#BookReview By Lou of Stranger Back Home By E.L. Haines #ELHaines #Fantasy #YoungAdult #YA

Stranger Back Home
By E.L. Haines
Rated 5 stars *****

Stranger Back Home by E.L. Haines is a well-crafted fantasy book for Young Adults and Adults alike who enjoy this genre. Thanks to E.L. Haines for contacting me via my Contact Me page on my blog to request I review this book and for gifting me a copy to review from. Find out a little about the author, the blurb and the rest of my review below…

Stranger Back Home

About The Author

Ethan reads all the time, and writes so that you can read. He travels the world, ignoring the usual boundaries of space and time, collecting stories, which he loves to tell almost as much as Sparrow himself does.
He has visited more than 25 countries in person, and perhaps more than a hundred in books. He has also time-traveled to more than 40 different years in history. We won’t tell you exactly which ones.

Blurb

Stranger Back HomeOne day, your father is a renowned diplomat. The next day, he’s an infamous terrorist.

When Sparrow is summoned to the reading of his father’s last will and testament, the most he hoped for was a minor bequest. Instead, he inherited suspicion and accusations from the Empire that his father helped unite.

Locked away in a vault are the secrets that will reveal Xavier DuMont’s mysterious past and shine a light on Sparrow’s future. Perhaps even the future of the entire realm.

Of course, these secrets won’t be obtained easily. Especially when everyone in this magical world seems so casually racist.

Social dynamics in this world were already pretty strange. Somehow, Sparrow makes everything stranger.

Review

Told in the first person, the character of Sparrow really takes you with him into the fantastical dystopian world he and others find themselves in. It gives Sparrow a really compelling voice, as though the storyteller is with you.
There is a map of Middle Telleron, which is great for illustrating the size of the area and the places around it, and in detail, a map of City of Dragon’s Mouth where the more official government buildings are and where the upper and middle classes reside.

Apart from Sparrow, there are also orcs and an old wizard, gobins, dwarfs as well as humans and halflings. It’s a bit The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings like in this respect and readers who are fans of those books will enjoy this. The world building is is done well and the writing is beautifully descriptive of the places and of Lazaretto Manor, where you can be met by a butler who is a ghost and there is talk of vampires who are pretty fiesty.

As much as it feels like every fantastical creature and being is thrown into the world, it is done so in a way that still flows and it feels like different communities of people or creatures, just like you get different communities of people in the real world.

The book has a grounding in the real world too and almost straddles between the fantasy and world we know as it highlights issues, such as a grim robbery happening and other social and class issues. There are also jobs, such as tax collectors, barbers, actors and there are even laws. There are also family fueds about life choices, conflicts and tensions amongst characters as tensions rise due to suspicions being created due to certain events surrounding Sparrow’s father.
This all adds something more identifiable, in this otherwise, strange, yet intriguing world that sees peace and unrest within it as well as mystery, the prospect of kidnapping or death looming, secrets and a touch of humour. There is also the existence of retirement, but not as we know it…

The book sweeps you along into its world as there are so many hooks within it and it is pretty entertaining to read.

#Review by Lou of Evergreen – A New Fantasy Audio Serial by Sam Russell Narrated by Catherine Russell @SamRussellComic @catherinerusse2 @evergreenbook1 #fantasy #podcast #podcastandchill #audioserial

Evergreen – Book 1 of Everman Trilogy –
A New Fantasy Audio Serial

Written By Sam Russell
Narrated By Catherine Russell

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Reviewing Evergreen came about because I was approached by Catherine Russell to do some retweets about this fantasy serial that I had started to listen to. Catherine Russell is known for Holby City and more… Sam Russell for improv comedy… There’s more about them at the end of my review.
I am enjoying Evergreen so much, that I though it worth the time on writing a blog review too, so just maybe people not on Twitter etc could get to know about it. I have provided their links below so you can find where to listen to Evergreen. It is FREE to tune in. It’s broadcast fortnightly, but all the episodes recorded so far are there, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re up to date or just starting out in listening to it.

Thanks to Sam Russell for providing the artwork, which I must admit, is very cool. Take a look for yourselves, and also find out a bit more…

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EVERGREEN – Book 1 in the Everman trilogy 

THE NUTSHELL

Adam, the first man and his wife, the first woman, Eve, were punished by God with separation and immortality.

Adam spends his long life searching for her, inadvertently becoming the catalyst for many of humanity’s myths and legends.

Now, after 200 years searching other realms, Adam lands, a fish out of water, in present-day London with a fresh lead on his wife’s location…

THE PROJECT

Evergreen is an audio fantasy serial released just like a podcast, a new chapter every two weeks. The vibe of the project is to create that same atmosphere of when you used to listen to a tape at bedtime as a kid. 
 

