Thursday 16 November 2023

Bookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree


Today is my spot on the Blogtour for Travis Baldree's NYT #1 Best Seller Bookshops and Bonedust.

B&B is a prequel to last year's Legends and Lattes and I guess if you've already read that you know what to expect - you won't be disappointed. The story takes place 20 years before L&L and features our favourite orc, Viv who is injured in battle and left to recover in the town of Murk. With very little to do Viv soon discovers the titular Bookshop and its grumpy owner and an unexpected love of books. 

The people and creatures she meets in Murk and through the bookshop are what really makes the story stand out for me, the interactions and banter are even more enchanting than in L&L. The bookshop owner, Fern, a grumpy, foul mouthed ratkin was an absolute gem, one of those characters you would happily spend more reading time with.

B&B was a comfy (if not as much so as L&L) read with magic, intrigue, friendship, adventure and was just as much fun as I had hoped it would be. The added snippets from other books only added to the overall enjoyment.

Now, I know a lot of genre fans may turn their noses up at the idea of Cosy Fantasy (and yeah, I would have been one of those before last year) but both Legends and Bookshops were a massive surprise. Sometimes you just don't know that the book you need isn't always the book you would choose.

5/5* and a definite contender for my favourite book of the year.

Thanks to Black Crow PR for inviting me onto this tour and providing me with a review copy (which in no way influenced my thoughts or opinions). Please have a read of the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below) 

Sunday 5 November 2023

The Darkness Before Them - Matthew Ward


 I really enjoyed Matthew Ward's Legacy Trilogy so a chance to read an early review copy of The Darkness Before Them was a definite no-brainer for me.

 The setting here is more of a Middle Eastern one, so certainly different to Legacy's more British feel and while I liked that I did find myself struggling with some of the pronunciation and that did cause me to take a bit longer reading it than I had hoped. But I got there just this afternoon and very satisfying it was too.

 Right, the story . . .

 TDBT starts off at a run with Kat and her girlfriend in the middle of a heist. We are quickly introduced to the magic system which, is a kind of spirit magic I guess. It has the spirits of the dead watching over the treasure rooms of the wealthy making them practically impregnable. Kat has a special gift though, she can talk to, and command the spirits. This heist, the one big job, is the one that will clear her debt, which she had to take on from her father when he died, will be a doddle then.

 Nah, of course not. As expected things go wrong and our hero is in a whole world of trouble.

 The other POV is that of Damant, castellan to one of the ruling families and this allows us to see things from the wealthier side of the city.

It is very much a case of the rich getting more and the poor making do with scraps (if they're lucky) but rebellion and uprising is in the air and Kat and Damant are going to end up in the middle of it.

 There is a lot going on in this story, the world building is top notch (apart from my struggles with pronunciation . but that's on me), the battles exhausting (in a good way) and, most importantly the characters have me invested in their plight that I am already Jonesing for the next in the series.

 Thanks to Matthew Ward for inviting me onto this blogtour and arranging the review copy. All opinions and views are my own and not influenced in any way. Please have a look at the posts from the other bloggers on the tour (below).

Friday 8 September 2023

A Crime In The Land Of 7000 Islands by Zephaniah Sole


Well, this was certainly different. A police procedural that sees FBI special agent Ikigai Johnson heading out from their Portland office to The Philippines with the aim of bringing justice to the children abused by an American but told in a way that also feels like a fantastical fable. Told from several different points of view (hence the different styles of storytelling) this novel worked so much better than I expected.

The fantastical element comes because Ikigai is trying to explain to her child (Ikigai Jr) why she has to be away and what she has to do - and you can't just come straight out and tell a young child mummy's going off to catch an evil paedophile. Sole surprised me by filling a good portion of this book, which deals with a lot of nasty subjects, with some really evocative and gorgeous imagery.

A Crime In The Land Of 7000 Islands is a book I will be recommending to all, a true feast of a novel despite the subject matter. I can safely say I have never read anything quite like this.


Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this tour and for supplying the review copy (all thoughts, comments and opinions are my own).

