Book Review: City of Circles, by Jessica Richards (2017).


Blurb:Danu, in mourning for her parents after a disease ravages the circus she calls home, begins a high-wire act with Morrie, a charismatic hunchback who wants to marry her.

But her mother entrusted her with a mysterious locket that will lead her down a path Morrie cannot follow.

When the circus visits Danu’s birthplace, the magical city of Matryoshka, she goes in search of a stranger who may hold the answer to her past.

Will she and Morrie ever be reunited, or will something unexpected be waiting for her in the mysterious city?

City of Circles is a mysterious story which is written in a prose that I found difficult to read. I felt as though I spent more time in mystery than really knowing what was going on. The storyline seemed to jump around a lot and causes a lot of confusion. Honestly it wasn’t until probably ¾ through the novel before I put the pieces together in any sort of order that I could follow.

I did however enjoy the love story. Star crossed lovers, hopes of futures crushed and destroyed but perhaps a love that just isn’t meant to be. One never knows the future of such stories, they are yet to be written.

Overall I would have to say Jess Richards has authored a fairly good book in the City of Circles. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery and fantasy. I give this novel a rating of 5/10 stars.

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Book Review: Daughter of the Wolf by Victoria Whitworth (2016).

Blurb:

Daughter of the Wolf is set during the Dark Ages, in an England ruled by rival Kings. Among the lords who serve them is Rademer of Donmouth, the King’s Wolf, guardian of the estuary gateway to Northumbria.

When the King sends Rademer on a mission to Rome, Don mouth is left in the safekeeping of his only daughter, Elfrun, whose formidable grandmother wants her to take the veil, while treacherous Tilmon of Illingham covets her for his son.

This is the story of daughters in a man’s world. Wynn, determined to take over from her father, the smith. Saethryth, wilful daughter of the village steward, whose longing for passion will set of a tragic sequence of events. And Audi, whose merchant ventures father plies his trade up and down the coast, spying for the Danes.

Above all, it is the story of Elfrun of Donmouth, uncertain of her father’s fate, not knowing whom she can trust, or whom she can love.

This is a fantastic read. I found it difficult to follow at first, but after a few chapters I did find myself hooked! The author has done brilliantly with the characters, giving Elfrun much depth and showing the world that a woman can be just as formidable and strong as a man even whilst she is being kind and compassionate. The story of Elfrun and her new responsibilities is quite intrigueing and it is nice to follow her through and watch her grow up.

I was quite shocked at the twists and turns in the storyline, especially where Athulf is concerned. I didn’t expect him to behave the way he does and be as crafty. He hides things well and I wasn’t expecting this fantastic twist in the story. If really gave life to what is really happening to Elfrun and the people around her. Even Saethryth manages to make the reader feel sorry for her in the end, which with her personality and role in the story is quite hard to do.

The biggest shock of all is crated by Wynn. It isn’t noted until the end of the book, but it does make sense when everything is brought into the light with Fredegar the priest. It is quite a confronting passage to read, but it does tie a lot of the story together, which would otherwise be left feeling empty.

Overall this is a fantastic novel and I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in fantasy of the dark age era, as well as those who enjoy a good love story! I give this book a rating of 8.5/10 stars.

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Book Review: Darkrise by M. L Spencer (2018).

Darkrise is the third book in the Rhenwars Saga (not including the prequel), and has been an exciting and action packed read. The story of Darien and the Rhen is one that is full of emotional turmoil and the will to survive in a world that is in mortal peril. M. L. Spencer has proved a fantastic author and delivered readers a fantastic novel with many story lines less than completed. (Does this mean there is more?!)

The story continues with Malikar and the Rhen about to embark on war, with Darien Lauchlin in an emotional tornado trying to determine a way to destroy an ancient curse as well as save all of his people. Quin embarks on an adventure to top all adventures to try and stop the annihilation of the Mage race. With him he drags the heroic Naia and sacrifices himself in a variety of ways to attempt victory. Kyel hasn’t been forgotten either, and after reviving Merien he plays his own part in the sticky situations the mages have gotten themselves into. Some with chains, some without, and some with pledges of loyalty to just about everyone, including ancient gods and the like.

The story lines have been unique throughout the series, and once a reader begins the journey set by some pretty awesome characters its hard to put it down. I have personally enjoyed it every step of the way and tried hard to not give anything away in my review as it is a genuinely great read and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. However some of the story lines didn’t feel complete in this book, which could mean that another is on the way.

Overall, I believe M. L. Spencer to be a fantastic author who ‘s writing is evolving into something unique and entertaining with each novel written. Darkrise is the best novel yet. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy and has a little imagination, and I give it a rating of 9/10 stars.

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Book Review: The Land of Painted Caves by Jean. M. Auel (2010).

The sixth, and final book of the Earth’s Children series authored by Jean. M. Auel, tittled The Land of Painted Caves, has been an enthralling read, and one I won’t forget anytime soon. Not only did Ayla’s life change dramatically in becoming One Who Serve’s the Great Earth Mother, Ayla finds that her beliefs have been right all along. It is her, Ayla, that the Mother chooses to give the knowledge, that creates a change within the Cave’s of the Zelendoni people that leads reader to think nothing would ever be the same again. In this way, the book gives light to the way in which the first humans may have learnt and therefore evolved into the intellectual thinkers of today.

I feel that I have enjoyed this book more than the last few predecessors, which has something to do with the relaxed descriptions of vegetation. Without so much description the story of Ayla and Jondalar as well as their daughter Jonayla, really comes to the surface. Although there were many repetitions of the mothers song, although slightly varied in places, which replaced descriptions of fauna sighted in the near vicinity, this could be somewhat overlooked as the song itself is interesting and can be read a number of times before the novelty wears off.

In this novel, Ayla finds that she is often taken away from her family to perform her Zelendonii duties and studies, and unfortunately Jondalar looks elsewhere for someone to satisfy his sexual desires when she is busy. This leads to secrets and lies, and eventual confrontation that causes broken hearts and many, many falling tears. Luckily for both of them that old friends have come to visit at the Summer Meeting and give them a hand to sort out their relationship issues!

The most exciting part of the novel of course has to be what Ayla learns that the act of Pleasures and the conception of a child. For a long time Ayla had believed that a baby was started when a man puts his essence inside of a woman. It was nice to see that she is finally proved right.

Of course the animals Ayla has raised have large roles throughout the novel, with Whinney transporting The One Who Is First among those that Serve The Mother on a special pole drag, and Wolf protecting Ayla and being by her side when she needs him the most.

Overall, The Land of Painted Caves by Jean. M. Auel is a fantastic novel, as well as the entire series. There are some parts that I found tedious, but they do contribute to the story as a whole, and without them, the series would not be quite as unique and appealing. The story of how Ayla survives through some amazing situations and eventually finds a home, a mate, and starts a family is an incredible story on its own. The characters have each become forever etched in my mind and heart. The way the author puts so much depth in these characters giving them a unique and imaginative story that draws reader in quickly and hold them there until the very end. I recommend this novel to anyone who loves a genuine love story, or has interest in historical fantasy. I give this book a rating of 10/10 stars.

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Book Review: Shelter of Stone, by Jean. M. Auel (2002).

The fifth book of the Earth’s Children series has been exceptional. The story has been exciting and fascinating from beginning to end, and it seems that the author although continues to add the ongoing natural landscaping descriptions, it detracts less from the story as much as previous tittle’s. Perhaps its something that I as a reader have become accustomed to, but with the storyline being so unique and fabulous to read the whole nature descriptions can be easily overlooked.

Now that Ayla and Jondalar have finally reached the Ninth Cave of the Zelandoni and their final destination. They are finally home. It begins with a bit of a bumpy start, with members of the Cave not being as accepting of Ayla and her animals, and slowly become more difficult as Ayla’s history is divulged. Not everyone is as welcoming of the new ideas Ayla and Jondalar have returned home with, least of all Larimar and Brunkervile whom has a Clan heritage that he is obviously ashamed of.

Ayla and Jondalar also rejoice in the new addition to their strange “pack”, with the birth of their daughter, and a new foal birthed by Whinney. It seems that all of their dreams will finally come true. But to get to this point and beyond there seems to be many trials and tribulations to overcome. And of course one of the more imaginative parts of the book includes Ayla recognising unknown mystical abilities that rival her new families spiritual leader.

Overall, The Shelters of Stone, authored by Jean. M. Auel is an amazing novel which shares the story of a woman and man back in ancient times, when humans where still new to the earth, and how their society accepts the return of a son thought gone, possibly forever. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of imagination and likes historical fantasy. A good one for those who prefer non-fiction but would like to spice things up a bit! I give the book a rating of 10/10 stars.

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Book Review: The Plains of Passage, by Jean M Auel (1990).

Although I will always consider the story of Ayla as a classic, I do have to admit that some of the novel is difficult to digest, especially with description after description of flora and fauna that existed in the time and setting of ancient man. Unfortunately, repetitive explanations of the same plant or animal can become very tedious no matter how the detail is painstakingly written with such wonderful quality. It is needed, (maybe in a lesser degree), otherwise the story would fade into a trashy romance. Regrettably this, the third novel of the Earth’s Children’s series seems even more overwhelmingly in-depth in describing what could be seen around the two humans and their followers, maybe even more so than its predecessors. Thankfully, if one can persevere through this, there is an amazing story to be told.

Ayla and Jondalar continue travelling towards the lands of the Zelandonii, following the river paths. On this journey the pair visit the home of the Sharamudoi who had been the home of Thonalan’s wife (insert). It is this part of the story that really shined with warmth and love. The telling of Thonalan’s death and the shared grief make it possible for Jondalar to find some kind of peace with his brothers death. It is also touching in the way they are both accepted by the Sharamudoi people and offered a high ranking marriage and positions in the society. And why wouldn’t they offer such prestigious awards to such mystifying people. It seems that no matter where Ayla goes she is seen as some type of holy woman.

The relationship between animal and human is also quite amazing and another area of the story that really stuck out to me. Whinney, Racer and Wolf are amazing creatures in their own right, having beaten the odds and surviving when under normal circumstances death would have seemed inevitable. But the fact they are the first domesticated animals whom flow commands and perform tasks no other in the world has seen makes them even more incredible. It was amazing to read how Ayla is able to teach new behaviours in both human and animal so that these creatures may continue to travel and live with them within a community of people.

Overall I feel that the main plot of the novel is fabulous, and although the story does drag out at times, Jean M Auel has written an amazing story in the Earth’s Children’s series. This the third book, is relatively longer than previous instalments, though does cover much more ground also. It gives light to just how far Jondalar and his brother actually travelled before the lion attacked and then finally finding Ayla.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fiction and history and of adult age. I feel younger readers would lose sight of the story amongst the flora and fauna. I give the book a rating of 7/10 stars.

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Book Review: The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M Auel (1985).

The third book of the Earth’s Children series is another amazing adventure centring around one of the most intriguing characters that I have ever read about, Ayla. First being taken in by The Clan and learning to survive as one of them, to learning to live on her own before finally meeting someone of her, own race Ayla has exceeded all expectations. In this book, The Mammoth Hunters, she takes the next steps and meets with an entire community of people of her own race. This is an incredible feet for any woman of any day an age, but Ayla manages it with courage and grace and none of the detail is missed within these pages.

Jondalar and Ayla decide it would be good to go on a short journey to explore nearby areas not far from the cave. The last thing that they had expected was to discover there were people of the “Others”, especially so close. Met with friendly ardour, it isn’t long before Ayla is surrounded by an entire community much like the Clan of her childhood, and although the language was of a differing dialect, she is able to communicate and thus beginning another exciting new adventure with Mamatoui of the Lion Camp. The enormity of meeting many people at the same time for one such as Ayla must have seemed monumental, but she manages to make friends, and become one of them.

There is a lot of strangeness for Ayla, and these people have a lot to offer. But Ayla manages to prove her worth also, even giving Rydag, a child of mixed spirits, a way to communicate with the only people he has ever known. But this is only one of her many accomplishments. Another one of her feet’s is when, in complete “Ayla style”, she raises a young wolf cub orphaned by hunting. Wolf, becomes another animal to add to the menagerie of animals believed to be under her power as they watch them submit to her will.

Jondalar remains an integral part of Ayala’s life, but with the incorporation of more people it becomes apparent to her that he isn’t the only one able to stir feelings within her. The strange dark skinned man with laughing eyes beguiles her. But she also realised that her physical reaction doesn’t necessarily change her heart. It’s just a shame Jondalar doesn’t realise this earlier!

It is in this novel that Ayla realises that she will never see her son Durc again, no matter how she dreams it and her heart demands it. And she learns finally to let go, not ever forget but to find peace in the letting go. This another accomplishment that most modern day women wouldn’t be able to follow through.

The Mammoth Hunters is a fantastic novel, in which as with previous tittle’s, has had me pouring over the pages for hours nonstop. I would recommend this book again to anyone who enjoys history and fantasy mixed together. I give it a rating of 10/10 stars.

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