[Book Review] ‘Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy’ by Emily Martha Sorensen

TITLE: TWENTY-FOUR POTENTIAL CHILDREN OF PROPHECY

AUTHOR: EMILY MARTHA SORENSEN


Henina tends to irritate people. She can’t help it — she’s bad at shutting her mouth. So when a prophecy is made that someone will stop the war, she figures she’s the worst possible choice.

Too bad.

The Fates have their sights set on her, and it will take all her cleverness and quite a lot of offending the king to foist the prophecy off on somebody else instead.

But she can do it. After all, there are a lot of potentials to choose from.


The Author

Emily Martha Sorensen writes young adult, middle grade, and clean new adult fantasy. I must admit, it is a bit of a breath of fresh air to start reading a book and when my young teen niece asks what it’s about; and is subsequently intrigued; I have no qualms at saying she can read it when I’m done! If you’ve hung around here for any length of time, you’ll know I have a soft spot for the gory, the gruesome and the downright grotesque; but sometimes a light, witty and easy to read tale of skullduggery is what’s​ needed!

I was delighted when I recently received an email offering the chance to review an ARC of this, her latest* book, and quickly got stuck in.

[ * Boy! She works fast! In between arranging to review this and reading it (in the space of less than a week!) , Emily has also released her next book Trials of a Teenage Werevulture  ]


The Book

We join the story on Prophecy Day, a monthly event where the King’s personal soothsayer and fortune teller impart what The Fates purportedly have in store for the kingdom in the coming weeks. The marketplace is heaving as whilst the general population usually aren’t too interested, the prophecy last month led to the King throwing silver coins into the crowd and so all are eager to attend just in case there is a repeat performance.

We meet Henina, a mouthy young woman who apprenticed to her father, wants to live her life her way, without the constraints of ‘normal’ married life and children. She is bolshy, and argumentative, and I adore her. 

Then a prophecy is made that changes everything…

“The days of the war are numbered.  The one who will end it now stands within this square.  You will know her by the mark of the star she bears on her hand.  She will rule the kingdom with wisdom and grace.”


No-one seems to care when she argues that it is a scar from a recent burn that she bears rather than a mystical mark, or indeed question the scratches or even drawn on stars that the other potentials show.

All Twenty-Four are escorted to the castle to begin their training whilst the court awaits the revelation of The Fates’ chosen one.

The following days are spent with Henina trying, through a series of ever more outlandish schemes, to thwart any possible plans which The Fates may have for her.

The main characters in Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy are marvelous. Henina especially is wonderfully annoying. She clearly has no ability for internal dialogue and just blurts out whatever she is thinking; making for truly amusing exchanges with those, whom she meets along the way, who then have to suffer her infernal chattering; constant questioning & complaining. The other twenty-three are a varied lot, everyone from the four-year old daughter of peasants; to Anna Khordoa, the haughty niece of the King; and Henina’s uproarious interactions with them all as they vie for position as THE Child of the Prophecy are hilarious.

Each person she meets is quickly dubbed with a (not always flattering!) nickname, thus the King’s haughty neice Anna is known as The Spoilt Brat and his Fortune-Teller becomes The Self-Important Charlatan; whilst Helga , fortune-teller and one of the Potentials, is referred to as The Fortune Teller (or indeed, The Fortune Teller who is not called Helga – it makes sense, I promise!!)

Henina’s attempts to thwart The Fates become more and more outlandish as the story progresses, and each idea seems to backfire as both coincidences and consequences start to pile up.

  • Who is the real Child of the Prophecy?
  • Will Henina escape The Fates?
  • Will she find her Grace?
  • Will they stop the 50 year war?

You’ll need to read the book to find out!!


Another amusing touch is the way the chapter titles (& contents!) relate to the chapter number:

Chapter 3: Three Silver Coins That Smell Like Feet      

Chapter 7: Seven Influential People I’ve Offended Today   

Chapter 10: Ten Impossible Things for Breakfast 

Chapter 13: Thirteen Griddle Cakes and a Greedy Sister  

Chapter 16: Sixteen Possible Traitors, and One Maybe

…. and so on.


