Bjørn Larssen is a one-of-a-kind author. Whether packing humor and wisdom closely together or sharing the most unique of tales that get into your heart and your head, trust Larssen to deliver writing like you’ve never seen before. I’m so excited to share the cover of Storytellers today! After looking at the beautiful cover, pick up a copy of the book!
If you don’t tell your story, they will.
Iceland, 1920. Gunnar, a hermit blacksmith, dwells with his animals, darkness, and moonshine. The last thing he wants is an injured lodger, but his money may change Gunnar’s life. So might the stranger’s story – by ending it. That is, unless an unwanted marriage, God’s messengers’ sudden interest, an obnoxious elf, or his doctor’s guilt derail the narrative. Or will the demons from Gunnar’s past cut all the stories short?
Side effects of too much truth include death, but one man’s true story is another’s game of lies. With so many eager to write his final chapter, can Gunnar find his own happy ending?
Bjørn Larssen is an award-winning author of historical fiction and fantasy, dark and funny in varying proportions. His writing has been described as ‘dark,’ ‘literary,’ ‘cinematic,’ ‘hilarious,’ and ‘there were points where I was almost having to read through a small gap between my fingers.’
Bjørn has a Master of Science degree in mathematics and has previously worked as a graphic designer, a model, a bartender, and a blacksmith (not all at the same time). He currently lives with his husband in Almere, which is unfortunately located in The Netherlands, rather than Iceland.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Little Vampire Women is available now.
I’m afraid this review will be a little on the shorter side because I find myself in the strange position of feeling as though I’m almost having to review the original book. I’ve read several of these monster mash-up books (my favorite being Grave Expectations by Charles Dickens and Sherri Browning Erwin being my favorite) and this is the first one that felt so incredibly similar to its source material.
Everyone knows the plot of Little Women. But what if Marmee and Co. were vampires? That should change things more than it really did, which is where I’m getting a little stymied. While the idea is a fun and clever one, the main storyline changed very little, instead having small asides that added a vampiric touch. I would have loved to see the author do more than add in an extra sentence here and there.
The extra bits added served to twist the story ever-so-slightly. For example, the family that the Marches bring Christmas food to are human, so there are an added few sentences about the March women needing to suggest that their gift of raw animals be made into a stew. See what I mean about small bits being added? On a few occasions, it was entertaining, but at other times it threw the pacing off a little.
I feel that the author would have done much better writing her own original book instead of going for a mash-up. Then she would not have had such restrictions on her creativity. She has written several other books and I am 100% sure that her wholly original books are much much better. As it was, I found myself disappointed in Little Vampire Women.
The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley has a heartbeat. It beats with anger, desperation, and something in between love and hate. The pages pulse with life in all its gritty messiness. The book is visceral and brutal, and utterly compelling.
Taking place in the same world as We Break Immortals (although you can absolutely read The Monsters We Feed as a standalone), the book starts with a bang. Well, actually it starts with the mention of a dead body, setting the tone from the first eleven words. This is not a happily ever after sort of fantasy. Rather, it is an R-rated look into the complexities of human nature. It’s full of sex (lots and lots of it) and violence (lots and lots of it), as well as characters that bypass “morally gray” and waltz right into “evil” territory.
Jathan, our main character, is an incredibly messed up person. He’s a bundle of anger wrapped in hard edges and lies told to himself and to others. His parents were killed when he was a child, leaving him with a loathing for magick. Years later, he lives with his sister Lyra in his family home (which she is desperate to leave). She is his rock, but he is her anchor, weighing her down and holding her back. Jathan happily uses her as an excuse for his less-than-savory actions, which include selling out any users of magick he comes across in exchange for money. His sweet sister deserves better, to be honest. So does her friend who inexplicably finds him attractive.
Jathan makes yet another in a string of bad decisions when he loots a dead body, finding a Jecker Monocle. This device allows him to see “traces” of magick, making it a heck of a lot easier to track down and sell out magick users. Of course, this brings a new brand of trouble as Jathan soon finds himself suspecting his sister of having a liaison with a hated magick user.
The magick in both The Monsters We Feed and We Break Immortals is incredible. It’s extremely complex but Riley describes it in a way that explains it without adding to confusion or making it boring. So much rides on Jathan’s feelings about magick and the way the Jecker Monocle is used that it was imperative to have a fully developed magic system. A vague idea or underdeveloped magic would not have worked. Luckily, Riley doesn’t do anything by halves. The magic- like the rest of the book- is fully formed, a living, breathing thing.
