Posted in audio, book review, fiction, FYI, podcast, Reviews of Smashwords eBooks, TBR, Uncategorized

TBR Love February 2021 With Giveaway!

This TBR Love is part audio with my new podcast—Way I See It: eBooks For Travelers.

In the third episode and to celebrate the month of love, I discuss the historical romance A Love That Never Tires, Book 5 of the Spotless series and a special mention of a story I love that’s finally in print.

Don’t forget to check out the fantastic giveaways on Prolific Works, including my own Unsettled and Settle Down Now Part 1. Download both in this giveaway before 2 March 2021:-D

Click on image to find your next read.

Why eBooks For Travelers? Whether on the move or in armchairs, ebooks are lighter by far and—I believe—more eco-friendly!

As usual, I’ll be concentrating primarily on indie-published eBooks plus on a special mention for YA fans.

Little Known, Highly Recommended

Featured in the podcast e-Books For Travelers episode

Edwardian romance with
modern-minded characters.

More crazy fun in Spotless Series
Book 5

Read my interview with Camilla Monk (with small spoilers) over on my other blog. https://leennanaidoo.wordpress.com/2021/02/12/interview-with-camilla-monk-author-of-the-spotless-series/

Special Mention:

We Are The Fire by Sam Taylor

A YA fantasy with dark elements.

Read my review of We Are The Fire

Listen to the third episode of eBooks For Travelers for free on:

Apple
Spotify
Stitcher
iHeart Radio
Deezer
Overcast
Podchaser

Also Highly Recommended

Novels

The Grifter’s Daughter by Duane Lindsey

Dani Logan is keen follow in her legendary dad’s footsteps. He’s an ageing conman who’s known by those in the know for his long cons—elaborately set up scams requiring a team with specialized skills and a big pay out. She’s also hiding from her fiancé, Nick, in a strange game that she hopes will end in a commitment. But that’s not what the story is about.
Dani soon grows bored of the small town she’s chosen as her hideaway. She hatches up a long-con involving valuable books and calls on her father’s old team to help pull it off in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. With so many little details to see to, and having to win the team’s loyalty, Dani has her fun and work cut out for her.
This was a fun and engaging read that’s hard to put down. A great read for lovers or heists and intricate hustlers.

Mad Maggie And The Ancients by Rod Raglin

This was a very interesting and satisfying read—one my mum enjoyed immensely, too.

Take a reputed witch who’s treated for schizophrenia, add in British Colombian First People’s spirituality and settings, and mix in a clash between developers and the local community and you have a very unusual and intriguing background for a romance.
The romance is slow with two very mismatched individuals who grow significantly by the end. The paranormal aspects are handled in a low-key and believable way—magic realism done very well. All in all a very satisfying read despite what the cover may say.

Recommended

Novel

Musk Rain by Terri Branson

A more traditional romance (larger than life alpha male meets feisty and overwhelmed woman) set in Oklahoma. A few points makes this a good, unusual read: cross-cultural marriages and family secrets, Native American religious and divination practices, and the strange and tense situation Phoebe finds herself in after the death of her husband.
With numerous twists and turns in a solid plot, this read will satisfy telenovela fans, romance reading fans, and those looking for a story full of local color.

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BiMonthly Tarotscopes: End May to End June 2022

Your free tarot heads up for May and June Better late than never! Some interesting progress for some signs (well done Aries!) and still some way to go for others; confirming many of your weekly tarotscopes!

Get Your Channelled General Message Letter for 2022

This will the third year running that we’ve offered this, and looking back I’m still blown away by the wisdom and group messages that have come through since 2019. Have a look at last year’s Valentine’s Messages for us all. Many thanks to those whose requests for letters and messages brought out these pearls of light for us all!

Posted in book review, fiction, FYI, TBR, Uncategorized

Book Review: We Are The Fire by Sam Taylor

Book Review: We Are The Fire
Author: Sam Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy
Format: novel
Series: Standalone

I received an Advance Reader copy from my writing friend. Full disclosure: I was a beta-reader for various versions of this story, but not the final one in print. My last reading of this beta was closer to the Flint, Flare, Flame version that won the YARWA Rosemary Award for Speculative Fiction in 2018. Also, I don’t often read YA these days, and love Sam Taylor’s writing.

