenging, Dead of Winter gave us something to look forward to: excitement, adventures, magic, friendship, legends, wisdom, risk, evil, courage, and faraway worlds that sometimes felt very close. So, yes, I’ll miss all that.

Thankfully, the author not only offers us a very satisfying closure (I won’t go into any details, don’t worry), but she also hints at things to come. As she explains in the description, these hints will help us all continue the adventures of our favourite characters in our imaginations, and we won’t be left so bereft.

As I don’t want to talk about the plot, or about the future that awaits the characters either, I will mention some of the things that I most enjoyed about this final journey.

Emlyn is the protagonist, as she should be, but despite her misgivings, she is not alone. It is great to see her be both, bold and timid, fearful and fearless, determined and full of self-doubt. Despite how far she has come, Emlyn is only twelve years old, and although she is not exactly the typical moody and unruly teenager, she still wants to do things her own way and act like a grown-up, while at the same time feeling that she is not good enough to do what is expected of her. But she is so generous that she forgets all her doubts when one of her friends is in danger, and… Well, I won’t share any specifics, but you probably know what I mean.

I enjoyed the fact that many of the characters we have met throughout these journeys make an appearance, and some of the questions that we’ve been thinking about and also a few matters pending are revisited and solved. We get to see more of the goddesses and their particular sense of justice and morality, and I chuckled at some of the tricks they play on each other (and smiled at some of the synergies and connections between goddesses and humans).

There are action scenes aplenty, there are wonderful settings, and marvellous events, there are surprising discoveries as well, and rather than an ending, this feels like the beginning of a much longer journey, for Emlyn, her friends, and allies.

If you have read the rest of the series, don’t delay and read this one. I understand your possible reluctance, but it will leave you with a happy smile on your face. And if you haven’t, remember to read it in the right order. If you are starting the journey now, I envy you a bit. But, it has been an unforgettable reading experience, and I’m sure the characters will remain with me. Congratulations to the author, and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future, in whichever genre she chooses.

 Here I leave you the link to the previous journeys, in case you’ve missed any.

DEAD OF WINTER — THE PREVIOUS JOURNEYS

Universal Purchase Links

Journey 13, The Harbor

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09TN3NDX1

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09TN1F58B

Journey 12, Goddesses

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09P5LJY13

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09NTTZ9J8

Journey 11, the Sumelazon Escarpment

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09M7Q19XT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09M4QWDYK

Journey 10, Pergesca

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09J6TH8TD

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09J7GFWYV

Journey 9, Doors of Attunement

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09F8Y5DML

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09F1BB9RW

Journey 8, The Lost Library

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09C6MPTYT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09C34XR7P

Journey 7, Revenant Pass

Kindle:  relinks.me/B098MS8P48

Paperback:  relinks.me/B098GV1G5V

Journey 6, The Fluting Fell

Kindle:  relinks.me/B096CPJNSX

Paperback: relinks.me/B096CPJNSX

Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09431TD6G

Paperback:  relinks.me/B0942KC471

Journey 4, The Old Road

Kindle:  relinks.me/B092G5LB7R

Paperback:  relinks.me/B092M51Y88

Journey 3, the Fever Field

Kindle: elinks.me/B08XTNZ9M8 

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08XXY3JXF

Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 3, the Fever Field eBook by Teagan Riordain Geneviene – 1230004609599 | Rakuten Kobo United States

Journey 2, Penllyn

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08VMNSF97

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08VLMR2KD

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dead-of-winter-journey-2-penllyn

Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08RBBVRGX

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08R7RH4F5

Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak eBook by Teagan Geneviene – 1230004446033 | Rakuten Kobo United States

I share the link to a recent interview with the author by Pat at e-Quips, because I found it fascinating, and I am sure you will as well.

https://equipsblog.wordpress.com/2022/06/18/author-interview-with-teagan-r-geneviene/

Thanks to the author for taking us on this journey, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, click, review, and always keep smiling. Big hugs!

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Dead of Winter: Journey 13, The Harbor by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Old friends, strong enemies, wonders, worries and only one journey left #fantasy

Hi, all:

I bring you the last but one Journey of Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene’s Dead of Winter. And the author has shared that she has finished the last journey, so I will bring you that one pretty soon, I am sure, as I can’t wait to know what happens!

Dead of Winter: Journey 13, The Harbor by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 13, The Harbor by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

A great battle begins. Action abounds as many threads are drawn together. Arawn has amassed overwhelming legions of the dead. Another unexpected but powerful foe comes into the battle. All of Emlyn’s companions and friends are in grave danger as they face insurmountable odds. Two goddesses could even the odds, but gods and goddesses are known to be unreliable. Will they help? Or will they do more harm than good?

Meanwhile the goal of the Society of Deae Matres is to re-create the Binding to again trap Arawn and any other nightwalkers in the Realm of the Dead. Yet, what about Boabhan and Lucetius? Boabhan is at least half nightwalker. Lucetius, her son, was conceived when Arawn violated her while attempting to turn her. Will they be trapped in a new Binding along with their worst enemy? This is revealed in Journey 13.

Come, be a part of the Journeys of Dead of Winter.

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09TN3NDX1

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09TN1F58B

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

My review:

I’ve been following this novel, which the author decided to publish using the serial format, from the first journey. And now that there is only one more instalment left, I can honestly say it has been quite the journey. The author decided to divide the book up into Journeys, transforming the original novel to make it more compatible with the serialisation, and adding extra materials and new scenes as she went along. Journey is the perfect word for each one of these gems, not only because the characters visit many locations in the fantastic universe created by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, but also because Emlyn, the main protagonist, undergoes quite a transformative experience, and an emotional journey that takes her from childhood to adulthood (almost), and transforms her from a shy, quiet, ignored and forgotten girl, into an independent, brave, and determined young woman, one with skills, powers, and abilities beyond anything she could have ever dreamed.

