Friday 17 December 2021

The Last Lumenian and True Teryn by S G Blaise

                         ABOUT THE LAST LUMENIAN 


She is a rebel. Lilla is fighting for the refugees's freedom from oppression. The king, her father, lost touch with reality ever since Lilla's mother died. Now everyone else is paying the price.

The arrival of Callum, a powerful Teryn general, complicates Lilla's life. His presence leads to conflicted feelings and friction with Arrov, a handsome pilot and fellow rebel.

Her life is not what she imagined it to be. Not by far. Meddling gods, love interests and sudden magical abilities have no room in Lilla's world, but that has become her new reality. No matter how hard she pushes them away, it's too late. They all seek to control her anyway.

Now the Era War between two ruling archgods forces Lilla to act: accept who she really is magic and all; find true love; fulfill her destiny by defeating the Archgod of Chaos and Destruction before He finds her. The Last Lumenian.

 So, what did I think? Well I am more of a fantasy reader than a Sci-fi reader (I like my Sci-fi to not be too tech heavy and sciency) but this combination of the two worked really well for me. Lilla makes for a believable lead she's brave, clever, sassy at times but also given to panic attacks at time. The books are certainly aimed at a new adult audience (in my opinion) and I guess that makes the Sci-fi more my level and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

 The story itself has the usual fantasy tropes,-mages, Gods, Destiny etc. but thrown into the mix is romance, a love triangle, plenty of banter and some excellent world building. 

 With its shortish chapters the story flies by at a good pace and I was greatful that I had book 2 to hand to dig straight into. 

 Speaking of which... 

                     ABOUT THE BOOK


Lilla must recruit the biggest and most dangerous army in the Seven Galaxies, but the Teryn emperor will not comply unless Lilla earns the blessing of the Teryn Guardian Goddess Laoise.

Dealing with gods is never easy. Guardian Goddess Laoise’s condition for bestowing her blessing is for Lilla to bring her the mysterious Heart Amulet. Now Lilla is trapped in a strange place with no way out, no idea where to go or how to find the amulet.

The only way for Lilla to complete her mission is to uncover the biggest secret of all Teryns. Will she survive discovering the secret of what it means to be a True Teryn?

 True Teryn really gets the story going, with what I like best in my fantasy reads - a good old fashioned quest for a maguffin. The maguffin in this case is the Heart Amulet but Lilla doesn't know what it is or where exactly to find it. Her quest, as is often the case will allow her to find out more about herself (the 'real Lilla' I guess you could say). Everything that was good in book 1 is even better here in True Teryn

 SG Blaise has done it again with the world building here (and as it's the seven galaxies I'm excited to see what there is going forward with this). The characters are growing into themselves and the story is getting better and better. The style of writing is very visual as well which is not an easy thing to get right.

 Something else to note is the cover art on these books, I mean, have you seen them?? That is luscious cover design (that's part of the reason I have these books on kindle as well as physical copies - so I can keep the covers as pristine as possible).

 I'm giving both books 4/5* just because I think this series will keep getting better and better

 Thanks to Smith Publicity for inviting me to review these books and for providing the review copies. 

 Both books are available now

Thursday 9 December 2021

Of Blood and Fire by Ryan Cahill


I've been reading fantasy for a long time now and I know what I like - and this ticks all my boxes. There is a lot here that rings bells from other stories, you have the usual boy leaves small village with his friends and some strangers to find adventure in the wide world, you have 'evil empire' encroaching with bad intentions, you have stock fantasy races - elves, dwarves, giants, dragons. There are the usual monster types - Uraks here take the role of Orc/Troll/Trolloc and even some of the places sound familiar.

 But all this familiarity does is show the author has read deeply in the genre. He tells his own story with echoes of other genre tales but the story he tells, the world he has created, is all his own. 

 And the story is a bloody good one at that. I have spent the last 3 nights reading as late as I could to finish it, reading until my eyes could stay open no more. I finally got there this morning - and the ending nailed it!

 I think it's safe to say that it's time to set an extra place at the top table. Ryan Cahill deserves a spot there. 


 Of Blood and Fire ends on three (Three!!) separate cliffhangers but don't worry, the sequel, Of Darkness and Light is out on 31st December - and at just under 900 pages long it's an absolute chonker

The Untold Story by Genevieve Cogman


 Welcome to the 2nd day of the Blogtour for Genevieve Cogman's The Untold Story - book 8 (and possibly the final book) of the Invisible Library series. And it is release date too so you won't have to wait to pick up your own copy. 

