NetGalley Review: Knightmare Arcanist (Shami Stovall)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

TL;DR – A superb start to what I’m sure will be a spectacular series!

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anyone who loves an easy-to-read tale of magic and heroism

About the Book…

Knightmare Arcanist is the first book in the Frith Chronicles series. It follows a Volke, a gravediggers apprentice who yearns to be an arcanist – a magician paired for life to a magical creature, capable of amazing feats. But the circumstances of his birth make this dream unlikely, until one day everything changes.

What follows is a tale of magic, mystery and heroism where friends can become enemies and enemies can become friends.

What I thought…

I absolutely loved this book. Stovall has created an engaging and wonderful world, filled with magic and wonder and well thought out characters abound.

I love the magic system. The idea of being paired with a mystical creature whose magic influences your own is a wonderful idea and I really enjoyed seeing how each magical creature approached problems in their own unique ways. I also particularly love Nicholin the rizzel (a magical creature). He’s cheeky and adorable and quite frankly, I NEED one.

Another thing I loved about this book was the way the characters interacted. The book starts on an island with Volke and his adopted sister paired against Zaxis and Atty, the islands snobby to-good-for-the-likes-of-you favourites. But it isn’t long before this dynamic starts to change in interesting and unexpected ways, and I can’t wait to find out where it goes.

This book was also incredibly easy to read. It was well paced and engaging throughout. I didn’t want to put it down and before I knew it, the book was finished!

Final Thoughts…

I didn’t want this book to end, and I will be eagerly awaiting the next instalment. In the meantime, I plan to get hold of Stovall’s other books Star Marque Rising and The Ethereal Squadron as soon as I am able!

Definitly give this book a go.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Kwik Review: Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday (Laura Ellen Anderson)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link | Author Website

The wonderful fourth installment of my favourite kids series.

TL;DR – A wonderful new adventure featuring wonderful characters and even more wonderful illustrations!5Button

RAGDOLL RATING: 5/5 BUTTONS

What I thought…

Amelia Fang and the Half-Moon Holiday is the fourth instalment of the wonderful Amelia Fang series. I have totally loved the three previous books and this on did not disappoint on any level.

Amelia and the Gang have joined the Rainbow Rangers and are off on their first big expedition – but after Tangine (because who else would cause all the problems) throws a bit of a wobbly and storms off in search of a restaurant Amelia and her friends find themselves shrunk to a tiny size, and that’s just the first of their problems…

The story is hugely entertaining, as expected. It’s funny and cute and gross, and all the other good stuff I’ve come to expect from this series. But my favourite thing – the thing I can never stop praising enough is the artwork that adorns every page. It’s wonderful. Laura Ellen Anderson is a superb, and wonderful artist and even if you (somehow) didn’t like the story, this book is worth owning just for the pictures.

Definitely worth buying this book. I’m SO excited for book 5 in October!!

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Star Wars: Tarkin (James Luceno)

Kwik Reads


Goodreads Link

Even better than I had hoped!

TL;DR – The story of Grand Moff Tarkin’s rise to power. An awesome tale and a must-read for Star Wars fans.

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RAGDOLL RATING: Exceptional

What I thought…

I’ve never read a Star Wars book before, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’d heard people talking about Tarkin on twitter, and since I love the character I thought I’d give it a go. Best. Decision. Ever.

So, Tarkin chronicles the life of one of the most powerful men in the Empire, from his childhood to his rise to the position of Grand Moff, and oh boy is it exciting. James Luceno did a marvellous job of bringing the character to life.

I read the audiobook version of this book, and dang the production quality is superb. Sound effects and occasional music and everything. BEAUTIFUL. But I guess you’d expect that from a Star Wars book – they can afford not to cheap out on that stuff.

Anyway, well worth a read or a listen.

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Please note: I am in no way affiliated with the author or publishers. I bought this book with my own money for my own reasons. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Darkwood (Gabby Hutchinson Crouch)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

Completely fabulous, can’t wait for the rest of the series. A strong contender for Book of the Month

TL;DR – A funny, clever and wonderful fairytale re-telling.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of fairytales, fantasy and female characters who kick butt!

About the Book…

Darkwood is a sort of fairytale retelling and variety pack. The lead character is Gretel, of Hansel and Gretel fame, driven out of her home by villainous Huntsmen who (wrongly) accuse her of being a witch! Gretel finds herself in the Darkwood, and soon winds up as part of a band of witches, featuring such wonderful characters as The White Knight (Snow White), Jack (of the Beanstalk fame) and my personal favourite, Trevor the Talking Spider. What follows is a hilarious adventure to fight back against the forces of evil!

