Book Review: The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden.

Hello readers!  The weekend is almost over (I hope you had a good one), and whilst that can be a bit of a bummer, a new week means new reading opportunities.  For this evenings blog post, I am reviewing The Girl in The Tower by Katherine Arden, the second in the Wintersong trilogy (for the review of the first instalment, The Bear and the Nightingale check out my previous post under the category ‘Book Review.’).  So what is the book about?  Let’s have a look at that trusty blurb:

arden review picFor a young woman in medieval Russia, the choices are stark: marriage or a life in a convent. Vasya will choose a third way: magic…

The court of the Grand Prince of Moscow is plagued by power struggles and rumours of unrest. Meanwhile bandits roam the countryside, burning the villages and kidnapping its daughters. Setting out to defeat the raiders, the Prince and his trusted companion come across a young man riding a magnificent horse.

Only Sasha, a priest with a warrior’s training, recognises this ‘boy’ as his younger sister, thought to be dead or a witch by her village. But when Vasya proves herself in battle, riding with remarkable skill and inexplicable power, Sasha realises he must keep her secret as she may be the only way to save the city from threats both human and fantastical…

I had high expectations of this book, because I adored the first one in the instalment, but this equalled it and more, seemingly without effort.  I am a huge fan of Arden’s style of writing, and she really brings the magic and peril to life.  When it gets to the big exciting moments, such as fight scenes, it honestly becomes difficult to pry yourself away from the book and I found myself drowsily reading in the small hours of the morning, swearing to myself that I would just read ‘one more chapter.’

Vasya, the main character, develops and grows further with this instalment, and I now feel as if I know her.  She has flaws and weaknesses like all of us, of course, but she refuses to shy from these, instead constantly trying to learn from her mistakes.  I love fantasy fiction, but I find that many of the books fall into the same tropes, particularly when it comes to the lovey dovey stuff.  Not so here.  The love story running throughout both books, grows with intensity in this instalment, and I genuinely cannot wait to see how it ends for Vasya and her Winter King.

The rich folklore, and Russian culture create the most fantastical back drop to what is essentially an adventure story, featuring one badass, independent young woman who refuses to play the role society has planned for her.  Quite frankly, I cannot recommend this enough…buy immediately.

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Collaborative Short Story: Onions and Fairy Folk.

Happy Hump Day everyone!  For this blog post, I have had the honour of collaborating with the incredibly talented Mark David Tari, aka FortFrolicArt on Instagram.  I came across his page on Instagram quite by chance, and was immediately drawn to his otherworldly images.  David is  a nineteen year old graphic design student from Hungary.  He has been painting and creating art since his childhood, and began editing a few years ago.  He gets a lot of inspiration from Fantasy tales, particularly The Lord of the Rings and the Bio shock series.  For this piece, I created a short story inspired by his style and body of work, and he in turn created an image inspired by my short story.  If you like his work as much as I do, head over and follow him on Instagram, and if you are an artist who would like to collaborate with me, get in touch.  In the meantime, happy reading…

Onions and Fairy Folk image

Onions and Fairy Folk

The world is like an onion, well that’s how I like to think of it anyway.  It’s built up of layers you see, layer after layer of lives and creatures and worlds within worlds…plus it stinks and it makes you cry, but that’s for another day.  Today, we discuss the layers.  I can see them all you see and move between them.  I was little when I first realised it, maybe four or five, and my mum asked me who I was talking to.  “Them.” I pointed to the space occupied by a small grey creature with two heads having an argument with itself over one of my toys. I wasn’t aware at such a young age, that Dimions, for that’s what the creature was, are in fact spoken about in the singular not plural, but I was only little, so my ignorance can be excused. “There’s no one there sweetie.” I was perplexed.  Of course, there was, I could see it with my own two eyes, a tiny human with grey skin and silver wings and it’s two heads, with three black, oval shaped eyes on each, which blinked one after the other rather than in unison.  “Them, the fairies.”  I remember the look on her face, a mixture of bemusement and concern.

 I didn’t know then, that you shouldn’t tell people what you see.  If you reveal the true nature of the world to people, even if you simplify it, say with an onion analogy, they still look at you like you’re bat shit crazy.  At first, I talked to them, I played with them, I befriended them.  There is the Allgones, small and lilac with large lavender coloured wings speckled with gold.  They steal socks to sleep in, and for some reason, only ever steal one from each pair, leaving mankind scratching their heads over a pile of odd socks.  There is the Briglotts, bright pink in colour with rows and rows of tiny sharp teeth and little sharp claws.  They look like the grand prize at some terrifying fairground attraction, but in reality, they’re harmless.  They mostly eat fish and live inside hollow trees.  Then there are the Tragoys, my personal favourites.  They are dark, forest green with wings like magpie feathers. They live underground, eat earth worms and make marvellous pets.  I have one called Trillock.  That’s not her real name of course, I can’t speak her language, but that’s what it sounds like when she sneezes.  Trillock sleeps in my bed and gives me warm, earth scented cuddles in exchange for a healthy supply of worms from the local bait shop.

 Trillock also has another important function…she’s my guard Tragoy.  Not all of the beings which coexist with us do so peacefully.  Some feed on the misery of human kind, and so they manipulate the world from their layer, unseen but definitely sensed.  The worst are the Dragnauts, small, black shadow like creatures who move and snake together like a murmation of starlings. Whenever one is around, they cause whichever humans are nearby, to feel sad and lost.  They emanate sorrow like a gas, and feed of our tears.  We’ve all been there haven’t we?  Those moments when we feel down for no reason at all, blaming it on hormones or drink, but it’s them.  They have a cousin, whose name I have never found out, so I call them the Ragers for that’s what they do.  They cause sporadic anger in those nearby, bringing hate and bile to the surface before gorging themselves on the rage which follows.  They look like flames, they feel like steam.

I know what you’re thinking. You think I’m nuts, cuckoo, insane in the membrane.  There’s no such thing as fairies.  They were made up as a bed time story, or a cautionary tale for children.  They are myth and legend and fiction all rolled into one.  But they’re very much real.  Children can see them and dogs and cats can see them.  They try to tell us, by pointing at nothing or barking at thin air, but we never listen.  We have a habit, us humans, of ignoring the odd and unusual, of pretending it doesn’t exist until it goes away.  I suppose, people are like onions too, layers of complicated emotions and psychological issues, it’s a wonder we’ve survived as long as we have.

 Regardless of whether you believe me or not, the fairy folk exist.  They live in one of the many layers of our onion world, and they affect us and our onion lives, whether you believe they do or not.  So next time you can’t work out why you have so many odd socks or you feel sad or angry for no reason at all, you can tell them you don’t believe they’re there, and see how far that gets you.

Vellum Book Box: April’s Unboxing.

vellum 3Hey Readers, Happy Hump Day!  I hope your week is going well so far.  However bad work may be, remember you are officially half way to the weekend…HOORAY!!  What better way to celebrate than with a book subscription box unboxing?  This week, I was lucky enough to receive Vellum box’s April box, and this month’s theme is Obsessions, as in all of the things us book nerds are utterly obsessed with.  So sit back, and enjoy this unboxing, and if you love everything as much as me, use my discount code MARIE10 to get 10% off your first box…you can peruse their site by clicking here.

If you are unfamiliar with the Vellum box, this is a subscription box with a difference.  vellum 2Each box contains a bookish t-shirt, perfect for every book lover to wear to the library, along with a selection of other bookish goodies, all linked to that month’s theme.  As I said, this month’s theme is around our obsessions, like finding the perfect cup of tea or coffee to compliment your newest read, and what quote better encapsulates that than this one by C.S.Lewis?  This is honestly one of my favourite quotes, by one of my favourite authors (who happens to come from Belfast, like me by the way) and its presence on this super soft, V-neck Tee, as designed by Sketchy Notions, makes me super happy.  I am so in love!!  Talk about wearing your nerdy heart on your sleeve, or um, chest…

vellum 1But enough gushing about my (awesome) t-shirt…what else did I get I hear you ask?  Well this month’s box is certainly setting me up for some excellent future reading sessions.  Whether I am in the mood for coffee or tea, I am set, with  this Komorebi organic coffee blend from Revival Coffee Roasting Co. and ‘Dragon’s Blood’ tea from The Literary Tea Company.  But what is some Tea or Coffee without a bookish mug?  Well, it would be a messy puddle dripping from between our scolding fingers, and that’s just no good at all.  Enter this fabulous Narnia mug, designed by the incredibly talented Jo Painter.  She is definitely worth checking out- her illustrations are amazing.  But a mug, filled with a hot beverage can be a dangerous thing to any work surface…your coffee table would end up all rings and stains without the shielding power of a coaster, like this EPIC Harry Potter maple coaster as hand crafted by Havoly Designs.    I know I shouldn’t play favourites in a box of goodies this awesome, but I couldn’t help it…a tiny squeal escaped by lips when I saw this (Harry Potter fans will understand).  Finally, declare your obsession with chocolate and coffee with this adorable magnet illustrated by Juliana Perdomo.  It says, ‘I love days when my only problem is coffee or chocolate’ and it makes me smile every time I open the fridge!

As always, Vellum Box has exceeded my expectations…so I find myself typing this blog, while drinking Dragon’s blood tea from my Narnia mug, resting between sips on my Hogwarts coaster!

 

My Novel ‘Broken Mirrors’ Official Release!

My Novel ‘Broken Mirrors’ Official Release!

my book IG picHey everyone!  This blog post is a very special one, because it is not a review of someone else’s book, but information about my own!  That’s right, I wrote a novel and it has officially been released today Friday the 13th.  I wanted to thank all of my lovely followers, because your support has been so wonderful.  Putting yourself and your writing out there is a very scary thing, and you guys have been nothing but lovely every step of the way.  In fact, it was the support and encouragement from my followers here and on Instagram, that gave me the courage to put my book into the world, so thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I would really appreciate your continued support now, as my book goes on sale worldwide…if you could buy it, that would be amazing!  If you read it, even better, and if you review it, well ten gold stars for you!!  You are the bloggers and reviewers and social influencers, and your opinion means the world to me.  It has got great reviews so far from some of the people who received ARCS, so grab a copy now and let me know what you think!!  Buy your copy on Amazon now by clicking here!

About ‘Broken Mirrors’:

When Marie moves from Belfast to London, she envisions a fresh start and an escape book IG picfrom a broken home. Once there, she meets Malcolm Carter, a charming, handsome man who sweeps her off her feet and gives her a life she could only have imagined. But Malcolm isn’t all he seems; he’s a criminal, a mobster and a murderer. Detective Fraser Duncan knows what he is, and he’s determined to take him down, but things get more complex when a rival and brutal gang leader appears on the scene, setting his sights on Malcolm’s empire. When Marie chooses to stay with Malcolm, regardless of what he is and what he has done, she starts down a path from which she can never return, and now she has been taken, Detective Duncan and Malcolm must set their differences aside and join forces in a race against time to save the woman they love.

Broken Mirrors explores the fragility of our own sense of self and the moral code by which we live our lives and hold ourselves to account.