 The Untold Story has Irene coming to terms with the revelations uncovered in The Dark Archive (aka book 7) and also embarking on possibly her most dangerous mission to date. As regular readers will know the Invisible Library links many parallel worlds - and some of them are now disappearing! Irene needs to get to the bottom of why this is happening, who is to blame and to dig into the history of the Library itself for answers. 

  As (possibly) the last in the series the book does exactly what it needs to by tying all the loose ends in a particularly tidy bow and giving the reader the conclusion it deserves. The world building and character development has always been top notch throughout the series and continues here. 

 Now, I must say, I have been following this series from the beginning and waited enthusiasticly for each 'next episode' to be published and I do think that is the best way to approach the series - as a whole entity. With Librarians, the Library itself, Dragons, Fae, A Sherlock Holmes type and a machiavellian enemy (among many others) this has been a fun ride (and it really ought to be picked up for television) and I highly recommend it. 

 My plan now is to go back to the beginning and start all over again. Care to join me? 😉

 Thanks to Pan Macmillan for providing the review copy and to Stephen Haskins for inviting me onto the tour. And, speaking of which please take the time to have a look at the posts by the other excellent bloggers on the tour (dates below) - we always appreciate it when you do 😉

Thursday 25 November 2021

Cytonic (Skyward 3) by Brandon Sanderson - 1st thoughts


Welcome to my post on the Blogtour for Cytonic, the third novel in Brandon Sanderson's Skyward series 

About The Book 

Spensa's life as a Defiant Defense Force pilot has been far from ordinary.

She proved herself one of the best starfighters in the human enclave of Detritus and she saved her people from extermination at the hands of the Krell - the enigmatic alien species that has been holding them captive for decades. What's more, she travelled light-years from home as a spy to infiltrate the Superiority, where she learned of the galaxy beyond her small, desolate planet home. Now, the Superiority - the governing galactic alliance bent on dominating all human life - has started a galaxy-wide war. And Spensa has seen the weapons they plan to use to end it: the Delvers. Ancient, mysterious alien forces that can wipe out entire planetary systems in an instant.

Spensa knows that no matter how many pilots the DDF has, there is no defeating this predator.

Except that Spensa is Cytonic. She faced down a Delver and saw something eerily familiar about it. And maybe, if she's able to figure out what she is, she could be more than just another pilot in this unfolding war. She could save the galaxy. The only way she can discover what she really is, though, is to leave behind all she knows and enter the Nowhere. A place from which few ever return.

To have courage means facing fear. And this mission is terrifying

My Early Thoughts 

 I only recieved my review copy a couple of days ago so this is not a full review - that will follow in good time (but hey, it's Sanderson, I'm sure it won't be too long. The guy is a byword for books that keep me reading for 'just a few more pages' and find me still at it long after everyone else is asleep). This is just my early thoughts... 

 Cytonic starts out with Spensa entering The Nowhere - which is probably the best way to describe it. The Nowhere is almost (in my eyes at least) another dimension, it's the place things pass through when Hyperjumping through space and the place where Spensa may just find the means to save the Galaxy. 

  Of course Spensa is not alone, she's accompanied by M-bot as always (somehow I can't help being reminded of a certain Hanson whenever it pops up) and also a new character - Chet Starfinder, Interdimensional Galactic Explorer. I mean, the guy enters the story coming to Spensa's rescue riding a dinosaur - yup, you read that right... 




That's how you make an entrance! 

 Cytonic is, so far, everything I love about Sci-fi, it's action packed, lots of fun and you don't need 4 science degrees to understand what's going on. I've enjoyed this series since it began (with the Top Gun in space like Skyward) and it just keeps getting better. Sanderson does characters and world-building very well indeed and is an excellent teller of tales whether Fantasy or Sci-fi, Adult aimed stories or YA and any new title from him goes straight towards the top of Mt. TBR

 So, more on this when I get to the end but for now, suffice to say, I'm thoroughly enjoying it. 

I'd usually stick an author photo here but, just for a change I thought I'd go with a photo from when I met the man himself at Forbidden Planet, London several years ago. 

Thanks to Will O'Mullane for inviting me onto the tour and Gollancz for providing the early review copy. Please take a look at the reviews by other bloggers on the tour

Monday 11 October 2021

Shadow Service vols 1&2


I started reading comics as a youngster, starting with Marvel and moving on to 2000AD when that started up. Shadow Service feels very 2000ADish so I was hooked from the start. 

Black-Ops meets Spycraft meets Witchcraft as Gina, a spellcasting PI in London is recruited by MI666, a shadow branch of the Secret Service. There's a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as she works with and against them but that worked for me as it kept the story flowing well and leaves me eager for vol 3.

