Audio Book Review: The Last Kingdom

The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories #1)
by Bernard Cornwell

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Blurb: This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex, Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands, Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he has to decide which side he is on. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the magical fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.

This thrilling adventure – based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors, depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England altogether. This is the exciting – yet little known – story of the making of England in the ninth and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.

My Review: This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by Bernard Cornwell. The reason? I’m not a great lover of “the great battle scene” and I’ve always felt the author would go there. Now I know for certain that he does. But…listening to battle scenes is much different to reading them. And listening to battle scenes in this story was a new experience for me. A good experience.

I enjoyed the story and the characters. I know it was based on history, how much so I don’t know, but it was well written. I must admit that I found it difficult to keep track of the characters because of their strange (similar sounding) names. However, I worked out the ones that matter and became totally engrossed in the plot.

The other thing that surprised me was the realisation that I don’t read many books written by men. It has never been intentional, but during this book I discovered I liked the different style of writing I found here. It’s hard to explain, but for me, it was a nice change of pace. It was gritty, no holding back, masculine. Don’t mess with me. Simply gripping. I will be listening too the next two books for sure.

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Audio Book Review: 13 Treasures

13 Treasures13 Treasures (Thirteen Treasures #1)
by Michelle Harrison
Narrator: Nicola Barber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: While visiting her grandmother’s house, an old photograph leads Tanya to an unsolved mystery. Fifty years ago a girl vanished in the woods nearby – a girl Tanya’s grandmother will not speak of. Fabian, the caretaker’s son, is tormented by the girl’s disappearance. His grandfather was the last person to see her alive, and has lived under suspicion ever since. Together, Tanya and Fabian decide to find the truth. But Tanya has her own secret: the ability to see fairies. Can it help them to unravel the mystery? Soon they are facing terrible danger. Could the manor’s sinister history be about to repeat itself?

My Review: Again, I only picked this up from the library because I liked the cover. So, yes, covers are important and will get authors new readers; or in this case, listeners.

Firstly, I want to comment on the narrator. She was excellent. Her voice suited the story and the main character. Her narration held me to the story, just as much as the author’s writing. And I think it’s important to mention that.

The main character in this book is 13, which suggests the book is written for younger readers. However, it felt to me that she was more mature and sophisticated. Half the time, I forgot Tanya was only thirteen. That doesn’t mean that I think young people are not or cannot be mature and sophisticated, it means that the story (I feel) will appeal to young adult, and even adults too.

The supporting characters are placed well and compliment the main character. The plot was well thought out and kept me guessing. The mystery was realistic and believable. In fact, I enjoyed this story a lot more than I thought I would. I will definitely be looking for the next book in the series. And I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading books filled with mystery, adventure, and fantastical elements.

Highly recommended.

Moving on to the Next Writing Project

With The Land of Miu series complete, I can now move on to other projects. The next manuscript I want to work on is Domino Effect.

Having released three books for young readers, I now turn to writing for adults. Forget “cutesy” or “fun”. Those terms will not relate to my next book. Think more in line of dark, confronting and thought provoking. Domino Effect is dark fiction. The theme is depression, grief and suicide.

I know these three words well. I’ve lived them. Now I write about them. Some readers will read the book and turn away because they don’t understand. Others will read and weep tears of knowing and I hope my words will touch and help them believe they are not alone. But I’m not really aiming my words at those two groups of people, there’s another group I’ll be speaking to; and I hope my fiction will help them in real life. Regardless, the message for all readers will be clear.

The first draft of the manuscript is already complete. In fact, the first edit is done too. I am working on the second edit at present. There will be more edits to follow. But I expect the book will be published later this year. Watch this space. 😀

Audio Book Review: I’ll Walk Alone

I'll Walk AloneI’ll Walk Alone (Alvirah and Willy #8)
by Mary Higgins Clark
Narrator: Jan Maxwell

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

It’s strange, but the books I would not read, I enjoy listening to. I don’t get why that is the case, but I’m discovering new authors and books as a result, so it’s a win-win situation as far as I’m concerned.