What I thought…

I flat out adore this book. There are 2 things I didn’t like about it, and I’m gonna start the review with them because then I can gush about how good it was uninterrupted.

  1. The word ‘cowl’ is used to describe clothing with sleeves, which confused me.
  2. It’s written in the present tense, which I’m generally not a fan of. HOWEVER, I will come back to this point in a moment.

OK, where to begin. Let’s start with the setting. I’m a big fan of fairytales and folklore, and combining so many stories into one setting was a real treat for me. Each story has been turned on its head and reimagined, and then blended into something better than the sum of its parts. It’s really clever, well executed and extremely good fun.

And it’s funny! Oh man. I mentioned Trevor the talking spider in the intro and I’m gonna talk about him here. Trevor is *exactly* the type of character I love to read about. He’s small and apparently useless, but he dreams big. He wants to be useful. He wants to be a spy! And every time he gets the chance he does something daft. Like disguises. It’s silly, and playful and I love it.

Now I’m going to return to point 2 of my complaints. Present tense. I don’t like it, it annoys me and I’ve never been able to get over it. Until now. I really love how this book was written. I’m turned around on the use of present tense in writing, which is a big thing for me to admit.

Final Thoughts…

I love this book. I can’t wait for the rest of the series. I suppose the biggest compliment I can give to this book is that it made me want to write the book I’ve been planning for so long. It’s encouraged me to get up and give it a shot!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Assorted Reivews

Kwik Reads

Okay somebodies – I’ve not posted a review in ages since it’s taken me 4 months to recover from christmas. I was worried about this, until I realised it took me the exact same amount of time to recover last year! So without further ado, here’s a few quick reviews to get me back into the swing of things:

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

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his pet chicken pooped on his computer (holly)

TL;DR – A baffling collection of jokes, written by real Earth children!

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Anybody who wants to spend twenty minutes or so marvelling at the insanity that is the mind of children.

About the Book…

This book is a collection of jokes, written by real kids and compiled by the guy behind @KidsWriteJokesIt is 130 pages of the most random, bizarre and hilarious surrealism that only a child could possibly come up with.

What I thought…

Personally, I really enjoyed it. It’s totally stupid, even baffling – sometimes you can see where these kids were coming from, and other times it’s a complete mystery. This isn’t a book of well crafted, genuinely funny jokes, and it doesn’t pretend to be. This book is funny because it’s bad, and more than a little charming.

Final Thoughts…

This has got to be worth a punt, even if it’s just something to pick up and chuckle at from time to time.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Can a cat really run a major business? Let’s find out!

TL;DR – A comic about a cat who runs a business – says it all really.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of cats

About the Book…

This book is exactly what you think it is – a collection of comic strips about a cat who is in charge of a business. Business cat acts like a cat, making business difficult or bizarre and their-in lies the humour.

What I thought…

There is nothing wrong with this book – in fact I imagine that if you are fond of cats, or know anything about cats, it’s probably hilarious. Unfortunately, I am neither a fan of cats, nor do I know anything about cats, so much of the charm is lost on me. I can appreciate it at a “this is weird, cat’s shouldn’t run a business” level, but I assume there is also a level where you would think “this is so like my cat!” or similar, which is obviously lost on me.

Final Thoughts…

This is probably much more entertaining if you know cats – however it is still cute and fun even if you don’t.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

A superb little campaign companion!

TL;DR – A selection of fun campaigns to play with your Dungeons and Dragons group.

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Ragdoll Rating: 4.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: TTRPG fans, especially dungeon masters

About the Book…

Rolled and Told is a super little collection of campaigns for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. Each campaign is provided with a setting, challenges, and experience guides and so on to allow your DM to run them with ease!

What I thought…

OK, I’m a part time DM for my younger sisters and a couple of their friends, and this book looks exactly the kind of thing I need. Each campaign is clearly well thought out, providing all the information you could possibly need to run it for yourself.

Seriously, this book has everything – setup and flavour text, NPC stats, challenge descriptions win/loss conditions, starting and ending information, plot and background stuff…just, everything! It’s well referenced too, pointing you towards pages in the various 5e players guides.

It’s also set out really nicely to make it easier to access specific information.

I’m particularly fond of the comic pages that accompany each campaign, setting the scene for the whole thing. It’s a really nice touch that makes the whole book seem a lot more fun, and would definitely appeal to my group of players.

Final Thoughts…

I’m absolutely certain my group would enjoy this book, and quite frankly I’m planning to put my money where my mouth is and get me a copy so I can test this theory. So much love to the folk who created this book!

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

AAAAAAH, it feels good to review again! Hopefully I’ll have more soon.

