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. 

Book Review: ‘The Last Temptations of Iago Wick’ by Jennifer Rainey

This is the first of two books thus far in the ‘Wick and Lovelace’ steampunk/gaslamp fiction series, although both Iago Wick and Dante Lovelace both also appear in ‘Iago Wick and the Vampire Queen’.

Similar to life for a tempter such as Iago Wick, this book is never dull. Mystery, adventure, temptation and danger combine to provide a well paced, very entertaining read that hooks the reader early and proceeds to charm them into feeling far more empathy for a demon than most would be willing to consider wise. 

Iago and Dante are delightfully devilish, giving the reader an insight into how demons might go about distracting and tempting humans while at the same time being thoroughly charming and polite. 

The writing is fluent and witty, vividly bringing to life the Victorian-esque city of Marlowe, Massachusetts, and the spectrum of characters who live there. This is a story laced with dark humour and keen insight into what makes people tick, making it both very readable and deeply fascinating. 

Overall, it’s a fabulously wicked and highly recommended read.

Book Review: ‘Cookies and Scream’ by CeeCee James

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‘Cookies and Scream’ is the second book in the Baker Street Cozy Mysteries Series by  CeeCee James, which features amateur sleuth Georgie Tanner, her Aunt Cecelia and the fictional historical town of Gainesville, Virginia. 

A visit to a local historical re-enactment places Georgie at the heart of a murder mystery that has many roots in both local history and her own past. What ensues is an intriguing and often dangerous chain of events that nudge Georgie closer to the truth. 

The story is well-written and the mystery is challenging and interesting. This is shaping up to be a series I am keen to follow. 

New Release: ‘When The Paint Dries’ by C.A. King

The Four Horsemen series by C.A. King is a paranormal suspense series that pitches good against evil in a ‘winner takes all’ struggle that culminates in ‘When The Paint Dries’, the fourth and final book in the series.

Meet the four horsemen: Michael, Gabrielle, Uriel and Raphael.

For centuries their sole purpose has been guarding the sealed gates to hell. Without keys, there was never any real threat. That was about to change…

Blond hair and leadership skills go hand in hand, at least for demigods. That sort of fame and glory, however, comes with a hefty price tag. Raphael is living proof of that. The straight and narrow is his destined path, and in all his years, he never once veered, allowing his personal life to fall by the wayside in the name of duty.

He isn’t buying into the madness his siblings are spewing about true love and the keys—in fact—he’s positive it’s all an elaborate scheme. Whoever is masquerading as Dante picked the wrong family to mess with and Raphael will do anything to prove it.

It’s winner takes all in this final instalment of the Four Horsemen Series. When the paint dries, someone has to come out on top, but can they live with themselves when they do?

New Release: ‘Mya’ His Majesty’s Elite Book 1 by Missy Sheldrake

‘Mya’ is a standalone prequel to the Golden Squirrel Award winning ‘Keepers of the Wellsprings’ fantasy series by Missy Sheldrake. It is a magical high fantasy adventure for the whole family. 

Her voice is her power. 

As the daughter of a vagabond scoundrel, aspiring minstrel Mya has spent her childhood wary of her magical voice while traipsing through dangerous jungles in pursuit of her father’s dream—fortune and glory.  

She never imagined Pa’s latest scheme would have her tangling with thieves, sailing across the world on a ship full of pirates, kissing a prince, meeting the foxy elf of her dreams (literally), and dodging the grasp of the most dangerous Sorcerer in Cerion, all the while wondering: Where is Pa? 

A mysterious note promising he’ll meet her soon pushes Mya toward options she never considered before. She could go on living at the mercy of her father’s endless plots, or create the home she’s longed for in Cerion, and finally embrace the power of her own voice.

Missy Sheldrake is an epic daydreamer and a muse of positivity who weaves worlds full of character-driven, complex fantasy adventures.

In 2014, she dusted off an unfinished, Tassy Walden Award-winning manuscript from her college days, started writing her first novel, Call of Kythshire, and never looked back. In four short years, she completed the five-book Keepers of the Wellsprings series, an epic high-fantasy young adult adventure that was awarded the Golden Squirrel Independent Book Award in 2017 for Best Fantasy!

When she isn’t writing, Missy can be found creating fantastical artworks in paint and clay, wandering hidden forest paths, and concocting plots for imaginary people who are beyond real to her.

Find out what she’s up to next at http://www.missysheldrake.com, on Instagram @m_sheldrake, on Twitter @missysheldrake, and on Facebook as Author/Illustrator Missy Sheldrake

Audiobook Review: ‘The First Queen of England, Part 2’ by M.J. Porter

Elfrida, or Ælfryth, was the first anointed and crowned queen of England, ruling alongside her husband, Edgar, in the 10th century.

‘The First Queen Of England’ Part 2 is the second instalment of Elfrida’s story, and shows just how strong and resilient  she was in a world dominated by patriarchy, politics and warfare. 

Just like the first book in the series, this book is very well written and is entirely consistent with the historical context of the story, even though it is undoubtedly fiction. 

It is a significant achievement on the author’s part to reanimate characters from the long-distant past in such a way that the reader feels as though they know them and can understand their concerns, cares and motivations. It is pleasing to witness the dynamics of the characters as they mature, and intriguing to observe the intricacies of the machinations and politics at court and the personal impact on the queen and king as individuals as well as rulers. 

The narration by Sheila Daly Payson is most enjoyable. Her voice is pleasant and her reading is fluent. Her characterisation of the different roles is effective, and really brings the various characters to life. 

As richly detailed and intriguing as part 1, ‘The First Queen Of England, Part 2’ is a most enjoyable story. This is in every aspect a very pleasurable audiobook experience, and is also available as an ebook or paperback. 

Book Review: ‘The Lost Ancestor’ by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

A family’s search for a long-lost great aunt turns into a riveting investigation for Morton Farrier, a forensic genealogist with a passion for discovering the truths and intricacies of the past. 

This case takes the reader back to 1911 and into the upstairs/downstairs world of a family and estate that rivals those of Downton Abbey for both prestige and drama. It is a world with which we have become very familiar through TV and film as well as novels, but in this book, the author immerses the reader in both the historical story and in Morton’s investigation with a sense of familiarity and first-hand observation that is quite remarkable.  

As with the first book in this series, this is a very well written story that, once started, demands to be read regardless of other priorities. It is interesting, dramatic and suspenseful, with some completely unexpected twists. 

This is a top quality, highly recommended read.