Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Book Review: Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones

Calling all Labyrinth fans – this book, inspired by the author’s love of the film starring David Bowie as the Goblin King is a musical journey into the Underworld.

Liesl lives with her family in Germany near the Goblin Grove deep in the forest. She dreams of being a composer and her brother, the other half of her soul, plays her compositions. 

Her music attracts the attention of the Erlkonig  (Goblin King) and his minions. Drawing inspiration from Christina Rossetti’s poems as well as the aforementioned film, as winter turns, can our heroine escape the goblins’ lair and return to the World Above before the memory of her fades forever? 

I really liked this – fairy tale retellings are a bit favourite of mine and this is a well written one. German fairy tales aren’t as widely known as they should be, especially not the darkness within. 

This book was in my most recent Illumicrate, which means it’s a bit of a lucky find – I might not have read it otherwise as there are so many great books out there. 

If you like romance, adventure, fairy tales and plucky heroines, this book’s for you. 

Book Tour – Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsells 

Book Tour – Ashael Rising by Shona Kinsells 

Today I’m hosting a stop on the book tour for this new fantasy novel. Read on to find out more.

Ashael is a hunter-gatherer woman, apprenticed to Bhearra, the healer and spiritual leader of their tribe. 
The Zanthar are invaders from another world who extend their own lives by stealing the life-force of everything around them. They were last seen on KalaDene 200 years ago. They have returned, looking for The Vessel, a being prophesied to hold the life-force of the land.

Iwan is a slave to the Zanthar, descendant of the folk that were taken as slaves the last time the Zanthar visited this world. He is sent out as a spy, while his mother is held hostage to ensure his compliance.

When Iwan and Ashael meet and she invites him to stay in Oak Cam, neither of them realise that she is the one the Zanthar seek.  The fate of KalaDene and all of its people rests on Ashael’s shoulders.

Author details

Shona Kinsella is a fantasy author who lives near the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, in the west of Scotland. She is a member of the British Fantasy Society where she writes reviews of indie books. Shona has a degree in Law from the University of Strathclyde where she learned a lot about narrative structure.; everyone loves a story. 
Shona enjoys spending time outdoors and much of her writing is inspired by the environment that she lives in, at the edge of Scotland’s first national park. When she is not writing, she enjoys geocaching with her husband and children and reading as many books as she can get her hands on.

You can find out more about the book and Shona at the following places. 

Unbound  Facebook Author website

 Twitter Instagram

Just to get you in the mood to read the book, here’s an extract to get you going. Enjoy. 

“All-Mother, you who gave birth to the world, watch over this woman and her child, Bhearra prayed silently. She had lost the thread of the baby’s consciousness and was deeply worried. Soraya screamed as another contraction struck. Ashael wiped the pregnant woman’s face with a cloth dipped in cool water. Bres paced the room. It was mid-afternoon and Soraya was exhausted.

‘We’re almost there now, Soraya. Get ready to push.’ Bhearra squeezed Soraya’s hand, keeping her voice calm, trying not to show her concern. The poor woman was frightened enough. As the next contraction arrived, Soraya pushed as hard as she could, gripping Bhearra’s hands hard enough to press the old bones together, and the top of the baby’s head appeared.

‘I can’t. I can’t push anymore.’

‘One more and the head will be out, and then I can help you,’ Bhearra replied with a soothing voice. She pushed a little of her own energy into the woman before her. She had been doing this for some time now and did not have much more to spare. With the next contraction, the baby’s head was out, face white and lips blue. Bhearra soon saw why: the umbilical cord was wrapped around the baby’s neck. Another contraction pushed a shoulder out while Soraya screamed, and Bhearra was able to get her fingers under the cord, pulling it slightly away from the baby’s neck. With quick, sure movements, Bhearra took the foraging knife attached to her belt and cut the cord, pulling the baby the rest of the way out with the next contraction. 

The baby had not yet taken a breath. Bhearra moved her out of view. She blew into the baby’s face then slapped her bottom. Still nothing. 

‘What’s happening? Is my baby alright?’ Soraya asked, gasping in exhaustion.

‘Ashael can help you with the afterbirth,’ answered Bhearra. ‘I’m just going to get the little one cleaned up.’ 

Bhearra moved towards the doorway as she spoke, Bres close behind. Speaking in a low voice, she told him what had happened. Bres looked back at his mate and began to weep silent tears.

‘Hush now. All is not lost.’ Bhearra held the baby before her then closed her eyes, once more stretching her senses out beyond her own body, searching for the lingering spirit of the baby. Nothing. Nothing… There! A spark of life floated nearby. The filidh breathed this spark in and then blew it gently toward the baby’s face. Nothing happened. Please, All-Mother.

The baby gasped and let out a great cry.

Bres fell to his knees and Soraya burst into tears. Bhearra gave a small smile, letting out a shaky breath as she moved over to Soraya and handed the baby to her.

‘You have a beautiful baby girl. What will you name her?’

‘Bhearrael. For the woman who brought her to us,’ Alayne answered.

‘Sirion bless you. You saved her life,’ Bres said. ‘How can we ever thank you?’

‘Nonsense; I didn’t save her. I just showed her the way home. She did the rest herself.” 

