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

Favourite Books from 5 Years of Indie Only Month


For my first bookish-themed post for Indie Only Month 2019, I thought I would look back at some of my favourite reads from previous years.  I’ve been dedicating the month of July to indie authors and indie publishers since 2014, and from looking at the books listed below, the challenge has helped me to discover some great book series over the last five years…

Indie Only Month 2014

One of my favourite reads from Indie Only Month 2014 was Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland.  Self-published before attaining almost* every writers dream – getting discovered by a traditional publisher – this book introduced me to her work.

[* I say almost, because I’m aware there are plenty of indie authors out there who are not only happy remaining in control of their writer career, but who are also very success at it.]

You can read my review of Hollowland here.

Indie Only Month 2015

In 2015 I discovered Amber Lynn’s Avery Clavens series. For that year’s Indie Only Month, I read the first two books, Not In My Job Description and Just Another Day at the Office.  Here’s a quote from my review of Book 1:

The plot and subplots worked well and came together in spectacular fashion.

I remember bits and pieces from this series (most notably that, for some reason, I didn’t read the last book), but the quote above has persuaded me that it might be a good idea to go back and re-read it from beginning to end.

You can read my review of Not In My Job Description here, and Just Another Day At The Office here.

Indie Only Month 2016

It was during Indie Only Month 2016 that I read, reviewed and fell in love with the Earthen Witch books by Sarah Doughty, reading Just Breathe and Focus, and ensuring that the following Indie Only Month, I read the third book in the series, Listen.

You can read my review of Just Breathe here, and Focus here.

Indie Only Month 2017

2017’s challenge month introduced me to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s Myrtle Clover mysteries, one of my favourite cosy mystery series.  Each year since, I have read and reviewed – and thoroughly enjoyed – one book from the series for Indie Only Month – as well as more throughout the year.  I can’t get enough of them!

You can read my review of the first Myrtle Clover story I read, A Body In The Backyard, here.

Indie Only Month 2018

From last year’s list, two stories really stand out: Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Grant, which was a thoroughly entertaining read, and Winter Prey by T.M. Simmons, a paranormal mystery that once it got going, I struggled to put it down.

You can read my review of Not Famous in Hollywood here, and Winter Prey here.

Book Review: The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton

The Case of the Bygone Brother is the first book in the Alex O’Hara series by Diane Burton

Summary (from Goodreads)

After taking over O’Hara Palzetti, Confidential Investigations from her dad and his partner, Alex O’Hara’s bottom line has taken a plunge. So when a femme fatale offers her the case of a lifetime along with a huge advance, Alex sees her finances on a definite upswing. But someone doesn’t want her to find the long-lost brother. Complicating matters is the return of Alex’s old heartthrob, Nick Palzetti. Is he really there just to see her or does he have an ulterior motive? The Lake Michigan resort town of Fair Haven is abuzz with the news that O’Hara Palzetti are together again.

Favourite Quote

While my cheeks burned at the memory of that unwanted kiss, I silently cursed my fair Irish complexion.  Genetics betrayed me every time.  “Knuckle-dragger is right,” I said.  “I guess you didn’t stay long enough to see me deck him.”

Review

This is an entertaining little read; romance, suspense, humour, danger…it has everything an interesting cosy mystery needs.

I liked both Alex O’Hara and Nick Palzetti.  She’s determined to make it on her own and is a right little miss independent, while he just wants to protect her and keep her safe.  So, of course, this creates a great deal of tension between the main characters.

The pace felt a little off (too fast) towards the end but throughout the rest of the book, the story moved along at a good pace.  There were enough plot twists and turns to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  Fair Haven was the perfect setting for this story, with it’s small shops and people who know everyone else (and everyone else’s business).  There were a number of references, especially close to the beginning that were reminiscent of old-school detective novels, which I found charming.

The second book in the series is The Case of the Fabulous Fiance, which sounds just as entertaining as the first.

Rating

I read The Case of the Bygone Brother by Diane Burton via Wattpad

Book Review: Raining Men and Corpses by Anne. R. Tan

Raining Men and Corpses is the first book in the Raina Sun Mysteries by Anne R Tan.

Summary (from Smashwords)

When it rains, it pours … and this amateur sleuth may be in over her head.

Graduate student Raina Sun is trying to keep her head above water as the bills roll in when her dashing college adviser cons her out of several months of rent. Her quest to retrieve the money sets in motion a streak of even worse luck.

