Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Black Hawks by David Wragg

Welcome to Day 3 of this Blogtour. Today is an excerpt post with part of the first chapter so I can't really say much about the story as...well, it starts here. There will be a proper review post on this very blog in the next week or so but until then, suffice to say I absolutely loved this book and I think you will too.

So, here we go with The Black Hawks chapter one
                           

ONE
Chel ran. His feet slapped against the dusty pale stone of the winter palace ramparts, blood thumping at his temples and breath rasping his throat, while gulls wheeled above and the sleepless harbour bustled beneath. He rounded a corner, the yawning guards on the tower watching his progress with vague interest at best.
A mound of refuse lay stacked against the sea wall, a pile of ashen rags with a long stick propped beside it. Chel shifted to round it, teeth gritted, when the pile moved. It became abruptly man-shaped, and its stick swung out into his path. Before he could react, the stick smashed into his shin. He tumbled, arms outstretched, and sprawled head-first into the stones. A blast of pain tore up his shoulder.
Cursing and swearing vengeance, he tried to whirl, but his vision went purple and the combination of running, falling, and a pounding hangover sent him retching back into the dust. By the time the convulsions passed, the rag-pile man and his stick were gone, the ramparts empty.
‘Thrice-damned pig-fucker!’ Chel spat onto the ground, still leaning on one arm. 
A pair of boots stepped to fill his vision, their laces intricately bound, the soft leather grime-free. 
‘I admit it, I did not expect to find you on the walls this time.’ 
He squinted up at the figure blotting the pink-flecked morning sky. ‘Marekhi,’ he coughed. ‘Was just on my way to you.’ 
His liege’s first sworn regarded him steadily. Her face was placid, her tone light. ‘What did they challenge you with this time? A brandy cask? The barrel-dregs? Did you even make it back to the barracks?’ 
Chel coughed again by way of answer, wiped at his mouth as he pushed back on his haunches. His shoulder throbbed in time with his headache. 
The slightest lip-curl marred Marekhi’s flawless cheek, although her tone remained even. ‘Lord Sokol will be expecting to see his festival robes at ten bells. You will be present, as will the robes, and you will look as though you belong.’ 
‘Oh, he’ll be up by then, will he?’ 
‘Your odour will also be much improved. Am I understood, Master Chel?’ 
He sat back against the flagstones, no longer trying to stand. Her silhouette glowed golden in the morning light. ‘Come on, Marekhi, where’s your festival spirit?’ he croaked. 
‘These petty defiances are a stain on our liege’s name, Master Chel.’ Her chin tilted. Her voice was quiet but carried clear over the sounds of the clamour of the port below. ‘You are a man in sworn service to a lord who is a guest at this palace, and your deeds and . . . presentation are those of our liege. It’s time you acted like it.’ 
‘I can take a beating, if Sokol wishes to make me an example.’

‘That should not be a point of pride,’ she said, her voice steel-edged. ‘You swore an oath. This behaviour shames your uncle and your family.’ 
‘If my step-uncle wants the value of my service, he can earn it.’ 
‘Boy, how much do you think your service is worth?’ 
For a moment she was snarling, then calm swept over her face. She turned and began striding away, boots clicking on the flagstones. ‘Ten bells, Vedren Chel, with the robes,’ she called over her shoulder. ‘Obey, or don’t. But attend to your stench.’ 
A breeze ruffled the palms in the courtyard, and they slapped together like a round of sarcastic applause. Chel caught a whiff of himself, recoiled, then nodded his thudding head in bitter acknowledgement. 
‘Fine.’ 
*** 
Chel bent over one of the stables’ water-troughs, scooping handfuls of cool, musty water over his face. A palace horse watched him from the dark of its stable. Chel did his best to ignore it. He felt disapproved of enough already. 
‘You’re up, Master Chel! Up-ish, at least.’ A broad and beaming figure in a battered guardsman’s uniform was at his elbow. ‘Didn’t think we’d be seeing you for a good while this morning.’ 
‘Ungh,’ Chel grunted, and wiped himself down with a horse blanket. ‘Heali.’ 
‘So,’ the guardsman said, leaning forward, in a conspiratorial fashion. ‘Did you win?’ 
Chel pressed one palm to his thudding temple. ‘In a manner of speaking.’

