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Outlander (Cross Stitch) by Diana Gabaldon : An Audiobook Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Blurb: What if your future lay in the past?

1946, and Claire Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband Frank. It’s a second honeymoon, a chance to re-establish their loving marriage. But one afternoon, Claire walks through a circle of standing stones and vanishes into 1743, where the first person she meets is a British army officer – her husband’s six-times great-grandfather.

Unfortunately, Black Jack Randall is not the man his descendant is, and while trying to escape him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Scottish outlaws, and finds herself a Sassenach – an outlander – in danger from both Jacobites and Redcoats.

Marooned amid danger, passion and violence, her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

My thoughts: This is the first audiobook I’ve ever reviewed. However, it hasn’t been the first audiobook I’ve ever listened too, though it’s the only one I’ve ever been able to finish. I’ll tell you why…

I’ll start with the good bits. The narrator, Davina Porter, has a voice made for storytelling. It keeps you awake, engaged and wanting more. I really can’t fault her in anyway. She puts so much personality and emotion into every sentence and she does a fantastic job with accent’s as well as both male and female voices.

The story of Outlander in general is one I am familiar with thanks to the sensational TV series of the same name. I absolutely love the tv series but I have got to say that I loved the story just as much. I don’t want to compare the tv series with the book but as you would expect, there is a lot more detail in the books that they just can’t get into the series (though they still did a bloody good job!). The relationship between Frank and Claire seems much stronger in the book and the relationship between Jamie and Claire seems deeper.

Now to the bad bits. Well, there aren’t many. First off, I felt like the book should have ended when *SPOILER ALERT* they arrived in France. That’s it, stop the story right there! But it didn’t and it just carried on… and on… and on… and I’ve got to tell you, those last chapters when they are in France bored the living outlander out of me! I completely switched off. Now I can’t remember if they were in the tv series (I definitely need a rewatch), but I don’t recall anything as boring as that.
Finally, and I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really think of this until I read a few reviews of the book myself, but I completely agree with the reviewer (I can’t find the review now but will name them if I do)… Claire just seems to happy and content being in the past. It doesn’t even come up that she’s even remotely thinking about going back to the future half the time, and she just seems accepting of the life she now has. She doesn’t really complain about their lifestyle, the lack of electricity, she just gets on with it. Now if that was me, I would be freaking out… apart from when I’m in the arms of Jamie but that’s not the point. She just seems to accepting that she fell through some rocks into the past. It doesn’t sit right with me.

What do you all think? I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Thank you for reading 🙂

Happy Book Release : The Hellbeast’s Claim by Stephanie Hudson

Happy Book Release! I bet it is a wonderful feeling releasing a new book when you are an author *sighs in dream*.

Hellbeast’s claim is the fourth book in the Hellbeast series by bestselling paranormal author Stephanie Hudson.

Get your copy here now!

If you haven’t read the 1st one then here is the link!

Happy Book Release : Arianne the Mistress by Wendy L Anderson

First of all, I would like to say HAPPY BOOK RELEASE! I can only imagine what it must feel like. As promised to all you amazing readers, here are the links to purchase Arianne the Mistress :

This is the UK site. The book is available to buy on Kindle for 0.86p, as paperback for £13.82, and is also available on kindle unlimited: click here for the link.

This is the US site. The book is available on kindle for $0.99, as paperback for $15.95, and is also available on kindle unlimited: click here for the link.

Arianne the Mistress by Wendy L Anderson : A Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Arianne will stop at nothing to escape life as a prostitute, even committing murder.

She’s not just the Mistress of the Maiden’s Bower brothel, but a temptress and an alchemist. Arianne creates a euphoric and addictive elixir that she uses to give pleasure or bring death. Her seductive powers are legendary, and everyone wants a piece of the beautiful, Arianne.

Lord Elkan Torrent, her regular client at the brothel, has secrets of his own. Forced to reveal what is best left unknown, he has to leave her and travel his fated path. Arianne quickly learns not everything is revealed and the truth is not always as it seems.

Running from the life she hates; Arianne avoids prosecution for her crimes and travels far across the sea to seek forgiveness for breaking Lord Torrent’s trust and spurning his love. There were rules she broke, battles she lost, and triumph in surrender.

