Monday, 11 February 2019

Naked Heat (Nikki Heat 2) by Richard Castle


This was a strange one that I'm still trying to get my head around. The general idea is that the book is written by Richard Castle, who is one of the leads in the tv cop show Castle. In the show Castle is an author who is shadowing a police officer (Kate Becket) to see how she works and to use her for the basis of the cop in his novels (Nikki Heat). Together they solve crimes and eventually become an item.

So, this story follows the same format only here the guy following Nikki Heat is Jameson Rook (and I'm slightly ashamed to say it took me too long to put Castle/Took together for the pun that it is). And there in lies the problem for me, although the story was enjoyable enough it felt like an episode of Castle but with everyone having different names.

As for the story itself, well, as I say, I quite enjoyed it. A gossip columnist is found murdered just as she was about to hand over her 'block buster' manuscript (that will put someone in a whole heap of trouble). There are a whole heap of celebrity types who could be tied in to the case and it's up to Heat and Castle, sorry Rook, and co. to solve the case and try not to get in too many scrapes.

Well enough written and keeps you guessing for a good while.

One thing I did like (just because it made me chuckle) - in the series, Castle, the character of Castle is played by Nathan Fillon and in this story there is a passing mention of two police officers called Malcolm and Reynolds. In Fillon's other Big Show, Firefly, he plays the character of...

Wait for it...

Malcolm Reynolds.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

A Wasteland Of My God's Own Making by Bradley P Beaulieu

Here is the latest Shattered Sands novella from Mr Beaulieu and, as usual, it's a really good, immersive tale and features one of the side characters from his main series.

This time around it is the story of Djaga, an awesome pit fighter on the edge of retirement and looking forward to a life with her partner. Nothing is straightforward though and when a face from Djaga's past appears the story of how she became the person she is now is revealed.

This is a tale of love and loss, Gods and mortals and, ultimately, how far will you go when all you love is threatened.

To say this is only a novella it feels like there is a hell of a lot of story here. As always Beaulieu paints a wonderful world with his words. The desert city of Sharakai is almost a character in itself while the actual characters feel really alive, each with their own accents and ways.

And then there's the action sequences...and man does this guy know how to write 'em. Both the fighting in The Pits and the scenes in the desert (I'm really trying to avoid spoilers here so sorry if this is a bit vague) are about as visual as you can get on the written page.

Of you haven't read the Shattered Sands books yet I strongly advise you look them up and if you have then you probably don't need me to tell you to go pick up this one when it is published (not long now)

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

The Hunter by Andrew Reid

 Welcome to Day 2 of the Blog Tour for Andrew Reid's High Octane Thriller The Hunter.

As a general rule I usually enjoy this type of thriller but, of late I've found them to be a bit 'samey' - problem needs solving, along comes ex marine/special forces/super soldier to save the day and skunk off into the night after overcoming insurmountable odds. I enjoy them but am always hoping for that little 'thing' that might just make it stand out from the rest...They seldom do.

So, to the press release blurb that came with the book...

A missing troubled genius ✔
A disillusioned cop✔
Ruthless mercenaries ✔
A billion-dollar business that wants the world in its grip✔
A champion fighter. Betrayed and searching for the truth. ✔


    CAMERON KING IS THE HUNTER

Ok, so far it seemed promising, time to open the book and see what the latest Jack Reacher clone was getting up to...

Well, was I in for a surprise. I never really thought about the hero, just read the name, made my conclusions and...was thrown a huge curveball. It turns out that this was the 'something different' I'd been looking for. As it turns out our hero, Cameron King...

Is...

Female.

I honestly never saw that coming. And what a hero she is too. She can kick ass with the best, is a full on action, no-holds-barred, pedal to the metal character who drags you right into the story and doesn't let go.

As for the story itself, well you get the drift from the blurb so I'll not dwell on that but I will say it is a powerhouse of a tale. The action kicks off more or less from the off and doesn't relent as the (cliché alert) pages fly by.

I got through this in two days (and a couple of late nights) then went back to it a couple of weeks later and took my time - both reads were extremely satisfying.

Andrew Reid is very good at what he does and that this is his debut thriller is quite a remarkable achievement. I will be eagerly awaiting further books by this author.

 Also I rather hope someone will pick this up to turn it into a movie, it deserves it

Thank you to Anne Cater for supplying the copy for review and, as always, I ask, if you get the time, that you look at the posts by the other bloggers on this tour

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Dark Forge by Miles Cameron - A Blog Tour Review

 Welcome to Day 4 of the Blog Tour for Miles Cameron's Dark Forge. Also, it's release day here in the UK so congrats Miles.

 'Some may find their bravery as worriors, or as captains, but others tend to the fallen or feed the living. Yet on the magic-drenched battlefield, information is the lifeblood of victory, and Aranthur is about to discover that carrying messages, scouting the enemy, keeping his nerve, and passing on orders is more dangerous, and more essential, than an inexperienced soldier could imagine . . . especially when everything starts to go wrong.

Battle has been joined - on the field, in the magical sphere, and in the ever-shifting political arena . . .'

 The first book in this series, Cold Iron, was my Book of the Year for 2018 so Dark Forge has a big job on following that. Thankfully it's mission accomplished.

