The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

#BookReview The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

Series: The Wheel of Time 5

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 928

Publisher: Orbit

Available: Reprint – 18 Sept 2014

Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy

Blurb:

The fifth novel in the Wheel of Time series – one of the most influential and popular fantasy epics ever published.

The bonds and wards that hold the Great Lord of the Dark are slowly failing, but still his fragile prison holds. The Forsaken, immortal servants of the shadow, weave their snares and tighten their grip upon the realms of men, sure in the knowledge that their master will soon break free . . .

Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, knows that he must strike at the Enemy, but his forces are divided by treachery and by ambition. Even the Aes Sedai, ancient guardians of the Light, are riven by civil war.

Betrayed by his allies, pursued by his enemies and beset by the madness that comes to the male wielders of the One Power, Rand rides out to meet the foe.

And the Fires of Heaven scour the world.

My Thoughts:

As much as I adore this series, there are a multitude of reasons for that, and this is no exception.

I love the fact that the Characters are very realistic, they make choices based on their own interpretations of situations. Rand for example, he is trying to do what he thinks is the right thing, whilst unable to trust anybodies motives. After all, the people around him either seem to want to control him, or kill him. Add in the fact he’s sure he is going insane, people he is trying to save would rather kill him than accept his help… it makes for a lot of difficult situations that the character has to navigate. He makes what turn out to be bad choices, and his responses to them are logical.

And that is just one character of many. Each book in this series adds a couple more main characters whose story we will follow, gradually building up so that we know what is happening all over his world, characters crossing one another’s paths for a variety of reasons.

I have to say that no matter how many times I read these books, I am in awe of Robert Jordans talent. How he manages to have so many characters and maintain their individual personality, quirks and attitudes is beyond me, and yet he does.

I love how the women are very much improved from here, we see Egwene becoming more of an important role in the previous book, but in this one we really see her start to come into her roles, and the same is true for elayne and Nynaeve. Each has their own little thing that makes them individual, and they’re very easy to separate even from reading a little section. Each personality is so individual, and it’s fun to read about!!

The plot gets deeper and more complex within this, and I love how Rand and Mat each truly begin to shine as powerful characters and individuals in their own rights. Mat is brilliant in this, I always feel that we finally see him becoming the character he has been moving towards all this time!

Another brilliant instalment in the Wheel of Time series!

About The Author:

Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston. He was a graduate of the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in physics, and served two tours in Vietnam. His hobbies included hunting, fishing, sailing, poker, chess, pool and pipe collecting. He died in September 2007.

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Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

#BlogTour #BookReview Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 272

Publisher: Unbound

Available: 13th June 2019

Genre: Psychology / Non-Fiction / Nature

With thanks to Anne Cater of #RandomThingsTours the publishers #Unbound and the Author Joe for my copy of this book, it was a wonderfully insightful read!

Blurb:

I can’t remember the last book I read that I could say with absolute assurance would save lives. But this one will’ Chris Packham

When Joe Harkness suffered a breakdown in 2013, he tried all the things his doctor recommended: medication helped, counselling was enlightening, and mindfulness grounded him. But nothing came close to nature, particularly birds. How had he never noticed such beauty before? Soon, every avian encounter took him one step closer to accepting who he is.

The positive change in Joe’s wellbeing was so profound that he started a blog to record his experience. Three years later he has become a spokesperson for the benefits of birdwatching, spreading the word everywhere from Radio 4 to Downing Street.

In this groundbreaking book filled with practical advice, Joe explains the impact that birdwatching had on his life, and invites the reader to discover these extraordinary effects for themselves.

My Thoughts:

This was a wonderful book that was an intriguing change of pace. Full of wonderful illustrations and interesting insights, it certainly left me with a strong desire to do some bird watching!

The book flows between three types of information perfectly, including the authors own story and experiences, describing wonderfully and emotively his own journey into bird watching, and how this has helped him.

This book also gorgeously describes his experiences around birds, how it felt to watch them for the first time, the different emotions and sensations of seeing the birds living their lives, and how each type of bird encouraged different feelings. The author describes these experiences so vividly that it gives the reader a kind of rush to picture these amazing creatures in the ways he portrays them. For myself, I have so many bird feeders in my gardens, and I love to watch the birds come and go. It’s a joy to watch them, peaceful, so I can completely understand the Authors views on this.

