I received a copy of these two eBooks courtesy of the author.
“High Summons” and “Grimm Remains” are the first two books in the “Warlock of Rochester” series by Eli Celata. Urban fantasy set in the author’s own university town, the series is about a young biracial man called Jon who can secretly wield magic. He moves to a new city called Rochester for university and finds himself under the unlikely tutelage of the mysterious and taciturn Jordan. Desperate to find out more about the father he never knew, Jon steps into the world of magic and discovers that it comes with a price.
A modern take on the classic angels and demons story, this book is a love letter to the author’s own stomping ground on the USA/Canadian border. Jon is an interesting character with straddles two worlds not only because of his race, but also because of his magical status. “High Summons” was a little slow to warm up, but “Grimm Remains” was a quicker read with more diverse characters and more revealed about Jon’s family.
A fun interpretation of Constantine/biblical demon mythology best suited to those who love fantasy in modern settings.
I received a copy of this cookbook as an eBook courtesy of the author. I’ve only reviewed one other cookbook on this blog, but I really enjoy cooking and trying new things. Regretfully, I’m not much of a baker, so I was keen to see if maybe this author had what it took to educate me.
“The Fun of Baking Bread” by Andrea Schmidt is a instructive cookbook on the fundamentals of how to make your own bread.
Schmidt is a graphic designer as well as cookbook author, so I think it is critical to note that unless you have a colour eReader (which I do not), it would be best to get the paperback version so you can really appreciate the beautiful design and colour photographs. Also I’m always a bit nervous about spilling ingredients on my electronic devices. I was a bit apprehensive to give this book a go, because I know that baking is not my strength. However, Schmidt covers the fundamentals in a clear yet enthusiastic way that even I could follow. I decided to try my hand at baguettes, and while my shaping probably leaves a bit to be desired, I think they turned out rather well!
A lovely little book that would be a great gift or a great starting point if you, like me, are intimidated by baking.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. I love to travel, so I was very keen to see whether there was any overlap between my adventures and the author’s, and whether our observations had been similar.
“Around the World in 80 Tales” by Dave Tomlinson is a collection of stories about his adventures across many continents. Separated into 10 sections with 8 stories each, the book has a bit of a postcard-feel about it with each story a brief vignette about a place Tomlinson went and what he found there. Each section is broken up by photos Tomlinson took on his travels.
Tomlinson’s stories are bite-sized and it’s very easy to read a couple, take a break, and come back and read more later. He has a clear passion for the physical side of travelling and shares keen observations about transport, hiking, scenery, architecture and the practicalities of getting from one place to another. Reading Tomlinson’s book really made me think about the age-old tension between tourism and travelling. This book made me realise that there is no one way to travel. I think where I would focus on the people I met, the cultural nuances I observed, the language I learned and the food I ate, intrepid Tomlinson is much braver than I about pushing his body to its limits by tackling epic trails to observe some of the most ancient and wonderful structures in the world. The book is peppered with tips about visiting different places and I found myself wondering whether Tomlinson does much other travel writing. It turns out he does, so if you want some more great advice about travelling on a shoestring, check out his website.
A take-your-time book that you can put down and pick up whenever you like, and full of great snippets of what must have been some incredible trips.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. I don’t know much about poetry, apart from being able to recite a bit of Banjo Patterson, so I was interested to try reading something a bit different.
“All She Wrote” by Charmaine L. Glass is a collection of free-verse poetry. Loosely divided into themes, Glass’ poems cover a variety of topics with a heavy focus on the ups and downs of love.
Most of Glass’ poetry is written in the second person which gives it a really personal, intimate flavour, as though she’s talking to you, or you’re overhearing her talking to someone else. The sad, suburban setting of someone who not only lives for love, but is willing to give up everything for love, seeps through the words. Reading her poems, I got a real sense that Glass’ poetry is meant to be heard aloud. Although perhaps some of her strongest pieces like No Christmas Tonight, Heart Burn and Plant involve much more vivid imagery than her other, more soliloquy-type poems, the others aren’t to be dismissed entirely. I think some of the repetitive phrases and rhyming couplets would really shine if you could hear them spoken with their true, intended rhythm. I also really enjoyed I Must Be Crazy, Grown Girl’s Lullaby and Time Upstate and more generally the Longing and Still She Wrote collections.
A heartfelt collection that would best be read aloud to a group.
I received a copy of this eBook courtesy of the author. The title had a whimsical fairy tale flavour about it, and I was interested to see what it was about.
“The Old Man and the Princess” by Sean-Paul Thomas is a thriller novella about an old hermit-like Irish man who kidnaps a young teenage girl called Sersha with plans to take her to Scotland. As the prisoner gains the trust of the kidnapper, he begins to tell her a fantastic tale about her destiny. As Sersha starts to wonder whether his story might be true, it becomes clear that they are being chased and the old man might actually be the least of her worries.
This is a quick, riveting tale that blurs the lines between truth and lies, between fable and fast-paced psychological thriller. Sersha is a feisty, filthy-mouthed teen whose street smarts more than make up for her troubled upbringing. The old man is an enigmatic character with unclear motivations and moral alignment. I enjoyed the Irish brogue but I was quite taken aback by the violence in this book.
A speedy read ideal for someone who loves thrillers.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. I was immediately intrigued by the premise – four love stories that cross through time and space.
“Bender” by Alexander Rigby is a historical fiction/science fiction hybrid novel about four star-crossed couples whose love is forbidden. During ancient Egyptian times, a pharaoh’s daughter falls for a slave. In Renaissance Italy where homosexuality is punishable by death, two men fall in love. In 1980s USA, two people meet who are already taken. Then, in an Argentina set 200 years from now, two women find themselves in an impossible situation.
Rigby is an elegant writer who fills his pages with rich imagery. This is a well-paced story that keeps you turning your pages to find out the fates of each of the four couples. Rigby’s concept is refreshingly original and thought-provoking. I found myself pondering the meaning of life, love and souls more than once throughout this book. The only thing I found a bit challenging about this book were that some of the stories, namely the ancient Egyptian and futuristic Argentinian stories, hooked me more than others.
A great book for anyone who is into romance, historical fiction or light science fiction.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. It is a crime thriller, which isn’t a genre I read much of, so I was interested to see what it was about.
“Kay’s Revenge” by C Halls is a crime thriller about Hollywood star Michael Miller. On the surface it seems like good guy Miller has it all: looks, career and a model girlfriend. He even has a fan-turned-stalker who has upped the ante with her messaging. However, beneath this veneer is a violent alcoholic whose hazy nights out are starting to affect his reputation. When he finds himself arrested for a crime he has no memory of, Miller starts to wonder if there is something else at play. If someone is deliberately trying to ruin his reputation and, ultimately, his life.
Halls is a detailed writer with a particular interest in the grey areas in issues such as self-defence, domestic violence and consent. Miller is a complex protagonist who struggles with hypocrisy and the fine line between being a good guy and a bad guy. Although capable of heroics, he is also capable of extreme violence and manipulation and as a reader, he is ultimately a bit of a difficult character to empathise with. At over 700 pages, this is quite a long book for a thriller and Halls does sacrifice some of the pacing by going over the same events from several perspectives and detailing long conversations between characters.
A book for people who like violence, crime and drama.