Book Review: ‘Sweet William’ by Sherrie Hansen

They say that the course of true love never runs smoothly, and that is certainly true in Lyndsie Morris’ life. 

The fourth book in Hansen’s ‘Wildflowers of Scotland’ series, ‘Sweet William’ is an excellent read in which romance is balanced by sass and snark, and happy coincidence is tempered by tragedy. That balance continues in the characters, some of whom are delightful while others are just plain nasty. 

It’s fair to say, then, that this story is quite realistic and believable in the way it reflects the best and worst of life and of human nature and challenges the reader to consider how to beat respond to challenges and trials,  and how one might seek happiness with a clear conscience at the same time. 

The story is well paced and the writing is very good indeed. 

This book, like the series to which it belongs, is highly recommended.

Book Review: ‘Miss Mabel’s School For Girls’ by Katie Cross

It is a rare thing to find a series of books for Young Adult readers  that ticks all your favourite boxes: mystery and magic underscored with macabre and gothic elements, strong female characters, quirky twists, and themes and ideas that are universally compelling and interesting for teen and adult readers alike.

Just as it exists in the world-famous Harry Potter series, it exists in The Network Series by Katie Cross. This first book in The Network Series delivers a well-paced, expertly constructed story that ticks all of those boxes and more. 

Make no mistake, though: This is no mere imitation. ‘Miss Mabel’s School For Girls’ is original and unique, and the story is thoroughly engaging. The book ends with sufficient resolution to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion while dangling enough magical carrots to leave the reader wanting to just keep reading. 

The writing is excellent, creating an environment and atmosphere that is vivid and almost tangible, and propelling the reader into a story full of mystery, suspense and foreboding. 

Readers of all ages will find this book hard to put down, and should expect to be left wanting more. Thankfully, there is an entire nine book series, and another fantasy series featuring dragons by the same author, to look forward to. 

Author Spotlight: Ted Halstead

Ted Halstead is the author of The Russian Agents thriller series. His latest release is the third book in the series, titled The End of America’s War in Afghanistan.  

He served twenty-five years in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer, most of it overseas, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service after his second tour at US Embassy Riyadh. His tours included four years at US Embassy Seoul, and two years at the East Asia Pacific Bureau in DC. He is a National War College graduate, and served for three years at a regional US military headquarters.

While there is continuity of some characters through the series, each of the books is a standalone novel. it is not necessary to read any one book before reading the others. The books are all set in different countries at different times, and each book’s story ends with a satisfying resolution.

What inspired you to write?  

Throughout my career in the US Foreign Service, I had experiences that I shared with my fellow officers. From my very first tour, I was told I should write a book about them.  Security classification and privacy concerns have made writing a nonfiction account impossible. However, I have worked many of those experiences into my novels.

What’s your favourite thing that you have written?  

That’s a very hard question. I will always have a special place in my heart for my first book, which took me almost seven years to write. I poured a lot of myself into The Second Korean War, drawing on the four years I served at the US Embassy in Seoul. That was also true for my second book, The Saudi-Iranian War. I drew on two tours at US Embassy Riyadh for that book, spaced twenty years apart. My third book, The End of America’s War in Afghanistan, has some of my favorite supporting characters. Sadly, many don’t survive.  If I must choose one, I have to say The Second Korean War.

What’s your favourite thing that someone else has written?  

Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell. I read it when I was starting high school, and it made a great impression on me. Published in 1957, it was incredibly far ahead of its time. I genuinely envy anyone who hasn’t read it yet!What are you working on writing now?  The End of Russia’s War in Ukraine. Check out my blog, accessible through my Amazon Author Page, for the first couple of pages.

Do you have a favourite food or drink that helps you write?  

Coffee, of course!

Who designs your book covers?  

Ivan Zanchetta, for all three of my books. Just Google his name to find his site. Highly recommended!

What’s your favourite kind of music?  

At the moment, 1970s R&B. Check out the soundtrack for the movie Shaft and see if you agree with me that Isaac Hayes really did deserve his Grammy. Especially for the block of songs following Cafe Regio’s. Or try the song Natural Man by Lou Rawls, and see if you’re as amazed as I am that it came out in 1971.

What’s the best vacation you’ve had?  

Hawaii, during my tour in Seoul. After the pollution of early 1990s Seoul, it was such a pleasure to breathe clean air!