In this particular journey, there are quite a few surprises. We have interesting asides about Gods, Goddesses, (with their suspect morals and as many vices as they have virtues), and their behaviour towards human beings. Some of the most fascinating characters we have met throughout the previous journeys make an appearance here, bringing with them allies and forces to help fight the war, although that is not without its added complications. How will they all interact with each other, and how invested they will be in the future of the inhabitants of the world? Will their own hatreds and their wish for revenge blind them to what might be best for Emlyn and her friends? Can the past be repeated, and if it can, should it be, when the consequences might be devastating for some?

While the “adults” make plans, Emlyn has a chance to reflect and wonder what the consequences of those plans might be. Although she still has doubts about her own skills and the role she has to play, many of those fantastical beings who come to their aid see her differently from her travelling companions, trust her and shower her with compliments and accolades. They believe in her and know her fate is linked to that of her world.

Hesitant still, but emboldened by the confidence some very important players have placed on her and worried about the fate of one of her friends, she sets off on one more journey, aware of the risks, but determined to play a part and not be left behind.

The journey ends up on quite a cliffhanger, although at this stage of the story, doing otherwise would be almost impossible.

I enjoyed everything: being reacquainted with some of my favourite characters from previous journeys; learning more about the past and about how the goddesses, the Deae Matres, the dead kings, and the many wondrous creatures get on with each other, and what their relationships, alliances, and disagreements are like; seeing Emlyn having a few moments with some of her friends and thinking about the future; seeing her figure out things that others (older and more experienced) have missed, and getting an opportunity to observe the tactical moves of both parties and how the war evolves.

Another unmissable chapter, once again enhanced by the beautiful writing, the powers of description and observation of the author, and her inclusion of a cast of locations and characters at the end.

As always, I recommend it to anybody who enjoys coming of age stories, especially those with a taste for fantasy, whimsy, wonderful and highly imaginative writing, and characters and creatures you’re unlikely to forget.

To fully enjoy the experience, the journeys should be read in the right order, and to make that easy for everybody, I include the universal links to all the previous journeys as well.

Universal Purchase Links

Journey 12, Goddesses

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09P5LJY13

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09NTTZ9J8

Journey 11, the Sumelazon Escarpment

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09M7Q19XT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09M4QWDYK

Journey 10, Pergesca

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09J6TH8TD

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09J7GFWYV

Journey 9, Doors of Attunement

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09F8Y5DML

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09F1BB9RW

Journey 8, The Lost Library

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09C6MPTYT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09C34XR7P

Journey 7, Revenant Pass

Kindle:  relinks.me/B098MS8P48

Paperback:  relinks.me/B098GV1G5V

Journey 6, The Fluting Fell

Kindle:  relinks.me/B096CPJNSX

Paperback: relinks.me/B096CPJNSX

Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09431TD6G

Paperback:  relinks.me/B0942KC471

Journey 4, The Old Road

Kindle:  relinks.me/B092G5LB7R

Paperback:  relinks.me/B092M51Y88

Journey 3, the Fever Field

Kindle: elinks.me/B08XTNZ9M8 

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08XXY3JXF

Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 3, the Fever Field eBook by Teagan Riordain Geneviene – 1230004609599 | Rakuten Kobo United States

Journey 2, Penllyn

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08VMNSF97

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08VLMR2KD

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dead-of-winter-journey-2-penllyn

Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08RBBVRGX

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08R7RH4F5

Thanks to the author for this serial that has kept us on our toes, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and keep smiling and safe!

Categories
Book launch book promo

Extract from The Last Princess by Author Shelley Wilson @ShelleyWilson72 #NewRelease #TheLastPrincess #Vikings #BHCPress

Hi all:

I don’t usually blog on Wednesdays, but as wonderfully talented author Shelley Wilson was having a book launch tomorrow, I had to bring you her book and made sure it was available for you. So, here it comes.

The Last Princess by Shelley Winter

The Last Princess by Shelley Winter 

Edith still has much to learn about the art of ruling a kingdom, but when her family is murdered, she’s faced with the challenge of staying alive. 

As a young woman in Anglo-Saxon England, Edith finds it hard to be heard above the Eldermen who are ripping the kingdom to pieces, but nothing can prepare her for the arrival of the pirates and the Vikings. Torn from her homeland and sold into slavery, she’s determined to survive at any cost. 

Finding allies in the unexpected and enemies closer to home, Edith clings to her dream of returning home one day to reclaim her throne and to exact revenge on those who harmed her family.

Extract from The Last Princess

Northumbria, England.

AD 866

‘It’s too far for them to travel without us,’ my mother protested.

There weren’t many women who could admonish their king and get away with it, but Mother wasn’t your usual woman. She was strong and capable, an equal match to my father’s bravery and flair.

‘Nonsense. Kings have been sending their children on pilgrimages for years without issue.’

‘The girls aren’t on a pilgrimage though, are they, my love? They’re simply parading themselves for the good of our kingdom in the hope of snaring a suitable husband.’

Father dismissed her comment with a wave of his hand and snatched up his goblet of mead, draining the contents in one gigantic gulp. He threw his arm out and a servant jumped to attention, immediately filling the empty vessel.

‘We’ll be all right, Mother,’ I said in a bid to quiet the unrest etched into the queen’s brow. ‘We’ve got Edmund and lots of soldiers with us.’

A trusted friend of my father’s, Edmund was an elderman, and it landed on his shoulders to serve the king in any capacity. At the moment, it was my father’s wish to send his three daughters across Northumbria on a “husband-grabbing rampage”—Mother’s words. ‘I’d feel much happier if one of us were accompanying them, that’s all.’