Rating and Recommendations

I wholeheartedly rate this witty read with 5 out of 5 stars and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone, aged 10-100, who enjoys a fantasy novel with a historical slant and a large dose of giggles.This book is a perfect melding somewhere between classic Greco-Roman tragi-comedy and laugh-outloud modern sitcom. It really is an extremely wittily & cleverly woven tale. I can’t recommend it highly enough; and I cannot wait for the release of the sequel, Fifty-Three Assassins with a Head-Cold .


For more information on Emily and her work, visit EmilyMarthaSorensen.com , where you’ll find links to her books, giveaways and the opportunity to join her mailing list (and receive a copy of Six Shiny Silver Coins and the Ridiculous Ruckus They Caused a free short story which is the prequel to Twenty-Four Potential Children of Prophecy.)


Disclosure

I received an e-book copy of this book, direct from the author and free of charge, in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[Book Review] THE WEIGHT OF HIM by Ethel Rohan

TITLE: THE WEIGHT OF HIM

AUTHOR: Ethel Rohan

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Atlantic Books

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786491909

PRICE: £12.99

How do you carry on, when you lose someone you love?

The Story

Already struggling with his health, weight and personal relationships; Big Billy Brennan finds himself unable to cope when his family suffer a great tragedy.

Michael, their eldest son; a well-liked and seemingly confident teen; commits suicide.

Whilst wife & mother Tricia thinks that trying to return some semblance of normality to family life is the way forward, Billy sees it as an impetus to improve his life and that of those around him. 

Inspired by their youngest kids’ sponsored walkathon, Billy decides to get fit whilst simultaneously raising both funds and awareness for suicide prevention charities.

He embarks on a weightloss and exercise programme that very quickly takes over his life. Weighing in at over 400 lbs, he decides he wants to lose half; the only problem is, he is so morbidly obese and unfit that even walking to the garden gate is a struggle!

Although he has a few moments of weakness, he gradually garners the support of colleagues, reporters and the local residents; and this spurs him on.

The only problem is, those he feels should be supporting him the loudest; his wife, kids, sister and parents; all, for various reasons of their own, don’t want him to succeed.

‘Conjures all the grief and regret of a family who has suffered an insurmountable loss. Ethel Rohan captures a blend of comedy and tragedy that is entirely true to family, hometown, and our own private struggles. Poignant and inspiring.’ – Eowyn Ivey, international bestselling author of THE SNOW CHILD

First Impressions

The cover is intriguing; the illustration seems light-hearted, in direct juxtaposition with the subject material.

Further into the story, there is also an element of who will fill Michael​’s boots on the farm.

The author’s vivid descriptions of Billy’s thoughts & feelings, and his all-consuming desperate need of; and enjoyment from; comfort eating make for uncomfortable reading. 

Each member of the Brennan family is trying to cope with the pain of their loss in the best way they can. I can understand Billy’s need to do something, but Tricia’s wish to try to return their day-to-day to normality (or as normal as it can be) is equally as valid.

However I must admit to feeling an irrational amount of irritation with regards to the responses of the grandparents. At first, it seems they are just old and set in their ways, but as we learn more about Billy’s own childhood, it becomes clear that they have always been particularly cold.




Hopefully Billy finds some peace through his weightloss and improved wellbeing endeavours and perhaps as he feels better both about and within himself, so too will the rest of the family. 

Thoughts

The author writes about the family’s feelings of loss, grief and uncertainty in a thoughtful manner and whilst saddening in places, i can imagine that reading it at or after a time of loss may prove a useful aid to processing the mixed emotions felt.

On a personal note, I know one of our family stories that always encites giggles is from around the time of my father passing away. Anyone looking from outside would probably find it somewhat crass but the reality was (and still is) that this particular moment of mild hysteria kept us going.  

Rating & Recommendations

A touching story, I rate this bittersweet and uplifting tale 4 out of 5 stars.

The author deals with highly emotive subjects such as suicide, addiction, grief and loss in a sensitive manner; whilst introducing just the right amount of humour.

The Author

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland; Ethel Rohan now lives and works in San Francisco.

She is the author of two short story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through The Bone. Her work has also been featured in publications such as The New York Times, PEN America and The Rumpus; as well as reviewing for the New York Journal of Books among others. 

You can connect with her via Twitter or find out more at EthelRohan.com.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Atlantic Books, via ReadersFirst  publication.

As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by! I’d love to hear whether you have or would like to read this!

Hugs, 

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘Love in Row 27’ by Eithne Shortall

TITLE: LOVE IN ROW 27

AUTHOR: Eithne Shortall

GENRE: Romance

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 352

PUBLISHED BY: Corvus

PUBLICATION DATE: 1 June 2017

ISBN: 9781786492036

PRICE: £7.99


The Story

Heartbroken and home from Berlin after the breakdown of a 2 year romance, Cora finds herself working the check-in desk at Heathrow where a serendipitous policy change regarding a pause on self-service means she finds herself in the position to play Cupid (indeed, this becomes the name her flight attendant friend Nancy affectionately calls her). 

Cora and Nancy have a system where suitable single candidates for love are sat together in row 27. Cora gets proceedings started by a bit of surreptitious Facebook research to choose the best matches, then Nancy oils the wheels with coffee and an encouragement to chat. 

As the book progresses, we learn more about Cora’s failed romance and her mother’s ailing health. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Sheila is now living in a research clinic and as she was (as an ex-employee) instrumental in her daughter getting the Airline job, Cora finds herself torn with the idea of moving on elsewhere because leaving the airport also means leaving behind all the stories and memories to be shared about her mum; that soon Sheila will be unable to remember. 

Cora becomes obsessed with her matchmaking, to the detriment of her friendships, and her own possible chance at romance; when Nancy attempts a little matchmaking of her own, between Cora and the tall, dark and handsome Charlie from airline security.

A particularly entertaining thread that runs through the book is Cupid’s attempts to find love for frequent high-flyer Ingrid, a Swedish businesswoman; and the only passenger to cotton-on to the matchmaking scheme.

Throughout the story we remeet a few more frequent targets, such as Aiden; a handsome doctor who intrigues & infuriates Cora in equal measure on his weekly return flights to Ireland.

Thoughts

The book cover design is whimsical and fun and whilst i don’t tend to go for chick-lit or romances; i really enjoyed the humourous writing, the witty repartee between Cora & Nancy, and the touching way that the issue of Alzheimer’s is addressed as we learn more about Cora’s mum Sheila’s ailing health. 


Rating & Recommendations

Both witty & touching, I rate this entertaining read 4 out of 5 stars.


I was surprised how much I enjoyed this book and found myself glad I tried a genre I would normally overlook.

I would recommend this book to fans of Marian Keyes, and those who enjoy a romance with plenty of humour.

The Author

Based in Dublin after having previously lived in London, France and America; Eithne Shortall is a former student of journalism at Dublin City University.

She is an arts correspondent for The Sunday Times, and Love In Row 27 is her debut novel.

A self-confessed committed matchmaker from an early age; she enjoys sea swimming, cycling and eating scones; when not concerning herself with other people’s love lives.

You can connect with the lovely Eithne Shortall on Twitter and Instagram.

Disclosure

I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher Corvus, via Readers First, in exchange for an honest review.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Hugs,

Crafty xx

[Book Review] ‘LIKE OTHER GIRLS’ by Claire Hennessy

TITLE: LIKE OTHER GIRLS

AUTHOR: Claire Hennessy

GENRE: YA , Fiction , Personal & Social Issues

EDITION: Paperback

PAGES: 288

PUBLISHED BY: Hot Key Books

PUBLICATION DATE: May 2017

ISBN: 9781471406348

PRICE: £7.99

What’s the story?

     
Lauren is a young girl who feels she doesn’t fit in. She feels she doesn’t have any ‘real’ friends at the all-girls school she attends (where her mother has recently taken up the post as head teacher). We know she split from her best friend, and details leading up to this are unfurled as the story progresses. She is confused by her sexuality, she has a boyfriend (who she thinks sometimes just uses her for sex) but also feels attracted to girls.
Stresses at school, in her friendships, home relationships, and her lovelife all gradually get too much for her. 
She begins drinking heavily and makes risky choices.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

After splitting up with her boyfriend, she discovers she is pregnant, but feels unable to confide in anyone.
Living in Ireland, she finds it impossible to receive any meaningful help, and so she makes the decision to travel to England to attend an abortion clinic. 

Afterwards, and still trying to come to terms with her experiences, she again finds her life spiralling out of control. She is still drinking, arguing with parents and teachers, and generally feeling alone.

