Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Firstly I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. This release has been…
Tag: blog tour
Hey everyone! I am SO excited to be taking part in the blog tour for The Ship of Shadows, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to The Write Reads for having me on board. I first read the swashbuckling adventure back in May during Believathon, when I wrote a little review of it, but today I’m diving back in and sharing my deeper thoughts on this nautical novel.
As always with my blog tour posts, I’m going to share a little bit more about The Ship of Shadows with you before I jump into my thoughts, so grab your cutlasses and follow me!
Aleja whiles away her days in her family’s dusty tavern in Seville, dreaming of distant lands and believing in the kind of magic that she’s only ever read about in books. After all, she’s always being told that girls can’t be explorers.
But her life is changed forever when adventure comes for her in the form of a fabled vessel called the Ship of Shadows. Crewed by a band of ruthless women, with cabin walls dripping with secrets, the ship has sailed right out of a legend. And it wants Aleja.
Once on board its shadowy deck, she begins to realize that the sea holds more secrets than she ever could have imagined. The crew are desperately seeking something, and their path will take them through treacherous waters and force them to confront nightmare creatures and pitch-dark magic. It will take all of Aleja’s strength and courage to gain the trust of her fellow pirates – and discover what they are risking everything to find.
Before I review this book, can we all please just take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous this cover is? I went in to Waterstones last week and saw a finished copy in the flesh for the first time and it is SUBLIME. Mad props to Karl James Mountford for designing such a stunning cover.
“You all have such adventurous stories.”
At it’s heart, The Ship of Shadows is a story about stories.
Aleja has always wanted to be an explorer, living for the tales that are told in the local taverns and the books she devours from the university library. She loves stories so much that she uses them to teach herself multiple languages, which is why Captain Elizabeth Quint notices her in the first place – the Ship of Shadows has just lost its linguist, and Aleja is the perfect replacement.
Not only are stories very important to Aleja, but they’re important to the Ship of Shadows itself. It’s powered by magic that is born from the legends and tales that are spread about the ship and its crew, causing new rooms to pop up as the rumours about the legendary ship travel and morph.
Of course, if you’re picking up The Ship of Shadows it’s likely that you’re a reader too, so I’m glad that Maria Kuzniar chose to make her protagonist such a bookworm. It gave me something that made me relate to Aleja, as I don’t relate to her thirst for adventure – I’m a total homebody!
However the gang on the Ship of Shadows made me reconsider that, because this crew of characters is so dynamic that you find yourself desperate to befriend them. My favourite character is unquestionably Frances – a bespectacled pickpocket who is absolutely addicted to cake and other sugary treats – but this is one of the most organically diverse casts I’ve encountered. We have characters from Norway, Sweden, Spain, Africa, London, as well as an LGBTQ+ character and characters with disabilities (because pirates don’t live the safest lives!). If you like reading books that have a very interesting range of characters represented then this is definitely the book for you. I’m not normally a fan of novels which introduce lots of characters very quickly, but Maria Kuzniar makes sure that all of her characters are such individuals that it’s extremely easy to keep track of them all in your mind, which is a huge skill.
I hope that we’re able to join Aleja and the crew on many more adventures in the future. As far as I’m aware nothing has been confirmed regarding a sequel yet, but as I said back in May, this story needs to be continued. I think this could end up being one of my favourite middle grade series of all time, as this is a remarkably strong debut.
I ended up giving in four stars, and the only reason it didn’t get to the five star mark was because I felt as though the ending was a little bit rushed compared to the pace of the first half of the novel. However, I was tempted to bump it up to five stars on my reread, and if I read it again I probably will cave and rate it that little bit higher.
Maria Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world, which inspired her debut novel The Ship of Shadows. Now she lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as she can and bookstagrams at @cosyreads. She is always planning her next adventure.
Once again I’d like to that The Write Reads for allowing me to get involved in this blog tour. The Ship of Shadows has quickly become one of my favourite middle grades, and I can’t wait to see what Aleja and the gang get up to next.
See you next time!
Hello, and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like. First things first, I’d like to say a huge thank you to Meghan from Wednesday Books for reaching out and inviting me to take part in this blog…
Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on the Midnight’s Twins blog tour! A huge thank you to Faye Rogers for organising this tour and letting me take part.
If you’ve been to one of my blog tour posts in the past you’ll know I always tell you a little bit more about the book before I share my thoughts and feelings, so buckle up and let’s get into it.
