#BlogTour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie by Sharn W. Hutton. This is the second book in The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first book is Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder.

About the Author

Sharn W. Hutton is the author of The Adventures of Phyllo Cane series, the first of which, Phyllo Cane and the Circus of Wonder, was hailed by the judging panel of The Booklife Prize to be ‘dizzyingly bewitching, articulate and intoxicating.’ The next adventure, Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie, is set for release July 31st 2022.

Prior to this foray into the realms of upper middle grade/YA magical fantasy, Sharn wrote cozy mystery based around the irrepressible Angel Drake, in Angel Drake is Going Solo and the short story, Nothing Ventured. Her first novel, It’s Killing Jerry, was a standalone mystery.

Based in Bushey, Hertfordshire, Sharn works from home in the tiny office at the back of the house, which makes up for what it lacks in size and warmth with a rather nice view of the garden. When she isn’t hitting the keyboard (laptop, not piano) she does enjoy a trip to the theatre or cinema and pretends to use the very expensive exercise machine rusting in the summerhouse.

One day she plans to also learn how to play the piano. Visit sharnhutton.com, Follow @sharnious on Instagram

About the book

Magically magnificent, fantastic and ferocious at least, that’s what you’d expect of a fire-breathing dragon. But what if yours won’t come out of its pen to perform? What if the Ringmaster thinks it’s worth more in the apothecary chop-shop than as part of the troupe?

The Beast Whisperer of the Circus of Wonder must bring her beloved dragon back up to its performing peak fast, if she’s to save it, and she thinks she knows what to do.

The unhappy creature needs a mate, but the male sand dragon is a rare beast indeed, and she’ll never be able to catch one alone.

Time for Phyllo to become the Beast Whisperer’s apprentice… Join Phyllo on his next apprenticeship with the Circus of Wonder – a brand new adventure with the fantastic beasts of the Magical Menagerie and a race against time to save their lonely dragon from destruction.

Review

This is the second book in the Phyllo Cane series, and although both books can be read separately, I would recommend reading the first to get the gist of the story. It’s also a good read. 

Phyllo still hasn’t found his place in the Circus as we start this book, unfortunately he thinks he has returned home to perhaps take a place in their small unit. Instead, the Ringmaster wants him to continue on his quest to find the right apprenticeship and finding the right one will also determine whether he can stay near his family. It’s a way to finetune or simply find his own talents and his place in the world of magic.

It’s a story both younger (10 plus) and older readers will enjoy. Filled with magic, wonderfully strange creatures and a circus community that is family in its own strange way. It’s a series with plenty of potential, partly because Phyllo hasn’t quite found his own particular corner and talent yet. And of course, the last sentence of this book is not only a cliff-hanger of sorts – it also promises another great read. 

It’s also the kind of book that speaks to the spark of wonder and imagination we carry within us – worlds full of magic, hidden treasures, and darkened corners full of mystery and surprises. Just the right kind of read to create a lifelong reader. Looking forward to more adventures with Phyllo, and of course seeing where his path leads him, although I have a certain suspicion that his journey of Jack of all trades will culminate in a very specific path.

Buy Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: ‎Star City Press pub date 31 July 2022. Buy at Amazon com.

Amazon International Booklink to Phyllo Cane and the Magical Menagerie: mybook.to/PCATMagicalMenagerie

Amazon International Booklink to Series page: mybook.to/PhylloCane – Current Kindle price: £3.99 – Current Paperback price: £9.99

#Blogtour Valen and the Beasts by G. J. Kemp

 It’s my turn on the Blogtour Valen and the Beasts: A Juno and the Lady Novella by G. J. Kemp.

About the Author

A nomad at heart, GJ has lived in nine countries across Africa, Europe and the Middle East. His career has included working as a Divemaster in The Red Sea, a zookeeper in Israel, and a proofreader in Sweden.

Born with cerebral palsy, GJ has spent a lifetime trying to tie his shoelaces while standing up in the hope of not falling over. It is a constant challenge, but sometimes he occasionally succeeds.

Finding the love for writing later in life, GJ spends most of his free time going for walks and dreaming of story ideas. He hopes to one day have a small place on the oceanfront where he can walk his dogs on the beach. Follow @kemp_gj on Twitter, Visit gjkemp.co.uk

About the book

Valen plucked the glass box off the shelf and gently placed it on his desk. Inside, a set of handcrafted metal circles linked to form the body of his new beast. He closed his eyes and dreamed of the Fairacre residents buying his latest creations.

A commotion outside Valen’s shop brings him back to the present. The Captain has caught the leader of the sewer rats and is parading her in front of Fairacre residents. Her fate will be determined by the townsfolk’s demands. – Valen steps in to defend the leader.

A story of discovery, hope and courage, Valen and the Beasts is a journey of an outsider risking everything to stand up for the people he loves. Will Valen save the leader of the sewer rats? Will he show everyone his secret? Or will he buckle under the pressures of the old conventions? 

Review

This is a novella, and is part of the Juno and The Lady story. I would recommend reading book one to be able to get the gist of the story, this is just a mere glimpse through the keyhole at the universe the author has created.

This short journey in the world the Acre the reader follows Valen, a man who has secrets and likes to stay low-key because of it. At the same time he is also a valiant fighter for what is right and wrong, especially when it comes to the people the world treats like a garbage. In this story he has to make a choice between protecting himself, protecting others or something somewhere in the middle.

I think the dialogue could be a little less he said, she said – it needs more depth and higher level of complexity from a language perspective. This is YA leaning towards MG – young readers can handle it, they don’t need the soft approach. Saying all that, this is absolutely a series with lots of potential and one that readers of all ages will enjoy.

I have to admit this novella wasn’t enough of an hors d’oeuvre for me – I will be reading book one very soon. I hope to read more by this author in the future.

Buy Valen and the Beasts at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎TB5 Publishing; pub date 17 May 2022. Buy via gjkemp.co.uk.

#BlogTour The Heron Kings’ Flight by Eric Lewis

It’s my turn on the BlogTour The Heron Kings’ Flight by Eric Lewis.

About the Author

Eric Lewis’ debut novel, The Heron Kings, is a grimdark adventure exploring rebellion and the dangers of obsessive revenge. Avoiding the monsters and magic common to high fantasy, the monsters here are all too human, and extraordinary groups of ordinary people can make their own kind of magic when they’ve finally had enough. The Heron Kings’ Flight is the second book in the series.

Eric has also written several works of speculative short fiction published in various venues including Nature, Cossmass Infinities, Electric Spec, Bards & Sages Quarterly, as well as the anthology Crash Code, the short story collection Tricks of the Blade, and others detailed at ericlewis.ink. Follow @TheHeronKing on Twitter

About the book

The Heron Kings have been betrayed. A century after their formation from a gang of desperate peasant insurgents, the shadowy band of forest rangers suffers a rare defeat when a skirmish turns into a bloody ambush. Their shaky truce with the crown is tested as young members Linet and Aerrus work to track down their enemies. When reluctant peacetime soldier Eyvind reveals a conspiracy to welcome the charismatic invader Phynagoras, the trio must convince a weak king and pitifully few allies to stand against the storm.

Their only hope lies in the forgotten tactics of their own guerrilla past, and a terrifying new alchemical weapon the likes of which the world had never imagined. The only question is which side will be destroyed by it first…

Review

This is the second book in the Heron Kings’ series, although this can absolutely be read as a standalone book, I would highly recommend reading the first one.

There is massive twist at the end of the book, so I shall tread carefully with as little info as possible, whilst simultaneously trying to do the book justice. It’s a heck of a ride, an intricate plot with plenty of room to expand further with more books.

When Aerrus returns from his duties alone and without the rest of his faithful companions and fierce fighters he enlists the first person he encounters to return to get a bit of blood and revenge. Linet and Aerrus stumble upon something that points towards betrayal and a sense of impending doom. Their hidden community is at risk – the question is who is behind the insidious attack and why, the real question is why.

I think it’s fair to say the author is willing to pull out the big guns to keep readers captivated and coming back. Just a wee bit ruthless, but effective. I look forward to seeing where this series goes next – it has to, you can’t just leave a reader hanging after such a tumultuous read.

Buy The Heron Kings’ Flight at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: ‎Flame Tree Press,  pub date 17 May 2022. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Flame Tree Press.

#BlogTour The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour The Girl and the Moon by Mark Lawrence.

‘The final Book in the stellar new series from bestselling fantasy author of Prince of Thorns and Red Sister, Mark Lawrence.’

About the Author

Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to British parents but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. He says he never had any ambition to be a writer so was very surprised when a half-hearted attempt to find an agent turned into a global publishing deal overnight. 

His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol. Follow @Mark__Lawrence on Twitter

About the book

The fate of the world hangs from the Moon. The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction.

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.

Review

After the first few chapters I knew I would have to go back to the beginning of this trilogy and experience the entirety of the premise and intricate worldbuilding. Saying that, this can absolutely be read as a standalone, and the author has added a short four page – the story so far – recap, for readers  who are new to the series.

I have to say kudos at this point because it’s not a simple task to condense such a mammoth fantasy concept, and the characters, into a short pitch. The kind of recap you can understand and helps a reader to jump right in at the deep end of the third Book of Ice.

Aside from the complexity of the plot, which is a superbly layered sweetmeat of fantasy, origin, myth, science and great writing, there also a nice wee exploration of the area between right and wrong. Where rules pave the directions of the roads societies walk upon, there will always be cracks and areas in between.

And who determines whether those who wander within those areas off the beaten path are rebels, outlaws or indeed the hero in the story? Are the helpful gestures made in an attempt to interfere or support – looking straight at the Convent of Sweet Mercy.

I’m not sure a review can do the plot justice without giving something pivotal away. Every interaction pushes Yaz further toward what everyone expects of her – being the key and answer to the Ark of the Missing. But what if there is so much more to the Missing than everyone thinks?

Reading the last paragraph I can only hope there will be more, so many directions to take and avenues to explore. Right? One can only hope. I know many feel this is his fantasy work come full circle – I don’t, there is always another path to be taken. 

Buy The Girl and the Moon at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Voyager pub date 28 April 2022│HB £14.99│EB £8.99│EA £14.49. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Harper Collins.

#Blogtour for The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport

It’s a pleasure to take part in the Blogtour for The Blood Trials by N.E. Davenport. The Blood Gift series is definitely one to keep an eye on, as is the author.

About the Author

Nia “N.E.” Davenport is the Science Fiction/Fantasy author of The Blood Trials and its sequel (Harper Voyager). She attended the University of Southern California and studied Biological Sciences and Theatre Arts. She also has an M.A. in Secondary Education. She teaches English and Biology to amazing students. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys vacationing with her family, skiing, and being a huge foodie. She’s an advocate for diverse perspectives and protagonists in literature. 

Follow @Nia_Davenport on Twitter or @nia.davenport on Instagram, where she talks about binge-worthy TV, killer movies, and great books. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids.

About the book

It’s all about blood. – Blood spilled long ago between the Republic of Mareen and the armies of the Blood Emperor, ending all blood magic.

Now there is peace in the Republic – but there is also a strict class system, misogyny, and racism. Her world is not perfect, but Ikenna survived in it. Until now.

With the murder of her grandfather, Ikenna spirals out of control. Though she is an initiate for the Republic’s deadly elite military force, Ikenna has a secret only her grandfather knew: she possesses the blood magic of the Republic’s enemies.

Ikenna throws herself into the gladiatorial war games at the heart of her martial world: trials that will lead her closer to his killers. Under the spotlight, she subjects herself to abuse from a society that does not value her, that cherishes lineage over talent – all while hiding gifts that, if revealed, would lead to execution or worse. Ikenna is willing to risk it all to find out who killed her grandfather…

So she can end them.

Review

When your chosen path, your destined path even, is ripped away from you when you least expect it, then you’re allowed to feel salty about it. If the rerouting of your path is fueled by a need to seek the truth and vengeance, then the salty attitude is understandable, although it may cost you a friend or two on the way there. The murder of Ikenna’s grandfather changes her path and sets her on a bloodthirsty, ruthless and character defining one instead.

I loved Ikenna’s anger – rage even.  Is that wrong of me, to enjoy the growly ragey killey vibe Ikenna brings to the table throughout the entire story? The ‘I don’t give two goats – I will never forget and always remember to dot my t’s and i’s, with the weapon of my choice’ – yeh that vibe.

It certainly has a Brown’s Howler’s vibe, and a societal structure fights for restructure and against oppression Red Rising vibe. It doesn’t shy away from the need to assert, for the show of violence, and it doesn’t pull any punches. I enjoyed the snarly, snarky, I talk the talk and walk the walk attitude and feel of the story. Ikenna is such a strongly written voracious character that she leaves a lasting impression.

I have to say I am absolutely loving all of the new voices, directions and reinventions of genres. Davenport is definitely an author to watch going forward. Fantastic energy, creative and wonderfully powerful main character. I would love to see this in screen format. Bring on the next one – soon!

Buy The Blood Trials at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher ‏: HarperVoyager pub date 14 April 2022. Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogTour Crimson Reign by Amélie Wen Zhao

It’s time for The Conclusion to the Blood Heir Trilogy -it’s the Blogtour for Crimson Reign by Amélie Wen Zhao.

About the Author

Amélie Wen Zhao was born in Paris and grew up in Beijing in an international community. Her multicultural upbringing instilled in her a deep love of global affairs and cross-cultural perspectives. 

She seeks to bring this passion to her stories, crafting characters from kingdoms in different corners of the world. She attended college in New York City, where she now lives. Amélie is the author of the Blood Heir series: Blood Heir, Red Tigress, and Crimson Reign. Follow @ameliewenzhao on Twitter,  Visit ameliezhao.com

About the book

The Red Tigress, Ana Mikhailov, has returned to Cyrilia, but the country she once called home has fallen under a dark rule. Across the land, the Empress Morganya is tightening her grip on Affinites and non-Affinites alike.

Ana dealt a blow to the Empress when she and her allies turned back Morganya’s troops, but she couldn’t stop Morganya from gaining possession of a dangerous new weapon with the power to steal Affinities.

Ana’s forces are scattered, and her alliance with the rebel group, the Red Cloaks, is becoming more frayed by the day. What’s worse, she’s lost her Affinity to blood and without it, Ana barely knows who she is anymore – or if she has the strength to defeat Morganya.

Morganya’s reign of terror is close to crushing the nation Ana was born to rule. And now Ana will finally face the sinister empress, but will she survive? Will anyone? And will her Empire welcome her back to the throne, or turn her out to survive on her own.

The Affinites and Non-Affinites of Cyrilia will determine Ana’s future, if Morganya doesn’t kill her first.

Review

This is the conclusion to the fantastic Blood Heir trilogy, and I highly recommend reading the other books in the series to get the full gist and experience of it – not to be missed. It’s the kind of series you go back and read all over again.

It’s a plot that from the very beginning has drawn from reality when it comes to parallels in the oppression, rebellion, cross-cultural complexities and politics. Almost a reverse magical realism – no pun intended – if indeed fantasy were reality. A seemingly familiar plot of family power struggles, misaligned love and powers that wield both from cruelty and passion, which culminates in a riveting plot and invigorating read.

The author does an excellent job of keeping the story going with just as much zest as before, despite the fact Ransom and Ana have their own paths and storylines to finish – I wonder if pressed whether readers could identify the character who is actually the lead. I’m guessing that’s probably a mixed bag of opinions, because from the very beginning both the two of them, and other major players have attracted their individual supporters.

It’s a tightly created and executed fantasy – maybe worthy of an off-shoot series perhaps – and it’s a shame to say goodbye to the characters and story. Kudos for giving readers a multitude and variety of strong female character, especially the hardcore ones who balance on the wrong side of life. I think the ending was what the world wanted, as opposed to leaving everyone infuriated, hanging on a cliff or eager for another part. I can’t wait to read what the author comes up with next.

Buy Crimson Reign at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HarperVoyager pub date 3rd March 2022 | Hardback | Ebook | Audio | £14.99 Buy at Amazon comAt Harper Collins.

#BlogBlitz Raven Fire by Emma Miles

 It’s my turn on the BlogBlitz Raven Fire by Emma Miles.

About the Author

‘I often get asked when I knew I was a writer; the answer is always. A writer is what I am, it’s in my soul. There have been times in my life when I couldn’t write, and times when my writing has been the only thing that kept me going. I think I always longed for something deeper from life, something more meaningful, and I found it in my imagination and in the music of words.

It was poetry which first caught my attention, and whilst my younger cousins called for ghost stories it was animals I first wrote of. I think I gravitated toward fantasy because of the freedom it gives, I could create my own worlds and decide my own rules. My Wind’s Children trilogy was born from an image that came to me whilst daydreaming, of a young man sitting alone below a bridge. I didn’t know who he was; it turns out neither did he, but we found out together.

I’m now working on my eleventh book and love writing more than ever, it’s an addiction, an obsession, but one I now share with my wonderful writing family. My beta readers, my editor, and you, my readers, having you with me on my journey means the world to me.

I write as much as I can around work, but I also try to squeeze in a ridiculous amount of hobbies! I’m a wildlife photographer and do a little archery. I paint, sculpt with clay, withies and driftwood, preferring to be outdoors if I can. I still have a love for the theatre, having started out in life studying backstage crafts, and a great love for language. I speak a little French, Romanian and Italian, ma non molto bene!

Thanks for reading this. If you read any of my books and love them, please come say hello and tell me, you’d be surprised at how much that means to an author. Take care of yourself. Em x’

Follow @EmmaMilesShadow on Twitter, on Facebook EmmaMilesShadow,

About the book

Is prophecy real; can Arridia and Joss defeat a god?

Evil never sleeps, and neither can the fire spirits who have guarded Kesta and her family so faithfully for more than fourteen years. United in a desire for peace, the four lands beneath the sky have enjoyed relative stability, but under the surface stirs unrest. Greed, ambition, disquiet, rebellion; and the ever-present threat of Geladan’s crazed god discovering she has been fooled.

Quiet Arridia is a Raven Scout, dedicated to the principles and hopes of her parents. When an opportunity presents itself to come home, she grasps it, longing to settle and find the love she has patiently waited for.

 Fun-loving Joss is drawn to the court of Elden with all its colour, noise, and intrigue; but has he taken on more than a young man can survive? Raven Fire is the final part of the breath-taking Fire-Walker saga. If you could, would you dare to change the world?

Review

This is the fourth book in the Fire Walker series and also the final one. I do think it would be a good idea to read the first books in the series to get a better overall view and feel for the characters and story. It can however be read as a standalone novel.

Raven Fire is for the majority split between The Fulmer Islands and Elden. In Elden the children of King Bracticus are struggling with the demands of a father who has certain expectations and thinks those should go before their own wishes and desires. And the Fulmer Islands are gripped by insidious dark witchcraft.

It’s the kind of story and ending that deserves a no hint review, especially for readers who have read the entire series. Miles certainly does it justice by bringing all the threads together – even if those threads have been woven through the entire series.

There are a lot of characters, almost too many to follow any one character well or give them more depth. Given the fact the reader is already immersing themselves into a complex fantasy world it makes it harder to get into said tale and what an ambitious and intricate story it is. I liked the fact it has a family saga vibe, giving it a generational fantasy feel. 

I also think there are opportunities for offshoots of this premise. Enough characters to create a story or series that evolves from this one.

Buy Raven Fire at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Buy at Amazon com.

#BlogTour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J.A. Harwood

It’s an absolute pleasure to take part in the Blogtour The Shadow in the Glass by J.J. A. Harwood. A dark fairy tale set against a Victorian backdrop full of lace and smoke.

About the Author

JJA Harwood is an author, editor and blogger. She grew up in Norfolk, read History at the University of Warwick and eventually found her way to London, which is still something of a shock for somebody used to so many fields. When not writing, she can be found learning languages, cooking with more enthusiasm than skill, wandering off into clearly haunted houses and making friends with stray cats. the Shadow in the Glass is her debut novel.

Follow @JJAHarwood @HarperVoyagerUK on Twitter, on Goodreadson Amazon, Visit jowritesstuff.wordpress.com,  #TheShadowIntheGlass

About the book

Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, while among her beloved books, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…

Melding history and fairy tale, this is a dark and intelligent new take on the story of Cinderella that looks at women, the price of labour and the cost of hope.

Review

Poor Ella should be in a more suitable and respectable position. Her former mistress had such plans for her, but unfortunately life has decided to twist the knife. Instead she has been relegated to the life of a skivvy working in a household with vindictive fellow housemaids and a master who thinks servitude equals his gratification – if he so wishes.

After a particularly bad encounter with a conniving wench, Ella finds herself confronted with a business proposition of sorts. She gets her hearts desire and in turn she owes something priceless – nothing is ever for free, everything has a price. Sometimes the price is very dear indeed.

It’s soon apparent that having your wishes granted is literally too good to be true, when each wish takes on a bit of a morbid and sometimes lethal slant. Nothing is ever clear cut when it comes to magic, folklore or those elements in the atmosphere we just can’t explain.

In this gothic retelling of a fairytale which has similarities to Cinderella, the author takes the essence of the story back to its roots, which is dark and not the Disneyesque version everyone knows. This version with all of its somber reality and stark consequences is more in line with any original so-called fairytales.

The author gives old morals and troubles a more modern twist, albeit ones set in a time where class structures determined whether you were at the top of the hierarchy pyramid or at the bottom and at the mercy of wealthy predators.

It’s a riveting tale of magical realism with a hook into the magic of fairytales, whilst skimming the reality of hidden desires and uncomfortable truths. An excellent debut novel.

Buy The Shadow in the Glass at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Harper Voyager; pub date 18th March 2021 – Hardback, eBook & audio | £14.99. Buy at Amazon com. At Waterstones.

#MiniBlogblitz Pixeldust by T.K. Arispe

Today it’s my turn on the Mini Blog Blitz Pixeldust by T.K. Arispe.

About the Author

T. K. Arispe is an illustrator, gamer, and unashamed nerd with a background in animation and webcomic production, including the webcomic Trainer Wants to Fight! which somehow got its own page on TVTropes. She loves interesting stories, well-crafted worlds, and memorable characters, and is passionate about creating quality, intelligent, slightly offbeat media that everyone can enjoy. Most of her story ideas come from random research binges, usually in the fields of theoretical physics, computer science, or oddly enough food history. She lives in California, where she enjoys not having to deal with snow because it is terrifying.

Follow on Facebook, on Instagram, on Goodreads, Visit tkarispe.comBuy Pixeldust

About the book

Maria Elena thought she’d sworn off gaming forever. But she hates her new internship, so her brother Balt convinces her to play Heroes of Avonell, a cutting-edge virtual-reality video game with such complex programming that it’s like the non-player characters are self-aware.

Disappointed with the usual cliché job class offerings, Maria Elena’s character Quinny stumbles through a glitch in the game and ends up in Caed Dhraos, a strange city populated with friendly monsters. Quinny decides to work for the resident dark lord as part of his magic personnel, but she can’t tell anybody she’s playing in off-limits areas of the game—not even Balt. Soon Quinny finds herself getting to the bottom of a mystery surrounding an ancient demon and why Caed Dhraos is suffering from the Blight.

But the artificial intelligences in the game really are self-aware, and some of Avonell’s so-called “heroes” have decided they don’t like humanity very much. The game has gone out of control, and Maria Elena and her new friends have to find a way to set things right. Can she save Avonell – and Earth – while juggling her real job and trying to salvage her crumbling relationship with her brother?

Pixeldust is a dive into a fantastical, fun virtual world where the universe may be made of data, but the dangers, friendships, magic, and lessons learned are very real.

Review

Maria Elena is unhappy in her dreary job as an accountant. She really misses the world of gaming and being able to connect with her brother through games. She promised herself that she would be more of a grown-up and stay away from the virtual temptation. Famous last words.

Her brother convinces her to have some well deserved downtime and to try out a new game. Avonell turns out to be so much more than just an RPG. It challenges her perception of games and her priorities in life, when life the game inside takes on an authenticity she just wasn’t expecting.

The plot plays on the increasingly popular topic of AI and where the lines are drawn between Artificial Intelligence and human intelligence, and how those lines are being crossed more often as technology advances.

I can imagine this is a scenario a gamer would love and perhaps quite a few readers too, when the fantasy is real and being able to immerse yourself into the game is a reality. When characters are no longer just fiction, but rather a tangible reality.

This is fantasy that fell into the YA bracket for me and would also be suitable for younger readers. Although saying fantasy, perhaps this is the start of a new sub-genre – gaming fantasy, gaming fanfic fantasy. If that’s the case then it definitely has plenty of potential as a genre and one Arispe could explore further.

Buy Pixeldust – ebook and Paperback Amazon com or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. 

#BlogTour Blood Metal Bone by Lindsay Cummings

It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Blood Metal Bone by Lindsay Cummings.

About the Author

Blood Metal Bone is the astounding new novel from New York Times best-selling author Lindsay Cummings. Follow @authorlindsayc on Twitter, on Goodreads, on Amazon, Visit lindsaycummingsbooks.com, Buy Blood Metal Bone

About the book

Her destiny was death. The shadows brought her back.

Wrongly accused of her brother’s murder, Sonara’s destiny was to die, sentenced to execution by her own mother. Punished and left for dead, the shadows have cursed her with a second life as a Shadowblood, cast out and hunted by society for her demon-like powers.

Now known as the Devil of the Deadlands, Sonara survives as a thief on the edge of society, fighting for survival on a quest to uncover what really happened to her brother and whether he is even dead at all…

Review

Sonara is part of the revered Shadowbloods, and yet she is both despised and never accepted as one at the same time. Born to and by a mother who never wanted her, and treated like an unwanted skivvy. Not all of her half-siblings agree with the way she is mistreated though. Her brother, the heir to the kingdom shows her kindness, even if it has to be kept a secret.

When she is blamed for his untimely disappearance it is an instant death sentence and so begins the saga of Sonora. Her death is an end and a beginning. It’s a journey of discovery, of worlds untethered and to be explored. The darkness that follows and fuels Sonora leads her to the answers she desperately seeks.

Cummings has created a smorgasbord of fantasy and sci-fi with a hint of brutal medieval times. The result is an extremely dark and yet intellectually invigorating read. The reader goes from the intricate woven threads of fantasy world-building only to be swept away to the heavens as the author opens the door to the sci-fi element of the story. Just roll with it.

Based on the premise and plotting I wouldn’t be surprised to see this evolve into a series, however it absolutely can stand as a single piece of work. I would love to see Cummings delve into the Shadowblood and powers side of the story a bit more. Either way it is an engaging read.

Buy Blood Metal Bone at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: HQ Young Adult pub date 7 Jan. 2021. Buy at Amazon com. At Hive. Bookshop org. Waterstones.