Thursday 19 May 2022

The Stardust Thief - Chelsea Abdullah


Inspired by stories from One Thousand and One NightsThe Stardust Thief weaves the gripping tale of a legendary smuggler, a cowardly prince and a dangerous quest across the desert to find a magical lamp.

Neither here nor there, but long ago...

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan's oldest son to find the artefact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen and confront a malicious killer from Loulie's past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything - her enemy, her magic, even her own past - is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

                             My Thoughts

 Well, where do I begin? I had my eye on this book as soon as I heard about it. I grew up loving stories like this with desert settings, genies (or djiin when I got older I guess). Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Aladdin and his magic lamp. The Stardust Thief took me back to the Lands of Sand and when it was over I really didn't want to leave.

 Loulie (The Midnight Merchant) is sent to find a magic lamp with the Sultan's older son but he doesn't want to go . . . and he has a plan to get out of the quest! And that my friends is where the magic really kicks in. The desert is a dangerous place and Chelsea Abdullah does a great job of making it almost a character in it's own right. The whole place feels alive, the scents and sounds coming straight off the page.

 The characters all seem to have secrets (don't they always) and you'll just have to see for yourselves how that turns out (Spoilers!!)

 I could go on about what a fantastic story this is but the best thing I can do is tell you go get this book now. You can thank me later 😉




The Stardust Thief is out now in Hardback (and here's my local Waterstones copies) from Orbit.

 Thanks to Orbit for providing me with a review copy - the fact that they did has no influence on my opinions on it though.

Saturday 14 May 2022

The Collarbound - Rebecca Zahabi


 On the other side of the Shadowpass, rebellion is brewing and refugees have begun to trickle into the city at the edge of the world. Looming high on the cliff is The Nest, a fortress full of mages who offer protection, but also embody everything the rebellion is fighting against: a strict hierarchy based on magic abilities.

When Isha arrives as a refugee, she attempts to fit in amongst the other mages, but her Kher tattoo brands her as an outcast. She can't remember her past or why she has the tattoo. All she knows is that she survived. She doesn't intend to give up now.

Tatters, who wears the golden collar of a slave, knows that this rebellion is different from past skirmishes. He was once one of the rebels, and technically, they still own him. He plans to stay in the shadows, until Isha appears in his tavern. He's never seen a human with a tattoo, and the markings look eerily familiar . . .

As the rebellion carves a path of destruction towards the city, an unlikely friendship forms between a man trying to escape his past and a woman trying to uncover hers, until their secrets threaten to tear them apart.


                         My Thoughts

  I could say I enjoyed this novel, but to be fair, that would be something of an understatement. The world Zahabi takes us to is one on the brink of war and is populated with an interesting bunch of character types each feeling individual and all interacting well together.

 And then there's the magic! Mind duels!! Seriously awesome stuff! I do like magic to make me 'feel' and The Collarbound certainly does that.

 The story itself felt, not so much a slow burn but more of a steady one, reminding me at times of Robin Hobb, leading the reader to discover the world at just the right pace.

 Also, and I don't see this often, The Collarbound took me right into the world, especially at The Nest to such a point I can actually see, smell, feel the world of the story. This takes a special kind of storytelling and it seems (to me at least) Rebecca Zahabi has it in spades.

 Is it too early to say Book of the Year? Maybe, maybe not but The Collarbound is going to take some beating.


 Please have a look at the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour (below). Thanks to Gollancz for sending me a review copy (also for inviting me to the Books of 2022 event where I got to meet the author, so, signed copy - Yay! And RZ is just as lovely a person as you could hope to meet) - this has not influenced my opinion of the book at all.

Friday 13 May 2022

Children of Pisces - R E Lewin



 It's 2070 and our post-apocalyptic world is different. Aliens secretly invaded with a lethal biological weapon. A terrifying virus annihilated almost every living creature in its path. People still believe it was a natural virus, oblivious to aliens and the truth. Humanity's survival is in the hands of the alliance, a team of humans and aliens who stand against the evil arch-enemy alien leader. Orphaned children are raised in army-style schools. But from this barren wasteland, a few shall rise...

 Tammy and Mikie are half-human and half-alien siblings, with immense metaphysical powers and a crystal weapon. Their powers are extraordinary alone, but together they are unstoppable. At twelve, these two are already too powerful to ignore. Can Mikie overcome his inner conflict? Will his compulsion to protect put those closest to him in even more danger? Can Tammy rise above her animal instincts and maintain her humanity? This adventure will take them across the world and maybe into the stars beyond. They must reunite their family and decide where their loyalties lie. The seekers are coming...

My Thoughts

So, here we have a future where the world (possibly ours, possibly our world one step sideways) where Earth has been ravaged by a virus (COVID? Possibly, you decide) and very few remain. This virus was part of an alien invasion and now it is time for humans to fight back with some super powered children. 

Ok, that may be over-simplified but you get the idea. What this book covers well, in my opinion, is change. Specifically how children change as they are growing up, the way they think and act (the age range for this book is 10-14yrs) and Lewin does this well. I liked the way different children had different abilities and how they could work together with these.

Most of all though I liked the fact that here is a very good story in a well realised future. I am certainly looking forward to more from T E Lewin.

Recommended 4/5*

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

Sunday 8 May 2022

How To Spot A Psychopath - M Q Webb



 When four-year-old Mia Edwards goes missing on a play date, everyone suspects Jessica Green knows what happened, especially Mia's mother, Holly...

But Jess won't tell anyone.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Oscar de la Nuit, is perceptive and determined to save Jess from the same regret and secrets he lives with.

Big Little Lies meets The Silent Patient in this psychological suspense, as a missing child case turns into a deep, psychological puzzle that explores whether you can ever know who someone really is.

Oscar thinks he has Jess figured out, but will she lead to Oscar's redemption, or will she be his downfall?


 My Thoughts 

  I'll start by saying there are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of thrillers out there in a similar vein available so this needed to grab my attention and keep me hooked in - thankfully it did just that.

 After Mia goes missing while Jess is responsible for her (play date) Jess is the obvious suspect but she is not talking. She is sent to a remand centre where her story catches the eye of Dr Oscar de la Nuit who moves her to his own clinic and vows to get to the bottom of the mystery. 

 All the usual elements are there (did she do it, if not who did, what is she hiding, what is everybody else hiding, the doctor has his own secrets) so there is plenty to go at as you try to unravel the mystery for yourself. The story is told partly in flashback and this really worked for me. 

 As a debut novel Webb has done a good enough job to make me want the next book. I like a novelist who can keep me guessing and Webb certainly did that.

3.7/5* (rounded up to 4* for review sites)


 Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour and apologies for missing my original posting date. Please have a read of the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below) if you get chance.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

May God Forgive - Alan Parks



 Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser's has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.

When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go.

Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow's most powerful people to do it . . .

My Thoughts

  And here we are again in Alan Parks gritty and grotty Glasgow of the 1970s - and what a joy it is to be back. 

 Harry McCoy is back doing what he does best - solving crimes and ruining his body into the bargain. He starts off in hospital with a bleeding ulcer and to be fair it's only downhill from there.

 As always McCoy walks a shady line in this 5th book in the series. On one side is his law enforcement job but on the other his friends and contacts in the criminal underworld. And to add extra problems one of these 'Dirty Ally', a dealer in pornographic magazines, commits suicide . . .or does he? McCoy seems to think there are other elements in play but he'll have to do it on his own time as the police don't want to know.

 So, an arson attack, kidnapping of the suspects (and they will be murdered if Harry doesn't find them first) and a suicide that may be more than that . . .and the clock is ticking.

 As always I got a great deal of enjoyment out of Alan Parks' latest novel. He really gets under the skin and into the seedy corners of 70s Glasgow and I'm looking forward to his next offering.

Tartan Noir at it's Noirest


 Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour and to Canongate Books for providing the copy for review (which did not influence my opinion in any way).

 Please have a look at the other posts by the bloggers on this tour (dates below)

The Harry McCoy series so far

The Girl and the Moon - Mark Lawrence


The green world overwhelms all of Yaz’s expectations. Everything seems different but some things remain the same: her old enemies are still bent on her destruction. 

The Corridor abounds with plenty and unsuspected danger. To stand a chance against the eyeless priest, Eular, and the god-like city-mind, Seus, Yaz will need to learn fast and make new friends.

The Convent of Sweet Mercy, like the Corridor itself, is packed with peril and opportunity. Yaz needs the nuns’ help – but first they want to execute her.

The fate of everyone squeezed between the Corridor’s vast walls, and ultimately the fate of those labouring to survive out on ice itself, hangs from the moon, and the battle to save the moon centres on the Ark of the Missing, buried beneath the emperor’s palace. Everyone wants Yaz to be the key that will open the Ark – the one the wise have sought for generations. But sometimes wanting isn’t enough.


My Thoughts


 Okay, I know one word doesn't really suffice as a review but 'WOW!!' really does say everything that needs to be said about The Girl and the Moon and also the whole Book of the Ice series. 

 The story picks straight up from the cliffhanger ending of the previous, so you really need to have read that first - but then again, who comes into a trilogy on book 3. 

 But then again, although The Book Of The Ice is a trilogy it is harks back to, and ties into practically everything ML has published so far in his career. I know I must have read chunks of this story thinking 'that seems familiar' before it all sank in - this is one mahoosive entity (think Sanderson's Cosmere), 15 books long (if my maths is correct) and with the potential for so much more.

 What really impressed me with TGatM was the difference between the Ice that covers most of Abeth (and has almost been a character itself in the series) and the lushness of The Green Belt. Two polar opposite locations and the sense of wonder when Yaz finally gets to her destination. Descriptive writing done well.

 Mark Lawrence has been one of my 'top table' authors since Prince of Thorns, each book eagerly anticipated on a yearly basis, almost like a second birthday. TGitM didn't let me down one little bit so now I've got to look for all the extra stars to award it.

 A truly excellent read 5/5* (or 7/5* if I'm being honest to myself)

 Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour. Please have a read of the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (dates below).