THE REVIEW

Evergreen image 2Evergreen is set between Sherwood Forest and Nottingham Castle; with so many myths, legends and history, it is a great setting for this audio podcast/graphic novel, which in itself is also an ingenious idea for storytelling as it allows readers to listen from many places. Please see the link to show you how and where.

Evergreen image 1From the outset, this is an intriguing story about Norman who suddenly finds himself in a castle in a precarious position. Norman is a character who is quite ordinary as his work in in the bakery, but extraordinary things happen as he becomes a castle guard. 

Evergreen image 6There are twists and turns, some humour and a quest.  Norman changes career from the bakery to castle guard, big difference in career, but to Norman the shift makes sense, but he is far from your typical guard in personality and this makes it even more intriguing to see what happens.. Action ensues and there’s a lot for Norman to learn in this fast-paced, curious and absolutely enthralling fantasy story that has its characters on edge and ready for any siege on the castle.

The way characters make appearance is absolutely wonderful, especially for readers who perhaps are not too familiar with Sherwood Forest and its people, for those who are, nothing is lost either. This is skillfully thought-out and somehow still adds intrigue and excitement, especially to see what happens to Norman.

There is a clever mystique about this story and there is a quest. A quest to find a mysterious man’s wife.

There is the weaving into Brian’s life in very modern times, which injects some romantic times of his past, however awkward from this business man, into the tale. He’s a very particular man and there it shows how society has changed and how times have moved onwards for better or worse. It is most observant and it is bittersweet and intriguing as something unexpected happens when he is on a patch of land he likes so much in London.

Evergreen reels you in and makes you want to know more and more until you’re so immersed that there is a need to listen to more episodes and then there’s that sweet anticipation when waiting until the next episode.

The descriptions are rich. The weaving of intrigue, social aspects, illness, sadness, kindness, romance, bittersweet and a terrific dose of humour makes Evergreen a most entertaining and poignant tale to listen to.

There’s an amazingly long friendship who are kindred spirits in Evelyn and Faye. When younger, their imaginations were funny that bring back childhood memories. Listeners also get to know about their adult-lives and then something happens with a man in a nearby boat…

It shows London through new eyes, in a way that perhaps in a new appreciation of what is there, yet often taken for granted.

This is a story that is also about being in places you may not quite feel like you belong in and so much more…. It’s also philisophical, especially where life, love and romance is concerned.

The time changes give depth and much interest.

Peter “Pete” Smith at the UCL brings something more political to the story. Amongst the wit is something deeper and  thought-provoking and which brings a truth of today’s world. It also brings a certain reunion so, just as you wonder where this fits in, it really does and the two people end up on a quest…

The writing is fantastic, every word counts and matters, with every scene painting a picture of what is happening. The narration is easy to listen to. Catherine Russell is excellent at narrating/reading this. It would be easy to listen to all day. She really brings the story to life, as though many people are playing the parts. She uses a lot of her acting skills with aplomb!

The Links

Click linktr.ee/evergreen_book for options where to listen.

The Author and Narrator

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Sam Russell is perhaps best known for his comedy and being part of Improv Comedy group – Shoot from the Hip. Click Here for more info.
Follow on Twitter – @SamRussellComic

Catherine Russell is best known for acting on stage and screen. She has starred in many tv shows from Chandler and Co. to The Inspector Lynley Mysteries to Holby City and more… and in films such as Bridget Jone’s Diary – The Edge of Reason.
On stage she has appeared in many theatre plays, such as What the Butler Saw, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and more. She is also Patron of Streatham Hill Theatre.
Follow on Twitter @catherinerusse2

#BookReview by Lou of Journey To The Moon And Other Stories By Ed Goodwin @whizoap @ConradPress @RandomTTours #JourneyToTheMoon #ChildrensBooks #MiddleGrade #9-12yearolds #Humour #Fantasy #Unicorns #Space #Humour

Journey To The Moon
And Other Stories
 By Ed Goodwin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

3 stories in 1 provide adventure, fantasy, humour, realism all for 9-12 year olds. Find out more in the blurb and my review below…
A little later than planned due to unforseeable circumstances.
Thanks to Random Things Tours and Conrad Press for the book and invite to review.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Blurb

Fantasy, reality and humour are blended in three adventures. Nothing is as it seems as two young girls go to the moon, present a unique style of Punch and Judy and try to look after a unicorn.
In ‘Journey to the Moon’, with the help of a possibly over-optimistic dad and practical mum, two young sisters make their dream visit to the moon and back despite numerous setbacks. In ‘Punch and Judy’ the question of what would happen if violence was banned in Punch and Judy shows is explored. In the story ‘Unicorn Tale’, looking after a unicorn presents more challenges than expected, especially when it disappears into a dream world.

