Book Review: The Girl from the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

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About the book

My thoughts

This is an adorable cute graphic novel about coming of age and coming out.

Morgan is going through a lot at home. She has a close knit group of friends she tends to hang out with.

Then she meets Keltie. Keltie isn’t any ordinary girl, she’s a Selkie. After sharing a kiss with Morgan, she can now walk on land.

Morgan isn’t ready to come out to her friends and family about having a girlfriend. Morgan tries to keep Keltie separate from them.

Keltie become Morgan’s secret, but we soon discover she’s not the only one with a secret. Katie needs her help and it involves her best friend.

This story had tons of ups and downs. There’s a great twist at the end I didn’t see coming. The story has a feel good vibe and will leave you feeling happy.

Read it for the beauty of a graphic novel, the sweet story of first love, and Selkie magic.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can buy this book from: TO EDIT BELOE

Amazon: The Girl From The Sea – a graphic novel about family, romance and first love https://amzn.eu/d/dveZDzi

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[Kofi]

Book Review: Our Crooked Heart by Melissa Albert

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

My thoughts

This story is told from two POVs. One is Ivy. Most of her story is in the present. The other is Dana. Her story flicks back and forth between the now (where she is mum to Ivy) and the past (when she was a teen discovering magic with her sister Fee, and a friend).

She is a teen that doesn’t get on with her mum. She sees strange things like a weird girl, a dead rabbit left in-front of their house, and her mum burying a box. Ivy uncovers secrets and is angry when she remembers that her mum and aunty used magic on her. Not only that, but a terrible dark secret from their (mum & aunty) past.

I didn’t connect as much to Dana’s story. It might have been the jumping back and forth or that I didn’t like her as much. Dana in the now seems over protective of Ivy, and they clash. Dana and Fee are keeping secrets from Ivy about their past. Teenage Dana was more fun to read. She, Fee, and friend Marion get into magic. Things go wrong and they banish Marion away for safety. Of course she’s trying to get back.

I listened to this as an audio book. There were parts I raced through as I was excited, and other parts where I took long breaks because I got frustrated by all the secrets and how long it was taking. Most of the magic is in flashbacks. As I didn’t like one of the POVs as much it meant I struggled through half the chapters. There was some great descriptions and I wonder if I’d enjoyed this more if I’d physically read it instead of listened.

Read it for the secrets and dark twisted witchcraft.

⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can buy this book from:

Amazon: Our Crooked Hearts https://amzn.eu/d/cGcUaq6

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[Kofi]

Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

The Toll blurb

My thoughts

This was an incredible read. I’d no idea what to expect but it was better than anything I could imagine. It is violent and bloody, but the story explores our morals.

Set in the future, death is no longer a problem. If you were to become deadish, you can be revived. To restore the balance a group called Scythes take on the sacred duty of gleaming (killing) life. They have quotas and rules to follow.

Teenagers Roman and Citra both (on seperate occasions) meet Scythe Faraday on a gleaming job. Their interactions with him stand out and he makes them his apprentice. Never before has a Scythe taken on two apprentices and there’s no rule against it. Still, it causes uproar and an edict is agreed that when one of them passes their apprenticeship, their first task will be to kill the other.

Scythe Faraday blames himself for putting Citra & Rowan in this position. He gleams himself to free them from the apprenticeship, but instead two other Scythes step forward to train them.

Rowan is taken on by Scythe Goddard who has a reputation for his blood lust, enjoying massacres to hit his quotas.

Citra is taken on by the famous Grande Madam of Death, Scythe Curie. She shows compassion to the family members of those gleamed.

Now the pair have very different apprenticeship experiences. Citra doesn’t believe Scythe Faraday’s death was an accident, and her inquisitive mind gets her in trouble.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s training involves parties and mass killings as Scythe Goddard tries to encourage him to find joy in kill craft. Goddard’s cruel methods push Rowan too far and he is no longer the boy he started out as.

The story continues to move toward the final conclave where they’ll both have to pass their last test. Passing the test will means one of them gets ordained and must kill the other. Despite all that has happened since Faraday, they still care deeply about each other. Both are plotting for a loop hole in the edict.

This was a brilliant story. There is a lot of death as they are Scythes, but the twists and surprises in the story is what makes you gasp and need to read another chapter!

Read it for a story full of twists and surprises, and to explore ideas of mortality and morals. Don’t read it if you don’t like blood, gore, or sensitive about death.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can buy this book from:

Amazon: The Toll (Arc of a Scythe) https://amzn.eu/d/eMwAIU2

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[Kofi]

2023 Second Quarter Check In

You can see the initial goals I set for 2023 by checking out my January post: https://allyaldridge.com/2023-goals/

I love doing these posts. I always feel like I’ve not done much, then I look back at the last three months and realise I have a lot to celebrate.