What really stood out for me was the artwork. I read both volumes on my kindle fire and the quality is exceptional with the colouring making the pictures feel almost lifelike (especially the scenes where it is raining - the pictures actually look wet) 

One thing I wasn't especially keen on was MI666's mobile HQ, a van that is bigger on the inside than the outside - it would be cool if it hadn't been done before. But that aside these books had lots of good - the bad guys are as monstrous as you could hope for, the leader of MI666 is a man in a boy's body which adds a quirky element. 

And there's a talking rat. A TALKING RAT!! I mean, seriously, how can you go wrong when there's a talking rat involved? 

Thanks to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto this tour. This is day one so please follow the tour and have a look at the posts by my fellow bloggers

Monday 27 September 2021

Born To The Dark by Ramsey Campbell


Born To The Dark is the second of Campbell's The Three Deaths of Daoloth and sees us back in Liverpool but 30 years on from The Searching Dead. I'd advise reading that first as it gives the story a little more flow but you get a reminder of previous events early on.

Dominic Sheldrake is now all grown up with a family and his 5 year old son is having trouble sleeping. While Dom is away his wife signs Toby (the son) up to the Safe To Sleep program without Dom's consent. Things get bad between the two when it turns out that Christian Noble (the Big Bad from The Searching Dead and Dom's nemesis) and his daughter are behind Safe To Sleep. And Toby's nightmares are getting worse...

As usual for Ramsey Campbell this is a very creepy read, the kind that has you turning the page slowly, not knowing what scares are around the corner but also eager to embrace them. I've been reading RC since the 80s and don't believe he has ever let me down - and it's the same with Born To The Dark. I'm looking forward to seeing how the series finishes

Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour, Flaming Tree Press for providing the review copy and Ramsey himself for keeping me entertained all these years.

Please have a look at the posts by the other reviewers on the tour - we really appreciate it

Monday 20 September 2021

The Wisdom of Crowds by Joe Abercrombie


'Some say that to change the world you must first burn it down. Now that belief will be tested in the crucible of revolution: the Breakers and Burners have seized the levers of power, the smoke of riots has replaced the smog of industry, and all must submit to the wisdom of crowds.

With nothing left to lose, Citizen Brock is determined to become a new hero for the new age, while Citizeness Savine must turn her talents from profit to survival before she can claw her way to redemption. Orso will find that when the world is turned upside down, no one is lower than a monarch. And in the bloody North, Rikke and her fragile Protectorate are running out of allies . . . while Black Calder gathers his forces and plots his vengeance.

The banks have fallen, the sun of the Union has been torn down, and in the darkness behind the scenes, the threads of the Weaver's ruthless plan are slowly being drawn together . . .'

                         My Opinion

Well, what can I say about Joe Abercrombie and his writing that's not been said before - not a lot I guess. You know what you are getting with JA and with The Wisdom of Crowds believe me, you get it by the bucket load. 

 TWOC is the final volume in the Age of Madness Trilogy and brings things to a glorious finish. As always JA puts his characters through the wringer (although, to be fair the ones put 'through the wringer' are the ones that get of lightly). This is a brutal book but there are moments of humour too. I got my review copy early and had the intention of saving it for my holiday, (which was in release week) but I made the mistake of "just reading the one chapter, you know, just a taster". Well, that taster turned into a full on banquet and too nightshifts later I was done. As is often the case with Abercrombie putting the book down is not an option. 

 I tried to think what I could compare it too and the best I could come up with was Charles Dickens meets Les Miserables. What made me particularly enjoy this series was that JA moved things forward, giving the tale a more Age of Industry feel, advancing the world, if you like. 

What I didn't like - it came to an end and now I have to wait and see what the author does next. 

Highly recommended 5/5* 

Thanks to Gollancz for inviting me to join this Blogtour. 

Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers (below) - every read helps us be more visible 

Monday 6 September 2021

Fury of a Demon by Brian Naslund


                 ABOUT THE BOOK 

The land is in chaos as a hero heads for war.

Commanding a devastating army of skyships, Osyrus Ward has conquered most of Terra. And to finish the task, he’s building a machine of unparalleled power. With it, he’d be unstoppable – and dragons would be wiped from the face of the earth.

Bershad and Ashlyn are leading a desperate rebellion, but they’ve been trapped within the Dainwood by Ward’s relentless mercenaries. The rebels pray Ashlyn’s dark magic will give them an edge, but her powers are well-known to their enemies as they draw ever nearer. Out of options, Ashlyn must embark on a dangerous mission to save her fledgling army – or be crushed by Ward’s soldiers.

