From My Bookshelf – February 2023 Book Reveal

And February’s book is…

The Prince and The Pilgrim by Mary Stewart.

And the treat to accompany the book for February, hot chocolate and biscuits.


You can find out everything you need to know about the From My Bookshelf challenge, including links to the books as they are revealed, and the reviews once they are written, here.

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Book Review: Learning to Fly by Crispina Kemp

Thank you to Crispina Kemp for sending me an ARC of this book in return for an honest review.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Learning to Fly is a captivating read. Entertaining and engaging, this perfectly-paced tale is historical fantasy on an epic scale. Well-written, and filled with colourful characters and rich, vivid descriptions, it’s impossible not to get pulled into the gripping story-telling.  Highly recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from Amazon)

Medievalist Neve is delighted to find herself surrounded by swirling colours and foot-stomping music in Regin-jarl’s mead hall… even if her presence is dependent on the memories of a banished angel.

Her vicarious entry to the past begins when, curious about the local offshore windfarm, she ventures down to Yalesham seafront.

“We buried Skimaskall there,” an unlikely-looking youth says.
“And Skimaskall is?”
“A dragon.”
“And you are…?”
“I’m Raesan, an angel… an elf… an Asar. And you are illegal, Lady Nineve, child of Constance Oath-breaker.”

Raesan offers to take her back to 1086 to identify her grandpa before he can spawn more illegal semi-divines… and there she is, hooked on the quest.

Favourite Quote

“Toli fitzMa, clearly you’re unacquainted with the role of squire. Humbly to serve his knight.”

“Oh, I know that, Sir Guy. But what’s to humble me? Those four years between us? Na, let’s make a deal. Say, the higher you rise, the lower I’ll bow. Does that satisfy, Sir Guy?”

(from Learning to Fly by Crispina Kemp, page 49)

Review

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to beta read this story, and I must say that I loved it from the very beginning.  So, as you can imagine, I was very keen to write a review of it in the run-up to its release day.

Learning to Fly is a story set in the same world as the epic fantasy series The Spinner’s Game, by the same author. And, without a doubt, I loved this story as much as those. We have a quest, a journey of discovery, angels, dragons, mystery and suspense, action, romance, magic, monsters, knights, and plenty more besides…what else could you ask for?

Like The Spinner’s Game, Learning to Fly is full of things that I love, in general, but also things I enjoy reading about. So for me, this book is a perfect read.

The story is well-written, and the many threads, characters and locations are marvellously handled by the author. Like the stories that make up The Spinner’s Game, Learning to Fly is historical fantasy on an epic scale.  It is complex without being complicated, and full of rich world-building. We have, in effect, a story within a story in Learning to Fly, where Anglo-Saxon and Norman history of the eleventh century is brought into sharp focus in one timeline and we have a modern tale of personal discovery and empowerment in the other. 

I really liked Neve. She’s intelligent and sensible, and her story and journey is an interesting and engaging one. Neve’s a main character I can really get behind and root for.  She won’t believe the things she’s told unless she can verify them from a reputable source, yet she can’t help but feel the pull of magic and possibility in the tales she hears, which is perfectly understandable and makes her relatable.

Apart from Neve, my favourite character was Rat, but I also liked the interplay between Guy and Toli – just who is the master and who is the squire? See my Favourite Quote above for a glimpse at the humour also to be found in the story. I liked that we got the opportunity to be briefly reacquainted with some old friends from The Spinner’s Game as well as get to better understand the person Raesen has become.

I really enjoyed the historical aspects of the story.  The descriptions of people and places really brought the story to life and I could imagine each location with ease. And, the fantastical elements of the story blended in very well with the rest of the story to create a seamless narrative that kept me hooked until the very end.

If you like your historical fantasy on an epic scale, I can’t recommend this (as well as the five books of The Spinner’s Game) highly enough.

Find it on Amazon, where it will be released 1st April 2021.

Rating

ARC Book Review: The Spinner’s Child by Crispina Kemp

The Spinner’s Child is the first book in the soon-to-be-released series The Spinner’s Game by Crispina Kemp.