That being said, even without that experience for myself, having read the scenes the author has described so wonderfully, I would feel inclined to begin bird watching myself, and had I not already had the bird feeders I certainly would have been getting some ASAP.

That being said, what makes this book powerful as well as beautiful, is the authors use of academic writings to corroborate what he is saying. He doesn’t just throw out opinions on difficult topics, rather he has done his research and at each point makes reference to a variety of sources whom support what he says, quoting NHS and various others with relevant information in a way which is easy to digest and made all the more intriguing when found within such gorgeous imagery.

I would highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys watching the wildlife, or for anybody who has had or is having a difficult time with their personal mental health. Much of this is soothing to read, and otherwise informative and insightful in a way that makes personal reflection a relaxing thing to do.

About The Author:

Joe Harkness has been writing a Bird Therapy blog for the last three years. In 2017, he had articles published in The Curlew and Birdwatch magazine as well as recording three ‘tweets of the day’ for BBC Radio 4. He is employed as a Special Educational Needs teacher and has worked in the youth sector for nine years. He lives in Norfolk.

@birdtherapy

Still Standing by Natalie Qeiroz

#BookReview #BlogTour Still Standing by Natalie Qeiroz

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 384

Publisher: John Blake

Available: 13th June 2019

Genre: Non-Fiction / Biography

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Still-Standing-Natalie-Queiroz/dp/1789460654

With thanks to Anne Cater of #RandomThingsTours the Publisher JohnBlake and the Author Natalie for my copy of this incredibly powerful and emotive book. This is certainly one I will be rereading and recommending far and wide.

 

BLURB Natalie Queiroz was eight months pregnant when she was stabbed by her partner in the most vicious attack imaginable. 

In the space of nine minutes, and in broad daylight, Natalie was stabbed twenty-four times with a carving knife. She suffered horrific wounds to her lungs, liver, stomach and uterus, whilst the knife missed her baby by a margin of two millimeters, before the arteries in her wrists were methodically severed by the hooded attacker she finally realised was her partner and the father of her unborn child. 

After heroic intervention by passers-by and police, the attack was brought to an end, but her ordeal was not over. An air ambulance rescue was launched, and against all medical odds, Natalie and her baby survived – but not without life-changing physical and emotional damage. 

Still Standing is the story of one life-shattering event – what came before that fateful day, what happened on it, and how one woman and her baby survived to rebuild and heal together after it. At once a shocking story of evil, manipulation and violence, and a truly moving reminder that a life can be pieced back together, no matter how bad the damage, this book will empower and inspire anyone who has ever faced true adversity to rise up and stand tall.

 

My Thoughts:

Upon reading the blurb i realised that i recognised this story, i recalled seeing it in the news at the time. I remember saying a while later that I didn’t understand why the news didn’t concentrate more on Natalie, her story and what happened, why they don’t tend to follow the recovery story. I realised soon after that this was no doubt at least partially down to privacy and allowing the individuals to rebuild and recover. Seeing that this book then was not only the part of the story I had wanted to see, but written by Natalie herself, I knew that I needed to read it.

We hear so much about abuse of any type and the news concentrates on the very worst cases, but what about the individual? What about the road to recovery, or to trying to reach some form of recovery? What about an honest look at how life CAN carry on for the abusee? I won’t use the word Victim to describe Natalie, because after reading her story; after seeing how she got to where she is, and reading about the things she is currently doing, this is a woman to be admired for her resilience, respected for her ability to rise above her experiences. We rarely read honest considerations of the time, time and more time it takes on the road to recovery, or about the fact that actually this is not an easy upwards path. It’s a difficult slog with rocks and changes of direction and depth.

The writing style is engaging from the very start, written in a style that is easy to follow whilst gripping the reader tightly so they’re instantly invested in finding out Natalies story. The reader needs to continue, to find out answers to questions she raises as we go, to try to understand her perspective, to come to see how a person can go through something that shocked and Horrified a nation only to become one of the strongest and most inspirational women alive today.

There are many points within Natalies story that surprised me for one reason or another but I think a lot of it is best read independently. There is a lot within this that was powerful for how unexpected its honesty is, so I will avoid talking about specific scenes. Also, it is difficult to decide upon any particular area without discussing every scene in the book. Every one described is powerfully emotive and incredibly sincere. What i will say instead, is that even with what I had read about Natalie already, the view from her perspective is wholly powerful and shows in many ways just how one moment, choice or person can change a life.

