Category Archives: Fantasy

Book Review: ‘The Ghost Machine’ by Kristen Brand

Title: The Ghost Machine: A Gothic Steampunk Novel

Published: 29th December 2016

Author: Kristen Brand

Twitter: @brandedkristen

 

Synopsis:

Ella Rosenfeld is a lunatic. Locked away in the remote Auttenberg Asylum, she undergoes torturous treatment to cure her hallucinations. Yet the longer she remains within Auttenberg’s austere halls, the more gruesome her visions become, until Ella is sure she’s seeing ghosts and Auttenberg’s doctor knows it. He doesn’t plan to cure her; he wants to study her ability by dissecting her.

Ella refuses to accept her fate. She assaults her captors, scales the asylum fence, and finds sanctuary in the castle of Baron Viktor Szarka. Young and arrogant, the baron offers her protection, but he’s rumored to have locked a woman in the asylum to hide his dark past. Unable to trust him, Ella must uncover the conspiracy surrounding the asylum, her visions, and the baron’s secret…or join the rest of Auttenberg’s ghosts.

If you’re a fan of steampunk or gothic romance, download a sample or buy now.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book you didn’t want to put down. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this gothic steampunk mystery but was gripped from the start and couldn’t put it down. Great story telling with twists, turns and misdirection’s seemingly coming at you to keep you guessing right to the end.

So Ella has come to Auttenberg Asylum in hopes of them helping her with what everyone thinks are hallucinations. Auttenberg is a place filled with history and death with battles long gone past. Not so good for Ella as the ‘hallucinations’ she sees are ghosts. She, along with her parents, thinks this is the best place to cure her but it doesn’t take Ella more than a couple of days to figure out something far worse. On her first session with Dr Grunewald, along with the help of Mrs Schuttmann (both of whom you get bad vibes from), puts her into a machine. One that seems to split her head in two, well it feels like it does anyway. Seems this machine has a purpose but right now Ella is just convinced it’s going to kill her. Fearing for her life, and after a chat with a ghost in her room, one that killed itself, she knows she has to escape. Easier said than done and luck most definitely has to be on her side because escaping the asylum is only her first hurdle. More are on the way and each more mysterious and dangerous than the last.

Now it seems Ella may have not paid too much attention to planning her escape. She found a moment to act and went with it. Thing is that the Auttenberg Asylum is in the Carpathian Mountains, a place currently with arctic weather and not one to be caught out in with only one shoe. Running for her life she fears death from the cold will get her first but its not long before wolves might play a part. Thank god for Baron Viktor Szarka as he comes to her rescue. But from the stories she’s been told can she really trust him. Could he just be luring her into another trap? He might take care of her recovery – frostbite is a bitch – but he doesn’t do much to put her at ease. He wants to hear her accounts of what really happened at Auttenberg, which she does minus the ghosts. Seems he knows what she omitted though as he has her journal. Invasion of privacy screaming from her but does he believe or think her mad? His home is a cold fortress but friendly faces do appear in the form of his younger brother Andras and his guardian/housekeeper Mrs Lupescu. All would seem well when parents arrive and with the Baron insisting they take Ella away as early as possible but with snow closing in and Dr Grunewald willing to do anything to get her back things don’t go to plan.

Adventure in the form of running for her life draws its head again and she knows its not just humans she should fear but iron soldiers too. She can see there is something different about them compared to the machines her father made. A clue to why she is so valuable to the wrong kind perhaps? Battles at the ready with flying ships, pirates, deaths and misdeeds forming but it seems she has a helper at hand with Andras throughout her journey and maybe even the Baron. Ghosts are what she feared but was she looking at things backwards. Was she meant to see them to help so they couldn’t be mistreated, even in death? She may be the asset Dr Grunewald and his team wants to claim back but she may also be their undoing. Well only if she figures everything out in time.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Demons and Destiny’ by Catherine Milos

Title: Demons and Destiny (Angels and Avalon Book 2)

Published: 26th October 2016

Author: Catherine Milos

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatherineMilosOfficial

Twitter: @CatherineMilos

 

Synopsis:

What else are friends for, but to rescue you from a deranged reincarnated dark Viking shaman serving a lazy lesser Celtic god? Ex-Angel Tyrel Hanson is cursed. He must send all demons back to Hell before he can be with the woman he loves. The mission is enough to drive him to darkness. Elizabeth McAllistar discovers she is magic-blind. A dangerous condition which could end up killing her and her best-friend Madison. Madison Porter is a scientist. When she suddenly discovers she has magic and a past-life with Tyrel her world is thrown into chaos. Her magic might be the only thing that can free Tyrel from his cursed destiny and keep them all alive.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book that features supernatural powers. Hold onto your hats as this is going to be another supernatural filled ride with past and present lives colliding.

After failing in her training with the Druids Madigan chose to become a Blue warrior. Well it was either to become a Blue warrior where she might die or be a willing sacrifice to their god Nuada (one she maybe shouldn’t put too much faith in). The Vikings are coming for their land and its up to them to defend it. If the battle turns then one needs to get away to tell their leaders of what comes. She almost does but soon is captured. The Vikings mother tongue is different from her own so she is shocked when one man laughs after she curses the one that caught her.

Tyrel remembers his past life as Angel Tyrryal and because of it has the ability to talk many languages, among other things. With this he needs to find a way to get Madigan to tell him where her leaders are so his people can talk trade. If not then they will kill her and take everything else by force. He feels a connection for her straight away, so claims her to keep her safe. She still doesn’t know if she can trust him but after it seems that her god has blessed them – and by gifting her a dog companion to keep her safe – she doesn’t hold back her feelings for him.

Seems they were both too trusting of Nuada as he was just using them as parts in a game he is trying to control. With the help of darker magic he forces fate in another direction. One that would see heartbreak and death for both and end up binding Tyrel to do his bidding. Seems Tyrel can walk in the Shadow Realm and was once the Angel of Justice where he had to send demonic creatures back to hell. Seems Nuada wants him to be his warrior again. Once all demons are returned to their realm, she will be returned to him. Seems these fallen angels love fiercely and are willing to go through hell (literally) to find their way back to their soul mates.

I think I liked it better that you didn’t spend too long in a past life and got back to the present day. Also liked finding out that before Tyrel fell, and ultimately meeting Madigan for the first time, he spent the time the look for most of Adamina’s children to see them safe. Seems to have worked too as the past lives of Adamina’s children, well most of them, have been reincarnated and found there way back to each other. Remembering their pasts and still having magic in their presence, connected to their souls perhaps? They all seem to work with Tyrel at his PI firm, aka the firm that helps get rid of demons. They need to band together to fight a new evil but you never quite know which direction it will be coming from.

Present day sees Tyrel wanting to get close to Elizabeth’s (Adamina in her past life) friend Madison from the first moment he saw her. I think you can guess why. He might have found his past love but she has no memories of him and danger is never too far away. Seeing her just made him more focused in his task of getting rid of demons because once done he could finally be free and be with her. With his single mindedness though he can be easily led in the wrong direction. All he does is to protect Madison but he can go about it the wrong way.

Elizabeth is feeling lost now she is magic-blind after everything that went down with Lucifer, Uriel/Roger and Gabriel and seemingly in danger because of it. Was good to see Gabriel again as you see more of who he really is and how he acts in his new relationship with his adopted daughter Morgana, who happens to be his and Adamina’s daughter from their past life in Avalon. His gentleman butler Alan was great and played a bit more of a role with being interlinked within the story, which was cool.

Seems everyone has a gift and they are all needed to play their part in what’s to come so they better start practicing because the time for destiny is upon them. The moment Avalon was created a balance was shifted and it needs to be reset. The only ones that can help are the Angels. Seems the fallen ones are soon to be called home. Another fun, creative read with magical elements and soul mates throughout.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Angels and Avalon’ by Catherine Milos

Title: Angels and Avalon (Book One)

Published: 2nd September 2015

Author: Catherine Milos

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CatherineMilosOfficial

Twitter: @CatherineMilos

 

Synopsis:

Fed up with the antics of gods and their wars, the Archangel Gabriel takes refuge in a secret paradise. The only condition, he must protect Goddess’ treasure. Driven by pride and darkness, Lucifer aims to dethrone God. Avalon is the perfect place of power and Adamina is the key. Reincarnated, Adamina and Gabriel desperately try to find each other and stop Lucifer. But a soul can only take so much. Elizabeth McAllistar wants a new life free of Angels and Avalon. Will she be able to overcome the tragedy and the past that haunts her?

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book set in the future. It starts in a distant past on a world created by Goddess and goes forward in time through reincarnation with the characters. A book of two parts with Avalon and then forward to present day, two very different worlds where only a few of the same people are found in both. Mainly when reincarnated, whether they remember the past lives is another thing entirely.

Goddess has grown tired of the games and politics of all the Others (Fates, Time, Balance, Death, Birth, Darkness, Light, Justice, Hope, Agony and God himself). She longs for a tranquil place to call her own. But to create a new world, as she can so easily do, without the Others is now forbidden. The last time Goddess and God created without them was when the Angels came into existence. Not created by all, so not bound by the same rules. This doesn’t stop her from creating Avalon though. A place made from the very heart and soul of her but a world that must stay hidden. On another of her worlds, one that is dying and will soon cease to exist is a girl, someone who holds a piece of her own light within her. She knows she shouldn’t but can’t stop herself from saving her and taking her to Avalon. Naming her Adamina she enlists the girls love and asks her to become her Priestess and protect Avalon. She now has a calm existence from the terrors she grew up with but is lonely. Connecting with animals and the world around her is one thing but she longs to connect to a person, to have a friend. So Goddess lifts a veil for a ship to sail through and with it brings Pagan.