Blurb: Thirty-year-old Alexandra Moreland, a prominent interior designer, already heartbroken at the disappearance of her toddler, Matthew, in Central Park two years earlier, now is facing a different tragedy. She is about to be indicted for identity theft and is considered a “person of interest” in the murder of a woman she barely knew. What she cannot surmise is that she has become the target of a vicious plot to destroy both her sanity and her life.

My Review: I didn’t realise this was book eight until this very moment, as I was about to write the review. With that in mind, I have to admit that I had no idea there have been seven previous books. And to me, that is a good thing because it makes this book a stand alone story.

I listened to the audio version of the book. The narrator was excellent; easy to listen to and very clear.

This story itself was good to listen too. Predictable. Pleasant. Comfortable. Easy listening while driving to and from work. Even though I knew where it was going, I was keen to keep listening. I did feel that in all honesty, the plot was too convenient in places, but I let that go and just tried to enjoy the moment. I certainly didn’t regret picking this audio book up from the library and I would listen to more from the author.

eBook Review: The Mystery of Hollow Inn

The Mystery Of Hollow Inn (Samantha Wolf Mysteries #1)The Mystery of Hollow Inn (Samantha Wolf Mysteries #1)
by Tara Ellis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb: Twelve-year-old Samantha Wolf, and her best friend Ally, are excited to spend part of their summer break in the mountains of Montana. But unknown to them, Hollow Inn is bathed in mystery and legend. After arriving, they soon discover that things are not going well for Sam’s Aunt and Uncle, who own the Inn. There’s vandalism, ghostly sightings, and rumors of lost treasures. Determined to help, Sam and Ally embark on a challenging journey to discover the truth.

My Review: Being the first book in a mystery series, it’s important to set up the characters so that the reader wants to return to the series. Naturally, this is for younger readers, but as I enjoy books for all ages, I thought I’d give it a go and see what I thought.

Sam and her best friend visit Sam’s aunt and uncle for the summer break. They find themselves stepping in to a mystery and, of course, the two girls have to find out what’s going on. The two main characters worked well together, although they were a bit two dimensional at times. But nothing that took away from the story line. The mystery itself was put together well and kept me interested. I liked the way the author spun the modern world of technology into a setting that I believe most parents would not mind their children/preteens reading.

I believe young girls especially will enjoy these books. I will certainly read the next book in the series. In fact, I’ve already got in on my device ready to read.

Free Review Copies of The Land of Miu Ebooks

The Land of Miu series is complete. All three ebooks have been published, the characters have completed their adventures (for now). And to celebrate this I am giving away FREE REVIEW COPIES of the entire set in the series.

The titles of the three books are:

1. The Land of Miu
2. The King’s Riddle
3. The Lion Gods

If you would like to take advantage of this offer, please use the contact page on my other website to email me your details. Don’t forget to tell me which format suits you best — ePub, Mobi or PDF. All I ask in return is that you read the three ebooks and write a short, honest review on Amazon, Goodreads and or your own website, if you have one.

Your interest in the series and your opinion are important to me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Cover Reveal & Pre-order Special Deal

It is with great pleasure that I announce The Lion Gods will be released for sale on 1 June 2018. At this stage it will be available only as an ebook — epub, mobi (for kindle) and pdf. The print version will be available at a later date, which is yet to be confirmed.

Today, I want to offer two things:

1. The first look at the cover for The Lion Gods.
2. A pre-order special deal.

Drum roll please…

I present the cover for The Lion Gods…

The Lion Gods - ebook cover

As mentioned, the ebook will be published on 1 June 2018 and will be available from most online ebook stores in due course. However, if you pre-order the ebook from me — within the next three weeks — you will get not only The Lion Gods, but also the first two books of the series thrown in for free. And, to make the offer even sweeter, you will pay just $1 for the lot.

