Book Review: The Toll by Neal Shusterman

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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]

Reading Challenge: The Mirror Souls by Julia Scott

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for The Mirror Souls by Julia Scott. I shortened it for social media.

[kofi]

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Below are some affiliate links. Please visit my Affiliate Disclosure page to learn more.

Reading Challenge: Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi

About the challenge

The challenge was set by World Indie Warriors on Instagram. They created three #WIWBingo boards; YA, Romance, and Fantasy.

The aim is to read and review the books on Instagram and tag @worldindiewarriors

The goal is to get three in a line, and help indie books get seen.

I’m doing the challenge. I’ve already read some of the books on the board so I’ll be reposting them this month, and I’m hoping to read some new one too.

The Book Review

Here is my post of my old review for Red Blood by Kaitlyn Legaspi. I shortened it for social media.

[Kofi]

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Below are some affiliate links. To learn more about these please visit my Affiliate Disclosure Page.

Book Review: Spine of Winter by Angeline Trevena

I’ve followed Angeline for a while on social media. She is one of the authors behind the Unstoppable Authors podcast & organises the Indie Fire Festival. Recently she was part of my live stream chat for Indie Author Week UK.

For the release of her new book Angeline did a giveaway. I entered and won.

Setting

The book is set in a post apocalyptic world, where it’s an eternal winter. I’d not long finished watching Snow Piercer on Netflix & it made me think about those people that didn’t make the Snow piercer train.

…It made me think about those people that didn’t make the Snow piercer…

Ally Aldridge’s Review of The Spine of Winter by Angeline Trevena

Main Character

The main character is a woman, that has found somewhere safe to survive with her brother. She is very reliant on her brother to take care of her. She rarely goes out in the snow. She mourns for the life that she has lost, holding onto little treasures from the time before.

Review

This isn’t your typical summer read but I highly recommend reading about an eternal winter on a barmy hot day.

This novella was a quick easy read with lots of character growth. The main character starts off quite meek and reliant on her brother. This is good as it eases the reader into the dark world that now exists. It felt a built like a thriller the way the tension built. The setting is a character in itself and you can see why Angeline is a World building expert.

Obviously something terrible happens – it is a dystopia. This is the kick the main character needs to take action. It had a good satisfying ending that I’m not going to spoil for you. Give it a go – 5 stars.

[kofi]

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Below are some affiliate links. You can discover more about these on my Affiliate Disclosure page.

It’s Indie Author Week UK

I’m really excited to be involved in this event, especially as so many incredible indie authors are taking part. This year, I’m one of those authors.

What am I doing?

I am streaming live to my YouTube channel. Join me on Tues, 15 June at 8pm (GMT+1), where I will be joined by these awesome Indie Authors to chat about why we love being Indie.

The line up includes:

💛 Romantic Suspense author Cassidy Reyne: https://www.cassidyreyne.com/

💛 Worldbuilding & World Destroying author Angeline Trevena: https://angelinetrevena.co.uk/

💛 Contemporary Fantasy author J D Groom (Jodie): https://jodiegroom.wordpress.com/

💛 And, of course myself, Ally Aldridge: http://allyaldridge.com/

It’s live, so you can join in by asking questions or sharing your thoughts. We can’t wait to see you there.

How to make sure you don’t miss out!

Here’s the link. Make sure you hit that notification bell so you know when we go live: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TG1203XOADs

You may also want to add the FB event to your calendar so your don’t forget: fb://event/?id=1401390906894506

Indie Author Week UK

To find out more about Indie Author Week UK, please visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IndieAuthorWeekUK/

They have a ton of incredible events going on. If you can’t make a live, look out for the replay.

[kofi]

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Goodreads 2020 Reads

Something I love about Goodreads is how easy it is to track my progress towards my reading goals. At the end of the year, Goodreads gives stats on my reads.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link. NB: This post contains these affiliate links.

2020 Reading Goals

My goal was set at 12 books, thinking I could easily read one a month but I hadn’t taken into account how busy I’d be certain months launching my own book, Ocean Heart. It turned out just 12 books was harder than I thought.

The year has include some books I absolutely loved, and one I hated. I’m pretty good at choosing books I know I will love that I wasn’t surprised that my average rating was high. I just don’t have time to read books I won’t like. 😂

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

This was my first read of 2020. It was a book I’d been eager to buy, but was lucky enough to win a copy from the author on Twitter! Whoop! Whoop! I love fantasy set in the real world so it was a good start to my year.

My last two reads of 2020 were Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten and… I rather unusual choice for me… The Substantial Meal by Florence Green. I’ve rated them both on Goodreads but still need to write the review.