My father rose from his elaborate throne and approached his wife, tucking a loose curl of her hair beneath her veil and kissing her gently on the forehead. My sisters always looked away when our parents were loving, but the exchange fascinated me. I hoped that our husband-grabbing rampage bore me a spouse as loyal, and handsome, as my father.

Although marriage at a young age wasn’t what I’d hoped for myself, I understood the commitment we, as heirs to the crown, needed to make to secure the future of our realm. At seventeen, I should have been wed long ago, but Father had grumbled over every suitor who stepped through the doors of Bamburgh fortress and into his court. It was at Mother’s insistence that we now embraced the task ahead. 

‘They’re good girls, strong-willed like their mother.’ Father chuckled and cupped Mother’s chin in his hand, raising her head so they were looking into each other’s eyes. ‘They have Edmund and my best guard, but I doubt they’ll need them. I saw Edith practising with a sword when she didn’t know I was watching.’

Father winked at me as Mother rolled her eyes in dismay.

‘When will you start to act like a lady, Edith?’

I shrugged and tried to look suitably mortified for my mother’s sake, but I was elated that my father, the king of Northumbria, thought my skills with a sword were enough to keep us safe on the road. My private lessons with Edmund were paying off.

‘Go. All of you, gather your things as you leave at first light.’

My sisters and I shot off in all directions, excited to get back to our chambers and start packing. As the eldest daughter, I could take the largest luggage chest, which meant at least two good dresses for the journey, whereas my siblings would have to entertain suitors in the same old dress. I could have cut back on the lavish jewels and slippers and let them pack more, but I wasn’t that nice when it came to my sisters.

Being only two years apart in age from one another, my sisters had bonded so much that it was difficult for anyone to break through into their confidence. I’d tried over and over as they were growing up, but they always saw me as the older sister, able to come and go as she pleased. Over time it was easier to ignore, tease, or annoy them as I saw fit, something my father found amusing but our mother discouraged at every opportunity.

‘Try to act like a princess, Edith,’ she would tell me when I’d hidden their slippers or put a spider in their bed. ‘One day you will be a queen, and a queen doesn’t drop a leech into her siblings’ bathwater.’

It was unheard of for a daughter to succeed as heir, but as our father had only produced girls, it rested at my feet to take up the mantel of queen should something catastrophic happen to the king.

Father had spoken to me at length about it only recently, calling me into his private study, which contained hundreds of scrolls—or lessons, as Father liked to call them. He showed me a map of the kingdom and where our boundary lines met with Mercia, the centre of England.

‘One day all this will belong to you, my daughter.’

I’d traced my finger along the map, outlining Northumbria from east coast to west, a sense of pride and passion rising through me. Losing my father was not something I wanted to contemplate—he was an amazing man and an even better king—but the thought of ruling our beautiful land was too tempting to push those wicked thoughts from my mind.

‘I thought only sons could rule, Father.’ 

‘Nonsense. If I will it, which I do, then you will succeed me when I die.’ 

‘But the eldermen might object.’ 

‘They wouldn’t dare defy the ruling of their king.’ The power in his voice thundered around the small room, and I knew he was right. Nobody would have the strength of character to argue with him, apart from my uncle. 

Being the king’s only brother, Aelle didn’t cower like the other eldermen. He stood up to my father and tested him. Although Father always bellowed his dissatisfaction at being challenged in his court, I knew he secretly enjoyed sparring with his younger brother. They had a similar relationship to me and my sisters—they loved each other one minute and wanted to bury each other in the vegetable garden the next. 

‘What will your first act be when you become queen, Edith?’ 

I’d pondered his question for a moment as I studied the map on the table. 

‘I’d invade Mercia, then Wessex, and become queen of all England.’ 

He roared with laughter and swept me into a warm embrace that only a father can give. 

‘That’s my girl,’ he said. ‘A warrior queen.’ 

GET your copy of The Last Princess

 BHC Press – https://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Wilson_The_Last_Princess.html

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About the author:

Shelley is an English multi-genre author. She has written nine young adult/middle-grade supernatural, fantasy, and historical novels, a children’s meditation book, and six motivational self-help titles for adults.
She is a proud single mum of three and lives in the West Midlands, UK. Shelley loves travelling in her VW camper searching for stories. She also enjoys paddle boarding, Tudor and Viking history, supporting Leeds United, and obsessing over to-do lists!
 

Her latest book, The Last Princess, is out on 24th May 2022, published by BHC Press Books.

https://www.amazon.com/Shelley-Wilson/e/B00G5KPMJI/

Good luck and thanks to Shelley for sharing the news with us, thanks to all of us for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and keep reading and smiling!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview DEAD OF WINTER: Journey 7, Revenant Pass and Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Powers, new and old, connections, and a quest.

Hi all: Today I bring you the review of two more of the Journeys that comprise Dead of Winter. Hold on to your seats, because things are getting wild!

I am a fan of multi-talented Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene, follow her blog (where she creates wonderful serials, with the participation of her readers), and have read several of her novels and novellas. She writes in a variety of genres (and she likes to experiment and combine those, rather than stick to the rules), but there are always elements of fancy, wonder, and magic weaved into her stories. Although I don’t usually read fantasy, I have no hesitation reading or recommending this series, even to people who aren’t that keen on the genre. I love the way she combines some unlikely and beautifully described settings with wonderful characters, playful dialogues (her love of research is legendary, and she always finds historically accurate words and long-forgotten expressions that delight readers), and highly imaginative storylines. No matter how many of her books you read, you’re bound to be surprised by her stories.

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. Http://www.teagansbooks.com


Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

https://www.amazon.com/Teagan-Riordain-Geneviene/e/B00HHDXHVM/

Dead of Winter Journey 7. Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

Dead of Winter: Journey 7, Revenant Pass begins with the ancient watcher’s memory of the Library of the Society of Deae Matres — and its fall. We also get a look into the thought process of treacherous Arawn. Then the story picks up where we left Emlyn and company, trapped in the Realm of the Dead.
This Journey is shorter than some, but adventure abounds. Some characters go missing. You’ll have to read to learn more.
Come, be a part of the Journeys.

