Dec 1, 2015 - Giveaways    No Comments

GIVEAWAY: CHOICES by Alexander Patterson

As part of the blitz for Choices by Alexander Patterson, you have the chance to WIN BIG with not one but two giveaways!

Our first giveaway is for a digital copy of Choices and runs from today until 15th December.

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The second giveaway is for a $25 Amazon gift card and signed poster of the book cover. This giveaway runs from today until 10th December.

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For more information about Choices and purchase links, click here for Alexander’s guest post.

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Guest Post: On Norge by Alexander Patterson + Giveaway!

While the veracity of dragons and magic is still up for debate amongst the historical community, many common falsehoods about Scandinavian history have already been disproven.

The word Viking, for starters, which has become a catch all name for the Scandinavian and Minnesotan population was once reserved for the event of going on a sea-based raid. Leaving the base definition behind, we come across
more misconceptions. The term Viking brings to mind horned helmets and longships, but the simple truth is Scandinavia has so much more to offer than one History Channel show. While myths and tales of raids are exciting, the best facts and most interesting tidbits lay behind the glamour. The role of women in their society, for example, is fascinating. The powerful women were not all shield-maidens, as much as I love that depiction it is simply not completely accurate. Powerful women were traders, wealthy merchants, and yes occasionally fighters, but they could not be leaders. They could not attain the rank of jarl and most likely did not fight in the shield wall.

I tried to make Choices at least historically inclined. It is an alternate history after all. So, I set Choices in the year 672 CE. Why this date in particular? You ask. The answer has nothing to do with Scandinavia actually. I chose 672 CE because that is the year Greek Fire was invented by the Byzantines. I thought it was fitting since one of the main characters is a dragon. And while the time period I have for my alternate history is grounded in real history many of the details in Choices are false. My idea for Choices is that it is set in a world in which the Norse Gods not only existed, but one in which they also behaved as their Greek counterparts did.

This means many things in Choices are less than historically accurate. There are a few large picture things such as the main kingdoms Ager and Threkeld existed, but their interactions were not quite as depicted. There are also a few smaller details. The creation of marble walls did not happen. Instead, many Scandinavian people built ring forts and used wood or dirt as their primary building materials. Even the geography is not entirely accurate. I hope that will be a heads up to anyone who does not read my little **THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION** disclaimer.

I could go on for about nineteen pages on all of the things I wrote that are falsehoods, but there is not space here for
that. Instead, I hope you will read this –or Choices—and decide to look into  the rich heritage of Scandinavia for yourself. I promise there is so much more than our network television tells us. I highly recommend Viking Answer Lady, Hurstwic, or “A History of the Vikings” by: Gwyn Jones if you would like to know more. That recommendation is the only thing you should place one-hundred percent faith in as fact. The rest of my writings are only mostly accurate. I did not do nearly enough research to honestly call either myself a historian or this post a credible source.

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Nov 30, 2015 - Book Tour    No Comments

Book Tour: STEAMBORN by Eric Asher

Steamborn
Eric Asher
(Steamborn,

#1)
Publication date: December 1st 2015
Genres: Steampunk, Young

Adult

Jacob, a tinker’s apprentice and sometime thief, has lived his entire life in the mountain city of Ancora, protected by the city walls. These towering barriers keep the Deadlands creatures at bay, but the monsters move higher into the peaks every year. More and more, they breach the defenses of the Lowlands while the Highlands rest easy.

A swarm overruns the walls and wreaks utter devastation on the Lowlands. Charles, the old tinker, suspects the attack may not be natural. With help from Jacob’s closest friend, Alice, and Samuel, one of the city’s elite spider knights, Jacob and Charles will uncover a terrible darkness at the heart of their city.

Add on Goodreads

Pre-order at iBooks – 99¢ for a limited time!

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Nov 29, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: THE INVISIBLES by Cecilia Galante

Thrown together by chance as teenagers at Turning Winds Home for Girls, Nora, Ozzie, Monica, and Grace quickly bond over their troubled pasts and form their own family which they dub The Invisibles. But when tragedy strikes after graduation, Nora is left to deal with the horrifying aftermath alone as the other three girls leave home and don’t look back.

Fourteen years later, Nora is living a quiet, single life working in the local library. She is content to focus on her collection of “first lines” (her favorite opening lines from novels) and her dog, Alice Walker, when out-of-the-blue Ozzie calls her on her thirty-second birthday. But after all these years, Ozzie hasn’t called her to wish a happy birthday. Instead, she tells Nora that Grace attempted suicide and is pleading for The Invisibles to convene again. Nora is torn: she is thrilled at the thought of being in touch with her friends, and yet she is hesitant at seeing these women after such a long and silent period of time. Bolstered by her friends at the library, Nora joins The Invisibles in Chicago for a reunion that sets off an extraordinary chain of events that will change each of their lives forever.

I really enjoyed this book, it was quite an emotional experience for me. Watching each of the women try to deal with their childhood scars was at times draining, but mostly a beautiful look at friendship and self discovery.

Told from Nora’s perspective, we still get a great picture of the other three women, both as children and adults. While each of their individual circumstances aren’t anything I’ve ever dealt with personally, it’s hard not to identify with various aspects their personalities. I found it harder to process their childhoods than their adult lives, without giving any of the plot away, the themes of those years are pretty universal experiences.