Heali chuckled, a sound like marbles rattling. ‘Can’t say no to a challenge, can you, my boy?’ 
Chel grunted again and leaned back against the stable wall. The stable-yard churned with a gathering retinue, another of the minor lords assembling his host now that the campaigning season was drawing to a close. Chel watched the formation of their column with envious eyes. Within the hour, the column would be on the road, and its host would be back in their homes before winter hit. 
‘They’re not staying for the festival, then,’ Heali said with a nod to the milling horse. ‘Any chance your lot . . .?’ 
Chel spat a wad of sticky dust. ‘Sokol’s so obsessed with rubbing up against royalty that he’s hanging on for the court’s arrival, and he’s chummy enough with the grand duke that we’ll not be kicked onto the road any time soon. I’m not that lucky.’ He flicked away a spherical fly, hangover sweat mixed with trough water dripping from his brow. ‘Five hells, how can you stand this heat?’ 
Heali chuckled again. ‘How can you not, Master Chel? Thought you Andriz were the blooms of the desert?’ 
‘Give it a rest, Heali. I grew up in the south. It’s not that hot down there, not like this – by the harvest festivals we’re usually a month or two into the rains.’ 
Heali cast a glance up at the pristine, punishingly cloudless sky. ‘Doesn’t look like rain any time soon, Master Chel. So happens, I was heading down to the kitchen to muster a bit of breakfast – care to join me? You look like a man in need of a feed.’ 
Chel’s stomach hissed bile. His hangover agreed.



Please check out the other bloggers on this tour if you get the chance


A Savage Generation by David Tallerman

Welcome to the final day of the Blogtour for A Savage Generation.

You'd be forgiven for starting this and thinking 'oh no, not another end of the world zombie apocalypse'. It does indeed start out with an unknown disease striking down mankind, those infected become bloodthirsty savages, if you are bit you become one etc. In a time when it seems a very other horror novel is another ZA it takes something a bit better than the rest to stand out. This is that book.

 Ben, his Girlfriend and son are trying to get out of their quarantined city (SPOILER - they do) and head to a former  prison, now known as Funland. But Funland might just not be all they were hoping for. It has already become something of a survivalist camp under the rule of former prisoner Plan John who may well be a bigger monster than the 'sickers' on the outside.

The setting feels reminiscent of early years The Walking Dead but doesn't suffer for that. It is a well written tale that focuses more on the characters and their personal situations more than the sickers.

I'll admit I'm a big fan of Tallerman and his writing in various genres, I've been reading him for years but I don't let that colour my judgement. I tell it as it is and this is one of his best.


Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and to Flame Tree Press for providing the copy.
Please, if you get the chance, have a look at the posts of the other bloggers on this tour.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

The Secret Of Cold Hill by Peter James


You wait ages for a good haunted house story and then two come along at once - not that I'm complaining.

In this story a new housing estate is being built on the site of an old Manor house. The first two houses have been sold, the owners have moved in and the previous tenants aren't happy. It isn't long before both households sense the presence of others in their homes and learn of the curse "no-one ever leaves and no-one lives beyond 40" - and from their it just gets weirder and creepier.

By the mid point of the story the lead character wonders if he is going crazy. He can't fathom what is going on and, to be honest it wasn't clear to me either but that not knowing worked for me.

Reminiscent of the novels of James Herbert this was a good read, just the thing now the nights are drawing in

One by One - D W Gillespie



 Welcome to Day 11 of the blog tour for D W Gillespie's One By One.

I do like a good haunted house story and thankfully this, from Flame Tree Press, certainly falls into that bracket. Our protaganists are The Eastons (dad, mum, and two kids, Alice and Dean), a family down on their luck. Dad finds a fixer-upper for them to live in while he...well, fixes it up. Right from the off the house seems to give off bad vibes to everyone but dad (Frank).

It's no real spoiler (it's on the back cover!) that Alice discovers a hidden painting that relates to the Eastons and not long after that, one by one, they start to disappear 😱

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. The house was creepy, the family (apart from Alice thankfully) were quite annoying, especially the brother, Dean. Everything I would want from a ghost/horror story. There's just something quite satisfying about unlikable characters 'getting there's.

Thankfully the character we spend most time with is Alice and as she is a 10 year old child it makes for an interesting angle to the story telling.

So, how creepy/scary is it as a story? I read this on holiday in 30+ degree heat and it still gave me chills so that's a pretty good testament to how good Gillespie's writing is (and I got through it in two afternoons. Very much recommended.




 Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and Flame Tree Press for providing a copy of the book. Please, if you get chance, have a look at the other bloggers posts on the tour.



Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Regret by Dan Malakin


OK, I'll start by making it clear that the author contacted me, as a reviewer and blogger to ask if I would be interested in having a look at his book. I agreed and he sent me a copy. I also bought a copy for kindle as it was on offer and I was going on holiday (and prefer to use my kindle then)

Anyhoo, onto the book itself. This is an, at times, dark read. The lead character, Rachel, is a recovering anorexic who was stalked as a teenager (which lead to her problems). The stalker was sent to jail but now he's out and the stalking starts again but online this time. Her life quickly spirals downwards and old habits return. But is it her former stalker ruining her life or someone else?

Several times I worked out 'whodunit' and each time I changed my mind again and only sussed out the culprit just before the reveal. It did get a little bit silly towards the end to be fair but I didn't mind that as the story kept me hooked. How hooked? Well, I started it poolside on Thursday afternoon, read all the way on the flight home, then the train journey. I was exhausted by the time we got back but I had to keep on reading, so I took it to bed with me (but had to stop as I kept dropping it). Eventually, just short of 24 hours after starting it I was done - that's how hooked.

I guess this book should maybe come with trigger warnings for those that need them but I enjoyed the darkness of it and the author obviously knows what he is talking about.

Would I read this author again? Damn right I would

4/5*

Friday, 27 September 2019

Fuck Yeah Video Games by Daniel Hardcastle

 Welcome to Day 9 of the Blogtour for Fuck Yeah Video Games

Subtitled The Life and Extra Lives of a Professional Nerd this book does exactly what it says on the cover. This is the life of Dan as he approaches his 30th birthday, looking back at his time through some of the video games, friends, people he's met etc. Looking back at some of these weird and (sometimes) bizarre games brought back a lot of good memories of hours spent playing them myself so it will certainly appeal to all gamers, not just the hardcore.

But it's not just the games, there's a history of the hardwear too, looking at the consoles that have enabled us to play the games we love.

This book is fun, funny, entertaining and a real love letter to gaming. And gorgeously illustrated too. Highly recommended
 Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me to this tour, Unbound for providing the copy and please, if you can find the time to have a look at the blog posts of the others on this tour.

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie


Welcome to Day 5 of the Blogtour for A Little Hatred, the first book in a new series by Lord Grimdark himself, Joe Abercrombie. 

A Little Hatred is set in the same world as his First Law books but things have moved on slightly. We are now in a time where machinery is starting to become more of 'a thing' so I'd say Industrial Revolution. Machinery and Magic in a Grimdark setting... maybe this will start a genre offshoot - Grimdarker.

As it starts we meet Rikke who has the gift of foreseeing, 'the long eye' and a prophecy...but hey, I wouldn't have it any other way, I love prophecy in my fiction. And as that prophecy comes to fruition things take a turn. There is war coming, there is politic s and wrangling - basically there is everything you would expect from a Joe Abercrombie novel with the added joy of knowing there is more to come. 

Where Abercrombie excels is his characters, even the horrible ones you kinda like. From lords and nobles to lowly soldiers and the mad Hill-woman all have their part to play and all feel they deserve their place in the story. 

Now, I have to go finish the last 100 or so pages (it's been a busy couple of weeks) 


Thanks to Patricia Deever for inviting me onto the tour and Gollancz for the copy. Please, if you can, try and have a look at the blog posts by the other bloggers on the tour

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

 Welcome to Day 5 of the Bloodlust and Bonnets Blogtour.

I don't often read graphic novels, solely because I find they are over too quickly. This tale of vampire slaying in early 19th century England intrigued me though.

Our heroes in this tale are Lucy, a young lady who wants more from life than the prim and properness expected at that time, Sham, an androgynous person and Lord Byron (yes, THAT Lord Byron). Between them they traipse the length and breadth of the country killing vampires, raising mayhem at society events while flirting and winding each other up. It felt very much like Buffy written by the Brontes

The banter between Lucy, Byron and Sham is good fun but what really makes this is the artwork. The character drawings seem fairly basic at first glance but the colouring makes it look gorgeous.

As I said earlier, I don't often do graphic novels but in this case I'm glad I did
 Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and I hope you can make time to have a look at the blog posts by the other lovely people on the tour.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

The Story of John Nightly by Tot Taylor

 Welcome to Day 1 of the Blogtour for The Story of John Nightly. Before we start let me just say, I have not finished this book yet so I'm only commenting on what I have read so far. The only reason I haven't finished it though is time. I recieved the book a week ago and it is a big one. 800+ pages big.