First, she stumbles on her advisor’s dead body and becomes a suspect in his murder. Next, the only man she’s ever loved reappears as the lead detective to the case. Raina’s having trouble interpreting his signals–does he want to reignite their passion, or just stay close to his prime suspect?

Her life careens further out of control when her grandma shows up at Raina’s postage-stamp-sized apartment, dragging a red suitcase and trouble of her own. As Raina summons her sleuthing skills, she discovers that when it comes to murder, there may be no place for an amateur.

Favourite Quote

Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the human embodiment of milk and cookies?

Review

What really caught my attention about this series were the fun covers and the light-hearted, murder-related names for the books. They looked and sounded entertaining; other titles include Gusty Lovers and Cadavers, Breezy Friends and Bodies, Barmy Darlings and Deaths, and Sunny Mates and Murders.  There was no way I was going to miss giving the first book in the series a try.  And of course, by this point I already had high hopes for this story…

What did I like about the book?  The main character, Raina, is from an Asian American background, which is very fresh and exciting, and rather unusual for cosy mysteries.  It was nice to read something so different.

What didn’t I like so much?  I found this book a little slow going, not because of the pace, but because I just couldn’t seem to get into it and when I did, it didn’t hold my attention for too long.  That being said, I was interested in finding out who murdered Holden (I had guessed who the culprit was), so carried on reading until the end.  I wasn’t really a big fan of many of the characters, the exception being Raina’s grandmother, Po Po.  She was fantastic.

Will I be reading the second book in the Raina Sun Mysteries, Gusty Lovers and Cadavers?  I’m not sure, although looking at its reviews on Goodreads, its average rating is higher than Raining Men and Corpses so I might succumb.  Have you read this book / series?  If so, what were your thoughts?

Rating

My rating: 2.5 / 5

 

I downloaded a copy of Raining Men and Corpses by Anne R Tan for FREE via Smashwords

What’s coming up at Sammi Loves Books…

As we move towards the end of June, the season of reading challenges approaches here at Sammi Loves Books. Yay!

July is Indie Only Month

August is Historical Fiction Month

And as always, I’m really excited! 🙂

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!

Novella Review: Vastian Lore by S.C. Gregory

vastian lore by s c gregory

This novella is packed full with as much action and plot as a full length novel, so as to not give too much of the story away, I thought I would give you the story description in the author’s own words rather than my own for a change, for fear of spoilers.


Sometimes taking the job means betraying family…

Turns out Norarl is fine with that, once he accepts that his whole life has been a lie.

His half-sister wants him dead.  His twin brother would only be too happy to help her succeed, but they also want more than just his murder.

Arius and Zadraal will do everything in their power to free an army whose sole purpose is to destroy all life not like their own.  The only problem?

To break the magical seal of the Gate of N’sumenel requires the sacrifice of an Earthbound Elemental.

The real test will be if Norarl cares enough about his new-found allies to fight alongside them?


The first thing I want to talk about is the cover.  I think the artwork looks amazing.  The style and colours work so well with the story and it makes you want to pick up the book and skim through the pages.

Next, the world the author has created is full of description and a level of depth that shows she knows this world inside out.  From the rules that govern magic and the creatures that are found in the story, to the knowledge of the religion and the world’s history, even the names of the characters, which are pronounceable (unlike some fantasy worlds where the author is trying to do something different and stand out), there is no question of consistency and continuity from the beginning of the story to the end.

What I liked most about the story was the banter and interaction between Norarl, Zaria, Leso and Orlan.  As a group, they worked really well together. Norarl is a very interesting character with a complex backstory and as I worked my way through the book, I couldn’t help but wonder how things were going to end.

The pace of the story is fast and fuelled with high energy action (and humour).  The story and the world it is set in certainly captures the imagination and the twists in the plot will keep you guessing at what will happen next.  And as for the end, it is intriguing and does a great job of setting the scene for what is to follow.

I would definitely read more by this author.  She has a flair for wordsmithery, as she has shown in her vivid descriptions.  If you like steampunk fantasy and story that you can sink your teeth into, I can’t recommend Vastian Lore highly enough.  It’s a great read that I read in one sitting simply because I couldn’t put it down.

I received a free signed copy of Vastian Lore by S.C. Gregory from a giveaway run on the author’s blog.  You can learn more about S.C. Gregory by visiting her blog, here.  You can purchase a copy of Vastian Lore, as a kindle book or a paperback via Amazon.