What is your pet hate? Have you ever built it into a character or used it in your writing?  

Bureaucracy. I hated it all 25 years I was part of one of the largest on Earth, and did my best to make it bearable for every member of the public we served. You will see this in all my books in many ways.

What movie can you watch over and over again?  

The Incredibles. First, it’s one of those rare movies I can safely enjoy watching with my granddaughter. Plus, there are so many sly references to old Bond and superhero movies it takes repeated viewings to find them all!

What would you like people to know about being an Indie author?  

I started self-publishing on many sites, including Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Google Books, Apple etc. But I ended up dropping the others because I decided to try making my first book available through Kindle Unlimited, which required me to do Amazon only. I was honestly shocked by how many people read both that book and the others since through KU – literally millions of pages! That actually means more to me than book sales. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s bought a book and either never read it, or just read a few pages before losing interest. As someone who puts a lot of himself into his books, it’s very gratifying to see that people are really reading them!

Thanks for being here and sharing with us today, Tom! 

Thanks for having me!

Ted’s books are all available in Kindle, paperback and audiobook formats.  They are also available through Kindle Unlimited.

New Release: ‘The Taint of Treason’ by Greg Alldredge

Greg Alldredge, author of excellent steampunk, dark fantasy and urban fantasy novel series, has a new fantasy novel landing tomorrow. 

‘The Taint of Treason’ is the first in Alldredge’s new Lilliehaven epic fantasy series, which promises to carry the reader into a world of magic, danger, adventure, and courtly intrigue. 

’The Taint of Treason’ is available now for preorder
It will be available in both ebook and paperback on May 5.

The throne was her rightful place…
… unfortunately, her evil stepmother took it all away.

The life of a princess should be a royal blessing. But when Morgan’s ageing father marries a younger woman, the Crown Princess’s life becomes—treacherous.

Through a royal miscalculation, the Empire is now at war with a Necromancer of unknown strength and with unfathomable motives. Conflict has invaded the Wu Empire.

Morgan stands accused of treason; now, her life hangs in the balance. Forced to run, as the might of the Genke clan’s army hounds her escape.

Ghosts and monsters haunt the young princess, while she quests for a path to regain the throne.

Can Morgan find enough allies?
How will she save her Empire?

You’ll love the first book in the Lilliehaven epic fantasy series. Courtly intrigue meets swords and magic. The twists will keep you turning the pages.

Book Review: ‘Shy Violet’ by Sherrie Hansen

The third instalment in Hansen’s ‘Wildflowers of Scotland’ series, this book is a wonderful light romance read.

Infused with good humour and populated by diverse and interesting characters, it is a tale full of twists and turns and surprises that keep the reader engaged and guessing.

The narrative moves at a good pace, sweeping the reader along with Violet as she faces her challenges and her fears, albeit not always as wisely as one might hope. 

Not only is ‘Shy Violet’ enormously entertaining, it also reminds the reader of the importance of honesty, the value of friendship, and the life-changing power of forgiveness.

This book, like the series to which it belongs, is highly recommended.

Book of the Week: ‘Reecah’s Flight’ by Richard H Stephens

Reecah’s Flight is Book 1 in the Legends of the Lurker fantasy series by Richard H Stephens. 

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch.

There’s something strange about the woman living on top of the hill and the people of Fishmonger Bay leave her alone. At least until the day she pays a visit to the village witch. Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable. Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people. If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

Banding together, the villagers take action. One magic user is bad enough; the emergence of a second—intolerable.

Her life spinning out of control, Reecah Draakvriend tries desperately to unravel the dark secret hanging over her head. In a never-ending battle to survive, she must decide whether it is wiser to slay the dragon or become a victim of her people.

If Reecah can’t find the key to unlock her family heritage, will she fall prey to the mystery so many others have died to protect?

Read reviews on Amazon or Goodreads.

Find out more at the author’s website.

Follow the author on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
or LinkedIn.

Find the author on Amazon.

Book Review: ‘Angels of Perdition’ Chaos of Souls Book 2′ by R. M. Garino

It is during times of significant trial that one experiences growth and development far beyond that achieved by luxury or effort. 