Eventually things come to a head and she is convinced to attend counseling. At first she is reticent and merely goes through the motions of attending but after a while she sees that it can help her.

In time she confides in her mother and her friends (the friendship with her best friend is salvageable) and attempts to take back some control of her life by campaigning for better help for Irish women who find themselves pregnant and in need of intervention.
In the beginning, I didn’t really like the character Lauren, but by halfway I found myself really rooting for her, and found myself worrying & laughing and raging alongside her. I had grown to love and admire her by the end.

What I Thought:

     I must admit that, to begin with, I wasn’t convinced by this book. It seemed a bit too full of teenage angst and modern tropes to be something I would enjoy reading. This isn’t a negative reflection on the book, it’s just that I do not fit the demographic of the target audience (mid to late teens/possibly early twenties).
 HOWEVER, I am so glad I persevered, as as the story unfolds Claire Hennessy deals with difficult subject matter in a sensitive manner.

Rating & Recommendation

Somewhat surprisingly, I find myself rating this book 4 out of 5 stars.

The subjects of teenage pregnancy, abortion (in particular the Irish Eighth Amendment), gender identity, sexuality and alcohol abuse are dealt with in a far more sensitive and thought-provoking manner than my initial assessment of the opening chapters’ would have expected.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA with a social issue twist.
  
Have you read anything lately that you normally wouldn’t or found yourself changing your opinion of a book halfway through? Please share!


Thanks for stopping by,

Hugs,

Crafty xx    

Audio

[Book Review] “SUPERPOWERLESS” by Chris Priestley

 

Title: Superpowerless 
Author: Chris Priestley

Published by: Hot Key Press Publication date: 17th June 2017 

Genres: General Fiction/ Young Adult/ Teen/ Contemporary/
Edition: Paperback
ISBN: 
9781471404979
Price: £6.99 (GBP)


  • Synopsis

David is sixteen. A pretty ordinary boy, in most ways – he just wants to hang out in his bedroom, reading his dad’s old comics. Comics that are full of his heroes – those figures whose lives are charmed, special, unique.

Life hasn’t been easy recently for David, though. His father died just a couple of years ago, he has a fractious relationship with his mum, and he has fallen out with his best friend. But, David has a secret, which he hasn’t told anyone.

He has superpowers. He can soar through the air, he has superhearing, he feels and hears everything super-keenly. So life should be easier, then, shouldn’t it? But somehow it’s not – and when David gets involved with the girl next door, gorgeous Holly Hunter, he begins to realise just how very complicated it can get.

David’s harbouring another secret, a deeper darker one, and on this journey from boyhood to manhood, will he have the courage to face up to it?

 

 

  • Review

Well firstly, Thank you Mr Priestley! I finally finished reading Superpowerless at 5:17am. Luckily I wasn’t working that morning, otherwise i might have just cried at a 7am alarm….

“I think about sex all the time. All the time. Well, sex and death and comics.”  or so 16 year old David admits to the older, and certainly more streetwise Holly; his neighbour, and the object of his teenage fantasies. Strange circumstances make them friends as David comes to terms with his grief and feelings of helplessness at being unable to ‘save’ his father, his loneliness after withdrawing from friendships, his infatuation for Holly, and his uncertainty over girls, sex and relationships. Holly struggles with her own demons regarding selfworth, and failed and unhealthy relationships.

Obsessed with the comic books left behind by his father, David attempts to rationalise his feelings by constructing a superpowered alterego.

Torn between his loneliness and his belief that with the mantle of superhero comes a necessity to be alone and unknown, he spends his days watching the neighbourhood through his dad’s old telescope and imagining how it would feel to fly unseen and unhindered by the constraints of ‘normal life’.

Through his own loneliness, grief and uncertainty; he finds it increasingly difficult to reach out and connect with those around him.

 

  • Thoughts

Whilst unlike my usual choice of reading material, I very much enjoyed this book (probably made obvious by the aforementioned 5:17am fiasco!) and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys YA fiction. I particularly think it would resonate with teenagers struggling with their own perceptions of not fitting in, and/or those trying to come to terms with prior loss.

 

  •  The Author

You can find out more about the author via his website or blog, or connect with him via Facebook or Twitter @crispriestley.

 

I rate this a 4/5 stars read

Disclosure: A free ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.