The book explains the lead up to Natalies attack in a way that shows once and for all the answer to a question I am certain that countless people have asked Natalie in one form or another. Didn’t he shows signs of violent tendencies, how did you not know? Why didn’t you leave sooner? The reality is more horrific for the unpredictability and the lack of signs prior to the attack, but have a read yourself and you will see what I mean.

As is to be expected from this type of a Biography, the book is incredibly emotive. There were several moments where I had to put the book down and walk away because the honesty in it made me cry, made me uncomfortable or just stunned me. Yet I had to know, I needed to see how Natalie did it. I have to say at this point, as much as I know know her story, I still don’t know how she did it. The well of strength and determination in Natalie is incredibly admirable, as is the way in which she uses her experience to help others wherever she can, with various charity raising schemes, for example for the Air ambulance which lifted her after the attack.

The only way in which I can think to explain, is in the use of an image that comes to mind when I think of Natalie, all she’s been through and where she is today, and that is a Phoenix. They Break down, and in their situation it is natural to do so and yet they stay that way for so short a time it’s incredible to consider, only for them to then rise from that more powerful and beautiful than before. Perhaps a trifle overly poetic of me, but the only way I can think to begin to describe my feelings.

Whether you read true stories usually or not, whether you or someone you know has been or is in an abusive relationship or not, whether male or female. This is a book you need to read, and one that will change your views and ways of thinking regarding abusive behaviours and relationships in general, for a long time to come.

About The Author:

Natalie Queiroz is the survivor of one of the most appallingly brutal attacks imaginable. After being stabbed two dozen times by her partner when she was eight months pregnant, she has rebuilt her life and inspired people the length and breadth of the country with her courage and refusal to be bowed by her trauma. Alongside a successful full-time career, she has since become a motivational speaker and, through various feats of endurance and daring, raised thousands of pounds for the Midlands Air Ambulance charity she owes her life to.

 

Twitter : @natqleigh

A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

#BlogTour #BookReview A Modern Family by Helga Flatland

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Pages: 276

Publisher: OrendaBooks

Available: 21st June 2019

Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Drama / Family

With thanks to Anne Cater of #RandomThingsTours Karen of #OrendaBooks #TeamOrenda and of course the Author Helga for my copy of this astonishingly honest and Heartfelt Story.

Blurb:

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

My Thoughts:

As always with books from OrendaBooks, I devoured this! From opening the first page I couldn’t put it down until it was finished!

This is the first I have read from the Author, and so I wasn’t certain what to expect, other than with this being an Author OrendaBooks was publishing, I had certain expectations as to how much I would enjoy it, and I certainly do not feel let down.

The Authors writing style is intriguing, something about it just maintains a hook in the reader even in scenes that aren’t necessarily comfortable: as may be expected from the title of “A Modern Family”, we expect to see some situation with which we may be familiar. Having read the blurb, I knew some of what to expect, and yet there was some feeling of surprise.

Divorce and the resulting changes to life for those involved, either the couple or those around them, are topics which some have considered, but never before have I seen such an honest recreation of the variety of emotions that run alongside. The changes to moods, to situations within the family and without, the changes that effect everyone involved. The Author has done a truly amazing job of taking what can be a truly horrendous time, and recreating it in such a way as to be thoroughly engaging whilst maintaining a brutal honesty in the representation of the scenarios given.

The Characters are relatable and realistically unpredictable in their responses at times. I say realistically, because everybody reacts differently to highly emotive moments in life, and separations are one of modern times most emotive circumstances ti find yourself involved in, for you and partner and for any children involved in the relationship, often regardless of their age.

Most stories which consider separation or divorce centre around those going through the separation, what I adored about this story is that it centres around the three grown children. Their reactions, the rippling and cascading effect of the upheaval and emotional strain. This is something which I personally think needs more awareness, more honest consideration in order to educate those as to the effects on the people around them, the potential need for support not just for the couple but for the people closest to them, and Helga has certainly delivered in that regard.

I found myself glued to the pages, desperate to see how this would turn out for everyone involved, and found the story to be an accurate representation which was full of genuine highly emotive scenes that will have readers in awe of the Authors talent for weaving a tale.

About The Author:

Helga Flatland is already one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read

authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize.

She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies.