Book Review: Fringe War (Rachel Aukes)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Interesting, but a little overwhelming.

TL;DR – Freedom fighters kick back against the government that oppresses them, war ensues. Full of plotting, politics and spaceships.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3.5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of sci-fi

About the Book…

Fringe War is the fourth book in a series I haven’t read. It follows the story of a group of freedom fighters in their struggle to wrestle control and a better life from the hands of a corrupt – and evil – government. It’s your classic space-based underdog story.

What I thought…

I’ve given this book 4 stars, although if I’m honest I feel I should give it three. I’ll explain that first and then move on to the book itself. I personally felt that there were too many characters and names being thrown about it this book – I really, really struggled to keep track of who was who, and even now I could only name two characters, and I only really know who one of them is. For this reason, I would have rated this book a three – however, I am erring on the side of caution, as this could just be my own issue rather than a genuine problem with the book so I would encourage you to make up your own mind on that front.

The story itself – or at least, the bits I could keep track of – were very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the political landscape of The Collective, and the unpleasant motivations of Heid, who seems to run the parliament. There were a lot of references to things that must have happened earlier in the series that influenced a lot of the decisions made by the characters, and I would definitely consider picking up the rest of the series to learn about them.

I think the story had a good balance of action and political thought, which made for an easy read, aside from the issues addressed above.

Final Thoughts…

This book definitely seems to have the potential to be really enjoyed by someone who can get their head around all the characters. So if that sort of thing isn’t a problem for you, I’d recommend you give it a try.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Nighthawks (Jeremy Flagg)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

I wanted to enjoy this more than I did.

TL;DR – A book about super-humans, government oppression and revenge. An enjoyable concept I just couldn’t get in to.

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Ragdoll Rating: 3/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of X-men type novels

About the Book…

In the world of Nighthawks, super-powers exist and are heavily resisted by the American government. Powered humans (or, Children of Nostrodamus) are locked up, killed or forced to live in an uninhabitable wasteland – shunned by society. A powerful psychic made sends out a number of letters before her death, letters that bring together a group of Children who find themselves working together to fight back against their oppressors.

What I thought…

Nighthawks follows a fairly classic formula that I personally really enjoy. Powered humans are oppressed by somebody and spend the rest of the book fighting back. This is exactly my kind of plot, and because of this, I had high hopes for this book which unfortunately weren’t met.

My first issue, which admittedly was the smaller of the two, is that the action sequences, particularly the fight scenes felt a little sterile. I’m not sure if it was a language or a pacing issue, but for whatever reason, I felt distinctly underwhelmed after the various fight scenes.

The bigger issue came from the fact the I really – and I mean really – struggled to follow the story as it moved along. The story uses multiple points of view which I found a little confusing at times given the authors tendency to switch POV and then spend a little while using impersonal pronouns (she/he) instead of names. In addition, I struggled to follow the plot from one point to another. At times it seemed to leap ahead – the final section of the book, where the characters invade a prison seemed to come out of nowhere and left me wondering if I’d skipped several chapters by accident. If I’m honest, I would struggle to give more than an extremely broad-strokes recap of the plot of this book.

Oh yeah, and one final thing. This book also contained the phrase “Conthan stood up and Dwayne gave him an awkward male-on-male hug.” A sentence I hate so much I almost knocked a Button off the rating for.

That said, I did enjoy elements of the book. I particularly enjoyed the way the Children’s powers work. They are each unique, and range from the mundane to the devastating. I liked that the powers had a downside to them, that prevented their over-use, the characters had to be careful using their powers or they would lose control. It was an interesting mechanic. I also enjoyed learning about the way society treats the Children of Nostradamus, and the interplay between government thugs and civil rights groups, something I would like to see explored further.

Final Thoughts…

I’m not sure, personally, if I would continue reading the series. My reason for this is that I’m not sure I could deal with the writing style, rather than the content itself. As such, you might find the writing suits you perfectly and enjoy this book a great deal, so I suppose you should give it a shot and find out.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Queen of Zazzau (J.S. Emuakpor)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link | Author Website

Totally kick-ass!

TL;DR – A smashing tale of war, love, magic and gods, with seriously strong female characters

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Fans of historical fantasy, fans of strong female leads

About the Book…

Amina is a princess, heir to the throne of Zazzau and a destiny of war and bloodshed. Amina must prove herself as a warrior and lead Zazzau against hordes of foreign enemies and strange magic. But the god of war has his sights set on Amina, and ruling the nation soon proves to be far more complicated than Amina could have possibly imagined.

