I love reading! Well, I suppose you worked that out from the title of this site, didn’t you?

I read flash fiction, short stories, novelettes, novels, full-length books and am quite fond of book series too.

I also read most genres, though there are some I am more likely to read than others, but hey, I will give pretty much anything a go!  You never know when you are about to uncover a hidden gem.  Unless you read it, you don’t know if you will love it…and that is part of the magic of books.

I like to do what I can to support indie authors (I’m one myself), so if you would like me to review your book / story, just get in touch🙂

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or review requests, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

Have a great day!

To learn more about me, read my about page.  To see what I’ve already reviewed, visit the A-Z review index.

Short Story Review: Flyting, Fighting by Clayton Emery

murder-through-the-ages-front-coverSet in 1192, this quick read focuses on Robin Hood and Marian after their wedding.

The couple are going through the forest, arguing over Robin’s way with women, when Robin spots a jumble of footprints on the ground.  Interpreting the signs, Robin believes a group of men have abducted a young woman, and decides to go off to try and save her.  Marian doesn’t quite believe him (the footprints make no sense to her), but she goes along anyway, the pair of them continuing their argument as they follow the trail…

But is Robin right?  And if so, who is the young woman?  Who are the men who have taken her?

This was a fun short story.  The chemistry between Robin and Marian was perfect, and the back and forth bickering was completely believable.  I enjoyed reading this; it was so amusing, and I would definitely read it again.

I found this short story in, Murder Through the Ages: A Bumper Anthology of Historical Mysteries, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

Book Review: The White Rose Turned to Blood by Rosemary Hawley Jarman

the-white-rose-turned-to-blood-front-coverThe White Rose Turned to Blood is the concluding part of We Speak No Treason by Rosemary Hawley Jarman.

The first book in this two-part series focused on Richard, Duke of Gloucester before he became Richard III, and told the tale as it was witnessed by his mistress and the court fool.  (See my review, here.)  But now Edward IV is dead and the main factions at court are trying to survive after the only man who could keep the peace between them is gone.

For this first part of the tale we have as our guide Mark Archer (who we met briefly in book 1).  He is Richard’s sworn man and friend; an archer with exceptionally good eyesight.  Through his testimony we are taken through the troublesome time between Edward IV’s death to the fateful battle at Bosworth.  Mark Archer is a likeable character who shows how devious political wranglings could be, and how the most innocent actions could be used to cover up the not-so-innocent.  But most of all, he serves to show us what kind of a king Richard might have been.

Then, for the second part of the book, we go back to hear how the story concludes from the point of view of Richard’s one-time mistress, who we only ever know as the Nut-Brown Maid.  Her tale is a poignant one – she is at the mercy of circumstance, and only learns what happens, for the most part, months later, so far removed is she now from the court.  We learn what has occurred in her small world since we last heard from her in The Flowering of the Rose, and then on, past the battle at Bosworth and into the beginnings of Tudor England.  Her story is moving, and the love she bore for Richard gives her the strength and the courage to face danger.

It is a very sympathetic and likeable Richard we meet in the course of these books, and I for one am glad.  He makes for a very good, very interesting central character and it would have been easy for the author to go along with the much maligned figure many are familiar with.

One of my favourite characters (from either book) had to be the young girl, Edyth.  But it is the emotive, heartbreaking tale told by the Nut-Brown Maid that really captured my interest, and even on occasion, brought tears to my eyes.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, along with the first, The Flowering of the Rose, and I can’t recommend either highly enough.  A great piece of historical fiction and fluid storytelling.

Book Review: The Camelot Code by Sam Christer

the-camelot-code-front-coverWhen an antiques dealer turns up murdered in his shop in Maryland, the local police calls in some expert help in the form of Mitzi Fallon, who has just started her new job with the FBI’s Historical, Religious and Unsolved Crimes Unit, based in San Francisco.  The antiques dealer had had a valuable Celtic cross stolen from him, and so begins a journey that will take Fallon on a journey that is more dangerous than she could have ever guessed and leading her to a secret she will never believe…

I was unsure of picking up this thriller when I first saw it.  I have a keen interest in Arthurian myths and I couldn’t help but wonder if this story would read as silly.  However, for the most part, I was wrong.  The actual story line was very good and the characters engaging, although, naturally with a story like this you have to suspend disbelief.  After all, contemporary thrillers are not fantasy and it is hard to make the fantastical believable in the every day world.

But, that being said, I was very quickly drawn into the story of Mitzi Fallon.  She was an interesting if flawed character which made it easy to relate to her and want her to succeed.  She was strong, independent, but with a well-defined mothering instinct.  Irish was also an interesting character as was Sir Owain Gwyn but there were a handful of minor characters that I found a little annoying.

The story itself is well paced, full of action and suspense, and did a good job of blending the mythical and the modern.  The author very cleverly modernised names for the story, which showed you who they were based on without labouring the point, which would have added in too much backstory and slowed the pace.  I would certainly read more from this author in the future.

Have you read this book?  What did you think to it?

Book Review: The Map by T.S. Learner

the-map-front-coverA coded map, which intimates that there are secret locations across Europe where it is claimed the answers to the great mysteries can be revealed, has been discovered.  August Winthrop is following the clues, but he is not alone.  There are others who want the answers he seeks and are willing to go to great lengths to get them.