Bershad was once invincible in battle, but this very power may prove his undoing. Now, with every new wound, his humanity is slipping further away. Bershad seems to be Terra’s last and best hope against terrifying forces. But to save the world, will he become the nightmare?

                    MY THOUGHTS

I think it's fair to say I've loved this series from day one so seeing it come to an end is a bit of a downer but it's also fair to say it's gone out in style.

What impressed me most I think (apart from the dragons - I mean, come on, who can't be impressed by dragons as awesome as these) is the way the magic system develops to a more sciencey/maybe steampunky type and how natural this feels. To win, to progress you have to adapt and that really feels like the case here.

Our heroes, Flawless Bershad and Ashlyn have gone through the wringer at times to be where they are at the start of Fury and things really don't get any easier for them throughout the book. I was left at times wondering who would make it through to the end and, yes, I actually cared about the characters wellbeing - for me that's the sign of a good storyteller.

Naslund's world building really worked for me - there's a difference between knowing the lands because you can see a map and knowing them because 'you are there' in your mind. Another strength of Naslund I guess.

As final battles go Fury really turns up the dials here and I was quite exhausted by the end but thoroughly enjoyed it. And I guess it's not really the end for me because I'm going to give it a couple of months then I'm going to go back to the beginning and read all three back to back - can't wait 😉

Highly recommended and a very much deserved 5/5*

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Deep Cover by Leigh Russell


      Welcome to my spot on day 8 of the Blogtour for Deep Cover 

              ABOUT THE BOOK 

When a sex worker dies in suspicious circumstances in York, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel struggles to remain focused on the murder investigation: she is distracted by her worries about her colleague and life partner, Ian Peterson, who has disappeared. As Geraldine becomes close to her new DS, Matthew, she is unaware that Ian is working undercover in London, trying to identify a criminal gang who have been targeting her.

As a second victim is discovered in York, and Ian's life is threatened by a psychopath the tension mounts. If he fails in his mission, both he and Geraldine may die...

                    MY THOUGHTS

This is the sixteenth book in the Geraldine Steel series of Police Procedural/ Crime Fiction novels but was a new series for me. The author has two cases on the go here, told in alternating chapters. In York Steel is investigating the murder of a prostitute while her ex DI Ian Peters on is undercover on a drugs op. She doesn't know this and thinks him mlssing which affects her concentration on her case.

At first it starts out as two different cases but (as I guess you would expect) there are strands that pull the two together but it is done in clever ways and still managed to pull the rug out from under me a few times.

As I said earlier this series is new to me and I do like seeing characters develop over time so I turned to Amazon and found the first three in the series were on offer so gave them a try. I enjoyed them immensely and will be reading the rest when I get chance. Deep Cover is a lot later on in the careers of Steel and Patterson and there are new characters since those early cases and some faces not there any more but I'll find out bout those later (and so will you I guess if you're following the blog - I aim to post more about the series as I go through it)

Anyhoo, back to Deep Cover - I got through this in just a few days as it's one of those 'one more chapter' books that finds you still awake at 2am wondering where the time has gone and can you chance carrying on and just stay in bed tomorrow (I did!😂).

Deep Cover works as a stand-alone novel despite being part of a series but I strongly advise having a look at the the other books as well just for quality of the storytelling 

Highly recommended 4.5/5*

Leigh Russell has quickly taken a spot on the list of authors I will picking up on release date 

Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this blogtour. Please have a look at the other  blogger posts (below) 

Saturday 14 August 2021

Legacy of Light by Matthew Ward - Blogtour

Welcome to Day 4 of the Legacy of Light blog tour. Today sees a guest post by the author himself, Matthew Ward, on how the next generation step up and come into their own in this final book in the series. It's a good one, so, without further ado... 

HEEEEERE'S Matthew... 

Passing the Torch

I’ve loved generational storytelling for as long as I can remember, though it took me a long time to figure out why. 

I think in the beginning, I liked that The Lord of the Rings had a bunch of familiar names from The Hobbit, which is reassuring when you’re seven years old, and tackling a book that everyone is (wrongly) very clear that you won’t understand¹ . But I think even at that point I appreciated that Bilbo and Glóin were still around, and had families – even if I was upset that Balin fell down a mine shaft onto some orc arrows² . It meant that I wasn’t just reading a story, but a history. It made it all real.

The same was true when I stumbled onto Shannara a few years later. Except here, between the first two series anyway, you’re talking about four generations of Ohmsfords and Leahs entangled in sorcerous shenanigans. 

Shannara also added something new to the mix. While The Lord of the Rings leans towards the idea that heroes are predestined to be leaders (and vice versa)³  and therefore naturally rise to the fore of weighty events, Shannara takes the line that ‘well, weighty events once touched your ancestor, so now you and all your descendants are screwed, because magic remembers and someone’s got to do the heavy lifting’.

Sidestepping genres and media into the world of superhero comics, the same’s true of the Geoff Johns/James Robinson/David Goyer run on JSA (Justice Society of America)⁴ . Where most superhero comics are frozen in time – Peter Parker has been Spider-man for 60-odd years at this point – JSA sees costumed identities passed down to inheritors across the decades from the team’s original 1940s founding to the early 2000s and beyond¹¹. 

As you might expect, JSA’s a bit cheerier than epic fantasy fare (although not without its bleak moments), and it finally offered up the missing piece of the puzzle. 

In The Lord of the Rings and Shannara, we seldom see the generations actually interact¹² . Generally, the elder folks are dead and not available for comment¹³ . In JSA, they’re mentors, role models, cautionary tales and slices of living history. Crucially, their presence and deeds offer a new perspective on the world they inhabit … not only to the reader, but also to their inheritors. In turn, their inheritors’ perspective – and more importantly, how they react to the examples set by their predecessors – makes that world a richer, more dynamic place.

Because let’s be honest, in real life or fiction, no generation comes of age without casting a leery eye at the preceding one.

JSA set my love of generational tales in stone. You see, more than anything else, a story has to feel alive. Great characters are vital, sure, as is a setting that lives beyond the words on the page to keep unfolding in the reader’s mind. But the real magic happens when the characters and world evolve in step with one another. There’s no finer way to show this than with the passing of the torch, and the rise of a new generation … and how the new generation rises.

Because we see this play out all around us, all the time. In our families, in our workplaces, in the many-headed hydraic¹⁴  horror that is the rolling news cycle. Half of what we know about our world is seeing how other people grow and adapt to it. We take note of what works and what doesn’t, and plot our own course accordingly … with mixed results.

Why wouldn’t our characters do the same? The choices they make – or don’t – tell us so much about their role models and the society they’ve grown into. And it’s never more dramatic than when children come of age and find their place.

So it’s probably not surprising when I say that the Legacy Trilogy was always going to be a generational story²¹ . Hell, it’s there from the start. Legacy of Ash is predominantly about Viktor, Josiri and Calenne wrestling with their parents’ mistakes. In Legacy of Steel it’s Melanna’s turn. And by the time we get to Legacy of Light, it’s time for the new generation to emerge from the shadow of those decisions²² .

Though they’ve been present in previous books, Legacy of Light marks the first time that Sidara, Constans and Altiris really get to grips with what they want, and how far they’re prepared to go to achieve it. Though she’s a few years older in both years and mileage, the same can be said of Melanna Saranal, who’s starting to realise – as so many of us do – that the challenges don’t go away, they merely change form. All four are fighting to find their place in a tumultuous world, eyes cast back at their role models with everything from adoration to disdain.

Where do they end up? Well, you’ll have to read the book to find out, but the joy in the writing – and hopefully the reading – is seeing whose influence they embrace, whose they reject and what these characters determine for themselves. The fate of the Tressian Republic and the Hadari Empire will turn on those choices …

Matthew Ward is a cat servant, creative consultant and author of the Legacy Trilogy, the final book of which – Legacy of Light – is available now. Follow him on Twitter (@thetowerofstars) or check out his website 

 ¹ Fog on the Barrow-downs scared the absolute living shit out of me, however.

 ³ Actually, this always upsets me whenever I re-read The Lord of the Rings. Goes to show a little characterisation goes a long way.

  ⁴Think about it. How many non-magical characters are royal, or royal adjacent? Gimli is of Durin’s line, cousin to both Thorin and Dáin. Legolas is a prince. Frodo, Merry and Pippin are all (presumably) landed gentry. Boromir is a pretender to the throne. Only Sam, bless him, represents the common folk, led on a merry chase from court to palace to evil overlord’s dungeon …

  ¹¹ Which I heartily recommend to anyone who loves superheroes. It’s some of the finest serialised storytelling going.

  ¹² There’s a fair chunk of time travel, so it gets a bit squirrely in places.

 ¹³ This is true of a lot of fantasy fiction, of course. It doesn’t pay to be the wise mentor, esteemed parent or suchlike to the plucky chosen one. Disney get a lot of stick for the ‘dead parents’ cliché, but they’re hardly alone.

 ¹⁴ In The Lord of the Rings it tends to be the work of orcs although rivers seem to play a prominent role. You heard it here first: Tolkien had a phobia of fast-flowing water – he was a vampire all along. Or something. allowed to make words up. It’s in the job description.

