Friday 27 November 2020

Thoughts on animal cruelty in fiction

 So, I finished reading a book last night and while I enjoyed it for the most part there was also a point where I almost walked away from it (it was only just over 200 pages so I stuck it out).

The issue I had with it was the harm done to two dogs. One was a loyal dog who was trying to protect his owner - this one was smashed in the snout with a crowbar (but had no sign of injury the next morning) and also had it's tail hacked off for no real reason other than to prove the villain of the piece was a sadistic bastard. The other was an old dog encountered again by the villain in an otherwise empty house - this one had it's throat slit and the body dumped in the front garden.

And this got me thinking, why is it that characters go through all kinds of misery, harm, pain and torturous death in fiction all the time and it doesn't bother me one little but as soon as animals start getting hurt I find a problem with it. 

Anything goes in fiction but leave the animals alone

Friday 20 November 2020

The Greatest Beer Run Ever by John "Chick" Donohue and JT Molloy

The tag-line for this biographical tale reads 'A Crazy Adventure In A Crazy War'. Trust me, Crazy doesn't even come close! 

One night in a bar in Inwood, NYC ex marine John "Chick" Donohue is chatting with the bartender while the beer is flowing. They get onto how good it would be to deliver a beer to friends. The only problem is that the friends are in Vietnam... and there's a war on! 

Obviously Chick thinks 'what a great idea' and agrees to the 'mission'. The bartender gives him a list of names and with a backpack full of beer he is off. 

There are many scrapes and adventures as Chick works his way to 'Nam and there is a good amount of humour in his escapades but that is well balanced by the serious side and questions of why the troops were there anyway. 

I'll admit that I don't know much about the Vietnam War so this was kinda like a history book too and, as someone who loves history, this added an extra element to the story. 

Chick's indomitable spirit and Scallywag ways make for a great read. I would recommend this

 3.9/5*and a raised glass

Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and to Monoray for providing the review copy. Please, if you can find time, have a look at the reviews by the other bloggers on this tour (above) 

Wednesday 18 November 2020

The Lockdown Diary of Tom Cooper by Spencer Brown


Well now, this was a bit of a surprise. I wasn't sure how I would feel about a book about Lockdown having spent 4 months at home myself but it turns out it was just the book I needed. 

Tom Cooper is a single father of two who, due to the Corona virus Lockdown has to work from school, home educate his children and generally cope with all life has to throw at him. The zoom meeting fiascos alone will resonate with many but when you chuck in competitive NHS supporting with the neighbours, getting accused of stockpiling while shopping when he is only trying to help others and, well, the list goes on... the author has produced a book that should be on all book shelves. 

At times cringe worthy and hilariously uncomfortable this also has it's sweet moments. 

A winner all the way and the book you didn't know you needed. 


Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the Blogtour for this book and please, if you can, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers who have taken part. 

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson - early thoughts

 It doesn't seem like 10 years since I got my grubby claws on an arc copy of Way of Kings, the first in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archives but I guess it must be. And now the much anticipated 4th enormous volume, Rhythm of War, is out. I was fortunate enough to be offered a sample of the first 100 or so pages last week for review so, obviously, I snapped it up.

 So, here we go. RoW starts, as all volumes have so far, with the prologue which gives another point of view telling of the events that kicked this whole thing off. This time it is Navani we follow on the night of Gavilar's murder... and a very interesting POV it is too! Nope, no spoilers here, sorry. 

 Then we move on to the story proper. Unlike previous volumes which carried straight on from the last (more or less) RoW kicks off around a year after the events of Oathbringer but there's not a lot of time for catching up. Straight from the off we are into the action with Kaladin and his Windrunners battling a host of Fused. I would say this is what Sanderson does best, the big epic battle scenes but to be honest that's only a part of it. His world building is off the chart, his character development up there with the best of the best. And it's not just the big part characters - even lesser players in this tale feel like they deserve to be there. 

And then... The SkyBarge. Just WOW!! That's all I can say really (y'know, the whole 'no spoilers here' thing). 

 I know the majority of Sanderson's work ties into his Cosmere and there were moments here that reminded me of his Mistborn series. It's going to be interesting to see see how the whole thing develops over the years. 

 But anyway, back to the book. The sample I recieved is only a small part of RoW but there is so much there that when I get home tomorrow and start on the book proper I'm going to start right from page 1 and experience all this awesomeness again. 

 Once again Mr Sanderson you have knocked it out of the park - and then some

Thank you to Gollancz and Will O'Mullane for the sample chapters and the invitation to join this Blogtour. Please visit the other bloggers (below) to see what they thought


The Beach Party Mystery by Peter Bartram


It's the Swinging Sixties and Brighton is getting ready for a massive beach party with one of the biggest names in rock set to headline. Our intrepid hero, newspaper hack Colin Crampton is covering the story as putting one too many noses out of joint has seen him moved to the paper's Entertainment section. 

Before too long though he's up to his ears in trouble and mystery solving - and a cracking story unfolds. 

I will admit here and now that my taste in crime fiction is usually a bit more 'modern day' than this but something about this book intrigued me. The feel of the story was spot on, the 60s vibe resonating through the pages and the lack of tech really made a refreshing change. There was a good level of humour alongside the action and the sleuthing and although it did seem a tad silly at times I enjoyed it. I will certainly be looking out for more in this series. 

3.8/5* A good read

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

Monday 16 November 2020

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald


There's something big going down in Edinburgh, it's 'need to know' and, as if that's not enough, a civilian member of staff at the Edinburgh nick has gone missing.

Obviously Tony McLean is, as usual, up to his neck in it, getting a strip torn off him by his superiors and, well... just being Tony really. 

