#BlogTour #Review: Nightborn by Jessica Thorne @JessThorneBooks @Bookouture #Fantasy

Nightborn - Blog Tour

Today I have the pleasure of hosting a stop on the final day of the blog tour for book two in Jessica Thorne’s The Hollow King series, Nightborn. Yes it’s fantasy, yes it revolves around an epic romance, and yes it’s wonderfully good.

P.S.: It’s weird to be on a blog tour  when it feels like the world is on fire.

Nightborn-KindleTitle: Nightborn

Author: Jessica Thorne

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 26th 2020

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction

Themes: Romance, Rebellion, Tyranny, Magic


Like deep dark water, it pulls them down. The faint fire of magic within them flickers and dies. Their eyes turn black as night. They are nightborn now.

Grace Marchant has been many things: streetwise orphan, rebellious servant, and now beloved companion of Prince Bastien, heir to the throne of Larelwynn. But their sunlit happiness is not destined to last. The golden magic which brought them together in purest passion is threatened by strange and ancient forces. Innocent people are becoming nightborn – cruel, deadly, unrecognisable to their loved ones – and these two young lovers are the only ones with power enough to stop it.

In times of peace, striking a deal with their closest enemy would be unthinkable, but now their only hope is to ally with the neighbouring Valenti royal family: manipulative, cunning, and always with an eye on the Larelwynn throne. The partnership comes at a devastating price… if Grace wants to defeat the nightborn, she must watch Bastien marry a Valenti princess.

Grace knows she must make this heart-wrenching sacrifice for the good of the whole kingdom – but she also fears the magic in her veins, usually so warm and bright, is turning cold as deepest midnight. A beguiling darkness whispers to her from within. Is Grace herself becoming nightborn?

Time is running out. With Bastien promised to another, and a stony distance growing between them, will Grace find the source of the nightborn curse before every last soul is consumed by the darkness?

Combining sizzling romance, courtly intrigue, and heart-in-your-mouth action, this dark and addictive fantasy series is perfect for fans of Graceling and Emily R. King.

Purchase this book in Canada, the U.S.A., and the UK.

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I adored Mageborn, but Nightborn takes the The Hollow King series to a whole new level.  Picking up three months after Grace, Bastien, Danny, Misha, and Ellyn fled Rathlynn we step back into the story with a whole new set of problems brewing on top of the ones they left behind. Celeste is still wreaking havoc, Aurelie is still grasping for power, and Asher is scheming in the background and loyal to no-one but himself. But now they have to deal with the mageborn not only going hollow but turning dark, a Valenti queen trying to trap Bastien into a loveless political marriage, and strong tides of civil unrest from both the mageborn rebelling against their maltreatment and the oppressing class using events as excuse to commit genocide. Needless to say, the real world parallels were both difficult to digest given current events but also humbling and needed.

Though this book is considerably darker than Mageborn there is still plenty of beauty and joy to be found. The plot is an absolute roller-coaster with plenty of twists and turns, and the intense action is balanced out with moments of tenderness and exceptional loyalty. There’s a vast array of morally grey characters, and the chapters told from multiple POVs allow for deep character development.

As a result I ended up falling in love with Kurt – everything from his snark to his commitment to the community he lives in made him one of my favourites. I’m so glad he got to play a more prominent role in this book. My heart broke with the first nightborn he tried to help and swelled with pride at his leadership in the final chapters. But Grace, hands down, steals the show. She gets more complex with every page and doesn’t shy away from the tough decisions. The dedication she shows her friends is commendable, even when it’s not the easiest route. She’s still stubborn and headstrong, and I can’t stress how much appreciated that her fire never lessened even with romance in the picture.

Finally, I love magic systems and fantasy worlds, but what really strikes home is that the magic in Thorne’s world always comes at a cost. The mageborn have access to incredible power, but it comes with the knowledge that it can, and often does, kill them. This provides a subtle balance as the reasons and mechanisms for their oppression, and it really prompts some deep thinking once you get past the splendours of Rathlynn and Valenti. Now add in an ancient evil that seeks to reclaim that power for other purposes all together and you’ve got a recipe for some serious drama to kick off.