  ²¹And in turn part of a much larger generational story, but we’ll see where we get to.

  ²² Or, you know, die trying.

(apologies for the strange numbering on the footnotes, for some reason the numbers didn't appear when I copied the file and my phone, on which I blog, only does small numbers from 1-4)


Thank you very much indeed to Matthew for inviting me to join the tour and share space with some awesome fellow bloggers - please take time to have a look at their posts (and share them around on social media if you feel that way inclined).

Legacy of Light by Matthew Ward is published by Orbit and will be available to buy from the 19th of August. As with the previous volumes (Legacy of Ash, Legacy of Steel) it's a humungous beast of a book and a cracking read so far (I'm nearing the end of my review copy and will post a full review when I'm done) 


Friday 13 August 2021

Devil's Fjord by David Hewson


                        Book Description

A remote island. An isolated community. A terrible secret.

If the new District Sheriff, Tristan Haraldsen, thought moving to a remote village on the island of Vagar would be the chance for a peaceful life with his wife Elsebeth, his first few weeks in office swiftly correct him of that notion.

Provoked into taking part in the village’s whale hunt against his will, Haraldsen blunders badly, and in the ensuing chaos two local boys go missing. Blaming himself, Haraldsen dives into the investigation and soon learns that the boys are not the first to have gone missing on Vagar.

As Tristan and Elsebeth become increasingly ensnared by the island’s past, they realise its wild beauty hides an altogether uglier and sinister truth.

                          My Thoughts

I do have a soft spot for Scandi Noir, I must say. Crime fiction set in Denmark, Norway, Iceland etc always seems just that little bit darker. Well, with Devil's Fjord I can now add The Faroe Islands to that list.

With the new District Sheriff moving to a quiet village for a more peaceful life (Hahaha, these people, they never learn) he soon finds himself neck deep in tradition, whale hunting and missing boys. The deeper he digs the more sinister it gets.

 I think what really set this novel apart for me was the setting. I know of The Faroe Islands but not much about them but the author made them feel real (and certainly somewhere I'd love to visit one day) and the community felt very insular which you would expect of island life I guess. It's the not aways knowing if people behave in certain ways because they ARE sinister or just because that's how they've always behaved. The bond between the Sheriff and his wife worked as a good juxtaposition to the general feeling of isolation.

 I would highly recommend this novel (I'll certainly be reading it again when the nights get darker) and have no qualms about giving it the full 5*


 With the whaling scenes I understand this may not be to everybody's taste so please be aware that these can be somewhat graphic.

Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour. Please, if you can, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on this tour (below)

Friday 30 July 2021

Dog Rose Dirt by Jen Williams


                        About The Book

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell
Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.
A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth
Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.
A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

                      My Thoughts

 Right, just getting this out there from the off, I know Jen Williams as a fantasy fiction author (The Copper Cat Trilogy, The Winnowing Flame Trilogy) of the highest order. When I heard she was writing a mystery thriller (my other favourite genre) I was excited to see what she would do, how she would switch from a genre known for 'sprawl' to one which needs to be tight - and I'm happy to say she absolutely nailed it. 

 The lead character returning to a home town they vowed they'd left forever has been done many times before but somehow Williams has made it feel fresh. This may well be down to Heather Evans herself - no simpering, loveable homegirl here, Evans is often quite unlikeable and not easy to get on with but her spine is a rod of determination and ballsiness. When she is going through her recently deceased mother's things and finds she has been writing to a convicted serial killer you just know she won't let that lie. 

 And then the murders start again, but Michael Reave is locked up, so who is the copycat killer? Who is leaving creepy messages for Heather. To solve all this Heather is going to have to come face to face with The Red Wolf, dig back into her family history and brace herself for what she may uncover. 

 I found this to be a very tense read (in a good way) and thought I'd sussed out what was going on most of the time but I was still caught out by the end. I've read this book twice as the American version (released as A Dark And Secret Place) came out earlier and I managed to bag a Netgalley copy of that so to find I was still struggling to put it down on the second read says a lot to me about the quality of the writing. 

 One of my favourite and most enjoyed thrillers of recent times. Very Highly Recommended 


Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this Blogtour and Harper Collins for providing the book to review (which didn't influence me at all. As always all views are mine and mine alone) Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below) and see what they have to say 

Thursday 22 July 2021

The Basel Killings, Hansjorg Schneider


About The Book

It’s the end of October, but it could be December. It is just after midnight when Basel Police Inspector Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly the worse for wear, approaches old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a streetlight. The usually very loquacious Hardy is ominously silent—his throat a gaping wound. It turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, its diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers.