Fern King is about to uncover a place that she could not have imagined in all her wildest dreams. Annwn is the dream mirror of our world, a place where Dreamers walk in their slumber, their dreams playing out all around them. An enchanted, mysterious place that feeds our own world – as without dreams, without a place where our imaginations and minds can be nourished, what kind of humans would we be?
But Annwn is a place as full of dangers as it is wonders: it is a place where dreams can kill you. Annwn and its Dreamers are protected by an ancient order known as the Knights – and when Fern’s hated twin Ollie is chosen to join their ranks, Fern will have to do whatever she can to prove she is one of them too.
But the world Fern discovers in Annwn, in this dream mirror of her London, is a fragile one, threatened by vicious nightmares. Nightmares that are harder and harder for the Knights to defeat. Something dark is jeopardising the peace and stability of Annwn, something that must be rooted out at all costs. And gradually, Fern realises that the danger lurking inside our sleep is more insidious and terrifying than any nightmare. Because if you can influence someone’s dreams, you can control their thoughts…
Before I review the story itself, can we just take a moment to appreciate that cover?! If possible it’s even more gorgeous in real life. The illustrator, Gavin Reece, deserves mad amounts of praise.
When the book begins we find ourselves back in 2005 following Una King, Fern and Ollie’s mother, as she races across Annwn in the attempt to avoid a dangerous monster called a treitre and get home to her babies. Unfortunately the treitre catches Una, and the next morning back in Ithr she is found dead in bed, believed to have passed away in her sleep.
The prologue made my heart pound and was a very startling introduction to the world of Midnight’s Twins. In fact, it made it impossible to put Midnight’s Twins down, because it gave me so many questions which I just couldn’t wait to get answered, and it certainly gets the award for the most memorable start to a book that I’ve read this year so far.
Fifteen years later, Fern starts receiving mysterious texts from someone who claims that they murdered her mother. Having always accepted the fact that their mother died in her sleep, Fern is determined to find out more about Una and the world of Dreamers which ended up being the death of her.
One of the first things that struck me about Midnight’s Twins was how simple yet effective the contrast between Fern and Una’s viewpoint is. Una’s viewpoint is told in third person, whereas Fern’s is told in first, and it so easy to read. The two viewpoints are impossible to mix up because of how differently they are written, and it makes it a pleasure to dip back into the past and learn more about Una’s time with the Knights. I can’t think of another book which switches from third to first person without it feeling awkward or distracting you from the story, so it really makes this book stand out from the crowd.
It’s pretty impossible to briefly sum up the events of Midnight’s Twins, because so much happens throughout this book. Not only do Fern and Ollie have to undergo training to prove their worthiness as Knights of Annwn, they also have to undergo some serious soul-searching to attempt to repair their relationship. Meanwhile, there’s the big bad Sebastian Medraut: a rising politician in Ithr, and one of the most dangerous figures Annwn has ever seen.
I did find the character of Medraut and his One Voice party to be scarily relevant. With so many politicians across the globe acting as though a vote for them means unquestioning agreement with all of their policies it feels as though people are being silenced, so the concept of a politician whose whole shtick is to get people to be silent is both realistic and terrifying. He’s so charismatic that people can’t see the negative side of him, and it makes him so much easier to hate: I just wanted him to experience his comeuppance, but with this being the first book in a trilogy it wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped it would be for Fern and Ollie to triumph.
There’s so much that I highly recommend about this book, but I’m trying my hardest not to give any spoilers because I want you to discover the story for yourself! I will say that you might want to keep some tissues close by, because there are some seriously heartbreaking named character deaths. This might be marketed as YA and feature teenage characters, but there’s more death in this than you find in most fantasy novels! My jaw dropped a couple of times, because I couldn’t believe that some of these characters were being defeated so early in the series.
The only reason I didn’t give this book five stars is because there were a few scenes which were written a little clunkily. I found myself being thrown out of the story because I had to pause and reread a couple of times to get my head around what was going on, but it didn’t take too long to get back on the horse so it wasn’t a massive issue. That might be because this is a debut or because it’s a series starter, as there is a lot of exposition and world building to craft the world of Annwn properly, but I’m hoping this will become less of an issue as the series continues.
Holly Race works as a development executive in the film and TV industry, most recently with Aardman Animations. Holly is a Faber Academy graduate, and Midnight’s Twins is her debut novel and the first in a trilogy. After spending several happy years in East London, a few streets away from where Fern lives, she now resides in Cambridge with her husband, their daughter and a large black poodle called Nymeria.
