Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Hangman's Song by James Oswald

This series just keeps getting better and better. The character cast have all settled into their roles and the story flows really well.

Poor Inspector McLean though. Now seconded to Vice he ends up working two cases for two departments as his colleague ask for help when called to a suicide by hanging that just 'doesn't feel right' while he is trying to sort out a case involving the possible smuggling of sex workers out of the country. And as if that's not bad enough his Nemesis, Dagwood, is temporarily ruling the roost and making McLean's life even more hellish than usual.

At home his girlfriend Emma is still recovering from her ordeal in the last book and that's not going great so more pressure on McLean.

There is a big supernatural bent to this story but I really hope that doesn't put people off as it works really well.

If there is a downside to Hangman for me it's that the treatment of McLean by his Dagwood and his cronies is getting a tad tired. It seems he is called in for a bollocking nearly every day.

How good is this series? I've got through the first three in just over a week (Ok, Lockdown helps but I could have chosen other reads) and am seriously jonesing for the 4th but I'm going to try and hold out, make this last.


Monday, 18 May 2020

Duckett and Dyer: Dicks For Hire - G M Nair

Welcome to Day 2 of the Blogtour for G M Nair's crazy, dimension hoping detective tale with Storytellers On Tour. 


Michael Duckett is fed up with his life. His job is a drag and his roommate and best friend of fifteen years, Stephanie Dyer, is only making him more anxious with her lazy irresponsibility. Things continue to escalate when they face the threat of imminent eviction from their palatial 5th floor walk-up and find that someone has been plastering ads all over the city for their Detective Agency.
The only problem is: He and Stephanie don’t have one of those.
Despite their baffling levels of incompetence, Stephanie eagerly pursues this crazy scheme and drags Michael, kicking and screaming, into the fray only to find that they are way out of their depth. They stumble upon a web of missing people that are curiously linked to a sexually audacious theoretical physicist and his experiments with the fabric of space-time. And unless Michael and Stephanie can put their personal issues aside and fix the multi-verse, the concept of existence itself may, ironically, no longer exist.

This is one of the strangest and most enjoyable books I have read in a long while. If you had a list of people you wanted to save the Universe and all dimensions thereof Duckett and Dyer would probably come somewhere down the bottom of it but that's what they need to do. But for all their incompetence they are a highly likeable duo - Michael Duckett is a bit of a worrier, the sensible one, where as Stephanie Dyer is totally irresponsible and a bit (well, actually, a lot) of a slacker. As pairings go it shouldn't work but really, really does. 

Once you get into to this time and dimension hopping romp you are in for a great fun read and, good news, it's only the first in a series and the sequel The One-Hundred Percent Solution is out NOW!!! I know what I'll be getting this afternoon. 

Certainly one for fans of Douglas Adams, Bill and Ted and Slacker Movies. A highly recommended 4.5/5*

Many thanks to Justine and Timy for inviting me onto the tour for this book. Please have a look at all the other reviews from the Storytellers On Tour bloggers. 

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Natural Causes by James Oswald

So, this was a strange one. I went into this, the first in the Inspector McLean series expecting a straight forward Edinburgh based Police Procedural. What I didn't expect was the supernatural turn it took part way through.

The story starts with two separate cases - a present day murder and the discovery of a corpse buried in horrific circumstances 60 or so years ago. It seems there is no link between the two (and I'll come to that soon) but, as is often the case in these kinds of story, there soon is. Wealthy and local beneficiaries to the city are soon being murdered in the same gruesome way and there murderers bodies are usually found not long after.

I really enjoyed this novel but I did have infuriating issues with the lead character and this is the bit where there may be spoilers so feel free to turn away now...

You still here?

Final spoiler alert...

Ok, here we go...

My main issues were with Inspector McClean himself. He's supposed to be a bright chap, an excellent detective but he came over at times as being absolutely dumb as a stump. He really couldn't see what was right in front of him.

Example 1 - He was looking for an elderly man, probably around the age of the other dead people - but he never even considered the STRANGE OLD MAN WHO HE'D HAD COFFEE WITH YESTERDAY AND WHO HAD OFFERED HIM A NEW JOB!!!

Example 2 - Someone on the force has been selling police scene of crime photo's (gruesome one's) to a website in Brazil. The only clue is the initials MB. This comes at the same time he starts seeing police crime scene photographer Emma Baird for meals and drinks after work. He even refers to her as Em (as in EmB!!!) but takes forever to put 2&2 together. Which leads to...