But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. The trail leads him deep into a dark world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. On a more sinister level, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in relatively recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.

                           My Thoughts

 Although this book is set in Switzerland it feels very much like it would be at home in the Nordic Noir section of the bookstore. When this novel starts and our hero, Hunkeler, finds a man murdered and left on a bench you can just feel the cold air, the 'Nordicness' of it all. You can almost see the BBC4 subtitles in the picture your mind creates. 

  Hunkeler is at the later end of his career, he's grumpy, old, battered and probably drinks too much. While his younger colleagues are quick to blame 'foreigners' (in this case Albanians) Hunk is not so sure and digs deeper (you knew he would really, didn't you. These old grizzly cops never just let things lie). 

 His investigations soon dig up secrets others, many of whom are in positions of power, would rather see remain buried. 

 I have not read many crime novels set in Switzerland (if any) but if they are half as addictive as this I will be adding it to my list of countries to search out more from. 


Thanks again to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and providing the review copy. Please look at the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

What Goes Around by Ann Bloxwich


About The Book

Vicky Wilson is dating Ray Diamond, legendary stripper and renowned bad boy. She goes backstage to see him during a show with friends and disappears.

When a woman’s body is found behind the club, DI Alex Peachey and his team are called in to find out who killed Vicky. But with his home life in turmoil, delving into the adult entertainment industry is the last thing he needs, especially with a case as complex as a spider's web. But due to his colleague’s sudden illness he doesn't have a choice.

Ray Diamond claims he’s being framed. His complete disregard for others means there are a lot of people who would love to see him fall from his pedestal. The question is, does anyone hate him enough to push him? And will DI Peachey be able to prove him culpable of murder before he strikes again?

My Thoughts

 Well, this was what we up north call 'a good un'. I wasn't sure it would work for me with the male stripper angle but Bloxwich seems to have got the whole business nailed down. The insights into 'life backstage' worked really well for me. 

 When a missing woman and a dead body enter the story and the police procedural stuff kicks in the story really picks up. As you may expect in this kind of story the police lead (in this case DI Alex Peachey) has 'issues'. With Peachey this is a disabled son whose behaviour is getting harder to handle but again the author managed to put this across really well. 

 The book has short chapters so is quite a pacy read and the author shows a lot of promise. I can see this becoming a long running series and if it is then this reviewer is certainly going to be along for the ride 


Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour. Please have a look at the other reviews by the bloggers on the tour (below) 

Tuesday 20 July 2021

Rory Hobble and the Voyage to Haligogen by Maximilian Hawker

 About The Book

Eleven-year-old Rory Hobble has it tough: he gets upsetting thoughts all the time and they won't go away – 'Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)', the head doctors call it. His mum hasn't been very well for a long while either. Perhaps it's his fault... Maybe that's why she doesn't always feed him; maybe that's why she screams at him. At least Rory has his telescope – gazing at the unchanging stars keeps him calm. But, one night, Rory sees something impossible in the sky: mysterious lights – artificial and definitely not of earthly origin.

When his mum is abducted by the shadowy Whiffetsnatcher, Rory – accompanied by his space-faring, care-experienced social worker, Limmy – travels beyond the Earth, chasing those mysterious lights to the frozen ends of the Solar System. Along the way he must outwit a breakaway human civilisation living on a Martian moon; survive the threat of otherworldly monsters; and learn to speak to alien whales.

But his greatest challenge left Earth with him and it will take all the courage he has not only to overcome his OCD, but to decide whether he wants to rescue an abusive mother if he gets his chance…

My Thoughts

 An 11 year old boy with OCD, troubling thoughts and a not always happy life at home - seems like this is a book that will resonate with many younger readers today. Thankfully it is a Middle Grade  book rather than a Young Adult one so gives the hero, Rory, a chance at adventure in the far reaches of space instead of moping around on Earth. 

  For me the idea of a human colony living on Mars was fun but when Rory meets aliens and space whales the story reaches into what feels more like Roald Dahl territory and was, for me, where the story was strongest. 

 It is a well written story that handles it's core subjects sensitively and well, making the reader (well, at least this reader) feel that he knows about the issues. I feel that this, while being an enjoyable read, is also a book that could get young readers talking about themselves, how they relate to Rory, and that has got to be a good thing. 


 Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and introducing me to a book I might otherwise have missed. Please have a read of the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Masterpiece by Janet Pywell


The Blurb


Photographer, artist and art forger Mikky dos Santos has had a tough life and now she’s about to steal the world’s most famous stolen painting – Vermeer’s The Concert – worth $200 million.