The fact that The Monsters We Feed is told solely from the point of view of such an unlikable character makes it even more interesting. Where Jathan lacks in charisma, he makes up for in layers upon layers of fear and grief masquerading as anger and sometimes even as love. His self-destruction is engrossing, although sometimes painful to read. I really felt sad for him at times.
Once you start reading a book like this, there’s no stopping or putting it down until you’ve turned the last page. The writing is excellent, the world is immersive, and the characters are fascinating. I’m not big on sex scenes in books (I know it’s odd that I am fine with fantasy violence, but book sex makes me uncomfortable; I never claimed to be normal), but everything else was awesome.
If you like fantasy that blurs the line between right and wrong, that has flawed characters with questionable morality and drags secrets usually hidden away into glaring light, TheMonsters We Feed is for you.
Today I’m excited to share the cover for The Magick of Chaos, the next book in the awesome Tempest Blades series by Ricardo Victoria! If you haven’t read Tempest Blades yet, I highly recommend the series. If you’d like, you can read my reviews for books one and two here: The Withered King (Book 1); The Cursed Titans (Book 2).
Action-packed adventure that blends science, fantasy, and anime-style battles into a thrilling, fast-paced story that will appeal to fans of anime, mangas, and RPG video games.
Magick is in disarray. The Crown of the Dead has reappeared. Three gods appear, one fallen, one amnesiac, and one which corrupts. Two teams, two missions, and one world to save in a tight amount of time before everything goes to hell. While Gaby and Sam are dealing with their own inner turmoil, they must lead their respective teams onto a path that will make them both realize one important fact: You can choose who you want to be. Because in a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible. Including finding out if you are ready to step up. Are you?
Are you ready to see the cover?
WOW! The cover is done by Salvador Velazquez, whose dynamic art perfectly captures the feel of the series.
The Magick of Chaos is available in June of 2023, but you can preorder it now.
Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is available now.
What a delightful book! The adventure in Miss Percy’s Guide might not include epic sword fights or swashbuckling moments (although Miss Percy is certainly not lacking in the ‘derring-do’ department). I was on the edge of my seat nonetheless. Mildred Percy is an extremely likable main character, and I loved rooting for her to succeed.
Miss Percy’s Guide to the Care of Feeding of British Dragons has an unexpected beginning. Mildred is a quiet, introverted spinster ( I can relate to the first two things), who lives in her sister’s home and takes care of her sister’s children. Despite this being a longstanding arrangement, Mildred’s sister makes it abundantly clear that Mildred is a guest who is there only through her kindness, happily ignoring the fact that Mildred is basically raising those kids. Mildred is rather resigned to not having an existence of her own when she receives an inheritance from a great uncle she barely knew. Hidden in among a bunch of paperwork is an honest-to-goodness dragon egg.
The hatching of the dragon and the challenges of having a dangerous hatching is tackled by Mildred, a certain vicar, and his bustling housekeeper. The growing relationship between Mildred and Mr. Wiggan (the vicar) was so much fun to read! If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that literary romance and I don’t always mix. However, it was done so subtly and sweetly that, much like the kid in A Princess Bride, I didn’t mind so much. Mrs. Babbinton, the housekeeper, vied with Mildred for the elevated Favorite Character spot. She made me laugh with her no-nonsense approach and her habit of plying everyone with copious amounts of food at every opportunity.
A book like this needs obstacles of some sort and author Quenby Olson was so clever in hers! There was Mildred’s niece Belinda, a conniving and manipulative brat who uses her “charms” to get her way and is petulant and sometimes even cruel when that doesn’t work. Add in a poor and desperate young man who is certain that the egg should be his (his father having lost it to Mildred’s great uncle during some drunken gambling), and you get an intimidating and desperate villainous duo. There’s Mildred’s older sister as well, who had ground poor Mildred down into a long-suffering person who takes what she gets and almost thinks she deserves it. Almost. And this leads to my very favorite, and cleverest villain, of all: Mildred herself. She has to fight against her own self-doubt and injured self-esteem all throughout the book. Each victory against herself (so to speak) had me cheering.
