Monday 28 November 2022

Sometimes People Die - Simon Stephenson


 It is 1999 and a young Scottish Doctor has come back from suspension after being caught stealing and using opioids. He ends up at what can only be described as a struggling hospital, St Lukes, in London because, to be honest, it's probably the only place that will have him. Over the course of the book we meet the various staff and patients of St Lukes in what starts off feeling like a 'year in the life on the ward ' memoir type but soon turns darker when the deaths of some of the patients start to be questioned. Someone is committing murder - but who? The unnamed Scottish Doctor (from now on I'm going to call him USD) who is telling the story is one of the first suspects and as a former opioid user who has now well and truly fallen off the wagon again he does come across as an unreliable narrator, but suspicion soon moves to others.

 The hours USD has to work and the cases he has kind of make the opioid theft and use understandable especially when tragedy strikes even nearer to home halfway through the story. This leaves USD still trying to get to the bottom of things even when an arrest has been made.

 I must say I am not usually one for medical based stories so if it hadn't been for Sometimes People Die being featured on Between The Covers (the BBC2 book club programme hosted by Sara Cox) it would have probably passed me by. Thankfully though it was and the piece by the author and the chat between guests in the studio was enough to convince me to give it a go. It turned out to be one of those books that keeps you reading even when the words are blurring and you know you'll have to reread this in the morning because, just like USD you need to get to the bottom of things.

 By turns dark and humorous too this was a cracking read and Simon Stephenson has quickly gone on my list of authors I will be watching out for. Definitely a five out of five stars for this one.

 If you've never seen Between The Covers I strongly suggest keeping an eye out for it - it's a great way to spend half hour and you never know, you might just find your next big read.

Over My Dead Body - Sweeney Boo


Autumnn is here, the nights are drawing in and the books in my tbr pile start to lean towards the darker side. Just the right time then for Sweeney Boo's sumptuous graphic novel. Over My Dead Body is set in and around the Younwity Hidden Institute of Witchcraft (think of it as a girls only Hogwarts - it even has a forbidden forest). The prologue is dark and sets the scene nicely and then we get into the story proper (with added character introduction panels - which was helpful). Our lead character is Abigail (Abby) and she is the mentor for Noreen. But Noreen hasn't been seen since yesterday. . .

The school is getting ready for the Samhain Celebrations and nobody seems to be bothered about finding Noreen (the general response is 'the coven will find her) so Abby decides to take responsibility herself and head off into the Forbidden Forest to find her friend. Maybe not such a good idea as the disappearance mirrors one from years ago when a girl went missing - and there might just have been a demon involved!!! But hey, these books would be boring if the protagonists just did the sensible thing.

The story, as you would expect, has mysteries, scrapes and narrow escapes galore and was great fun (almost Scooby Doo like at times but that's not a bad thing). Where this book really stands out though, and what will probably keep me coming back every Halloween season, is the artwork. Boo has provided us with gorgeous illustrations and the paper quality is top notch. If you love your comics and you love your witchy tales you are going to love this book.

Over My Dead Body is published by Titan Nova and is available to buy now.

Recommended 4/5*

Sunday 27 November 2022

The Lost Metal - Brandon Sanderson


 And so we come to the end of Mistborn Era 2 - and what a journey it has been. When this series started I wasn't sure I was going to like it. I know, it's Sanderson, I await every new book eagerly and  it's Scadrial, it's Mistborn but . . . it had a wild west vibe and I really don't like westerns. But I persevered and I'm glad I did because this rapidly became my favourite series and that's mainly down to the two lead characters, Wax and Wayne. Ok, mainly Wayne, that guy just cracks me up.

 As we start The Lost Metal things have moved on 6 years (which, I believe, is the amount of time since we got the last Era 2 book The Bands of Mourning. Right in the heart of it is the ongoing situation with The Set (this series' Big Bad - but, hey, you already knew that) and each of our characters have their own paths to walk to their destinies/conclusions but as always Sanderson doesn't leave you itching to get back to another storyline rather than your current one because they are all THAT RUSTING GOOD! I'm struggling to write without giving spoilers so I'll just say that the world gets that little bit bigger with most of the action taking place outside the main city of Elendil and when it all comes together in the end Sanderson absolutely smashes it out of the park.

 All along Sanderson has said his whole Cosmere (the different worlds his stories are set in and on) are interlinked, all part of one big universe, and that over time there would be crossovers as the whole thing pulls together. I think it is safe to say that The Lost Metal is the most crossovery (is that a word? Well, it is now as I can't think of a better one) of them all so far. This is a book that, realistically, needs the reader to have a pretty good Cosmere knowledge to get the best out of it (or at least have read the previous 3 Era 2 books - but who's going to start with book 4 in a series anyway (or book 7 if you are going to include Era 1 as well). I lost count of the times I stopped reading just to digest and get my head around what had just happened.