Right, down to the important stuff...

The Story of John Nightly is a biography of a non-existent musical genius featuring real people and made up characters. Confused? Don't worry, it all becomes clear early on.

John Nightly comes to us as a shy chap when we first meet him but he has musical talents that rank him as a genius. As his talents are recognised and fame beckons so too does the high life and then he disappears from the limelight to live a reclusive life in Devon with his friend/carer John (believe me there are a lot of Johns in this book, and I do mean A LOT! I don't know if this is just a running joke by the author or something that will be explained later on)

The story slips between the Swinging Sixties and The Noughties and a lot of it is made up of interviews, newspaper and magazine articles etc. which makes it all seem as if John Nightly was real. The different sides of JN, the slightly obnoxious wunderkind of the 60's, the reclusive character of the 00's are well defined and relatable.

It's very obvious from reading this that the author knows a lot about music and the recording industry but this adds to the story rather than baffle the reader with 'industry-speak.

As I said earlier this is a huge book but it flows really well and I found myself doing the '1 more page' thing many times over.

This was a book like no other I've read before and I highly recommend it.

Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and I hope you will try and find time to read the posts by the rest of the bloggers on the tour

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Jaffle Inc. by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

Welcome to Day 2 of the Blogtour for Heide Goody and Iain Grant's latest novel Jaffle Inc. 
Set in the near(ish) future this is a world where 97% of the population are fitted with a Jaffle port. This is a device which allows each person to give the unused capacity of their brain power to the upkeep of the infrastructure of the country. It feels very much like the next step from mobile phone obsession really.

Our protagonist, Alice, works for Jaffle Tech Inc. and is on one of the lower level Jaffle packages. Due to a series of events Alice accidentally ends up doing a 'favour' for the head of Jaffle Tech which results in her getting all her brain capacity back. This results in her seeing the world in a much better light...but how long can she keep her secret.

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Goody and Grant, their madcap sense of humour makes their books a must read for me, but with Jaffle Inc. the humour isn't as much 'front and centre'. This isn't of any detriment to the story. What we have here is a top-notch near future sci-fi thriller with a dash of humour. There are moments that really stand out, such as when Alice discovers real food and music (before she had been eating beans and watching bland TV).

Throw in corporate espionage and what you have here is Grant and Goody's best work to date and something that deserves to be noticed.

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and please, if you can find time, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour

Friday, 6 September 2019

The Nursery by Asia Mackay

Welcome to Day 6 of the Blogtour for Asia Mackay's The Nursery.

This starts off as an espionage/thriller tale, all guns and high speed chases but once the initial action is over our hero, Lex Tyler, is off across London on a second, equally important mission - to pick her daughter, Givi, up from daycare. And that, more or less, sets the standard for the rest of the book.

Assassination attempts, the Dark Web, keeping your career secret from your husband and managing your little one's love of biting - all in a day's work for Lex.

This is the second book in the series (I haven't read the first yet but I will) and with it's mix of edge of your seat action and the more humorous family side of  things this was a very entertaining read. I could see this being televised soon.

As always, please try and find a few spare moments to have a look at the other blogs on this tour

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

A River Of Bodies by Kevin Doyle

Welcome to the 1st day of the Blogtour for Kevin Doyle's A River of Bodies (#2 in The Solidarity Books trilogy)

Right, first things first, this is, as I said, the second in a series so, although you can probably get away with it, you would benefit more from reading #1 To Keep A Bird Singing first.

Right, onto the book. The setting is Cork, Republic of Ireland in 2010. These are dark times, austerity is kicking in hard and revelations about Ireland's past make for uncomfortable reading.

Noelie Sullivan 'disaffected ex-punk and grassroots activist' has been investigating missing boys from an Industrial School and his enquiries have made him and his friends some dangerous enemies.

Dodgy priests (that's putting it mildly!), abuse of children in care, bodies buried in ruins it's all here and over it all lies a sense of impending threat for our heroes. The recent Irish scandals feature strongly and it feels unsettling at times. But that doesn't detract from the fact that this is a good story that will keep you (WARNING!!! CLICHÉ ALERT! ) on the edge of your seat throughout.

