Monday, 19 October 2020

Blood Red Roses and Driftnet by Lin Anderson

 Well now, this is going to be a review of two halves  guess. I picked up Blood Red Roses (a novella) because one of the later books in the series was on offer for 99p and I'd snapped it up as I like my crime fiction both Scottish and Noir and this ticked both boxes.

 Blood Red Roses is a prequel novella to the Rhona Macleod series which, as you would expect, introduces us to Rhona, a forensic scientist, her life and her team. The story has a bride to be murdered on her hen night and although a fairly short story there is plenty going on. I was really engaged with the story and the characters and enjoyed it so much I downloaded the 1st in the series - Driftnet ...


 Oh, dear!

 Driftnet was, to be totally honest, pretty terrible. The story was promising enough - Rhona is called out to a murder scene in the early hours where the victim (brutally slain) bears an uncanny resemblance to Rhona herself. Could this be the son she gave up for adoption seventeen years ago? He even has the same birthmark so - well, you'd think so wouldn't you.

 Someone is grooming and killing young men for sexual excitement/gratification and it's up to Rhona and team to get to the bottom of it.

 So, the problems I had with this are many I'm afraid. First up, the murder victim (SPOILER WARNING) looks like Rhona, has the same birthmark in the same place as the son she gave up but isn't her son. Its JUST A COINCIDENCE (and one that isn't really resolved). Next up is the next potential victim - who is the son of a politician who is on the crest of a wave. Said politician is also an ex partner of Rhona, and the father of the child she gave up for adoption - what a coincidence eh!

 And then there is Rhona's love life. Her partner is a musician and after a disagreement goes off to Paris. Rhona then falls for a computer whizz working for the police and who just might be a little dodgy or is he just doing his job?

 I could go on but I won't. I'll just say that this was, in my opinion, a terrible book that could have been much better.

 And that brings me to a problem. Through reading the prequel novella which was written later it's obvious that the author has improved massively but am I prepared to slog through the series waiting for the point when the writing level rises. Unfortunately I don't think I am. Which is a shame but there you go


Blood Red Roses 4/5*

Driftnet 1.5/5*

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow

 



 The year is 1893 and witches and witch raft are no more. Salem is burnt to the ground and now women are fighting for the vote and to throw off the shackles of servitude.

 But what if witchcraft could be brought back and combined with the the suffragist movement? Three estranged sisters must reunite, settle their differences and, together champion and fight for the rights of women. 

 That's the general premise of this, the second novel from Alix E Harrow but it is very much more than that. It doesn't just focus on women's rights, there is an lgbtq+ angle as well and all put together with beautiful writing (which is pretty much what I was expecting after The Ten Thousand Doors of January - and if you haven't read that yet, well... what are you waiting for)

4/5*

 Hats off to whoever did the cover art too, it's gorgeous.

 Many thanks to Orbit for providing the review copy 

Thursday, 24 September 2020

Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell


Sword in the Sword is the first of the late David Gemmell's Rigante series. I don't know why it's taken me so long to get round to reading these books as I read Legend many, many years ago and loved it. Anyway, I digress... 

This is the story of Connavar of The Rigante, a troubled young man who was born in the same storm that his father died in. I found this to be a very 'busy' book as there was a lot to set up for later volumes. The story covers Connavar's growth from young boy to warrior and the threat to his tribe and the other tribes around them from the Stone People. What did make a refreshing change was the character of Conn himself. No perfect hero this, not by a long chalk. He's not always likeable as a person but this makes him more believable. 

The setting of the book feels very much like England from the time of the Romans, Celts and the likes which always appealed to me as a young lad studying history at school so extra kudos to Gemmell for that. 

The story carries on in Midnight Falcon (below) and I will be reviewing that soon. 



Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and reintroducing me again to the master of fantasy. And please, if you get the chance, have a look at the reviews by the other bloggers on this tour




 

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The Trouble With Peace by Joe Abercrombie

 

 

 Welcome to my spot on the Blogtour for Joe Abercrombie's latest. I'll start by saying that, due to late arrival of the book (this troublesome time means the postal service is stretched to say the least) I haven't quite reached the end so my review is on what I have read so far.