As he is pursued across Europe by spies, secret agents and those that dabble in black magic, he will have to use all the skills and contacts he picked up when he worked as an SOE operative during the war.  But will it be enough or will a great power that has remained hidden for centuries fall into the wrong hands…

This is going to be quite a mixed review.

I have to admit, I struggled with this book, even though I usually enjoy these conspiracy-thriller-adventure type stories.  The reason for this is that I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters, which made it hard for me to care about what happened to them.

On the upside, the description of people and places found along the journey made it easy to visualise what was going on.  That, coupled with the period setting of the 1950’s and the post WWII world, especially Europe, ensured that no matter how much I struggled with the characters, I did keep reading on until the very end.

My favourite parts of the story line involved the mystical and magical (as always), but there are a great many threads to keep track of through this very long book (my copy ran to nearly 600 pages).  I wonder if there had been fewer of these story threads whether I would have found the book as a whole easier to digest…

This is the first book I have read by the author, but I would definitely give another one of their books ago.

Looking Ahead to Festive Reads Fortnight 2016

festive reads fortnight

I know it might seem a little early, but we like to plan ahead here at Sammi Loves Books.  Well…sometimes😉

This year’s Festive Reads Fortnight begins on 11 December 2016.  I have a few stories that I have been putting to one side for this reading challenge, but I am always eager for more.😀  If you have any recommendations or review requests for stories that centre on the Christmas / Winter Solstice period (no matter the length or genre, whether self-published, or posted on a blog or Wattpad, etc), I would love to hear from you!  Comment below or contact me through my ‘Contact Me’ page.

To see what I read for last year’s Festive Reads Fortnight, click here.

Can’t wait to hear from you!

Book Review: Black Dawn by Rachel Caine

black-dawn-by-rachel-caine-front-coverBlack Dawn is the twelfth book in the Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine.

Morganville – the small Texan town where humans and vampires live together in relative harmony – is falling apart.  After the arrival of the draug, the only creature that can truly inspire fear in the heart of a vampire, things take a decidedly dark turn in the town.  When the draug show up, vampires either run or die.

However, whilst most of the town’s inhabitants have been evacuated, Claire, Eve, Shane and Michael decide to stay and take the fight to the draug.  They do, after all, have good reason to wish them dead.

But when Amelie, the town’s founder is bitten by the master draug, not only do they have to win the battle but find a cure…before it’s too late.

I am really enjoying reading the story from the many different viewpoints, so this development in the storytelling was a great idea.  It gives the reader a wider scope and can reveal more of what is going on beyond the the main character’s immediate environment.

The draug are an interesting enemy and I found learning how they effect both humans and vampires both scary and intriguing.  There are a few major plot twists that I did not anticipate, which is always great, and the pace of the story kept me hooked until the very end.

When you reach this far in a series, you always wonder how long the author can keep you interested in the characters and the trials they face.  That doesn’t seem to be a problem with the Morganville Vampires, I am happy to say.

I am looking forward to reading book thirteen in the series, and I am intrigued to find out where Morganville and its inhabitants can go from here.

Book Review: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

the-woman-in-black-front-cover[This review may contain spoilers]

The Woman in Black was my 2016 Halloween read, and my, was it a great choice.

Arthur Kipps works for a London law firm that is in charge of the estate of one Mrs Alice Drablow.  On her death, Kipps is sent to her home, Eel Marsh House, Crythin Gifford, in the middle of a mist-filled nowhere surrounded by marsh, to go through her papers to ensure that all is in order.

However, as soon as he arrives in the small agricultural town, it becomes apparent that this is not the easy, fun task he thought it would be.  This is not some leisurely, country jaunt.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite and it all begins with the glimpsing of a strange woman dressed in black at the funeral of Alice Drablow, a woman no one will talk to him about.  As an outsider with no knowledge of the local history, he has no idea what his sighting portends…

The Woman in Black is a psychological ghost story that spends its time building up to a very creepy atmosphere, one that is heightened by that which isn’t said rather than that which is.  The not knowing what everyone else knows is certainly a clever way of increasing tension within the narrative.  Only once it is deemed that Arthur Kipps has witnessed enough himself, will anyone reveal anything to him.

I’m not often spooked by spooky things, but there were a few times reading this that I felt chilled to the bone.  The use of repetition, in particular, was very creepy, both in terms of describing sound, but also in the theme.  Not only is Eel Marsh House haunted, but so is Kipps, by his experience.

The downsides to this book were few and minor, and perhaps only recalled because the rest of the book was just so good.  The ending felt very abrupt compared to the slow-burn of the majority of the story, and yet the final words are almost harrowing in their bluntness:

They asked for my story.  I have told it.  Enough.

There was also a little puzzle of an inscription that didn’t make sense to me, and I wish that it expressly stated when the story was set though it definitely had the feel of a Victorian Gothic ghost story to it.

The positives far outweighed the negative, and included that the setting was perfect for this type of story and really captured the essence of Victorian Gothic spookiness.  The characters also helped in crafting the narrative into a piece of chilling literature.  One of my favourites was the brave dog, Spider, whose fearlessness juxtaposed well the feelings of terror experienced by Kipps, which again, served to increase the tension.  The author is a great storyteller and says just enough to make you wonder, to keep you reading.

The Woman in Black was a great read, one that I am certain I will return to, and often, in the future.  If you enjoy ghost stories or are looking for a fitting tale to read one cold, dark night, this would be a very good choice.  Also, if you would like to try you hand a writing a ghost story, this book illustrates well how to successfully accomplish it.