Please check out the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour (below).

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Bride of the Tornado by James Kennedy



"In a small town tucked away in the midwestern corn fields, the adults whisper about Tornado Day. Our narrator, a high school sophomore, has never heard this phrase but she soon discovers its terrible meaning: a plague of sentient tornadoes is coming to destroy them. 

The only thing that stands between the town and total annihilation is a teen boy known as the tornado killer. Drawn to this enigmatic boy, our narrator senses an unnatural connection between them. But the adults are hiding a secret about the origins of the tornadoes and the true nature of the tornado killer—and our narrator must escape before the primeval power that binds them all comes to claim her"


Ok, first up, I am not quite at the end of this novel yet, it's a Netgalley copy and, unfortunately, not an easy copy to read (happens sometimes with NG, life goes on) so it's taking longer than planned to finish. There's also the fact that I seem to have to keep going back with a ' . . .WTF just happened!'

I was unsure whether the narrator was of the 'reliable' type and I'm still not quite sure to be honest. All that being said, I am really enjoying it so far. 

Bride of the Tornado is weird - sentient tornados, just one boy who can battle and beat them (so far, so Buffy the Tornado Slayer)  and a town with a deep dark secret. Yup, that's right up my street but the deeper I get into the story the weirder it gets and I'm hoping it doesn't go completely off the chart by the end. 

The narrator holds the story together well as we find out what is happening at the same time as them for the most part and her attraction to the tornado killer feels a palpable thing - not always an easy thing to pull off amongst all the weirdness.

A big plus for BotT is the cover art - how fantastic is that?

If you like your fiction on the weird side you are gonna love this 

Friday 28 July 2023

13 Doors - G J Phelps


                    BOOK DESCRIPTION

Thirteen doors, thirteen hauntings. News reporter Joe Baxter has a plan.

His idea is simple – to use his newsroom contacts across England to find thirteen haunted places to stay, and then record his experiences in a book. From an abandoned cinema to a dank pub cellar, from a World War Two airfield to a lonely, landlocked cruise liner, Joe is prepared to spend long nights in the cold and dark, but has no idea what he is about to unleash.

For, as he endures increasingly dangerous vigils, meeting a succession of gruesome, tragic and terrifying spectres, a terrible truth begins to emerge.

Something – or someone – is reaching out to Joe, awakening long-buried memories of his father’s death, a dark family secret and his teenage brush with madness. And then there is Wilko, the imaginary friend who haunted his childhood. After decades of silence, Wilko has found his voice again…

                             MY THOUGHTS

 I've been a reader of creepy tales for as long as I can remember but I can't recall the last time a book made me feel quite as unsettled as 13 Tales has (and, trust me, I'm not complaining). 

 Joe is a reporter who sets out with a plan to visit 13 haunted sights and spend a night at each then writing a book to record his experiences. The way the book is set out the 13 visits are interspersed with chapters that cover Joe's early life and it soon becomes apparent that the 2 timelines may be linked.

 I think what has made this book feel creepier is that with each of the haunting sights visited you are never quite sure what is going to happen, when are the jump scares going to come, will it be subtle or ghastly. All through 13 Doors I felt I was looking over my shoulder. Yeah, this book creeped me out a bit . . .     AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!


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

Thursday 27 July 2023

Karakorum - Don McVey


                     BOOK DESCRIPTION

Ok, first things first, I am about three quarters of the way done with Karakorum so this post is more of a 'my thoughts so far' than a full review (I'll aim to post a full review at a later date).

If you like your Fantasy/Sci-Fi dystopian with strong hints of Ready Player One meets the Matrix you are in for a treat. Karakorum is told from several different viewpoints but our main protagonist is Sorcha, an outcast who makes money playing a game called Scratch on what I can only think of as a massive internet. While playing the game she sees something she shouldn't . . . and things really kick off.

I'm not wanting to give spoilers so trust me when all I say is that things are really full on from here. What really stands out is the world building. McVey is a debut author and really knocks it out of the park. Believable characters (although not many which keeps the writing tight) in an almost tactile world - what's not to love?