Altogether this is a fantastic read – it’s witty, fast paced, and chalk full of characters that are sure to capture your heart. If you like a little romance with your fantasy, and even a little social commentary on the side, then I highly recommend it.

Like the sound of this book? Buy it here.

About the Author

Jessica ThorneJessica Thorne saw Star Wars at an impressionable age and life was never the same. She’s loved fantasy, romance and science fiction ever since and spends her time looking for adventure – in the pages of her books.

Sometimes she is Ruth Frances Long and won the European Science Fiction Society Spirit of Dedication Award for Best Author of Children’s Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2015.

Author Social Media Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JessThorneBooks/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JessThorneBooks

Website: http://www.rflong.com/jessicathorne/

Buy link:


Many thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.




Books That Have Bite

woman biting gray nails in her mouth

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

From the title you might be thinking you’re in for a post about vampire or zombie books, because, you know… bites. Or maybe some seriously high impact action. If you’re after those deep dark recs, turn away. Instead, today’s post is about something entirely more stupid – Me!

Following an incident last night where I dropped a book on my face and cracked a tooth, and then had to spend the entire day dealing with dentists and insurance agents, it has been brought to my attention that I have suffered a disproportionally high number of book related injuries.

So, today I’m going share with you all the books that I’ve loved, and have left me with a little love-bite in return.

Let’s start with the oldest first, shall we? Good ‘ole National Geographic.

nat geo

I must have been about seven when I was first introduced to National Geographic as something other than a source for collage pictures. No, I did not miraculously discover that this was a delightful non-fiction jaunt to be read by flashlight. Rather, my older brother educated me in the fact that a firm stack of these bright yellow beauties can be wielded as a weapon during bouts of a peak sibling rivalry. Swung like a cudgel not only can they knock an opponent out, but they’ll leave a lovely zebra pattern of intense paper cuts when used with enough force.

Injury Acquired: 17 stitches and my first ever concussion.

Needless to say, my father discontinued the family subscription the following month. Also my brother was made to shred more than 200 issues one. page. at. a. time.

Fast forward a few years, and aside from having a bookshelf fall on me (I was 10, there’s no way I can remember all of the titles on that bad boy!), the next identifiable book related injury occurred at the age of 17. The culprit? A rather hefty edition of the OED.


Yes friends, I legit got my ass kicked by a dictionary.

How did this happen you ask? Well, I was 17, graduating high school, and had just been accepted into my first choice university. My grandmother called up and asked what I wanted for a grad gift. Being the mega nerd that I was (and still am) I asked for the biggest, baddest dictionary that I could get my hands on. After being derided as the most ridiculous child ever that didn’t know how to treat themselves, Grandma acquiesced… a kindness I would soon be regretting.

One month later my giftie arrived in the mail. I spotted the brown wrapped package on the table after school, and rushed to open in up. I did NOT consider that the 8.6lb behemoth hardback might have stressed the postal packaging. When I picked the parcel up the dictionary inside made a valiant fight for freedom, burst through a weak spot in the cardboard, and launched a full scale assault on my foot.

Injury Acquired: Two broken toes and some spectacular tendon damage that required four months of physio.

Given my luck with non-fiction you would think that I’d learn my lesson, right? Wrong! Fives years later I’m living in Lymington and am making regular trips into London to buy rare books. I stumble across a facsimile set of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britanica and I simply HAD to have it.

Again, I failed to consider the logistics of transportation…

The total weight of the three volumes is well over 15lbs. And this amount of weight in plastic shopping bags, when travelling on foot from Hyde Park to Waterloo station is absolutely asinine.

No matter how many times I told myself I was fine, reader, I was not fine. That thin, over-stretched plastic of the weighty shopping bag became an angry, cutty monster in about five minutes time. It dug into the soft fleshy pads on the inside of my fingers, and being the stubborn monster that I am, I quickly ended up with a hand that basically hated it’s life.

Injury Acquired: Several slipped tendon sheathes and bruising that lasted nearly two weeks. It was five days before I could fully extend my fingers again.

