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


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