Example 3 - while he is hoping (and pretty sure) she is innocent he meets the other SOC photographer who he refers to as Malky and is corrected "It's Malcolm actually, Malcolm Buchanan Watt." (MBW, or MB anyone? - you might spot it but not our hero, oh no! Not even a sparkle.

Now, I get that clues are left for the reader to work things out but these might as well have been written in letters six feet high. It seemed a bit ridiculous that McLean never spotted them

The author did pull it back a bit later on when McLean starts putting things together and states "Christ, I can be thick at times." - Yes inspector, you can! 😜

The characters in the tale came across well even if they were the stereotypical norm - lazy sidekick, new boy, the officer above him that he doesn't get on with, the two love interests (greedy boy inspector) and Edinburgh itself feels real.

So yeah, I did have 'issues' with this book but the story itself makes me feel inclined to forgive those. I enjoyed it a lot, for all my moaning about it, and am ready to dive into the rest of the series


Thursday, 7 May 2020

Tooth For Tooth by J K Franko

 Welcome to what should have been Day 6 of the Blogtour for Tooth For Tooth

If you got away with murder would you stop or carry on. Would you start to feel invincible? Uncatchable? Untouchable? Roy and Susie have done just that but things are never that simple (to be fair, the world of crime fiction would be a lot worse of if they were). Is it possible to justify it to yourself if you murder in revenge (as the title suggests with the biblical reference)

Tooth For Tooth is the second part in a four part series and, if I'm being honest, it would help to start right at the beginning (although the first part of TFT does do a fair job of recapping the events of Eye For Eye). As the story progresses you enter into a spiderweb of mystery, deceit and secrets. There are some strands that get tied up but plenty left loose for the next book.

I will say that the characters here were an awful bunch of people, not a single one that I cared about but that did not, in any way, detract from the fact that this was a well told story that flew to the end at a cracking pace.

Bring on book 3 - I'll be waiting

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

Monday, 4 May 2020

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake

About the book:

It’s the 1980’s. Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita are ordinary girls with extraordinary lives. They are better known as eighties pop sensation The Thunder Girls. This girl group is dominating the pop scene, their faces on every magazine cover, millions of fans worldwide, constantly at the top of the charts. Until one of them brings the band’s dream run to an abrupt end. Three of their careers are over – and so is their friendship.

Fast forward thirty years. Their old record label lands a bombshell by asking them to reunite for a series of huge concerts. These would be the gigs of a lifetime with a pay check to match – some need it more than others – and old wounds leave deep scars. A lot has happened since The Thunder Girls were ruling the charts. Addiction, breakdowns, bankruptcy and divorce have led them far from the lives they once lived. If they are to move forward, the past needs to be laid to rest – but there is more to this reunion than meets the eye. Each Thunder Girl is hungry to revive their past success, but what they don’t know is that someone is watching their every move – and is determined to stop them succeeding – in the deadliest way possible.

These four girls have been to hell and back – and some of them are still there.

And that tells you all you really need to know about this book. 

The 80s was my era for music and I really wanted this book to be evocative of then but, for me, it wasn't. I liked the idea of the band breaking up then getting back together in later years and all the angst and continuing snidiness that would ensue but for me it fell a little flat. There were none of the characters that I particularly cared about and that didn't help. Maybe I'm not the target audience. 

Not a terrible book l guess, just not for me


Thanks to Martina Ticic at Midas PR for inviting me to review the book and for providing me with a file for review (I also bought a copy from amazon) 

The Heron Kings by Eric Lewis

 Welcome to Day 6 of the Blogtour for Eric Lewis' The Heron Kings - a tale of war, suffering and those that just want it over.

As the story starts we meet a young healer nun, Alessia, who treats all injured the same whichever side they are on in the war. When a Lord comes to their place of healing and slaughters all those deemed to be on the 'other side' the Mother (who is the Head of the healer nuns) decides to take the side of the Lord and only treat those on his 'side'.

Alessia cannot accept this so she leaves to do what she feels is right and treat all. On her travels she meets a farmer, Ulnoth, who has lost his family to the war. Together they gather a raggle-taggle bunch of misfits and decide it is time to end the war.

I must say this book was a lot more brutal and gruesome than I was expecting (not that I'm complaining - War IS brutal and gruesome and I like my fiction to feel real), definitely firmly in the Grimdark camp.

