Tuesday 13 June 2023

Book Review – Light in the Shadows by Georgia C. Leigh

Light in the Shadows
By Georgia C. Leigh

Sheltered from the world since birth, eighteen-year-old Haven arrives at the Academy eager to learn what it means to be seraphim. Her excitement quickly fades as she struggles to master her gifts, to befriend and trust others, and above all, to understand herself.

But when she discovers an ancient magic within, she loses the glimpse of friendship she longs for and is thrown back into isolation. Her magic unknowingly awakens a dark shadow in her world and catalyzes those who seek to control her, to bind her and use her for her power. And if she can’t be bound, they will ensure she is dead.

Ryker, a world walker and a demon hunter, is the only one powerful enough to contain her magic and knows what it is like to be wanted for someone else’s gains. Ryker’s brutal methods may give her the chance to understand her gift and control it, but they are running out of time. Haven must fight for a life she desperately wants, one where she can follow her own path, and her heart. And, maybe, finally find love before her life is chosen for her.

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Haven is excited to finally arrive at the Academy and learn the ins and outs of being a seraphim. But she has spent her whole life hidden away, and the world of socialising and getting to know others isn’t something she is overly familiar with. As Haven finds herself thrown into an entirely new world, it is not just learning to control her gifts that she must focus on, but also figuring out who to trust. 

Ryker is an incredibly powerful seraphim, with a unique gift. When an ancient magic is discovered within Haven, Ryker finds himself working with her to try and gain her control over them before they are used to control her. Many people would use her for the powers she holds, and Ryker has little time to try and teach her. 

Haven is an incredibly strong character, although she is not without her limits. She struggles a lot in this book, as she makes friends, but pushes them away when things get hard, even though she really needs them. Haven is not used to relying on others to help her, but rather withdraws into herself when she doesn’t know how to keep going. I absolutely loved reading about Haven, and watching her grow as a person. Nearer the start of the book, she is incredibly naive, although she has never had proper friends, so she is unlearned in the workings of other people. She does gain an understanding of the world as she spends more time at the Academy, and I found myself liking her more the further into the book I read.

I found the Academy itself rather interesting. It reminded me a little of the training in the Divergent series, as all the young adults work to grow their physical and mental skills, but with a fantasy twist on it, with wings, and magical powers. There are plenty of people who work outside of the Academy who come in to teach their own specialised skills, and these people are mainly the ones who change Haven’s life. In particular, Ryker and his twin brother, River. I could go on and on about how much I hate River, although I feel I would begin to spoil the story, so I don’t want to get onto the topic of him. Ryker, however, is absolutely lovely. He finds himself doing things he doesn’t want to do for Haven’s benefit, and puts himself through things that affect him, just to ensure she is safe. Their training together is not always pleasant to read about, but just knowing the sacrifices he makes for her, when he doesn’t even know her, is proof that he is a fabulous person, and a wonderful character to read about. 

This book did take a while to get started. There is little explanation about the world itself, and I found it difficult to figure out what was happening, and why. There are also a lot of characters to keep up with, and the relationships are a little tricky to figure out at first, when you don’t know what’s going on with the setting. I do wish there was a little more explanation about the setting, for I think it would help the reader understand what was happening immediately, although if you stick with it, things slowly sort themselves out, and it gets easier to follow all the individual characters as their paths intertwine.

I wasn’t aware, going into this, quite how long the book itself was. Only when I came to write this review did I realise that this book is 546 pages long, and is book 1 of 4 in the series. There is not necessarily a lot of romance in this book, but it follows Haven’s time at the Academy in great detail, clearly building up necessary relationships and information for books yet to come. It did take me quite a while to read this book, which I was not expecting, but I did enjoy how in-depth the book is. There are plenty of books, I will use the example of Divergent again, where there are time skips, and I wished to follow the characters thorough their entire journey. This book allowed me to do that, and I felt I connected to Haven more by following her so closely.

Fantasy itself is a very broad genre, but if you are a fan of fantasy that follows young adults in a school, that includes learning to control dangerous magical abilities, and has a few steamy moments here and there, this is certainly the book for you! I can’t wait to continue reading this series. Book two can’t come soon enough!

Georgia C Leigh lives in California with her husband, two grown children, her cat and two horses. When not working, Georgia is an avid competitive equestrian. The Shadows and Light series are Georgia's first published books.