If there is a downside (and it's not a bad thing really) it's that I seem to have spent the early parts of the book trying to work out what the heck was going on but once I got into the flow all started to make sense. I will be going back to the book a few weeks after I finish it for a re-read where I guess an already amazing book will be even better.

As I mentioned earlier this is a debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author in the future (and hopefully more from the Karakorum.

4.5/5* so far

Oh, and I have to mention the cover art  - HOW COOL IS THAT!?!?😁

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the tour and supplying a review copy (all thoughts and opinions are my own)

Please have a look at the posts from the other bloggers on the tour, below.

Monday 24 July 2023

The Genius Killer - Mark Robson


                   BOOK DESCRIPTION 

'The dark heart of a brilliant and ruthless psychopath A celebrated but haunted detective A determined young reporter hunting for justice - and the big story.

 Karl Jackson is a particularly vengeful sociopath with his unique way of 'problem-solving’. 

DCI Tex Deacon suffers from the trauma of his beloved wife's death and finds it immensely difficult to come to terms with it.'

Ah, The Lake District, scene of many a holiday as a youngster, what memories . . . but maybe I'll look at those hills in a slightly different light after reading this cracking debut.

What we have here is a serial killer who could quite easily be up there with Hannibal Lecter as one of the top fictional psychopaths and a DCI who is really struggling to cope with the death of his wife. The author delves deep into both characters so both come out quite well rounded - which doesn't always happen with first novels (or even second, fifth, ninth etc in some cases). Jackson the serial killer in particular is an enthralling character. As the title suggests, a genius, his varying methods of dispatching people keeps the reader hooked and putting him up against a detective so close to the edge of a complete mental breakdown - well, it's an old adage I guess but the pages just kept on turning.

I'm going to give this a 4.5/5* rating just because I cannot wait to see where this author goes from here and if he gets even better I need that extra 1/2* to show that. I eagerly await his next book.

Many thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this tour (and apologies for the late posting) and to Orla Kelly Publishing for the review copy (which did not affect my opinions in any way - all thoughts and comments are mine and mine alone).

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

Friday 7 July 2023

The Mother's Sun (audio) - Sui Annukka (author) Nimmi Harasgama (narration)

 'Sent on a marketing conference from Sri Lanka to London by her boss, Surya is supposed to be enjoying a change of scene after a tragedy that has left her grief stricken and lost – and compulsively fixated on a long-buried, shameful episode from her past.

Finding herself in the same city as the boy she birthed for an English couple seventeen years ago – in exchange for the money that paid her college tuition – Surya is prepared to risk everything for a glimpse of him.

Surya promises herself that she will be satisfied with just seeing her boy and knowing that he is safe and well. But when she tracks him down and follows him to work at a local café, she is left with more questions than answers. Why has he dropped out of school? Why is he at odds with the world? As they get chatting and he offers to give her a tour of London, she can’t resist the chance to get to know him better.

Forced to confront her past, Surya starts to navigate a way beyond her feelings of guilt, shame, and grief, towards a hopeful future – but what will happen when the boy finds out who she is? Could finding all she ever wanted mean losing everything for a second time?'

                                    - ∆ -

 This is the first time I have reviewed an audio book and with The Mother's Sun coming in at under 7 hours it is probably the best place to start.

 The story was an easy listen and the authentic sound of the narrator's (Nimmi Harasgama) voice worked really well at bringing the characters to life.

  I found it quite obvious early on why Surya wanted to be in London but after that things became a good bit deeper and, at times, a bit uncomfortable but that didn't take away from an interesting and eye opening tale. I hope it will be a physical novel at some time in the future so I can go through the journey in a format I am more used to as I found listening a different experience to reading.

 I am certainly going to be looking at audible versions in the future and found this to be a good start off point.