The Serpents Mark by S W Perry

#BlogTour #BookReview The Serpents Mark by S. W. Perry

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩🤩

Series: Nicholas Shelby 2

Pages: 424

Publisher: Corvus

Available: 6 June 2019

Genre: Fiction / Crime / Historical

With thanks to Anne Cater of #RandomThingsTours, the Author S W Perry and Publishing company Corvus for my advance copy of #TheSerpentsMark I adored every page! Book one in this series was great, book two is even better!

Blurb:

A smart and gripping tale of conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London, ideal for fans of CJ Sansom, Rory Clements and SG MacLean.

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when the queen’s spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a dangerous world of zealots, charlatans and fanatics. As their own lives become increasingly at risk, they find themselves confronting the greatest treason of all: the spectre of a bloody war between the faiths…

My Thoughts:

Although this is the second book in a new series, this is easily readable as a standalone story. The author introduces the Characters well and gives enough background that the reader isn’t left wondering who people are or why they are being included.

I read and adored the previous book “The Angels Mark” and found this to be just as enjoyable for many of the same reasons, but in case you didn’t catch that review I will explain.

This isn’t an entirely new type of story for me but is one I am always on the lookout for. One which mixes two of my favourite things, History, specifically the Elizabethan Era and a Crime/Mystery Fiction. The two are things which many have attempted to mesh, and I often find lacking in certain areas, not so from this Author.

The crimes being solved are realistic to the era, as are the stalls and issues, the processes and procedures along the way. This is clearly an Author who knows a lot about the topic he has taken to writing about, as opposed to somebody who read sherlock holmes or similar and decided to go from there. I often find these kinds of stories lack the depth of societal and political intrigue which effected every day life and various ‘professional’ areas. I use the term loosely, as the professionals of the time were not as we would consider such today, but were considered to be at the time.

I adore how the Author has been honest in this regard, both to the hazards and complications which could be caused by such things, but also how the various nuances allowed for some steps to be taken, for example access to certain areas.

I love the imagery, the author again has clearly done his homework and seems to have a passion for the era. You can almost feel the atmosphere, the smells and tastes in those times, the hostility and double meanings behind words.

The characters we came to enjoy in the first book have been further developed in this book, and another thing I particularly enjoyed is that in keeping with the time, we have two characters of opposing Gender who have formed a liking to one another, but have not fallen straight into a relationship. They are gradually building what may become one, but as is expected from the time they live in, this is a slow process with quite a bit of subtley. Definitely an up side to the story! It maintains a pace which is fun and interesting, but also in keeping with the place and time we have been immersed in.

If you enjoy Crime Fiction with a bit of a twist, or Historical Fiction that stays true to various facts of the time, then this series is not one that will disappoint! Add in those gorgeous covers, and what’s not to like?

About The Author:

 S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife.

Extract – The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

#BlogTour #Extract The Space Between Time by Charlie Laidlaw

Pages: 448

Publisher: Accent Press Ltd

Available: 20 June 2019

Genre: Contemporary / Fiction

Blurb:

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini’s perfect life begins to splinter when her celebrity father becomes more distant, and her mother dies suspiciously during a lightning storm. This death has a massive effect on Emma, but after stumbling through university, she settles into work as a journalist in Edinburgh.

Her past, however, cannot be escaped. Her mental health becomes unstable. But while recovering in a mental institution, Emma begins to write a memoir to help come to terms with the unravelling of her life. She finds ultimate solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe – which offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

Extract:

Mum is waiting for me outside the school gates and is surrounded by several other mothers who, like hyenas, all seem to want to devour her. How do they know who she is, I wonder? They’re all talking to her at once and Mum is gamely trying to smile and engage in several simultaneous conversations. Mum, as always, looks like a million dollars. The other mothers, dressed sensibly in beige, look like loose change collected from underneath the sofa. Mum sees me and waves, extricates herself from her tormentors, and ushers me quickly towards her car which is partly parked on the pavement and mostly on a pedestrian crossing.

‘From now on, Emma,’ she immediately says, once we’re safely inside and buckling up seatbelts, and before she’s even asked me how my first day has been, ‘I will either meet you further down the road or leave you to walk home. I do not want to go through that again.’ She looks in the rear-view mirror, just in case the hyenas are snarling and whooping and giving chase.

It turns out that she’s already been asked to join the Parent-Teacher Association and, being a parent, has felt obliged to accept. But, in the mêlée outside the school, she’s also been asked to be honorary chairperson of something else, and didn’t really hear what she was being asked to be chairperson of, or if she’s said ‘yes’. It happens to her sometimes. Her mind just goes blank, thoughts and words wafting around her head and then drifting from her ears.