  War is a nasty business but what happens when the fighting stops? That is exactly the situation we have here. The fighting is over (for now) but in this lull the battles of the general people come to the fore. Businesses will rise and fall, people will rise to the top and sink to the bottom while some struggle just to stay where they are. . . and the war is still on the horizon.

 What has really impressed me with Abercrombie's latest series is the way the world has moved on to an industrial phase. No more Middle Ages here (well, not much). As someone who spent a lot of his career on the industrial shop floor I can vouch for the realistic feel of the factories, the unions and the workers. It would be no stretch to say a lot of the characters in this industrial landscape wouldn't be out of place in a Dickens novel.

 And, as I said, war is still on the horizon so I'd better get back to the book. A full and updated review will be posted when I'm done. 

 Thanks to Patricia Deveer for inviting me onto this tour. Please try and find time to look at some of the reviews by the excellent bloggers on the tour. 



 

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Misfits by Hunter Shea

 


Welcome to my spot on the Blogtour for Hunter Shea's 'Misfits' 

Local urban legends - seems most places have them and, well, don't you just love 'em eh? 😉 

In this instance said Urban Legend is the Melonheads, savage creatures that live in the woods near Dracula Drive - but nobody in their right mind goes anywhere near Dracula Drive...

The story starts in the late 70s when a young lad gets a bike for Christmas and his brother convinces him to come for a ride with him to. . . yeah, you guessed right. Once there big brother slashes little brothers tyres (the reasons become clear very quickly) but little brother legs it and big brother pays heavily. 

The story then moves to 1993, the birth of Grunge and our main protagonists a bunch of stoners/outcasts who may (or maybe not) be the Misfits of the title. Here a 'bad thing' happens to one of the gang and they decide it's time to fight back. 

Misfits is, in my opinion, just what the horror genre has been waiting for (yeah, I'm bored with zombies). This is horror that is visceral at times but well written, reminiscent I guess of the stuff published when the likes of King, Koontz, Hutson and the likes were at their peak. If anything I feel it's closest to early King with the gang feeling a bit like a slightly older version of IT's Losers Club. The nastiness is just that, people die and are maimed in horrible ways but it's not gore for gore's sake. 

What also stands out here is the way the author has really nailed the Grunge era - excellent writing all round. 

So yeah, Misfits really hit all the buttons for me. I like my horror 'Old Skool' and Shea really delivers. Highly recommended 


Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour, to Flame Tree Press for providing me with a review copy and please, if you can find time, have a look at the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour



Saturday, 12 September 2020

Orfeia by Joanne M Harris

 


Welcome to my spot on the Blogtour for the new novella from Joanne M Harris's new novella 'Orfeia' 

I want to start by saying what an absolutely glorious book this is, even before reading it. It's just a lovely looking and feeling thing, a real pleasure to own. 

Anyhoo, to the story - Fay Orr is grieving after the death (suicide) of her daughter and the fact that she wasn't there to help her. Fay is basically going through the motions in her life and it seems the only time she feels alive is when she is 'night running'. On one of these runs she chats ends up chatting to a bunch of homeless people who may be more than they seem. They show Fay an 'alternate' London, London Beyond, (I'll admit, l'm a sucker for Other London) and while she thinks she sees Daisy. 

Is there a way to bring Daisy back to life, back to the real world? You'll just have to read and see for yourself, I'm not going to spoil it for you. 

The writing here is wonderful and the artwork too. A book that will touch your soul 5/5*


Thanks to Anne Cater, as always, for inviting me onto this tour, to Gollancz for providing the review copy and please, if you can, have a read of the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Nothin' But A Good Time by Justin Quirk

Welcome to Day 5 of the Blogtour for Justin Quirk's look at 'the spectacular rise and fall of Glam Metal' 

Glam was the big sound of the 80s. The sound, the performers and (especially) the hair were huge. This book takes a year by year look at where Glam came from, why it vanished and 'why nobody admits to being a Glam Rocker anymore'. The anecdotes are brilliant (like when Slash was an errand boy for Motley Crűe - he lasted one day and nicked  $100 from them into the bargain). As for where it went - well, it's no secret that Grunge came along and sucked all the fun out of Rock. 

It feels like the author has a real feel for the era and I can certainly say that this book took me back to my youth and 'the good old days' 

Highly recommended 4/5*



 

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this blog tour, Unbound for providing the review copy and please, if you can, have a look at the posts by the other reviewers.