Wednesday 5 July 2023

All The World's A Stage - Guy Hale



In the final installment of The Comeback Trail trilogy, Jimmy Wayne has set off on his major tour of Europe, selling out the likes of the Royal Albert Hall and Zenith, Paris. While Jimmy's fame is reaching dizzying heights, behind-the-scenes crime bosses, Jack Lantern and George Digbeth, are scheming ways to bring him crashing back down to earth. But it's not just these two he should be worried about. Jimmy's adventures in Europe have drawn the attention of crime families across London, Paris, southern Italy and Madrid and everyone is battling for a piece of the action. From recovering valuable stolen artwork to his mother's romantic escapades, will Jimmy survive the mayhem of this whirlwind tour or will the dubious, murderous circumstances to which he owes all his success, be exposed, for once and for all...?

                                  MY THOUGHTS

So, here we come, as Boys To Men once sang "At the end of the road". All The World's A Stage is the final book in Guy Hale's The Comeback Trail (but don't worry, I've heard there's a new series to come).

Jimmy Wayne's success is continuing it's upward spiral and now he's on a tour of Europe. Yup, Jimmy's really hit the big time now. The problem's still the same though - Jimmy only gets the killer tunes by, well, killing. He's a serial killer you can't help but like though. He found out by accidentally killing his girlfriend Wendy (remember her? Well she's still by Jimmy's side, giving him advice and encouragement from beyond the grave) and waking up with a cracking tune ready written while he slept. On finding out how this worked Jimmy decided he couldn't let this opportunity go to waste so got a whole album's worth of new material by committing serial murder. He could justify this though by only murdering scumbags. So far it's been working out ok (well, there's been scrapes but that's what you would expect.)

But now things are starting to catch up with him. Everyone wants a piece of the action. Now he's out in Europe and the European gangland families are starting to hear his name.

As always with this series there is quite a lot going on in 'Stage'. As well as all the gangster stuff there's the main thing we're here for - the music, the gigs. The dialogue is spot on, especially when Wendy is on the scene. I really think she is one of the best supporting characters of recent time. As it is the last book in the series it's kinda obvious the stakes are going to be raised. Will Jimmy make it to the end in one piece? Will his murderous exploits catch up with him? I'm not going to spoil the fun for you, you'll have to read the story yourself (and you can thank me later, it's a cracking read).

I wasn't sure how I would like The Comeback Trail when I first agreed to review book 1, Killing Me Softly, but I'm glad I gave it a shot. It's turned out to be one of my favourite series. Crime, Music, Mobsters, Murder and Laughs - all you could possibly want all in one three book bundle. Perfection 5/5*

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this blogtour and to White Fox Publishing for providing the review copy (all views and comments are my own). 

Please have a read of the other posts by my fellow bloggers (below) if you get the chance.

Sunday 25 June 2023

The Good, The Bad And The History - Jodi Taylor



St Mary's is under investigation. Their director has been shot and Max is Number One Suspect. Can things get any worse? We all know the answer to that one.

Max needs to get away - fast - and a Brilliant Idea soon leads her to a full-scale uprising in twentieth-century China. If she can come by a historical treasure or two in the process, even better. That is, if she makes it out alive.

Then there's the small matter of Insight - the sinister organisation from the future hell bent on changing History for their own dark ends. Having successfully infiltrated their ranks, Max is perfectly placed to stop them. But she knows her cover will soon be blown - because it's already happened.

Can Max take down Insight before they come after her? The circle is closing, and only one can survive...


The Good, The Bad And The History is 14th book in the St Mary's series so the fact I requested to be on the review tour should be enough to tell you I'm a massive fan of Jodi Taylor's series . . . but just to make sure . . . I LOVE THESE BOOKS!! 

There, that's that out of the way.

Right then, down to business. The Good, The Bad And The History (henceforth, if needs be known as 14) picks up exactly where 13, A Catalogue of Catastrophe finished up (so don't come into this as your first look at this series - seriously, it's book 14, who'd do that) and the police are wanting to interview Max about 'events' - and this scene was one of the funniest things I have read in a good long while - but it isn't long before our intrepid heroes are off travelling up and down the timeline with chaos and mayhem never far away. And this time we have the future to visit as well as the past. 

