New Read: The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King

In the bitterly cold and dreary weather of February, I found myself needing to escape to another world, so I picked up The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller; which had sadly lay in my Kindle’s to-be-read folder for too long! And It was only as I neared the end and no conclusion seemed forthcoming that I realised it is the first book in a planned fantasy trilogy.

Immediately, we are thrown into the action of the dark, fantastical realm of Tenalp; as the last of the proud race of dragons is forced to flee their ancestral home of Aurisha, by a never-ending hoard of mindless demons sent by the dark lord, Rectar and the traitorous wizard, Castallan. During the bloody fighting, King Draconess is killed and Prince Danuir is mortally wounded. Fearing they will be lost without an heir to the powerful Dragon’s Blade, the last good wizard, Brackendon is forced to perform a dangerous rebirthing spell upon Danuir, which leaves him a helpless babe.

I know what your thinking… a dark lord and a traitorous wizard, isn’t that The Lord of the Rings? Initially, I have to admit I thought the same thing, but reading on I discovered some interesting differences to enjoy about Miller’s new creation too. The biggest being the dragons themselves. These are not the traditional scaly, winged, fire breathing beasts you might have imagined. Instead many generations ago, with the help of magic, the dragons of this world shed their beastly form for a human-like one, whilst retaining their impressive strength and longer life spans.

Meanwhile twenty years pass and with no knowledge of his true heritage, Danuir grows up hidden away in a human village in the Boreac Mountains. However his life is turned upside down when he comes of age and the Dragon’s Blade magically presents itself to him. With it comes a bewildering array of new strength, powers and memories. Now as the demonic forces are poised to finally destroy the beleaguered alliance of humans, fairies and dragons for good, all hopes rest upon his young shoulders, as the long-awaited king who can wield the legendary Dragon’s Blade.

All the while I just had to feel for poor Danuir, who is just trying to figure out exactly who he is! Once an arrogant prince full of scorn and pride, the kinder and humble rebirthed Danuir has a lot to come to terms with. Especially when unnerving memories start to resurface and old prejudices frustratingly erupt in moments of anger, which leads to uneasy relations with his human friends. Towards the end of the book though, Danuir does seem to be getting a better handle on things – balancing the strength and authority of his former self, with the fairness and humility he has now.

During this dangerous adventure out of the Boreac Mountains, through the Cairlav Marshes and to the fairy homeland of Val’Tarra, Danuir is helped and joined by an eclectic collection of characters. Including old friends, the wizard, Brackendon and human hunters Cosmo, Ballack and Garon and new acquaintances Blaine, the Guardian of Tenalp; Kymethra, a shape-shifting witch and a mysterious young woman, Cassandra. While I thought all of these characters were good, I didn’t always find Cassandra that believable. However she does have many secrets and twists to come that explain some of her behaviour and actions.

Overall, I thought The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King was a fun, fantasy adventure which certainly helped me to escape from miserable February! My only problem was at the end I wanted to know what happens next! Good read.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

Have you read this? Can you recommend any similar fantasy?


Goodbye February, Hello March 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? My oh my, we have had a very cold February here in the UK. As much as I love a cosy night in as the weather rages outside, I am now rather tired of it and could really do with a little warmth and sunshine! This month, from within my blankets, I have read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 3

At the beginning of the month, I finished historical crime fiction A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King, the second nostalgic and thrilling Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery for me. After that I threw myself into the epic, fantasy adventure The Dragon’s Blade: The Reborn King by Michael R. Miller, which turns out is the first book in a planned trilogy. My full thoughts on this are still to be posted, so keep your eyes peeled for that in March.

Alongside these fictions, I also read three more non-fictions. First, I finished reading the brand new cookbook The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers, which is a great collection of vegetarian recipes. Next, for my church’s book club, I read the candid The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel, a compelling collection of inspiring stories of transformation. Finally, right at the end of the month, I squeezed in another interesting history, Seven Kings of England, by one of my favourite new authors of last year: Geoffrey Trease. Again my full thoughts on this are still to be posted, so also look out for that in March.

Pick of the Month: The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie

Altogether that is five books finished – two fictions and three non-fictions which is identical to last month! Carrying on into March, I have historical fiction Six Tudor Queens: Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen by Alison Weir, the American classic This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ronald Reagan: A Very Brief History by Mark Black.

In March, I look forward to celebrating my dad’s birthday and Mother’s Day, as well as more quality reading time and a bit warmer weather please!

What did you do and read in February? What are your plans for March?

New Books: February 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms. After a bit of a large book binge over Christmas and January, I have had a far more moderate February. Only acquiring these four new goodies for my bookshelf:

The Moor by Laurie R. King

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

First, I picked up these two books at The Works, as part of the 3 of £10 deal, from series I am collecting. The Moor is the fourth Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, which is great timing as I have just read finished reading the second book: A Monstrous Regiment of Women. And The Hanging Tree is the sixth book from the Rivers of London series, but I have yet to start these. (Plus to complete the deal I got my dad The Obelisk Gate, the second book from the Broken Earth series by N. K. Jemisin).