Blind hope drives Arianne to find out the truth as she faces the uncertainty of love while he battles for his life in a never-ending war. How far will she go to assuage a broken heart? As far as the legendary land of Everclearing.

Arianne the Mistress finds out if trust can be regained, love revived, and redemption won.

My thoughts: Arianne the Mistress is the second book in the Legends of Everclearing series by Wendy L Anderson. I have been lucky enough to read all of Anderson’s work and have yet to be dissapointed. Or so I thought until I read this book in that I was dissapointed that it ended! THE STORY WAS INCREDIBLE! Honestly, I do not know how she does it.

Straight away you are introduced to the main character(s) and some absolutely fantastic secondary characters. They are described well, have their own personality and develop throughout the story. They are so real that you can’t help but love them. You feel what they feel, you worry for them and care for them, hoping and praying that their journey is safe and free of trouble. I love that the character’s arent completely pure and right. They have made mistakes, just like all of us have in the past. The author really makes you think, ‘well what would I do in that situation?’, ‘Did she do the right thing?’ and it really makes you think and somewhat justify some actions that perhaps you wouldn’t normally.
There are some characters that are absolute *insert insult here*. But again, Anderson has the talent to produce these characters that you just can’t help but hate and then again, there are some characters that you think are *insert insult here* but completely surprise you.

What I really enjoyed about this story is that it takes some unexpected twists and turns. It keeps you second guessing and at times youn end up having butterflies in your stomach, knots in your stomach, and even has you holding your breathin anticipation. There’s not much romance in this story compared to others by this author, but at the same time the whole story is fueled by love and romance. You’ll see what I mean when you read it 😉

Anderson has managed to explain the story of her first book in the series, Killian the Assassin, well within Arianne the Mistress which enables both new and old readers to enjoy the story equally without missing new readers missing out on too much (though it is definitely still recommended that you read Killian the Assassin first – and you should. He’s a dream!).

It’s out tomorrow and all I can do is recommend you read it! Seriously! I’ll post the links tomorrow!

Thanks for reading, Lizards!

Book Drop : Arianne the Mistress by Wendy L Anderson

Ohhhhhhhhhh my gosh! I have been waiting for this book FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch but it has felt that way since I finished Killian the Assassin, Book 1 of The Legengs of Everclearing Series.

I have to say, Wendy L Anderson continues to surprise me. The first book I ever read of Wendy’s was A Cut Twice as Deep and WOW… seriously one of the best books I have ever read. Anderson’s work just keeps getting better and better and I really don’t know how it is possible.

I’m lucky enough to have an advanced copy of Arianne the Mistress so, I’m going to go and read this RIGHT NOW and will be back in the next day or two with an honest review!

Promotional Poster for Arianne the Mistress by Wendy L Anderson

Blurb:

Arianne will stop at nothing to escape life as a prostitute, even committing murder.

She’s not just the Mistress of the Maiden’s Bower brothel, but a temptress and an alchemist. Arianne creates a euphoric and addictive elixir that she uses to give pleasure or bring death. Her seductive powers are legendary, and everyone wants a piece of the beautiful, Arianne.

Lord Elkan Torrent, her regular client at the brothel, has secrets of his own. Forced to reveal what is best left unknown, he has to leave her and travel his fated path. Arianne quickly learns not everything is revealed and the truth is not always as it seems.

Running from the life she hates; Arianne avoids prosecution for her crimes and travels far across the sea to seek forgiveness for breaking Lord Torrent’s trust and spurning his love. There were rules she broke, battles she lost, and triumph in surrender.

Blind hope drives Arianne to find out the truth as she faces the uncertainty of love while he battles for his life in a never-ending war. How far will she go to assuage a broken heart? As far as the legendary land of Everclearing.

Arianne the Mistress finds out if trust can be regained, love revived, and redemption won.

The Distance Home by Paula Saunders : A Book Review

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Blurb:

A family saga set in the American West, about sibling rivalry, dark secrets, and a young girl’s struggle with freedom and artistic desire.

This moving debut novel is a profoundly American story. Set in a circa-1960s rural South Dakota–a hardscrabble place of cattle buyers, homegrown ballet studios, casual drug abuse, and unmitigated pressure to conform, all amid the great natural beauty of the region–the book portrays a loving but struggling young family in turmoil, and two siblings, Rene and Leon, who opt for different but equally extreme means of escaping the burdens of home. By turns funny and tragic, lyrical and terse, Paula Saunders’ debut examines the classic American questions: What is to become of the vulnerable in a culture of striving and power? And what is the effect of this striving and power on both those who dominate and those who are overrun? It is an affecting novel, in which the author’s compassionate narration allows us to sympathize, in turn, with everyone involved. 

My thoughts: I began reading this book back in March 2022. It had been sat on my book shelf for a while after receiving it in a ‘A Box of Stories’ subscription. It isn’t the usual type of book I would read but I read it nonetheless.

The story was gripping enough for me to continue turning the pages but once I had put the book down, it was very much forgotten about until I noticed it again. I also read a lot of books between March and September that caught my attention a lot more than this story.

In parts, The Distance Home was difficult to read as there was a lot of physical and emotional abuse mainly from the father towards one of his children, Leon. This abuse paves the way for Leons future which isn’t a good one. It’s a shame and I felt so sorry for him throughout and could completely understand why he turned out the way he was. As for the other characters, I did not click with any of them and so this made it difficult for me to feel any emotions towards them.

It also follows the other siblings Jayne and Rene, with Rene being more the centre of attention. The main storyline here besides their borderline traumatic upbringing is Leon and Rene learning ballet, with Rene eventually making dancing her career.

If you want to know how NOT to treat your wife and your children then this book is for you. It was captivating yet dull.

The Last Summer by Karen Swan : A Book Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Blurb: Wild-spirited Effie Gillies has lived all her life on the small island of St Kilda but when Lord Sholto, heir to the Earl of Dumfries, visits, the attraction between them is instant. For one glorious week she guides the handsome young visitor around the isle, falling in love for the first time – until a storm hits and her world falls apart.

My thoughts: First of all I need to give a spoiler warning here as I am just NOT going to be able to discuss this book without spoilers – sorry, not sorry.

The Last Summer is the first book of a three book series but is currently the only book released in the series. Set in the 1930’s, it follows a woman (age 17-18) by name of Effie Gillies, who has lived her entire life on the island of St Kilda, Scotland. Certain circumstances means that she does more of the ‘male’ jobs than the ‘female jobs’ which she is very much suited too and is very much part of her ‘wild’ personality.

Lord Sholto and his father arrive on the island and as you may guess, Sholto and Effie have an instant attraction and for a good chunk of the book you read about Effie guiding the Lord’s around her island home and the bond between Sholto and Effie growing. It really is a wonderful read and you can’t help but smile at their conversations and the spark between them – it’s most definitely a page turner.

In that day and age though, flirtatious specticles are not something that should be publicised, and so circumstances come to play in which Effie and Sholto are unable to see each other again. Sholto returns to the mainland while Effie has some shocking issues to deal with on her island.

As is historically correct, the St Kildan’s are evacuated from the island and sent to the mainland in which they are given new homes and new jobs. This part of the book really upset me due to the animal cruelty but 1) this is actually what happened and I think it is important for the reader to know this, and 2) the book I am writing involves animal cruelty so I can’t exactly say much can I.
Anyway, once they reach the mainland, Effie struggles to fit in. Lord Sholto’s father hands her a life line to a better life which she accepts and she moves to Dumfries to start a new job on the Lord’s grounds.

Her life there is completely different from St Kilda and from her very short time in the village they moved to on the mainland. She is not one of ‘them’ – the high class – but neither is she a servant and she finds it difficult being in the middle and never categorised into something clear.

Effie’s life becomes complicated as Lord Sholto plays hot and cold with her. I really liked Sholto on the island and I was so excited for Effie to meet him again, hoping for their romance to continue. I then hated Sholto and was hoping Effie would settle down with another possible love interest in the book but as the story continues, Sholto grows a pair and becomes the man he was on the island once again.

Once Effie left St Kilda, you find that she has left a secret behind. Throughout the book you only get little bits of this secret come into her mind so it takes the remainder of the book for the rest of the information to come out which definitely makes you want to read on. The only thing I absolutely hated, and this is why I deducted half a star from a book that had me hooked, lined and sinkered, was the cliffhanger at the end. It was such a cliffhanger that if you want to find out the rest of the story you have no choice but to get the next book. I prefer either a nice rounding off at the end of the book or a cliffhanger of not much importance to the story of book one, but something that may become important in book two.

I realise that usually my reviews aren’t telling the reader about the books story but more of what I thought about it. The thing is, I just feel that this book was so well written that I could actually go to anybody about this and explain exactly what the story was about instead of just my opinions. Though I suppose I should share my opinions too…

The overall story – Phenomenal. It had me completely hooked and I could NOT put it down.

The characters – you love the characters you are meant to love and you hate the characters you are meant to hate. The side characters are also developed well.

Anything else – The descriptions were magnificient. I feel like I have been to St Kilda and to be honest, the book has made me want to visit. The fact that the author did so much research on not only St Kilda but the people of St Kilda (even giving the characters the surnames of the last people to live in St Kilda) was just fantastic. The historical accuracy too was just commendable.

I will most definitely be reading the next book when it comes out next year, not because of the cliffhanger but because the author wrote an absolutely cracking story that I want to continue to be a part of.

Thanks for reading, Lizards!

xXx

Rise of the Catalyst by Honor Raconteur : A Book Review

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Blurb: One ancient mask with earth-bending powers searching for a bearer.

One magical retrieval expert who is determined to seal it back in its tomb.

At the moment, both are failing at their goals, but Arwen is not about to be bested. So what if she doesn’t know what culture it’s from or where to put it back. She’s smarter than a semi-sentient mask. Hopefully.

But if the thrice-cursed mask breaks out of her seal one more time, she’s melting it with prejudice, magical backlash be damned.

My thoughts: I was asked to give an honest review of this book so here goes…

I started reading this book on 22nd June 2022 and I finally managed to finish it on the 28th August 2022. Granted, I am a busy bee but it took a 4 hour train journey with nothing else to do to force me to finish it.

I honestly can’t remember what time period the story is set in as it says at the beginning of the book and it has been a couple of months since then. I think it was Victorian times – the industrial revolution had begun and there were cars, carriages and steam trains. The women dressed in corsets and dresses and were seen as 2nd to men. Also, how the characters spoke to each other just seemed far to modern and didn’t fit in with the set period. The characters discuss Imposter Syndrome in passing and this wasn’t actually described by psycholigists until 1978.

Nothing much happened in the story. I was waiting for some action but very little came. It was basically woman gets magical artefact that won’t behave for her. Woman and her friends take it back to where it belongs. Inbetween all that all you seem to get is chatting, building a box to keep the artefact in, chatting to somebody interested in the mask, building another box for the artefact, all while travelling to put the mask back where it lives. I just needed and wanted more.

I also got a steampunk vibe from the cover which I’m down for… I love steampunk but there was no steampunk in the book.

I feel like I’ve slated this book after re-reading my review and I hate doing that. It did have good concepts such as the main character being blind so a lot of the description was how something sounded, or felt or smelled rather than what she saw. Apart from that I just struggled.

Sorry.

Thanks for reading Lizards!

Meat by Dane Cobain : A Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blurb:

Veterinarian Tom Copeland takes a job at a factory farm called Sunnyvale after a scandal at his suburban practice. His job is to keep the animals alive for long enough to get them to slaughter.

But there are rumours of a strange creature living beneath the complex, accidents waiting to happen on brutal production lines and the threat of zoonotic disease from the pigs, sheep, cows, chickens and fish that the complex houses.

Suddenly, disaster rocks Sunnyvale and cleaners, butchers, security guards and clerical staff alike must come together under the ruthless leadership of CEO John MacDonald. Together, they’ll learn what happens when there’s a sudden change to the food chain.

My thoughts: First of all, can we just appreciate the name of the Author for just a moment. Dane Cobain. Dane. Cobain. What an incredible name, eh?! Anyway, now we’ve agreed that Dane Cobain has got the coolest name ever, let’s get down to business.

Let me tell you about this book I read. A book that I could not put down. A book that has frightened me to my very core, made me never want to eat meat again (not like I was a big meat eater anyway), and made me very wary of farm animals and large groups of birds (yes, I was already scared of chickens… even more so now).

I’m going to start with the cover. Something I don’t often talk about in my reviews unless they really captivate me or dissuade me from reading the book. It’s good news – I love the cover. I think it is really captivating. The title is perfect for this book too. One thing I did dislike about this cover, and which could potentially put people off buying it, is the sheep on the back of the cover. It looks like it is in a lot of pain and has lots of wounds all over it. I understand why it is there but it is slightly distressing.

Jumping into the book now and you are introduced to Tom Copeland, the new Veterinarian at a farm factory called Sunnyvale, which, as I’m a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, I kept on reading as Sunnydale. Sunnyvale is horrid and the author does a good job of letting you know this. It houses far too many animals in unsanitary, cruel conditions which, eventually leads to a disease outbreak. Cobain explained this in so much detail with it all being part of the story so it didn’t come across as a lecture or anything like that. I love that Cobain has done his research into disease outbreaks and factory farms making this story very believable and something that could actually happen.

Throughout the story you are introduced to quite a lot of characters but Cobain has managed to describe each person so well and give them all their own personality that there is no difficulty in remembering who is who. My favourite secondary character was Jill Macdonald. I felt so sorry for her at times but I loved her character development throughout.

As the story progresses, the disease spreads and causes the animals to escape at the same time as the army place the factory under quarantine. This means that the workers, specifically those that survived the initial stampede of diseased, man-eating animals to survive together in the admin building of the factory farm. Lots of things happen during this time, things I don’t want to ruin for you as you NEED to read this book but let me tell you, all you will want to do is read, read, read.

Now, those of you that know me know that my number one phobia is zombies and my nightmares were answered towards the end of this book when human zombies were introduced. Did I stay up all night absolutely petrified? Did I forget to breath while I read this book due to being overwhelmed by fear? Did I drop the book more than once because I was absolutely terrified? Yes, yes and you guessed it, yes again! But that’s what a talented author does. A talented author brings out your emotions and they make you think about the book after you’ve finished it. There work should stay with you, and I’m telling you now, ‘Meat’ will stay with me for a long time. I’m surrounded by cows and sheep where I live, I’m already looking at moving!

I really enjoyed Dane’s writing style though it’s not something I know how to explain. He just has a talent of making the story flow and seem realistic, and his metaphors are unique and *chefs kiss*. I did notice an error in the book but it didn’t stop me from enjoying it overall as it didn’t effect the story.

I would definitely recommend you all read this book. I mean seriously, it’s just incredible. I however will NOT be reading it ever again as it is most definitely etched into my sub-cranium as one of the scariest books I have and will EVER read.

Woah, that was a long ass review but I just wanted to get everything in!

‘Meat’ is available on Kindle Unlimited or to buy on Kindle for £2.49 here. It is also available on Paperback for £12.50 here.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving : A Book Review

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Blurb: Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher, came to Tarry Town in the glen of Sleepy Hollow to ply his trade in educating young minds. He was a gullible and excitable fellow, often so terrified by locals’ stories of ghosts that he would hurry through the woods on his way home, singing to keep from hysterics. Until late one night, he finds that maybe they’re not just stories. What is that dark, menacing figure riding behind him on a horse? And what does it have in its hands? And why wasn’t schoolteacher Crane ever seen in Sleepy Hollow again?

My thoughts : What the bloody hell was that all about?

Well, disappointed is an understatement. I think my 1st wrong move was watching the incredible movie starring Johnny Depp before reading this tripe.

This book is obviously the original but it’s terrible. If you take out the description about absolutely every single thing our lad Ichabod Crane sees, then you’d be left with about five pages. Those five pages would tell you the story, the most boring story ever.

Also, Ichabod got exactly what was coming to him. All he cares about is riches and wealth. He’s such a slime ball pushing his way into people’s lives but only those that are of any use to him. Yuk!

That’s all I have to say about that.