What has always been a highpoint with this series, for me at least, is that with the jaunts to various historical events that happen in all the books I feel that while I am laughing along with Max and co or wondering how they will get out of this scrape and how will things get worse I also feel like I am learning. I loved history at school and never really stopped so these books are right in my wheelhouse. The main history jaunt this time is The Boxer Rebellion and although I had heard of it I didn't really know anything about it, but now I do (and as proof of that, there was a question in a quiz yesterday about The Boxer Rebellion and I was able to answer with confidence. Yay me!)

So, in short, adventure, mayhem and chaos through time - basically if you are a reader of the Chronicles of St Marys you know what you are going to be getting and you won't be disappointed. And if you are new to the series start at book one and welcome to the ride - oh, my friends, how I envy you.

As I said before, I requested a spot on this tour and the publishers, Headline, were kind enough to send me an early copy for review purposes. I can promise you this in no way affected my review or influenced my opinions in any way whatsoever.

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

Monday 12 June 2023

The Four Horsemen - Rupert Stanbury



The Four Horsemen is the second book in the Gods Galore series about the Olympian Gods in the 21st Century AD.

The gods are still trying to control what we humans are up to. Unfortunately, they’re not being particularly successful. The world is experiencing both plague and famine which Zeus and the Gods’ Council never approved. What’s going on?

Athene’s determined to find out, but before she can get going the God of War initiates an attack on Poseidon’s realm. It’s now all out conflict and the gods are taking sides – one side, in particular.

Wherever there’s a fight, Hebe’s involved. She soon signs up to an army regiment which is full of soldiers even smaller than she is. But war these days involves brains and not just brawn and there’s plenty of both ready to be deployed in this fight!


As has been stated above this is the second in a series (and hopefully not the last) featuring Roman and Greek Gods, Goddesses and all things in-between but living in the modern world. With all manner of plotting, scheming and general shenanigans it could have been a more tangled read but thankfully it all flowed well (and I laughed . . . . I laughed a lot🤣).

I've had a love of all things mythology from a very young age (one of the first books I remember buying for myself was 'Gods, Demigods and Demons' from the school book club when I was probably about 7, so nearly 50 years ago 😮) and feel I have a good idea of what to expect from the characters and, to be fair, Stanbury gets them all more or less nailed on. By which I mean nobody, in my opinion, has a drastic character change. 

There is plague, famine and war on Earth and somehow the Gods and Goddesses and sundry others need to get to the bottom of why, who's behind it and how can they put things right. It's gonna be a big job but surely their immortal selves shouldn't have a problem . . . well, I'm not gonna tell you that now, am I? SPOILERS!!!😉

It's nice too that it's mainly the female characters that do most of the heavy lifting in this story.

So, plenty of humour and great storytelling this is a good book and highly recommended (although you should probably read book 1 'Gods Galore' first just to get the general gist).

And if you need another reason to consider this book the author has chosen to donate all profits from the sale of 'The Four Horsemen' to help the people of Ukraine.

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this tour, please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers too (below)

Tuesday 6 June 2023

To Die In June - Alan Parks


"A woman enters a Glasgow police station to report her son missing, but no record can be found of the boy. When Detective Harry McCoy, seconded from the cop shop across town, discovers the family is part of the cultish Church of Christ's Suffering, he suspects there is more to Michael's disappearance than meets the eye.

Meanwhile reports arrive of a string of poisonings of down-and-outs across the city. The dead are men who few barely notice, let alone care about - but, as McCoy is painfully aware, among this desperate community is his own father.

Even as McCoy searches for the missing boy, he must conceal from his colleagues the real reason for his presence - to investigate corruption in the station. Some folk pray for justice. Detective Harry McCoy hasn't got time to wait"

 So, here we are again in 1970s Glasgow with book 6 of Alan Parks 'Harry McCoy' series. If you've read the previous 5 you'll pretty much know what to expect from To Die In June - Glasgow is as rough as ever, Harry is as dodgy as ever (not a bent copper just not afraid of using other methods and dubious contacts to get things done).

