Tuesday 28 February 2023

The Jaguar Path - Anna Stephens


"Across all the lands of Ixachipan, its hypnotic, magical music sounds. Those who battled against the Empire have been enslaved and dispersed, taken far from their friends and their homes.

In the Singing City, Xessa must fight for the entertainment of her captors. Lilla and thousands of warriors are trained to serve as weapons for their enemies. And Tayan is trapped at the heart of the Empire’s power and magic, where the ruthless Enet’s ambition is ever growing.

Each of them harbours a secret hope, waiting for a chance to strike at the Empire from within.

But first they must overcome their own desires. Power can seduce as well as crush. And, in exchange for their loyalty, the Empire promises much."

In this second book in The Songs of The Drowned time has moved on 2 years and things are not looking good for the major characters from book 1. Lilla is training to be a soldier in a humongous army, his husband Tayan is slap bang in the middle of the enemy with powers awakening inside him and Xessa is a slave and fighting in the pits for the entertainment of the masses. 

I'm going to be honest and say I was excited by the last of these most of all. I know from Anna Stephen's last series that she really knows how to put the grim in Grimdark fiction so was expecting lots of blood, pain, death and gore in Xessa's part of the story and I wasn't disappointed one little bit.

The magic system, same as book 1, I found fascinating and the setting, which is a sort of medieval Central/South America really stands out as something different to all the regular European Middle-Ages books out there.

As the storylines come together ready for the final book and everyone gets to where they more or less where they need to be I can see only pain, blood, gore and suffering for them - and I can't wait 😉


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

Please have a look at the reviews by others much more eloquent than me (below) if you get the chance. 

Tuesday 21 February 2023

First Date: An Odyssey Earth short story - Rex Burke


Last week I got an email request from Rex Burke telling me about his upcoming book series Odyssey Earth (all coming out this year) and asking if I would be interested in reading and possibly reviewing the first in the series. As a taster he sent me this prequel short story and, my friends, it does just the right thing. 

 The general gist of the story is that space pilot Juno is recruited for a one way mission, flying an Ark ship to a new planet and this covers the training and prep period but is mostly Juno's bonding with Omnio, the ship's onboard computer system - the most powerful AI ever built (AI without the A).

Omnio is sentient to the point they have conversations about the mission and the future. There is a lot of humour here (think Red Dwarf with a side order of Hitchhiker's) and a good story that made me want to get straight on with the series.

Odyssey Earth is one you will want to keep an eye out for, trust me.

Very Highly Recommended 6/5*

Monday 20 February 2023

Blood on the Tracks by Guy Hale


"Jimmy Wayne is headed for LA to make the new album that will hopefully make him a star. In a quiet, deserted canyon a few miles outside Blackjack lie the bodies of his victims who inspired each song – all his secrets are buried in that dry and arid ground. Can he leave his past behind or will the ghosts of his past come back to haunt him?."

A quick recap. 

- When we first met Jimmy Wayne (Killing Me Softly, The Comeback Trail book 1) he was a fairly washed up singer in what was more or less a bar band. He'd had a chance at the big time years ago but it never worked out and now he's just turning up and getting by. Then he killed his girlfriend Wendy . . .

 But it's ok, he didn't mean to - and she's forgiven him (well, her ghost has). Thing is though, when he killed her he'd been drinking heavily and passed out and when he woke he found that not only had he got a dead girlfriend he'd also seemingly written some awesome lyrics. 

Short version - Jimmy realises every time he commits a murder he wakes up with a brilliant song and the band are going from strength to strength on the new tunes. A record deal is on the table so Jimmy needs new songs and more people need to die (but as long as it's scumbags that die that's not so bad is it?).

So, here we are at book 2, Blood On The Tracks and Jimmy and The Kid are leaving the town of Blackjack (and the Song Graveyard where Jimmy buried his victims/muses) behind and heading to LA and, hopefully, the Big Time. Things are looking up for our favourite serial killer but there's always trouble lurking around the next bend in the road and Mafia type Jack Lantern still wants his piece of the pie.

