Blog Tour: Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson

Hey everyone,

Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson and I’ll be sharing an extract with you all a little further down.

About the author:

Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson is an Icelandic author who lives in Reykjavík. Shadows of the Short Days is his first novel. He writes in both Icelandic and English and is the founder and editor of Iceland’s first SFF magazine, Furðusögur (Weird Stories). Alexander is also the vocalist and lyricist for Icelandic black metal band Carpe Noctem.

About the book:

Sæmundur the Mad, addict and sorcerer, has been expelled from the magical university, Svartiskóli, and can no longer study galdur, an esoteric source of magic. Obsessed with proving his peers wrong, he will stop at nothing to gain absolute power and knowledge, especially of that which is long forbidden.

Garún is an outcast: half-human, half-huldufólk, fighting against an unjust government that refuses to grant people like her basic rights. A militant revolutionary and graffiti artist, recklessly dismissive of the status quo, she will do anything to achieve a just society, including spark a revolution. Even if she has to do it alone.

This is a tale of revolution set in a twisted version of Reykjavik fuelled by industrialised magic and populated by humans, interdimensional exiles, otherworldly creatures, psychoactive graffiti and demonic familiars.

Shadows of the Short Days by Alexander Dan Vilhjálmsson

Extract from Shadows of the Short Days

Eitt


Garún removed her mask and stepped away from the wet graffiti
to see clearly the whole of the hex sigil she’d painted. It was
difficult breathing through the filters on the leather mask and it
felt good to taste the fresh air. It was dark, the only light coming
from the pale moon that sat low in the sky. She relied on insight
and feeling when she painted, so the dark didn’t bother her. She
didn’t need to see to know if the graffiti was good or when it was
ready. She simply felt it, but it was a raw feeling. She wanted to
be sure, so she slipped the goggles over her eyes in order to see
the sorcerous seiðmagn bleeding from the paint.
Sharp geometries jutted out unexpectedly from the red and
obscure graffiti, and even though the paint wasn’t dry yet the
seiðmagn already radiated powerfully into the environment.
Exhausted from the work, Garún felt dried up after using so
much delýsíð paint in such a short time. While she painted, the
emotions expressed within her art were amplified by the delýsíð
in the paint and cast back to her in a vicious psychedelic cycle:
she was the snake that fed on itself. Now, it was complete. Garún
turned down the volume of the electronic music booming in her
ears and focused on letting the painting speak to her.
The graffiti was in a good location atop the store Krambúðin
and with luck it would be weeks until it was discovered. All the while it would continue to bleed seiðmagn into the environment,
where it would infiltrate the subconscious of those nearby. It
would slowly infect their minds and sow the seeds of discord.
If left undisturbed, the painting would become as a death mask
over the building and its neighbourhood.
Krambúðin was a store owned by Sigurður Thorvaldsen, a
merchant who ran several enterprises in the greater Reykjavík
area. The one below Garún’s feet had become one of the most
popular colonial stores in the city since Sigurður had moved to
Reykjavík and set up shop almost the same day as the occupation of the Crown began. Not for the soldiers, but for all the
people from the countryside flooding to the city to work for
the army. The Crown needed a large working force, especially
to build the forts in Viðey and the barracks on Seltjarnarnes.
Sigurður had pushed those out who threatened his business,
threatening, blackmailing and maiming – but, above all, profiting. By the time occupation became colonisation and the forts
of the colonial masters were built, Sigurður Thorvaldsen had
become a wealthy man and Reykjavík a fully grown city.
The graffiti Garún had sprayed on the roof was an antiprosperity hex. It was intended to drive away the establishment’s
elite customers who prized Krambúðin’s imported luxury products. Exotic spices, delicate fabrics, handmade soaps, candies and
perfumes were only a small fraction of the merchandise available.
Those who did not subconsciously avoid the store would become
victims of the hex. Pushy customers would argue with the staff,
who in turn would be unhelpful and patronising. With luck
the influence would spread over the whole street as the graffiti
fed on the people’s negative emotions and spewed them back
out. She hoped that it would be able to remain unharassed for
longer than her other work, which had all been found within
a few days.

