Tag: bookreview

Book Review: The Alloy of Law – Brandon Sanderson

I’m really excited to be sharing my review of The Alloy of Law with you today! If you are a regular reader you will know that Brandon Sanderson has become one of my favourite authors of all time. The first books/series of his I read is the Mistborn trilogy which precedes The Alloy of Law. I read those books as a teenager so it has taken me a while to get back into the series. Honestly, too long! It was worth the wait though!

 

The Allow of Law – Brandon Sanderson

Goodreads – The Alloy of Law

Three hundred years after the events of the Mistborn trilogy, Scadrial is now on the verge of modernity, with railroads to supplement the canals, electric lighting in the streets and the homes of the wealthy, and the first steel-framed skyscrapers racing for the clouds.

Kelsier, Vin, Elend, Sazed, Spook, and the rest are now part of history—or religion. Yet even as science and technology are reaching new heights, the old magics of Allomancy and Feruchemy continue to play a role in this reborn world. Out in the frontier lands known as the Roughs, they are crucial tools for the brave men and women attempting to establish order and justice.

One such is Waxillium Ladrian, a rare Twinborn who can Push on metals with his Allomancy and use Feruchemy to become lighter or heavier at will.

After twenty years in the Roughs, Wax has been forced by family tragedy to return to the metropolis of Elendel. Now he must reluctantly put away his guns and assume the duties and dignity incumbent upon the head of a noble house. Or so he thinks, until he learns the hard way that the mansions and elegant tree-lined streets of the city can be even more dangerous than the dusty plains of the Roughs.

 

My Thoughts…

It’s natural to be dubious about how an author attempts to replicate the brilliance of a previous book or series. It’s all-to-easy to end up being disappointed because a reader’s expectations are far too high. I did have very high expectations for this additional series, but Brandon Sanderson pulled off recreating the magic of the first series and updating it to fit a whole new character base and setting. More often than not, this doesn’t work as it doesn’t have the same feel as the original, but that’s not the case with The Alloy of Law in my opinion at all.

I love the steampunk/western vibe of The Alloy of Law. It has a significantly more modern feel than the previous books; an element I really enjoyed. I loved the Mistborn trilogy and I wasn’t sure how well I would take to the jump in time period between the novels. I can hand on heart say that I think I preferred it to the original series.

There is more to this second series than the first, namely, the inclusion of Twinborn ability. I don’t remember much if any of this in the Mistborn trilogy, but it’s a huge part of this modern reboot. I think it adds a lot of depth to the magic system already established and fits with a modernisation/advancement theme. It’s a natural fit with the new storyline set in the future – more is going to be known about the ability and it will have been cultured into society as an ‘advancement’.

The dynamic between the two main characters, Wax and Wayne is hilarious. It’s one of my favourite things about the storyline as a whole. The two work together so well even though they are polar opposites as individuals. Wax, the lawman, cannot leave an injustice and always takes it upon himself to right a wrong. He can’t leave alone and walk away even if he wants to. I admire that about him – it’s one of his more altruistic points. Equally, however, he isn’t perfect at all. He despises his social stature and the expectations of society about him; he actively pushes the boundaries of propriety as well which is very funny to read.

Wayne, on the other hand, is Wayne. He is wicked with a firearm and excellent at going undercover but as a person, he is 100% more laid back than Wax. His ‘trading’ (stealing) habit is trademark to his character and it’s funny because he has a strange sense of what has value. He doesn’t steal the conventional items for the most part, but what he picks up does miraculously prove invaluable to the duo.

The biggest advocate of how much I love this book is how quickly I have gone on to read the rest of the series (published so far). I read the next two books within just over two months after finishing this one. With my reading schedule, that’s impressive! I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and read it again either – I enjoyed it that much!

I might yet do that, one day anyway…

 

 

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Book Birthday Blitz Review: The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s review of The Rue Stone as part of the organised book birthday blitz blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. The Rue Stone is an entertaining fantasy novella, so if that sounds like something you are interested in, please stick around to read on. Before diving into the detail, I’ like to say a huge thank you to Rachel and the author of the novella, Janet Stock, for the opportunity to take part in the tour!