When Mikky’s flatmate is commissioned to paint one of the world’s most famous divas her life begins to spiral into chaos. An evil investigative journalist and a dangerous businessman are on the hunt to uncover Mikky’s darkest secrets and threaten her detailed plans.

The race is on.

My thoughts

I do like a decent heist story and Masterpiece certainly delivered. Set in Mallorca, London and Dresden this novel has a definite European feel and as we haven't been able to go on a foreign city break for the last 18 months this is the closest I'm going to get for now. It's a good job the descriptions were so good at bringing the places to life (and helping me decide where I fancy visiting next. 

The main character, Mikky Dos Santos was an interesting one. I do like a flawed lead and seeing how her life journey made her who she is today made for interesting reading. I've always enjoyed art so an art thief/forger was an appealing hook for me - and I only had to stop a few times to look things up (and so learnt more). 

With plenty of twists and danger this was a very enjoyable read for me on a week off work. 

Highly recommended 


I have not read this author before but I'll certainly be looking at these other titles first chance I get

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me to review this book. Please have a look at the posts by the other authors on the tour (below) 

Monday 12 July 2021

The Last Shimmer by Sage Hyatt

What would you do if you woke up one morning to find all your friends, family, teachers etc were gone, only your Best Friend remains? This is what happens to Tiger Lily when the shadows (our own shadows) decide to take over and collect the brightness in our lives (the Shimmer- kind of the opposite to our shadows) 

Can TL save the day? 

The Last Shimmer is a middle grade short story and also what I would class as 'entry level horror', more spooky than scary (the scene where TL comes across the empty school bus was one of the best I've read in a while). 

At only 27 pages long it is a short read but for all that, there is a lot of story in there. And when you consider the author was only 10 (TEN!!) years old when she wrote it's an even more impressive result. 

Seriously, if this quality of story comes from a 10 year old I'll be looking forward to seeing what she writes in the future 


Thursday 8 July 2021

The Empire's Ruin by Brian Staveley


From The Cover

One soldier will bear the hopes of an empire

The Kettral were the glory and despair of the Annurian Empire – elite soldiers who rode war hawks into battle. Now the Kettral’s numbers have dwindled and the great empire is dying. Its grip is further weakened by the failure of the kenta gates, which granted instantaneous access to its vast lands.

To restore the Kettral, one of its soldiers is given a mission. Gwenna Sharpe must voyage beyond the edge of the known world, to the mythical nesting grounds of the giant war hawks. The journey will take her through a land that warps and poisons all living things. Yet if she succeeds, she could return a champion, rebuild the Kettral to their former numbers – and help save the empire. The gates are also essential to the empire’s survival, and a monk turned con-artist may hold the key to unlocking them.

What they discover will change them and the Annurian Empire forever – if they survive. For deep within the southern reaches of the land, a malevolent force is stirring . . .

My Thoughts

The Empire's Ruin is a big book (and I mean BIIIG!). A big book needs a big story and a strong start - and here Staveley delivers in spades. 

 When we join the action Gwenna Sharpe and her team are on a retrieval mission on the last remaining Kettral (giant war hawk, big as a bus - see, there's that word again 'big'). As rescue mission the plan seems solid enough but soon goes to hell in the proverbial handcart and the Kettral is lost. For this Gwenna is demoted by the Emperor and sent on a quest to unknown lands to find the original nesting ground of the Kettrals and restore the one thing the Empire really needs. 

  I'll be honest, I was up for this book as soon as I saw the characters would be visiting 'unknown lands' as that is my passion with fantasy fiction - seeing new lands through the eyes of others who are also seeing it for the first time. And again Staveley pulls out all the stops. Oh, and there are maps - not 1map but MAPS!! plural (seriously, it's as if the author and publisher know the exact sweet spot to get me to pick up a book). 

 There are three character arcs in 'Ruin' - Gwenna, Akiil (possibly my favourite arc) and Ruc and all three carry the story well without it getting bogged down anywhere (this is 700 small print pages but felt nowhere near as intimidating as that may seem). 

 This is only book 1 of a new series that carries on from the author's The Unhewn Throne series (which I also loved) but can be read without prior knowledge of TUT (although why would you want to miss out on that really). 

 This is going to be on a lot of people's Books of the Year lists I think and deservedly so

I'm fortunate to be the first stop on the Blogtour for The Empire's Ruin and will be following the reviews by the other bloggers taking part (below). I sincerely hope you will too - they're a cracking bunch. 

Thank you to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto the tour and, along with Tor, for providing me with a review copy of the book (which didn't influence my opinions in any way, I just straight up enjoyed every damn minute of it)