The Mirror of Pharos by J.S. Landor

Title:The Mirror of Pharos
Author: J.S. Landor
Genre: Children’s Fiction & Sci Fi & Fantasy
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Limited
Publishing date: 28th November, 2017
ISBN: 9781788034159

Synopsis:Jack Tideswell’s parents died in a diving accident while exploring the underwater ruins of the ancient Pharos lighthouse. So Jack wants nothing to do with adventure. Until that is, a seagull delivers a strange disc, addressed to him in his own handwriting.
In the blink of an eye, all kinds of magic are let loose, sending Jack on a dangerous journey. Can he learn to navigate time before it’s too late to save the one person who can help him unravel the secrets of the disc?
Whether he likes it or not, there’s no more hiding away. And no looking back. Especially when Alpha is watching. A wolf who sees all there is to see

My Review:

I was very excited starting to read this book, but also quite hesitant, because the book is compared to Harry Potter and other reviewers have compared it to the early Harry Potter books. Both Harry Potter and Jack are orphans so the comparisons start already in the first chapter. Additionally it is a book that suggests ancient Egypt and I am sort of a fan of the area. However, I did find the book a bit hard to start, it did not suck me in right away and I did not get carried away with the story. For me the story moved a bit too slow, so it was too easy to just put the book down to do something else. Once I got past the first initial chapters, it was easier to keep reading and the story indulged me. The characters you meet are easy to like and imagine. The illustrations that I saw was great, but my kindle seemed to have a small issue showing the illustrations properly (or it could just be my iPad that had the issue), though I would recommend getting this book in book format rather than for kindle.

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Medium Wave by Rose Zolock

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Title
:Medium Wave
Author:Rose Zolock
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Publisher: Caffeine Nights Publishing
Publishing date: April 6th, 2018

Synopsis: Becky Moran has built a career claiming to talk to the dead. A successful clairvoyant medium, a Cambridge graduate with her own radio show ‘Medium Wave’ and a team dedicated to crafting the celebrity myth – because Becky Moran is a fake. Until, one night, something supernatural, inexplicable, breaks through live in air as she is broadcasting. Becky Moran discovers the paranormal is real, the dead can indeed speak and she is being pursued relentlessly towards a battle for her very survival

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My Review:

It has been a while since I have found a book where I am caught on from the first page. Medium Wave has a beginning that sucks you straight in and keeps you hooked. The main character Becky, is interesting, mostly I found her interesting because she is a fraudster who gets turned into a “real medium” (sort of). Though the story is much about good and evil, it is also a story that is character driven. The characters seem to hop out of the pages, they seem like real people.
Medium Wave, as interesting as it is is not without a few faults. In the beginning there is quite a lot of infodumping which might have benefited better at other relevant parts of the story. Though I did not mind the infodumping that much, I did feel that it did kick me out of the story for a brief moment while it was going on before the action at the radio station quickly sucked me back in. That aside I very much enjoyed to spend time with Becky, for the other POVs I did not care as much, but I will look forward to spend more time in this bookiverse. Medium Wave is a terrific debut novel and it can only get better for here.
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The Seer’s Curse by J.J. Faulks

Title: The Seer’s Curse
Author: J.J. Faulks
Genre: Frantasy
Publisher: Matador
Publishing date: April 28th, 2018
ISBN: 9781788038546

Synopsis: Orleigh is cursed. Or so the other villagers believe. With each harvest worse than the last, something must be done. And so they consult the Seer. A deal is struck: the village will thrive once more, but in return, Orleigh must be sacrificed to the Earth God, Teymos.
A tale of friendship, acceptance and self-discovery, filled with a new mythology, The Seer’s Curse is a moving debut to be enjoyed by all fantasy fans

My Review:

The Seer’s Curse start off a little slow in order to set up a world that is a little different from ours and to set up the plot. I think that for some readers the beginning might be a bit too slow to stick with, but when you stick with it you will get delivered a story of self-discovery and acceptance. At times the story seems a bit confused in regards to which audience it’s intended for, whether it is middle grade, teenage or intended for the YA genre. That issue aside, I did really enjoy to hear the story through the various point of views it had to offer, however the view of the Seer became redundant and did not really add any value to the narrative of the complete story. Overall I believe this is a good debut novel and I look forward to what else this author can bring to the table.