In addition to my review, today’s post also provides the opportunity for UK readers to enter a giveaway and win a paperback copy of the novella! Those details can be found later in the post! For now, though, let’s talk about what I loved about the book!

 

The Rue Stone – Janet Stock

Goodreads – The Rue Stone

The rue is a mysterious and rare being who is rarely seen, and Janna is amazed when one arrives at the inn where she works, looking for a room. The next morning, her life has changed, and she is left wondering whether she will ever see him again, but only time and the rue stone know the answer to that question.

 

Purchase Links –  Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

Whether you are a regular reader of fantasy novels or are looking to explore the genre, The Rue Stone is a perfect read regardless of audience. As a fairytale-like novella, it is really easy to pick up; there isn’t a huge commitment to a long, complex storyline to invest into. I personally read The Rue Stone in one sitting, so it’s also ideal for anyone who doesn’t have much time to set aside and read.

Even though the novella is only 80 pages, there is plenty of beautiful descriptions and folklore incorporated into the narrative. The rue are mysterious, magical beings of legend. Janna has heard the stories, but she learns the truth of them when a rue walks into the inn she works in and changes her life. There is a great deal of mystery about the rue and they have plenty of potential to be explored further.

There is an element of romance in the novella, but I liked that it didn’t overshadow the plot. Regular readers of mine will know that I’m not a big romance fan, but the budding relationship in The Rue Stone isn’t too heavy.

The amount of detail in the background of the story is well proportioned with current events. I would, however, like to see more from this world and the backstory to the rue explored further. Having read this particular story from the perspective of Janna I’m intrigued to know how different the story would be from Arval’s viewpoint. There is definitely potential in this story for further stories and I would definitely be interested in seeing Janet’s fantasy world explored in more depth.

 

Author Bio

Having written all of my life, I decided to self-publish my writing when I turned 50. I have published four books since then. Two are collections of short stories; Dark & Fluffy; Dark & Fluffy II and 500 Words, which is flash fiction. My latest book The Rue Stone is a fantasy novella.

My passion is medieval fiction, and I am working on my first novel The Little Servant – The Wait’s Son, set in the 12th century, in Lincoln, where I live.

All four books are available on Amazon.

Social Media Links –

www.janetstockwriter.wordpress.com

fb Janetstockwriter

@janetstock12

 

Giveaway to Win 5 paperback copies of The Rue Stone (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will be passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494390/

Blog Tour Review: Freedom of the Creed – Nicholas Coleridge

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for Freedom of the Creed by Nicholas Coleridge. In today’s blog tour post, I am featuring my review of the book. Thank you for checking out my post and also a huge thank you to the author and Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the tour.

If you enjoy western-themed novels then saddle up and read on, as this book (and review) should be right up your street! Don’t forget to check out the other blogs that have featured in the tour as well. The details can be found at the bottom of my post.

 

Freedom of the Creed – Nicholas Coleridge

Goodreads – Freedom of the Creed

The Woe-Be-Gone boys, a vicious gang of outlaws rushes south through the American frontier, leaving desolation in their wake.

On their trail is Saoirse Creed, a bounty hunter with a debt to pay. Her only chance to pay that debt rides with the gang, but what depths will she sink to achieve her goal.

Now, as she tracks them down to a town on the precipice of despair, Saoirse must overcome the final hurdle in order to capture her man and return to a life that she thought was all but lost.

 

Purchase Links – Amazon UK      Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

It was Freedom of the Creed’s western theme that appealed to me. It’s not a genre I pick up very often, but when I do, I really enjoy them! I suppose the most recent read that it reminds me of is Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series.

Saoirse (pronounced Sur-sha) is by far the character I loved best. She is a wickedly smart and fierce young woman. Her motivations are largely unclear for the majority of the book, making her passion and drive in the chase an intriguing mystery. I’m glad the pronunciation of her name is clarified early on in the book – I couldn’t even have made a guess! It is unusual and makes her doubly stand out as a unique character.

The plot is full of deceit, subterfuge and layers of depth that make it easy to immerse you in the detailed storyline. Exciting clues and revelations to further developments of the story are timed perfectly for maximum impact. The pace of the novel is well balanced and allows for full, detailed setting of the scene whilst still including plenty of action to drive events forward. It’s a steadily fast-paced novel but equally doesn’t come across as rushed in any way.