She took the spray cans and the painting mask and stuffed
them into her backpack along with the goggles. Before climbing
down from the roof she double-checked that she’d left no empty
cans behind. She slid down the fire-escape ladder in the back
and turned up the volume again. It was calm and slow, the
bass steady and comforting, telling her that nobody was around,
nobody was watching. She ran silently through empty yards,
vaulted over the fences in her path. The beat became faster the
closer she got to the Hverfisgata Road and the stressed rhythm
hinted that the police might not be far down the street. She
weaved through alleys and backyards alongside Hverfisgata’s busy
road. The evening traffic had barely started to trickle downtown.
Sudden breaks and booming basslines told her if someone was
about to cross her path or about to look out of their window,
and she reacted instinctively, ducking into cover and waiting
for the threat to pass. She could never be absolutely sure that
she had not been seen, and often it was hard to read the music,
but after endless practice it had become almost second nature,
a part of her natural reflex. She let go and let the music speak
to her subconscious.
The closer she got to Hlemmur the more uneasy the music
grew. Patrol automobiles were lined up in front of the police
station, which was fused with the central station like a tumour
grown outside a body. The beat was thick and murky, the music
absolutely deafening. She turned down the volume so it was
barely audible, pulled her hoodie up and tried not to think about
what would happen if she was stopped for a random search.
The central station was home for those who had nowhere
else to go. Hobos, junkies, a few blendingar. She made sure not
to glance towards them as she felt them notice her walking
past. As if they resented her for not sitting with them in the
gutter. Policemen stood by the ticket booth and gates, docile but

formidable. She tried to keep a low profile, but without it being
suspicious. Just as would be expected from a blendingur like her.
She took the train to Starholt. Most working people had
got home by now and the nightlife didn’t pick up until after
midnight, so the train was relatively empty. The city lights took
on a blurred halo in the grimy windows.
No one greeted her when she came home. She missed Mæja.
What was she thinking, leaving the cat with Sæmundur? He
could barely take care of himself, let alone a cat. She was unsure
what her intention had been, exactly. She’d wanted him to feel
guilt or remorse, or anything at all, there at the end. But he
had been simply too numb and now her little cat was probably
starved to death underneath worm-eaten manuscripts and dirty
socks. One more thing she tried not to think about.
Her studio flat was a bedroom, kitchen, working area and
living room simultaneously. The sink was filled with paintbrushes
and squeezed paint tubes were found on almost every surface.
Half-completed paintings were scattered around in stacks leaning against the walls. The air smelled of paint, oil, acrylics and
spray mixed in with a faint, sour reek of delýsíð. It was probably
good that she was rid of Mæja. The cat would have been long
dead from all the toxic chemicals in the air.
Garún took off her large headphones and removed the
audioskull from the backpack. Sæmundur had summoned the
noisefiend himself and bound it into the skull when she’d started
to tag small, powerful delýsíð staves here and there. Wires stuck
out of the bare headphones, an old operator’s headset she had
converted. She had always meant to make a casing from wood
or brass, but had never got around to it. The headphones were
plugged into the forehead of the audioskull. The skull had a blue

shade to it, covered in runes and esoteric symbols coloured a
dark red. It was both illegal and dangerous to summon demons,
but Sæmundur never cared about risks. She’d got a used portable
transistor radio cheap and had been listening to it on the go,
carrying it around in her backpack. That’s what had given him
the idea. Transmundane beings were incredibly dangerous even
when bound in bone, and Garún had absolutely lost it when he
gave her the skull. Still, she had used it.
She took off the black clothes and emptied her backpack. She
hid the clothes, along with the backpack and audioskull, under
a loose board in the closet. Inside there was a hidden compartment where she put the nearly empty delýsíð spray cans. She
was practically out, and she needed more. She’d gone tagging
a bit too frequently these last weeks, excited for the upcoming
protest they had planned. She would have to get more. The
bright and unnatural colours had stained her fingers. She turned
on the shower and washed her hands with strong and coarse
soap before stepping in. The water smelled faintly of sulphur, a
familiar and soothing feeling.
After the shower she dried off with a towel and wrapped it
around her head to dry her shoulder-length hair. She stirred
a raw egg into skyr and read a book while she ate. The book
had come free from a nearby café; many of the coffee houses
in Starholt had various kinds of free shops and trade markets.
Many of the local residents were artists and it aided them in
their never-ending pursuit of inspiration and materials. Almost
a century had passed since the book was written, long before
the occupation by the Crown. The novel was about a huldukona
who wanted to become a poet, but her poems were rejected
by the Hrímlanders because of who she was. Because of what
she was. All her life was one long struggle. The book was a
handmade reprint some decades old. It was singed and burned

and many pages had been ripped out of it. There still remained
some readable parts and Garún devoured them. She’d never
found a novel about huldufólk before.
When she finished eating she wrapped the towel around
herself, sat out on the balcony and rolled a cigarette. Just a
bit too tight, so she had to work her lungs to inhale the livid
smoke. Winter had begun smothering autumn and the evening
dark was sharp and deep. The apartment buildings surrounded
a playground where a few children played in an old wooden
play castle that had once been multicoloured, but the paint had
peeled off long ago. No one was monitoring them. Late as it was,
this was a common sight. She looked over to the other balconies.
Clean laundry hung out to dry on taut clothes lines everywhere,
among the junk that artists and collectors had gathered: old
fishing nets, rusted iron and driftwood, sheets of corrugated iron
and other garbage that was a gleaming treasure in some eyes.
Garún threw the butt over the balcony and went inside. She
had to get more delýsíð spray paint. Viður would hook her up.
She put on a pair of old jeans and a plain black top, grabbed a
moss green coat on the way out. She took her time walking to
the central area of Starholt, the epicentre where the artistic types
and other ideological outcasts, self-declared or not, met each
night with the common goal of gossip, flattery, drink and dope
in various degrees. As she got closer to the heart of it all, the
neighbourhood came to life. Massive cement towers gave way
to lower, friendlier houses. Electric lamps with stained glass lit
up the streets, twisted modern sculptures that were a welcome
change from the Crown’s uniform standard issue lamps everywhere else in the city.
Gangs of náskárar sat on eaves over dark alleyways, selling
drugs. They were adorned with markings of their tribe, all of
them warriors with iron claws or beaks. Bright laughter moved

through the crowd like an infectious cough and occasionally
glasses of beer shattered. Huldufólk and humans hung together
in separate groups outside bars and clubs.
The huldufólk’s attitude towards her was reserved when she
walked past them, all of them reflexively reaching out to see who
was there. Garún barely noticed, having grown used to shutting
it out long ago. Not that humans considered her an equal either
– on the contrary – but some huldufólk had a vicious way of
upholding what they considered the old ways, and she served as
an offensive reminder to them of how far they had fallen.
She shook off these thoughts and lit another cigarette to clear
her head. Those strangers didn’t matter. She had found her own
people. And above all, she had herself.

Check out the blog tour:

Recent Reads Rapid Reviews

Wolfhunter River

Wolfhunter River (Stillhouse Lake)

These books are the equivalent of a bag of crisps for me! Once I start, I can’t stop, and Wolfhunter River kept me reading from the very start. I have enjoyed all three books in this series. The character development is great and I like how each book keeps the threads from the previous books going. Wolfhunter River is a compulsive and engaging thriller, and I can’t wait to see what Rachel Caine brings us next!

Truthwitch

Truthwitch (The Witchlands Series)

I had Truthwitch on my TBR for far too long, so I had to bump it up the pile earlier this year. It was SO GOOD. I have been meaning to get to the next two, but alas, time hasn’t been my friend. I absolutely loved this book. The premise was so interesting, and the characters were just brilliant. LOVED IT!

Heart of Mist

Heart of Mist: Book I: The Oremere Chronicles

Heart of Mist is another book I’ve had on my TBR for a while and I finally got to it this year. Its a solid start to a series. An interesting premise and good characters kept me reading. While I wasn’t blown away by it, I was still intrigued and I’ve grabbed the next in the series because I need to know what happens next!