There's a lot going on in TDIJ, a missing child that may not have ever even existed, a very dodgy church group with cultish overtones, somebody is poisoning the local down-and-out community and, to cap it all, Harry is undercover at Possil Nick, the other side of Glasgow, in the hopes of identifying some real bent cops - and he's not making friends there. McCoy has his work cut out in this very busy book but Parks manages to keep it all flowing with a mix of excellent storytelling and bursts of humour.

Judging by the titles in the series this will be the half way point in the series, which means 6 more to go which is great for us but not so great for Harry McCoy - I think Alan Parks is going to be putting him through the wringer, probably several times over, before its all over.

As with all the previous books To Die In June is highly recommended - 4.5/5*

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto this tour and to Cannongate Books for providing the review copy (all thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced in any way).

Please, if you can, have a look at the posts by the other bloggers on the tour (below)

Friday 2 June 2023

Hammer of Fate by G N Gudgion

“No surrender. No retreat.” With twenty enemy swords at their backs and a broken bridge ahead, the last knights of an outlaw order turn to fight. A young woman with forbidden magic joins their final stand. And as blade meets blade, she starts to sing…

Adelais was raised in the far north, learning stories of the old gods and the skill of weaving runes into magic. Now, she is locked in a convent far from home, forced to kneel to a foreign god.

When inquisitors arrive with plans to torture an innocent man, Adelais cannot stand by. She aids an attack to free the prisoner and joins the raiders as they flee into the night.

Her new companions are 
the last of the Guardians—once a powerful holy order, now ragged fugitives, hunted almost to extinction.

The knights carry a secret treasure, precious and powerful enough to shape kingdoms. Their pursuers, desperate to possess it, will crush any who stand in their way.

Nowhere is safe—in city or chateau, on the road or in the wilds. And even disguised as a boy, Adelais draws attention wherever she goes. Is she 
angel or demon, priestess or witch?

Adelais must summon all her courage and all her memories of the old gods’ magic as the noose tightens around her and a thunderous final reckoning approaches.

I enjoyed Hammer of Fate even though it took a while to start moving at much more than a crawl. I knew I was in safe hands as a) I've read and enjoyed this author before, and, b) it's got Knights, mismatched heroes, dodgy religion, medieval setting  - basically everything I loved in fantasy fiction from a young age.

The story is pretty much one escapade after another once the pace picks up and the lead characters managed to grow as the story progressed, Adelais in particular. She starts the story as a novice nun in a religion that is not her own (she was sent there after an affair with a trainee priest was discovered back home) and preparing to make her escape but in doing so runs into the outlawed Guardian Knights and, as they are on the run as well she goes with them (oh, and they have a relic as well - another of my favourite fantasy tropes from way back when) so by the end of the book she is much more certain of herself and her abilities, quite a force to be reckoned with.

On the downside it is very much a case of good people vs bad people and none of the characters, for me, walked that grey line where they could be either. Having said that, the bad guys really are deliciously nasty at times, they practically revel it - think somewhere between The Spanish Inquisition and Robert Jordan's Whitecloaks from The Wheel Of Time series. Good fun 😉

Good World Building gives us a setting that is very much Middle Age Europe with equivalents of the Norse and Christian people and their faiths and we do see a good bit of the land although I feel (and hope) there will be even more to explore in the next volume - which I am really looking forward to.


Hammer of Fate is available now from Second Sky Books and I do recommend you go grab yourself a copy. Thanks to Bookouture for inviting me to review this book and to Second Sky Books for supplying the review copy (all thoughts and opinions are my own). Please take time if you have it to read the reviews and posts by the other wonderful bloggers on the tour (below).

Thursday 1 June 2023

Renia by Karl Forshaw


 "The Halls of Venn are the seat of both knowledge and power in the great continent of Luna Ruinam. Renia, a scribe with a tragic past, spends her days expertly copying books that do little to satiate her desire for knowledge.
When a fateful commission lands on her desk, she finds herself tasked with transcribing a book coveted by assassins from the southern continent. Its theft throws the scribing halls into chaos and threatens to destroy the fragile peace that exists between their nations.
Haunted by dreams of her past, Renia must learn to master her impulses and awaken her long dormant magical abilities if she is to prevent war.
Fate, it would seem, is eager to grant her wishes. Yet she must risk everything to pursue it, and pay the bloody price it demands."

 Well, this was more than a bit special!

 I'll start by saying, with good reason, my attention was drawn to this book by the cover art. I mean, look at it, that is gorgeous. If the story inside was as good as the cover art I knew I would be in for a treat. It was!

 The general gist of the story revolves around the theft of a book but there is so much more to it than that. History, Politics, Crime Fiction - they all have something to offer here but for all its mashing of genres the story doesn't get bogged down, far from it.

 Forshaw certainly has a way with characters too. Two stood out for me;

                       Master Petor starts the book in charge of the library, it's contents and all who work in it.                                    When we first meet him he is a nasty piece of work but after (*events*) his character does a                        complete about face, becoming almost a comedy figure but it actually feels believable, not                            just something done solely for comic effect.

                      Bandack the Reaper - now, when you get to hear about the Reapers, who are basically                                  'bringers of death' who terrify everyone you know more or less what to expect. Except what 
                      you get in Bandack is not what you expect at all. Don't get me wrong, she is definitely a killing                        machine but also kinda cute and fun. Reminded me a bit of Queenie from the second series                         of  Blackadder.

With this being the first book in a new series the location was pretty much static (apart from Renia's 'Origin Story' at the beginning) but Forshaw makes good use of the surroundings giving each area its own feel. And this works especially well for me because as a very visual reader it takes a good bit of skill for an author to transport me to their world, to give me the feeling of being there and this guy has got it in spades.

Magic system - OH YEAH!!! The magic here can be very unforgiving - it gives, it takes back. Not something to be taken lightly.

And finally, the creatures/monsters. Again Forshaw's imagination comes good, from the humanoid slug Mohruscans who act as the guards to the Trull in the final battle all come across as believable.

I came across Renia purely by chance and I am glad I did or it may have slipped by me - don't let that happen to you. For a first novel this is an exceptional piece of work, no debut novel should expect to be this good. I certainly cannot wait for book 2 to come along and to spend more time in Luna Ruinam.

I don't know if this will be my Book of the Year for 2023 but if it isn't it will be very, very near it. 

6/5* Take a bow Karl Forshaw, you've done good my friend

Friday 26 May 2023

Perilous Times - Thomas D Lee


As soon as this book  came to my notice it became a must read. Some of my earliest story memories are of The Knights Of The Round Table and their adventures so every time a re-telling comes along, there I am. Thankfully Perilous Times, the debut novel of Thomas D Lee didn't disappoint.

 One of the core points of Arthurian legend is that in Britain's hour of need Arthur and his knights will return to do what is needed to save the day and as this tale sets out it quickly becomes obvious that there have been quite a few hours of need already. Now though the country is struggling with Climate Change, fracking is happening all over, Essex has been sold . . . the list goes on and this looks like it could be a quest too far for Sir Kay and Sir Lancelot.

As well as the knights the main character here is an eco-activist, Mariam and while she seems a bit 'lost' in the magnitude of the task ahead at times it's cool to see her grow and learn just how strong she can be.

The reworking of the legends around Arthur and co works for the most part even though some of the Knights maybe are not quite as you remember them - but hey, it's been a thousand or so years, people change.

There is a lot to enjoy in Perilous Times - humour, adventure, cracking story telling, the Britain we get here is not the Britain of today but it's maybe not far off. There were some areas of the story that felt a bit preachy but those were few and far between and didn't spoil it at all.

4/5* For a first novel this is really good. I'll be keeping an eye on this author in the future for sure

I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review, all thoughts and comments are my own and not influenced in any way.

Friday 19 May 2023

The Fury of Kings - R S Moule


'In the shadow of Eryispek—a mountain said to have no summit—a dark power is stirring. Storms rage in the frozen heights. Unexplained disappearances shake the kingdom below. And old enemies are sharpening their swords…

Andrick the Barrelbreaker first led an army at sixteen.

His victories secured the throne of Erland for his brother and shattered the rebellious noble houses in the West. Decades later, a fragile peace still holds.

But when the king’s only son is murdered, Erland is plunged into crisis. The new heir will stop at nothing to secure his claim. The king, maddened by grief, stalks the halls and hidden passages of his keep, growing more unpredictable by the day.

As war and magical disaster loom, Andrick must decide between protecting his family and marching out to serve a brother he barely recognizes.

His children must also choose their destinies.

Training in the practice yard every day,
 Orsian dreams of fighting beside his father. Now, for the first time, he faces the brutal reality of battle.

Pherri is haunted by very different dreams—of figures struggling up the mountain, of a voice more chilling than the wind, of blood on the snow. Only she can resist the darkness that waits on the slopes above…'

It can be detrimental at times to be compared to the likes of Feist, Martin and Gwinn (seems every other book that comes out namechecks at least one of these) but sometimes that new author or series can live up to the hype. Thankfully Moule's The Fury of Kings (TFoK) is one of those that does. 

Set in the land of Erland, watched over by a seemingly topless mountain this could be any fantasy setting but there's something about the way Moule sets a scene that makes it that little bit more real. As it is the start of a new series there is quite a slow and steady start to the book (which is something I personally like) but once it gets going the hooks are in and the pages almost turn themselves. Watching the story unfold through the eyes of the different character viewpoints, both adult and child, works well and, thankfully, the magical element is there but not in a "here's a problem, here's a spell, problem solved" way. Each character brings their own thing to the table and the story is richer, stronger for that.

So, did I enjoy it? I most certainly did, just my cup of tea and I cannot wait for the next part.

I'm going to give it 4/5* just because I am expecting even better from the author as the series progresses so I need to be able to give later books more stars to acknowledge that but it is certainly Highly Recommended. 

Seriously . . . go buy this now, you know it makes sense 

Friday 12 May 2023

The Monk - Tim Sullivan


To find a murderer, you need a motive . . .

DS George Cross has always wondered why his mother left him when he was a child. Now she is back in his life, he suddenly has answers. But this unexpected reunion is not anything he's used to dealing with. When a disturbing case lands on his desk, he is almost thankful for the return to normality.

The body of a monk is found savagely beaten to death in a woodland near Bristol. Nothing is known about Brother Dominic's past, which makes investigating difficult. How can Cross unpick a crime when they don't know anything about the victim? And why would someone want to harm a monk?

Discovering who Brother Dominic once was only makes the picture more puzzling. He was a much-loved and respected friend, brother, son – he had no enemies. Or, at least, none that are obvious. But looking into his past reveals that he was a very wealthy man, that he sacrificed it all for his faith. For a man who has nothing, it seems strange that greed could be the motive for his murder. But greed is a sin after all...

This was my first interaction with DS George Cross and his team and, to be honest, as a character he took a bit of getting used to. It cannot be easy writing someone like this, a person obviously on the spectrum and in a leadership role but Sullivan manages to pull it off. Cross comes across as rude at times and quite abrupt but it's clear from early on that his team work well around him and between them all they get the job done.

The case this time is the brutal beating and murder of a monk, Brother Dominic, who's body is found in woodland near Bristol. It is a case that needs Cross and team to unravel the previous life of the victim before he took Holy Orders and that is a job in itself.

With a good bit of the story taking place in and around the Monastery this was a different kind of scene than I am used to but it certainly came across well. Seeing Cross looking on the monastic lifestyle as something that would appeal to him also rang true (I work with people on the spectrum and know how much the world can be invasive to them at times). So, yes, Mr Sullivan, a job well done here.

The mystery itself is a twisty one with a few moments that wrong-footed me and I enjoyed it a lot - enough so that I am in the process of looking up the four previous books in the series (mid series is never the best place to start but this book did work ok on its own).


Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the tour and providing the review copy (all views are my own). Please have a look at the posts by the other bloggers (below)