My thanks to Crispina Kemp for the ARC of this book in return for an honest review. The Spinner’s Child, and the rest of The Spinner’s Game, will be available from 21st March 2020 from Amazon, and is currently available for pre-order.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

The Spinner’s Child is a fantastic, enchanting read. Wonderfully written, it’s a highly imaginative historical fantasy, filled with engaging characters, captivating locations and a gripping storyline. Recommended! 5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Spliced with dark material, sprinkled with the mystical. Join Kerrid’s journey through the timeless first days… and into the Spinner’s Web

Cursed, friendless and shunned, fraudulent seer Kerrid, born of a fisher-hunter clan, holds two beliefs. That in her psychic abilities and exuded light she is unique, and as Voice of the Lady she’s exempt from an arranged marriage. Both convictions are shattered when nine boats arrive from the east carrying the ancient Chief Uissinir who wants her for his wife, and five of his sons who emit lights and share tricks like her own. Forced to make an unwise judgement, a trail of death follows.

Questions plague her. Why does she dream of babies dying? Why does a voice in her head taunt her: Suffer the loss, suffer the pain? And what is she that no matter how lethal the wound, she does not die?

What is she to kill with a thought?

Favourite Quote

She prayed to the Lady of the Hills, to her sons and First Woman too, She prayed for deliverance from the end envisaged by Breathman Bargli. Any decision, please; any doom other than eaten by cats.

(From The Spinner’s Child by Crispina Kemp, Chapter 3)

Review

I was lucky enough to beta-read this book (the whole series, in fact) and instantly fell in love with the characters, the story and the setting.  So, naturally, I was keen to read and review the ARC when given the opportunity to do so.

The Spinner’s Child is the first instalment in a five book historical fantasy series. Highly imaginative and epic in every sense, it tells the story of Kerrid.  This first book covers her childhood through to the first years of her becoming a woman.

Kerrid is a wonderful main character.  I connected to her very quickly, and at times, was brought to tears by things that go on around her.  My! Things are not easy for her. Her relationships, even to her mother and father, are never straightforward.  As her journey of self-discovery progresses, she is faced with ever more complex issues and her fate isn’t often in her own hands.

Then there are the questions to which she must find the answers.  Who is she? What is she? Why is she different?  It is this search for answers that motivates her, even when things seem bleak, showing a strength of character I greatly admire.

Other characters I liked were Sarat – of course!  I can see how his crafting abilities must have seemed like magic to those uninitiated in their process and his interactions with Kerrid were sweet. There was also Breathman Bargli…a wise and sensible man with such a kind heart.

The world-building is fantastic.  You can clearly see where the author has researched meticulously.  The knowledge and descriptions of cultures and societies, settlements, handicrafts and textiles are rich and detailed, but there is no overloading of information.  The language and terminology adds an extra layer of authenticity and helps to bring this vibrant setting to life.

However, it is the mythologies and spirituality, but especially the “feast fables” that captivated me the most. These stories within the story are really interesting, and harken back to a time when lore and explanations of what was, what is and what will be, were to be found in easily recognisable tales, ones that were simple to recall and to repeat. These are the first stories and those that told them, the first storytellers.

The author has a striking writing style, which I enjoyed.  The story is superbly crafted and perfectly paced, and I must mention the book cover: it captures the essence of the tale perfectly. And, a note on the formatting: the book is nicely laid out, includes a beautiful map of the area in which the story is set, and there are lovely graphics to be found on the title pages. Ebooks can often look plain and functional compared to print books, their only nod to aesthetics being drop caps at the beginning of chapters, so in comparison, this comes across as beautifully presented.

All-in-all, a splendid, enchanting read.  The second book in the series is Lake of Dreams, and I’m very much looking forward to reading it.  Highly recommended, especially to those who enjoy historical fantasy.

Rating

Oathbreaker

If you have a moment, please have a read of my latest novel.  It’s currently available to read for free via Wattpad…Click the book cover below for the link…Thank you so much for your support ♥

~ Oathbreaker is now available to read in full on Wattpad ~

Longlisted for The Wattys 2018

Summary

Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…

A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.

An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…

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Oathbreaker is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady, and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…

If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…