#TheWriteReads Blog Tour – The Beast and the Bethany by Jack Meggitt-Phillips

Genre: Children’s (age 9+)

Similar to: Somewhere between Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman – it very much reminded me of The Graveyard Book

Could be enjoyed by: Everyone – it’s one of those children’s or “middle grade” books that adults can enjoy too

Publication date: 1st October 2020

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Don’t feed the beast!

Eberneezer Tweezer is a somewhat suspiciously youthful 511 year old with a fabulously wealthy lifestyle. However, he harbours a dark secret… a dark, smelly, hungry secret… known as The Beast.

Feeding The Beast is an ever-more arduous task for Eberneezer. You see, The Beast has somewhat – shall we say – exotic tastes. From Wintlorian Purple-Breasted Parrots to medium sized statues of Winston Churchill, The Beast craves ever more esoteric items for his dinner. Unfortunately for Eberneezer, if he fails to provide these items he won’t be able to maintain his lavish lifestyle – or indeed, his life. So when The Beast asks for the ultimate in nouvelle cuisine… something small, loud and very much child-shaped, Eberneezer faces an extraordinarily difficult challenge…

The Beast and The Bethany is the most darkly delicious book I’ve read in a long time. Very much reminiscent of Roald Dahl or even Neil Gaiman, the book races along with a cast of flawed, utterly amoral characters who are immediately unlikeable and yet somehow still manage to have you rooting for them. Eberneezer is vain, shallow and violently selfish; Bethany is cruel, devious and downright mean. Eberneezer has lived for so long without any difficulties that he’s forgotten how to have empathy whereas Bethany is the kind of little girl who would feed you worms for a laugh. When they’re forced to work together to defeat the truly terrible Beast, it’s hardly plain sailing but it’s truly lovely to see such an odd pair learn from each other to build a friendship – and become marginally better people in the process.

I loved the writing in the book and the immediacy of the storyline – it was non-stop, fast-paced, other-hyphenated-adjectives action from start to finish. As an adult I raced through the novel in a couple of hours and I really liked all of the little jokes and ironies that wouldn’t quite be appreciated by children – a bit like the writing in The Simpsons. The book is quite dark in places but that made it even more likeable for me; after all, no-one wants to read a nice story that doesn’t juxtapose good with evil.

My proof copy only had a few illustrations but they were excellent and really added to the reading experience. Bethany looks like Wednesday Adams meets Jane Lane from Daria and in my head Eberneezer Tweezer looked like a Dickensian fop – somewhere between Jacob Rees-Mogg and Russell Brand (which may go some way to explaining his personality). I was really excited to hear that the film rights to the novel have already been sold (to Warner Bros!) so I can’t wait to see who is cast in screen adaptation (c’mon Jacob, it’ll be good for your likeability rating. Like when Ed Balls did Gangnam Style on Strictly).

I digress.

I would highly recommend this book to everyone – especially those after a bit of escapism from, well, all of the everything that’s going on right now and as a library volunteer I will be suggesting it to exasperated parents who “just want their 10 year old to read something… anything!”




Five “Don’t feed the beast!”s out of five.

Sweet, action packed, gruesomely hilarious FUN!


Please note that I read this free ARC in exchange for an honest review courtesy of The Write Reads Blog Tours. Thanks Dave!

Huge thanks also go to Jack Meggitt-Phillips and Isabelle Follath for creating The Beast and The Bethany and for letting me have a copy! It’s a good job I had a spare cage…

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Blog Tour – Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow Five Part One by R. J. Furness

Genre: YA Fantasy

Similar to: A little bit Golden Compass, serialised à la The Green Mile

Could be enjoyed by: People who like their fantasy in bite-size chunks

Publication date: 16th March 2019

Blurb (4)

Have you ever seen something you can’t explain? Did it vanish as fast as it appeared? Perhaps that thing you saw was lurking in the shadows, and you caught a glimpse of it before it went back into hiding. There’s a good chance, of course, that the thing you saw simply emerged from your imagination. Or maybe, just maybe, it didn’t… Sapphire Smyth is no stranger to rejection. When she was only a baby, her father abandoned her after her mother died. Since then, Sapphire has never felt like she belonged anywhere, or with anyone. To make things worse, her foster carers have now turned their back on her – on her eighteenth birthday. After living with them throughout her childhood, Sapphire has to find a new home. Is it any wonder she finds it hard to trust people? Abandoned by the people she called family, Sapphire is alone and searching for some meaning in her life. Except that meaning has already come looking for her. When she discovers mysterious creatures lurking in the shadows, Sapphire soon realises that her fate is unlike anything she had ever imagined.

Blurb (3)Now don’t get me wrong, I love a big epic fantasy novel. The Chronicles of Amber, The Lord of the Rings, The Wheel of Time; I’ve really enjoyed them all (actually, I’m only on book four of WoT… so perhaps let’s gloss over that one. Guys it is SO LONG)… Anyway, I adore getting stuck into a huge heavy tome that I struggle to fit into my handbag and gives me backache. So, I was a little concerned about reading a fantasy novella – how would they fit in all the world-building? Surely the first 100 pages of any fantasy book barely scratches the surface of the storyline? How on earth do you build a narrative arc – won’t it end just as I’m getting into it?

FEAR NOT READERS!!!

Sapphire Smyth and the Shadow Five worked reaaaaaalllly well as a serial. The writing was immediately engaging and fast paced. There was a good narrative arc – the book ended in a *ahem different place to the beginning, which meant that there were some nicely defined boundaries and a natural place to pause. Despite my reservations, I actually quite liked the short novella style – it was different, sure – but once I had got my head round the idea that the story was to be continued, it was much like mentally agreeing to read to the end of chapter four.

EXCEPT YOU CAN’T IGNORE YOUR OWN LIMITATIONS AND READ ON ANYWAY AAAARRRGGHH WHAT EVEN IS THIS

Unfortunately, I did find that the payoff for having such a direct, action filled plot was that the word building suffered a little. I struggled to visualise some elements and thought that in places more detail was needed. I also thought that there were certain parts where a slower build up/acceptance of what was going on would have worked better. For example, Sapphire seemed pretty accepting of certain situations – like her almost comically quick assertion that she was in a different realm – which I felt let the storyline down a little.

However, as a character I really liked Sapphire and her kick-ass persona. I thought that her and Ben’s relationship was great and I’m excited to see how it will develop. I loved the idea of the mythical daemon/patronus/familiar fox that kept appearing and the concept of terrifying shadow creatures was truly creepy.

The only thing I couldn’t get out of my head was the ending on the futuristic transport thing… I’ll just leave this GIF here…

 

Overall, I loved this little gem of a fantasy novella/part one of an epic. The pacing was super quick and engaging, the characters were awesome and the overall idea was really unusual and just the right amount of creepy. I would have preferred slightly more description and perhaps a slower pace in some areas but this was a minor criticism. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

 

Four “What the fox say?”s out of five.

Brilliant writing, an engaging storyline and a fantastic format make Part One of Sapphire Smyth… a winner for me. Can’t wait to read more!

Blurb (2)Author R. J. Furness has been passionate about great stories since he was able to read. At an early age, he would frequently create new characters, worlds and creatures then write crazy tales all about them. However, until now, he has always kept those ideas completely secret. After having a lifelong interest in animals, music and anything spawned from pure imagination, R.J.’s first loves are now his wife and children. Over time, he has also developed an overwhelming desire for mugs of tea and good biscuits to dunk. He lives in Southport, England, with his family, a dog and several fish, chickens and quails.


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of The Write Reads. Thanks Dave!

 

Blog Tour – The Gilded King by Josie Jaffrey

The Gilded King – Sovereign Book One

Genre: Paranormal romance

Similar to: Well, it’s a romance about gentle vampires… (DON’T SAY TWILIGHT!)

Could be enjoyed by: People who have read the prequel

Publication date: 25th June 2018

Firstly, I’d like to say thanks to Dave and everyone in The Write Reads gang for all of the love and support and for including me on this tour. It’s been AAAGGGEEESSS since I’ve published anything on here so being forced to post asked to participate in a blog tour has been a great way to get me back into the swing of things!

Synopsis…

In the Blue, the world’s last city, all is not well. Julia is stuck within its walls. She serves the nobility from a distance until she meets Lucas, a boy who believes in fairytales that Julia’s world can’t accommodate. The Blue is her prison, not her castle, and she’d escape into the trees if she didn’t know that contamination and death awaited humanity outside. But not everyone in the Blue is human, and not everyone can be contained. Beyond the city’s boundaries, in the wild forests of the Red, Cameron has precious little humanity left to lose. As he searches for a lost queen, he finds an enemy rising that he thought long dead. An enemy that the humans have forgotten how to fight. One way or another, the walls of the Blue are coming down. The only question is what side you’ll be on when they do.

My thoughts…

My initial reaction to this novel was “is this self published? Wow!” Now, I don’t mean to have a go at any of the excellent authors out there who have published their own amazing stories BUT The Gilded King feels… professional. It reads like it’s been edited by someone who isn’t a family friend. The narrative flowed well and I was soon hooked into the story. Most importantly… no typo’s.

Unfortunately, as I began to get deeper into the story, I started to get a little confused. I was expecting some kind of world building or backstory… anything to explain all the things going on like The Fall or the location of The Blue or the link between the vaccine, Silvers and the Weepers. However – nada. In fairness to the author, there is a prequel novella (which I haven’t read) which I guess would explain things in a bit more detail but as a stand alone novel I felt that there should have been more explanation. Plus, every time The Fall was mentioned I pictured this:

 

I quite liked all of the characters, even if Claudia was a bit wet and Cameron was often utterly clueless. There was some good, slow building m/m queer representation and I loved Felix – I think his character will really develop in book two. I liked Julia too and thought it was fantastic to have a self-described “plain” looking girl as the main heroine – what a refreshing change!

As far as the storyline went, I really got into the book and read it in only a couple of days. I have to say though, I did get a bit confused by the three different names for vampires, plus the elite vampire guard and I sometimes struggled to work out who the characters were and what side they were on.

Overall, I liked The Gilded King and now that I’ve got my head around the setting I think books two and three will be really interesting. The novel wasn’t without it’s faults but it was a good narrative  – I could just have done with reading the prequel novella beforehand!

Three and a half “they’re VAMPIRES???”s out of five.

Well written, exciting stuff from a genre that I don’t normally read. The scene is set nicely for book two!

 

*PSSSSSST The Gilded King is FREE right now on Kindle! Links here:

Amazon US and Amazon UK

 

About Josie Jaffrey…

I live in Oxford, UK, with my husband and two cats (Sparky and Gussie), who graciously permit human cohabitation in return for regular feeding and cuddles. The resulting cat fluff makes it difficult for me to wear black, which is largely why I gave up being a goth. Although the cats are definitely worth it, I still miss my old wardrobe.

 


Please note that I read this book for free in exchange for an honest review courtesy of The Write Reads. Thanks Dave!