The author really captured the essence of old-fashioned attitudes in small communities very well. Each individual character has their own distinct personality, but they also gel together as a community. There is enough commonality between them that implies years of co-existence together in a desolate, now derelict town. I could picture the characters and their interactions in the town of Kites Run so clearly! The Woe-Be –Gone boys are a sort of community in themselves and I enjoyed the dynamic and power struggle within the group. They’re also the seedy types of human beings that you love to hate; routing for Saoirse in her hunt for them couldn’t be easier.

I really enjoyed the conclusion of the book and there is a lot of potential for the remainder of the series. I can’t wait to see where Saoirse and Wolfe find themselves in the next chapter of their story. Given how well the book has been written, I am amazed this is the author’s first novel!

 

Author Bio

N.J Coleridge finds time to write when he is not performing his official duties as his daughter’s “royal servant.”

He has always had a passion for the frontier and the old-west. Freedom of the Creed is his first novel.

For more adventures featuring Saoirse be sure to read the novella “A Prayer for the Dying”.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNickColeridge/

Blog Tour Review: Mindworm – David Pollard

Hello everyone and welcome to today’s review of Mindworm as part of the ongoing blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. Thank you to both Rachel and the author David Pollard for a copy of the book in exchange for today’s review.

 

Mindworm – David Pollard

Goodreads – Mindworm

The placid life of a college librarian is plunged into a desperate fight for survival when he witnesses the death of his only friend. Suddenly he is forced to confront disturbing changes in his nature and appetites and their consequences. Suspected of murder and pursued by an implacable police detective he runs – but is he running from the law or from himself?

 

Pre-Order Links: Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The synopsis of this book caught my attention immediately. I naturally have some compulsion to draw towards other book-minded folks, as would be expected really. Not only that though, but there’s enough there to form an idea in your mind of what it’s about but also keep you guessing. In the end, Mindworm was unlike anything I expected… in a good way! It is a lot more sinister and had more of a fantasy/supernatural element than I anticipated. I love that kind of thing, so that worked well for me! If you like supernatural as well then Mindworm is the perfect novella to pick up.

At around 100 pages Mindworm is quite a short read. Even so, there is plenty of action driving the plot forward and compelling you find out what happens next. Each chapter is concise as well, so Mindworm is really easy to read as a result – I personally read it in a couple of sittings.

Given the length and plotline of the story, I think there are a good number of main and supporting characters. The story is told from the perspective of our main character the librarian, but there is a whole host of characters that flesh out the story. Equally, each character is distinctive and so there aren’t too many to make it difficult to remember who is who. How much each character is developed is really dependent on their significance in the story. Some were only quite superficial but they only had a small impact on the plot, so overall it’s proportional.

Mindworm is an enjoyable novella to pick up if you are looking for a quick, intense and sinister read. The book could definitely remain standalone, but I think there is potential to expand this into a series. It’ll be interesting to see whether this does in fact happen. I would definitely pick up any future books based on what I have read already!

 

Author Bio

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After more than forty years of paid employment David Pollard retired to glorious Hereford and immersed himself in the theatrical activities of the county. He is currently Chair of Hereford County Drama Festival.

David  sees himself as a teller of tales – he is a playwright, author of short stories and novels. He has a preference for dark and dystopian material. He is also an actor and theatrical director. Among the many authors admired by David is Robert Louis Stevenson – for his website David adopted the appellation Tuistala – Samoan for ‘Teller of Tales’ which the Samoan people called RLS.

Several of David’s plays have been published by Lazybee Scripts – one of which ‘Aspects of a Betrayal’ was shortlisted for the Kenneth Branagh prize at the Windsor Fringe Festival.

David has two works published on KDP/Amazon:

‘His Cat and Other Strange Tales’ – a collection of macabre short stories

‘The Alienation of Ludovic Weiss’ – a psychological thriller

A third book ‘Mindworm ‘ is scheduled for publication in September 2020

When not writing, directing or acting David runs a podcast platform for the streaming of radio plays and short story readings – Hand to Mouth Sound Theatre.

 

For relaxation David reads voraciously with a liking for history and thriller fiction. He also enjoys country walks of the strolling variety.

