Book Review: Onslaught of Madness (The Madness Wars #1) by Jesse Teller
Wow. What a story. Intense, dark and brooding. Grittiness turned up to the max. This is the second novel I’ve read from Jesse Teller (read my review of the first, Song, here) and he definitely has a style that skilfully sucks the reader into his intricately imagined world and shows them no mercy once they’re there.
In my second epic fantasy novel, Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), we learn more about the nation of Troglo and the Trogrs, or cave creatures. The Trogrs are desperate, as for years their fertility has been in trouble, with a slow decline in the birth of females and then a drop off altogether, with only male babies being conceived and born.
This concept of fertility evolving or failing is an interesting one to think about – what would we do? What would happen if suddenly the fertility rate dropped off, or only male or female babies were being born, or if only a select few were fertile? For the survival of the race, would we force fertile people to procreate? Would we have to find other animals or alien lifeforms close to humans to attempt to breed with? Would we turn to cloning ourselves to keep the race going? Desperate times call for desperate measures… how far would we go?
Much of the action in my In the Heart of the Mountains trilogy is set in a country called Peqkya and its capital Riaow. It’s surrounded by a belt of mountains called the Meliok Mountains.
The inspiration for Peqkya has come from my world travels and specifically the amazing mountains I’ve been fortunate to visit and trek. Below I round up some of the locations and experiences that have helped me bring my world to life in Melokai (Book One) and Violya (Book Two).
At the time of the novel Violya, the warrior Violya is twenty years old. Born in Riaow, the capital of Peqkya, she grew up in a pen where she met her best friend Emmya. As with every Peqkian, V does not know who her parents are, as Peqkian custom dictates ‘No baby will ever know it’s parents and no parents will ever know their baby’.
Violya, or V, showed excellence in warrior training from an early age. However, although she worked hard to cultivate her talent, she was crippled with self-doubt. As a child, she grew very tall very quickly and suffered from bullying which knocked her confidence. As a teenager she would sneak out of the warrior barracks and into a place in the bamboo forest just outside of Riaow. There she would self-harm in an attempt to quiet the voices in her head that told her she was no good.
For those of you who have read Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) and would like a refresher on what happens before diving into Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), then this short synopsis is for you!
**WARNING**: this includes EVERY spoiler about the story in Melokai, so only read it if you’re happy to find out exactly what happens, and the ending, of the first book.
This synopsis is included in the ebook of Violya (In the Heart of the Mountains #2), but not in the paperback.
Book Review: We Lie With Death (The Reborn Empire #2) by Devin Madson
Back in December 2018 I read We Ride The Storm, the first book in The Reborn Empire series by Devin Madson and I LOVED it. It was my book of 2018. (Read my review here). Fast-forward to December 2019 and I finished the second book, We Lie With Death, and also massively enjoyed it!
“Cockfaces,” the warrior Violya hissed as the enemy’s ramshackle camp came into view.
In the dead of night, lit only by the camp’s pathetic fires that spat and sizzled against the heavy snowfall, a small, deadly force of one hundred Peqkian warriors and one hundred Jute fighters silently climbed down the mountain slope.
Book Review: The Exercise Of Vital Powers (Legends of the Order #1) by Ian Gregoire
The author Ian Gregoire kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
This fantasy novel follows the story of teenager Kayden, an apprentice of The Order. She’s snarky, she’s determined, she’s single-minded in her desire to be the best. We first meet her on an attack of a heavily guarded old fortress, where she’s reluctant to follow the designated ‘leader’, because she has a better plan.
Book Review: The Girl With All the Gifts (The Girl With All the Gifts #1) by M.R. Carey
So, I’m not usually one for zombie books, series or movies. They’re all a bit samey and predictable, unless they totally subvert the genre like the movie Zombieland, which is totally hilarious. But this novel is described as a thriller and the blurb, about a little girl called Melanie who everyone seems terrified of, intrigued me enough to pick it up.
And WOW I’m so pleased I did. This is a zombie book that is intelligent, exciting and gripping. With a BRILLIANT ending.
Book Review and Author Interview: Touch of Iron (The Living Blade #1) by Timandra Whitecastle
The author Timandra Whitecastle kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
This fantasy novel had everything I love: fast-paced plot, fearless female main character, no-holds-barred fight scenes, some romantic/sexy moments and laugh-out-loud humour. It’s gritty, sweary, a bit different and has an intense grimdark feel.
Book Review: Becoming Cliterate – Why Orgasm Equality Matters And How to Get It by Laurie Mintz
I love reading non-fiction books that teach me something. I generally read three books at once, usually I’ve got a fantasy book, a non-fiction book and a random genre book going at the same time.
Recently, I listened to the audiobook of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari which was great. But then I read Becoming Cliterate by Laurie Mintz and WHOAH. It was brilliant. Super interesting and illuminating. I recommended it to all my female friends who love reading, and here I am recommending it to you!
So, the fourth Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) contest has come to an end! 300 standalone or first-in-a-series fantasy novels entered back in spring 2018 and only a mere ten reached the final. The scores are in, and one tale out of that handful has been crowned victorious.
My novel Melokai (In the Heart of the Mountains #1) was picked as a semi-finalist, but alas, my journey was to end there. Listed below, however, are those that made it to the very top.
From sword and sorcery to steampunk, urban fantasy to gritty grimdark, there's plenty to pick from and enjoy.
Book Review and Author Interview: Bloodrush (The Scarlett Star Trilogy #1) by Ben Galley
The author Ben Galley kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
Bloodrush is a weird west fantasy is set in the frontier town of Fell Falls, America. It’s on the edges of a dusty, desolate desert. There are guns, wild locals, and monsters called railwraiths that eat up the railway workers attempting to lay tracks to expand the empire. There’s also blood magic and faeries. Yep, faeries!
Author Richard Writhen writes a fusion of horror and fantasy. Specifically, weird fiction, cosmic horror and gothic fiction presented as fantasy, and all with a dark atmosphere and grimdark feel. Sounds utterly delicious doesn’t it!
Well, Richard has a new release out called The Angel of the Grave and he’s agreed to not only answer some of my questions but also provide me with an excerpt of his latest novel for you all to feast your voracious reading eyes upon!
Audiobook Review: Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch #1) by Ann Leckie
This science fiction novel first came to my attention when I was looking into science fiction and fantasy with matriarchal societies (see the blog post here). Although Ancillary Justice is not set in a matriarchal society, it does have an interesting take on gender and that led me to researching other SFF books which handle gender differently or have unique gender systems. You can read that blog post here.
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