The Priory of the Orange Tree

The Priory of the Orange Tree: THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER

This was a tome, a freaking TOME of a book and not one single page of this book was wasted. I absolutely loved The Priory of the Orange Tree. It is a truly epic fantasy, rich in imagery and with brilliantly drawn characters. The story is captivating, beautiful, dark, it is EVERYTHING. One of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long time. Cannot recommend it highly enough.

Blog Tour: Wanderers by Chuck Wendig Ellen’s Review

Hey everyone,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Wanderers by Chuck Wendig and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down!

About the author:

Chuck Wendig is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Star Wars: Aftermath, as well as the Miriam Black thrillers, the Atlanta Burns books, Zer0es/Invasive, and his upcoming modern epic, Wanderers (Del Rey, 2019). He’s also worked in a variety of other formats, including comics, games, film, and television. A finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the cowriter of the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus, he is also known for his books about writing. He lives in Pennsyltucky with his family. His agent is Stacia Decker, with Dunow, Carlson and Lerner.

Terribleminds is his blog. Here he rambles on about writing, parenthood, food, pop culture, and other such shenanigans. It is NSFW. Because fuck yeah, that’s why.

About the book:

The story is an epic tapestry of humanity, told in a chorus of disparate voices, including Shana, a young girl who wakes up one morning to discover her sister in the grip of a strange malady. She appears to be sleepwalking. She cannot talk and cannot be woken up. And she is heading with inexorable determination to a destination that only she knows. But Shana and are sister are not alone. Soon they are joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America, on the same mysterious journey. And like Shana, there are other “shepherds” who follow the flock to protect their friends and family on the long dark road ahead. For on their journey, they will discover an America convulsed with terror and violence, where this apocalyptic epidemic proves less dangerous than the fear of it.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Ellen’s Review:

Where to start with a review for this EPIC book? I’ll start there, it’s epic – 800 pages of awesomeness and I was absorbed from first page to last, in fact I could have happily read another few hundred or more. Apocalyptic madness, a big bad virus on the loose, white supremacists, religious lunatics…you’ll find all that and more in this behemoth of a read.

Shana wakes up one morning to discover her little sister Nessie missing from the family home and finds her outside apparently sleepwalking. She cannot be woken up or stopped from walking forever forwards to a destination that only she knows. Nessie is not the only one, soon she is joined by a flock of sleepwalkers from across America whose numbers grow daily that are on the same mysterious journey. Shana and the relatives of the other Walkers are soon known as shepherds and they protect their flock from whatever danger they encounter along the way. The walkers don’t eat or sleep, needles cannot penetrate their skin and you REALLY don’t want to try and make them stand still, things are likely to get…messy!

There are a lot of people interested in the Walkers; the CDC and the government being two of the major players. It becomes apparent that the fear of the Walkers will lead to more destructive behaviour than anyone anticipated. A lot of people seize upon them as being an embodiment of evil and are determined that they won’t reach their destination.

We also have Black Swan – a piece of AI that claims to have knowledge about why the Walkers exist and where they are going. Can this information be trusted and who will gain from it in the end?

I loved the whole mystery of Wanderers and was not prepared for the revelations as they occurred. A huge cast of characters but there was enough time to get to know them which inevitably led to upset as you realize not everyone is going to survive this event. My first book from Chuck Wendig but I’ll definitely be looking into his previous books.

Highly recommend!!

Check out the tour:

Recent Reads Rapid Reviews

The Truth About Keeping Secrets

The Truth About Keeping Secrets

The Truth About Keeping Secrets is one of those multi-layered books, the kind that just pull you in until you realise you’ve nearly finished the book. I enjoyed it, and it kept my interest the whole way through. An intriguing book and definitely one to add to your list if secrets and lies are your bookish bread and butter!

Killman Creek

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake Book 2)

Following on from the events of Stillhouse Lake, Killman Creek picks up in the aftermath. I binge read this series because it was so utterly compelling. I had to keep reading, I had to find out what was going on, I JUST NEEDED TO KNOW!!!! I’m a huge lover of US-based crime thrillers and this series satisfies that need. Thoroughly enjoyed this one!

The True Queen

The True Queen (Sorcerer to the Crown novels)

The True Queen is a beautifully-imagined fantasy, rich in detail and imagery and with a really diverse cast of characters. Its an absorbing and engaging read, and it almost reminds me of The Invisible Library series of books by Genevieve Cogman. If you enjoy fantasy with stunning desccriptive writing, then definitely add The True Queen to your TBR.

The Ruin

The Ruin: The gripping crime thriller you won't want to miss (The Cormac Reilly Series)

I don’t tend to read much Irish crime fiction, but being a Galway girl, I just had to bump The Ruin up my TBR. I ended up blasting through this book. The setting was really well used, and I found myself nodding along with places I recognised. This is the first in a series, and it is a cracking start. I really enjoyed it. Clever plot, good characters and pacing made this book a great read. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Recommended for sure!

Recent Reads Rapid Reviews

Don’t You Forget About Me

Don’t You Forget About Me: Hilarious, heartwarming and romantic – the funniest romcom of 2019

Don’t You Forget About Me is another fabulously relatable book from Mhairi McFarlane and I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. It’s got all of the ingredients for rom-com gold. Endearing characters, a will they/won’t they scenario, laughs and some emotional bits too. It was a really easy read. It was warm, funny but completely down to earth too. Highly recommend this one!

Girls of Paper and Fire

Girls of Paper and Fire

I had seen Girls of Paper and Fire all over social media, so I requested it from my library to read. After a bit of a wait, I got stuck in and I was hooked. At times dark and brutal, Girls of Paper and Fire is a thoroughly absorbing book. Excellent characters, a dastardly feel in there too, and a gripping plot. I really enjoyed this one, and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

This Cruel Design

This Cruel Design (This Mortal Coil)

I loved This Mortal Coil so it’s safe to say I was looking forward to catching up with the characters in This Cruel Design. While it took me a bit of time to get into it, once the story really got going I couldn’t put it down. This series is brilliantly dystopian, with real scientific edge. Definitely recommended!

Stillhouse Lake

Stillhouse Lake

I had seen the hype around this series when it was first released, so naturally I grabbed a copy for myself. Fast forward to this year (when book THREE) came out, that’s when I decided to pick up Stillhouse Lake. Talk about a thrill ride. I was hooked from the very beginning, caught up in the drama, absorbed in the characters. I loved it so much that I went on to read the following two books in the series in quick succession. If you enjoy fast paced thrillers, then I would definitely suggest adding these books to your TBR!

Blog Tour: Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith~Ellen’s Review

Hey everyone,

Today, Ellen in taking part in the blog tour for Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith, and I’ll be sharing her review with you all just a little further down this post.

About the author:

Graham Smith is the bestselling author of four explosive crime thrillers in the Jake Boulder series, Watching the Bodies, The Kindred Killers, Past Echoes and Die Cold. Watching the Bodies spent over two weeks at number one in the Amazon UK chart and Amazon CA charts. Graham is also the author of the popular DI Harry Evans series and has collections of short stories and novellas. His latest novels with Bookouture are set in Cumbria and the Lake District, featuring DC Beth Young.

He is the proud father of a young son. As a time-served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. Since 2000 he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. 

An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site Crimesquad.com since 2010.

When not working, his time is spent reading, writing and playing games with his son. He enjoys socialising and spending time with friends and family.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/grahamnsmithauthor/

TWITTER:  https://twitter.com/GrahamSmith1972

WEBSITE: https://grahamsmithauthor.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5446655.Graham_Smith?from_search=true

About the book:

A case with no leads.
A victim with no enemies.
A killer with no conscience…

When Detective Beth Young is called to investigate a victim with multiple broken bones, nothing prepares her for what she finds. James Sinclair is fighting for his life, and Beth can’t shake the idea that the nature of his injuries suggest someone with a personal grudge against him.

But James’s devastated wife Laura insists that her kind, softly-spoken husband is a man with no enemies. She was the one with the fiery temper, but James was so calm, she’d never once managed to provoke even a cross word from him in their eight year marriage. And he was the same with everyone – she can’t name one person who might want to hurt him.

