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