Pagan is given the same request to worship the Goddess as she would worship a mother. To teach Adamina the ways of people and care for the land with those that came with her, but her own request is what changes Avalon the most. To have the shipping port left open so trade can come and go. The island has stories attached to it to stop people venturing too far inland, well that and a little help from Gabriel. Only those worthy pass and soon a family of women and young children become the Priestesses of Goddess. To honour her whether she is near or far. It’s when she is away that things start to change. Mainly by the arrival of Angels, something she always feared.

Gabriel had grown tired of his existence and longed for a place to retire. He went to his mother, Goddess, and she sent him to Avalon as long as he would keep it secret and watch over Adamina. To protect her as she grows, keeping her safe. He stays hidden from view for many years. Watching and helping along the way until he hears rumours of God sending out Angels to look for Avalon. His time away leaves Avalon and Adamina open to danger. Said danger in the form of Uriel, an Angel so easily manipulated by others. He makes her a deal to keep Avalon safe from other Angels if she will become his wife. A deal she may soon regret when she sees his true nature and finally accepts her true feelings for Gabriel when she meets him. Years pass and with them come children. All gifted in their own way but all girls. Uriel wants a son, someone to mould in his image and it seems willing do whatever it takes to get one, whether it leads to the destruction of Avalon and Adamina in the process.

I think that part two should have started with the most present day reincarnation of them all rather than jumping around others a few hundred years apart. Or had that as a mini part between the two. This second part is like another complete story following Elizabeth, who was Adamina in her past lives. She is still followed closely by those who would seek to use her power – Lucifer being at the top of that list closely followed by Uriel who just turns out to be crazy. Gabriel just wants to find the other part of his soul but even he has his stupid moments where you are like ‘what are you playing at she is your soul mate stop messing about!’ Everyone is still connected and Elizabeth still has power but something hides her true strength. She is going to need that strength again to take down Lucifer before he strikes. His greed for power will be his downfall and Uriel will soon follow suit.

I would have liked to know what happened to all of Adamina’s children. You know they escape but then you just start jumping through time following her and Gabriel. Can they find their way back to each other and if they do will they be stuck in the past or live in the present? Interesting read with creating a wealth of worlds and characters, all interlinking with each other in their own way to get to one final showdown. Good vs. evil lets see who wins.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem’ by Jennifer Arnston

Title: Scavenger Girl: Season of Atchem

Published: 20th October 2017

Author: Jennifer Arnston

Facebook: www.facebook.com/scavengergirl

Twitter: @JennArntson and @Una_of_Ashlund

Instagram: www.instagram.com/scavenger_girl_series

 

Synopsis:

Stripped of their birthright and shunned by the people of Ashlund, Una and her family are forced to live on the fringe of society as Scavengers. There is no question that her family’s bond is strong, but the law of the Authority is stronger…and soon it will come to collect her. After all, the family is on borrowed time already.

When a night of torment and truth reveals well kept secrets, Una takes new freedoms – free from the Authority, her family, and possibly her fate. Pulled between the life she’s always known and a world where status and rituals are everything, Una struggles to understand a culture that has rejected all she holds dear. As Atchem comes to an end and she learns who she really is, will Una find the courage to do what it takes to ensure her family’s survival, or will she find the faith to follow her heart?

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2017 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book set on another planet. Now this world is similar to our own but different in others. More moons for one so I’m counting it as another planet. An interesting one to delve into anyway so enjoy.

Delve into a fantasy world with a family full of secrets and mystery. When these secrets come out they could turn their world up side down in a moment. Dreams could be clues and if you get a weird feeling about someone you should really listen to it.

Una, Calish, Marsh’s parents have been stripped of their birthright as Citizens, which branded them and their future children as Scavengers. They survive by picking up what others too easily discard without really being seen. Scavengers have much to be fearful of with the Authority. The first being that any daughters they have are sold at the first sign of womanhood at the festival, said festival coming up with Una soon to be attending. The other being the Talium Hunt where if her family aren’t safe behind their barriers it seems they are fair game in the hunt. All Una really wants is a way to protect her family from what’s coming. Seems a vision put everything in motion from the moment she was born. She’s different and is only now starting to figure out the world around her and her place in it.