Yes, for $1 (Australian dollar) you will get the complete set — The Land of Miu (Book 1), The King’s Riddle (Book 2) and The Lion Gods (Book 3). This offer is only available through this website and will end at midnight on 31 May 2018 Australian EST.

Place your order now and be one of the first people to receive and read the full series.

How? Simply go to the pre-order purchase page for The Lion Gods, pay your dollar and download your confirmation entitling you to the three books. I will email your ebooks to your nominated email address between 29 and 31 May 2018 (depending on number of orders received).

eBook Review: The Cat, the Mill and the Murder

The Cat, the Mill and the Murder (A Cats in Trouble Mystery, #5)The Cat, the Mill and the Murder by Leann Sweeney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As is my way, I spotted this book in the local Salvo’s store. I don’t usually read cozy mysteries, but I liked the sound of this book so bought it. Besides, tastes change over the years and I recently find myself reading a number of books I never used to look at twice. Thing is, surprise, surprise, I’m enjoying them!

Blurb: When cat lover and quilter Jillian Hart volunteers to help a local animal shelter relocate a colony of feral cats living in an abandoned textile mill, she never expects to find a woman living there, too. Jeannie went missing from Mercy, South Carolina, a decade ago, after her own daughter’s disappearance.

Jeannie refuses to leave the mill or abandon Boots, her cat who died years ago. After all, she and Boots feel the need to protect the premises from “creepers” who come in the night. After Jeannie is hurt in an accident and is taken away, those who’ve come to town to help repurpose the mill uncover a terrible discovery… As the wheels start turning in Jillian’s mind, a mysterious new feline friend aids in her quest to unearth a long-kept and dark secret.

My Review: The Cat, The Mill and The Murder is a cosy mystery — a subgenre of crime fiction where sex and violence is downplayed and the crime is usually solved by a member of the public instead of police officers, detectives and the like.

What attracted me to this story is the ghost cat. I liked the sound of that and felt it would make for a different read (for me, at least). I enjoyed the interaction of the main character and the ghost cat. In fact, I enjoyed the main character’s interaction with all the other characters too. She seemed like a real, decent person; even with her quirks. Her obsession with her own cats was nice, they were her babies and I get the attachment there. I have a dog that I feel the same way about.

The plot was well crafted, in my opinion. I liked the way it came together in a natural way. All the players had good reasons for what they felt and what they did. The mystery was believable and the clues given out at just the right moments to keep the reader interested.

This is the first book I’ve read in the series, and the first book I’ve read by this author. I’d definitely read others.

Recommended.

The Sydney Writers Festival – Live and Local

I work in Wollongong and walk passed Wollongong Town Hall every day. They have some great events advertised and sometimes I feel like going along to a classical music afternoon, or a nostalgic step down memory lane, but I usually can’t because these events take place while I’m at work.

However, yesterday I noticed a different type of poster — Writer’s Festival. Yes, that got my attention, but I was in a hurry so kept walking. Today, I paused and read the poster properly and decided to look it up on the internet when I got home. Which I’ve now done.

On 5 May, a Saturday, there will be a writer’s festival. It’s an all day event with multiple sessions writers (or non-writers who are just interested in words) can attend. Whilst it is streamed live from the Sydney Festival, there will be talks and a workshop by local writers. If you’re an aspiring writer, and you’re based on the South Coast of NSW, then you might be interested in this event.

Go to The Sydney Writers Festival – Live and Local for session details and times.

The Lion Gods Moves into Stage 3 of the Editing Process

I know it’s been a little quiet here lately. I’ve been busy editing The Lion Gods. Gone are the days when the website and my online presence took up all my time. These days, I write (or edit). I think I’ve got my priorities right … finally.

The second phase went well. I love the end results; which has to be a good sign. Yesterday, I printed the manuscript and will commence a line edit in coming days. Possibly tomorrow.

Today, I get a well-deserved rest day.