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.