The only real issues I had with this are personal ones - I really didn't like the name Noelie (picky I know but there you go) and there is a character known as Black Gary who is always referred to as such. It's always 'Black Gary this, Black Gary that' nobody ever calls him just plain Gary.

The setting of Cork and the Irish Republic meant I had to look up a few things I didn't know but that only added to the sense of place.

There was a lot of rehashing of 'what's gone before' in River but as a middle book that's to be expected I guess. Middle books are often mainly about setting things up for the big finish in book 3. That said, I got through this in 2 days.

The real test then is will I read book 3 when it comes out and that's a resounding yes.

As always, thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and now you've read my thoughts on the book please try and find some time to look at the blog posts from the other reviewers (above) on the tour



Monday, 19 August 2019

The End of Magic by Mark Stay

This was a whole lot of fun and full of interesting ideas. As you can guess from the title it revolves around what happens when magic disappears from the world and those with, if you like, power become powerless. It was interesting to see how quickly those now bereft of their magical abilities become the 'underclass', how quickly those that once needed them and their skills turn on them.
What caught me most was what happened with those classed as 'Moon Children'. Those with magic got there power from a moon whereas Moon Children were 'blocked' by it and kept in a state of childlike ability. Unable to think well, communicate etc they are seen as low and only capable of menial tasks. When the moon is destroyed and magic fails then the 'block' fails and they reach their true ability.
The ending of the story was not what I was expecting but was one to make you think

The Song of the Sycamore by Edward Cox

Welcome to day 2 of the Blog Tour for Edward Cox's new novel. 

'On the broken world of Urdezha, Wendal Finn died on the hostile plains of the wasteland, one more casualty in the endless war between the city-dwellers and the clansfolk. But now Wendal has returned to his home city of Old Castle, possessed by something he brought back from the wasteland, something old and best left forgotten. The spirits are calling it Sycamore, an ancient entity out to avenge all victims of murder. And in a city like Old Castle, no one is innocent.'

I'll be honest, I didn't really know what kind of story to expect when I picked this one up (except that it would be a good one, Ed Cox has never let me down before). What it turned out to be was a sci-fi/fantasy mash-up with a healthy dose of mystery thrown into the mix. 

When it starts we are with Wendal Finn in Old Castle, he is already 'dead' and possessed by an entity. Other recently dead are wanting him to avenge their murders, which the entity is happy to do until Finn's body wears out, at which point it will just find another host. 

When one of the recently dead (ghouls) leads Finn/The Entity into a trap Finn gets a second chance and, maybe the opportunity to find out why his wife died while he was at war. 

As always with Cox the world-building is top notch. This is a world at war where Scientists and Magicians vie for supremacy, where the clans are rising and a supernatural storm is coming. The magic here is pretty brutal, with spells being etched into people's bodies but that really gives the story an extra edge. What really impressed me though was The Song of Always (you'll understand when you pick up the book, I'm not giving anything away here except to say it is a cracking concept) 

This reminded me a lot of the works of Ed Mcdonald and Peter Newman and I thoroughly enjoyed it

4.5/5*

Many thanks to Kate Moreton and Gollancz for inviting me onto this tour, Netgalley for providing the review file, and please try and find a bit of time to check out the posts by the other wonderful bloggers below


Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew

 Welcome to day 10 of the Blog Tour for Zippy and Me by Ronnie Le Drew.

As a general rule I don't usually do autobiographies but, like many folk my age Rainbow was a big thing when I was a child so saying no to this wasn't even a consideration.

Of all the characters in the Rainbow house Zippy was probably most people's favourite. He was the cheeky, naughty one, the one most likely to get into or cause trouble. The one you'd most like to be like if you could get away with it. Ronnie Le Drew was his operater and this is his story.

What you get with this book is an insight into the world of the puppeteer, and a glimpse behind the scenes of Rainbow. But it is so much more than that too. The book shows a man who cares about his craft and who makes the reader care about it too.

Obviously a lot of the book involves the Rainbow years (including the notorious 'special' episode they filmed for an end of year blooper competition, the Rod, Jane and Freddy love triangle, and many other incidents) but there is more to it too - the Muppet Movies, Labyrinth, the years when work was drying up. It's a cracking read.

One thing that made me realise how much Rainbow still lingers with me all these years later - at one point one of the actors (sorry, can't remember who off hand) used to mark his script with either a straight line or a squiggle and straight away my first thought was "I wonder if that's where Straight and Curly originated from?" (Straight and Curly was a section of the show that started with a straight line and a curly line in the corner of the tv screen and went in to be part of a drawing, probably relevant to that show's theme). I hadn't thought of Straight and Curly in maybe 30 years but one sentence and there it was, front and center!

Throughout the book Ronnie Le Drew comes across as a really nice chap and that, I think, is what made this read so enjoyable.
 Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blog Tour and please, if you can find the time, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on this tour.

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Reaper by Steven Dunne

Well, this was a strange one. I finished this in 2 days and really enjoyed it...or thought I did. As a story this rattled along at a fair old pace, every spare minute a chance to get back to it. But larer, given time to let things sink in, there was so much wrong with it.

The story itself was good enough. After the Reaper case, multiple murders of families in London DI Damen Brook loses his family and almost his sanity. He relocates to Derby and all seems 'ok' until another family is found murdered in the same manner as the Reaper killings. After all these years why has The Reaper struck again and why has he followed Brook to Derby?

The story follows two time lines, one in London, one in present day Derby and slowly the two converge to give answers but when those resolutions came it felt kinda 'muddy' to me. It's obvious from early on who The Reaper is but Brook cannot find proof and even ends up befriending the suspect in the hopes of tripping him up. It's this issue, this obsession, that leads to the break up of his marriage.

Now, what bugs me is the character of Brook himself. He's your typical screwed up cop, the kind we see in most crime fiction these days. Many of his colleagues don't like him but the ladies certainly do. At one point early on he sees an attractive young lady watching his house. She says she is a student visiting possible accommodation but in no time at all he is letting her stay the night at his - I mean, I know it advances the story and his character but who does that really? And, surprise surprise, she ends up in his bed (and that scene itself is the height of weird). Then there is his colleague who he had a one night fling with, and still quite fancies, and when he goes back to London on investigation duties his first choice to accompany him on the journey? Yup, you guessed correct. He books himself into the worst rehab clinic in the country at New Years in the hopes of getting some info from files on a former patient and in no time at all one of the residents has decided she wants a piece of DI Brook. I tell you, the women can't get enough of him.

The whole 'who is The Reaper' thing is a bit of a confusing, baffling mess, the writing isn't great but even so I think I'll be carrying on with this series, I'm just not sure when exactly

3/5*

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Priest of Lies by Peter McLean

'Tomas's power grows, the nobility better watch their backs, in this dark and gritty epic fantasy series.

People are weak, and the poorer and more oppressed they are, the weaker they become--until they can't take it anymore. And when they rise up...may the gods help their oppressors.

When Tomas Piety returned from the war, he just wanted to rebuild his empire of crime with his gang of Pious Men. But his past as a spy for the Queen's Men drew him back in and brought him more power than he ever imagined.

Now, with half of his city in ashes and the Queen's Men at his back, the webs of political intrigue stretch out from the capital to pull Tomas in. Dannsburg is calling.

In Dannsburg the nobility fight with words, not blades, but the results are every bit as bloody. In this pit of beasts, Tomas must decide once and for all whether he is truly the people's champion...or just a priest of lies.'

This sequel to Priest of Bones starts well...

'Five hundred corpses.

That had been my wedding gift from Ailsa and the Queen's Men. From this woman I called my wife...'

and to be fair it just gets better from there. Tomas Piety and his Pious Men are a motley bunch and, as you would expect, are soon knee deep in intrigue.

What I really enjoyed about this book, and the series as a whole is that this is very much The Godfather set in a fantasy world. Piety is very much The Don Corleoni of Ellinsburg (small side point: Ellinsburg feels a lot like Edinburgh) and although he and his gang come across as villains at times it's easy to see that they do what they do for the right reasons. I've seen it said elsewhere that this is Peaky Blinders with swords and I couldn't put it better myself. Invest in this series of you haven't already, you won't be sorry

Thanks to Jo Fletcher Books and Netgalley for providing copy of this book and please have a look at the other blogger reviews on this Bookblast (below)


Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Salvation by Peter F Hamilton


'In 2204, humanity is expanding into the wider galaxy in leaps and bounds. A new technology of linked jump gates has rendered most forms of transporation--including starships--virtually obsolete. Every place on earth, every distant planet mankind has settled, is now merely a step away from any other. And all seems wonderful...until a crashed alien spaceship is found on a newly-located world 89 light years from Earth, harboring seventeen human victims. And of the high-powered team dispatched to investigate the mystery, one is an alien spy...'