As usual for this series there is a weird vibe to the story but not as supernatural as some and it did catch me out a few times which is always appreciated. 

So, yeah, I enjoyed this as much as I have all the McLean series. Oswald has built up a good set and I will be looking out for the next when it comes out next year. 

Highly recommended 4.3/5*

 During the early part of this year, as you know, the country went into Lockdown due to this bloody virus and because of this I had to Shield for just over 4 months due to health issues. During this time I got through a lot of books (and I mean A LOT! - well, I was stuck at home the sun was shining and I had a lawn chair - What's a Wyrm to do 😉). It was in the early days of Shielding I discovered the Tony McLean books and James Oswald's other crime fiction and I have devoured them all. Books have the power to take you away from the day to day world and even if the places you visit in books are grim at times that escape is sometimes just what you need to get by. Oswald's books (among others) were what I needed when I needed them so James, if you're reading this, I tip my hat to you Sir and say thank you 

Thursday 12 November 2020

Number 10


Being a 16 year old girl isn't always easy. When you are the daughter of the Prime Minister things are even tougher. 

When Gray is photographed drunk outside a nightclub she is grounded and her security detail is changed to a much tougher one who are immune to her attempts to get around them. Things get worse when she accidentally overhears a seemingly Russian led plot to kill her and her mother (the PM don't forget). 

With no proof nobody will believe her so Gray enlists her best friend and the son of the Leader of the Opposition. Maybe between the three of them they can save the day... 

Number 10 is a novel aimed at teenage readers but the story is engaging enough that it will appeal to older readers too (I'm 53 and thoroughly enjoyed it). The idea of having the PM's daughter as lead character and working (and falling for) the son of the opposition leader works really well and did leave me thinking maybe if we left things to the kids we'd maybe be better off. 

So yeah, good storytelling, good characters and a pace that doesn't let up makes Number 10 a cracking read. I'll certainly be looking for more from C J Daughtery

Number 10 was published on 10th November

Saturday 7 November 2020

Bloodstock by Rod Humphris


Welcome to the final day of the Blogtour for Rod Humphris' Bloodstock, the latest in his Simon Ellice series. This series (so far) consists of two novellas and two full size novels (more on that later) 

Simon Ellice is coming home, back to the village where he grew up. He's all for the peace and tranquility of country life but in no time at all old friends are going missing and turning up dead and it's time for Si to do what he does best - mayhem. Hitting London's underworld he uncovers lots of nastiness and a threat that may be bigger than anything he's faced before. 

So, who is Simon Ellice? He's been a soldier (Dead Ground), drug smuggler (Go Fast) and the kind of guy who just attracts trouble and the ladies in equal measure (Starlight). This may seem a predictable choice but this series feels like a movie dream casting for Jason Statham. Ellice is not a bad person but, equally, he's no angel either and I think that's what really makes this series work. 

Must say also, the production quality on these books is top notch. They are a pleasure to hold (very tactile covers) and the illustrations add to the story well. Hats off to Rats Tails for that. 

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater and Random Things for inviting me onto the tour and Rats Tails for providing the review copies. Please, if you can, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on this tour. 

Bloodstock can be read as a stand-alone story but when a series is as good as this, really, why would you? 


Monday 2 November 2020

After Sundown edited by Mark Morris


Well, here we are, the nights are drawing in and the time is just right for curling up with a decent collection of Horror Short Stories. And (in my opinion) this collection from Flame Tree Press, edited by Mark Morris is just the thing. 

There are stories from established names here and from lesser known authors too but the quality of the stories and the scares is high across the board. I have had a copy for a while and spread the reading out at a rate of 1 or 2 a week which, in my opinion, benefits the collection as it allows each story time to settle with the reader rather than run into each other. 

It doesn't seem fair to single out stories in such a high quality field but I will anyway. The ones that stood out for me were 

Butterfly Island by C J Tudor (I have a butterfly phobia so flesh eating butterflies 🦋 😲🦋) 

Branch Line by Paul Finch (proper scary) 

We All Come Home by Simon Bestwick (this one had me pleading with the main character all the way through 'please don't go there/do that etc) 

All in all a job well done by Mr Morris and his authors and, as it makes a nice change to have a collection like this with no stories that fall flat or feel out of place... 

4.5/5* Looking forward to more collections from this editor and publisher

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this blogtour, Netgalley and Flame Tree Press for providing the review copy and please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on this tour

The Saints of Salvation by Peter F Hamilton


Well, here we are at what seems to be the end for humanity in the final part of PFH's mammoth Salvation series. The alien Olyx are on their mission to subjugate every species in the universe for their God and for The End Of All Times. 

But, they have picked on humanity without considering what we all know from the movies - humanity always fights back, has average people that step up to become hero types that thrive when all seems impossible, and always win in the end. Maybe one day they'll spot Earth and just sneak by and pretend they haven't noticed us. 

But, back to the book in hand. This is PFH doing what he does best. While the tomes in this series aren't as big as his previous ones there is still plenty to go at. What does it for me though and what makes him more accessible as an author is that the science doesn't take the reader away from the story. And there is a hell of a lot of mind bending science here. I admit a lot of it is outside my understanding apart from on a basic level but the story and the characters more than make up for that. PFH manages to meld the two aspects just right which is why I am always eager to get my hands on any new book by him. 

So, if you haven't started this series yet then don't even try starting with this one - you will be lost and also, you'll be missing out on the two excellent volumes before. And if you have and are just starting Saints, enjoy the ride my friends, this is one hell of a book

5/5* a perfect blend of story, action and MASSIVE science 

Thanks to Bethan at Pan MacMillan for inviting me onto the tour and for supplying the review copy. Please, if you can, have a look at the other reviews by the bloggers on this tour (below) - we all really appreciate it 😉