Wednesday, 26 January 2022


Hello & Welcome to the blog!

Today's post is a review of the book


Today I am joining 


to talk about this horror novel by Anthony Stevens. First let's talk

 


Birth-Rite by Anthony Steven

Publication Day : 12th July 2021 by Norton Press

Page Count : 400 pages

Reviews/Q&As

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Nine-year-old David Ryan is in mortal danger. He has a deadly secret that is unknown even to himself. But there is someone that does know: a relentless killer born of hatred, who draws upon dark powers to destroy God’s chosen ones.

As David grows into a troubled teenager, he has to confront the truth about himself to have any hope of stopping the malignant spread of evil that is engulfing his small town. He must accept his birth-rite, or the whole world will burn.

 

This was my first introduction to Anthony Steven’s writing and I was very impressed.

The story itself is a familiar tale of good vs evil, The Powers of Light vs The Powers of Darkness etc, etc.

However, I felt that this was the framework that Anthony Stevens hung the story on to bring something much more prescient to the tale of good vs evil.

We initially get the prologue which recounts an ancient text of Uriel, the Archangel coming before God to allow several of his brethren to enter the world of man. However, whilst several of them remained true to the Lord, most of them turned away and instead worshipped the Prince of Hell, Beelzebub, and thus becoming fallen ones.

The story then moves time and setting to the bedroom of a disabled girl who is being kept in abhorrent conditions by her fundamentalist Christian parents in the early part of the 20th Century. Obviously, the girl does not see the way of the Lord as being one that is particularly a nice one to follow and upon being visited by one of the fallen instead turns to the dark side. She is ‘saved’ from her meagre and cruel existence by one of the Fallen and subsequently a child is born, Gabriel Hernshaw.

Gabriel is then brought up by his aunt and his uncle, a reverend in the church, after his mother dies in childbirth. Similarly, Gabriel’s upbringing is not one that you would call a happy childhood, and we follow his descent into evil.

Meanwhile, interlaced with the tale of Gabriel, is the tale of David Ryan, a ten year old boy that is brought up in the early 1970’s with his abusive father, and a catholic mother who misguidedly believes that she must remain in this abusive relationship due to the ‘social and traditional’ rules.

In the first part of the book, the story flits between points of view and different times, highlighting the stories of the three main protagonists; Gabriel, David and a priest named Jean who’s story is an off shoot of his contact with the evil Gabriel in World War Two.

The story isn’t an easy read as it contains themes of abuse, sexual assault, racism, sexism and does use some derogatory language associated with certain time periods. However, I felt that these were not done in an exploitative manner and encapsulated the themes that the author was highlighting.

As I have said, the story moves between these timelines and doesn’t really settle on a linear progression of the story until the final act. Initially, this can seem a little disorientating as there does not seem give the reader that comfort of a lateral progression. However, what it does do is give a good background to the convergence of the storylines in the final act and the reason why things happen they way they do.

Now, I want to go back to my earlier point of the fact that it is a familiar story, but that I felt that this was a formula to hang something much more prescient to the tale. For me, I felt that there was a much deeper aspect of social commentary running underneath this story of good and evil. Horror is a particularly good genre for this, and whilst it can seem that in the surface of the story there is the tale of the fantastical, underneath horror can be used to scrutinise society as a whole, and with Birth Rite, I felt that this was very much at play here.

How many times have you heard the saying that things were better in my day etc, etc. What Birth Rite does is that whilst at times it does give a nostalgic look to the seventies in general, and growing up in a northern town in that period, it also focuses its lens on the not so good aspects of the time period as well.

It highlights the casual racism and violence of the period, the toxic attitudes towards women, and that there was a lack of support for victims of domestic abuse. In this it highlights the fact that really ‘it wasn’t much better in my day’ and these things existed despite what every one says.

In addition to this, it can shine a light up to where are we now in all these things, and I will leave you to draw your own conclusions from that one!

In terms of the book itself, when it comes to the final act of the book, it becomes a typical good vs evil scenario, which I must say that I enjoyed, it was fun.

Now, as I have said, the first part of the story is a little disorientating, and I did tend to wonder where the story is going, but found that it did start to bring the story together in the second part and reached a satisfying conclusion in the final part of the book.

About Anthony Steven

I mainly write horror and paranormal thrillers although I am probably the most squeamish of people when it comes to watching horror movies and normally watch the scary parts through my fingers. Why I write in this genre of fiction is therefore quite ironic, but I’ve always been attracted to horror and thrillers in all their forms, whether on print or large and small screen. I have early memories of secretly watching Appointment With Fear with my older brother on an old black-and- white portable TV on Monday night’s when we should have been asleep. The image of Christopher Lee crashing through French windows in the first Hammer Horror Dracula movie, with blood on his fangs chills me to this day!

Predictably, I am a huge fan of Stephen King, but also love writers such as Dean Koontz, Joe Hill, CJ Tudor and James Herbert. When I was a kid, I was fascinated and enthralled by Robert E Howard’s sword-and-sorcery tales of Conan The Barbarian and several other creations, and then by Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series. These stories really fuelled my imagination and made me want to write my own stuff. When my older brother introduced me to Stephen King, I was soon lost in even darker worlds and I haven’t wanted to come out of them ever since. My books are, therefore, quite disturbing, gory at times, but I try to also litter them with characters who, while flawed, display the finer human qualities such as bravery, loyalty, and above all love of other people above themselves. I hope that you think that I have succeeded in this.

In my normal life I work for a charity that supports blind and partially-sighted people and I am also a qualified psychotherapist. This is all after spending twenty-five years in the private sector, where I wasn’t just unfulfilled, but also monumentally bored. Working with people directly to help them solve their own problems was definitely a better fit for me.

I live in Cheshire with my wonderfully patient wife and our small dog, Bailey, who loves nothing better than cuddles, food, and waiting until I’m relaxed of an evening before she demands some attention.

You can connect with him on Twitter and on his website





 


Monday, 24 January 2022

 


 Three Swords

By 

C.L. Werner

The Warriors Three must traverse space and time to save their realm from magical villainy, in this swashbuckling fantasy adventure from Marvel’s Legends of Asgard

During a fierce battle to free the people of Skornheim, the valiant Warriors Three – Fandral, Volstagg, and Hogun – encounter an ancient mystic who bears ominous tidings for Asgard. Three sorcerous brothers who call themselves the Enchanters have wrought evil across the realms, and are building armies with which to conquer the Realm Eternal. It has been foreseen that only one heroic trio can end their wicked plot… But the Enchanters are scattered through time and space, each fortified by their magical Living Talisman. The Warriors Three must be cast across the cosmos, to explore strange worlds, and risk life and limb against unimaginable odds to stop these sorcerers before they can overthrow Odin’s rule.


So, Three Swords, What’s it all about?

I’m not sure, but it was quite fun! It was like C.L.Werner decided that he was going to get some of the classic Marvel comics, and throw everything at you.

I mean this book just throws eeeeeverything at you – reptile aliens, giant robotic warriors, a trip back to Civil War England, Matthew Hopkins (Witchfinder General) Dinosaurs …. wait! What? Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Slow down! What the heck are you talking about? I think you need to go back to the beginning.

We start the book with Vigdis, taking a message to the rebel force in Gunnarsfell that could help topple the evil tyrant King Gunar. She gets attacked by a patrol and a dashing hero helps her against the odds. And who is the dashing hero? Why it’s Fandral the Dashing from the Warriors Three, who along with Volstagg the (insert whatever name her) and Hogun the Grimm are currently in town, training the rebels against said tyrant.

Now, if you have not met the Warriors Three, they turn up in the Thor comics and also in the MCU. However, in Three Swords, the Warriors Three get the starring role instead of playing second fiddle to the God of Thunder.

Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, swordplay and fisticuffs! After beating the patrol Vigdis is taken to the rebel hideout, is introduced to the rest of the Warriors Three, gets into another fight when King Gunnar’s forces attack and they escape.

In the midst of the escape, The Warriors Three are saved from capture by a mysterious sorcerer, who tells them that Asgard is in danger by a group of nasty evil Sorcerers, calling themselves The Enchanters Three. Thus you must help……..yadda, yadda, yadda!

Thus begins the dimension hopping adventure in Time and Space.

Like I said earlier, what happens next is that C.L. Werner then basically writes comic books without the pictures and we get a whole load of classic Marvel scenarios that are just bonkers and fun. I think one of the reasons that I liked this as well, is that all the different settings that the Warriors Three are thrown into are all familiar and I felt that I had read the comics that they were based on, although I can’t recall which ones they actually were.

However, no matter! What is pertinent though is that I had so much fun with this book. The Warriors Three in the starring role really worked well and it was Fandral who shone throughout the story as the emotional centre of the crew. Volstagg is the comic relief throughout and regularly gives himself whatever name comes to mind, and Hogun is the conscience of group.

There are lots and lots of nods to classic marvel comics and that old style sense of it just being completely barking mad adventure. At one point, they even go back to Civil War England and come face to face with Matthew Hopkins (he of the Witchfinder General fame) and get themselves into a number of scrapes, including playing around with some english folklore.

I gotta say – I enjoyed this immensely! So There!

Aconyte Books are the novel division of Asmodee Entertainment. Asmodee Entertainment is based in an amazing building in Nottingham, England. The Star Brewery opened in 1852, producing beer for Shipstones until 1991. 

About Marvel Entertainment Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media for over eighty years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing, publishing, games, and digital media. For more information visit marvel.com. © 2022 MARVEL








Sunday, 23 January 2022


 Just a Quick Note!

Hello Everybody!

Fantasy Book Nerd Here!

I thought I would write a quick note of what is going on with the blog this year and tell you about my reading goals and stuff like that.

I know generally at the end of a year there are lists of top whatever put out identifying the highlights of a bloggers reading year. However, you will have noticed a slight absence from me on that part. I think that if you want to see a highlight of my reading year check the blog. 2021 was just too good a year to distinguish my favourite books and whilst I did try to distill the number of good books down to a top whatever, simple fact of the matter was I just couldn't.

Anyways, onto 2022!

This year I am going to be concentrating on completing a big series of books, and for this (as you probably already know) I am going to be reading the Cradle Series. This is a series that I have heard lots about and it is something that I am really interested in.

On top of that, I am joining a number of book challenges and special moths throughout the year. 

First & Foremost, I am joining a reading challenge on Twitter called #BeatTheBacklog which was suggested by fellow blogger, Lisa at OwlBeSatReading which is about shining a light on the books that are already in your collection that you haven't got around to reading yet, and making that little bit of effort to Beat the Backlog. Now, I don't know about you, but I have a substantial pile of books on my Kindle that are just gathering dust and I never seem to get around to them. So, this year, I want to make that effort and try to pull and read some of these books out of their dusty piles and read them and talk about them.

In February, I will be joining Twitter pal Benjamin, who has a fantastic Booktube channel called Leterature & Lofi. During February, he is doing a reading challenge called #FebruarySheWrote, which is all about highlighting women in fantasy, and putting female fantasy storytellers in the spotlight. So, in February the majority of my reading will be from female authors (although I cannot guarantee all, coz I have some ARCS that need reading and the Cradle readthrough!)

In March, I will be joining Sue Bavey at Sue's Musings and a host of other bloggers for March of the Sequels. Again, another reading challenge to read some of those Book 2, 3 4, whatever that I have in my reading piles. As you know, I have started a number of trilogies, and have started the first book, but with demands, it is sometimes difficult to get to the rest of the trilogy. However, with this challenge, I am going to focusing on the sequels of books (with the main ones that I want to read are the rest of the War for the Rose Crown). Again, though, not all will be sequels as I have some ARCS and stuff to read in that month.

Well, that's all folks. See you again soon!





Friday, 21 January 2022



Four years have passed since Lidan’s world was ripped apart, and time is running out to change her father’s mind about the succession before the bargain with her mother expires. Torn between what she wants and what she knows is right, she is faced with an impossible choice; will her brother live, or will he die?

Within the walls of the Hidden Keep, Ranoth holds his secrets close as he tries to harness his wild magic. But when life in the Keep descends into chaos, he is cast once more into the outside world, forced upon a southward path toward unknown lands and untold danger.

With Ran set on seeking justice and revenge, and Lidan fighting to find her feet and follow her heart, journeys will converge, and the ghosts of a past thought long dead will rise.
 

Shit!

What the hell happened here?

I'm not sure, but I like it!

Alicia Wanstall-Burke certainly ups the ante in Legacy of Ghosts, the breathtaking sequel to Blood of Heirs.

Let me tell you, this review is going to be hard! There are no two ways about it, coz I need to tell you about this book, whilst not spoiling the last book. If I can, I will try to give as much info without spilling too many beans on what came before.

Legacy of Ghosts continues the story of Lidon and Ranoth.

At the end of the last book, Ran found a place where he could exist without persecution, and Lidon had her future irrevocably changed.

Now four years have passed and Lidon is a ranger and Ran is hiding from the world, whilst learning how to use his magic.

I can’t help it, but there is one thing that I am going to spoil for the last one, coz whichever way I look at it I need to mention this point as it has an impact on the story.

As you know, the story follows the points of view of the two main characters, and you would expect that the two storylines would converge. However, Alicia Wanstall-Burke decided to throw that rule book out of the window and maintain the dual storylines well into the second book.

The Legacy of Ghosts follows a pretty similar formula to book 1. We cycle through the points of view every three or four chapters, and when there are major events that have an impact on the plot, they are echoed in the other storyline too.

I really enjoy how this works, and it is always something that I didn't see coming. I tell you, I spend most of the time with my jaw well and truly on the floor. There is always this parallel of events that sets the story in motion, and I am like - Whaaaat? WTF!

Now as I said earlier, Alicia Wanstall Burke ups the ante two fold in this book and whilst the first book had a lot of character building, Legacy of Ghosts felt much more plot focussed due to those initial building blocks.

Now, I know I am being a bit sketchy on plot points coz quite truthfully I want to pique your interest, without spoiling either the first or the second book in the hope that you will pick this one up.

As you can guess, a load of stuff happens in this story. Things get answered, things get revealed. The story moves on etc etc

However, it is the pace at which they keep coming at you, it's like boom - action piece, boom - plot reveal, boom - action piece, boom - here's a dragon, bet you didn't see that coming did ya sucka? (haha)

Throughout the story, there were some plot points that I guessed weren't particularly far off the mark (And let me tell you, I can never usually see things coming, and I know it was only one thing in a book full of things like this, so I am keeping it as a major achievement! So there!). However, this had absolutely no impact on the story because Alicia Wanstall-Burke executed the reveal in such a brilliant way that it left me a bit gobsmacked. Because I read this and listened to this on audio there was always someone thinking that I may be losing the plot coz I was like whoa! Oof! No way! Even the dog was getting a bit worried at points wondering who the heck I was making random exclamations at whilst out on his daily walks! (I lay this wholly at your doorstep AWB)

The magic system comes to the fore a bit more in this book too, as Ranoth's story shows you that he has gained much more control over his powers and is able to use them effectively.

For me, Legacy of Ghosts was an absolutely brilliant second book, and masterfully moves the story along in ways I didn't expect.

So with me telling you all about this book, whilst not telling you anything at all, I bid you adieu! 




Thursday, 20 January 2022


 A Witch Steps Into My Office

By

Douglas Lumsden

She killed him with a curse--but he hasn't died yet!

Alex Southerland is back, along with Smokey, Badass, and Crawford the were-rat! In his most harrowing case yet, the hardboiled. P.I. must stop the most powerful witch in Yerba City from casting deadly curses against her will. Southerland plunges into the dark world of witchcraft and find himself pitted against forces beyond his imagination, including a hummingbird-headed god who wants to eat his heart and a giant shadowy dog who drags him to the borders of the land of the dead! The stakes couldn't be higher: failure to find the mysterious puppet-master controlling his client could result in the end of all life on earth!
 

 


I am actually a bit late on this review, as I read it last year but have only just managed to get my thoughts down on this one.

I have come into contact Douglas Lumsden on Twitter and he is always a delight to converse with, which brought me into contact with his books.

Now, I will have to put my hands up here and come clean. Unfortunately, I started this series by reading the second book. It was an honest mistake guv’nor, and by the time that I had realised that this was the second book, I didn’t want to relinquish my investment in the story as it had gripped me completely.

The other thing about this is that I consumed this via the audio book (and let me tell you ‘consumed’ is the absolute correct word because I did the listening equivalent of not being able to put this down, and finding myself sneaking any opportunity to slip my headphones on and carry on with this wonderful story).

The book revolves around Alex Sutherland P.I. who runs his investigative business in Yerba City, and kicks off in typical gumshoe detective fashion when a femme fatale walks into his office. However, from there we can leave the familiarity of the gum shoe detective behind when we are told that the ‘femme fatale’ is a witch of the highest standing, and indeed she is the most fatal of femme fatale’s who has the capability to destroy the world. Not only that, she is confessing to a murder that hasn’t been committed yet, and that she is under the compulsion of an unknown someone who is using her as a weapon to place curses on individuals in Yerba city.

Alex is then tasked with trying to solve the mystery of who is controlling the head honcho of the most powerful witch cults, Citlali Cuapa, also dubbed the ‘Barbary Coast Brujera’

Following this, Alex immediately tries to save the life of the cursed man in a race against time.

Do you think he is successful? Well suffice it to say that this is one of the hooks that is immediately at play in this action packed fantasy/thriller, and I am not going to tell you anymore. What I do need to tell you though, is that this is the first forty or so pages, and the book carries on in much the same vein, as Alex attempts to discover the power behind the Barbary Coast Brujera’s compulsions and who is causing eh mysterious deaths in Yerba City.

As with any new series that you start, you don’t know exactly what you are going to get, but I tell you, this is a gloriously fun, witty, and sharp piece of urban fantasy. And the marriage of urban fantasy and forties style detective novel is something that works tremendously well.

There is so much to enjoy in this book! Douglas Lumsden creates a fantastical and intricate modern world, but mixes with it with the authenticity of Forties noir to bring something to the page that is exhilarating and fun. He manages to take the tropes of both forms of fiction and magically transforms them into something new.

Now, I cannot say that I am not particularly au f├óit with the written form of noir fiction, and whilst I have read a few, I have not been particularly steeped in this form of literary fiction. However, I have seen enough films and other things to make this familiar. Similarly, with urban fantasy! Again I am not all that well versed in urban fantasy, but again, know enough to get by. However, this does not matter, as Douglas Lumsden’s story is like an old comfy seat, and it is not long before you are feeling like these settings are wrapping you in your favourite blanket.

Not only that, Douglas Lumsden’s world building is something to behold. At times, he will bring in the familiar beasts and races of fantasy fiction, but will transpose them on to a modern background, which works extremely well, for instance, there are gnomes, trolls, witches and a variety of other creatures. My personal standout was Mr Whiskers, the Manticore, who has a psychic connection with his ‘handler’, Cody.

In addition to this, Douglas Lumsden sets the story in a Mesoamerican setting, which is full of mythology based on the pre – Columbian culture of Mexico and Central America and incorporates it really well into the story. As it is identified in the nicely supplied glossary at the end of the book, the stories of Alex Sutherland are based in Tolanica, which derives its name from Tollan, or Tolan and is incuded in Mayan folklore.

I loved every character in this book, even the bad guys. Again, he cleverly uses stereotypical representations of characters out of these types of fiction, and then rips the stereotypicality away to make something inexorably pleasing.

Now whilst the book might seem all lightness and fun, it does at times, with some of its subplots go to some pretty dark places, such as human trafficking, and whilst there are never any details as such, there are these undertones. However, whilst they are present, they are carefully interwoven into the main body of the story and plot.

Now, I think I have chewed your ear off enough about this, I can only say that if you are looking for a brilliantly written fusion of detective/urban fantasy let me point you in the direction of this series.





Wednesday, 19 January 2022

 


 

It's here! The trailer for the upcoming Moon Knight Series has dropped, and we get our first view of the vessel of Khonshu and who he is, and I tell you I can't help it, but I am frickin excited to see that Moon Knight is coming to the screen.

However, I must admit that I am quite surprised that Moon Knight has got his own show, as whenever I used to go on about him, I would get a puzzled look at best.

When people think about Marvel, the general ones that come to mind are obviously Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk etc., but as a whole people would not readily go to Moon Knight, who started off as a villain called Werewolf by Night, and subsequently got his own title.

One of the things that Marvel have very cleverly done is to bring their lesser known heroes to the fore, such as Shang - Chi and Guardians of the Galaxy

Now let me take you back to Moon Knight's beginnings. Moon Knight was originally a bad guy in Werewolf by Night. He was an assassin for the Secret Empire and was supposed to bring in Jack Russell's (yep the werewolf was called Jack Russell.Everyone always said as a breed of dog, they were vicious little buggers!) and he was created by Doug Moench (who also happened to work on Batman).

Origins

Marvel Comics

There must have been something that made people connect with Moon Knight as he was quite popular when he was first introduced in Werewolf by Night, popular enough to give him his own title, and subsequently Moon Knight is born.

Moon Knight is quite a complicated character, and has at times been likened as Marvel’s Dark Knight, and there are various similarities which you can see why that comparison may arise.

In the original introduction of Moon Knight, he was an assassin for the Secret Empire. However, when he got his own title, a certain amount of retconning was employed and it turns out that this wasn’t quite true and he was infiltrating the Secret Empire in order to bring them down.

Turns out, that Moon Knight is this bloke called Marc Spector, a mercenary (amongst other things) who whilst working for an Egyptian warlord renovating a tomb, gets betrayed in one of his missions in Egypt, ends up getting killed, dying at the feet of an Egyptian God called Khonshu and coming back to life as the agent of the Egyptian God of Vengeance
 

Not only is Marc Spector pretty good at the physical stuff, he had a bit of a head for figures too, and invested his ill gotten gains that he had accrued as a mercenary, and very wisely invested it all and amassed himself a small (flippin huge) fortune, which allowed him to be kitted out with all the mod cons (including a state of the art stealth vehicle called 'The Moon Copter', which was shaped like a crescent moon - I mean no one is going to notice it are they?).

As Moon Knight, he is a master detective and crime fighter. However, Marc Spector cultivates other personalities such as a rich entrepreneur called Steven Grant, in order to divert attention from his real identity, a taxi driver called Jack Lockley, and finally a suited consultant called Mr Knight. But what is not entirely clear is how much these personalities are not just covers for him being Moon Knight, but are actually different personas of Marc Spector.

This first incarnation of Moon Knight ran for 38 issues, starting in 1980


Moon Knight then had a second run and was brought back in 1985 with the six issue mini Series ‘Fist of Khonshu’, but this time he was having psychological difficulties maintaining the different personas that he had cultivated resulting in him experiencing mental health difficulties and hung up his cloak, only to be summoned back to Egypt and infused with lunar based strength that gave him increased abilities depending on the phase of the moon.

It was in this 60 issue run that a number of things happened, like joining the West Coast Avengers, fighting more extra terrestrial villains. In this run, Marc Spector died again, only to have Khonshu resurrect him.


In 2006, the series was resurrected with crime novelist Charlie Huston (author of the Henry Thompson books and Joe Pitt Casebooks, amongst others) and upcoming artist David Finch (Cyberforce, Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America amongst others). This time he was taken back to his gritty roots.

This was about the time of the first Civil Wars and ultimately (at the behest of Khonshu, so that he could carry on his work uninterrupted) signed the Superhero Registration Act (The Sakovia Accords in the films), and he also was with the Avengers again, this time with Steve Rogers Secret Avengers (which included Beast, Black Widow, War Machine, Sharon Carter, Nova).


In 2009, a ten issue Vengeance of Moon knight was released, which saw Moon Knight kitted out with new weapons etc. However, at the same time in the Secret Avengers, Mr Knight, another facet of Moon Knight’s persona was introduced by Warren Ellis, who wore a white suit and mask rather than the Moon Knight we all know and love.


In 2011, Brian Michael Bendis launched a short lived Moon Knight run in which Moon Knight believes he is still in the Avengers and though working independently, he still believes that he is working with Captain America, Spiderman and Wolverine, although they are part of his own psyche. He would dress and act as these various Avengers, even though it was just him. 



The next iteration of Moon Knight in 2014, came with the Marvel Now initiative. This time the Mr Knight persona was used again by Warren Ellis, and it was in this run that we find out why Moon Knight dresses in white, so that the criminals can see him coming! Not only that, we get a different description of Moon Knight’s mental illness (which was not clearly defined, sometimes it is Dissociative Identity Disorder, in earlier volumes, schizophrenia). However, in this run it is due to the fact that Khonshu, an alien entity, had actually altered Marc Spector’s brain chemistry and it was actually brain damage that caused Moon Knight to shift personalities to match one of the God’s four main facets of "pathfinder", "embracer", "defender", and "watcher of overnight travelers."


Jeff Lemire’s run on Moon Knight, revises Moon Knight’s Mental Health difficulties again, and gives the idea that his mental health difficulties pre-dated him as a superhero and that Steve Grant, the millionaire entrepreneur was actually a invented facet of his personality and imaginary friend when he was a boy. This time, it launched Moon Knight as being detained in a mental health institution along with most of his friends and allies.


Now, here comes another twist in the convoluted history of Moon Knight, In The Avengers, #33-38, Khonshu decides that he is going to take over the earth for its own good, and subsequently compels Moon Knight to undertake its bidding.


Finally, in 2021, Moon Knight is still doing his crime fighting, However, he is also the High Priest of The Midnight Mission, a congregation dedicated to Khonshu


Please note that all images are from Marvel Entertainment.



Tuesday, 18 January 2022


Hello!

It's another cover reveal. This time it's for Blue Shadow Legacy by Anta Antoci.

Back Description

On the brink of war, the freedom of chimera outcasts and vampires hangs in the balance.
 
All seems lost when the Council runs coordinated attacks and destroys the Resistance’s secret camps. It’s time for shifters, vampires, and creatures of the Underworld to set their differences aside and make a united front. They expect the Huntress to lead them to victory, but they don’t know the truth about the prophecy that gives them hope. For Rae to save them all, she will be consumed.
 
After becoming a shadow and training her magic, Rae is ready for a new challenge. Unfortunately, the only constant in her life is that nothing ever goes as planned. When an army of witches gets ready to obliterate what’s left of the Resistance, Rae strikes a deal with a hellhound to save her friends.
 
An unexpected visit into the Underworld gives Rae a new perspective, an unlikely ally, and a fighting chance, but at what cost?
 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60047251-blue-shadow-legacy

About the Author


Anca Antoci (Author of Forget Me Not)
Anca's overactive imagination pours into her stories bringing otherworldly creatures to life. She writes about mystical creatures, mystery, and adventure with a hint of Romance.

Her debut novel, Forget Me Not, is the first part of a trilogy published in 2020.

Before starting her writing journey, Anca was active in the blogging community as a fantasy book reviewer. The fanfiction stories she wrote long before she dreamed of being a writer are still popular and available on her blog. Although not as often, she still posts book reviews and book recommendations on her blog www.summonfantasy.com.

Living in Romania, Anca speaks English as a second language and is quite self-conscious about her accent, which is why she never speaks in her videos on TikTok. She loves taking long walks through the parks to recharge her batteries before a writing sprint. She loves cooking and can often be found in the kitchen trying out a new recipe while an audiobook keeps her entertained.

Right then, s'pose we ought to get on with the cover reveal then hadn't we?
 
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Blue Shadow Legacy is the third book in the Chimera Series.

 



Hello!


Today, in association with R&R book tours, I'm so happy to share this book with you. Please read on for more info about Lucky Jack: Memoirs of a World War 1 POW by Susan Bavey!


Lucky Jack


Publication Date: November 19th, 2021
Genre: WWI Biographies/ History

“One of the perils of being a sniper during the First World War was the likelihood of a grenade going off right next to you and burying you alive”.
Meet Jack Rogers. Born in 1894, he once locked eyes with Queen Victoria and was one of the first travellers on London’s ‘Tube’. An early car owner, he had many escapades on his days out to Brighton, including a time when his brakes failed and he had to drive through central London without them!
His skills as an entertainer earned him popularity throughout his life, and kept him out of the deadly mines while a prisoner during the First World War. At the tender age of 103 Jack earned the title of ‘The World’s Oldest Columnist’ as he began dictating his life’s exploits to a reporter from the local newspaper.

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Let’s kick this one off by saying that I enjoyed Lucky Jack from the get go. It’s one of those books that you cannot help but like due to its inherent charm.

Now I know that from the name, the main genre that I tend to go for is Fantasy (nooooo, what gave it away?). However, I do have other interests and one of these is history. Lucky Jack definitely falls into that, even though it is a memoir of one Henry ‘Jack’ Rodgers. 

I think that whenever you read a review of this book, the word ‘charming’ is going to come up several times, due to the fact that Jack Rodgers has an ineffable charm and wit that immediately makes you warm to him. 

The book deals with a massive period of time due to the fact that these are the personal observations of a man who lived through three centuries, being born in the mid-1890s and gracing us with his presence until 2000, leaving us at the impressively statuesque age of 106. And in that time, he had seen all manner of things, as well as being involved in the First World War, when he fought in his regiment The Sherwood Foresters. 

Lucky Jack is full of anecdotes from his life, encompassing times from when he was a boy in Hammersmith, to moving to Brighton and finally spending his twilight years in Lincolnshire.

It’s a fascinating tale and sheds a light on life in England throughout copious different ages, and when you read this book, all these different time periods of British history are brought colourfully to life with the beautifully conversational style that he delivers his memoirs.

The memoirs are made up of observations and articles that have been lovingly brought together by the author and Jack’s grand daughter, Sue Bavey. 

There is a lovely laconic style to the book due to the nature of the stories that are between the pages. However, what struck me is that sometimes these stories belie the momentous events that Jack has been witness to, and it took me a moment to realise exactly what these events were, such as when he describes watching the Hunger Marches in 1930’s. I had to do a double take on that one when I realised what he was talking about.

Not only are there moments of great history in the book , but there is also the microcosm of family life throughout the ages. From stories of when he was a young boy and getting himself stuck in iron railings to moving up to Lincolnshire to stay in a retirement home.

When it really hits home is when he describes conditions and life in the trenches in the First World War. Even though Jack has a wonderfully optimistic nature, the true horrors of his experiences do permeate through the narrative, and in one or two sentences the stark reality of the situation hits you right between the eyes. 

Lucky Jack was a wonderful little read that you cannot help but love. When you read it, you can feel Jack and his wonderfully optimistic view on life shine through the pages, even through the darkest of times. I think the other thing that made this such a good read was the fact that when you read it , you feel that Jack is telling these stories to you personally and you are the one laughing and smiling along with him at some of the things that happened throughout his life. 

My advice! Read it!  

About the Author

Sue Bavey is an English Mum of two, living in Massachusetts since 2003 with her husband, kids, a cat named Midnight, a bunny named Nutmeg, a leopard gecko named Ziggy Stardust and occasional frogs and salamanders.

“Lucky Jack is the first book I have written and is my grandfather, Henry John Rogers’ biography. Grandad lived with us when I was born, until we moved when I was six years old. Then he came back to live with us in my teenage years and we were very close. He was my father’s father, but my Mum diligently collected the newspaper columns he dictated to a local reporter, and kept them in scrapbooks in her attic, where they gathered dust and yellowed over time. A few years ago I moved my Mum into an apartment and found all the scrapbooks in the process. I wanted to get all of those stories into a book for my kids to read. That was the germ of an idea which – thanks to my having time during Covid lockdown – has now resulted in the life story of my grandfather, Jack Rogers being written.”

Sue Bavey

Twitter Tags: @SueBavey @RRBookTours #RRBookTours





Monday, 17 January 2022

Welcome,

Welcome,

Come on in and take a seat!

This year, one of my reading goals was to read a large series that could be spread over the year and read on consecutive months. Now there are many series out there that could fit this bill, stuff like Malazan, Wheel of Time etc, etc

Now whilst at some point I would like to read these, the timing is not quite right for a series of chonky reads. So, I was looking for something that was reasonably sized, and continuous, and for me The Cradle Series fits this bill perfectly. And add to this, I have quite a number of  the books on my Kindle in the first place. So, it seemed that this was the perfect series.It fitted my specifications perfectly, reasonably sized and I already had it! Sorted!

On top of this, I have heard and had numerous recommendations to read this. One of my Twitter pals, David S. who also writes for FanFiAddict.com recommends this series continuously, as it is one of his favourites, and if you watch or read Petrik Leo's you tube channels or read his reviews, he always gives the Cradle books high ratings.

So, with recommendations like this, I set on my merry way to start the first one. 

Initially, this was billed as a January read on my TBR. However, I went ahead and started it at the end of December. In addition to this, David also said to me on Twitter, it would be great if you sent your reactions to the book coz i love talking about Cradle (poor David­čśé).

Now in all honesty, I have heard a lot about the Cradle Series, but in reality, I did not actually know what it was about. I knew it is classed as a 'Progression Fantasy', which if you are like me elicits the response -


So, what is progression fantasy?

Well, according to Reddit - Progression Fantasy is a fantasy subgenre term for the purpose of describing a category of fiction that focuses on characters increasing in power and skill over time. These are stories where characters are often seen training to learn new techniques, finding ways to improve their existing skills, analyzing the skills of opponents, and/or gaining literal levels of power.

In reality, I don't really care of what category a book falls into, but I also like looking, and there is this definite element in the first installment of The Cradle Series, and this is a definite driver in the story of our main character, Lindon.

What is The Cradle Series about? 

The Magazine Plus describes it as: -

Cradle series – a series of epic fantasy novels by Will, a story about Lindon, a 15-year-old young boy determined to learn his clan’s sacred arts. Even though this is forbidden thanks to his unsouled status, Lindon is no quitter. The series follows the growth of an under-hero who rises the ranks through hard work and sheer determination. It also comes with a complex and well-thought-out magic system. Add the fantastic action and diverse cast, and you have yourself an outstanding series. 

(ref: The Magazine Plus, Top 9 Reasons Why Cradle is the Best Ongoing Series, Oct 2021)

 What drew me to read the Cradle Series?

When I was looking for a series to read and my initial draw was towards The Cradle Series, I did a bit of digging on the old t'interweb, there are lots of articles about Cradle. As I have already mentioned, David S from FanFiAddict describes it as one of his favoutires. However, independently of David's recommendations, I came across his deep dive into the series on FanFiAddict.com, and this really piqued my interest.