Kindle:  relinks.me/B098MS8P48

Paperback:  relinks.me/B098GV1G5V

 

My review:

I was provided an early ARC copy of this book, which I freely chose to review.

I am a fan of the author, I have read all the journeys in Dead of Winter so far and think the serial format suits the story well, because it builds up the characters, and the connections between them are revealed slowly, without overwhelming the readers. People who don’t have a lot of time to read don’t need to worry about getting too caught up in the story and not being able to stop. The author has chosen the length of the episodes and the perfect point to split up the novel, and we come to the end of each journey both satisfied with what happens and left wanting more.

This episode, although short, is very important, as we get to understand who Haldis —whom we knew as the Watcher in the early journeys— is (although we might have had our suspicions), and how her story links to that of the Deae Matres. It hints at what is to come, and it drags us even deeper into the story. Some of the connections and the links that we might have suspected are coming to the fore, and some of the questions we might have had are slowly getting answered.

We see things from the perspective of several characters (even the baddy), and we also get deeper into Emlyn’s thoughts, her doubts, her sensations, and that makes us empathise even more with her. She is quickly getting out of her shell and learning about other cultures and lifestyles, although she still doubts herself at times and wonders what her right place is and what the future holds in stock for her.

This journey includes some wonderful descriptions, as usual, and action scenes and scary moments aplenty. We are getting closer than ever to learning what happened in the past and discovering how that history is linked to the protagonists and the present. The warnings and the threats feel more urgent as well, and events seem to be speeding up. Characters disappear, mysteries abound, and there are many questions left answered.

I loved this journey, and I felt as if things were falling into place. I am in awe at the way everything is interconnected, and I can’t wait to learn what happens next. Thankfully, I won’t have to wait long.

Just a reminder that this is a complete story split up into journeys, and readers need to read them in order to be able to follow the plot and fully appreciate its complexity. The author includes a list of characters and locations at the end, so even if it’s been some time since you read the previous journey, you can easily refresh your memory and pick up the story where you left off.

Recommended to anybody who loves great characters, beautiful writing (whatever their thoughts on fantasy), and imaginative stories, especially to those who appreciate shorter reads but like the idea of a serial.

Dead of Winter Journey 8. The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 8, The Lost Library by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Throughout the previous volumes the fantasy aspect of this epic has gradually built. In Journey 8, that fantastical element comes to the fore.
Emlyn and her companions search for the fabled Lost Library. The entire world is at risk, so they hope answers will be there. However, a new complication arises and the fate of one Deae Matres hangs in the balance.
Meanwhile Arawn, who tore the Veil between the worlds of the living and dead, tries to make an evil alliance with a long dead king who was known for his ruthlessness.
Remove the limits from your imagination and join Emlyn and company on this extraordinary adventure.
 

Kindle:  relinks.me/B09C6MPTYT

Paperback:  relinks.me/B09C34XR7P

My review:

Journey 8 is a gripping one, as there are plenty of adventures, and we gain some fascinating insights into some of the characters’ backgrounds (already hinted at in Journey 7) and learn more about the history of the Deae Matres and the lost library of the title.

As the author tells us in her preface, this journey is slightly different in structure, as Haldis, the Watcher, has now become part of the action, and she is intriguing, to say the least. She becomes a guide to the rest of the characters, but she is unreliable, partly because she is old, and her memory is far from perfect, and partly, perhaps, because there are things she is keeping to herself.

Arawn, the baddiest of the bad, makes an appearance that puts an even darker spin on things, and although the Deae Matres are together again, things are not as they were before. Haldis promises there is a solution, but not everybody is convinced by her suggestion.

Three of the protagonists of the story embark on a quest, becoming seekers (I’m trying to avoid any spoilers), and what they find reminded me of some of the most imaginative and wonderful stories the author has come up with in her blog and in previous novels. She definitely delivers in her promise of fantastic elements. Her descriptions are eye-poppingly incredible and beautiful, and I can’t wait to see what else the trio will find.

Just a quick reminder that you need to read all the journeys in order, and it is easy to catch up on previous adventures as the author includes a list of characters and settings at the end that is updated with each installment, as relevant.

A magical read that is becoming more intense and intriguing as it goes. Unmissable.

Thanks to the author for keeping the story coming (it has become something to look forward to, and reliable as well), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep reading, and about all, take care and stay safe. 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Dead of Winter, Journey 4, The Old Road by Teagan Riordain Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Adventures, scares, legends, and stories. A monthly appointment I always look forward to #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring a big favourite of all my readers. We’ve reached Journey 4 in Teagan Geneviene’s Dead of Winter Serial.

Dead of Winter. Journey 4. The Old Road by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter. Journey 4. The Old Road by Teagan Geneviene

Previously, Journey 3, The Fever Field left Emlyn on the run. Will the Society of Deae Matres be willing to help? After all, in Journey 1, they rejected her father’s plea to take her away. Journey 4, The Old Road features Boabhan, the Society’s most enigmatic adherent. Emlyn finds herself in another kind of danger when the archvillain from the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak returns to the story in this installment. Plus, she still has not outrun the Brethren. Meanwhile, Emlyn isn’t the only one at risk. This Journey finds many of our friends in harm’s way. This Journey is notably longer than the others. Some parts of the story needed to be told together, in one volume. Come, be a part of the Journeys of Dead of Winter.