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @dpollardauthor

Website: www.thetusitala.co.uk 

Blog Tour Review: Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Hello everybody and welcome to today’s blog tour post for Grubane by Karl Drinkwater! I’m glad you could join me to hear my thoughts on this fun, entertaining sci-fi short story. You may remember that I read another Lost Tales of Solace story earlier this year. If you haven’t already checked that review out and want an introduction, you can find my review of Helene here.

As always, I would like to take the opportunity to thank both Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources and the author Karl Drinkwater for the opportunity to take part in today’s blog tour. If you enjoy today’s review post be sure to check out some of the posts by other bloggers taking part in this tour as well!

 

Grubane – Karl Drinkwater

Goodreads – Grubane

Major Grubane is commander of the Aurikaa, the most feared cruiser in the UFS arsenal.

His crew is handpicked and fiercely loyal. Together, they have never failed a mission, and their reputation precedes them.

But this time he’s been sent to a key planet that is caught up in political tensions at the centre of the freedom debate. What he thought was a simple diplomatic mission turns out to be the hardest choice of his career. His orders: eliminate one million inhabitants of the planet, and ensure their compliance.

Grubane has also rediscovered an ancient game called chess, and plays it against the ship AI as a form of mental training. But maybe it could be more than that as he finds himself asking questions. Can orders be reinterpreted? How many moves ahead is it possible for one man to plan? And how many players are involved in this game?

 

Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/b/Grubane

 

My Thoughts…

Whether or not you have read any books in the Lost Solace universe, Grubane is easy to pick up and enjoy. It can be read as part of the series or as a standalone book; the narrative isn’t dependent on knowledge of events in the others. I read the first book of the Lost Tales (Helene) back in March having not read the main series. It didn’t matter in the slightest! I read Grubane with an idea of what to expect with the author’s writing style and the universe the story is set in, in general terms, but the storylines are different and are independent of one another. In addition to these shorts, have some of the main series books to read. It will be interesting to see how these all tie together later.

You might think that the narrative could come across as clinical given that the tale is told from the perspective of an AI. That isn’t the case at all! The AI’s featured in the books I have read so far are really quite special. They are highly intelligent and through human contact, they learn a lot about humans and go on to develop personalities of their own. The dynamic between Grubane and Aurikaa12 is one that emphasises the point that humans and technology can learn a lot from each other.

Through Aurikaa12 we learn a lot about the prestigious Major Grubane and there is plenty of character development. The difficult scenario he finds himself in and how he responds to such tells us a lot about him as a person. The chess component of the novel is very interesting as it proves that the Major is an excellent strategist. I also liked how the events in the book were analogised to a game of chess as well!

There is no shortage of action in Grubane and the fast-paced narrative makes this very easy to pick up and become immersed in. I read Grubane in just a couple of sittings. The narrative packs in plenty of plot twists and unexpected moments despite being just over one hundred pages long. It’s the perfect length to still be long enough to invest in the characters and storyline but also accessible and a relatively quick read. Personally, Grubane struck the perfect balance on the length to have the best of both.

 

Author Bio

Karl Drinkwater is originally from Manchester but lived in Wales for twenty years, and now calls Scotland his home. He’s a full-time author, edits fiction for other writers, and was a professional librarian for over twenty-five years. He has degrees in English, Classics, and Information Science.

He writes in multiple genres: his aim is always just to tell a good story. Among his books you’ll find elements of literary and contemporary fiction, gritty urban, horror, suspense, paranormal, thriller, sci-fi, romance, social commentary, and more. The end result is interesting and authentic characters, clever and compelling plots, and believable worlds.

When he isn’t writing he loves exercise, guitars, computer and board games, the natural environment, animals, social justice, cake, and zombies. Not necessarily in that order.

Social Media Links –

Website https://karldrinkwater.uk

Twitter http://twitter.com/karldrinkwater

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/karlzdrinkwater

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorkdrinkwater/

Newsletter http://bit.ly/newsletterkd

 

Book Review: The God Game – Danny Tobey

Hi everyone! I’m glad you can join me for today’s book review of The God Game by Danny Tobey. I was very kindly sent a copy of this book for review by Gollancz. The synopsis caught my eye immediately and I knew this was a book I was going to really enjoy – I wasn’t disappointed! Thanks to Gollancz for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for a review. As always, the opinions stated below are honest and my own.

