Tuesday, October 25, 2022

THE WINNERS
by Fredrik Backman
Publication: September 27, 2022
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Fiction / Literary
Rating: ★★★★★


It starts with a storm. A death. A birth. And two funerals on the same day.


   One person's life is being celebrated by the entire town. Another person's life has been forgotten by the entire town.


  Over the next week, the age-old rivalry between Beartown and neighboring town Hed, dormant for the last two years, is reignited. Unlikely alliances are formed, enemies work together to try to save the hockey club, and a new player arrives who shakes up the team.


   The epic final installment of Fredrik Backman's magnificent trilogy, THE WINNERS is a powerful, suspenseful, and deeply loving conclusion to the story of this small hockey town and the bighearted people who call it home.

...


Obviously, I am a huge Fredrik Backman fan. I like how his books talk about  groups of people and how their lives intertwine, whether circumstances or coincidence brought them together. And the idea of an old man, a cleaner, an orphan, or a burglar can turn peoples’ lives around is both clever and insightful.


The Beartown Trilogy is probably the most profound and complex community life Backman has created. Neighbors, Beartown and Hed, are hockey towns in every sense. Their lives literally revolve around this sport. It brings out the best and worst in them. And in the concluding novel, THE WINNERS, Backman draws tragedy, rivalry, friendship, politics, and the sense of belongingness into a map. There’s no inch, in either towns, that is not impacted by the sweeping events. Some tried to move away, only to find out that hockey cannot simply be shed. Some people who moved in, believed they are apart from it, found themselves at the midst of the game. However, for most players, it is the very air they breathe. It is life itself. There are resentments, conflicts, and intrigue, but, compassion, compromise, and accountability were present as well. And that is how Beartown raised a child, with ice beneath her feet and the limitless sky above her.


My anticipation for pain was in max throughout the book, and the bittersweet feeling never left me after reading either. Although, in my head I can still hear a puck hitting a wall, a guitar playing softly, and a beautiful boy is sitting up a tree facing the wind. I know life continues in that forest town.


Last Sunday, I asked the clerk at Indigo if I could stand at the entry way and offer each entering customer a copy of this book. That’s how much I recommend this book… this trilogy.



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About the Author:

Photograph © Linnéa Jonasson
Bernholm/Appendix fotografi

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, Britt-Marie Was Here, Beartown, Us Against You, and Anxious People, as well as two novellas and one work of nonfiction. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter @BackmanLand and on Instagram @Backmansk.







*Thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for the printed ARC in exchange for this unbiased review.



Book Review | THE WINNERS by Fredrik Backman

Thursday, August 25, 2022

WITH FIRE IN THEIR BLOOD
by Kat Delacorte
Publication: 1st September 2022
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: YA Fantasy

About the Book:

A simmering supernatural romance set in the crumbling Italian city of Castello, where mafia clans make the rules, dark magic pulses the streets and the sins of the past threaten to consume the present. . .

When sixteen-year-old Lilly arrives in Castello, she isn't impressed.
A secluded town in the Italian mountains is not where she saw her last years of high school playing out.

Divided for generations by a brutal clan-family war, the two halves of Castello are kept from destroying each other by the mysterious General, a leader determined to maintain order and 'purity'. . . whatever the cost.

Lilly falls in with the rebellious Liza, brooding Nico and sensitive Christian, and sparks begin to fly. But in a city where love can lead to ruin, Lilly isn't sure she can trust anyone -- not even herself.

And then she accidentally breaks Castello's most important rule: when the General's men come to test your blood, you'd better not be anything more than human...



From the word-of-mouth fantasy sensation Kat Delacorte – the standout debut star of 2022 YA Lit Con (YALC) – comes the first instalment in a new YA fantasy duology. WITH FIRE IN THEIR BLOOD is quality YA storytelling at its best by an exciting new voice in YA fantasy.


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‘Startingly original... Readers will be lured into this tumultuous world of warring families,
forbidden power, and heart-searing romance’- Lyndall Clipstone
(Lakesedge, Forestfall)


About the Author:

Kat Delacorte
was eleven years old when her family moved from the United States to a small town in central Italy. She soon began writing stories about her new friends developing superpowers, and she hasn't looked back since. She graduated with a BA in History from Columbia University, and lives in Venice, Italy.



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Blog Tour | WITH FIRE IN THEIR BLOOD by Kat Delacorte

Friday, August 19, 2022

ADVOCATUS by A.R. Turner
Publication: 17th January 2022
Publisher: Cloaked Press
Genre: Fantasy

About the Book:

ADVOCATUS tells the tale of Felix, a junior lawyer with one last case before he can strike out on his own.

His client? A terrifying magical warlord accused of, amongst other horrifying crimes, two counts of Attempted Genocide (and six counts of Theft). His plea? Innocent, of course! All in a day’s work for Felix.

Psychic frogs, downtrodden goblins, time-travelling wizards, and a whole host of other magical defendants become his caseload as Felix begins trying to make a name for himself as a successful lawyer in a world rife with sorcery.

The biggest case of his life: defending humanity in front of Habeus, the God of Justice himself. Lose, and it’s all over. Not just for him, but for the whole of mankind.




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About the Author:
Born on the Isle of Wight in the south of England, Alex now lives in South Wales with his wife and cat, where he divides his time between reading, writing and board games. Having always wanted to read a book about a lawyer in a fantasy world (but never successfully finding one), Alex finally realized that there was nothing else for it: he was going to have to write it himself. His other passion in life is a board game called Blood Bowl. He talks about it often in his podcast and one day hopes to compete in the Chaos Cup or other big global tournaments. Check his podcast here: https://anythingbuta1podcast.wordpress.com




Author Socials:
Website: https://www.arturnerauthor.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/A_R_Turner
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/A.R.Turner.ART
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22043280.A_R_Turner
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/a_r_turner_writes/
Cloaked Press: https://www.cloakedpress.com/ata-arturner/


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Blog Tour | ADVOCATUS by A.R. Turner

Monday, August 15, 2022

HAG OF THE HILLS
by J. T. T. Ryder
Publication: March 1st, 2022
Publisher: Old World Heroism ENK
Genre: Adult Fantasy
About the Book:

“Nothing is unconquerable; even our gods can die.”

Brennus is destined from birth to become a warrior, despite his farmer’s life. But when the Hillmen kill his family and annihilate his clan, he now has the opportunity to avenge those who he loved.

Brennus must survive endless hordes of invading Hillmen and magic-wielding sidhe, aided by only a band of shifty mercenaries, and an ancient bronze sword.

Failure means his family and clan go unavenged. Victory will bring glory to Brennus and his ancestors.

Hag of the Hills is a heroic fantasy novel set in 200 B.C. on the Isle of Skye, steeped in Celtic mythology and culture.






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About the Author:

Joseph Thomas Thor Ryder is an archaeologist and author of the heroic fantasy novel HAG OF THE HILLS, book 1 of THE BRONZE SWORD CYCLES duology. He is a published author of Viking archaeology, and a doctoral candidate specializing in the Viking Age and Celtic Iron Age. He resides in Norway where he conducts archaeological research and writes heroic fantasy set in historical periods.








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Blog Tour | HAG OF THE HILLS by J. T. T. Ryder

Monday, July 4, 2022

THE MAYFAIR BOOKSHOP
by Eliza Knight
Publication: April 12, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow

About the Book:

1938: She was one of the six sparkling Mitford sisters, known for her stinging quips, stylish dress, and bright green eyes. But Nancy Mitford’s seemingly dazzling life was really one of turmoil: with a perpetually unfaithful and broke husband, two Nazi sympathizer sisters, and her hopes of motherhood dashed forever. With war imminent, Nancy finds respite by taking a job at the Heywood Hill Bookshop in Mayfair, hoping to make ends meet, and discovers a new life.

Present Day: When book curator Lucy St. Clair lands a gig working at Heywood Hill she can’t get on the plane fast enough. Not only can she start the healing process from the loss of her mother, it’s a dream come true to set foot in the legendary store. Doubly exciting: she brings with her a first edition of Nancy’s work, one with a somewhat mysterious inscription from the author. Soon, she discovers her life and Nancy’s are intertwined, and it all comes back to the little London bookshop—a place that changes the lives of two women from different eras in the most surprising ways.

USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight brings together a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop..


“An absolute must-read!”-—Madeline Martin, New York Times bestselling author The Last Bookshop in London

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About the Author:
Photo by Andrea Grant Snider


Eliza Knight is an award-winning and USA Today bestselling author. Her love of history began as a young girl when she traipsed the halls of Versailles. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and Novelists, Inc., and the creator of the popular historical blog, History Undressed. Knight lives in Maryland with her husband, three daughters, two dogs and a turtle.