But she knows virtually no details about her husband’s childhood or his life before he moved to the Lake District as a young man, and Beth feels sure that the key to finding James’s attacker is hidden in the secrets of his past. Who was he really? And what is the significance of the coded messages that Beth finds hidden on his laptop?

Then two more bodies are found in one of the deep, picturesque lakes that the area is so famous for, exhibiting similar injuries to the ones James Sinclair suffered. How are they connected? And how many more people are at risk?

Beth knows she is in a race against time to hunt a vicious killer who is both elusive and incredibly dangerous. A killer who knows what James did in the past. Who likes to be one step ahead. But who – if they realise they’re being hunted – might come for Beth next…

Fear in the Lakes by Graham Smith

Ellen’s Review:

Oh myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! I have loved the past two books in the DC Beth Young series (Death in the Lakes and Body in the Lakes) but this one…this one is a proper belter. Sick and twisted murders are my favourite (don’t judge me), the more blood, guts and broken bones the better and the number of bones broken in Fear in the Lakes must be a record!!

Beth Young is called to investigate a victim with multiple broken bones; not just broken but shattered to tiny pieces and beyond salvation. This attack on local man James Sinclair looks like a professional hit job but his wife is adamant that her husband is not mixed up in anything dodgy, she can’t think of anyone that would want to hurt this calm tempered, quiet man. It’s obvious that there must be something in James’ past that she does not know about; he has never told her much about his childhood or his life before he moved to The Lake District. Beth’s dogged determination and unusual thought processes lead to the discovery of secret coded messages on James’ laptop and she becomes convinced the secret to his brutal attack is hidden in his past.

After two more bodies emerge with similar injuries to the ones James suffered it appears there is a ruthless and vicious killer on the loose in the picturesque surroundings of The Lakes. The skill and precision that the murderer exhibits are exceptional; to be able to take a person to the brink of death but leave them with life changing injuries or simply cut their life short…impressive! Can Beth find the killer while putting herself in their sights as another victim?

As well as this case, Beth is wrangling with the knowledge of discovering more about the man that was involved in the bar fight which left her scarred for life; can she trust herself to delve further into without getting distracted from the investigation?

For such a dark read there is some light relief in O’Dowd (my second favourite character after Beth) and heartfelt emotion with the repercussions of bereavement within the team.

My absolute favourite in the series so far – more please Mr Smith!!

Check out the blog tour:

Recent Reads~Rapid Reviews

Wildcard

Wildcard (Warcross 2)

After reading Warcross and really enjoying it, I was eager to get my hands on the follow up. Wildcard was as good as I was hoping for. It continues on from the events at the end of Warcross (I won’t say what happens, just that you should read it before you pick up this one) and we catch up with Emika and her crew. There is lots going on, and there is a definite Ready Player One vibe here. I really like the world that Wildcard is set in, and the characters are excellent. If you’re a fan of techo/gaming thrillers, then you need to add these books to your TBR!

Every Day

Every Day (Every Day 1)

I loved the concept of Every Day. Imagine waking up every day in a different body, having to acclimatise to that particular person’s life. No two days are the same, and its up to you how you go through the day. I haven’t read a book like this before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The premise is unique, and I found myself really rooting for the main character, A. A quirky and unusual read, Every Day was a great departure from my usual books. Definitely recommended!

Holding Up The Universe

Holding Up the Universe

I had this on my TBR for a while and then Liz from Liz Loves Books said I should bump it up. I am so glad I did. This was a gem of a book, full of heart and emotion. It is quietly hopeful and it has a beautiful story. I’m still thinking about it months later. Highly recommended!

Caraval

Caraval: the mesmerising Sunday Times bestseller

I had tried to read Caraval before, but I just couldn’t get into it. I picked it up again this year, and obviously I was ready for it this time. Once I started it, I was hooked. I liked the magic, the characters, the story. I found it really easy to get into it and I got lost in the story. I hadn’t even finished it before I requested Legendary from the library. Always a good sign!