If you need me at any point in the next year you’ll be able to find me here, eagerly anticipating the release of the next book in this series.
Once again, a huge thank you to Faye for letting me get involved in this blog tour. I loved Midnight’s Twins much more than I thought I was going to, and if the rest of the trilogy is as strong as this book Holly Race will easily become a new favourite author of mine.
Thank you for visiting!
Hey everyone, and welcome to my stop on The Lizard blog tour! I’m honoured to be teaming up with Muswell Press once again to celebrate the release of a truly gripping crime debut.
As always, I’m going to tell you a little more about The Lizard before I share my thoughts on it – trust me when I tell you this is not a book you’re going to want to sleep on.
About the book:
St Andrews University undergraduate, Alistair Haston, heartbroken by his breakup with his girlfriend Ellie, heads off to where she summers in the hope of ‘accidentally’ running into her. On a ferry from Athens he meets Ricky, a magnetic Australian, who promises him a cushy job on the Greek island on Paros. Ricky introduces him to Heinrich, a charismatic German artist living in an exquisite mansion, who uses his talent and considerable wealth to lure susceptible tourists to his home. Soon swept away in a cocktail of hedonistic pursuits, Haston sheds his conservative skin and is immersed in a sun-drenched world of sex, fine food and drugs. When the body of a missing tourist is found, however, the finger of blame points at Haston and he is forced on a desperate life or death run.
The Lizard was inspired by a solo trip which Dugald Bruce-Lockheart took in 1988, during which he slept rough on beaches and rooftops and ended up getting chased by a local gang – at knifepoint! – around the island of Paros.
As soon as I was told it was loosely based on a real experience I couldn’t resist giving it a go, even though this is not the type of book I normally pick up.
The best word to describe the first quarter of the novel is hedonistic, and it’s definitely on the racier end of the spectrum. Alistair’s ferry trip on the way to Paros is debauched, and the parties at Heinrich’s mansion spiral further out of control as Alistair films the sexual antics of the attendants. If you’re someone who is opposed to reading books which include a lot of casual sex then I would recommend staying away from this one, as it is a huge part of the novel: Alistair works recruiting models for Heinrich to paint and gets a bonus if the models sleep with Heinrich – who also pays them for the pleasure of sleeping with them – so the sexual aspects of the story are not easily avoidable.
However, things quickly go from wild to absolutely WACKY. Alistair is arrested and discovers that Heinrich hasn’t just been painting the models. They have been turning up dead, and Alistair has been set up to take the fall for their crime. He manages to escape from prison and intends on heading to the British Embassy in Athens, until he receives a picture of Ricky with Ellie. Can he save her before she becomes their next victim, without losing his own life in the process?
This novel has so many twists and turns that you feel as though you’re on a rollercoaster, and every time you think the ride is nearly over you discover a whole new stretch of track filled with loop-the-loops and plummeting drops. Your stomach will be in your throat, your heart will be racing, and it will be impossible for you to put this book down.
Meanwhile, the location is described beautifully, the vibrant nature of the Greek islands thrumming through the pages. Considering there aren’t going to be any summer holidays happening this year, this is the perfect way to get a taste of warmer climes and escape from the ceaseless rain of another British summer.
If you’re longing for an escape to the sun but have a taste for a gritty crime novel, The Lizard is the perfect combination for you. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel, and it’s certainly put Dugald Bruce-Lockhart on my radar as one to watch out for in the future. As far as I’m aware this is a standalone, but it has a cheekily open ending so there is the possibility that he could revisit some of the characters in the future. I for one would be completely up for that!
About the author:
Dugald Bruce-Lockhart was born in Fiji and went to school at Sedbergh in Cumbria while his parents worked abroad. After St Andrews University he trained as an actor at RADA. He has worked extensively on stage and on TV and received many accolades including a Best Actor nomination from The Stage.
He recently directed a new production of The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson by Jonathan Maitland. He appeared as Michael Gove in the original production at the Park Theatre, London. He lives in South East London.
Thanks again to Muswell Press for getting me involved in this blog tour, and to you for coming to check out my stop.
With all physical book launches and events being cancelled it’s more important than ever to support the book blogging community and to celebrate debut authors, and by reading this post you’ve done both. Well done you!
See you next time,