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Book Spotlight | THE MAYFAIR BOOKSHOP by Eliza Knight

Friday, July 1, 2022

THE TRUTH ABOUT BEN AND JUNE
by Alex Kiester
Publication: June 28, 2022
Publisher:  Park Row


About the Book:

USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight brings together a brilliant dual-narrative story about Nancy Mitford—one of 1930s London’s hottest socialites, authors, and a member of the scandalous Mitford Sisters—and a modern American desperate for change, connected through time by a little London bookshop.

A heartfelt debut that explores the complexity of a modern-day marriage when a new mother vanishes one morning and her husband must retrace events of their recent past to bring her home.

Love isn’t something that happens to you; it’s something you must choose every day.

From the moment Ben and June met in a hospital waiting room on New Year’s Eve, their love has seemed fated. Looking back at all the tiny, unlikely decisions that brought them together, it was easy to believe their relationship was special. But now, after several years of marriage, June is struggling as a new mom. At times, she wonders about the life she didn’t choose—what might have been if she hadn’t given up the lead role in a famous ballet to start a family. Feeling like a bad mom and more alone than ever, she writes to her deceased mother, hoping for a sign of what she should do next.

One morning, Ben wakes to the sound of his baby and quickly realizes that June is gone, along with her suitcase. As Ben attempts to piece together June’s disappearance, her new friends mention things he knows nothing about—a mysterious petition, June’s falling-out with another mom, her strange fixation on a Greek myth. The more Ben uncovers about June, the more he realizes how little he actually knows her. And now the only way to bring June home is to understand why she left.

Told through alternating perspectives of husband and wife, The Truth About Ben and June is a witty and wise page-turner about life’s many crossroads and a heartfelt reminder that we create our own destiny.

"This powerful novel takes an honest, unflinching look at the challenges of modern parenthood from both sides of a marriage."-Tracey Lange, New York Times bestselling author of We Are the Brennans

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About the Author:

After graduating from Rhodes College with a degree in creative writing, Alex worked as a copy editor for the Journal of the Texas House of Representatives, then as a book editor for a boutique publisher. She lives with her husband in Austin, TX, and when she’s not writing, she can be found reading in the bath, talking on the phone with her mom, taking long walks, curating pizza toppings, or getting distracted by the squirrels beyond the window at her writing desk.



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Book Spotlight | THE TRUTH ABOUT BEN AND JUNE by Alex Kiester

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

THE DIAMOND EYE by Kate Quinn
Publication: March 29, 2022
Publisher: William Morrow


About the Book:

The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code returns with an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet bookworm who becomes history’s deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story.

In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son—but Hitler’s invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper—a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC—until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila’s past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

"The Diamond Eye is sharply observed, multi-faceted and brilliantly alive—historical fiction at its best!" -Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance

"A stunning, immersive tour de force by one of the best historical fiction writers working today. Meticulously researched, deftly plotted, and executed with a thrilling blend of action and heart, The Diamond Eye is a masterpiece." -Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars


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About the Author:
©2018 Laura Jucha Photography

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of Southern California, she attended Boston University, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical voice. A lifelong history buff, she has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga and two books set in the Italian Renaissance before turning to the 20th century with The Alice Network, The Huntress, and The Rose Code. All have been translated into multiple languages. She and her husband now live in California with three black rescue dogs.

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Book Spotlight | THE DIAMOND EYE by Kate Quinn

Sunday, May 15, 2022

THE KNAVE OF SECRETS by Alex Livingston
Publication: 7th June 2022 (US);
9th June 2022 (UK)
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: ★★★★


A twisty tale of magicians, con artists and card games, where secrets are traded and gambled like coin, for fans of The Lies of Locke Lamora and The Mask of Mirrors.

Never stake more than you can afford to lose.

When failed magician turned cardsharp Valen Quinol is given the chance to play in the Forbearance Game—the invitation-only tournament where players gamble with secrets—he can’t resist. Or refuse, for that matter, according to the petty gangster sponsoring his seat at the table. Valen beats the man he was sent to play, and wins the most valuable secret ever staked in the history of the tournament.

Now Valen and his motley crew are being hunted by thieves, gangsters, spies and wizards, all with their own reasons for wanting what’s in that envelope. It’s a game of nations where Valen doesn’t know all the rules or who all the players are, and can’t see all the moves. But he does know if the secret falls into the wrong hands, it could plunge the whole world into war…



Gambling is widely accepted in this book culture. With a mix of magic, sleight of hand, and cunning -the story focuses on a group of gambling hustlers caught up in a power struggle between two nations.