The characters were, for the most part, interesting and worth feeling invested in. The story drifted a little in the middle but the ending had me back on board.

So, if you are a fan of Grimdark this is certainly one worth looking at.

Recommended 3.8/5*

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

The Boy in the Box by Marc E Fitch

Welcome to Day 8 of the Blogtour for The Boy In The Box.

10 years ago 4 friends were on a hunting trip when a tragic accident led to the death and  burial (in the box of the title) of a young boy.

10 years later they have told nobody and the guilt is eating away at them - to the point one of them takes his own life.

The remaining friends find out that developers are going to start digging up the burial site and surrounding area so decide they have to go back and move the body.

On their return to the woods they feel they are being followed (or maybe stalked!) and what was a nervy horror story turns the dial up to 11 to become a full blown psychological terror-fest.

I can safely say this is one of the best genre books of recent years for me. The kind of book that got me reading horror (I made the mistake of reading part of it when I woke at 3:30 one morning - in the dark with just the light of my kindle and my imagination - and freaky dreams followed that)

A solid 4/5 stars

Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour, Flame Tree Press for providing the review copy and please, if you can, have a look at the other tour posts by the bloggers below

Sunday, 3 May 2020

The Murdstone Trilogy by Mal Peet

Right, first things first, The Murdstone Trilogy is not an actual trilogy. It's a single novel about an author, Philip Murdstone, whose star as a prize winning children's author is on the wane. His agent tells him the future for him is adult high fantasy as that is what sells these days.

This leads to a large problem as PM has no interest in the genre and no idea how to write it. After a massive beer blowout in his local pub he finds himself walking on the moors where he falls asleep in a local stone circle... and a voice starts telling him a tale.

The voice belongs to Pocket Wellfair, a creature from another realm (actually called The Realm) and the tale is just the type of story PM needs - high fantasy at it's highest and most fantastical. Through Pocket PM writes what will become the first volume of The Murdstone Trilogy and it goes on to be a massive seller. But, as always in these cases Pocket's help comes at a price.

The following 2 volumes are hard for Murdstone and hus descent into alcoholism and borderline insanity follows rapidly causing problems aplenty for his agent and publisher.

I've been planning on reading this novel for quite a while so when I saw it on offer on Amazon a week or so ago I snapped it up. Now it's over I don't really know quite how I feel about it. On the one hand this is a really clever story. It's really more the tale of the author and his issues with writing, his battles if you like. When he struggles with the writing and the writer's block as his muse (well, I say muse, Pocket is more or less dictating the books for him) and this central premise works well until later on in the story when I kinda got sick of his whinging and whining.

For the most part the characters work well although the ones in his home village wouldn't be out of place in Royston Vasey.

Where things really go downhill for me is when it feels like the author is using lots of 'big' words just to prove how clever he is (or as I call it 'doing a Donaldson*) - the kindle dictionary got a real workout with this one. The speech style of Pocket grated a bit as well.

There were times I loved this book and others when I just wanted to throw it across the room so I'm gonna give it 2.5/5 stars

*Stephen Donaldson, not Julia

Friday, 1 May 2020

The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence

 Welcome to the Blog Tour for The Girl and the Stars, the first in the new series from Mark Lawrence.

And also, I guess, it's welcome back to the icy world of Abeth, the setting for ML's previous Book of the Ancestor trilogy - although this is not a continuation of that story.

The story starts with our lead character, 16 year old Yaz heading with her tribe to the Black Rock for the four yearly gathering of the clans. This is not a joyous event! These people live on the ice. They have to be strong enough to survive all the bleakness this involves and at the Black Rock the children are judged. Any found to be weak or lacking in some way are cast into the pit, never to be seen or heard from again.

Needless to say (for reasons you will find when you pick up this book for yourself - I'm trying to avoid spoilers here) Yaz ends up in the pit and so starts a new life for her and a new adventure for us.

As always with ML what really stands out here is the world-building. This guy is seriously at the top of the tree when it comes to this stuff. You may wonder 'how can you make a world of caves and tunnels interesting?' but ML does. It's a whole new world down here and I got the idea that things are gonna change both above and below ground on Abeth.

The history we learn in TGatS gives an inkling as to where the story is heading but nothing is clear cut and obvious - which suits me just fine (although, for me, the rest of the series can't come quickly enough)

As always, another winner from Mark Lawrence and I have no problem recommending this as a must read. A solid 4.5/5*

Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour