Thursday, December 10, 2020

Review: All Down But Nine by Kat Ross (Lingua Magika #2)


                  ALL DOWN BUT NINE


Lee Merriweather has fled across the line into Pedro Braga’s jurisdiction, an untamed desert too vast for even the ruthless Guardia Territorial to keep any semblance of order. The Carnarvons want him dead or alive – and with Lee’s attitude, the first seems most likely.

The trail south runs straight through two thousand miles of badlands. To find him, Ruth and Sebastian must survive sabotage, bloodthirsty bandits, and fresh horrors at the Reverend Jolly’s church in New Jerusalem. The hardships draw them into a passionate affair, but loyalties are put to the test when they finally reach the capital of Aguadulce and all hell breaks loose.

Ruth has privately vowed to stop Sebastian from killing Lee, even as the young savant seems bent on his own destruction. And he’s just a pawn in a game with higher stakes than anyone realizes. One that goes beyond empires. One that encompasses worlds.

The phantoms are the key. But can Ruth uncover the truth in time to save them all?

 Goodreads / Amazon




Phew! What a ride?!

I was lucky enough to be able to read the book a few days prior the actual release and I'm really glad I got the chance.

As you remember (or not...) Ruth and I had quite a rocky start: I didn't hate her but I didn't exactly like her either; too much of a square for my liking. Well, I'm now happy to report I'm finally liking her.

In All Down But Nine, our girl -at last- realizes that not everything is straight-up black and white (let's pat her on the back!).

Ruth aside, in this sequel the stakes are even higher, not only that but creepiness and gore is around the corner to the point that some parts reminded me of American Horror Story at its best.


“Two phantoms materialized on either side of him, each taking an arm. An instant later, the man was gone. And an instant after that . . . . A red rain pattered down from above, thick and viscous. Those unlucky enough to be standing beneath it were drenched in crimson. They slipped in the mess, crying out in horror and revulsion.”


But don’t worry! It is not all blood and gore! There's also space for romance… the spicy kind that leaves you all warm and fuzzy inside (Jeez I need some decent fan art of the series, can someone oblige please?).

I was always pretty honesty about my love for the character of Sebastian Hardin and in this book He’s smart and swoon worthy even more than usual.  He’s what I call a “precious heartthrob”

Lee is, no surprisingly, up to no good but as Ruth correctly assessed in book one, deep down, "He's a good egg". His somewhat sheltered life led him to be a bit out of touch with the world which translate in a naiveté I find endearing.

Apart from our usual three the cast is enriched by an array of vivid side characters (some pleasant, some less ...Ava being the latter *coughs*. )

There is also huge plot twist which - for the life of me - I didn't see coming (And to think that I'm usually very detail-oriented and a nitpicker to boot but somehow, I missed this.! Well, played Kat! Well bloody played!) and a big revelation concerning the ghosts---my lips are sealed, you'll have to read the book if you want to know more.

Before I risk writing a review longer than the novel itself –let’s wrap things up! All Down But Nine it's a strong sequel, one that improves on its predecessor; painting a vivid, colorful, bloody picture with creepy undertones and steampunk/western nuances that make it extremely peculiar and original. It is also a thrilling rollercoaster!

I really encourage you to give this series a chance because the sequel it's even better than the predecessor and it is the one that really made me fall in love with the world Kat Ross has created.  



Rating: 4 blossoms!!


You can read my review of the first installment here:

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Review: The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

The Midnight Lie by

Where Nirrim lives, crime abounds, a harsh tribunal rules, and society’s pleasures are reserved for the High Kith. Life in the Ward is grim and punishing. People of her low status are forbidden from sampling sweets or wearing colors. You either follow the rules, or pay a tithe and suffer the consequences.

Nirrim keeps her head down and a dangerous secret close to her chest.

But then she encounters Sid, a rakish traveler from far away who whispers rumors that the High Caste possesses magic. Sid tempts Nirrim to seek that magic for herself. But to do that, Nirrim must surrender her old life. She must place her trust in this sly stranger who asks, above all, not to be trusted.

Set in the world of the New York Times–bestselling Winner’s Trilogy, beloved author Marie Rutkoski returns with an epic LGBTQ romantic fantasy about learning to free ourselves from the lies others tell us—and the lies we tell ourselves.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to like The Midnight Lie but I couldn't bring myself to love it as much as I wanted to. I was expecting more from this book and author, I was expecting a well-balanced mix of fantasy and romance but in this case the romance overpowered everything else.
The beginning was interesting enough (especially the whole God-sent bird) but then whatever bigger plot I had envisioned disappeared in favor of the love story.
I really couldn't feel invested in it, partially because I prefer books balanced books and I don't like "romance" as a genre that much and partially because I couldn't connect to any of the characters.
I didn't exactly dislike the MCs, sort of liked them but couldn't bring myself to actually be that invested in them and so---so the romantic element that takes most of the book really fell short for me.
I liked the ending but the middle part of the book was really hard for me to get through--it felt like wading through to a swamp at a really, really slow pace. Only Marie Rutkoski writing style made the torture a bit more bearable, enough for me to finish the book.
All in all this was quite disappointing, I was hoping for something better, much better.


Monday, May 11, 2020

Review: The Unspoken Name by A.K. Larkwood

  The Unspoken Name by

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.

Add on: Goodreads
Buy on: Amazon

ARC kindly provided by the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of the most original books I have ever read, at least in terms of world building. Sadly I had very high expectations and the book just didn't deliver. It is an okay book mind you, and I (sort of) liked it, in the end but--I still have very mixed feelings about it.

Things I liked:
-The world building!At first it felt confusing but one can't deny that it is also very original,.
- The writing style
- The overall story

Things I did not like:
- The pacing *add moan*
I had huuge problems with the pacing. The first half dragged a lot, the chapters didn't end where one would expect to and as a result reading this book was akin to walking through a swamp... A very slooow endeavor, indeed.
- Csowre. She is so bloody boring!.To me she lacked "flavor". She's loyal and has some positive traits but I found her very boring, especially at the beginning. Most of the time she just goes with the flow... occasionally she rises to the occasion.
- The secondary characters weren't particularly developed .Especially Sethannai. He's so underdeveloped that's hard to understand Csowre devotion for him.

All in all this is an average reading, neither too bad nor too good.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Review: Dead Ringer by Kat Ross


A poisonous secret.
A terrifying curse.
And a client she’d just as soon see dead in a ditch….

Summer 1889. Harrison Fearing Pell hoped for adventure when she signed on with the Society for Psychical Research as an occult investigator. Slogging through New York’s sewers in pursuit of a “mud man” wasn’t exactly what she had in mind. But the reeking monster terrorizing the dance halls of the Tenderloin leads her to an even more peculiar mystery — and the last man on earth Harry wishes to become entangled with.

James Moran is a prodigy in music, mathematics . . . and crime. Harry’s older sister, the famed detective Myrtle Fearing Pell, has vowed to put him behind bars. But Harry owes Moran a personal debt, so when he demands her aid she can hardly refuse. It turns out that the brilliant black sheep of New York Society is part of a secret club at Columbia College whose members have started dying in bizarre ways that may not be accidents.

Thus begins one of the strangest cases of Harry’s career, a tale of murder, cold-blooded revenge and fairytale bogeymen to make the Brothers Grimm shudder. As the bodies pile up, each preceded by sightings of the victim’s doppelgänger, Harry and her stalwart friend John Weston must race against time to save a man who arguably deserves his macabre fate.

Oh boy! This book! THIS BOOK!

PEAKY BLINDERS MEETS FINAL DESTINATION! Nope, I can't elaborate on that--spoiler, spoiler! What I can tall you is that this might well be my favorite in the series (at least so far).

I was charmed by the enigmatic Mr. Moran since it was first introduced in The Daemoniac (you can read my review here and I couldn't wait to see him again and in Dead Ringer, finally---FINALLY WE GET MORE OF A GLIMPSE OF THE CHARMING CRIME LORD.

Of course I was also glad to see Harry & John again, those two have such a wonderful working chemistry--more than once Harry wouldn't have found the solution without John's help and/or insights.

I loved every bit of interaction between James & Harry, they were real fun. I was grinning like a madwoman, especially when he playfully flirts with her and she's having none of it... all the opposite (He also seems to have a knack for finding her in the direst outfits LOL).
The last time I had such fun reading and exchange was with Serpent & Dove but before that...I can't even remember what year it was.

Between golems at large, murders, odd turns of luck, murky pasts and the likes ---I really can't decide what I liked more, probably how they all fit together--it reminded me of the best crime novels/tv series out there.

Dead Ringer is such a masterpiece! The last chapter was so entertaining and sweet … I'm still starry eyed! (no Myrtle, I still don't like you). I look forward to the next time I see Harry & John again---and of course JAMES MORAN (He deserves a spin-off on its own, if you ask me...)


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Spotlight: Hamartia by Raquel Rich

Hamartia by Raquel Rich

Genre: Time travel thriller
Audience: Adults
Length: 338 pages
Grace’s nine-year-old son, Jordan, is dying. First, the Metagenesis disease will tear his soul from his body, and then it will kill him. Desperate for a cure, Grace agrees to take part in an illegal clinical trial cloning souls. Supported by her best friend Kay, the two embark on the ultimate “Vegas Vacation” to the past in search of the right soul to clone, racing against time to save Jordan’s life. But someone is trying to stop them and when they discover why, Grace must make a choice: let her son die or kill her husband. If she kills her husband she triggers widespread Metagenesis, sealing the fate of the human race with a new plague. Humanity is counting on Grace choosing to let her son die.

“Rich spins an ambitious and imaginative concept into a plot that’s full of fantastically complicated twists. . . . Throughout, the narrative raises and resolves questions at a brisk pace, making for a compelling page-turner.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Hamartia is a huge success on all levels, including the unpredictable plot, the strong characters, and skillful handling of the themes of life and death and an imminent plague.” – Readers Favorite (five star review)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Review: The Clockmaker's Daughter



From the bestselling author of The House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper, Kate Morton brings us her dazzling sixth novel, The Clockmaker's Daughter.

My real name, no one remembers.
The truth about that summer, no one else knows.

In the summer of 1862, a group of young artists led by the passionate and talented Edward Radcliffe descends upon Birchwood Manor on the banks of the Upper Thames. Their plan: to spend a secluded summer month in a haze of inspiration and creativity. But by the time their stay is over, one woman has been shot dead while another has disappeared; a priceless heirloom is missing; and Edward Radcliffe's life is in ruins.

Over one hundred and fifty years later, Elodie Winslow, a young archivist in London, uncovers a leather satchel containing two seemingly unrelated items: a sepia photograph of an arresting-looking woman in Victorian clothing, and an artist's sketchbook containing a drawing of a twin-gabled house on the bend of a river.

Why does Birchwood Manor feel so familiar to Elodie? And who is the beautiful woman in the photograph? Will she ever give up her secrets?

Told by multiple voices across time, The Clockmaker's Daughter is a story of murder, mystery and thievery, of art, love and loss. And flowing through its pages like a river, is the voice of a woman who stands outside time, whose name has been forgotten by history, but who has watched it all unfold: Birdie Bell, the clockmaker's daughter.

Many many thanks to the publisher (and NetGalley) for a free electronic ARC of this novel received in exchange for an honest review.

I was super excited to get my hands on an arc.
"(...) the story of a love affair and a mysterious murder that cast their shadow across generations, set in England from the 1860's until the present day" I was hooked from the very premise and I'm quite happy to let you know that the Clockmaker's Daughter didn't disappoint. Yes, I had a couple or more issue with it but I did enjoy it, more than that... I still fell in love with it.

My main issue with the book  was Eloise and her-er-dull romance with Alistair. (though, dull is still an understatement). She and the romance (if you can call the thigh they share "romance") were a real bother to read. I wanted to slap her out of it most of the time from page one it was painflully clear that she didn't love him, too bad she needs 3/4 of the book to understand it. I really couldn't stand her attitude <spoiler> (what woman in her right mind lets her future mother-in-law organize her wedding from start to finish without basically getting a word it. WTF?!<)<spoiler>
Another main issue was the time lines, at times it was really confusing (and I'm used to Doctor Who and jumping timelines after all—just sayin’).
Anyway, to me real treat were the parts dedicated to Lily, Edward and their past. More than that I loved every bit of it . I really can't explain but at the end I felt like crying (and I rarely do). I felt sad on their behalf not that I was expecting an happy ending but still... The end tore my heart apart and left me with a bitter aftertaste, so much I did care.

I will be buying a paperback copy of the Clockmaker's dautgher  so I can enjoy this wonderful and tear-stained read time and time again.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Pirates: Truth And Tales - Guest post: Why Pirates? by Helen Hollick

Why Pirates?
by Helen Hollick

Helen has written a series of nautical Voyages based around her fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his ship, Sea Witch, but her latest UK release in paperback is a non-fiction book – Pirates: Truth and Tales published by Amberley Press, which explores our fascination with the real pirates and those who are favourites in fiction. Today,  Helen drops anchor for another interesting addition to her on-line two-week Voyage around the Blogs with a pirate or two for company… but Helen… why pirates?

Why do many of us – readers, writers or just plain enthusiasts – have such a fascination with pirates? Let’s face it, the real men (and women) of the early 1700s so-called ’Golden Age of Piracy’ were not nice people. Leaving aside that they must have stank to high-heaven, were full of fleas and lice and probably had unpleasant sexually transmitted diseases, most of them would as soon cut your throat as look at you. Those of us who enjoy reading pirate-based novels, watching swashbuckling movies or dressing up in pirate costume to attend a party or one of the pirate festivals that happen in the UK and US, tend to  turn a blind eye (complete with pirate-patch) to the gruesome reality.