 Brandon Sanderson is one of the most popular fantasy authors around at the moment and The Lost Metal gives you a good idea of why. I am looking forward to when I can put aside a whole chunk of time to just dive into the entirety of Sanderson's Cosmere but I fear he has only touched the surface so far.

 One of the book highlights of the year that has very much surpassed what I hoped for from it - All The Stars


Thursday 24 November 2022

Children of Memory - Adrian Tchaikovsky



When Earth failed, it sent out arkships to establish new outposts. So the spaceship Enkidu and its captain, Heorest Holt, carried its precious human cargo to a potential new paradise. Generations later, this fragile colony has managed to survive on Imir, eking out a hardy existence. Yet life is tough, and much technological knowledge has been lost.

Then strangers appear, on a world where everyone knows their neighbour. They possess unparalleled knowledge and thrilling new technology – for they have come from the stars, to help humanity’s lost colonies. But not all is as it seems on Imir.

As the visitors lose track of time and memories, they discover the colonists fear unknown enemies and Imir’s own murky history. Neighbour turns against neighbour, as society fractures in the face of this terrifying foe. Perhaps some other intelligence is at work, toying with colonists and space-faring scientists alike? But not all questions are so easily answered – and the price may be the colony itself.



Well, where to begin. . .?

First things first I guess I can start with a warning - if you haven't yet read Children of Time and Children of Ruin I really suggest you do before reading Children of Memory. There is enough information in the beginning of CoM to give you the general gist of what has gone before but to really get the benefit you really need to immerse yourself in the whole series (you can thank me later). If you have read and enjoyed CoT and CoR you don't really need me to tell you this too is an awesome read.

The main difference here is that although CoM is obviously Science Fiction it leans more towards Science Fantasy with the majority of the story being set on a new world that has been supposedly prepared and terraformed ready for the humans that have left a dying Earth. They have travelled (suspended animation) for 3,000 years and to say the planet Imri is a disappointment -practically nothing that should have been done in preparation for them has been - is an understatement to say the least. Imri felt quite like an early version of the authors Echoes of the Fall series (we'll just have to wait and see I guess). There is a second strand to the book which features his Uplifted spider and octopi races from the previous books and a new uplift creature too (I tried to guess beforehand but was way off the mark) The story jumps around a good bit and takes a bit of getting used to but when it all comes together it goes from being really good to astonishingly good.

I'll be honest, I'm picky with my Sci-Fi, much preferring to settle down with a massive fantasy epic but Tchaikovsky does SF in a way that makes the tech stuff, the sciencey stuff more relatable. It's the Tchaikovsky name that sold me on Children of Time in the first place as I have yet to come across one of his books I have not enjoyed. I'm hoping this series still has a few more books to go yet as it feels there could be more story to tell.

Thanks to Stephen at Black Crow PR for inviting me onto this blogtour and for providing a review arc (my views are my own). Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below)


Friday 18 November 2022

The Boy Who Dared - R Coverdale



 A fun camping trip turns dangerous when James, Greg and Ahmed stumble across a dark secret in the beautiful Welsh wilderness. Separated on a mountainside in the dead of night, the boys must face their greatest fears as they are hunted by a ruthless gang. Can they reunite in time to save a hundred starving dogs – and themselves?


 As a youngster growing up I was a big fan of Enid Blyton's Famous Five and Secret Seven books and Malcolm Saville;s Lone Pine Club. These stories of kids my age having adventures were a big part, I think, of why I loved reading so much. Coverdale's The Boy Who Dared could easily stand with those books. 

 This is the second in the series (preceded by The Boy Who Couldn't) but as someone who hasn't read the first yet (but trust me, I'm reading it soon) I can safely say it works as a stand-alone story.

 Right then, onto the story. James, Greg and Ahmed are off on a camping trip with James's dad. It's all going to be a fun time learning outdoorsy type things and is going great until Dad goes off to the village to get supplies and the lads, as you would expect, boys being boys and all, set out to do some exploring on their own. One of the boys has telepathic skils which alert him to dogs been kept in poor conditions on a nearby farm so they set off to see what is going on. It doesn't take long until they are knee deep in trouble and from there the pace picks up to such as kept reading deep into the night (I finished it in two sittings). There are scrapes and cliff-hangers galore.

 The story is told from the point of view of each character which adds variety as each has their own unique voice.