Salvation is the first book in a new trilogy from Peter F Hamilton and also is a new setting for him (not Commonwealth). As such there is a lot of set-up in Salvation which can make it seem a much longer read at times than it actually is but stick with it, when the pace picks up it REALLY picks up.

What I most enjoyed about this, as is often the case with PFH is getting to know the characters and here he has something special - the Utopials. These are a non gender specific society who require their children to have their genome modified so they live in alternating male and female 1000 day cycles. It seems confusing at first but quickly feels normal with the different pronouns taking less thought as a reader.

The 3 different time lines also unsettles the flow of the story at times but I guess that's because I felt more invested in the main thread (I do like a good mystery to solve). All time lines are relevant though and I'm sure PFH will tie everything together.

The Jump Gates reminded me a lot of Stargate and I am glad they are there as instant travel has made for a lack of Starships (I guess I'm a minority but as a Sci-Fi reader I don't much enjoy large sections of story onboard ships)

So, a slow burn of a novel but worth persevering with. The end surprised me and now I can't wait to get hold of the second in the series Salvation Lost.

4/5*

Thanks to Ellen Casey and Pan Macmillan for inviting me to review this book and providing the copy

Friday, 14 June 2019

The A-Z of Skateboarding by Tony Hawks

 Welcome to Day 3 of the blog tour for Tony Hawks' The A-Z Of Skateboarding.

Imagine, if you will, two men separated by a single letter S. One is Tony Hawk, skateboarding legend, the other is Tony Hawks, comedian, author and a man approaching the end of his tether. The problem, you see, is that fans of the former keep contacting the latter for skateboarding advice, tips etc. Even though they have to go through Tony Hawks website. By this point they should realise they have the wrong Tony, but no...they persist.

So Tony the comedian decided to fight back by responding to these emails, requests etc. in the most ridiculous way and the results of this are the book here reviewed. It serves to highlight what Tony Hawks sees as the pointlessness and futility of Skateboarding and comedy gold at its best. I'll be honest, I laughed at this book and I laughed hard. I think you would too.





Thanks to Anne Cater, as always, for inviting me to take part in this tour and to Unbound for providing the review copy.

Please, if you get the chance, have a look at the posts by the other reviewers on this tour

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Chop Shop by Andrew Post

 Welcome to Day 3 of the blog tour for Andrew Post's Chop Shop.

Things are not going well for Amber and Jolene, friends and business partners at the Hawthorne Funeral Home. They are failing in one of the 'safest' jobs there is but just when they approach rock bottom a chance to save everything appears - someone wants to buy body parts. All is going well until... you know the drill... problems arise with one of the corpses they have sold. Then things turn nasty.

Add in gangsters, and a 'back room' Dr with a missing dead body that he could really do with not being dead at all and what you have here is a horror/thriller/farce with a very black sense of humour running through it. I found the two leads, Amber and Jolene a bit hard to get on with at first, to be fair but after a while I saw them as an incarnation of the tv show 2 Broke Girls and from there it just clicked.

There's a lot going on with this book and it was ridiculous at times but I actually really enjoyed it (more than I expected to when I started it). Would I recommend it? Oh yes, very much so.
 Thanks to Anne Cater, as always, for inviting me onto this tour and Flame Tree Press for supplying me with a review copy.

Please try and find time to take a look at the posts by other reviewers on this tour

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Bold Lies by Rachel Lynch

 Welcome to Day 7 of the blog tour for Bold Lies, the 5th in the DI Kelly Porter series.

DI Kelly Porter is based in The Lake District and so far all the books in this series have been set in and around that glorious landscape. With Bold Lies though we get a change of scene (if only for a short while. When a dead body turns up on her patch and two more in a secret lab in London it soon becomes apparent that there are links so DI Porter is off to the capital and her old stomping ground. Waiting for her there is her old partner, a not very nice chap (but well written) who 'threw her under the bus' to benefit his own career.

This is, as always, a twisty, turny tale and the two different locations worked well with the London characters giving the series a bit of fresh blood. We also get to see more of DI Porter's back story and obviously how things are progressing in her life 'now' so plenty to get your teeth into.

I recommend reading the whole series to get the full benefit of the excellent storytelling but Bold Lies also works well as a stand-alone tale.