Themes of endurance and resilience and the survival of the fittest are  explored in depth in this sequel to ‘Gates of Golorath’. (link) ‘Angels of Perdition’ is a saga focused on Arielle and Angus, characters from the previous book who begin a new phase of their lives in this next instalment in the series. The cast of characters and the incredibly complex world established in the first book are continued in the second, but because they are already familiar to the reader, it feels as much like a reunion as it does a continuation. The banter and interactions between various characters are highly engaging and draws the reader deeper into the story as the action and drama build. 

The story is really well told and  expertly paced. The writing is infused with energy and rich imagery that really makes the scenes and characters come to life in the reader’s mind. The action scenes are well developed with excellent attention to detail. 

This is a captivating and quite inspiring read that holds definite appeal to readers of epic fantasy, particularly those who want to discover sophisticated worlds and complex societies with a rich history and a future to fight for.

Book of the Week: Source of Power: The Complete Trilogy by Tony Lindblom

The Source of Power trilogy is a fast-paced Space Opera with elements of Epic Fantasy, following both heroes and villains through a universe where the line between magic and technology is blurred.

The planet Entori

In the Free Kingdoms on the planet Entori, the royals are desperate to defend themselves and their kingdoms against the aggressive Taran Empire. The Free Kingdoms would not stand a chance if the Tarans would launch a full attack, unless they can find the legendary city of Anzoria, which is said to contain a weapon of immense power.

Milky Way galaxy

In the milky way galaxy, the ruthless corporation Aterion Industries and their plans for domination are only held back by the Intergalactic Trade Council. The council was formed as an alliance between multiple governments and authorities to keep companies like Aterion Industries from gaining too much power, and they have succeeded at keeping them in check for some time. But when a previously unknown alien race starts attacking the human worlds; Aterion might be the only ones with a military power strong enough to counter the alien threat.

The books in the trilogy are also available individually.

The trilogy’s homepage features some excellent concept art and additional background information to the series.

Note: Because the series does include some sensitive content, the Source of Power trilogy is intended for new adult and adult audiences.

Read a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Book Review: ‘The Hollow Crown’ by Jeff Wheeler

Find your copy here.

The fourth book in The Kingfountain Series, ‘The Hollow Crown’ is another wonderful foray into the kingdom of Ceredigion and the surrounding lands. 

This book changes the focus of the story from Owen Kiskaddon to his daughter, Tryneowy, and the reader is once again drawn into the intrigue and adventure of life among the noble families, wizrs, the fountain-blessed folk, and the villains who conspire against them. It is an exciting and enchanting tale in which the reader becomes deeply immersed. The storytelling is mesmerising and the settings and scenery are richly and vividly drawn. 

Tryneowy’s story is both compelling and interesting. As she grows up, she becomes a young woman of strength and determination, guided by her ethics and loyal to her loved ones and the oaths she makes. She is a character that young women can admire, speaking up for equality in an era where women were not able to do all that men could, and showing that people should be valued for their integrity and abilities regardless of gender. 

Readers who have not read the previous books in this series will find this to be a complete story on its own, and thoroughly enjoyable as such. 

There is, however, a profound sense of being part of something much bigger—an overarching, ‘big picture’ narrative — and evening a sense of belonging that the reader develops throughout this most excellent series. This is the magic and allure of Wheeler’s writing and the world he has created with Kingfountain and the Kiskaddons at its centre. 

‘Highland Blood’ The Celtic Blood Book 2 by Melanie Karsak

In this excellent sequel to ‘Highland Raven’, Karsak continues the magical, mystical story of Gruoch as she continues to learn of her destiny amid the complexity of both worlds to which she belongs. 

Find your copy here.

As with the first book in this series, Gruoch’s story is so beautifully written  and expertly crafted that the reader becomes deeply invested in the events and characters of the story, sharing Gruoch’s fears, pain, and hopes as her life takes compelling twists and unpredictable turns. She is a complex and powerful woman, strong and admirable, and steadfast in the face of conflict and danger. Yet, she is never portrayed as perfect, never unrealistically good, and never so contrived as to not be believable. 

There are some lovely references to Shakespeare’s ’Macbeth’, woven seamlessly into the narrative. This establishes close ties between that story and this one, even though the events of this series thus far happen before those in the famous play.

The story delivers a fascinating blend of history, mystery, fantasy, romance, and adventure in an deeply engaging read that, once started, demands to be consumed.