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Author Rose Zolock shares her work with the paranormal influenced her writing.

As part of her blog tour, Rachel Zolock, has written the following blog post about her work and experiences with the paranormal and how it influenced the writing of Medium Wave. Make sure to tune in for my review of Medium Wave next week. continue to read for Rose Zolock’s post:

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Let me begin by telling you the story of Kitty. This, a true story, was told to me recently by a retired District Nurse, working in the small, close knit villages of the Pennines. The nurse was looking after Kitty, who was terminally ill and who had returned to the family home to die. The nurse’s job was to keep her comfortable and as pain free as possible.

Kitty didn’t want her husband near her. When he came into her bedroom, she shouted at him to leave. The nurse grew disturbed by this behaviour, knowing that Kitty didn’t have long and feeling that it would be better to be peaceful as she neared the end of her life. Kitty beckoned her nurse to her and told her, her eyes bright with anger, her husband had dallied with every woman in the valley. She hated him, despising his grief now she was dying.

When Kitty passed a couple of days later, the nurse went to lay the body out and prepare her for the attentions of the undertaker. She washed Kitty, put on a clean night dress on her and brushed her hair while the family were grieving in the parlour downstairs. The nurse placed Kitty’s hands, folded, on her chest. The left hand flopped down. The nurse gently placed it back. Again it flopped down. She tried yet again: the hand would not lie in place. The nurse then got a piece of gauze and tied both thumbs together and arranged it so it was hidden by the hands as they were folded on Kitty’s chest. As the nurse stood up to smooth the sheet around Kitty’s lifeless body, the left hand flung itself outwards with such force, her wedding ring flew off. The nurse heard it clatter onto the floor. Kitty’s left hand flopped over the bed, the deep indentation of that ring marking her now dead flesh. The nurse knew that ring had been worn on her finger for years and had not been loose. In death as in life, it seemed Kitty wanted rid of the connection to the man who had betrayed her.

There is an intimacy in listening to the stories of those who believe they have experienced the supernatural. I have been meeting them and visiting places with a history of unexplained phenomena and collecting these stories – like Kitty’s – for a long time.

From my perspective, I focus on what it is about that particular person at that particular point in their life to try and see what makes them truly believe something exists beyond our 21st Century world. Underscore it with an element of fear – I have heard some very frightening stories –and I think most of us enjoy the moment of terror from the comfort of our warm armchair. Whether we’re reading a book of horror stories, hearing them being broadcast or watching something unfold, dark and sinister, late at night, on our television screens, we enjoy the frisson of fear that these tales provide.

In my novel Medium Wave, I have used some of those stories and experiences to shape a narrative which I hope will lead you to make your own mind up about the supernatural. The story is based on research I’ve undertaken and the narrative centres on real objects or places which have a history of paranormal activity. I then wove these into a story which will take the reader on a journey into a very dark destination.

I have met psychics, mediums, ghost hunters, UFO abductees and even one man convinced the real Men in Black were watching him.  I spent one evening in a crypt with 42 interred bodies and a dozen ghost hunters where tables were tipped, surrounded by those eager to feel the table move as their fingers lay lightly on its surface. Their electronic sensors bleeped, much to the joy of the assembled people who said it was proof that ‘energies’ were present. One lady was somewhat overcome and had to be led away to be comforted. I have recorded stories of a family driven out of their home by a poltergeist and another of a man who said he and his twin regularly saw a plague doctor in their house when they were eight years old. The house, as it turned out, stood on the site of a plague pit.

These stories – unexplained – are truly believed by those who tell them. My mind is open and I do not judge the story teller. Personally, I have yet to experience any direct contact with the paranormal. In Medium Wave, I explore from the perspective of ‘what if’ and take you by the hand so you can decide. Combine this with questions of faith and add examples of how the media in can manipulate how you perceive a story, I will let you make your own mind up.

One word of warning, however, keep the lights on and beware the radio…

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Blog tour run by Rachel's Random Resources.

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen

Title: Herding Cats
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles #3
Author: Sarah Andersen
Genre: Comics & Graphic Novels
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publishing date: 27th of March 2018
ISBN: 9781449489786

Synopsis:Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah’s Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.

My Review:

I love small, quirky books filled with self irony and truth. I also love cats. Putting the two together in a series of ironic cartoons is not a mistake. This book was a blast from the first page (I mean the cover) to the end.
Sarah’s drawings are insightful and fun without becoming cliché, they make you laugh and they make you think. And to be quite honest, as an aspiring crazy cat lady, I recognized myself in a lot of the fun scenarios the book puts forward.
As much as I though enjoyed the book, I will have to point out that it did have a lack of cat related topics and the comics did not have a clear topical connection. This did though  not take away from my enjoyment of the comics, but as a book it would have felt more as a “book” if there were some interconnection between the comics.
That aside, if you want to read some quirky comics about adulting or not adulting, you will certainly enjoy this book.

The Elf King by Lorraine Hellier

Title: The Elf King
1st book  in an unnamed series.
Author: Lorraine Hellier
Genre: Fantasy – Children’s
Publisher: Troubador Publishing Ltd
Publishing date: 28th of January 2017
ISBN: 9781785898877

Synopsis: Bay Leaf is the new Elf King. In this fantasy tale his sister, Sweet Pea, demonstrates her love and devotion for her brother. The elves go on a perilous journey to the Mountain Shrine where Bay Leaf must take his ‘Oath of Allegiance’ to the ‘Moon Lake Elves’. An enchanted book offers advice and guidance from their ancestors and warns Sweet Pea to take care of her brother

My Review:

The Elf King is very clearly intended for a younger audience, which I was aware of when I started reading. Still it took me a little while to get with the story, it might have been the beginning that seems a bit abrupt or that the pace seemed a bit in certain places. Though once I got  a grip on the story I managed to stay with it, and I did rather enjoy it.
The narrative is fresh and young When I read it kept reminding me of the Disney movies about Tinkerbell, and I think those who enjoyed those movies will enjoy this book series very much (maybe when they are slightly older than the intended age-group for Tinkerbell).
The community in which we meet the elves felt very natural and convincing. Lorraine has her own take on the elves without it becoming forced, you can see her own little world in there.
I do though recommend this book for younger readers, though I see no reason older readers shouldn’t enjoy this book too.

Q&A with Lorraine Hellier

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As a part of The blog blitz for The Elf King by Lorraine Hellier arranged by Rachel Random resources, I have below a Q&A with Lorraine. Please keep an eye out for the book review for The Elf King (publishing tomorrow).

First, would you please tell us a little about yourself.

I was born in Birmingham (UK) and after leaving school I pursued a career in Dentistry. I worked for the NHS mainly with children, special needs children and adults and those with phobias.
I now live in a Staffordshire village, overlooking the Trent and Mersey canal.
I am an avid reader and love to travel. I like to support and encourage new children’s authors.

What was your inspiration for writing The Elf King?

Prior to my visit to New Zealand I re-read “The Hobbit” by Tolkien which inspired me to choose elves as my characters. Also watching a TV documentary on the making of the film “Frozen” gave me the sibling idea but I decided to write about a brother and sister.

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The names in The Elf King are quite cute and earth like. How did you come up with these names?

‘Sweet Pea’ as a name for the new Elf King’s sister started my choice of flowers for the female elves and then I thought it balanced to use herbs for the male characters. I did have to research names for the rest of the family and members of their clan.