Many thanks to Ellie Pilcher and Canelo for inviting me onto this blog tour and please

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

In Other Words by John Garrett

While at my parents house last week my dad passed me this book to read. Being a lifelong Blade and having known the author since a school days trip to France I didn't need asking twice.

What this is is a collection of interviews with former Sheffield United players, stretching from the pre war era to more recent times. There are players I remember and ones I don't and what comes across from them all is a love of this club that is ours. Seeing how football has changed over the decades, through the words of those who were there, is still a real eye-opener.

These interviews have all been taken from the match day programme UTB (Up The Blades) and as I dipped in it brought back many memories for me - going to the Junior Blade enclosure with JG himself as schoolkids, years as a season ticket holder with my old pal Darren Thornton where we saw many of the folks interviewed here - Good Times.

As I remember, as a youngster my dad gave me the chance to choose for myself which Sheffield team I wanted to follow taking me to see both Blades and Owls. As I recall, each trip to Hillsborough it rained (seriously, that's all I remember about it) whereas the trips to The Lane still feel fresh. In reality there was no choice to make 😉

Anyway, back to the book. This is a really well put together collection that would be of interest to football fans in general, not just fans of Sheffield United

4.5/5*

John Garrett is also the author of Sheffield United - The Biography (with Gary Armstrong), Folklore and Fables and 125 Years of Sheffield United FC. (seriously, what he doesn't know about the club isn't worth knowing)

Thanks for the loan of the book dad, I'll be getting my own copy soon

Monday, 27 May 2019

We Can See You by Simon Kernick

 Welcome to Day 1 of the blog tour for Simon Kernick's latest thriller 'We Can See You'.

A best selling author and life coach with a high profile TV show Brook Conner's life is 'on track'...until the night she arrives home to find her daughter and the daughter's nanny missing and a note left behind - 'We have your daughter, do what we say and she will be returned. Do not contact the police or deviate from orders. We will know, we can see you at all times (or words to that effect)

Before long Brook is on the run with one plan - rescue her daughter and God help anyone who gets in her way!

The story alternates between Brook's story and her being questioned by the police, so a kind of 'then and now' story. It's certainly a fast paced one and (forgive the cliché) a real page turner. There are twists and turns aplenty and a reveal that certainly caught me on the hop.

I have never read a Simon Kernick novel before this one but I guess I've got a lot of catching up to do. This is an author who can keep the reader gripped. We Can See You could quite easily become THE beach read of the summer.

5/5*

Thank you to Isabelle Ralphs at Penguin and Arrow Publishing for inviting me onto this blog tour, NetGalley for the review file and, please, have a look at the other posts by bloggers on this tour

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Smoke in the Glass by Chris Humphreys

 Welcome to the final day of the blog tour for Chris Humphreys' Smoke in the Glass.

I must start by saying this had some interesting ideas and, thankfully, they were as well realised as I had hoped. The setting for the story is a world split into 4 parts, each kept separate from the other by 'unclimable mountains and unsailable seas'. In the past 3 of the 4 lands (I'm not sure about the 4th) were visited by a being who granted some of them gifts, foremost amongst these gifts was immortality. For me that was all the hook I needed. The immortality, you see, is quite random and we see this early on when two characters go to rescue a couple of children. During the ensuing fight both are killed but one stays seas and the other re-awakens to find he is now an immortal.

The 3 lands we visit are very different, one felt Egyptian based, one African (although I did waver on that at times) and one was definitely Norse based (my favourite) so the lead characters all felt very different. They handle their immortality differently too. Whereas two of the lands seem to use it to build a base of wealth and power those in the Norse land use it also for 'sport'. They are constantly fighting and keeping tally of who has killed who the most.

But into these lands comes an invasion from the fourth land and 3 must come together to save all. Yup, you guessed it, there's a prophecy involved - and I do love a good prophecy in my fantasy fiction.

This is a promising start to a new series, although it does feel like an introductory piece at times. The world building and character development worked well for me and I'm looking forward to the next volume. The only downside for me is that this was a NetGalley copy, therefore not quite  'the finished article' and there were a few issues with the text that threw me out of my reading rhythm but, you know what? I enjoyed it enough that I will be getting a print copy from the bookstore first chance I get ready for my re-read before the next volume.

A solid 4/5 stars

Thanks very much to Stevie Finegan at Gollancz for inviting me onto this blog tour and NetGalley for providing the file.

Please also try and visit the other sites of the bloggers on this tour.