Thursday 29 September 2016

Beelzebelle by Heide Goody and Iain Grant - A Review

Everybody's favourite Prince of Hell is back, and this time he has a baby....and a monkey. What could possibly go wrong.

With Beelzebelle, the 5th in Goody and Grant's Clovenhoof series, Jeremy Clovenhoof (aka Satan, exiled from Hell and now living in suburban Birmingham) is back leading the story and where he goes, chaos follows. Trailing along in his wake, trying to pick up the pieces are his neighbours Ben and the man-hungry Nerys, and his nemesis Michael (aka St. Michael, exiled from Heaven, also living in the Birmingham area). And what is that chaos? - well, start with JC getting a baby (and a monkey), joining SCUM (Sutton Coldfield Union of Mothers) and getting himself, Ben and Nerys made temporarily homeless, then throw in a new church being built by a slightly dodgy seeming chap, the death of Nerys' dog and the sudden appearance of a mighty monster - The Beast of Boldmere.

As expected from this series chaotic scene follows chaotic scene but somehow the authors manage to tie everything up by the end. Just when you think things cannot get any dafter they somehow manage to up their game finishing up with a scene of such magnificent insanity and (that word again) chaos that it would take the likes of Cecil B DeMille to film it (and I would love to see a visual version of the Clovenhoof stories)

What I really like about these stories is that in Jeremy Clovenhoof Goody and Grant don't portray Satan as 'Ultimate Evil' just someone who likes a bit of fun and mischief, okay, a LOT of fun and mischief. JC is one of those people you would end up hanging around with (even though you know it won't end well) and contrary to what you would expect from The Prince Of Darkness he does often try to do the right thing (often in a very convoluted and roundabout way, but the right thing nonetheless).

If I had to compare these authors with anyone, and I may have said this before, I would say Tom Holt at his best, but if I went in a shop with enough to buy only one book and it was a choice between the two I'd come out with Goody and Grant book every time.


Monday 26 September 2016

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson - some thoughts

So, Friday I got home from work and there was some post for shaped post.
On the plus side it was:

a) book shaped
b) from David Fickling Books

On the not so much of a plus side, the envelope was pink - very pink, very very pink indeed. But, as I said, it was book shaped and that trumps all.

What was inside was a sampler of a 2017 release 'All About Mia' (and a small pack of Harbour - another tick in the + column). 'AAM' is very much aimed at the female YA market, certainly not something I would expect to read, but on Sunday afternoon I needed something to read and AAM was close to hand and you know what? I really enjoyed it.

The story, as far as the sampler goes concerns Mia, a 16 year old middle sister. Oldest sister Grace is the academic one, younger sister Audrey the sporty one. Mia is neither academic or sporty, what she is, is Trouble (with a capital T, and possibly a capital R,O,U,B,L and E too). Not trouble in a nasty way, more Tracey Beakers and I found her fun as a character. The set up is that Grace comes home early from her gap year with 'a surprise' (no prizes for guessing what). When this doesn't get the reaction Mia hoped for from her parents it seems you are left with the idea that she is going to 'have escapades and get into scrapes'. I don't know what these will be but I look forward to finding out.

This is my fifth book from David Fickling Books and so far they have all been high quality, both in story and presentation.

A full review will appear here when the book is published in it's entirety.


Monday 5 September 2016

Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P Beaulieu - A Review

Of Sand and Malice Made is a prequel to Twelve Kings (Twelve Kings in Sharakhai in the US) and tells a story in the earlier life of Pit Fighter heroine Ceda, aka The White Wolf. The book is made up of 3 novellas that make a whole tale.

In this story Ceda comes to the notice of Rumayesh, one of the Ehrekh, ancient beyond years. What Rumayesh wants she gets, how will Ceda escape her clutches.

With this prequel we return to the desert city of Sharakhai, destined to become one of the great creations of modern fantasy fiction. The whole city is almost a character in itself with it's markets, fighting pits, shadowy back streets and the docks where the mighty sand ships come and go. The story itself is very Arabian in feel, it reminded me of both Aladdin and one of my favourite TV series of recent years, Atlantis. It is certainly a nice change to get fantasy fiction in a different setting to the usual Euro Middle Ages that most Fantasy Fiction seems to have.

As a lead character Ceda really works well, she spans the gap between child and adult without being too much of either. She is a fighter to be feared, one of the best pit fighters there is, but still enough of a child to keep her sense of fear and wonder. Travelling the streets of Sharakhai with her is a joy.

As for the book itself, this is a really nicely put together volume. The cover art is lovely and there are two maps (and I do like a good map). The only down side really is that some of the interior art is a tad on the dark side but that doesn't detract from an excellent story.

As a prequel 'Of Sand and Malice Made' works as both a continuation of Beaulieu's Sharakhai series and an entry point for those who have not visited before. Whichever you are, this exotic, mystical city will catch hold of you and never let go.

5/5 stars

Cat Castles by Carin Oliver (sample) - A Review

Ok,so,in the post today was a sample of a book called 'Cat Castle's (20 Cardboard Habitats You Can Build Yourself) by Carin Oliver, published by Quirk Books.

It is, basically, what it says it is - instructions on how to build various projects for your cat. From cardboard. As if your cat will actually be grateful for all the effort you put in. The book itself has 20 projects, this sampler has 2 - Airplane and Pyramid.

The instructions are fairly easy to follow, but, seriously, why would you want to bother. I like cats, cats are lovely but cats really couldn't care less if you spent half the afternoon building 'Cat Headquarters' or 'Crazy Condo'.

The illustrations are wonderful, I will say that, but probably for the wrong reasons. With cat expressions that range from 'why did you bother' and 'I am not going in there' to 'Seriously, if this gets printed I am going to puke in one of your shoes, and you won't know which one until it's too late' they did make me chuckle.

On a serious note though, one thing troubled me. With the Airplane Habitat there are instructions to make a propeller and attach it with wire, and for me this is wrong - NEVER construct a plaything (which it is when it all comes down to it) for a pet with bits of wire. The wire is not necessary. The cat won't care if the propeller doesn't turn.

So, all in all, a strange little book. If you like crafting and cats this could be just the thing for you (as long as you are prepared for the cat to not be bothered about the time you've put in)

3/5 stars