As you would expect Jimmy goes from scrape to scrape, new friends, acquaintances and enemies join the story and Wendy is there keeping a ghostly eye on him and Kid. The best way I can describe Blood On The Tracks is "like Killing Me Softly, but better" and I loved Killing Me Softly.

Once again Hale hits all the right notes with this darkly funny thriller and I can't wait for the concluding part.

A well deserved 5/5* Highly Recommended (but I'd read book 1 first if I were you) 

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me onto the blogtour and giving me the chance to review this book, and to White Fox Publishing for supplying a copy to read (all views are my own though and not influenced in any way - I even bought kindle copies of both books so I could carry on reading in bed. Yeah, I did not want to put these down at all).

Below is a list of the other bloggers on the tour and where you can find their reviews so please go have a look at them when you get a moment.

Thursday 9 February 2023

Ancient Images - Ramsey Campbell


About The Book 

 Tower of Fear is a lost horror film starring Karloff and Lugosi. A film historian who locates a copy dies while fleeing something that terrified him. His friend Sandy Allan vows to prove he found the film. She learns how haunted the production was and the survivors of it still are. It contains a secret about Redfield, a titled family that owns a favourite British food, Staff o’ Life. The Redfield land has uncanny guardians, and one follows Sandy home. To maintain its fertility Redfield demands a sacrifice, and a band of new age travellers is about to set up camp there…

I was surprised to find this was an older Ramsey Campbell novel re-issued (originally out in the late 1980's). This, though, was the time I was devouring every horror I could find (but if this was one I'd forgotten it).

Feeling a bit 'of it's time' is no detriment to the story though. I've read Campbell for many years and although I enjoy his new stuff going back to a younger version of the author reminded me of why he's always been regarded as one of the best.

With it's missing film refound, cursed production and travellers arriving on the scene this is more of a Folk Horror tale than a blood and guts type and Campbell doles out the scares at a more sedate pace making them more effective when they come. That's not to say it's a slow book though (yeah, I went back to 80's me and absolutely devoured it, 2 sittings). I was hooked in from the beginning and left with an urge to seek out more from both RC and the other authors I read back in the day.

Highly Recommended 4.5/5*

Thanks to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for inviting me to this Blog Tour and to Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for providing the review file. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Please, if you get chance, have a read of the posts by the other bloggers (below) - We really appreciate it 😉

Tuesday 7 February 2023

The Devil's Advisor - Brad Abdul


About The Book 

Lucy, the Devil, wants to retire. Brian, the Business Advisor, hates his job. When Brian’s jealous co-workers put him in Lucy’s crosshairs, she makes him an offer he can’t refuse: work for her and increase the productivity in Hell by 50% or suffer the cruel fate planned by his peers. To sweeten the deal, Lucy offers Brian the chance to be her successor if he pulls it off. Brian reluctantly agrees and dives in with both feet to the bureaucratic nightmare of Hell. To make it out alive, Brian faces Death, God, and Lucy’s own twin children.

My Thoughts

I've always liked the idea of Hell as being eternal bureaucracy and an office setting so you'd think this book would be right up my street . . . and you'd be right.

 Brian may hate his job but he's good at it and Hell is not having the best of times with the business going slowly downhill so they seem like a perfect fit. Gives a whole new meaning to the job offer from Hell.

I liked the way Brian fitted in but thought there would be a twist right from the start (remember, this is Hell and The Devil we are dealing with here) so was waiting for it but it didn't spoil the story for me. The Devil as a woman has been done before but this version, Lucy, seemed more frazzled than the Liz Hurley type vamp from Bedazzled which was also a nice change.

As well as the comedy angle there is also mystery and a touch of romance too so plenty of variety to keep the story flowing.

All in all a decent read - so much so that I will be purchasing a copy as soon as it is published on 21/2/23 (my review copy was from Netgalley which had a few issues but that often happens with Netgalley and doesn't affect the final product)

A solid 4/5 Devil's Horns - recommended

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours (check out the other posts, dates below, please) for inviting me onto this tour and to Flame Tree Press and Netgalley for providing the review file - all thoughts and opinions are my own