Garden in the Sands by Ellie Mitten

I think I preordered this book, but I’m such a slow reader, by the time I got to it, it’d been out a little while. I’m going to write a review very soon but as you can see from my 5 star rating, I LOVED THIS BOOK!

The Substantial Sandwich by Florence Green

I can’t remember how Florence & I got talking, but I was a bit glum I wasn’t going to make my pathetic reading goal of just 12 books. I was beating myself up. Then Florence cheered my up by sending me his recent release, an erotic satire using innuendos and puns about the Covid restrictions. It was a quick short read and succeeded at cheering me up. Review coming soon.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas is the most popular book I read. I’m not surprised as I saw it all over Instagram. I actually bought my copy in summer 2019 at YALC.

Another YALC buy was Sea Witch by Sarah Henning. It’s a historical fantasy/fairytale retelling of The Little Mermaid. I really loved the book, and hope to read book 2 in the series this year.

A book that should be more popular is Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom. It’s contemporary fantasy and has everything I love in a book. The MC was relatable, but all the side characters were well developed. With a modern day sorceress, fairies and vampires, what’s not to love?

2021 Reading Goal

To alleviate pressure, I’ve lowered my reading goal to 10 fiction books. I know, some people can read that amount in a month. But, I read for pleasure. And, I have to be in the right mood. If I’m too tired or engrossed in my own writing, I just can’t get into the book.

I also have a few resource books I need to read and review. I didn’t review any last year despite reading some. So, you can look forward to that. These are separate from my reading goal.

[kofi]

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Find your Summer Reads in the latest WIW Brochure

This June the latest World Indie Warriors Brochure was released.

Indie Books

The brochure is packed full of indie books, their blurbs, where to buy and how to connect with the authors. But, thats not all…

Indie Services

There is a directory of service providers. These are small indie business offering services that support the indie community. It’s a great resource to discover cover designers, book formatters, editors, coaches and marketing.

Indie Products

The brochure also showcases indie businesses that make and sell their own products. This enables you to discover unique and custom items that can’t be bought in mainstream shops.

Articles

The brochure is full of useful information from start to finish. There are tips for readers and an interview with a book blogger. There is an interview with the author who won a book cover contest. And you can discover what World Indie Warriors is all about.

It’s FREE to download

If you’ve read this far, you probably want to know how to get your hands on it.

Just visit their website and download it.

How to get included in the next edition?

The brochure is to showcase World Indie Warrior members. To join you just need to follow them on Facebook or Instagram – they are working on a forum.

They do lots of different activities to support the indie community. For example, this month, they are doing CampNaNo on Instagram and have a goal tracker on Facebook. Being part of a team is a great way to stay motivated towards achieving whatever creative goal you set.

If you check their blog you’ll find details on how to get your content included in the next edition.

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How I did my book foot stack photo

Have you seen my #footstack pic on Instagram? Check out the feed @Nic_Reads_Inheels for my heel stack inspiration.

I only discovered #footstack very recently. It is a pic of someone balancing books on their shoes. When the #CampNanoWIW prompt was a #shelfie pic, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give it a go.

I had so much fun doing this. And, when I posted it people asked, are they your legs, your books, your pic, how?

The answer is Yes and this is how.

The original pic

I wasn’t going to share this pic but here you go.

Unedited #FootStack

The books I bought from Amazon, Book Festivals or won on Instagram. They are all from my never ending TBR pile.

Since having children, I don’t have many heels. I also tidied away the ones I did have and have no idea where I put them. These shoes are my work ones from Clarks.

The red stockings were bought years ago from Ann Summers, back when I felt more daring, and haven’t been seen outside the bedroom. 😉

I did need help to get this pic. My husband stacked the books whilst I giggled upside down and tried to hold steady. My selection was rather ambitious and I realised this was my limit… no more books.

He then took the pic for me. He actually took quite a few as we tested my balancing skills at different degrees of steepness. We found it looks better the straighter my leg are. Posing like this was a full on workout.

How I edited the pic

Pic Monkey App

I used the Pic Monkey App to remove the background using their Cut Out, Smart, tool. It was super easy.

Unsplash

Unsplash is my favourite site to get free photos. I found this photo of a pretty yellow wall by Mona Eendra from Copenhagen. Yellow is one of my brand colours so this was perfect.

Pretty yellow wall from Unsplash

Photoshop Mix App

This app enables you to layer images together. I created a project and added the wall as my first layer, then my cut out image as the second layer. I then cropped it to a square and adjusted the two layers until I was happy with the positioning.

I had never used this app before and it was very straight forward. I figured it out without watching the tutorials. But, I’m going to return to watch them later to discover more.

Instagram App

The final edit was done using IG’s filter Clarendon. Then, I added my comment and tags and posted it.

If you give this a go, please tag me. I’m @Redfae on Instagram. I’d love to see your book stacks too.

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