 

The God Game – Danny Tobey

Goodreads – The God Game

For fans of Stranger Things and Ready Player OneThe God Game is a brilliantly plotted science-fiction thriller about a VR game in which the stakes are impossibly high: if you die in the game, you die in real life

Five best friends in a high school computer club get sucked into an underground hacker’s game run by a mysterious A.I. that thinks it is God. It’s all fun and games until people start to get hurt.

And the stakes keep getting higher. As the Game pits them against each other and turns their high school upside down, it offers the ultimate promise – win and learn the meaning of life; die in the game, and die for real.

 

Purchase Links:   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

The God Game cleverly combines its sci-fi/fantasy genre with thriller to keep readers on the edge of our seats.

The most chilling part of the narrative is that, if such a game existed, I honestly think some kids today would buy into it. I graduated school a good few years ago now, but recently enough to remember what it was like. Peer pressure would definitely do its part in egging kids on to push the boundaries and do something they would regret later.

I enjoyed how well the sci-fi elements of the novel were written to be accessible to all. I didn’t find the language too technical or difficult to read. Anyone could pick this book up and understand what is going on.

I enjoyed the variety of characters in the novel. The dynamic of the group and the individuals within has a significant impact on the narrative and how each character responds to the circumstances they find themselves in. By the end of the book, I felt I knew them all well as if friends of my own. They aren’t the crowd I would choose, but the narrative is so immersive that you come to know them well by the end. The difficult and moral decisions they have to make give us an intimate knowledge of where their boundaries lie.

Sci-fi is one of those genres where I might not pick it up for a while, but then I’ll read a lot at once to make up for the fact. I read The God Game at the end of March this year and that was the fourth sci-fi book of the year. After reading it, I read another two books immediately after this. Despite this, the storyline of this particularly prominent and memorable. It’s a unique story and one that I think will be popular with a YA audience.

 

 

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Spotlight Feature Post: Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Today’s blog post is a spotlight feature for a fantastic legal thriller novel that is very relevant to a lot of discussions ongoing at the moment. I actually read and reviewed this particular book back in April 2019 as part of a blog tour shortly after its publication. Since then, the book has gone on to win many awards, with its fifth and latest just recently.

To celebrate the occasion, I spoke to the author about his inspiration to write the book, how it relates to current events and what more we can expect from him. Before that though, here are the details for Justice Gone: –

 

Justice Gone – Nicholas Lombardi Jr

Goodreads – Justice Gone

WINNER OF FIVE AWARDS

  • 2020 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD
  • NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD 2019
  • 2019 AMERICAN FICTION AWARD
  • NATIONAL INDIE EXCELLENCY AWARD – Best Legal Thriller of 2019
  • SILVER MEDAL WINNER 2019 READERS’ FAVORITES AWARDS

Chosen by Wiki.ezvid.com among their list of 10 Gripping and Intelligent Legal Thrillers

 

The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written…the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader…Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite “thumbs-up.” Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.

Kim M Aalaie, Author’s Den

 

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.

The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact…a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works…a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.

Crime Review 

 

An act of police brutality hurls a small town into a turmoil of rage and fear, igniting a relentless witch hunt and ending in the trial of the decade.

“When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

 

Purchase Links: –   

Amazon UK   Amazon US   Amazon India   Barnes & Noble   Book Depository   Waterstones   Kobo

 

 

Author Interview

What led you to writing this novel?

I can’t recall exactly how I came across this story: a homeless man beaten to death by police in a small town in California, but I do remember a series of YouTube videos that documented this event. There was a video recording taken from a closed circuit TV camera at the adjacent bus stop showing the beating, a silent witness to a brutal act.  What was more appalling to me than the impending assault, was the exchange of two of the police officers with the soon-to-be victim, a harrowing display of sadistic provocation. The fact that the officers were indicted and brought to trial at all was a precedent – up to that time no police officer had ever been prosecuted for excessive force in the history of Orange County, a tradition that likely imparted a sentiment of immunity on the part of the accused officers when they were partaking in their vicious act.

In addition, videos of street protests decrying such police violence illustrated the collective shock of a small town. The town was Fullerton, California; the man was Kelly Thomas. The year was 2011

This case was the seed from which my novel, Justice Gone, sprouted.