Sam has some awesome pre-order goodies for readers who buy We Are The Fire and those that put in a request at their local library (Global offer). See below for how to get your mitts on all the goodies.

print cover We Are The Fire By Sam Taylor
Available from 16 February 2021

In brief

We Are The Fire is an a tense story of love, endurance, revolution, identity, and maturing. Oksana and Pran are Tuliikobrets, stolen children from other regions forced into becoming fire-controlling soldiers for the Vesimaan emperor, a fate they share with hordes of other children. Together with their closest friends, Yalku and Anu, Pran and Oksana dream of leaving the slavery and inhumanity of the fort controlled by ruthless Commanders, to return to their homelands or finding their own path. Pran proposes a revolution, and while he knows the cost of freedom will be high, he can’t guess just how high a price of love, friendship and suffering they will all pay.

The Whole story

Seven long years ago, Pran and Oksana arrived at the fort of the Tuliikobrets from different regions of conquered lands. From the start, they depended on each to get through the brutality and pain inflicted by their training and transformation into fierce fire-wielding soldiers for the power-hungry emperor. Now, they’re in love, and Pran is determined to break the bondage of Tuliis while also giving Oksana her dream of returning home. When the emperor’s new ambitious plans put intolerable pressure on the alchemist Rootare and the Commanders, the whole fort suffers. With Pran and Oksana’s sudden promotion to Hellions, Pran uses his new role to seed a revolt while Oksana is blackmailed into working with the creepy Rootare to produce even stronger serums. Pulled ever further apart, and faced with betrayal and the heart-breaking deaths of those they love, Oksana and Pran come to realize that victory may only be the start of a more hazardous and dark path to freedom.

What I Loved About This Story

Pran and Oksana, naturally, but also their friends Anu, Yalku and, eventually, Sepp. Sam Taylor vividly brings to life the cold environment, desperate emotions of the enslaved kids, and the regimental and brutal life no-one ever chose. Despite the dark scenes, this story is primarily one of hope and resilience, and love. Both Oksana and Pran are asked to make difficult decisions and face the consequences with responsibility that commands respect. Rootare is despicable yet not one-dimensional, while the camaraderie of the Tuliis despite their cultural differences is encouraging. The plot is strong, believable, and with an ending that shows a much wiser Pran and a very empowered Oksana. I love the way Sam Taylor weaves current alchemical knowledge with Vesimaan lore and materials to create the serums, and I adore the little details that allude to widely different cultures and how similar they can be.

What I Thought Could Be Better

So, having been familiar with older drafts of the story that featured more of Anu and Yalku, I missed some deleted scenes at the beginning. I felt the first part of the story was racing along at the expense of my favorite characters and their relationships until I got about a third of the way through and began appreciating this story as it’s now told. Then I could see it’s a more satisfying story overall. If you’ve read We Are The Fire as Flint, Flare, Flame you may feel the same 🙂 But you won’t be disappointed with the final story.

So what did I learn from this whole experience?

As a writer, revising your story endless times does often make it stronger. As a reader, I learned a bit more about alchemy, and to appreciate the freedom I had as a child to be a child. Though set in a fictional world, child labour/slavery and soldiers are still a reality many innocents face.
I also learned that bread and cinnamon go well together 😀 And that I’d never want to be a human dragon. It just gets you burnt!

Rating: 5/5
I Recommend to: alchemy lovers, DWJ fans who prefer her darker fantasies for older YA, X-Men fanatics, and bored Harry Potter fans.

Pre-Order We Are The Fire

Get awesome pre-order goodies by placing your order or requesting your local library get a loan copy. Go to https://www.samtaylorwrites.com/library-request-giveaway

River Bend Bookshop (signed copies, character art print, map, and bookmark): https://www.riverbendbookshop.com/SamTaylor

Edged in Starlight (sprayed edges, signed bookplate, bookmark) https://www.etsy.com/listing/938036492/pre-order-we-are-the-fire

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Fire-Sam-Taylor/dp/1250241421

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/we-are-the-fire-sam-taylor/1136522293