The Loving Spirit by Daphne du Maurier

Across the Wall by Garth Nix

Then during a rummage in my favourite charity book shop, I was pleased to spot these two books by two authors I already love. After loving My Cousin Rachel last year, I am as keen as ever to read more by du Maurier and The Loving Spirit is perhaps one of her less well known works. While a few years ago I started reading Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, which I am looking forward to finishing – hopefully this year! And it would be great to then continue on to Across the Wall: a short story collection set in the same world.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

New Read: A Monstrous Regiment of Women

After enjoying The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, by Laurie R. King, I started collecting more books from the series. Unfortunately I had to wait till the end of last year to find a copy of the second book in the series: A Monstrous Regiment of Women, but as you can see I didn’t wait long to read it!

It is 1920 and Sherlock Holmes’ brilliant, young apprentice Mary Russell is now a grown woman, an Oxford graduate and on the cusp of gaining her longed for independence along with her large family inheritance. With this new found freedom and her passion for divinity, Mary finds herself drawn to the New Temple in God and its charismatic leader Margery Childe, a self-proclaimed suffragette and mystic. However when a prominent bluestocking from Childe’s most inner-circle at the Temple is found dead, it seems Mary has stumbled upon another baffling and dangerous mystery to solve.

When we first met Mary Russell, that sunny day in 1915, she was a lonely 15-year-old orphan. Now Mary has bloomed, under Holmes’ tutelage, into a strong, brave, intelligent woman, who on reaching her majority is able to rid herself of her unpleasant aunt and so step out into the world on her own for the first time. While in the first book I found the age gap between Mary and Holmes a little creepy, now Mary is all grown up it is even easier to see how well they suit each other and this book sees the burgeoning of a deeper affection between them.

This new mystery also sees Mary stepping up and taking the lead, with Holmes taking a back seat; but you know he always has her back. As Mary delves deeper, it is revealed that three more women have mysteriously died and what makes it even more suspicious is how each victim had just changed their wills to benefit the Temple. Putting herself in extreme danger, Mary decides to use her own new wealth as bait to whoever it is committing these terrible crimes. What ensures is another thrilling mystery full of secrets, danger and disguises, with the added glitz, glam, drugs and freedom that came in the age between the wars.

And then of course you have Sherlock Holmes. While Holmes isn’t the main protagonist of this book, I do think King has continued to draw him well – he is older, in a new situation and solving new crimes, but I always felt what King had him do and say was believable and true to Doyle’s original. I think I will always prefer Doyle’s classic stories, however I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to see Holmes, even if in a smaller role, in another mystery through this book and I look forward to more.

In conclusion, I thought A Monstrous Regiment of Women was another nostalgic and thrilling mystery. I look forward to reading more from this series – I already have the next book, A Letter of Mary. Good read.

Have you read this? Or any of the other Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes books?

Goodbye January, Hello February 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, I hope you are all well? Sadly I have been poorly for a lot of the month – not the worst cold I have ever had but I just couldn’t seem to shake it off! However it didn’t stop me celebrating a special birthday! With a trip to see my mum and family; meals out with family and friends and a hilarious trip to the theatre to see the pantomime Cinderella. Whilst for the rest of the month, I used my cold as an excellent excuse to stay in and read! Here’s what I’ve read:

Fiction: 2          Non-Fiction: 3

I started the year by finishing my comforting re-read of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, while not my favourite it is still a fitting and bitter-sweet ending to a wonderful trilogy. Then I became completely gripped by the dark historical fiction The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland: the second and best book I have read by this author. My full thoughts on this are still to be posted, so keep your eyes peeled for that next month.

Alongside those fictions, I also read an impressive three non-fictions. First the cookbook, Super Food Family Classics by Jamie Oliver, a collection of great new and traditional recipes for all the family with a super food twist. Next, for my church’s book club, I read the inspiring, heartbreakingly candid memoir Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi. Finally, I finished the month with the super quick The Vietnam War: A Very Brief History by Mark Black.

Pick of the Month: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus

Altogether that is five books completed in January – looks like I’ve got my reading mojo back! At the end of the month, I also started reading A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King, the second Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mystery, and the Christian non-fiction The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel, which is the next book for my church’s book club.

In February, I look forward to more quality reading time and hopefully better health too.

What did you do and read in January? What are your plans for February?

New Books: Christmas 2017 & January 2018

Hello my fellow bookworms, while sadly I didn’t receive any books for Christmas or my birthday! I did receive a new Kindle and an Amazon voucher, plus I have enjoyed some great bargains. Here are the goodies I have added to my Kindle and bookshelf over the last month or so:

The Hairy Dieters (5) Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers

First up, if you read my blog regularly enough you will know I absolutely adore Si King and Dave Myers’ (The Hairy Bikers) series of Hairy Dieter cookbooks. So, while out Christmas shopping, imagine my joy when I spotted this in The Works for a bargain price – I just had to make it a present to myself!