 

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How do you think it could contribute to the currently ongoing discussion?

The incident of excessive force in Justice Gone is not an isolated action, but occurs within the context of local politics and a flawed legal system, where outcomes are determined by the attitudes of people. I feel that a discussion of the violation of civil rights by law enforcement should include these elements, as they may be responsible for any sense of impunity the involved officers may have.

 

Are there any personal experiences that might have (inadvertently) made their way into the book?

Fortunately, I’ve never had an encounter with a police officer, nor was I ever trapped in the unfeeling machine of the legal system, but then again, I’ve lived most of my life outside of the United States.

 

In the current call for books by own voices, how do you feel as a white person narrating the viewpoint of an African-American person?

Well, I’ve never attempted to do that. I don’t think it would work. Justice Gone is written in a show, not tell, style of narrative. Essentially, these are the characters, this is what they do, this is what they say, and this is what happens in the story.

 

The book was published in February 2019. You must have worked on it for a while before then. Anytime during that process, did you expect the turmoil to reach the pitch it has now?

I expected the rage against abusive police actions to be sustained, and suspected that it might grow with time, but I wasn’t certain, because sometimes people forget until the next time it happens.

 

Stepping back from the book itself, what is your writing process?

Basically to relax and let my mind wander over the story – that’s the way my ideas come, usually with a glass of wine.

 

Is there anything else you want to convey to your readers?

To the few readers I have, I would like to say that we haven’t seen the last of Nat Bodine, the blind lawyer, nor the last of legal fiction that encompasses social issues. The matter of the death penalty, instances of racial discrimination, legal representation for the mentally disabled, and the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole are among a host of topics that can be explored through fiction. Although tragic, I intend to write about such inequities while infusing a note of hope in the stories.

 

About the Author

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People’s Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years.

Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.

Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Visit his Goodreads and Facebook pages!

Book Review: Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s book review of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor! After reading and enjoying her Strange the Dreamer duology, I decided I wanted to try her Daughter of Smoke & Bone series. I read the first book on holiday last October (isn’t that a far and distant memory now…) and binge-read the rest of the series shortly after!

I wouldn’t describe myself as a YA reader or fan particularly, but I will make all the exceptions for Laini Taylor. Her writing is brilliant, the stories easy to read and the characters have, in my opinion, a lot more depth than most. I find some YA to be a little trope-y and a bit shallow at times, but not with this series (or Strange) at all.

If you haven’t read my review of Daughter of Smoke & Bone yet, you can find that post here.

 

Days of Blood & Starlight – Laini Taylor

Goodreads – Days of Blood & Starlight

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

 

My Thoughts…

I wasn’t sure how Laini Taylor was going to follow up such an epic start to the series, but I should never have doubted her! In fact, Days of Blood and Starlight has one of my favourite introductions. I featured it in a First Lines Friday post back in February this year; if you haven’t read it yet and want a chuckle I think you’ll like it.

The idea of my championing a book/series with such a prevalent plotline around a character relationship may seem strange to you. It’s not the sort of thing I normally go for at all. I talked about this in my review of the first book of the series as well, and everything I said there still applies. The relationship isn’t awkward or uncomfortable to read. It has a maturity to it and consequently, there isn’t any of the sappy stuff that I can’t read without wanting to gag. The dynamic between Karou and Akiva is a longing for companionship. In a world where they are on different sides of a bitter war, they struggle against their respective people for acceptance.

Events in Days of Blood and Starlight draw the reader into a completely new plotline. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, whilst brilliant, is really only the introduction to this explosive series. Karou has only just discovered her place in her world of monsters and in one fell swoop, her life is changed forever. And it’s Akiva’s fault. Shunned and friendless, she has plenty to grieve but steps up to do her part in the war between hers and Akiva’s kind.

The truth about Karou and the world she was being protected from is a harsh reality compared to her relatively normal human life back in Prague. Luckily for us readers (and especially me as a huge fan of world-building), Days of Blood and Starlight explores a whole new alternate world and the history of Chimaera and the Angels. The narrative becomes grittier, takes sinister turns and deadly secrets must be kept in order to fight to survive. Karou herself, whilst trying to earn the trust of her peers, must do her part in a dangerous deception. What has she got to lose?