Hello. This is my stop for THE KNAVE OF SECRETS by Alex Livingston Blog Tour.  hosted by  @TheWriteReads.

I think Livingstone did a good job researching about gambling and how to cheat. It’s very believable and educational for me. However, it was a challenge to put two and two together, at times, in this complicated plot. My main motivation is why and how could people put the fate of an independent nation on gambling. Gambling on secrets, to be exact. The main characters have the “Robin Hood and his Merrie Men” vibe, except they don’t give their winnings away (ha ha). The wordbuilding is intriguing, especially where people with money and influence can gain actual government power by funding public works and projects. It seems almost every major plot points here are morally flawed in the real world. In a way, it challenges the readers to withhold their ideals. Magic (not the wand-swishing kind) plays an important role in this multi-cultural world, and a seminary of magicians are highly revered. I’m sure fantasy readers who navigates towards con-artists and political affairs will enjoy this.


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About the Author

Alex Livingston grew up in various quiet New England towns before moving to Buffalo, NY to study English at Canisius College. He writes SFF prose and interactive fiction. Alex is married and lives in an old house with his brilliant wife and a pile of aged videogame systems.







*Thanks to Rebellion Publishing and @TheWriteReads for the digital copy in exchange for this unbiased review.


Blog Tour | THE KNAVE OF SECRETS by Alex Livingston

Sunday, May 8, 2022

THE CARNIVAL OF ASH by Tom Beckerlegge
Publication: March 15th 2022
Publisher: Rebellion Publishing
Genre: Adult Literary Alternative History
Rating: ★★★★

Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter. 

 Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…
...

Set in an alternate reality, The Carnival of Ash tells the story of Cadenza, a city thriving with poetry, where the written word is a treasure and well-sought after commodity. Amidst the sudden death of its most fearsome governor Artifex Tommaso Cellini, grief and unrest are buzzing the streets and alleys of the City of Words.

Hello. This is my stop for the Ultimate Blog Tour of The Carnival of Ash, hosted by @TheWriteReads.

Adopting a beautiful Italian Renaissance landscape, the book is replete with evocative words and some intriguing characters. Berckerlegge employed a dozen cantos for chapters, taking in different perspectives and building the political panorama. The idea of ink maids is very new to me. This below-the-surface, sort of, life seems so repressing and liberating both at the same time. I enjoyed the winding stitches of the story plot and how this tapestry came together. And, I like how it was tightly woven, making the loss truly noted.

Dark, immersive, and delectable -surely recommended for those who love historical fiction and atypical social structure.


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About the Author:



Tom Beckerlegge grew up in the northwest of England in a house filled with books. Writing as Tom Becker, he won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize with his debut novel; The Carnival of Ash is his first adult book. He lives in Enfield with his wife and young son.







*Thanks to @TheWriteReads and Rebellion Publishing for the printed copy in exchange for this unbiased review.
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Blog Tour | THE CARNIVAL OF ASH by Tom Beckerlegge

Saturday, April 9, 2022

MAN DOWN by James Goodhand
Publication: 3rd March 2022
Publisher: Penguin


About the Book:

A man stands. A man fights. A man bleeds.

These are the first lessons you learn in a town where girls are objects, words are weak and fists do the talking.

Will's more at home in the classroom than the gym, and the most important woman in his life is his gran. So how can a boy who's always backed away from a fight become the hero who saves the day?

Because a disaster is coming. One that Will can prevent. But only if he learns the most important lesson of all: sometimes to step up, you have to man down.

A searingly powerful exploration of toxic masculinity, perfect for fans of Juno Dawson or They Both Die at the End.




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"Wow. My mind is going 100 miles an hour now and I can’t stop thinking about it. What does it all mean?
You’ll have to read it to find out."
-I'm A Voracious Reader

"Powerful. Emotional. Compelling."-Brewtiful Fiction

About the Author:

James lives in Surrey with his wife and newborn son.

He took up writing three years ago. A mechanic by day, much of his work has been written at an oil-stained workbench whilst ignoring a queue of broken cars in need of his attention.

James is also a keen musician, regularly gigging as a rhythm & blues pianist.

James' debut YA novel, Last Lesson, tackling teen mental illness and toxic masculinity, was published in spring 2020 by Penguin Random House Children's.



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Book Spotlight | MAN DOWN by James Goodhand