 I mentioned earlier the books I grew up with and there is good reason for that. I recently went back and dipped into some of these books and although they are aimed at readers 40+ years younger than me they still hold up well as enjoyable reads. The Boy Who Dared is aimed at 9-12 year old readers but is still a good read for older readers too (I'm 55 and loved it)

 I have no problem awarding this a good 5/5* and am looking forward to more in the series.

                                                    R Coverdale  author photo

 Thanks very much to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the BlogTour and for arranging a review copy for me. All views are my own. 

Sunday 13 November 2022

Legends and Lattes - Travis Baldree


I'll be honest with you, when it comes to Fantasy Fiction I usually know what I like - epic quests, blood and guts with down and dirty characters and, most especially I like my FF books BIG!!

So, by all accounts Travis Baldree's Legends and Lattes wouldn't really be one I would expect to be one of the best books on my TBR pile. But hey,if you don't step out of your comfort zone every now and again you never know what you might just be missing out on . . .

This is the story of Viv the Orc Barbarian. After years of fighting, questing, more fighting she's now reached the creaky bones, aching body stage of life. One last payoff and she's ready to settle down and live her dream - opening her own coffee shop. She's found the perfect site, got the artefact that will 'help things along' but the people of Thune have never even heard of coffee never mind tasted it.

Viv has a big job ahead of her but with new friends things just might work out for her - if they can avoid the faces from her past and the criminal underbelly of her present.

Legends and Lattes is all about friendship and togetherness. A 'cosy' read with a sapphic romance element that feels perfect. There's an element of jeopardy but, more than anything, it's just a lovely, enjoyable read with a good mixed cast, and I loved it. I think you will too.

Highly Recommended 7/5* (My blog so I can award it how I want ;-)

The theme of the blogtour is (for obvious reasons) coffees and coffeeshops so here is a photo of Legends and Lattes taken in my favourite coffee shop, Cafe W at Waterstones, Orchard Square, Sheffield. The coffee here is always good, the staff always friendly, the goodies always yummy. If you ever want to find me there's a good chance this is where I'll be.

Thank you to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto the tour and providing the review copy (all views are my own). Please have a look at the other reviews by the bloggers on the tour. Thank you.

Now for THE BIG NEWS . . .

Yup, I'm calling it early. There is still the best part of two months left in the year but Legends and Lattes is taking the crown for BlogCave Book Of The Year 2022 - seriously, that's how much I loved this book.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Origins of The Wheel of Time - Michael Livingston


 Welcome to Day 1 of the Blogtour for Michael Livingston's Origins of The Wheel of Time (published tomorrow, 10/11/22).

 For me the journey began ("although there are neither beginnings or endings on the Wheel of Time, but it was a beginning " to quote Robert Jordan himself) way back in 1990 when I spotted The Eye of the World on a shelf in a bookstore in town. It was big, it has a glorious cover, it had maps - I was hooked from that day on. I have read it several times over now and one thing that always intrigued me was the seeming links to our own world's myths and legends.

 And now, Michael Livingston has drawn together information from unpublished notes and from interviews to give us insight to how Jordan created 'Randland' and all its history and myths. And it is just what I hoped it would be.

 The first section of the book is the story of Robert Jordan himself, his life and how he created the mammoth beast that is WoT. I found this fascinating. I thought I knew quite a bit about RJ but this expanded my knowledge a good bit. I really thought I knew him by the end, and that's not an easy thing for an author to pull off.

 The second part of the book is a glossary that links the peoples, places and events of the Wheel of Time with 'the real world' and again, I thought I already knew so much but actually really didn't. I lost track of the times I came across something and thought "ah, of course, that makes sense".

 One of the big links for me was always to Arthurian Legend which I have been fascinated by for as long as I can remember. I don't know if I just took these links for being obvious and just accepted them or what but I can honestly say that this was the first time I thought of an episode from The Dragon Reborn.





 In it Rand has to go to the Stone of Tear to claim The Sword That Is Not A Sword that will proclaim him The Dragon Reborn. And I honestly believe this passed me by.

The hero has to go to the STONE of Tear and take up the SWORD. He literally has to take THE SWORD FROM THE STONE!! and it took me 30 years to put the two together. I did feel a bit silly tbh.

 Anyway, I digress, this is a wonderful book, informative, well written and not a difficult read. A worthy companion piece to the original books.

 Oh, and it's got a rather nice brand new redrawn map too.

 The author was a consultant to Team Jordan for some of the battle scenes in the series and although this book was his idea it has the approval and blessing of the Jordan Estate.

Highly Recommended 5/5*

Thank you to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto this blog tour and giving me the chance to open it. Please take a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below).

Right, I'm off for another re-read armed with The Origins of The Wheel of Time to really get into it.

