Tag Archives: #fantasy

Review: Silverlegs I: Seed of Rage by Camilla Monk

Silverlegs I: Seed of Rage  by Camilla Monk

Will you be fast enough? 

A fifteen-year-old girl with a gift for violence and nothing left to lose, Constanter is running. To escape the farm she grew up on in a remote part of the Western Lorian empire. To forget the family and the life she can never return to. She runs east, toward the distant war she knows only from the tales travelers—a twenty-year long conflict, opposing the Western and Eastern halves of the empire.

Mistaken for a boy after she stole the gear of a dead soldier, she is captured and drafted by a band of mercenaries whose leader recognizes her innate speed and agility. Her face hidden under a mask, Constanter surrenders to the anger she wears like a second skin and becomes Silverlegs, a legendary killer, an uncontrollable weapon in the hands of power-hungry rulers and religious fanatics.

As the Western empire spirals into madness in the name of the One God, Constanter will have to choose what she truly fights for, before Silverlegs’s rage leads her down the road to hell…

Trigger warnings:
Silverlegs is a grimdark fantasy novel set in a world inspired by the late Roman empire. The heroine evolves in an environment that is violent, classist, misogynistic, and homophobic. This book questions religious fanaticism. It contains elements of sexual violence, rape, and graphic violence.

Published 27 August 2019 |  Publisher: Yaypub  |  RRP: US$12.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

There seems to be quite a bit in the trigger warning for this book to warn me away but girl-as-boy trope is a fave of mine plus she’s looking pretty bad ass on that cover so I decided that it’s worth to try reading this.

This is truly a very grim & dark story right for the very beginning. In fact, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to read through if there are more rape scene and/or if it was more graphic. Yes, the rape scene was pretty much near the beginning of the book and so, it wasn’t a big surprised that Constanter was absolutely raging! In fact, this rage was what I had to struggle with… I wouldn’t be able to deal if rage and pain were the only 2 emotions she felt.

Constanter is very resourceful, strong, and capable. Thankfully, despite her rage at the helplessness of women in her world and her inability to trust anyone, there are some humour in this sad world. I love her snarky interactions with Vitrix and others. Most of all, I loved cheering her on in her endeavour to rise above her situation. I do have to stress that there are a lot of violence and whilst I have read worst (where I just had to skim the page or skip it altogether), let’s just say there are a lot of gore in this one. They are in the middle of war.

I found the world to be quite confusing in that there are wars but Constanter didn’t have a choice as to which side she’s on. Nor did we ever find out exactly what each side are fighting for (besides power & wealth, if any)… Then again, Constanter came from a backwater village and she herself has no idea the who or whyfor of this war.

As the title indicates, Seed of Rage, is an angry story. It is also dark, violent, and fairly hopeless world. It did however engaged my full attention within 20% of the story and I just had to finish. I must admit, I was full of rage at the ending too and yet, I cannot wait to find out what’s going to happen next. Keeping my fingers crossed for book 2 to come sooner than later!

Thanks to Xpresso Book Tours for copy of ebook in exchange of honest review

About the author

Camilla Monk is a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.

A French native who grew up in a Franco-American family, she taught English and French in Tokyo before returning to France to work in advertising. After ten years spent building rickety websites for financial companies, she now lives and writes in Montreal, where she keeps a close watch on the squirrels and complains on a daily basis about the egregious number of Tim Hortons.

Her writing credits include the English resumes and cover letters of a great many French friends, and some essays as well. She’s also the critically acclaimed author of a few passive-aggressive notes pasted in her building’s elevator.

Find Camilla on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter | facebook

Review: We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya #1)  by Hasfah Faizal

People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.

Published 14 May 2019 |  Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux BYR  |  RRP: AUD$18.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I think the first time I found out about this book was from this teaser by the author:

Such catching lines paired with awesome images of synchronised colours – I really could NOT wait to read this one. This teaser was posted quite early so I saw it quite a number of times and I think that was probably why when I actually read these lines in the book, I didn’t really feel the power anymore… I’ve still really enjoyed the story though.