Mum’s worried that she might inadvertently now be in charge of the North Berwick & District Paedophile Society, or something worse. It turned out that she hadn’t said ‘yes’, but hadn’t said ‘no’ either, so the Pottery Club assumed that she meant ‘yes’, which amounts to the same thing. She did attend a couple of their throw-downs, an expression that neither of us had heard of before, coming home with a well-turned if rather wonky bowl, with only a couple of small cracks, and decorated with painted flowers nicely arranged in a vase: Mum’s presidential way of neatly killing two birds with one stone.

From then on, I generally walked home after school.

About The Author:

Charlie Laidlaw was born in Paisley and is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. He has been a national newspaper journalist and worked in defence intelligence. He now runs his own marketing consultancy in East Lothian. He is married with two grown-up children

Dust Devils by Johnathan Janz

#BlogTour #BookReview Dust Devils by Jonathan Janz

My Rating: 🤩🤩🤩🤩.5

Pages: 304

Publisher: Flame Tree Press

Available: 13th June 2019

Genre: Fiction / Horror / Fantasy / Western / Vampires

With huge thanks to Anne Cater of RandomThingsTours, the Publisher #FlameTreePress and the author Jonathan Janz for my copy of this book, another brilliant read from Jonathan!

Blurb:

It is 1885 in the wilds of New Mexico and Cody Wilson and Willet Black are bent on revenge after their loved ones are slaughtered by a group of traveling actors, but neither of them suspects what they’re really up against. For the actors are vampires. Their thirst for human blood is insatiable. The two must battle the vampires—alone—or die trying.

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing. Launching in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

My Thoughts:

This is the second of this Authors work that I have read, having enjoyed the sleepless nights the previous book gave me, or rather, enjoyed the book despite the resulting sleepless nights, I was delighted to be given a chance to read and review a copy of this one.

I adore how the Author maintains his own ‘Voice’ as it were, his own style fro writing which is evident within the prose and he way the story progresses, and yet manages to simultaneously create a story that is entirely different in its progression and premise.

The tone remains the same in many ways, the Author has a flair for capturing your interest quickly and holding you tight. Imagine a horror movie that you WANT to look away from because it’s giving you goosebumps, making you cringe a little and making your palms sweat, but you just cannot drag your eyes away because despite all of this, you can’t stand the idea that you might miss a small detail.

The tension is built in masterful ways at surprising moments, and you’re just not sure what is going to happen next. The story is so individual you just have to admire the Authors ability to create something different in an intriguing way.

I don’t often enjoy westerns yet there are some that I have adored, I love fantasy and vampires, and I absolutely relish when someone does this with a new twist. When they take some ideas that have been done and redone over the years, an use them to do something wholly unexpected. The mixture was fun, highly entertaining and in many ways disturbing, but perfectly done.

That being said… I can’t say that I would rush to reread this one in the way I did the previous book, I can only put that down to the western element putting me off that. But yet, this is certainly one that I will remember fondly in several ways! If you enjoy something new that will keep you guessing and make you twitch on your toes, you need to add this to your TBR!

About The Author:

Jonathan Janz grew up between a dark forest and a graveyard, which explains everything. Brian Keene named his debut novel The Sorrows “the best horror novel of 2012.” The Library Journal deemed his follow-up, House of Skin, “reminiscent of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House

and Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Since then Jonathan’s work has been lauded by writers like Jack Ketchum, Edward Lee, Tim Waggoner, Bryan Smith, and Ronald Kelly. Novels like The Nightmare Girl, Wolf Land, Savage Species, and Dust Devils prompted Thunderstorm Books to sign Jonathan to an eleven-book deal and to give him his own imprint, Jonathan Janz’s Shadow Side.

His novel Children of the Dark received a starred review in Booklist and was chosen by their board as one of the Top Ten Horror Books of the Year (August 2015-September 2016). Children of the Dark will soon be translated into German and has been championed by the Library Journal, the School Library Journal, and Cemetery Dance. In early 2017, his novel Exorcist Falls was released to critical acclaim.

Jonathan’s primary interests are his wonderful wife and his three amazing children, and though he realizes that every author’s wife and children are wonderful and amazing, in this case the cliché happens to be true. You can learn more about Janz at http://www.jonathanjanz.com.