Monday 7 November 2022

Havana Fever - Leonardo Padura



Mario Conde has retired from the police force and makes a living trading in antique books. Havana is now flooded with dollars, populated by pimps, prostitutes, drug dealers, and other hunters of the night. In the book collection of a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, Conde discovers an article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer of the 1950s who disappeared mysteriously. A murder soon follows. This is a crime story set in today’s darker Cuba, but it is also an evocation of the Havana of Batista, the city of a hundred night clubs where the paths of Marlon Brando and Meyer Lansky crossed.

My thoughts

Yes, I could tell you that I loved this book but that would be to do it a disservice. "I adored it" would be closer to the mark. Mixing the gritty Cuba of today with the glorious Cuba of the 1950s Padura manages to bring both to life in the mind of the reader. A mystery that that covers the decades with retired policeman Mario Conde, now an antiquarian book dealer. I enjoyed both the old and the new Cuba settings but the earlier years worked best for me (mainly because I wanted to be there and experience the bars and music for myself)

 It is part of a series but can be read on it's own as I did. I'll be getting the rest of them soon.

Highly Recommended 5/5*

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blog tour and providing the review copy (all views and opinions are and remain my own)

Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the Blogtour (below)

Friday 4 November 2022

Benji and the Gunpowder Plot by Kate Cunningham

Benji hopes that a trip out on Bonfire Night will add excitement to his normally ordinary life.

However, when he accidentally falls down a time hole he has a lot more adventure than he expected. Who are the strange men in the Duck Inn? Who can he trust What is so important about the letter he has been asked to deliver?

Events will take him to the Globe Theatre, down the Thames rapids and into the heart of Parliament.
London in 1605 is darker, dirtier and more dangerous than home, and Benji has no idea how to get back.

Bonfire night, Guy Fawkes night, whichever you choose to call it, has always been a big thing in England, especially when I was younger. We got the general gist of what happened all those years ago when the plotters tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament but Kate novel is a lot more fun than what I remember from school. 

It all starts to go wrong for Benji when he goes off to a local bonfire in the present day and accidentally falls down a 'time hole' which drops him in London in the year 1605. 

Now he's living in History rather than learning about it and things have got a lot more dangerous. 

I was wondering from early on whether Benji's tumble into the time hole was  an accident or planned and things became clearer as the story went on (but I'm not going to tell you either way 😉).

As this is the first of the Time Tumblers books there needed to be a good bit of set-up but that didn't distract from a good fun story that was also educational. I'll be looking out for the rest of the series that's for sure.

4/5* recommended

Thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and providing me with a review copy (my views though, remain my own and were not influenced in any way).

Please have a look at the reviews by the other bloggers on the Blogtour (below)

The Soho Killer by Biba Pearce


From the back cover:

 'Detective Rob Miller gets a call he doesn’t want to take.

 Rob is called to London’s West End on personal business when he gets a call. A body has been discovered in Soho Square.

 The victim has whip marks on his back, a leather mask covering his face and a ball-gag in his mouth. The cause of death appears to be strangulation, but was it murder or a mistake?

 The evidence quickly stacks up against the victim’s partner, Ralph Keaton. Under pressure from his higher-ups, Rob arrests Ralph under suspicion of murder.

 But Ralph is adamant he’s innocent, and Rob’s gut is telling him the same thing. Yet Ralph lied about his alibi for the evening in question.

 Then another man’s body is found: bound, gagged and dumped in the middle of a busy London square without any witnesses.

 This killer is smart. It’s up to Rob to be smarter. But with a baby to look after and his boss breathing down his neck, Rob’s got a lot on his plate.

 Then the killer makes it personal

 Now everything’s on the line . . .'

 The Soho Killer is the latest in Biba Pearce's series featuring Detective Rob Miller and his team. The murders this time around are pretty gruesome and seem to be unfathomable at first but Miller and co. soon get their teeth into the case as the body count rises. The case takes the team to Soho (obviously) and the clubs and nightspots of the area and that reveals truths for one person - and I did feel this was handled really well.

 I only came to this series a month or so ago but it's quickly become one of my favourites as the author has a good way with building the team into a coherent unit, each taking their own responsibilities so it doesn't just become Miller the supercop. There are little nuggets thrown to the reader that promise more will unfold in the books to come (please tell me there will be more!!).

 As is often the case there is a 'twist' at the end and I really didn't see this one coming - to the point that I had to explain to my other half why I was shouting at my kindle. 

 All in all, an excellent addition to what is a very good series (although it can be read as a stand-alone)

4/5* recommended

 Thanks to both Anne Cater at Random Things Tours and to Biba Pearce herself for inviting me onto this blog tour. All views are my own.

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