 Whereas Cold Iron was largely based around hero Aranthur's training with Dark Forge he is forced to grow more as the story is a lot more battle/warfare based.

 As a general rule I prefer my fantasy fiction focusing on Epic Quests but Cameron managed to make me connect with this book, mainly because Aranthur doesn't start out as a super warrior type, he's just a messenger. That's not putting down on his position - the messenger is vital to the battle as much as all the soldiers. Seeing him dashing between the different sections of the army, the reactions of the message recipients, the different reactions to orders... yes, this was certainly a different angle to story telling that I definitely enjoyed.

 Add to all this the fact that (in my opinion) Cameron is one of the best battle scene writers around at the moment and you have a cracking second volume.

 Many thanks to Stevie Finnegan and Gollancz for providing a copy of the book for review and please take time to look at the other posts on the tour

Monday, 14 January 2019

I Like Big Books...but sometimes...

 It's no big secret that I love big, sprawling epics. You know the kind - several books long, thousands of pages. Sometimes though, especially if I'm feeling under the weather, I like something quick and easy. If it's fun then all the better.

 So this past week has been one for quick and easy reads. I started out with Race Me In A Lobster Suit by Kelly Mahon. The author posted a ridiculous advert online (as the title suggests, for someone to have a race around Mahon's apartment both wearing lobster suits). The ad was replied to and the following online conversation is recorded here in the book.

 After this more adverts for more ridiculous situations were posted, replied to and the insanity continued with Mahon pushing the silliness to see how far they could push until the respondee folded. The amount of crazy some people were happy to agree to was ridiculous at times but it all made for a good read. All the people who responded were let in on the joke eventually.

 Next up came a children's favourite. Last weekend Marie and I visited one of our favourite local spots, Creswell Crags, an Ice Age era visitor centre with caves and a pleasant walk. As usual we visited the gift shop and I noticed a copy of Stig of the Dump. I thought I'd read this as a child (didn't we all?) but on looking at it I remembered nothing.

 On getting home I got a kindle copy and dived in. I guess you all know the story, boy falls into dump site and discovers a strange boy living there, they become friends and learn from each other etc, etc...

 I actually, all these years on in life, found this a really enjoyable read, maybe a bit dated at times but that didn't really matter. I guess kid's books don't have to be just for kids.

 Next up is Splatterpunk Forever, an anthology of, as you might guess, Splatterpunk tales. It promises to be gruesome, grotesque and just the right thing to fill the reading gaps between the epics.

 I guess you can't say my tastes aren't varied.

 Happy reading friends

Monday, 31 December 2018

The best of 2018 and what's to come in 19

So, 2018 draws to a close and, as usual, it is time to look back at books I've enjoyed and forward to what's up and coming. 

This year has been a good one with new books in KT Davies' Breed series (Dangerous To Know, Tooth and Claw, Something Wicked) with a promise of more to come. Also, good to see that Jen Williams, Anna Smith Spark and Anna Stephens all managed to pull off the tricksy middle book of the trilogy. Looking forward to all 3 finishing in 2019 with The Poison Song (J Williams), The House of Sacrifice (A Smith Spark) and Bloodchild (A Stephens).

Two book series that have finished this year and are both really good are Adrian Tchaikovsky's Echoes of the Fall and RJ Barker's Wounded Kingdom- of you haven't tried these yet do yourself a favour.

Anyhoo, here's my 3 choices for 2018. First off, Newcomer of the Year is Alicia Wanstall-Burke. I've been watching her posts about Blood of Heirs for a good while on fb and am happy to say that when it finally landed it more than held up to expectations. Alicia is certainly one to keep an eye on.
Next up is Novel of the Year which (after much contemplation) goes to Miles Cameron's Cold Iron (review on the blog). This starts what promises to be a really interesting series. I'll admit I do already have a copy of book 2 from NetGalley and it's even better so far.

Finally, Best Compilation - and this one really was a no-brainer for me. I'm a big fan of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series and with The Scent of Tears (Newcon Press) Adrian has invited other authors to write in his world - and each and every one of them steps up to the plate. An absolute delight.
And on that point I'll wish you a Happy New Year

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Sky Woman by J D Moyer

Welcome to Day 4 of the Blog Tour for J D Moyer's 'The Sky Woman' (Flame Tree Press).

Set on and above a future Earth that has been ravaged by various factors (population decline, volcanic eruption etc) this has a cast of both primitive (ish( and scientific people. The main lead is Car-En, an anthropologist from the Ringstation circling the Earth. She is on her first field assignment and is watching a viking-like village (especially a handsome hunter). When the sister of Esper (he's the hunky hunter) is abducted by someone who shouldn't be there she decides to take an active role instead of the passive observing role she should, cuts off all contact and sets off to follow and hopefully rescue the sister. This may have dire consequences for her career but I'm thinking you've guessed that already.

To be honest, on finishing this book I still don't know whether I enjoyed it or not. It wasn't a bad story although it did feel a bit 'flabby' in places. The mix of Sci-Fi and fantasyesque settings and characters felt a bit of a mish mash in places but the ideas weren't as bad as I thought they would be.

I guess the best I can say is that I'm sure many will Enjoy it but this story just wasn't for me which is a shame.

3/5

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and for providing a copy of the book. And please, if you get the opportunity to have a look at the blogs from the other reviewers on the tour please do