There were excerpts from Mildred’s guide to dragons at the beginning of each chapter, which added an extra dose of fantastic to a book that I had already fallen in love with. Of course, I can’t forget the dragon. What a great choice of catalyst! I’m sure at this point it is crystal clear that I loved everything about the book.
Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons is wonderful, a perfect cozy read. Pick it up if you want a smile in book form.
Well, another year has come and (mostly) gone. It was another amazing reading year, making coming up with a list of favorites a delightfully difficult task. I kept thinking that I would only write a top ten, but after agonizing over which books to leave off, I told myself, “Self, it’s your blog, dash it all! You can have a top twelve favorites list! No one can stop you!” It was around this point that it occurred to me that I should probably stop talking to myself (although I am a very witty conversationalist) and just write the darn list. Without further ado, and in no particular order, I present my top TWELVE books of 2022.
The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning
“This book was a love story to the wonderful, imaginative things I grew up with, and I enjoyed every moment of it.”
Sometimes I enjoy a book that is really different, possibly even a little – dare I say it? – bizarre. I like to be surprised by books, and sometimes I want a book that challenges my expectations. Here are some utterly unique books that I’ve enjoyed.
Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You by Scotto Moore
I don’t think that you can be a reader and not love words. There is something special in the infinite combinations of letters and the amazing things that come from them. Sometimes a book quote comes along that just floors me, whether it hits in a way that feels incredibly personal or just makes me laugh until I get sick. I love looking back at the quotes that stuck with me throughout the year. Below are a few favorites from 2022. You can find my Quoatables posts from previous years here: 2020, 2021.
“She looked up at him, red eyes wet with tears “Our secrets and lies are the monsters we feed. You should know that.”– The Monsters We Feed by Thomas Howard Riley Review to come
“That’s the mark of real friendship, I think: to be the person you are when you’re alone, but in front of someone else. Just as free. Just as messy. The kind of friend where you don’t have to stress over every little thing you say, because one little fuck-up in front of them won’t make them think any worse of you. A single impressive act won’t alter things either, because they’ve seen enough of your failings not to put you on a pedestal. They know you. The “you” beneath the bullshit.” – One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold Review
“This wasn’t about using nostalgia as a shield, it was about celebrating the things that defined them, the characters that spoke to their heart’s truth, the things that made them different and unique and powerful in their own special way. It united them.”– The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning Review
“It wasn’t the same song, it never is, each time you play it the song changes, but the feeling remains the same.”– We Sold Our Souls by Grady Hendrix Review
“I was just thinking that you don’t have to forget who you were … because that’s what brought you here.”- Legends and Lattes by Travis Baldree Review
“Perhaps a story is simply a reminder to the reader that time is a funny thing: it stretches and snaps. It bends and wobbles. And it slows down when you move too fast.”– The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill Review
“But then, how were others to know that beneath her cloak of adept composure there existed a panicked thing, alternately crying and screaming and longing for a nap all while craving something glazed in sugar?”– Miss Percy’s Guide to the Care & Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson Review to come
“There is nothing so broken it can’t be repaired.”– Empire of Exiles by Erin M. Evans Review
“Do you know what you’d do to stay alive? Most of us never have to make that call. Not so clearly that we have to weigh up our life against another’s. Instead, we make that choice in a hundred little decisions every day, when we put our own life, and our own comforts, over everyone else. We all live our lives off the blood of other people; they’re usually just far enough away from us that we can convince ourselves that it isn’t the case.” – One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold Review
“I read once that books bend both space and time, and the more books you have in one place, the more space and time will bend and twist and fold over itself. I’m not sure if that’s true but it feels true. Of course, I read that in a book, and maybe the book was just bragging.”– The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill Review
Here’s to many more amazing quotes! Happy reading!
Following Elburn Barr, a Loremaster (think reporter) as he interviews adventurers far and wide, The Hero Interviews by Andi Ewington doesn’t just poke a little fun at common fantasy tropes. Instead, it chases them down, beats them up, then goes through their pockets for loose change. It is a brilliantly funny book and one that had me laughing from start to finish. Grab a tankard for the road and follow the Loremaster as he tries to figure out what makes heroes tick!
I’ve read The Hero Interviews multiple times now and I find something new that makes me laugh every single time. The main character, Elburn, who sees a paper and quill as his weapons rather than a sword, is a delightful character. His parents and brother all did the hero thing, and he just can’t figure out the draw. He’s full of piss and vinegar, which comes out in…