https://www.amazon.com/Dead-Winter-Journey-Old-Road-ebook/dp/B092G5LB7R/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Winter-Journey-Old-Road-ebook/dp/B092G5LB7R/

https://www.amazon.es/Dead-Winter-Journey-Old-Road-ebook/dp/B092G5LB7R/

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:
Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?
My review:
I’ve read all the previous journeys in the Dead of Winter serial and loved them (check my latest review here), as I have all the novels I’ve read by Teagan Riordáin Geneviene and also her blog. I’m always amazed by her imagination and her ability to bring to life all kinds of whimsical and wonderful characters and make the readers not only believe in them, but also care deeply for them. That is definitely my case with this story and its characters, and that is despite not being a big fan of fantasy. I usually don’t have the patience for high fantasy, because I like to jump straight into a story rather than have to spend a lot of time getting to understand the rules of the world the author has built. This serial obviates those problems. Not only we get bite-size instalments of the story once a month, but the author has created characters and situations we feel comfortable and familiar with from the start, while he keeps pulling us into an increasingly complex world.
Emlyn, the young protagonist, has a gift (although at first, it seems a curse to her, as it puts her in immediate danger and causes her to be the butt of abuse and prejudice), but despite the help of her friend and mentor, Osabide, there are many things about the world (the worlds) she doesn’t know about because knowledge is frown upon by the religious leaders in her town. Knowledge gives you freedom, and freedom is something they abhor. Following her adventures gives readers a great opportunity to learn about many wonders and to experience the excitement and the risk of the larger world through her eyes.
In the fourth journey, Emlyn gets a taste of what life is like travelling with the Society of Deae Matres, makes some new friends, and realises that many of her intuitions were right. She goes through a terrifying experience that introduces a dark character (that we’ll hear more about in the future, it seems), Arawn, one of the nightwalkers. We also learn about some of the stories and legends (or perhaps true stories?) of heroes, the binding (that seems intrinsically linked to Emlyn’s family), old goddesses, and I have to admit to being fascinated by the new information we gain about Boabhan, who although is one of the Deae Matres, is quite unique (no spoilers) and much older than all of them (it seems).
This is a journey full of adventures, very dynamic, with several lucky escapes and scrapes, unexplained and inexplicable moments, signs of things to come, rumours and questions, gathering of new information, and we also catch up with Emlyn’s trusted teacher, Osabide, whose safety is put to the test. And, Haldis, the watcher, opens the chapter with more and more memories that feed some new information into the story but leave us with more doubts and questions than before.
As has been the case throughout the serial, I enjoyed the beautiful descriptions of places, people, animals, clothes, and especially the way the author brings in songs, objects, nature, animals, and even smells into the story, creating a tapestry of characters and setting that crystallise into a three-dimensional story. If I’d liked Emlyn and Osabide from the very beginning, I’m quickly becoming fond of many of the more recent characters, no matter how different from the norm they are.
Although we can’t help feeling frustrated by the end of the journey, as we’d like to keep reading, the author again chooses what feels like a natural pausing point to stop her narration and keep us eager for more.
Her introduction to the new journey gives us enough to keep us thinking, and I am signed into this journey until the very end, I can assure you that.
I can’t recommend this serial highly enough. Even if you’re not a reader of high-fantasy, as long as you enjoy great characters, plenty of imagination, and are a fan of stories that keep getting wilder, more creative, and fantastic as they go along, you can’t go wrong with it. And it will become a monthly appointment on your diary you’ll be eager to keep.

Thanks to Teagan for the new installment (and I can’t wait to read the next), thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and especially, to keep safe and keep smiling. 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog Dead of Winter: Journey 3, The Fever Field by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) Mysteries and magic come to the fore #Fantasy

Hi all:

Today, I bring you the review of the third Journey of a series I’ve been following with growing interest. If you haven’t, yet, I hope you give it a try. And you don’t need to be all-out fantasy fans to enjoy it. I am not.

Dead of Winter Journey 3, The Fever Field by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 3, The Fever Field by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene 

The Fever Field is burial ground that is far older than the inhabitants of the Flowing Lands realize. We first saw it in the prologue of Journey 1, Forlorn Peak. Now we learn more about the place where ancient evil was buried and forgotten, until that moment in the prologue when it broke free.
On the cover of Journey 3, The Fever Field, Emlyn has turned to look toward Zasha. Much of this third installment is told from Zasha’s point of view. We’ll get better acquainted with the sisters in the Society of Deae Matres who traveled with Zasha. Also, we meet a tall, intriguing north-man and the most mysterious adherent of the Deae Matres.
The youngest of all the Society, Zasha encounters some resistance from the other sisters traveling with her. She also runs into trouble of her own.
Meanwhile, Emlyn’s uncertain situation with her family combines with the threat posed by the Brethren of Un’Naf. What is the greater danger, her loved ones, or the fanatics? In Journey 3, Emlyn’s circumstances reach a tipping point. There seems to be no good choice for her. How can she survive?

 https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B08XTNZ9M8/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08XTNZ9M8/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08XTNZ9M8/

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

My review:

I received an ARC copy of this instalment of the serial, which I freely chose to review.

I’ve been following Dead of Winter since its first journey, and despite my usual reluctance to commit to series or long-winded sagas, I’ve been surprised by how quickly it has grabbed my attention and how easy it is to adapt to the format. The length of each journey is such that it gives readers an opportunity to re-engage with the characters and learn more about them, while at the same time moving forward with the adventures and the overall story. The author’s skill is evident in the way she chooses where to pause the story —always managing to give us a sense of completion while leaving us with unanswered questions— and also in her inclusion of a list of characters and settings which allows readers to get their bearings quickly if they have taken a long break in between reading the different journeys.

As per this specific journey… Well, I’ll try not to reveal any spoilers, but I can say that Emlyn is faced with her worst fears; she discovers (as do we) that her gifts/powers go beyond what she had realised until now; her hopes and dreams become real in more ways than one, and she makes some new acquaintances (and I won’t say anything else).