Queen of Zazzau follows Amina from her beginnings as the heir apparent, through war and love and impossible bargains. The book takes place over some 80 years, during which Amina becomes a strong military leader, a Queen and the wife of a god. It is full to the brim with battles and magic, gods and romance.

What I thought…

I put off reading this book for a while as it is pretty long, clocking in at 510 pages – and what a selection of pages they are!

My favourite thing about this book is its lead character, Amina. Amina is a wonderful example of well-rounded, strong female lead. She’s powerful, clever, loving, dedicated – she is brilliant. We get to explore so many facets of Amina’s character as the story progresses, from romantic interests, battle tactics, diplomacy…even an unexpected pregnancy. Life throws so much at Amina, and she doesn’t take it lying down, but at the same time, she has this fragile side that feels so real – she struggles to keep going at times, allowing fear and panic to take hold of her. Amina is such a great character for so many reasons, and I’m super pleased to have read her story.

Another thing I loved was the way religion is explored in this book. Strictly speaking, the Zazzauwa are Muslim, but for many, if not most of them the old religion still exists – a host of other gods hold some sway over the workings of the world and I found it really interesting to see how the two quite disparate set of beliefs gelled together into a functioning belief system.

My only complaint about this book was the ending. Now, I need to say before I go further, that I did like the ending – I’m just not sure I’m comfortable with it. Feel free to skip this paragraph as it does contain spoilers and isn’t hugely important.

So an old prophecy has linked Amina and the god of war for years, and when he first appears, Amina wants no part of it. She’s quite happy as she is, she is already in love with someone else but the god of war insists that she will be his eventually. This turns out to be true, but when she finally does go to him, she offers herself in exchange for his influence over a battle that will decide the fate of her kingdom and everyone in it. So Amina becomes his wife, and then the god drops the bombshell that she will now feel intense sexual desire, which he will only satisfy when he feels like it. She is free to sleep with other men, but they MUST die afterwards. I think we can all agree this is beyond creepy and straight up abusive – but that’s gods for you, those guys are jerks. Anyway, because of this, Amina is prevented from properly experiencing love for her entire life – which, incidentally, is spent eternally young, so for 80 years she can’t allow herself to love another man, instead of taking a number of ‘temporary husbands’ and killing them, or periodically having sex with the god of war. Which brings us to the end. Turns out, after all this, she completely loves the god of war and they ride off into the sunset together.

OK spoilers over, on to my point. As I’ve said in other reviews, I’m autistic – I have trouble understanding how other peoples minds work. But to me, the end doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure what I would have wanted in its place, and I’m not begrudging the bitter-sweet ending, but still, it doesn’t sit quite right with me. But that could just be my weird interpretation – don’t let it prevent you reading the book and making up your own mind.

Final Thoughts…

This book is an epic tale with so much to love about it. I’m really pleased I read it and will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for anything J.S. Emuakpor might release in the future.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book Review: Cretaceous (Tadd Galusha)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


Goodreads Link

For the dinosaur lover in your life.

TL;DR – A superb book about living life, the dinosaur way.

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Ragdoll Rating: 5/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Dinosaur fans, folks who appreciate the comics as a medium

About the Book…

Cretaceous is my best guess at the perfect use of the comics medium. The story follows a t-rex as he goes about his daily life, doing t-rex things in a t-rex way. It’s full of dinosaurs and drama and it’s super freakin’ sweet.

What I thought…

The first thing that needs to be said about this book is it includes no dialogue. Not. One. Word. No speech, no narration, NOTHING. And yet this book is absolutely soaked in drama and emotion.

We follow a T-rex, a loving, family-oriented T-rex, who goes out hunting to support its family. But disaster strikes! His partner and babies are slaughtered by opportunistic dinosaurs! Tragedy! What follows is an exploration of life in the past, mixed with a tale of revenge. We also follow a triceratops in its battle for survival.

The art in this book is beautiful and so expressive – it moves me better than words ever could. I felt like I had a deep understanding of the characters by the end of this book, and they don’t even have names. Galusha expertly uses his art to tell stories of love, revenge, survival and family, all without saying a word.

To top it off, at the back there is a little section telling you what all the creatures were and compares their height to an average human, which was a great touch.

Final Thoughts…

I loved this book, and if you appreciate the comics medium, you should definitely give it a go.

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

Book of the Month (November 2018)

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This just in!!

The Ragdoll Reads Book of the Month pick for November 2018 is:

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Pilu of the Woods

by Mai K. Nguyen (2019)

TL;DR – A beautiful story about overcoming your demons

See the full review here: Book Review: Pilu of the Woods (Mai K. Nguyen)

See the full Book of the Month list here: Book of the Month