And as if that wasn’t enough – you could win a £20 Amazon giftcard and a copy of the book. All you have to do is click here.

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

Book review: Caravel- Stephanie Garber

This has been incredibly well promoted and publicised online so when I got a copy I was quite keen to see if it lived up to the hype. 

Firstly it’s a good looking book, I know you should never judge a cover but it does add something when the book looks good too. 

I’m very into books set at fairgrounds, carnivals and freak shows, I think it’s my preference for the “other” in fiction. 

Caravel is set at something between a carnival and a theatrical experience – a living theatre that has been known to drive people a little mad. 

Scarlett and Donatella are ruled by their strict and cruelty father but Scarlett’s upcoming marriage to a man she has never met could equal freedom. 

However Scarlett has been writing letters to the mysterious Legend, who owns Caravel, and shortly before she’s due to marry, he finally invites the sisters to his private island to play his twisted game. If they go, it could change everything. 

This is YA fiction and sometimes the best books come from this genre. Unfortunately I don’t think this is one of them. The premise is great but it struggles in the execution. 

At times the plot felt a little weak and repetitive, at others the characters grated slightly. It wasn’t the worst book ever, not even close, but I’m not desperate for the sequel (which is bound to be written considering the ending). 

It just wasn’t up there for me. I think Angela Carter ruined this style of Magical realism for me (Nights at the Circus is sublime fantastical writing). 

Book Preview: Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

Book Preview: Red Sister – Mark Lawrence

This ARC was in Illumicrate 6 and I didn’t so much read it as devour it in one sitting. 

I liked Lawrence’s previous trilogy The Broken Empire so I knew his style but this book was just so good I couldn’t put it down. 

It’s fantasy but it’s also a thriller. Nona Grey is given to the child-seller and sent off to the capital where her life is saved by a rather unusual (by our standards) convent. 

Nona comes to see that what makes her different makes her special. 

I desperately don’t want to spoil this for anyone but it’s really good. Lots of mystery and intrigue, great plotting and characterisation. Well written and gripping. 

It’s properly published in April but I already can’t wait for the sequel which probably won’t appear till next year. 

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Crooked Kingdom – Leigh Bardugo

If you haven’t read the prequel, Six of Crows, go do so and come back. 


Has Kez Brekker gone too far this time? After being double crossed at the end of Six of Crows he and his gang are after revenge.  

An elaborate scheme to get what they’re owed and then some, but with enemies piling up and short on resources, can Kez and Co pull it off? 

This is a read it in one sitting book, rip roaring alone at some pace and peopled with the characters I loved in the first book. Nina the Grisha Heartrender and her stoic Fjerdan love Matthew, fast on the draw Jesper and clever but illiterate Wylan.

This definitely needs to be read after Six of Crows, so much of the plot depends on knowing the first book. 

I don’t want to say too much or spoil the book so I’ll post this very short almost a review. 

If you love fantasy and thrillers, read Six of Crows and then read Crooked Kingdom. 

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

Book Review: Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

I got this in my last Illumicrate and for some reason put off reading it till now. I think I just wasn’t sure about it. Foolish me. This book is a right cracker. 

Mia Corvere was once a pampered daughter of a wealthy and important man, now she is a creature of death and shadows.  

She wants vengeance for the deaths of her family and will train in the ways of the Red Church to get there, if it doesn’t kill her. 

The writing is strong and the characters are fun, from a horse called Bastard to the shadow-cat only Mia can see, they’re richly drawn and as the plot thickens and gathers tempo I found it harder and harder to put it down. 

The first in a planned trilogy Nevernight is set in an alternate world, with three suns in the sky and warring gods whose squabbles are echoed by their believers. 

The Bookish Box – Fantasy Edition

The Bookish Box – Fantasy Edition

I do love a box of book related goodies so I treated myself to a Bookish Box. They come from the States so take a while to get here, but they’re worth it. 

This month’s is Fantasy themed, one of my favourite genres, and every item has a link to a fantasy book or series. 

I don’t drink coffee but I live with a caffeine addict, so while I won’t get any use out of this Passive Juice Motel Saphira Eragon Blend Coffee someone else certainly will. 

I read the info card before I saw this so at first I was expecting a different kind of antler headband. However this is really cute and as I’m trying new hair styles in the heat, the Night and Day Baby Fantasy Antler Headband will be making an appearance on my head. 

This cute bangle from The Geeky Cauldron, inspired by Game of Thrones almost set me off again. *spoiler * the death of Hodor really upset me, he was probably the noblest soul in the series and in the books. 

Why is the coffee fuzzy?

The Mortal Instruments series isn’t one I’ve read so I may not be fully appreciating this tote bag from Fiction Tea, but since shops charge for plastic and canvas is washable, this will definitely be added to my hoard of shopping bags. 

Antlers!

Finally there’s the exclusive Appraising Pages t-shirt from the Bookish Box’s creators. This month’s is printed with a quote from one of the fathers of fantasy – J.R.R Tolkien. 

Hold the Door *sob*

I really like this box, even the packaging is lovely, and I’m pretty sure everything will get used and loved. 

Bag story

Are you a fantasy reader? Or a Bookish Box subscriber? Let me know what you think in the comments below. 

A single dream…