Okay, so we’re seeing here that non-fiction really isn’t my friend and that maybe transportation is a recurring issue. Did I learn anything on my third incident? Only time will tell.

Three years later I’m living in Edinburgh, which has some fabulous charity shops dedicated to rare books. And bookshops next to pubs = a recipe for bad decision making… especially when one spots a matching bindings, 48 volume set of the complete works of Sir Walter Scott.


Friends, I did not learn.

Or rather, those pints of cider I’d consumed at the pub not long before erased all learning that I may have acquired in my previous heavy book transporting experiences. So, 48 books, 4 cloth shopping bags, and 1.6 miles from Nicolson St. across the Meadows to Merchiston later I managed to outdo the damage incurred during encyclopaedia incident.

Injury acquired: Subluxation of both shoulders, slipped tendon sheathes on 3 fingers.

Word of warning: the aforementioned cider not only erases all logic (like, maybe hailing a taxi to assist with the endeavour), but it make you infinitely more stubborn and determined than normal. Even when you can FEEL that something is seriously wrong.

I am an idiot when it comes to books. Explaining this to my coach for the university trampoline team did not go well…

Finally, let’s talk about last night.

When I first received my pre-order (delivered by post, I’ve finally learned my lesson about self-transporting books) of Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff I ripped through it so fast that I thought it deserved a re-read just to make sure I didn’t miss anything important… at 1:00 AM, because I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t get this book off my mind.

Logic is clearly my strong suit.


Naturally, I fell asleep while reading. But when I fell asleep I was lying bed with said hardback held above my face, and when people sleep their limbs tend to go rather limp. Thus, an almost 500 page hardback came crashing down.

Into my mouth.

Cracking my tooth.

As in, last night I punched myself in the face with a book. And lost.

Injury Acquired: Cracked tooth and nerve damage.

Granted I had some underlying damage to the tooth already from a previous injury (a trampoline accident that involved a shattered cheek bone, broken nose, and my fourth concussion…), but my book baby sent the tooth’s status from compromised to catastrophe.

Three weeks from now I get to enjoy a root canal and crown because the tooth can’t be saved. My dentist, when he stopped laughing after hearing how my injury was acquired, suggested that I bring an audiobook to entertain me during the procedure.

With my luck my headphones are going to short out…

Have you ever been bitten by the books you love? Share your stories below!

#BlogTour #Review: People Like Us by Louise Fein @FeinLouise @HoZ_Books #fightfortheirlove

Fein_People Like Us_Blog Tour Poster 3Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for People Like Us by Louise Fein. If you’re a fan of gripping, emotional reads and have a penchant for WWII fiction that challenges your perceptions and makes you step into the shoes of complex characters, then this one might just be for you!

eiTitle: People Like Us.

Author: Louise Fein

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publication Date: May 7, 2020

Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII Fiction

Themes: WWII, Coming of Age, Family Dynamics, First Love, Religious Persecution


‘I nearly drowned, and Walter rescued me. That changes everything.’

Leipzig, 1930’s Germany.

Hetty Heinrich is a perfect German child. Her father is an SS officer, her brother in the Luftwaffe, herself a member of the BDM. She believes resolutely in her country, and the man who runs it.

Until Walter changes everything. Blond-haired, blue-eyed, perfect in every way Walter. The boy who saved her life. A Jew.

Anti-Semitism is growing by the day, and neighbours, friends and family members are turning on one another. As Hetty falls deeper in love with a man who is against all she has been taught, she begins to fight against her country, her family and herself. Hetty will risk have to risk everything to save Walter, even if it means sacrificing herself.


People like us is one of those books where there’s a huge benefit to reading the author’s note before diving into the text. As historical fiction, with inspiration drawn from real events, the note does wonders when it comes to clearly delineating the truth from the imagined, fact from fiction. I made the mistake of waiting before I read the note, and my initial impression of the first 10 chapters was that I had agreed to read something written by a sympathizer. Readers, let me be clear, this is not the case! Once I was aware that Fein sought to create a narrative that encapsulated the coming of age and the onset of critical thinking in a young woman who was raised indoctrinated into the Nazi ideology, this actually became a particularly enjoyable story. Watching Hetty grow up, grow aware of the lies, and grow rebellious, all of it urged along by the innocence of young love and human connection made for a deeply emotional reading experience.