Book 1, Light in the Shadows, and book 2, Light Lost, will be followed by book 3, Shadow Rising, in early 2024.

Friday 2 June 2023

Book Review – The Daddy Chronicles by Jayne Martin

The Daddy Chronicles
By Jayne Martin

One out of three women in the U.S. identify as fatherless. An absent father who occasionally appears to bestow his affections only to disappear again leads a daughter to seek out others like him – men who are charismatic, but emotionally unavailable – throughout her lifetime.

In this emotionally-charged memoir written in cinematic vignettes, Jayne Martin fearlessly bares the parts of her that were broken when her father left the family upon her birth and, in doing so, leads readers on their own journey toward wholeness and healing. Whether you are a fatherless daughter or someone who loves one, The Daddy Chronicles will tear at your heart and open a world of understanding.

Grab a copy HERE!

Delving deep into her own memories, and exploring the ins and outs of her childhood, and the emotional trauma she grew up with, Jayne Martin invites you to learn her story, to join her and to relate your life to her own. 

I find writing a review for such a deep book, wherein Jayne opens up her mind and allows you to step inside and have a look around, difficult. To give this book the credit it deserves, I find it tricky to review it as I would review any other book. Talking about fictional characters, and discussing their traumas is almost easy, but delving into words that speak of the past, that follow a real person – I find myself conflicted as to whether to go into things in quite so much detail. 

I will start by saying, this is not the kind of book I would normally read. I am not generally a fan of memoirs, although I have never been entirely sure why. It is, perhaps, the way they are laid out, following a life from start to a finishing point, and the writing style of memoirs is always so much different than the writing style of fiction novels. This book, however, was different. Jayne has a truly unique writing style. The voice she uses to write in changes as she writes about herself at different ages, not going into subjects and reasons her younger self wouldn’t have understood, while making such things painfully clear to the reader. The layout and short chapters almost reminds me of a poetry book, which in itself is a very smart stylistic choice. When I think of reading poetry, I think of digging deeper, trying to find a meaning behind everything, and with this book, Jayne reminds that there isn’t always a meaning, there isn’t always a reason – sometimes, even though you feel otherwise, there isn’t anything that you could’ve done to change the outcome. I also particularly loved the way Jayne shows her attachment to different people by whether or not she reveals their names. While her childhood best friend may be named, the-girl-who-is-not-my-sister whom Jayne never grew close to remains simply that in Jayne’s mind. It gives a layer of distance between the person and the reader, for the reader can never really get to know them, as Jayne never did.

I cannot easily relate to Jayne, for I am lucky that my parents have been together and happy my whole life, although Jayne paints a very vivid picture of how, no matter what happens around her, not having her father around is something she is always painfully aware of. Like a stone in her shoe, Jayne constantly feels her father’s absence, although there is little she can do about it, and has to simply deal with the pain and keep on walking. I can feel Jayne’s pain and sadness through the words, as she desperately searches for a feeling of love and security that only her father can give her, but she isn’t going to receive from him. Throughout her life, she was lost, jumping around both mentally and physically, struggling through different traumas and an immense feeling of loneliness while moving from place to place through her mother’s relationships, and then her own. 

This book itself is very short and easy to read, I read it within about twenty minutes, although I am a fast reader. It is a simple book if you are just consuming words and moving on. But, when you look even just slightly deeper than what is on the surface, you find a pool of emotion, and it is all too easy to fall forwards and start to drown. I fear losing my father, but to never have known him? To go my whole life without the love and support I feel is almost a given in life? Jayne’s words bring a perspective that I’ve never been able to properly observe before, and needless to say, this is a book that truly moved me.

Jayne Martin is a Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, Best Microfictions nominee, and a recipient of Vestal Review’s VERA award. Her debut collection of flash fiction, “Tender Cuts,” from Vine Leaves Press is available now. She lives in California where she rides horses and drinks copious amounts of fine wines, though not at the same time.

Prior to turning her attention to essay and fiction, Jayne Martin was a TV-movie writer whose credits include “Big Spender” for Animal Planet, and “A Child Too Many,” “Cradle of Conspiracy,” and “Deceived by Trust” for Lifetime. Her book of humor essays, “Suitable for Giving: A Collection of Wit with a Side of Wry,” is available in paperback and digital formats.

Find her at www.jaynemartin-writer.com