Journey to the Moon Cover

Let’s start with the cover. It’s just so eye-catching and fun. This is a book where children can go and have adventure that will send their imaginations soaring. 3 stories in 1 also makes this fun and rather special.

This hits some trends for children, including unicorns. There’s much fun and humour to have in these stories. The puppet shows that the family perform is great and may well spark the imaginations of its readers. That is possibly one of the best bits as it brings puppets back into the modern sphere again.

The family is one that I think children will have fun within this book during quiet times or bedtimes. It’s great for wherever you want to read.

Each story brings something different. From an adventure to the moon, which brings about a touch of reality to the realms of fantasy, such as in working out how to look after a unicorn. Each story provides entertainment in different ways. that are sure to surprise and give children space to have a laugh.

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#BookReview by Lou of Fireborn @flowler_aisling @HarperCollins @The_WriteReadsTours #UltimateBlogTour #Fantasy #Adventure #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade 8-12years #ReadingForPleasure #PrimarySchoolReading

Fireborn
By Aisling Fowler

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Fireborn is an immersive and exciting adventure into a fantasy world for 8-12 year olds. Go on an adventure down to the blurb and the rest of my review to find out more. Thanks to The Write Reads Tours for inviting me and to this group and Harper Collins for gifting me a book.

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Blurb

Set in the snowy northern forests of an imagined prehistoric world, Fireborn is the middle-grade debut of the decade. At turns exciting, funny and heart wrenchingly sad, it marks the introduction of an unstoppable new voice in children’s storytelling.

Twelve has spoken the Pledge and now she is a Huntling. She has given up her name to train in the art of fighting monsters and keeping the peace, and she won’t get to choose a new one until she has earned it.

But when the Lodge’s walls are breached for the first time, and a little girl is taken, Twelve is the only one interested in going after a child . . .

Teaming up with Dog, the Stone Guardian of the Lodge, Twelve ends up on an epic adventure that will change her life, her name – and her entire world.

Review

Fireborn coverFireborn is an epic adventure for 8-12 year olds. It has twists and turns and great characterisation, but with a difference. The characters are known by numbers, it sort of works to bring about something different to fiction, but once into the story, it isn’t the names that matter quite so much as the world of Ember takes over as do the characters lives. I think children will get into it though because above the giving up of names is a world for adventurous middle-grade readers can step into. For a debut novel, this is an author children would want more of, after reading this one. It has humour and breathtaking excitement as well as some of the saddest storylines. All this in one book makes it totally full on and the deeper you read, the deeper children will want to go into Ember, a fantastical world that builds on the page in wide ranging, indepth descriptions. It means readers can be totally immersed in Ember whilst reading it.

There are heroes and villains. The heroes are characters who have given up their names. They are known as Five, Six, Seven and Twelve. The villains are an array of monsters. There is the lodge where the young trainee Hunters go to hone their skills. These trainees land themselves a mission which takes them on a trail to The Fozen Forest. There are clans, who the Hunters have to act as protectors of, but it isn’t an easy task.

Twelve is the most promising Hunter but has issues and is far from friendly or a team-player as a result of making more enemies. The others also have their own issues. The book, in a way, shows that even heroes are not perfect and are not infalliable. This, even in such an all encompassing fantasy tale, this brings a bit of realism to it as the characters all find out a bit more about themselves in many ways, sometimes positive, other times negative and in some ways, in being resilient in times of trouble. It brings added interest to the otherwise, adventureous book, with a bit of magic within it. There’s a lot for children to dip their toe in and to be entertained.

Dragons Walk Among Us by Dan Rice @TheWildRosePress #Fantasy #Dragons #YA

Dragons Walk Among Us
By Dan Rice

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A mysterious procedure, dragons that may or may not be there amongst themes of climate change, health and friendship make this a twisty fantasy for Young Adults. Dragons Walk Among Us is Dan Rice’s debut.
Thanks to Dan Rice for contacting me via Contact Me on my blog and gifting me his book.
Fly down below to discover a bit about the author, the blurb and the rest of my review.

About the Author

Dan has wanted to write novels since first reading Frank Herbert’s Dune at the age of eleven. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he often goes hiking with his family through mist-shrouded forests and along alpine trails with expansive views. 

Dragons Walk Among Us is his debut novel. He plans to keep writing fantasy and science-fiction for many years. You can explore his blog at https://www.danscifi.com

Dragons Walk Amongst Us Cover

Blurb

Shutterbug Allison Lee is trying to survive high school while suffering the popular girl’s abuse. Her life is often abysmal, but at least her green hair is savage. Her talent for photography is recognized by the school paper and the judges of a photo contest.