How Many Books are there? 

There are currently ten books in the series, and I am told that it will be a twelve book series. Here is the link to the books that are currently published. So far the series consists of - 

  • Unsouled
  • Soulsmith
  • Blackflame
  • Skysworn
  • Ghostwater
  • Underlord
  • Uncrowned
  • Wintersteel
  • Bloodline
  • Reaper

Right then, onto the first book:


Sacred artists follow a thousand Paths to power, using their souls to control the forces of the natural world.

Lindon is Unsouled, forbidden to learn the sacred arts of his clan.

When faced with a looming fate he cannot ignore, he must rise beyond anything he's ever known...and forge his own Path.

(No wonder I didn't know what it was about!)


So, I finally started reading Cradle by Will Wight, beginning with the first book in the series, Unsouled. Now, there are 12 planned books in the Cradle series, and I have made it one of my reading goals this year to get through this series and see what all the fuss is about, as each time I look for recommendations for a series this comes up.

Unsouled introduces us to the World of Cradle, and its main protagonist Wei Shi Lindon, as well as other people in the series. 

So, with Cradle, I am finding myself introduced to new words and concepts, which is always a pleasure as it sends my brain a whirring. According to other reviewers, the Cradle series resembles Shonen Anime/manga in its inspiration. 

Got to say, I haven’t a clue, and I will take their word for it!

In addition to the anime/manga thingy, I am an absolute noob when it comes to progression fantasy. 

(I did have to look up the meaning for this as you can see from my earlier musings on the why I chose this book)

Now, whilst I have a little bit of trepidation on that lot of information, the main concerns for me is whether I would enjoy it. It’s always a bit nerve wracking when you start a series, and it was particularly nerve wracking when you have decided to devote this as a 10 – 12-month endeavour. 

However, not to worry, coz I positively devoured this book over two days and could not put it down. It was such an enjoyable and easy read.

The story is set in an Asian inspired world with a people that devotes itself to the practice of magic and their progression through the mystical arts. Each member of the society that Lindon grows up in is tested for whichever brand of magic that they possess and when Lindon is tested, the special substance that is used to identify the individual’s magic, shows that Lindon does not possess any magical abilities. He is subsequently labelled as unsouled (which I thought was a bit harsh to be honest!). This has an impact throughout his life, and he is seen as a freak and an encumbrance (yay highly enlightened people for accepting difference). This means that Lindon cannot progress in the magic/martial arts system that he resides in, which is a kind of isolated world in the mountains and hidden from the world outside, reminding me of the legends of Shangri – La.

However, through various misadventures he sees a way to progress and forge his own path. At one point he is entered into a duel against a much more powerful opponent, and he orchestrates the opponent so that he cannot win, and Lindon comes out of a potentially devastating situation unscathed. Throughout the book, Lindon has to employ his wits to overcome insurmountable odds, and whilst at times, Lindon can come across as a little unscrupulous in his methods and without any thought as to their actual consequences, you can see that he is highly disadvantaged in the society that he lives in. I have seen that some reviewers thought that there was a level of dishonesty in the methods that Lindon employed. However, for me, I thought that he was battling against overwhelming odds in one of the harshest and elitist societies in SFF that I have seen, and that whilst he uses some dodgy methods, he uses his quick wittedness to do what it is natural to do in this highly competitive environment. And as a world view, he is a little selfish in his goals, but the whole society is built on the principle that you can elevate yourself is to be solely enamoured of your own abilities. 

This is very much an introduction to the story of Cradle, and at times there is some info dumping on the reader, which at some points slowed the pace a little, yet on the whole, it did not affect my enjoyment of it. 

Initially, I did find the characters a little two dimensional, but this changes about halfway through when there is an incident that changes that whole direction of the book. I have to say that I had no idea that this inexplicable event would happen, but when it does it certainly pulls the rug out from you. And another point to add, is that by the very nature of the society that Will Wight introduces us to, is pretty two dimensional in all honesty, when its only goal is to progress further in their search for more power. 

Now, you cannot write a review of the Cradle series without mentioning the magic system. It is such an integral part of the book, and is so intricately woven, with it having some influence from Chinese spirituality and mixing it with the use of artifacts and elixirs.

I don’t want to go too much into the minutia of the book, as I think the best way to go into this is without any indication (except from the obvious!) of the plot. 

I have got to say that I really did not have a clue what this book was about in all honesty, but I can definitely say, that I was not expecting that. 

And for those of us that are old enough to have a “what the hell is going on” look on our faces when anime or manga is thrown at us, it really doesn’t confuse you at all, and me, with very little anime experience was able to appreciate the story. 

Unsouled is a fantastically paced romp that had me hooked. It’s one part coming of age, with one part underdog story, mixed with a whole lot of adventure. 

Give it a go!


 

 


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Welcome to my website. Hopefully, you are all like minded individuals here and are interested in the fantasy genre. Mostly, I will be reviewing books that I like. It might not always be fantasy, there might be some horror or science fiction.

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