As the above image hinted, there are 2 perspectives in this story: Zafira, the Hunter, and Nasir, the Prince of Death. I loved Zafira; she’s feisty but she’s also hiding a lot of hurt. I’m not quite so keen on Nasir… he may be hot (there are definite sparks there and I loved that) but I feel like that he’s so focused on one thing that he’s not seeing what he should see and therefore, he looks weak. Then again, this may be a lesson he’d have to learn from Zafi 😉

We Hunt the Flame was a very engaging story. I gorged myself and had to pay for it the next day with only 5 hours of sleep 😪 BUT NO REGRETS! Zafi and Nasir drew me in and there was no stopping til I reached the end. I loved this new world of Arawiya with its diverse settings and casts; it ended up being a much bigger world with a whole heap more people & other beings and worlds away from mine own.

I do wish that secondary characters were developed more but then again, their stories may come later on seeing that it is only the first book.  And that ending! Oooh! He may turn or he may not… I can’t wait to read more of his backstory and his choice!

If you love a historical sort of fantasy, you’ll not be disappointed by this book. We Hunt the Flame will take you to a very cold place then a very hot one and you’ll never want to leave. It is a story filled with hurt, revenge, love, magic, and hope. For now, I’m in a world of pain waiting for the next book.

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Hafsah Faizal is an American Muslim and brand designer. She’s the founder of IceyDesigns, where she creates websites for authors and beauteous goodies for everyone else. When she’s not writing, she can be found dreaming up her next design, deciding between Assassin’s Creed and Skyrim, or traversing the world. Born in Florida and raised in California, she now resides in Texas with her family and a library of books waiting to be devoured. We Hunt the Flame is her first novel.

Find Hafsah on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter | instagram  | tumblr  | pinterest

Review: The True Queen by Zen Cho

The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal #2) by Zen Cho

Fairyland’s future lies in doubt…

The island of Janda Baik, in the Malay archipelago, has long been home to witches. And Muna and her sister Satki wake on its shores under a curse – which has stolen away their memories. Satki plots to banish it in London, as Britain’s Sorceress Royal dares to train female magicians. But the pair journey there via the Fairy Queen’s realm, where Satki disappears.

Distraught, Muna takes her sister’s place at the school, despite her troublesome lack of magic. Then the Sorceress receives an ambassador from the Fairy Court, which has incarcerated her friends – for supposedly stealing a powerful talisman. Their Queen is at her most dangerous, fearing for her throne. For the missing trinket contained the magic of her usurped sister, Fairyland’s rightful heir. Mina must somehow find Satki, break their curse and stay out of trouble. But if the true queen does finally return, trouble may find her first…

Published 12 March 2019 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

This review is in relation to book 2 of the series but each book could stand on its own and therefore I believe no spoilers exist in my review. 

I remembered enjoying Sorcerer to the Crown (book 1 of this series) when I read it a few years ago so I was excited to see a sequel. I was even more excited when I read the description which seems to have more Asian slant (“The island of Janda Baik, in the Malay archipelago…“). There aren’t many fantasy books published in English with Asian slant; until recent times, of course, when social media helped readers like me to come across writers like Zen Cho, Fonda Lee, and many other amazing talents out there.

I know nothing of Malay’s mythology so I’ve no idea whether any part of this book is inspired by such. I just had a lot of fun imagining Mak Genggang (old cranky Malay old lady), the island, and their style of dresses (I had a lot of Batik motif in mind). And then, when setting was moved to Fairyland, I had even more fun imagining all the fantastical fairy things and creatures. Even whilst I used a lot of my own imagination, I was totally helped along by the author as this novel was full of such rich  descriptive prose. This was what I loved most of this novel.

We mostly follow one of the 2 sisters with some chapters in between from perspectives of some English sorceresses. Prunella, who was the main protagonist in the first book, also made her appearance here though as rather minor character so we didn’t really see her develop here. I did identify with the main protag’s earlier character of sensible timidness even if it annoyed me a little however she did develop into someone you’d very much like.

That last bit at the end of the book, though… I just felt that it was forced. I didn’t expect that. I didn’t feel coming at all. I just didn’t feel it. Is it just me? Please tell me if you actually felt that spark cuz I had none :/

Overall, a very fun adventure of interesting (plus quirky) characters in very lush settings. You could read this second book without reading the first but you’ll miss some background on the English side of the ‘history’. So, read both!

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Zen Cho is the author of a short story collection (Spirits Abroad, Fixi, 2014) and two historical fantasy novels (Sorcerer to the Crown, 2015 and The True Queen, 2019, both published by Ace and Macmillan). She is a winner of the Crawford Award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer, and a finalist for the Locus, Hugo and Campbell Awards. She was born and raised in Malaysia, resides in the UK, and lives in a notional space between the two.

Find Zen on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter

Review: Into the Mists by Serene Conneeley

Into the Mists (Into the Mists #1) by Serene Conneeley

Enter the swirling mists of an enchanted land, and open your heart to the mystery...

Carlie has the perfect life. A wonderful family and a best friend she adores. A house by the beach so she can go surfing after school. A clever, rational mind and big dreams of becoming a lawyer. A future she’s excited about and can’t wait to begin.

But in a split second her perfect life shatters, and she is sent to the other side of the world to live with a stranger. In this mystical, mist-drenched new land, she is faced with a mystery that will make her question everything she’s ever known about her parents, her life and her very self. A dark secret that made her mother run away from home as a teenager. An old family friend who is not what he seems. A woman in blue who she’s not convinced is real. A shadowy black cat that she’d swear is reading her mind. A deserted old cottage she can’t always find. And a circle of wild-haired witches who want her to join their ranks.

Will she have the courage to journey into the mists, and into her own heart, to discover the truth? And can she somehow weave together a life that she’ll want to live – or will she give up and allow despair to sweep her away from the world forever?

Published 19 May 2013 |  Publisher: Serene Conneeley/Blessed Bee |  RRP: AUD$4.99 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I met the author, Serene, at a bookclub meeting through Read3r’z Re-Vu and what really appealed to me was Serene’s own loveliness and the book covers. I thought the description was decent but didn’t particularly appeal to my reading taste.

It was a struggle to get through the first half of the book because it was just so choked full of grief that I could only read a small portion at a time. It should be acknowledged that the author has written it well if it could affect me in such terrible ways. However, I did persevere as I was assured of better things to come.

To be honest, I expected this to be more of a fairy story but if it was supposed to be so, that’s definitely not what I got in this first book. What I did get, however, is some education about paganism. The book lost me a bit here as I must confess that I have no interest whatsoever in paganism and at some parts, I felt that it dwelt a bit too much into theories behind it. However, I think for someone who loves paganism or even if curious, this may be something they’d love to read. They are lovely theories but they’re just not for me.

There was one particular part that I really really liked, and without telling too much, it explored a ‘what-if’ for the protagonist. What I really liked was the way the story was written; I just love this type of story (and I can’t tell you or it would spoiled). And at the end, the book raised quite a few more questions that I’d like to find the answer to so I think I’d try the rest of the trilogy and hope for more ‘what-if’.

Thanks to the author, Serene Conneeley, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

Serene Conneeley is an Australian writer with a fascination for history, travel, ritual and the myth and magic of ancient places and cultures. She’s written for magazines about news, travel, health, spirituality, entertainment and social and environmental issues, is editor of several preschool  magazines, and has contributed to international books on history, witchcraft, psychic development and personal transformation.

She is the author of the non-fiction books Seven Sacred Sites, A Magical Journey, The Book of Faery Magic, Mermaid Magic, Witchy Magic and Into the Mists: A Journal, and creator of the meditation CD Sacred Journey. The Into the Mists Trilogy was her first adventure into fiction, and she is currently finishing three Into the Mists Chronicles.

Serene is a reconnective healing practitioner, and has studied medicinal and magical herbalism, bereavement counselling, reiki and many other healing modalities, plus politics and journalism. She loves reading, rainbows, drinking tea with her friends, and celebrating the energy of the moon and the magic of the earth. Her pagan heart blossomed as she climbed mountains, danced in stone circles, trekked along pilgrimage paths, wandered through ancient cathedrals and stood in the shadow of the pyramids on her travels, and she’s also learned the magic of finding true happiness and peace at home.

Find Serene on:  website  |  goodreads  |  facebook   |  instagram

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Serene! 😀

Blog Tour: The Dysasters by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast -a Review

The Dysasters (The Dysasters #1) by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

P.C. and Kristin Cast, the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of the House of Night phenomenon, return to the scene with The Dysasters—the first action-packed novel in a new paranormal fantasy series.

Adoptive daughter of a gifted scientist, Foster Stewart doesn’t live a “normal” life, (not that she’d want to). But controlling cloud formations and seeing airwaves aren’t things most eighteen year olds can do.

Small town star quarterback and quintessential dreamy boy next door, Tate “Nighthawk” Taylor has never thought much about his extra abilities. Sure, his night vision comes in handy during games, but who wouldn’t want that extra edge?

From the moment Foster and Tate collide, their worlds spiral and a deadly tornado forces them to work together, fully awakening their not-so-natural ability – the power to control air.

As they each deal with the tragic loss of loved ones, they’re caught by another devastating blow – they are the first in a group of teens genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements, and worse… they’re being hunted.

Now, Foster and Tate must fight to control their abilities as they learn of their past, how they came to be, who’s following them, and what tomorrow will bring… more DYSASTERS?

Published 26 February 2019 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan  |  RRP: AUD$18.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

It seems, these days, it’s the market for teens with “special” abilities. They are so much fun to read though. I mean who doesn’t want to have a superpower?! Realistically, it’s really quite frightening thing to have (after all, with great power comes great responsibility). Scientifically, you really have to put that on the shelf and read just for fun ;)\

The main highlight of this book for me was the illustrations (see example below). Isn’t it just beautiful? They are peppered throughout the story and it’s just so good to have the characters drawn out on paper. It basically just added an extra dimension to the book. The action bits and the sweet parts made them a whole lot more exciting.

There were many ‘oh no’ and eye-roll moments in the first 2 chapters. I was finding it a little bit difficult to like these 2 characters, Foster and Tate as they are not only polar opposite of each other but also feels like their characters were exaggerated. There were so much anger and trust issues with Foster but Tate, omg, where can I find this perfect guy? Or rather his perfect parents/family? He seems to have been the only lucky one in that department. It was very unique though as to date, no one else, has his great family. In fact, it just seems too perfect.

When the action starts, however, this book was really quite fun to read. It was really enjoyable to see them coming to their abilities and how!

I do believe fans of House of Night series or even Twilight series may love this book. The only reason that I didn’t love this book but only just enjoyed it is because it was just too much cheese for me. Mind you, I’m nearing the big four-oh so I may be a tad bit cynical lol. I think this book may be perfect for teens who like their romance with their action story.

My thanks to St Martin’s Press for having me on this tour (and the Netgalley copy) and thanks to Pan Australia for paperback copy of book (arrived unsolicited but with impeccable timing!). 

About the author

#1 New York Times & #1 USA Today bestselling author P.C. Cast was born in the Midwest, and, after her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, and many, many more. Ms. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker who lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Find PC on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram

Kristin Cast is a #1 New York Times and #1 USA Today bestselling author who teams with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves going on adventures with her friends, family, and significant other, playing with her dogs (Grace Kelly and Hobbs the Tiny Dragon), and is currently obsessed with her baby.

Find Kristin on:  goodreads  | website  | twitter  | instagram

Review: Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

Bloodwitch (The Witchlands #3) by Susan Dennard

Loyalties will be tested as never before.

The Raider King’s plans to claim the Witchlands are under way. Now, his forces sow terror in the mountains, slaughtering innocents. After finding the slain, Aeduan and Iseult race for safety. And despite differing goals, they’ve grown to trust one another in the fight to survive. Yet the Bloodwitch keeps a secret that could change everything . . .

When Merik sacrifices himself to save his friends, he is captured by the Fury. However, Merik isn’t one to give up easily, and he’ll do whatever it takes to save those he loves. And in Marstok, Safi the Truthwitch agrees to help the empress uncover a rebellion. But those implicated are killed and Safi becomes desperate for freedom.

War has come once more to the Witchlands. Perhaps if Safi and Iseult were united, their powers could bring peace. But chaos is not easily tamed.

Published 12 February 2019 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

This review is in relation to book 3 of the series and I have done my best to avoid any spoilers. 

I loved Truthwitch & Windwitch (books 1 & 2) so much so Bloodwitch was a highly anticipated release for 2019. I was sooo excited when it arrived, all shiny and beautiful and best of all, the thickest book of the 3! Woot! There was a lot more to read this time around.

Bloodwitch picked up not long after Windwitch and in retrospect, I should have re-read the first 2 books because whilst I have no trouble remembering the main 4 characters, I struggled a little with the rest so it didn’t start that well for me. I only remembered enough of what happened at the end of Windwitch.

As the author acknowledges in the book, this story is so complicated and after reading this book, I agree completely. With Bloodwitch, this series became ever more complex in its worldbuilding so in a very real way, it has exceeded my expectations. With 1 unexpected mind-blowing twist and 1 heartbreaking expected scene, I have enjoyed this book quite a lot. There was a lot of things happening so it felt to be a very busy book but I just didn’t get the same feels as I did from the first 2 books. I have to note here that I think I’m in a reading slump (nothing really picked up my interest *sighs) and unfortunately, this book didn’t pick me up either :/

I do feel, however, that this book deserves a re-read so I will be re-reading the whole series when I’m in a better reading situation. If you loved the first 2 books, you’d definitely read this, hey! and if you didn’t particularly find the first 2 books to be enthralling, well, this one may prove to be a better read for you because it just didn’t stop!

Thanks to Pan MacMillans Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. Working in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to you yet, Asia!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling books Truthwitch and Windwitch, and when not writing, she’s usually slaying darkspawn (on her Xbox) or earning bruises at the dojo.

She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats.

Find Candice on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram  | tumblr  |  | pinterest

A.A. Kinsela: Q&A

Thank you, Alethea, for your time and for sharing a bit about yourself & your writing journey. I can’t wait to see what’s installed for Nick & his friends!

Quick Qs

Dark Chocolate or Milk Chocolate? Dark.

Coffee or Tea? Coffee for work and friends, tea for relaxation.

Dog-ear or whatever else as bookmark? Whatever is nearest. Usually a ticket or receipt.

Plot or Character? Ah damn this is a hard one! Can I say both? Character is paramount, but plot is essential as well. Character trumps plot though.

HEA or unexpected twist? I love an unexpected twist!

Q: Could you please share with us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer? Was there a particular book you loved as a child or how did you love of words translate to writing?

A: I’ve always loved books and writing. I devoured books as a child and spent my teenage years reading while my peers were out socialising. I was also heavily into music, and when I finished school I wanted to be a film composer, so I went and studied music composition at uni. I realised after a year that I loved literature and writing more than music so I switched degrees. I’ve been a publisher, grammarian, psychology examiner, teacher, archaeologist, and more, but writing has always been the driving force in my life. I couldn’t imagine existing without it.


Q: In Lightning Tracks, you’ve brought the Roman Empire to Australia, mix in Aboriginal stories, and set it in this present time. You obviously love history and specifically Roman & Australia history? How did this come about and what in particular did you love about Roman & Australia histories?

A: I have always had a fascination with mythologies and cultural stories. My Bachelor of Arts majors were Literature and Classics, so as well as English Literature, I also studied Latin, Ancient Greek and classical literature. In Year 10, I did a week of work experience with an archaeologist and have always had a keen interest in archaeology as well, so much so that I went back to uni in 2010 to study archaeology. I’m particularly interested in Indigenous archaeology, and with my background in writing and teaching I wrote and published Ancient Australia Unearthed, a high school archaeology textbook, in 2014. Lightning Tracks does draw on mythologies from the ancient world, mainly Greece and Rome, and while it contains suggestions of other mythologies, none of them are taken from Aboriginal cultures. As an archaeologist and author, I’m very aware of the dangers of appropriation, so all the mythologies in Lightning Tracks are entirely my creation.


Q: I don’t know much of any Indigenous stories/legends so I’m not sure which part, if any, in Lightning Tracks, is actually part of the Australian Aboriginal story. Was there any? How much research did this involve? Are some of the names also derived from an Aboriginal dialect?

A: None of the legends in Lightning Tracks are Aboriginal stories. As a non-Indigenous Australian I have no right to tell these stories, nor can I appropriate them in any way, as they are copyrighted. The fictional legends in the novel may seem at times like Aboriginal stories, perhaps because mythologies are always representative of the people and environment in which they were created. The cultural groups in Lightning Tracks, whose ancestors arrived two thousand years ago and who are now very much grounded in the Australian landscape, have their own unique mythologies that have evolved over time to reflect this existence.

The research for Lightning Tracks was extensive, including visiting sites where parts of the novel are set, learning about different flora and fauna in the different climates and altitudes, ensuring the fictional world of Korelios reflected the archaeological record both in terms of its Roman/Greek roots and the current Australian archaeological record, and many other smaller details that are vital to world-building.

There are three main cultural groups in Lightning Tracks, all of them based loosely on real ancient cultures/regions: Roman/Greek, Persian/Middle Eastern, and North African. The character names for each group reflect their cultural origins. None of the names are Aboriginal.


Q: Please share top 3 things you’ve learnt in your journey of writing & publishing this particular book (Lightning Tracks); it could be something you learnt of yourself, about writing/publishing, a particular touching story from a research, etc.

A: I think the top of my learning curve list would have to be self-publishing. Lightning Tracks has come close on a couple of occasions to being accepted by traditional publishers, but never made it past the marketing department, perhaps because the novel crosses genres and doesn’t fit neatly into a single box. Deciding to self-publish was the next logical step. I’d already self-published an archaeology book, so I thought this one would be similar and easier. I can say unequivocally that self-publishing fiction is an entirely different arena to non-fiction!

Second would have to be the importance of accepting that a novel is finished. If I don’t set myself deadlines, I could work on a book for much longer than is necessary.

And third, it’s so thrilling to draw on many branches of knowledge and research and combine them to create something new. I thoroughly enjoy this aspect of writing.


Q: What are your top reads for 2018 to date? And which book are you desperately waiting for publication?

A: I’m currently reading Found by Fleur Ferris (I adore her work). I’ve ordered Ellie Marney’s Circus Hearts series (they haven’t arrived in the mail yet but I’m looking forward to reading these beauties), and I am always awaiting the next Patrick Ness.

Oooh, you’d love Circus Hearts! Ellie Marney is the BEST! I love Fleur Ferris too though not a big fan of Patrick Ness… just haven’t really got into his books, really. ~T

Q: What are you working on now? Or what can we look for from you next? I’m hoping it’s the sequel to Lightning Tracks! How many books can we expect in the series?

A: I’ve got a few writing and archaeology projects on the go, including a YA novel for my creative writing PhD, and I’ve almost finished the sequel to Lightning Tracks, which I’m aiming to release in mid-2019. There will be three books in the Song Gate series, with an undecided fourth. So stay tuned!

You can check out my thoughts on Lightning Tracks, here, and you can purchase it from following links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo


About the author

A. A. Kinsela is a pseudonym for Alethea Kinsela

I’m a writer/teacher/archaeologist/jack-of-all-trades. My latest book Lightning Tracks is a dark YA alternative history/fantasy novel set in Australia. You can read an extract on my website. I’ve also got a little educational textbook about Australian archaeology, Ancient Australia Unearthed.

I’m halfway through a Creative Writing PhD, and I sometimes teach in the School of Education at La Trobe University and host writing and archaeology workshops for kids and teachers.

Find Thea on:  goodreads  |  twitter   |  instagram

Review: Lightning Tracks by A. A. Kinsela

Lightning Tracks (Song Gate #1) by A.A. Kinsela

The rider angled the blade so Nick could see the oily residue on the metal.

‘All that’s needed to kill you, boy, is a single cut. A scratch. The poison will do the rest.’ His mask shifted, and Nick could’ve sworn he was smiling. ‘But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it?’

Nick gulped. ‘Why are you doing this?’

The rider leaned closer and hissed, ‘Because you exist.’

Nick isn’t a warrior. He knows some basic karate, but that’s it.

So when an assassin turns up to settle a blood debt, Nick narrowly escapes with his life. In his haste, he unwittingly flees to Korelios, a place he thought existed only in his eccentric aunt’s ancient legends.

All too soon, he finds himself caught in the middle of a war, and he must make an impossible choice: do his duty or follow his heart.

His choice will decide the fate of an entire civilisation.

Published 1 November 2018 |  Publisher: Plainspeak Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$4.99 (ebook) 

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N Nook | iBooks  |  kobo  

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I was approached by the author with a review request and I was very intrigued by the (loose) premise: “What if the Roman Empire had made it all the way to Australia?” The book basically is set in the present times, as such, if the Roman Empire made it to Australia. Such a fascinating proposition! What do you think Australia would be like if the Roman Empire conquered Australia at the height of its power?

Lightning Tracks also contained one of my favourite tropes, world within a world; specifically a gateway from our present-times Australia to another world (albeit hidden) where Empires rule over the world. There isn’t a Roman Empire as such, in fact, all the empires and/or races in the story are made up though loosely based on Romans, Greek, etc. I thought there was also an Indigenous spin but it appears I was wrong (see tomorrow’s Q&A post with the author).

The novel opens with Nick getting into trouble at school on his sixteenth birthday. When he got home that day, he found himself fighting for his life and having to flee, found himself in a part of Australia he didn’t know existed but yet some things felt familiar. A very exciting start to the story, for sure! Nick has to quickly find out all he can about this world and his position in it as there is a war brewing; hostilities escalating on both sides and atrocities abound.

There is actually a second perspective to this story, Cal, a highlander boy kidnapped to be a soldier of the Empire. He has been very obedient so far (even in committing a most atrocious act) due to the threat to his family’s lives but event transpired which had him running for his life. For both Cal & Nick, the answer lies in the city Auremos, the rebellion centre of strength.

I liked both characters & perspectives. Nick, a troublesome teen, is not actually aggressive but is rather thoughtful & kind. He’s got a temper which he has to learn to control. Cal, on the other hand, has been trained to be calculated in his moves and he kicks ass!

Lightning Tracks takes the readers on an adventure in Australia’s hidden depth. However, it reads more like a fantasy novel with a couple jarring mentions of Australia. With betrayals, tragedies, secrets, and battles, Lightning Tracks is an exciting & fascinating read for all teens especially for those who feel they are different (like Nick).

Thanks to the author, A.A. Kinsella, for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

A. A. Kinsela is a pseudonym for Alethea Kinsela

I’m a writer/teacher/archaeologist/jack-of-all-trades. My latest book Lightning Tracks is a dark YA alternative history/fantasy novel set in Australia. You can read an extract on my website. I’ve also got a little educational textbook about Australian archaeology, Ancient Australia Unearthed.

I’m halfway through a Creative Writing PhD, and I sometimes teach in the School of Education at La Trobe University and host writing and archaeology workshops for kids and teachers.

Find Thea on:  goodreads  |  twitter   |  instagram

Blog Tour: Wind Rider by P.C. Cast -a Review

Wind Rider (Tales of a New World #3) by P.C. Cast

The third novel in the compelling ‘Tales of a New World’ series by New York Times bestselling author P. C. Cast.

Mari, Nik, and their newly formed Pack are being hunted. Thaddeus and the God of Death will stop at nothing until they are obliterated from the earth. But Mari and Nik have one goal: to reach the plains of the Wind Riders in order to band together to stop Thaddeus from destroying all that Mari and Nik hold dear.

But will the mysterious Wind Riders accept the Pack, or will Mari and Nik and their people be rejected by the mighty Riders and be forced to flee for their lives? And what happens when a rogue Lead Stallion gets too close to the Pack, rejecting all Wind Riders and turning to a stranger for companionship instead?

‘While many fantasy series style themselves as epic, this one may actually be worthy of the description.’ School Library Journal

‘Cast … easily engages the readers and keeps them wanting more … a wild journey of power, unlikely relationships, betrayal and acceptance.’ Gold Coast Bulletin

Published 30 October 2018 |  Publisher: Pan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$18.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Please note this is a review of book 3 of Tales of a New World trilogy, click here for Moon Chosen’s (book 1) review or here for Sun Warrior’s (book 2) review.

Wind Rider follows on directly from the ending of Sun Warrior and if you’ve been following the tale, you’d know exactly where they are going. The tile also kinda gave that away! The first chapter of this book, however, did not open with the Pack but rather introduced a very interesting new perspective; River -daughter of a Wind Rider. Every few chapters, there is a chapter about River and I absolutely adored her adventures!

Nik & Mari and their Pack continued their journey to find a new home they can settle into. As they travel through dangerous territories, led by Antreas and Bast, the Pack bonded through working together and helping each other as they struggle through the unfamiliar and threatening surroundings. I did feel that these chapters dragged a bit. It just took them forever and a day to reach their destinations. Whilst their adventures could be an exciting read, I felt there was something forced and therefore, a bit awkward. There were bits where Mari felt proud of her Pack of one thing or another (it happened multiple times) and while I understood the need to highlight just how well the Pack is getting along, I feel like the author needed to justify the direction Mari has taken?!

Death had established himself in the Tribe of Trees. We read his terrible deeds through the perspective of Ralina, a Storyteller of the Tribe of Trees. Death kept her close at hand as he wished his godly feats to be told in stories through time. I found Ralina to be most admirable character. She chose to stay to help the her people and her strength, courage, and canniness will ensure that the world will hear of how the horrific destruction Death swept throughout the lands.