I really enjoyed how their shared past was woven into the tale of their mostly-separate futures, and how it built up to the final reveal. A more observant person might pick it a lot earlier than I did, but for me, it came a little out of the blue and while it wasn’t jarring, it was a little surprising.

Overall it’s a delightful exploration of how pasts can affect futures – or, more accurately, how we let our past affect our future, and I strongly recommend it for anyone that doesn’t mind having their heartstrings tugged.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nov 27, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

One framed Slytherin crossstitch!

The glue is still drying, and the light is terrible as always, by you get the idea. The colours are a lot more vibrant when the room isn’t half dark.

I’m not entirely happy with the frame width but the one I made for the Hufflepuff crest is a little wider, so I’ll see how that goes.

Nov 26, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: ABOMINATION by Gary Whitta

He is England’s greatest knight, the man who saved the life of Alfred the Great and an entire kingdom from a Viking invasion. But when he is called back into service to combat a plague of monstrous beasts known as abominations, he meets a fate worse than death and is condemned to a life of anguish, solitude, and remorse.

She is a fierce young warrior, raised among an elite order of knights. Driven by a dark secret from her past, she defies her controlling father and sets out on a dangerous quest to do what none before her ever have—hunt down and kill an abomination, alone.

I quite liked the concept of this one, it fits neatly into a part of history that we don’t have much information on, and in the context of the story, it’s not an implausible scenario.

It was a bit hard to get through the first half dozen chapters or so, there’s a lot of world building and information, and it’s not until it skips forward a few years that the story itself begins. I think that if a lot of the information in those first chapters was spread out a bit more during the latter half, it would have made for a stronger story.

I didn’t find the characters overly relatable, but they were well portrayed – quite a few aspects were clichéd or predictable around how they approached the world or interacted with each other. That said, I still wanted to see how everything panned out. I did really enjoy how the abominations were portrayed, they’re just the kind of thing someone in the Dark Ages would come up with.

Basically, if you can make it through the first third of the book, you’re in for a decent historic horror novel with some very interesting beasties running around.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Nov 25, 2015 - Waiting on Wednesdays    No Comments

Waiting on Wednesdays


The Master Magician (The Paper Magician Book 3) – Charlie Holmberg
book

Throughout her studies, Ceony Twill has harbored a secret, one she’s kept from even her mentor, Emery Thane. She’s discovered how to practice forms of magic other than her own — an
ability long thought impossible.While all seems set for Ceony to complete her apprenticeship and pass her upcoming final magician’s exam, life quickly becomes complicated. To avoid favoritism,
Emery sends her to another paper magician for testing, a Folder who despises Emery and cares even less for his apprentice. To make matters worse, a murderous criminal from Ceony’s past escapes
imprisonment. Now she must track the power-hungry convict across England before he can take his revenge. With her life and loved ones hanging in the balance, Ceony must face a criminal who wields the
one magic that she does not, and it may prove more powerful than all her skills combined.

This was actually released a few months ago, but apparently I missed making a note of the release date when reading books one and
two. While it’s not the best series I’ve read this year, it has a really interesting premise and I’m still curious to
see how it all ends. 

Release Date: 2nd June 2015

Goodreads | Booktopia | Book
Depository
| Amazon

Original post: post

Nov 25, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

I have once again Backed A Thing and then promptly forgotten all about it. But now it’s here and I have remembered and it is so pretty and shiny! Photos will never do it justice.

Nov 25, 2015 - Uncategorized    No Comments

Forgot to take a photo when this one came in last week – a beautiful new edition of Mr Punch from the ever-lovely people at Bloomsbury!

Nov 22, 2015 - Book Reviews    No Comments

Book Review: AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

Set in a world that draws heavily from Ancient Rome, the social structure is fascinating to see. On one hand, we have the oppressive and brutal Martials, and on the other, the Scholars. There is a whole lot of history not covered in this book about how the Scholars came to be oppressed, and I found that to be quite disappointing, considering the impact it has on the plot and characters, especially as the differences between them are almost portrayed as though they’re separate races, as opposed to different levels of society.

The violence in the story is very well done, big action scenes are not necessary to show how brutal and nasty the world can be, and when they do come along, they’re handled well. The references to sexual violence/rape sometimes felt a bit flippant, almost like they were stuck in there to tick off a box, and didn’t add a lot to the story for where they were inserted. Certainly they gave great insight to the characters involved, it was just at the wrong time in the story. I also think that it came  up far more often than it should have in a structure that is allegedly disciplined beyond belief.

I did find the characters quite difficult to connect with on a personal level. As much as I enjoyed many of them (Helene in particular), I don’t care about them. I also found the budding romance between Laia and Elias to be really difficult to swallow, especially when both are presented with, and react better to, more than suitable alternatives. It would just be really nice to see two characters thrown together like this not end up together. Boys and girls CAN be close friends without any romantic elements!

I found this to be a really interesting book, not necessarily for the plot, which I did like, but more for how it’s all put together. The bits I like the most don’t get anywhere near as much narrative time as I’d like, but perhaps will be addressed in the sequel, and a lot of the time it feels like a whole pile of plot devices have been pulled out at random points. But, I did enjoy it, and I do recommend it. I just think expectations need to be tempered a little.

Purchase: Booktopia | Book Depository | Amazon

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