We also learn more about the Deæ Matres, especially from Zasha’s point of view, and realise that not everything is harmony and good cheer. Although it is not surprising, as this group of women come from different regions, cultures, and have been brought up in different traditions, we get to experience some of the tensions, doubts, and to have a peek behind the united front they offer to the outside world.

Magic and mystery are at the heart of this journey, and we get some intriguing clues about objects and characters that have made flitting appearances before but haven’t quite come to the fore yet. We also learn about some of the beliefs and the layers of existence in this universe. The plot thickens, indeed, and the 4th Journey promises to bring even more revelations and eerie happenings.

I also wanted to highlight the quality of the writing. The third person narration from the main characters’ point of view (Emlyn and Zasha in this journey) allows us to witness their internal thoughts and feel closer to the protagonists, while at the same time offering us beautiful (but succinct) descriptions of settings, objects, and people. We also get to experience the feelings, doubts, worries, and sense of wonder they live through.

I can’t but recommend this journey and, of course, remind everybody this is a serial that must be read in the right order. So, if you haven’t started on the Dead of Winter journey yet, do yourself a favour, and get going. And remember, Winter is Coming.

You can check the reviews for Journey 1 here and Journey 2 here.

Thanks to the author for keeping the momentum going, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to stay safe, and to keep smiling, reading, reviewing, and hoping. Big hugs!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview DEAD OF WINTER: JOURNEY 2, PENLLYN by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) A must-read serial #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you the second journey in the new serial by one of my favourite authors and bloggers, Teagan Geneviene.

Dead of Winter Journey 2. Penllyn by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 2, Penllyn by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

Journey 2, Penllyn picks up where the first installment, Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak stopped. The supernatural warning, “Winter is coming!” continues to haunt Emlyn. Her father has heard her utter those words, and he is displeased to say the least. In fact, her family situation in general is becoming more perilous.

As if visitations from ghosts weren’t enough, another entity has started coming to her. She isn’t sure whether he is a spirit or something else, but he gives her the same prophetic warning.

Now Emlyn’s father has begun to behave strangely.

Join Emlyn on this strange journey to the neighboring village of Penllyn. Try not to look over your shoulder…

https://www.amazon.es/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08VMNSF97/

Author Teagan Geneviene

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a “high desert” town in the Southwest of the USA.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the desert southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Whether it’s a 1920s mystery, a steampunk adventure, or urban fantasy, her stories have a strong element of whimsy.

Founder of the Three Things method of storytelling, her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers. www.teagansbooks.com

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

My review:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene is one of the authors whose novels, novellas, blog posts, and serials —as is the case here— I’d put on my TBR list as soon as I hear about them. Sometimes I’ll even reserve a slot before they are published, because I know I’ll be in for a treat. Even when she publishes a work in a genre I don’t usually read, as is the case here, I don’t hesitate, because I know her characters and their adventures will capture my imagination, and she always takes good care of her readers, making sure that nobody can get lost or miss an important element of the story because of the way it is told.

After reading and reviewing Journey 1. Forlorn Peak in her serial Dead of Winter (you can check my review here), I had been eagerly waiting to read more of Emlyn’s story. Here, the young protagonist (only twelve years old) experiences further strange happenings (even for a girl who can see spirits), and goes through hopeful and exciting moments (visiting Penllyn, a much bigger village sounds promising, and at first she imagines her father might finally acknowledge all she had learned and want her help with the business), but also scary and disappointing ones (when she observes her father’s strange behaviour, she starts to wonder if he might be planning something quite different).

The trip to Penllyn introduces some interesting characters (I love the cook at the inn and her young helper), highlighting, at the same time, that not everybody is fond of the Brethern or particularly taken with their religion and rules, especially when it comes to their attitude towards women.

We also follow Zasha, Osabide’s niece and one of the Deae Matres’s members, and her protector/travelling companion, Tajín, and learn a bit more about them and the Deae Matres in the process, although this insight contrasts with Emlyn’s own —none too positive— brief second-hand experience of this intriguing group of women.

I enjoyed the narrative style, the way the plot is developing and adding more narratives and points of view to the story, layering the connections between the characters, the events, and the supernatural elements. There are compelling descriptions of people and places and numerous signs of wonders to come. The characters are growing in importance and complexity as well, as we get to know more about Emlyn’s world, a place fraught with danger and magic in equal measure.

The author has also included a cast of characters and locations, which she will keep adding on as the story progresses, which greatly assists readers in clarifying any possible doubts about who is who and how the different people and places are connected.

The only thing I don’t like is the fact that we’ll have to wait for a bit to get Journey three, but the advantage of getting the story in instalments is that it’s easy to fit it into our reading schedule, between two longer books, or even as a break from other activities. It is incredibly easy to get lost in this world, and I recommend this serial to anybody who enjoys a story beautifully told, with a dark and menacing undertone, and characters you’ll feel compelled to follow. Even if you’re not a big fan of fantasy, I recommend that you give it a try. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Thanks to the author for her story, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, keep smiling, and above all, keep safe.

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DEAD OF WINTER: JOURNEY 1, FORLORN PEAK by Teagan Geneviene (@teagangeneviene) A great start to a beautiful and compelling fantasy serial

Hi all:

I bring you the review for a new story, or rather, the first “journey” of a new story by an author and blogger I’ve been following and reading for a while now, and whose work I’ve reviewed here on quite a few occasions. When she announced she’d be publishing Dead of Winter, I offered to share the news. I remembered she had mentioned the story to me (although I didn’t know the title or the ins and outs of it) years back and had told me she’d had to put it aside when she realised there was a central element to her story that also appeared in another series that had suddenly become very well-known and popular. She hadn’t been aware of it at the time of writing, and the stories were totally different, but she felt people might still question it. But, as a writer, and I’m sure many of you have experienced the same with personal projects, sometimes we can’t let go of certain things, because they keep haunting us, and Teagan has finally decided to publish it in instalments called “journeys” in this case.

I share my review of the first Journey, but I thought I’d borrow from her own presentation of the book, as she knows much more about it than I do. So first I share some of her own introduction and then follows my review.

Here, in Teagan’s own words:

Dead of Winter. Journey 1, Forlorn Peak by Teagan Geneviene

Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak!

Dead of Winter will be a serial/series available through Amazon. (Maybe other sites as well, for the anti-Amazon among us.  If those sites cooperate, that is.  I have little patience for their shenanigans).

I call the installments Journeys, because the characters travel across the complex world I built, experiencing new cultures and meeting new people. These journeys will publish approximately monthly.  Length will range from 30 to 60 pages, or so.

This is the new video trailer for Journey 1
Here’s the Blurb

Dead of Winter takes place in a fantasy world that resembles some countries in the past of our own world.  In this monthly series we travel through many lands, each with a distinct culture.  The series begins in the Flowing Lands at Forlorn Peak (Journey 1).

The Brethren are fanatics who gradually took over the Flowing Lands.  They say all beliefs but theirs are heresy.  Women are little more than property.  Emlyn is only twelve, but to the Brethren she is an abomination.  Why?  She can see ghosts and other entities.  That’s a secret she can admit only to her teacher, Osabide.

The stronger Emlyn’s ability gets, the harder it is for her to hide it.  Now she has also gotten a supernatural warning that she knows is not about the weather, “Winter is coming!

As the veil separating the world of the living from the realm of the dead deteriorates, the danger accelerates.  Journey with Emlyn as she explores her world and its many cultures in Dead of Winter.

Universal Purchase Links

Kindle:  relinks.me/B08RBBVRGX

Paperback:  relinks.me/B08R7RH4F5

Some of you have seen this video with me narrating the prologue, and thank you so much for listening.  It took half a bottle of throat spray, but I did it.  The recording lasts fewer than three minutes and there are lovely images to entertain you. If you haven’t already, then I hope you will stop to listen.

Just in case you don’t know Teagan, here is a bit more information about her:

About the author:

Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene lives in a major east coast city, but she calls the desert southwest home. She longs to return to those magical lands.

Teagan had always devoured fantasy novels of every type. Then one day there was no new book readily at hand for reading — so she decided to write one. And she hasn’t stopped writing since.

Her work is colored by her experiences from living in the southern states and the southwest. Teagan most often writes in the fantasy genre, but she also writes cozy mysteries. Her blog “Teagan’s Books” contains serial stories written according to “things” from viewers.

Major influences include Agatha Christie, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, and Charlaine Harris.

See book trailer videos here:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoM-z7_iH5t2_7aNpy3vG-Q?

And check her own blog here:

https://teagansbooks.com/

Here is a list of the blogs that are sharing the news as well, so you might want to visit them (not only because of that, but because they are more than worth a visit or many).
Pat Alderman at e-Quips

Wallace Peach at Myths of the Mirror

Robbie Cheadle at Roberta Writes

Dan Antion at No Facilities

John W. Howell at Fiction Favorites

Gwen Plano at Blog Reflections… From the Desk of Gwen Plano

Mark Bierman at Adventures on Writing

And now, my review:

I have followed the author’s blog and the writing she shares there for a few years, and have also read and reviewed her novels, and I love her imagination and the beauty of her writing, so I am grateful for the ARC copy of this first instalment (journey) of her new serial, which I freely and eagerly chose to review.

I am not a big reader of fantasy, especially “high fantasy”, because I don’t have the patience for the laborious world building involved, the huge amounts of description, and because I need a quick connection with a character, and characters I can relate to (I don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to be anything like me, but there has to be something that pulls me towards them and makes me want to follow their adventures). But I’ve read some fantasy set in worlds that felt fairly familiar or recognisable to me, and where the main characters grabbed my attention straight away. And this was the case here.

Emlyn is a young girl who doesn’t fit in the very narrow and limited definition of womanhood the Brethern have imposed over the Flowing Lands, where she lives. Although in this first journey there isn’t a lot of detail about that world order or the setting, it is clear that the Brethern are some kind of religious fanatics with extreme views (especially where women are concerned), and women are not allowed to learn anything other than how to look after the house, their husbands and their children, are supposed to wear only subdued colours and to hide their hair. Healers or other women suspected of having access to knowledge or who’ve behaved in a manner unbecoming, according to them, get banished or worse.

The society seems to be a pre-industrial one, but not all places are ruled the same, and we get glimpses at what might be a different way of life, although it’s very early days in the story.

I liked Emlyn, who is special in many ways as the blurb hints at, and whose coming-of-age journey seems to play a big part in the story (or so I hope), and I also liked Osabide, her teacher, who hides depths Emlyn is only now beginning to discover. She lives an alternative lifestyle and guides Emlyn through a difficult life, where her family is less than understanding, and there seem to be dangers even under her own roof.

The author’s writing is beautiful, and although I’m not a fan of description per se, she manages to conjure up the natural world surrounding Emlyn, as well as her own experiences, that have more than a touch of the magical and the mystical about them. Even though the story is written in the third person, we see things from the point of view of the protagonist, and we experience her wonder, her fear, and also her excitement at being in the company of women who have a different and less limiting view of the world.

There are characters I dislike already, like Emlyn’s sister and her brother-in-law (he’s a creep!), but I’m sure there will be plenty more, as the second journey promises to offer us a closer view at how things work in Emlyn’s world.

I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the setting of the story, and I’m already hooked onto the imaginary world Emlyn inhabits. There’s nothing I disliked about it, other than I’ll have to wait until the next journey is published to read more. This early in the serial I don’t want to mention other stories that it might put people in mind of (I’m looking at you, The Handmaid’s Tale), but I think most readers are likely to be reminded of past events and historical periods and also about more recent developments in certain societies when they read this journey. A great start to the serial, recommended to all who love fantasy, strong female characters, anybody looking for a short read, and also those who enjoy beautiful writing and want to be transported to an imaginary world where anything might be possible. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Teagan for taking me along on this journey, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep safe, keep smiling (from behind the mask), and come back soon!

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview THE FALLEN ANGEL: THE GREAT DEVIL WAR V by Kenneth B. Andersen (@K_B_Andersen) A cliff-hanger ending that will take your breath away #fantasy

Hi all:

I bring you book 5 in a series I’ve been following for quite a while now.

The Fallen Angel by Kenneth B Andersen

The Fallen Angel: The Great Devil War V by Kenneth B. Andersen

Book 5 in the multi-award winning series.

It’s been almost two years since Philip left Hell and returned to life—this time for good.

But things have changed and so has Philip. He’s haunted by terrifying nightmares and has never felt so lonely. Lonely and angry.

Then one day the impossible happens and Philip is brought back to Hell. Not by the Devil, but by the Almighty himself.

Although the Great Devil War ended a long time ago, the battle is far from over—and the worst is yet to come.

THE GREAT DEVIL WAR is a gripping and humorous tale about good and evil seen from an unusual perspective and set in a world beyond your wildest dreams…


Praise for The Fallen Angel

“This series will entertain you, and it will take you on an emotional journey to define your place in this world, while Philip tries to find his own.” ***** – Tessa Talks Books

“Each book of The Great Devil War series has deserved a full 5/5 star rating for Andersen’s magical and immersive writing style, the long-term character development, and a distinct, informed realm! Academic, complex, emotionally stimulating books.” ***** – It’s a Novel Life

“A very quick and entertaining fantasy novel that really makes you think.” ***** – Entertainingly Nerdy

Over 2000 worldwide 5 star reviews of the series.

Winner of the Karen Blixen award, the ORLA award, and the BMF award.

https://www.amazon.com/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

https://www.amazon.es/Fallen-Angel-Great-Devil-War-ebook/dp/B08467TLYY/

Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen
Author Kenneth Bøgh Andersen

About the author:

I was born in Denmark on a dark and stormy night in November 1976. I began writing when I was a teenager. My first book was a really awful horror novel titled Nidhug’s Slaves. It didn’t get published. Luckily.

During the next 7 years, I wrote nearly 20 novels–all of which were rejected–while working as a school teacher. The rest of the time I spent writing.

In 2000 I published my debut fantasy book, The Battle of Caïssa, and that’s when things really took off. Since then I’ve published more than 40+ books for MG and YA readers in genres ranging from fantasy to horror and science fiction.

My books have been translated into more than 15 languages and my series about the superhero Antboy has been adapted for film, which is available on Netflix. An animated movie and tv series is currently in development.

In 2018 The Devil’s Apprentice came to life on stage in a musical adaption and the movie rights for the series have also been optioned.

I live in Copenhagen with my wife, two boys, a dog named Milo and spiders in the basement.

You can read more on my English website www.kennethbandersen.com

https://www.amazon.com/Kenneth-B%C3%B8gh-Andersen/e/B0045ADTRM/

My review:

I received an ARC copy from the author but that has in no way influenced my review, which I freely chose to write.

I have been following The Great Devil War, since the first novel, The Devil’s Apprentice, and loved it. I must confess I easily lose patience with series, so that’s saying something (you can check my review of book 4 here) . I’m pleased to report that I enjoyed this instalment too, and I can’t wait for the 6th and last part, although I’m sure I’ll miss the characters once it’s over. One warning to people who hate cliff-hangers, this book ends in one, and it felt a bit shorter than most of the others, as if we were catching up with the characters after a long break and getting ready for the big finale, rather than telling a full story. But it is a good read nonetheless.

It has been a long while since we last heard from Philip, and when we catch up with him, he is not the same boy we met in the first novel. Readers who’ve been following the series don’t need to worry if they’ve read part four a while back, because, at the beginning of the book, Philip keeps pondering about the past and about the decisions that brought him here and that means we can easily get up to speed. Philip is unhappy and thinks he has taken the wrong decision, and of course, we all know that one needs to be careful what one wishes for, and strange things soon start happening. And then, he is back in Hell, but he soon realises that time moves at a different pace there and many things have happened since he was around. I won’t go into a lot of detail about the plot, but I can tell you that we visit Heaven again; Philip gets to spend more time with his father; there is a new character that will take your breath away (and one I’ve come across in other writers’ work as well); and a story development that I think might not come as a total surprise to readers.

There are the usual funny meetings and jokes (yes, you’d be pleased to know that politicians get a very suitable punishment), characters from the Old Testament have plenty of things to say about Jehovah and not all complimentary, and we have an opportunity to catch up our favourite characters.

Although the book starts a bit slow, and we get a look into a Philip more bitter and angry than we are used to, he soon gets thrown into the middle of things and I enjoyed seeing him become more and more determined and independent. There is evidence of a darker side to his character that we had had glimpses of before, but he has grown into a more complex character, and like Satina and even Sam, their experiences and their age have had an impact making them more mature and responsible, although that does not mean they no longer have fun.

I enjoyed catching up with all the characters, meeting the new ones, the interaction between Lucifer and Jehova, and although I’m not a fan of cliff-hangers, I know I won’t have to wait long for the true finale, and there are big and difficult decisions coming Philip’s way.

I recommend it to lovers of fantasy, particularly that to do with angels, demons, mythology, especially those who enjoy series, and of course, to those who have been following the series. This novel is book five in the series, and they should all be read in the right order for readers to enjoy it fully. If you haven’t read the rest, I recommend that you start from the beginning and keep going, and I’m sure I’ll be back soon to tell you about book 6.

Thanks to the author for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep smiling and safe!

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