I have definitely enjoyed the secondary perspectives a lot more. They didn’t give me the awkward feeling Mari’s did. I’d like to read more about them & their struggles. Plus all romances that sprung all around were rather cute! I want to read about those too.

It was strange that the end of this book did NOT actually complete the story. Despite the note, “third novel in the compelling ‘Tales of a New World’ trilogy“, which should mean that this is the finale, the story definitely did NOT end. Without giving too much away, I don’t believe the climax has yet been reached so I’m confused. Are we expecting a spin-off trilogy or something? I don’t know… so, it’s rather unsatisfying since I expected a well-rounded finish to this tale and I do want to finish this tale so I hope for at least another book to be coming soon.

[Edited: I’ve just been informed this ‘trilogy’ is now actually a quartet. So there is one more book to look forward to!]

Thanks to Pan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

PC was born in the Midwest, and, after her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, and many, many more. Ms. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker who lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Find Christine on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram

Review: Sun Warrior by P.C. Cast

Sun Warrior (Tales of a New World #2) by P.C. Cast

The second novel in the epic ‘Tales of a New World’ trilogy by New York Times bestselling author P.C. Cast.

The battle lines have been drawn.

Once from rival clans, Mari, an Earth Walker, and Nik, a Companion, now find themselves fighting to save each other and their people from destruction.

Thaddeus has betrayed his own people, killing Nik’s father and destroying their entire clan. But he wants more. He wants the power he believes Mari has stolen from him and his people, and he will do anything to get it back, even if it means destroying everything in his path. There is only one way to stop Thaddeus, and it means a harrowing journey for Mari and Nik into the heart of darkness.

“P.C. Cast builds an engaging world and cleverly smudges the line between fantasy and speculative fiction . . . the world and the slowly rising tension of the story are spooky, compelling and fun.” Good Reading

Published 30 October 2017 |  Publisher: Pan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$18.99

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Please note this is a review of book 2 of Tales of a New World trilogy, click here for Moon Chosen’s (book 1) review, 

This book made me totally heartsick. I was heartsick for my pug who died a few years ago. We’ve yet to adopt a new dog though we have been talking it over a lot this year. But it would have been perfect to have a four-legged companion or two to cuddle while reading this book.

Sun Warrior picked up immediately after the end of Moon Chosen (book 1) and we found Nik & Mari escaping from the fire & chaos. Without giving too much away, a lot of bad things have happened near the end of book 1 which made it impossible for Nik & Mari to live peacefully in this area. This big book expanded on the consequences of the previous bad things and add to that the even more big bad awful things that are about to unfold in book 3, Sun Warrior. Unfortunately, it does feel like a filler book where a lot has happened but nothing really happen…

There were certain choices made in this book which I questioned and hoped they’d be explained in the next book. I found it also a little strange and maybe even irksome that all the power seem to be in Mari. I keep hoping something to happen to Nik but errr, he just seems hopeless?! I get the matriarchal society and equality etc etc etc but all the power appears to be Mari’s… I am glad that I waited to read this book because it raises a lot of questions I’m hoping to be answered very soon.

Whilst this trilogy is mostly told from Nik’s & Mari’s POVs, there are a few other minor POVs just so we know what’s happening in other locations. I actually found these characters to be a lot more interesting! Maybe cuz they sounded a little crazy from my point of view; they are what this story dark.

I have mostly enjoyed Sun Warrior though it’s a rather long read and I wished I had a dog I could cuddle up with (especially when any of the four-legged companions were hurt!). It wasn’t a hard read but did feel a little like a filler, an in between book. Hopefully, book 3, Wind Rider, will fulfil all promises made in Sun Warrior.

Thanks to Pan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

PC was born in the Midwest, and, after her tour in the USAF, she taught high school for 15 years before retiring to write full time. PC is a member of the Oklahoma Writers Hall of Fame. Her novels have been awarded the prestigious: Oklahoma Book Award, YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, and many, many more. Ms. Cast is an experienced teacher and talented speaker who lives in Oregon near her fabulous daughter, her adorable pack of dogs, her crazy Maine Coon, and a bunch of horses.

Find Christine on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram