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The Blighted Fortress by David Dresner – Blog Tour Book Review



The Blighted Fortress is the second book in The Allies of Theo series by David Dresner.

Summary

This story begins in modern Chicago then moves to fifth-century Transylvania.

 

The teenage protagonists, Glenda and Traveler, are sent by Theo, their sanctuary god, deep into the primeval forests of the Carpathian Mountains. They must locate then neutralize an ancient demi-god called a “fire beast”.

 

The two must also survive the daunting challenges of isolated fifth-century Transylvania. Rome is now in its final death throes and the hoof beats of Attila the Hun echo across Europe. Civilization and Pax Romana are distant memories.

 

Magic, wits, and youthful courage must combine to face the fire creature. Survival, much less winning, is up for grabs.


Author

David E. Dresner was born and raised in rural Ohio. He was an Eagle Scout and later high school president in both his junior and senior years. The social mores, the friendships, and the rivalries of his youth were character building and era defining and have stayed with him into adulthood. Dresner studied physics and mathematics at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon, earning a B.S. and M.S, before training to become an actuary. Dresner enjoyed considerable professional success, working at major business consultancy firms at CEO and COO level before taking early retirement and starting a family. He has since dedicated himself to giving back to hiscommunity, supporting small businesses, churches and schools by developing their strategic plans, as well as tutoring children in core academic studies. Having travelled extensively and lived in France, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, today David and his wife Nancy live in a rural part of Virginia, near Charlottesville. He is currently working on the fourth instalment of The Allies of Theo series; he will publish his third novel in 2020.

What I Thought

Prologues can be tricky things, but in this case it was useful to ground the story meaning that you could read The Blighted Fortress without having to read book one first.

For me, Book One, The Discovered Sanctuary took time to get into. I think mainly, because although publicised as a young adult book, the early part of the story was told from an adult’s point of view (the father of one of the characters). There was also a great deal of tell rather than show.

However the first chapter of The Blighted Fortress, now in the middle of a story shows development. The language seems more authentically teen and the relationship between the main characters show their level of intimacy having already been through adventures together. 

This is a high concept series with a mix of geographical and historical locations. It was full of lots of detail enabling the reader to fully visualise the world created.

My preference is for pacy reads and I don’t always get on with historical language because it tends to slow things down, so the modern day dialogue between the two teens and the humour in their relationship were more enjoyable for me.

I was sent both books for the purposes of an honest review. Thank you to Faye and the publishers for the gifted copies.

The Alphabet For Life by Fran Norris

Summary:

An alphabet book with a difference! Who said A is for Apple? Why not A is for Acceptance?! Let’s learn the alphabet using words that will inspire and empower everyone to thrive in life! Packed with fun illustrations and thoughtful quotes and themes, The Alphabet For Life is a unique children’s book the whole family can enjoy and learn from for a lifetime.


Author Information

Fran Norris is a mother of two living in Devon. Like most parents, her daily life largely involves coming up with creative approaches to making the good-for-you stuff enjoyable and appealing to children. She believes that education should nurture our natural curiosity and empower each individual to reach their fullest potential. Inspired by the playful way children approach any task, from brushing their teeth to eating toast, Fran is convinced that fun should be at the core of all learning.

As a former scientist, Fran approaches life as a wonderful experiment and loves to question everything. Her children provide a never-ending source of mystery and challenges to be solved. Creating THE ALPHABET OF LIFE reconnected Fran with her love of drawing and painting, encouraging her to work as an illustrator now.


What I Thought

What a wonderful take on the alphabet. With vividly coloured illustrations, quotes that illustrate the concepts, and a host of words that should be in every person’s vocabulary. This could be used with pre-school children to explore concepts such as courage, kindness etc. I even learnt a new word for U and I’ve recently read a whole book about I. 

Thank you to Faye Rogers and Authoright for a gifted copy for the purposes of honest review. 

I hold your heart by Karen Gregory – Blog Tour Book Review

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44314544-i-hold-your-heart

Synopsis

You make me feel like there’s something good in the world I can hold on to,’ Aaron says. He kisses me again, draws me so close it’s almost hard to breathe. ‘I love you, Gem. And I promise I’ll hold your heart forever.’

When Gemma meets Aaron, she feels truly seen for the first time. Their love story is the intense kind. The written-in-the-stars, excluding-all-others kind. The kind you write songs about.

But little by little their relationship takes over Gemma’s life. What happens when being seen becomes being watched, and care becomes control?

Told in both Gemma’s and Aaron’s words, this is a raw, moving exploration of gaslighting in teenage relationships that skewers our ideas of what love looks like.

Author

Karen Gregory has been a confirmed bookworm since early childhood. She wrote her first story about Bantra the mouse aged twelve, then put away the word processor until her first child was born, when she was overtaken by the urge to write. Her first novel, Countless, published in 2017, was shortlisted for the Leeds Book Award and longlisted for the Branford Boase. Her second novel, Skylarks, was published in 2018. Karen lives in Wiltshire with her family.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/K_Gregory33

Instagram: http://instagram.com/karengregoryauthor

What I Thought

This starts out like a love at first sight teen romance, where main character Gemma gets swept away by the enigmatic Aaron. As do we to a certain extent, despite knowing that something is going to go wrong.

Gemma is overshadowed at home by her football playing younger brother Michael and Aaron sees this – and her.

With beach picnics and expensive gifts Gemma falls deeper and despite friends concerns she fails to see the warning signs. And that’s because they are so subtle at first. Things that are easily dismissed or put down to coincidence.

This is an interesting look at gaslighting in a relationship, made even more complex by the addition of Aaron’s point of view, one that doesn’t immediately portray neon flashing lights but indicates that something has gone wrong in a past relationship.

The author makes it clear in a postscript that having his point of view included doesn’t excuse any behaviour but it helps the reader explore the psychology of the phenomenon from both sides.

I loved the inclusion of Gemma’s family dynamic and it was intriguing how particularly her parents relationship set some foundations for certain behaviours to be seen as normal. That’s what is very tricky with emotional abuse in particular, in most relationships – even with friends – things are said that can be hurtful or occasionally manipulative, when does it become abuse?

Set in college we see how important friendships are to teenagers in navigating their transition between child and adulthood. Gemma’s great love is country music and songwriting and her changing relationships with her family, friends and activities are powerful indicators of what is happening. In isolation her relationship with Aaron can definitely be seen as romantic, but in the wider context the cracks show.

All in all this is a very powerful read that reminded me of You by Caroline Kepnes. Trigger warnings for emotional, physical and sexual abuse.

Do check out what the other reviewers on the tour thought.

Thank you to Faye Rogers and Bloomsbury for the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review.

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