It was discomforting at first to be reading from the perspective of someone with close ties to the SS and the Nazi party. The vast majority of the WWII fiction that I read is either from the perspective of survivors or resistance fighters, so stepping into Hetty’s shoes was a challenging experience as both her perspectives and experiences were so far from what I’ve come to expect. And as far as I’m concerned, this is a good thing.

Initially I found Hetty to be a rather spoiled and self-centred protagonist, at one point I even wrote in my notes ‘this girl is horrible.’ She makes some truly atrocious decisions that legitimately left me screaming WHY, though the sad reality is that her behaviour is exactly what was expected of upstanding citizens of the time. Thankfully, as her character develops it becomes clear that Hetty is, in fact, a good person who was just caught up in the rhetoric sweeping the nation. Every person she meets has a profound impact on her life – whether it’s the boy down the road that she seeks to protect, her friend Erna who challenges her assumptions and perceptions of the world, and even her father’s mistress who is both tearing their family apart and holding it together at the same time. Hetty ‘s personal journey is absolutely astounding, and I adored that at the end of it she occupied a glorious grey space that forced some serious introspection.

Walter too occupies some moral grey areas, though not nearly as shaded as his darling. He knowingly breaks the law, steals to feed his family, and becomes involved with a woman he doesn’t love as a means to exit the country before the war. But he is also the perfect person to challenge Hetty’s fervent belief in the Fuhrer. He is supposed to be the villain, according to everything Hetty has been raised to believe, but he is ultimately good. I really appreciated that he was a little bit older than her, and that he brought a lot of knowledge and lived experiences into their relationship. Without his intervention Hetty would still be living in a sheltered, idealistic world, blind to the realities of where the world was heading.

The contrast between the two sweethearts was exceptionally well done, and I was always on the edge of my seating wondering if they would get caught and what the repercussions would be. There was an ever-present sense of danger that mingled subtly with the realities of two teens falling in forbidden love. Everything about it felt so dang real!

I should note that I was thrown, though, buy the casual ways in which Hetty, a teenaged girl was talking about concentration camps as early as 1933. This prompted m to put down the book and take a short visit to some online newspaper archives, where I quickly discovered that these camps were indeed common knowledge and even the frequent subject of publications and speeches for many years before the onset of the war. And by golly, I do love it when not only does a book make me question pretty much everything, but also when I walk away from a work of fiction having learned something real.

If you’re looking for some WWII fiction from a different perspective and that will challenge you in a multitude of ways, give People Like Us a try! This character driven story will works it’s way under your skin and leave you wanting more.

About the Author

Author photo-2Louise Fein holds an MA in Creative Writing from St Mary’s University. Prior to studying for her master’s, she ran a commodity consultancy business following a career in banking and law. She lives in Surrey with her family. People Like Us is inspired by her family history, and by the alarming parallels she sees between the early 30s and today.

Follow her:

Twitter: @FeinLouise

Facebook: @LouiseFeinAuthor

Buy links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/39e2cLP

Waterstones: https://bit.ly/2KRRMYV

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2DcJEOA

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2OM1iy7

Follow Head of Zeus

Website: www.headofzeus.com

Twitter: @HoZ_Books

Facebook: @headofzeus

Instagram: @headofzeus

Many thanks to Victoria Joss at Head of Zeus for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.

Fein_People Like Us_Blog Tour Poster 1

Fein_People Like Us_Blog Tour Poster 2




#BlogTour: The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Bjorg AEgisdottir @OrendaBooks @GoldsboroBooks #TheCreakOnTheStairs

FINAL Creak on Stairs BT PosterToday I’m taking part in the blog tour for The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Borg Ægisdottir. If you’re a fan of gripping, emotional reads and have discovered the dark and nuanced wonders that are Icelandic Noir, then read on my friends, because this baby is absolutely fantastic!

Creak on the Stairs CoverTitle: The Creak on the Stairs

Author: Eva Bjorg Ægisdottir

Translator: Victoria Cribb

Publisher: Goldsboro Books, Orenda Books

Publication Date: May 28, 2020

Genre: Crime Fiction, Icelandic Noir

Themes: Murder, Grief, Small Communities


 The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents 

When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area. 

Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day… 

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it ’s too late. 


I’m going to jump right out of the gate and start off by saying that this book reads neither like a debut nor a translation. It is absolutely impeccable! The prose it gripping and lyrical, the pacing is spot on, and every page is steeped in the delectably dark style that has come to define Icelandic Noir. I have one word for you – Wowza!

I particularly enjoyed the complexity of the case – the mystery surrounding the woman in the water, the fear of approaching an influential family, and the steady deployment of timely twists. This isn’t a fast paced story by any means, but it has a slow burn intensity that will sneak up on you and consume you whole. It’s the kind of book where you start of off thinking you’ll read a chapter with breakfast on a Saturday and five hours later your dog is begging for it’s second walk and none of the laundry has gotten done.

Elma was an easy character to become invested in. She’s obviously hurting after the end of her relationship and has returned home to recover and regroup. The sadness at her loss and the discomfort of returning to a place that is no longer familiar or safe was so beautifully depicted that the empathy it evoked was almost instantaneous. Nothing is overdramatized, not even the tension between Elma and her sister, and as a result the subtle styling provides a soft entry point for some deep characterization.

I was immediately drawn in by the dual POV between Elma and the young girl from the past. The tension created between these scenes sets a chilling atmosphere steeped in mystery and deep emotion. On one had you have a child who has obviously suffered a series of traumas that will somehow affect the case being investigated, and on the other hand you have Elma who has returned to the small town she once so desperately sought to escape after the end of a serious relationship. Naturally Elma assumes that Akranes will be a quieter beat than Reykjavik, but she’s quickly thrown into a heavy case involving a murdered woman, a lying husband, and one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the area.

Without giving anything away, this review would not be complete without talking about the ending. Sure, the crime is wrapped up neat and tidy, but there are so many loose ends that it left me spitting fire. First I was fuming at the ending, and then I was cursing at the author when I realized that this was no mistake, but actually a subtle draw-you-in-to-the-series invitation for the novels to come. It’s so well done! Akranes might be a small town, but anyone who’s from one knowns, they’re not nearly as sleepy as we make them out to be. And whoa baby, I think Forbidden Iceland is going to be one of those series that I impatiently await every time a new title is released.

Would I recommend this book? Oh heck yes! It’s gritty, raw, and real in ways that hit uncomfortably close to home. I genuinely think Eva Bjorg Ægisdottir is one to watch. This is book is a fantastic start and I’m sure this series is only going to pick up steam and keep getting better and better!

About the Author

Eva Bjorg AEgisdottir Author PicBorn in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland. 

Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten. 

Many thanks to Anne Cater at Orenda Books for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.




#Blogtour #Promo: The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence @fictionpubteam @Mark__Lawrence #TheGirlAndTheStars

The Girl and the Stars BT Poster_ (005)[2]

Today I’m delighted to be hosting a Promo stop on the blog tour for Mark Lawrence’s latest fantasy novel The Girl and the Stars. Set in the same world as Red Sister this looks to be the cracking start to an incredible new series.

The Girl and the Stars Cover


East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrown. 

On the vastness of the ice there is no room for individuals. No one survives alone. 

To resist the cold, to endure the months of night when even the air itself begins to freeze, requires a special breed. Variation is dangerous, difference is fatal. And Yaz is different. 

Torn from her family, from the boy she thought she would spend her life with, Yaz has to carve a new path for herself in a world whose existence she never suspected. A world full of danger. 

Beneath the ice, Yaz will learn that Abeth is older and stranger than she had ever imagined. 

She will learn that her weaknesses are another kind of strength. And she will learn to challenge the cruel arithmetic of survival that has always governed her people. 

Only when it’s darkest can you see the stars. 

About the Author

Mark Lawrence Author picMark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Key and The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol. 

Many thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in the Blog Tour.