While visiting her friend Joe, a homeless vet, Allison’s life irrevocably changes after an attack leaves her blind. All her dreams as a photojournalist are dashed as she realizes she’ll never see again. Despair sets in until she is offered an experimental procedure to restore her vision. But there are side effects, or are they hallucinations? She now sees dragons accompanying some of the people she meets. Can she trust her eyes, or has the procedure affected her more than she can see?

Dragons Walk Amongst Us Cover

Review

Cascadia Prep High School is where the book begins, with some powerfully described photographs. There’s quite a competition on, especially where pupil, Leslie and Allison Lee are concerned.

The book is bang on topic when it comes to climate change and public transport versus cars, it also includes figures. This may make some people really think about how they travel. I like that a lot. Climate change, homlessness and race relations are hot topics and they are both combined in this book. The book also turns into a detective story, which is interesting as it will appeal to young readers who enjoy a bit of a mystery as Allison suffers from an attack, rendering her blind, until an experiment is performed on her. Haji, who is very significant in her life and Dalia kindly visit her as she begins her journey in her different sort of life from what she knew before, which readers are taken on.
Readers are basically asked to be patient before anything fantastical occurs, but the background is pertinent and then comes the intriguing part when it comes to the treatment. Then Allison’s world becomes fascinating as glimmers of a dragon merges with the real world and there’s a sinister doctor and strange magician.

There are interesting concepts with the sort of experimental treatment conducted on her and the side,-effects experienced. It then gets more intense as further twists involving everyone’s lives occur, which then makes this quite the unexpected page-turner, that lures you further and further into this fantastical world that is created that blends together with the real world, until it keeps you guessing what has truly happened to Allison’s vision, as events get turn darker, lives are in danger as the interesting concept of shape-shifters emerges and soon it’s a race to save all of humanity.

The layers of story builds, although at certain points there’s quite a bit about will anyone kill anyone or not, and takes a little while to get anywhere near to seeing the dragon, but once you do, then this is a book worth sticking with as it really gets into its stride and pulls you in, until you need to know what happens next.

#BookReview by Lou – The Abdication by Justin Newland #JustinNewland @MatadorBooks @Zooloo2008 #ZooloosBookTours

The Abdication
By Justin Newland

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Abdication takes readers on quite a fantastical and in many ways, a biblical and spiritual quest, which is full of trepidation as two lands that had come together, are now less than harmonious. I would say that Dan Brown fans, especially, would enjoy this, as well as fans of Justin Newland’s other books. You can find out more about his other books, in order, and links of where to follow and buy, after my review.
Thanks to Zooloo Book Tours for inviting me to review and to Justin Newland for sigining my book and to Matador for gifting me the book. My review remains unbiased.

The Abdication Book Cover

About the Author

Author Justin NewlandJustin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real peoplefrom history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Blurb

The Abdication Book CoverThe town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

Review

The Abdication (the title all becomes clear as you read the book), blends fantasy, biblical, and spiritual references well. Firstly, Tula is met and she takes readers into Topeth, a highly regarded town, now in decline due to how mankind are developing. The writing is elegant and edges along between the complete fanatastical and parts of reality that all humans can recognise.

Tula ends up on a quest to meet the angels, but it isn’t as easy to cross the bridges between Topeth and Unity, which were once united and working harmoniously together and now that relationship is in perilous danger of disappearing as evil is abound.  There are also people, such as Sarah’s daughter, Opal, mysteriously going missing.

It’s a quest that has so much trepidation as there is evil around. There’s a strong supporting cast, whose lives are also in danger at times and times of desperation for their Creator to help them out.

Readers will also, amongst so many characters, such as Ruth and Abel, which are biblical, but also Taurus, fom horoscopes. It’s an interesting mix of characters who readers are introduced to, to see if they can move passed the ‘Old Guard’ and move their nations into better and more peaceful times.

Further Books by Justin Newland

The Genes of Isis

The Genes of Isis is a tale of love, destruction and ephemeral power set under the

skies of Ancient Egypt. A re-telling of the Biblical story of the flood, it reveals the

mystery of the genes of Isis – or genesis – of mankind.

 

The Old Dragon’s HeadThe Old Dragon’s Head is a historical fantasy and supernatural thriller set

during the Ming Dynasty and played out in the shadows the Great Wall of

China. It explores the secret history of the influences that shaped the

beginnings of modern times.

 

The Coronation

Set during the Great Enlightenment, The Coronation reveals the secret history of

the Industrial Revolution.

 

 

The Abdication Book CoverHis latest, The Abdication (July, 2021), is a suspense thriller, a journey of destiny, wisdom and self-discovery.

Links

 

Follow him at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/justin.newland.author/
Website : http://www.justinnewland.com/

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Abdication-Justin-Newland/dp/1800463952

Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/Abdication-Justin-Newland-ebook/dp/B098PHD84Y

The Abdication Book Tour Poster