A way for Una to save her family and get security for herself comes in the form of Blue. Now don’t get too blown over with his soft charm to begin with, as he seems to have an entitled feel to him the more you get to know him. He gets what he wants when he wants and right know he wants Una. He might want to shower her with gifts but the luxuries of the Citizens grow old when you see how twisted they have become with the gods they worship. Seems a lesson has been lost along the way. Blue says he will give her time to win her heart but that’s going to be hard to do as it belongs to another.

Una has a lot of thinking to do and it’s not helped when she is almost thrown into the deep end with what the festival is really like. Her family only has to by law attend the last evening and you can see why they would have shielded her from the other days. This is not a festival to be celebrated as some really despicable things happen there in the name of their “gods”. Things Una wishes she could unsee. Seems her mother might have the right idea to just worship the Great One. Seems we might be seeing a bit more of this in future books.

Now one brother’s story I didn’t see coming but the others and hers you could see a mile off. But that was from snippets of conversations people were either having to Una or around her when they thought she wasn’t listening. It’s giving you breadcrumb clues to try and see if you can figure it out before she does.

A good setup for the fantasy world created, very imaginative. Good at interlinking the story around the world and leading you on a journey with Una. Who she chooses and where her journey goes from here on out will be interesting to see. Is she to follow her heart for herself or her head to protect her family? Lets hope we find out soon.

4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘The Heart of Stone’ by Ben Galley

Published: 30th March 2017

Author: Ben Galley

Facebook: www.facebook.com/bengalleyauthor

Twitter: @bengalley

 

Synopsis:

Merciless. Murderer. Monster. He has been called many names in his time.

Built for war and nothing else, he has witnessed every shade of violence humans know, and he has wrought his own masterpieces with their colours. He cared once, perhaps, but far too long ago. He is bound to his task, dead to the chaos he wreaks for his masters.

Now, he has a new master to serve and a new war to endure. In the far reaches of the Realm, Hartlund tears itself in two over coin and crown. This time he will fight for a boy king and a general bent on victory.

Beneath it all he longs for change. For something to surprise him. For an end to this cycle of warfare.

Every fighter has a last fight. Even one made of stone.

 

Review:

This is an intricate story linking together a multitude of players from many sides of the same war fighting for Hartlund. You have the Truehards and the Fadings battling it out, along with the Treyarch who use old magic and a few others who seem to be crossing sides many times over. Are some people playing two sides, three or more because many have their own views on how they want this war to end? How it ends has a lot to do with how everything started. You just need to fill in the blanks about who the players are and what their end game is.

We start with Lesky, a street-smart girl, who sees all, taking everything in. Well you never know what bit of knowledge might come in handy later on. She is also the first person that quickly befriends Task. Her mum always says that you just need five things in common with someone to become best friends. She’s well on her way with Task, especially with a chance of magic being one of those five. He may be a monster to some but she sees something more and with a little help he soon starts to see that too.

Task is the stone Wind-Cut golem – lots of magic, very powerful and best of his kind – that is brought in to help win the war for the Truehards. His master gives him an order and he must obey, but this golem feels and it’s his emotions that they need to watch out for. He has a connection with water and if he touches someone he can feel and see their memories. Not so good when he has to clean up some of the battlefields dead with reliving their final moments. His creator might have thought there was something wrong with him but I think that his emotions make him stronger. He has values and honour in the battlefield and once he starts making friends with the Dregs he almost becomes more human and feels his heart. It seems the moment Task finds his heart its the moment all things come together. Seems Lesky is the key to that too.

Alabast, the Knight of Dawn, is a fighter somewhat down on his luck that seems to catch a break when the Fading hires him to take down Task. Well only after paying off some of his many debts. Taking him down might be easier said than down as whatever you might remove off him in a fight just gets pulled right back to him. Seems a different plan of action needs to be put in play, one where Task’s loyalty to his master would be put in question. This soon entails a road trip of sorts between the two. One I have to say I really liked, it was just one question after another from Alasbast so Task get ready to have your ears talked off.

An interesting character throughout, one that created a lot of questions for me, was Lady Auger aka Baroness Frayne aka Ellia. Seriously love what bloody side are you on and who the hell are you. What is a zealot because I think that plays a part in who/what she is? Does she truly work for the Treyarch or have her own agenda for the good of people and land or herself? She clearly wants revenge for something and is using the war as a means to put a plan in motion to get the result she wants. You won’t get your answers about her true agenda until the end so keep reading.

Seems the story comes full circle as the ending has a lot to do with how the story starts. Its not so much about a world of people double crossing others but creating a spiders web of lies for one purpose. When people are good at lies it’s the truths that will give them away. Truths Lesky, Task and Alabast seem to slowly be figuring out.


4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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