Publishing

Sky Heart: Book 2 in the Soul Heart Series

My editor had a health emergency that delayed her being able to return the Copy Edit. She is a Trooper, and once she was better and rested she still did it. She returned it on 4 June 2023.

I had an important event to prepare for in June, so didn’t really deep dive into my final edits until the end of the month, finishing it by 1 July 2023.

So, this technically falls into the Third Quatre of the year but I’m too excited to keep it to myself. Once I finished editing, I sent my manuscript to my Formatter to make it pretty. I then realised she needs front & back matter too, so I wrote this and sent it over by 3 July.

Due to the editing delays, I lost my Formatting slot but will get slotted in soon. Once back I’ll be able to look for ARC readers.

Seeing my publishing plan, I noticed I missed a step. Now trying to see if I Cassidy has time to proofread for me, because she’s got a good eye. When she ARC read Ocean Heart, she spotted some minor typos that got missed despite all the edits, and I was able to change those before it went on sale to the public. Fingers crossed she can help me again.

Summer Heart: Prequel of Soul Heart series

I added a little more. It’s not going to be 85k. I’ve no idea why I set that as the word count target! It’s currently at 36.5k words, and some of that is notes. It is nearing the end of the story, so it’s not going to get much longer.

  • A YA Low Fantasy prequel from The Soul Heart series. Set in the early 00s, a summer romance turns into a teen pregnancy. With a fortune telling meddling witch, Denny moves to Felixstowe believing she’s doing the right thing for her baby.

Dark Heart: Another Soul Heart spin off/sequel

I’ve had this story bubbling in my head for a few years. I tried to write it before but got too scared. This time it felt less scary, and the words poured out of me. This story is at 21k words and almost finished. It will be another novella.

  • A YA LGBTQ Fantasy spin off from The Soul Heart series. It was supposed to be a horror inspired by slender man myths and Orochimaru from Naruto, but it’s turned into a coming out story, and not as dark as I expected. It’s been fun to write.

Public Appearances: I attended both my author events.

May: Herts Book Festival

This was so much fun. I sold books. I took part on a Fantasy panel with other fantasy authors, and I met and made author friends.

June: Felixstowe Book Festival.

I have wanted to be part of this event for a long time! I was part of the Children’s events. My event was called Let’s Talk Fantasy, and it was me and a local avid reader. It created a great dynamic. Afterwards, I sold and signed some books, and enjoyed more of the festivals events.

I forgot to take pictures and videos, until after the event. I only got a photo of my signing table, and fortunately Phoebe’s mum took some pictures she was willing to let me use on Social Media.

Aug: Booked to attend Legends Comic Con on 6 Aug 2023

I have updated my website’s Events page with details. I will be three with three other local authors I have gotten to know via Instagram, including Rachel Churcher who had the stall next to me at Herts Book Festival.

Reading

12 out of 18 books: I set my Goodreads goal at 16 books and have read 12 books so far.

Reviews: All the books have a Goodreads review. I have been so busy, I’ve not posted reviews as frequently to my blog. I posted three more book reviews on my YouTube channel channel.

Social Media [UPDATE]

Felixstowe Magazine: I have fallen behind with submitting articles for Felixstowe Magazine. I’ve been so busy with my kids, my new job, and festivals, that the weeks have flown by. This is a reminder, I need to get back on that as it’s a really good opportunity.

Website: I’ve been good about updating my websites Event page with what I’m up to. I’ve not updated my book titles. I need to update Sky Heart’s progress, rename New Moon as Summer Heart, and add Dark Heart.

I’m also not happy with my current host provider, Hostinger. I paid for 2 years, so I’m stuck with them for another year but in the autumn I need to check out other providers and prepare for a migration.

Ko-Fi: I haven’t posted as frequently. Everything dropped up during chicken pox season, and busy with book festivals. I’ve started posting quick updates on my progress, and my YouTube videos. Nobody is there so it feels like I’m talking to a brick wall.

[kofi]

YouTube: i usually record when I’m off work on a Friday, but due to bank holidays and sick kids, I’ve worked a lot of Fridays and this has impacted my ability to record anything. I have made a few shorts in Canva. I’m proud of my long form Vlog video of going to Herts Book Festival.

Consistently Post: To keep the algorithm happy, I set the following schedule and included how I got on sticking to it:

  • Blog: Mon – This has definitely dropped in consistency. I usually have a few posts scheduled but right now I have loads of drafts written, waiting for the images.
  • IG: Wed (more if I feel like it) – It’s been sporadic but has met the at least once a week quota. Also, posting to Lemon8.
  • Ko-Fi: Thu – This has become so sporadic, I forgot the goal was to post on a Thursday.
  • Twitter: Sun – I rarely post intentionally to Twitter. It updates on my reading progress, and I’ve been sharing my Lemon8 posts.
  • YT: Tue (fortnightly) – No. This has trailed off since May. I will try to get back on track.
  • Newsletter: Every other month – That’s a relief. I thought I needed to send it monthly and had dropped off, but I have done this.

Followers: Eek, I was okay with no growth, but to lose followers was a shock. It’s so slight, I hadn’t even noticed. I wasn’t surprised that my TikTok count dropped as I deleted the app for a bit – I’m just not a fan and don’t trust them to respect my privacy.

I’m chuffed I have already beat my YouTube annual goal. This is encouraging as I am still trying to figure things out.

It’s good to see I am connecting with readers. I was surprised by this as I don’t always remember to post to BookBub & Litsy.

The Author Diaries: The authors that agreed to do The Author Diaries collab with me are still up for it but we still haven’t set down a time. I’m starting to worry we might never do it.

Reviews: I’ve heard from people that bought Ocean Heart tell me they are loving it, but no new reviews.

Personal

Skincare routine: Got a new face wash which I love, by Auriella Probiotics. I got a new foundation, eyebrow pencil, and lip and cheek tint.

Visit Jimmy’s Farm: I was worried with the kids keep getting ill, my hubby working weekends, and my festivals, that we wouldn’t get to go. We did.

I was having an awful weekend where the kids were driving me barmy and decided I wanted to change it. So, I took them to Jimmy’s Farm to burn their energy and we all had a great time.

Date Nights: No more date nights, but we took the day off for Sports Day and got to have lunch, just my hubby and I, on the seafront.

We almost booked a spa day at Riverhills for our wedding anniversary. We got the time off work but we were so distracted by life we never booked it. Just as well, because the night before we would have gone, the spa burned down.

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Book Review: The Guidal: Unearthing Secrets by Roxy Eloise

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

My thoughts

Oh my, the steam! This book is a lot more spicy than book one. Although they are closed door scenes, there’s enough detail to fill in the blanks. Aurora’s complicated love life causes her a rollercoaster of turmoil.

Sillah gets matched, which I loved. Aurora introduces Sillah and Sillah’s match to Puracordis magic. The teens start practicing and mastering their powers. This was so much fun to read & learn with them about the different types and spells.

There’s more fun with the competitive tournament. The corruption and cheating makes it more dangerous for Aurora, and her friends. They figure out others are using magic too. The arena and the bounties were so vivid, and their physical training at the Khakidemy is brilliant.

I really like Aurora. The love triangle between bad boy Tayo, and her perfect match Pax, made sense. I like how she stands up for those being mistreated or bullied, and the way she challenges the Boudfell family whenever she can.

Read it for romance, illegal magic and adventure.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buy it from Amazon

[kofi]

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This weekend is Herts Book Festival!

A lot goes into attending an event, and as this is my first appearance at a book festival, it was a little more work.

The HERTS BOOK FESTIVAL will be at Herts Castle. You can find me at my author stall from 10am to 3pm, although I will be popping off to be on the Fantasy Panel to chat about the baddies between 2pm and 2:50pm.

I have written a post on Ko-Fi covering some of the things I’ve done to prepare for the event. It’s worth a read if you are an author going to an event, or just interested in knowing more. https://ko-fi.com/post/This-weekend-is-Herts-Book-Fest-N4N5L40D9

Something I didn’t mention in the post was that I wanted to do book reviews on YouTube of some of the authors I know will be attending. This proved more challenging than I expected because I didn’t get much time in April to record anything!

Here are the book reviews for my author friends that I’m excited to be meeting up with this weekend at Herts Book Festival.

Roxy Eloise

If it wasn’t for Roxy, I probably wouldn’t be doing this event. I met her via Instagram when she was launching her debut novel Discovering Puracordis, the first book the The Guidal series.

She’s become a good friend ever since, and inspired me to get in-front of the camera and try YouTube again.

Here’s my review of her debut novel, and I recently finished book two Unearthing Secrets, so I need to find time to record a book tube of that.

April Grace

I originally met April on Wattpad, and posted on Instagram that I was going to YALC. She was going to so we met up. She encouraged me to query agents, and supported me when I decided to self publish.

April also is a BookTuber and encouraged me to try again. She’s been in my corner for a while now. I’m looking forward to her upcoming releases and sharing a stand with her at Herts Book Festival.

J D Groom

I love Jodie’s writing. I met her via Wattpad and my early days on Instagram. She got me involved in World Indie Warriors. Networking with indies opened my eyes to the possibilities of self publishing.

Jodie had shared her self publishing journey on Instagram and her website. I learnt a lot from her, and highly value her advice. As a result, we have used the same editor, Formatter, and cover designer. Without Jodie, I don’t know if I would have had the confidence to say yes to myself, and self publish.

Jodie currently has a free prequel available on her website for news letter subscribers. I wanted to do a BookTube review of this but didn’t have time. However, Jodie’s debut novel Sorceress of Truth was one of my first YouTube video reviews, and she participated in my YouTube livestream launch party when my debut novel launched during lockdown.

Cassidy Reyne

I met Cassidy through World Indie Warriors. She has the biggest heart, and makes everyone feel included and valued. She has shared a lot with me about her self publishing that has helped shape my journey.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jodie and Cassidy at the Milton Keynes book festival where we had a tour of the Ingram Sparks book printing factory. Cassidy was actively involved in helping me promote my debut novel, doing a proof read, writing a review, and taking part in live streams.

I ARC read her book AGENT:Undone but this is just one of the many books she has released.

Come join us

Come join us at Herts Book Festival. I’m looking forward to making more author friends and meeting lots of readers.

I will be signing copies of Ocean Heart, and I will have a leaflet with details on how to join my Sky Heart ARC.

If you like this, you will like:

[kofi]

Book Review: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

My thoughts

This was an incredible read. I’d no idea what to expect but it was better than anything I could imagine. It is violent and bloody, but the story explores our morals.

Set in the future, death is no longer a problem. If you were to become deadish, you can be revived. To restore the balance a group called Scythes take on the sacred duty of gleaming (killing) life. They have quotas and rules to follow.

Teenagers Roman and Citra both (on seperate occasions) meet Scythe Faraday on a gleaming job. Their interactions with him stand out and he makes them his apprentice. Never before has a Scythe taken on two apprentices and there’s no rule against it. Still, it causes uproar and an edict is agreed that when one of them passes their apprenticeship, their first task will be to kill the other.

Scythe Faraday blames himself for putting Citra & Rowan in this position. He gleams himself to free them from the apprenticeship, but instead two other Scythes step forward to train them.

Rowan is taken on by Scythe Goddard who has a reputation for his blood lust, enjoying massacres to hit his quotas.

Citra is taken on by the famous Grande Madam of Death, Scythe Curie. She shows compassion to the family members of those gleamed.

Now the pair have very different apprenticeship experiences. Citra doesn’t believe Scythe Faraday’s death was an accident, and her inquisitive mind gets her in trouble.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s training involves parties and mass killings as Scythe Goddard tries to encourage him to find joy in kill craft. Goddard’s cruel methods push Rowan too far and he is no longer the boy he started out as.

The story continues to move toward the final conclave where they’ll both have to pass their last test. Passing the test will means one of them gets ordained and must kill the other. Despite all that has happened since Faraday, they still care deeply about each other. Both are plotting for a loop hole in the edict.

This was a brilliant story. There is a lot of death as they are Scythes, but the twists and surprises in the story is what makes you gasp and need to read another chapter!

Read it for a story full of twists and surprises, and to explore ideas of mortality and morals. Don’t read it if you don’t like blood, gore, or sensitive about death.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

You can buy this book from:

Amazon: Scythe https://amzn.eu/d/3gNXHBB

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[Kofi]

Book Review: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

This post contains affiliate links. Please check out my affiliate disclosure page for more information.

About the book

My thoughts

I tried another audio book & this one was better as I have watched the Netflix show. If I zoned out with my imagination, I was able to catch back up with the narrator.

It is a great story with well developed characters and strong world building.

The MC, Alina starts off from humble beginnings. As an orphan from the war, she has grown up in the orphanage where she befriended Mal. Her and Mal have been inseparable ever since until his life’s in danger & Alina saves him… revealing her powers.

This is when Alina’s life takes a sudden change. Believed to be the Sun Summoner and the one that can bring down the terrible Dark Fold, she’s whisked off to train by the alluring Darkling and finds herself amongst the Grishas and part of a society she could only have dreamt of before. It doesn’t take long to realise the grass isn’t always greener and she is being used.

Alina & Mal come together towards the end of the book to figure out the truth and break free. Their bond was one of my favourite parts of the novel, although the Darkling parts and magic was lots of fun too.

Read it for found family, rags to riches, and magic.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Buy it from Amazon

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[kofi]

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