I blame Johnny Depp, or more accurately, Jack Sparrow. Apologies. Captain Jack Sparrow. Between them they resurrected the interest in pirates that had first been set in motion during the great days of Hollywood when actors such as Errol Flynn cut a dash with his cutlass across the Silver Screen. The Disney Pirates of the Caribbean franchise let the genie (pirate?) out of the bottle again, and no one has re-stoppered it since. (I only include the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, the others varied from not very good to downright terrible.)

We do not want reality, we get enough of that in our everyday lives. We want our heroes rugged and ‘fresh from the fight’, as the song lyric goes. We enjoy these adventures because they are not real. It is the danger the hero must face, the within-an-inch-of-his-life death-defying scenes. The ability to keep on fighting / running / bedroom antics even though shot / wounded / kicked in a vulnerable place where real men would be curled up on the floor clutching their nether regions howling in agony. You know these heroes are going to get out of trouble; the thrill, the excitement, is not knowing how they do so. It is the journey that intrigues, not the destination. Pirates doing piratical things is exciting. We want them to succeed against all odds, although they have to go to hell and back first. Our heroes have to be tough, maybe a bit mean, but they must also be loyal and dependable.

As for the inclusion of fantasy, the suspense of belief is a part of the entertaining escapism. What I found frustrating after I had watched POC#1 for the nth time, was not being able to find an adult novel to match the fun. There were plenty of ‘straight’ nautical adventures – O’Brian, Forrester and such. Several very good young adult adventures included fantasy, but YA tends to be subtle (or entirely lacking) on the ‘adult’ content. I wanted a hero to die for, a handsome rogue of a pirate. I wanted a believable element of fantasy for his girlfriend and I wanted the ship itself to be as much of a character as the crew, but I couldn’t find the novel I wanted to read. So I wrote my own. Sea Witch

Trouble follows Jesamiah Acorne like a ship’s wake. He is a pirate, a scoundrel and a charmer of a rogue. Tiola Oldstagh is a healer, a midwife and a white witch. Will she capture his heart - or will the call of the sea drown their love? Will he get his girl, or will the hangman get him first?

I originally intended Sea Witch to be a one-off single novel but I am currently writing the sixth in the series, Gallows Wake – seventh if you include a short ‘prequel’ novella, When The Mermaid Sings. You see, my hero, Jesamiah, strode into my life several years ago and stole my heart. He still hasn’t returned it, nor is he likely to, but then, he is a pirate and that’s what pirates do isn’t it? Steal things!

© Helen Hollick
Pirates: Truth And Tales published in paperback in the UK July 2018 and November 2018 in the US – but available for pre-order.

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Twitter: @HelenHollick

Follow Helen’s Tour:
These links will take you to the Home Page of each blog host – Helen says thank you for their interest and enthusiasm! For exact URL links to each article go to Helen’s website:  which will be updated every day of the tour.

30th July: Cryssa Bazos Dropping Anchor to Talk About Pirates
31st July: Anna Belfrage Ships That Pass…
1st August: Carolyn Hughes Pirates of the Middle Ages
2nd August: Alison Morton From Pirate to Emperor
3rd August: Annie Whitehead The Vikings: Raiders or Pirates?
4th August: Tony Riches An Interview With Helen Hollick (and maybe a couple of pirates thrown in for good measure?)
5th August: Lucienne Boyce Anne and Mary. Pirates.
6th August: Laura Pilli Why Pirates?
7th August: Mary Tod That Essential Element… For A Pirate.
8th August: Pauline Barclay Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be?   
9th August: Nicola Smith Pirates: The Tales Mixed With The Truth
10th August: Christoph Fischer In The Shadow Of The Gallows
11th August: Debdatta What Is It About Pirates?
12th August: Discovering Diamonds It’s Been An Interesting Voyage…
13th August: Sarah Greenwood Pirates: The Truth and the Tales
14th August: Antoine Vanner The Man Who Knew About Pirates


Helen moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse. First published in 1994, her passion now is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown) the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (US title I Am The Chosen King) explores the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely praised as a more down-to-earth historical version of the Arthurian legend. She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tales, Smugglers in Fact and Fiction (to be published 2019) and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new writers. She runs the Discovering Diamonds review blog for historical fiction assisted by a team of enthusiastic reviewers.  

Helen is published in various languages.