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Book Review – Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda

Congratulations to Ruth Miranda on the release of her new fantasy novel, Avalon Hall. I was lucky to have had an ARC edition. Avalon Hall is available to purchase Kindle or Paperback at Amazon.

Avalon Hall by Ruth Miranda – this is Ruth doing what she does best. A story of vampires, witches, fantasy and magic. This is a book of two halves, both as important as the other, coming together just enough at the end, but most certainly leaving you craving more.

Modern-day Scotland. We are introduced to a cast of contemporary characters, all well-crafted and intriguing with their own backstories. Set against the magnificent architecture of Avalon Hall, a modern-day school for adult preternatural, a place to nurture their new magical talents that manifest in their late teens or early twenties. This is no Hogwarts; there is more lurking the rooms and halls than just magic; and beyond the Hall, the vast grounds hold their own secrets. There is one student with her own damaged past that has the talent to step beyond the ‘now’ into the ‘then’. She has a vital role to play, unravelling the past mysteries and miseries of Avalon Hall’s hidden resident.

Just as your heartbeat starts racing, the author halts, whipping you off to the past. A place home to myth and Arthurian legend. But don’t think for one second you are about to receive a run of the mill story of King Arthur. Avalon Hall offers so much more. Instead of the general, the author gives us her own interpretations and thoughts, taking you across the lake at Avalon, delving into the history, the ancestry of who we know to be King Arthur, weaving us a tale that is so in-depth you feel kin to it. This second part of the book is so painstakingly meticulous, a richly woven tapestry of characters, each playing their role in carving the future of who will be known as King Arthur.

I’m now eagerly, and not so patiently, waiting for the second book in this series. Avalon Hall offers so much for those who adore fantasy, those stories abundant with witches and magic, but also those like me, who adore the mysteries that surround Arthurian legend.

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Book Review – Chaining Daisy by Julia Blake

Congratulations to my dear friend and fellow author Julia Blake on the release of her new novel, Chaining Daisy, that was released yesterday. It’s available now worldwide on Kindle, Paperback or free to read on Kindle Unlimited. Just remember to add a box of tissues to the order.

You buy the book now at Amazon.

Chaining Daisy, the second book in The Perennials picks up where the first book Becoming Lili ends, pulling you straight into the story. In the first, we are introduced to the main cast of characters, a gang of friends whose lives are based in the late 90s. With Chaining Daisy, the years have moved on a little to the early 2000s, concentrating this time on Daisy who’s struggling with her not-so-perfect marriage, despite appearances, and Kevin, one of Lili’s oldest friends.

Julia Blake as always delivers a riveting story with eloquence and style. Her cast—and I’d always call her characters a cast as they’re so visual, so full and multidimensional, they live and breathe from the page—all have their supporting roles in this, all bringing something to the story. With scene-setting locations going from rural Suffolk to London to Cornwall, she manages to bring so much colour and atmosphere too.

I hate giving the plot away, I think the book blurb gives you enough. But what I will say is this is one hell of a ride. Although the book itself is a huge (well worth its money) read of over 400 pages, the author’s writing talent takes you by the hand, enticing you in; before you know it, you’re halfway through and you’ve not been up for air. It certainly takes your breath away, dealing with difficult topics and situations, and although the author has dealt with these so realistically, so true to life, she has been careful to handle them with a sense of integrity—graphic descriptions where needed and others left to the imagination.

This is one book that stays with you. I read it in a few sittings, needing to close the pages and recover once in a while, reaching for the box of tissues, yet the characters stayed with me, calling me until I picked it up again.

Though I urge every reader to have tissues to hand, this is in no way a mushy love story, though love and life in all its wonder and horror feature strongly, Chaining Daisy is hard-hitting, gripping, incredibly heart wrenching read with soft, tender, beautiful moments. A well-earned 5 stars!

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Book Review – Ailey of Skye by Wendy Hewlett

I was totally drawn to Ailey of Skye, with my love of Scotland and the Isle of Skye and the intriguing premise of the book. I was lucky enough to have an ARC edition to read prior to its official release on September 17th. You can pre-order this now on Amazon.

It is my first taste of Wendy Hewlett, and so not fully knowing what to expect, I went in open-minded, despite being a little out of my depth regarding genre. As they say variety is the spice of life… and I’m so glad I did, what a treat this is.

Ailey of Skye is a gripping, nail-biting, hard-hitting crime thriller dealing with the horrific subjects of child trafficking, addiction and abuse, but with it comes a gentler edge of family, love and self-acceptance, set against a stunning backdrop of the Isle of Skye. Certainly, a hard to put down book.

From the off, you are quickly drawn into the story, introducing us to Aileen MacEwan with just enough glimpse into her past to ignite interest, keeping the reader turning those pages. Ailey, along with a host of diverse characters are true to life, well rounded, and full of life experiences, bringing so much depth and honesty to them, both good and bad. The book deals with deep and horrific storylines that the author deals with carefully but candidly, something the author clearly knows well, making every aspect authentic. I felt I was in good hands right the way through. I true feat of craftsmanship when it comes to hard-hitting contemporary thrillers and crime novels.

This has undoubtedly given me a taste for more, with a desire to read more of from this talented author, Wendy Hewlett. A well deserving 5 stars.

For more details on Wendy Hewlett and her books why not visit her website.

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Book Review – The Widow of Pale Harbour by Hester Fox

I was lucky enough to have an ARC edition of the new release from Hester Fox, the Gothic beauty that is The Widow of Pale Harbour. Thank you NetGalley.com

The Widow of Pale Harbour was a much-anticipated read after having read Hester Fox’s debut novel, The Witch of Willow Hall, last year. It can be a little tricky to follow-up with an equally thrilling new release, but the author has pulled it off, again. Hester Fox is fast becoming a favourite author of modern Gothic fiction.

Giving the reader the perfect mix of impending drama and dark mystery all wrapped up in delicious Gothic prose; with captivating characters and atmospheric settings, the author pulls you straight into the story. I found myself easily drawn to Gabriel Stone; a character who is not all he seems, with a history and mystery of his own, that he’s hauling around much like a steamer trunk. His building relationship with the equally mysterious widow, Sophy Carver, had me screaming on occasions “will you just kiss her, already.” …but remember this is historical fiction, so I had to pull my emotions in and let the love story set its own pace with some decorum and beauty..

Along with the tale of building love, The Widow of Pale Harbour has a trail of murders and mysterious dealing all with the hint of Edgar Allan Poe about them. I loved this literary aspect of the book and found myself looking up Poe stories and poems in my own sleuth-like mystery solving.

I would describe this is a journey rather than a destination. The ending had me slightly wanting more twists, as I felt I had ‘figured it out’ but the journey is most certainly one lavished with an eerie historical atmosphere that every good modern Gothic novel needs, making this well worth the read and a solid 4 stars!

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Absolute Proof by Peter James

absolute-proof-by-peter-james1.jpgWell, this knocked my socks off, as my Nan used to say. I have to add here, before I go any further, that this was my first step into the literary world of Peter James. And, it has to be said, I’m a little ashamed of that fact. *hangs head*

International bestselling author, Mr Peter James’ books are clearly something that’s been missing from my bookshelves. But no more, I rectified this dilemma without delay as I finished the last page of Absolute Proof, I purchased another – more about that in the near future.

So, here’s your coffee, snuggle in your favourite chair *sips her caramel latte* this is my spoiler-free review of Absolute Proof.

I’d just like to assure you I’m not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’ve recently been given absolute proof of God’s existence – and I’ve been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously.

Absolute Proof by Peter James

Investigative journalist, Ross Hunter, famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) is renowned for tackling, uncovering, controversial issues in his career, from political corruption to corporate scandals. He’s also no stranger to dangerous threats, always willing to stand up for what’s right not what’s easy. But when he receives a phone call from an old man declaring he has absolute proof of God’s existence, and that he and Ross have been chosen to save the world… well, you can imagine his scepticism, and that too of his expectant wife, Imogen.

With his well-honed curious nature, and look out for the next ‘big story’, Ross agrees to meet Dr Harry Cook, where he produces a manuscript he’d scribed from a direct message from God himself, through a medium. Reluctantly, against his better judgement, opinion that Dr Cook is probably no more than a crazy old man, Ross agrees to read the manuscript. Alas, upon finding the body of murdered Dr Cook a matter of days later, Ross is compelled to take up the staff, beginning his treacherous adventure.

With such a claim, the ‘absolute proof of God’s existence’, it’s no surprise that such momentous news travels fast. Enter here, a spanner in the works; a global household-name pharmaceutical company, a billionaire evangelist, a whoever-pays-the-big-bucks hitman – and the Vatican. Along with a number of other dubious encounters, Ross is on a perilous mission, sending him over the globe to unravel this claim.

There is no doubt that Peter James has done some serious research for this book; by his own admission, ‘a book 30 years in the making.’ Absolute Proof is one hell (excuse the pun) of a rollercoaster ride. It’s fast-paced, with some short concise chapters, from multi-character viewpoints, giving the story a multidimensional feel, with hard-hitting moments that literally take your breath away one minute to making you sit up and think the next. With just the right amount of detail that absorbs you into the page making you one with the plot – there is no escape till that last page.

About two-thirds in I sat and really pondered on the plot, the twists and turns (there are many) on where I really thought the storyline was going, what the outcome would be. After all, what would you do if you were handed the gauntlet to prove to the world of God’s existence, and what would you do faced with perilous hurdles at every turn? Ross Hunter is no way an enviable character, rather an admirable, sometimes foolhardy one, with his tenacious nature, he brings this story to a climactic and extremely clever ending. One I could not have foretold.