If you could be invited to dinner by one of your characters, which one would you like to meet and why?

Mother Rose in “The Elf King” and subsequent Elf novels because she possesses a wisdom which as Mother of Elves was highly respected. (I would have chosen Clementine but I don’t want to spoil it for readers by giving her story
away before they read the novel.). Continue reading

How Do Cats Do That? by Peter Scottsdale

Title: How Do Cats Do That?
AuthorPeter Scottsdale
Genre: Children’s Nonfiction
Publisher: Indie
Publishing date: 15th of July 2016
ISBN: 9781536855722

Synopsis:You’ll Be Amazed by How Cats Do The Wonderful Things They Do.

My Review:

“How Do Cats Do That?” is a handy little book about what cats do, how they do it and why. It is a very short book, but it contains a lot of information. Each “chapter,” if I can call it that, is headlined with a question about something cats do and the following paragraphs explains what, how and why (not necessarily it that order).
I very much enjoyed reading it, though I did spot a few grammatical errors, but it did not take away from the fun of reading the book.
Much of my enjoyment of the book can be attributed to me being very much a cat person, living with two cats, and I think any catlover would enjoy reading this book (even if they already know a lot about cats).
It might also be beneficial to check out the authors blog where he blogs about… cats.

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms by Robert Paul Weston

Title: Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms
Author:Robert Paul Weston
Illustrator: Misa Saburi
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Picture book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publishing date: 20th of February 2018
ISBN: 9781101918746

Synopsis: A warm, gorgeous exploration of a little girl’s experience immigrating to a new country and missing her home and her grandmother, who still lives far away.

My Review:

Sakura’s Cherry Blossoms is written through a series of Tanka poems , a traditional Japanese poem. The poem style is applied flawlessly throughout the book, and though it has few pages this book covers a lot of ground.
The story is about Sakura, who relocates with her family to America, and her meeting with the everyday in a foreign country with a new culture and a new language. It gives a view of how she misses her old home and her grandmother, but still becomes a sweet story about friendship.
The illustrations in this book is beautiful and varied, they compliment the story excellently. It is an excellent story, very suitable for young readers between 3 – 7 years.

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café by Richard Dee

35086847Title: Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café
Author: Richard Dee
Genre: Cozy Crime, Light Sci-fi
Publisher: 4Star Scifi
Publishing date: 15th of June, 2017
ISBN: 9780995458161

Synopsis: Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!
She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.
But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not.

My Review:

I am not much of a crime or mystery reader, but as this book sounded like quirky science fiction  book I decided to give it a try. The book did not disappoint.
The heroine, Andorra Pett, comes across as a likable mess in control with a habit of stumble into trouble. Though she has a bit of a striking personality at first, she quickly becomes a character you want to spend the next couple of hundred pages with.

The story has all the familiar classical marks of a crime novel; an outsider getting into a secluded society with few ways in and out where she ends up having to solve a crime in an environment where everyone might be a suspect. With it being a bit of a crime story and a bit of science fiction, these elements do shine through and should be strong enough to enthuse any regular crime reader looking for fresher watering-hole.

The story is set in space, so of course we will have to label it science fiction, but the elements of science fiction are light. The whole thing takes place on a space station circling Saturn, making most of the day-to-day life pure speculation, but the author has managed to do so without jamming a million made up words down the readers throat. It is believable that this colony could potentially exist in a future time.

Another thing I particularly liked about this book is that the trusted sidekick is gay, and he is not gay in the stereotypical flamboyant way books and movies like to gay people out to be. Like all people he does have his, for the lack of a better word, issues, but they do not seem to be there because of his sexual preferences but more as normal character flaws (because all characters have to have flaws to be real).

For last, I did really enjoy to read this book. I might have struggled a bit while setting into the story but I usually do. It takes a chapter or two to get you hocked. Bottom line is, I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys science fiction, guilty pleasure or crime fiction.

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Hosted as part of tour by Rachel’s Random Resources