Hearts of Darkness: A Medieval Fiction Omnibus by Marjorie Bowen
(The Sword Decides, The Viper of Milan and Dickon)

Anne the Rose of Hever by Maureen Peters

Charles II, Biography of an Infamous King by John Miller

Next, through January, I have taken advantage of some great offers for my Kindle from Endeavour Press, via their weekly e-newsletter. I got a free copy of historical fiction Anne the Rose of Hever and non-fiction Charles II, as well as downloading the historical fiction omnibus Hearts of Darkness for just 99p. I’ve not read any of these authors before, but I have heard good things about Marjorie Bowen – in particular I am looking forward to reading her novel Dickon about Richard III.

Katharina: Deliverance by Margaret Skea

Six Tudor Queens: Jane Seymour, The Haunted Queen by Alison Weir

Queen of Hearts, Volume 3: War of the Cards by Colleen Oakes

Also in January, I have been fortunate enough to receive review copies of new work by three already loved authors of mine. I was contacted by Margaret Skea about her new novel Katharina, and after having loved her previous books – Turn of the Tide and A House Divided – I snapped her hand off for the chance to read this. Whilst on Netgalley (UK) I was lucky enough to have my requests for historical fiction Jane Seymour and young adult War of the Cards approved. The latter of which I have long been waiting for after loving Queen of Hearts, Volume 1 and Volume 2 back in 2014!

Kingmaker: Divided Souls by Toby Clements

The Case for Grace by Lee Strobel

But Is It Real? by Amy-Orr Ewing

Finally, last week, I used my Amazon (UK) voucher to treat myself to these. First I picked up Divided Souls, the third book in Toby Clement’s Kingmaker series, on my Kindle for just 99p. This is another book I have long been waiting for after enjoying the previous books: Winter Pilgrims and Broken Faith. Then last but certainly not least, I ordered copies of Christian non-fictions The Case for Grace and But Is It Real? for my church’s book club. I will be reading The Case for Grace for our next meeting.

Do you fancy any of these? What new books have you got recently?

Re-Read: The Amber Spyglass

Over the Christmas period, I enjoyed a comforting re-read of The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, the final book in Pullman’s ever popular His Dark Materials trilogy. (There is a considerable chance of spoilers in this post, so if you are unfamiliar with this series I recommend instead that you read my thoughts on the first book: Northern Lights).

Now Will is the bearer of ‘The Subtle Knife’, his father’s dying wish was for him to deliver this powerful and dangerous weapon to Lord Asriel to help in his war against ‘The Authority’. But Will couldn’t possibly think of going until he has found and rescued Lyra, from those who wish to stop her fulfilling her destiny, as Will and Lyra’s lives, loves, and fates are now irrevocably joined. Together they have their own battles to fight and inevitable journey to go on, that will even take them to the world of the dead…

And it was another real joy to follow the wild, spontaneous Lyra and the practical, selfless Will on their adventures. For me they truly are the best partners in crime and in this final book it is wonderful to see their friendship blossom into something deeper and richer. However this final book also has a lot more characters and threads, all of which have their own crucial part to play, going on at once, including: Lord Asriel, Mrs Coulter, the witch Serafina Pekkala, the armoured bear Iorek Byrnison, Dr Mary Malone and the ‘Mulefa’, Father Gomez, the angels Balthamos and Baruch and the dead…

Boy, I had forgotten just how much Pullman had stuffed into this book! On the positive side this makes for an intriguing, twisting tale which should really make for a rollercoaster ride but for me it doesn’t, and that is because many of these characters and threads have never been mentioned let alone explored in any detail in the previous books. Which for me, especially first time around, meant whole slow sections that felt like giant information dumps! Having said that though this time, being my second read, I did find it a lot easier to take everything in. However my true enjoyment still came from the simpler, central thread following Lyra and Will.

Then we come to the final epic showdown between the armies of Lord Asriel and ‘The Authority’, and Lyra facing temptation and her prophesied destiny. Through out which Pullman showcases his Atheism: making it quite clear a world, or in this case worlds, without God and/or organised religion is a better one. Now I am a practicing Christian and I have to admit there was nothing that particularly bothered or upset me about all this – if Pullman wants to be an Atheist that is up to him and his opinions won’t affect my faith. On the other hand though, I can see how people could be bothered, upset or angered by some of his views shared in this book.

So overall The Amber Spyglass is still not my favourite, however I did find it easier second time around and it is still a fitting, bitter-sweet ending to a wonderful trilogy. While I didn’t plan it, this re-read has also aligned with the release of Pullman’s sequel The Book of Dust, which I now look forward to reading! Good read.

Have you read this? Have you read the new sequel, The Book of Dust?