Hope, love, and her dream for a better life. Everything.

 

 

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Audiobook Review: Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Hi everyone and welcome to today’s audiobook review of Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. When I looked back to the date I listened to this audiobook I was amazed that it was seven months ago! I finished Thunderhead in December last year, which really goes to show that I need to get a wriggle on and catch up with my reviews!

If you are new to the series or want to check out my thoughts of the first book (audiobook), you can find my review of Scythe using this link. I remember writing this review at the same time as listening to Thunderhead as it served as a nice reminder of events before that made writing my review easier. As yet I haven’t started listening to The Toll, but I suspect I will be soon since it has been a while!

 

Thunderhead – Neal Shusterman

Goodreads – Thunderhead

Rowan has gone rogue, and has taken it upon himself to put the Scythedom through a trial by fire. Literally. In the year since Winter Conclave, he has gone off-grid, and has been striking out against corrupt scythes—not only in MidMerica, but across the entire continent. He is a dark folk hero now—“Scythe Lucifer”—a vigilante taking down corrupt scythes in flames.

Citra, now a junior scythe under Scythe Curie, sees the corruption and wants to help change it from the inside out, but is thwarted at every turn, and threatened by the “new order” scythes. Realizing she cannot do this alone—or even with the help of Scythe Curie and Faraday, she does the unthinkable, and risks being “deadish” so she can communicate with the Thunderhead—the only being on earth wise enough to solve the dire problems of a perfect world. But will it help solve those problems, or simply watch as perfection goes into decline?

 

My Thoughts…

You would expect that the lives of Citra and Rowan couldn’t be turned more on their head since being apprenticed to the Scythedom. Yet, that was just the beginning of a revolutionary shake-up not seen before in the world. Citra, a newly ordained Scythe, has the help of Scythe Curie to navigate the turbulent waters of unrest from the inside. Rowan, however, has gone rogue and taken matters into his own hands. Both have the same goal; to revolutionise the Scythedom be weeding out corruption and those that would abuse the power granted by their higher calling.

As a huge fan of dystopian fiction I enjoyed delving back into this series. The setting of the novel is interesting and the complex relationship between the Scythedom and the Thunderhead has a significant role. The Thunderhead, as an intelligent sentient supercomputer (for want of a description) observes the growing conflict between Scythes and can calculate the likely odds of the future. Strictly speaking, the Thunderhead is not permitted to talk to or assist Scythes in their duty. And yet, when Citra is deadish the Thunderhead exploits a loophole to communicate with her. For the Thunderhead to feel like it has to break its own rules, it doesn’t bode well…

I absolutely hate discussions about politics in real life, but I really enjoy the complexities of it in novels. Political divides are abundant in this second instalment of the series. The lines have been drawn for a large conflict. Although a dystopian novel, the ultimate subject matter rooted in this conflict is death. It’s something easy for us to understand has real meaning outside of the world created in the novels.

The ‘old guard’ Scythes believe that their duty is sacred. Their business must be conducted with the utmost respect and dignity to those chosen to die (for natural death has been conquered). Even those chosen are carefully selected based on historic death rates by age, ethnicity, manner of death etc. ‘New order’ Sycthes want to push the boundaries – be permitted to conduct their business en-masse, using a variety of weapons that aren’t designed to keep the business clean/painless etc. It’s brutality, and as a reader I found myself taking the side of the ‘old guard’ very quickly.

The characters are as large as life as in The Scythe, and with a few surprises and new faces the narrative of Thunderhead is still fresh. Some of my favourite parts of the book are the musings of the Thunderhead. As an all-seeing-all-knowing being, it’s a great way of getting a neutral perspective on events whilst also exploring the idea of a society run by what is basically a ridiculously smart (and scarily human-like) computer.

I can’t wait to see how events pan out in The Toll. The ending of Thunderhead is so unexpected and dramatic! It’s quite a cliffhanger, it has to be said. The events of Thunderhead far exceeded my expectations of what might happen, so all speculation for The Toll is thrown out of the window. I’ll just have to start listening to it to find out!

 

 

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Blog Tour Review: The Dead Tell Lies – J F Kirwan

Good morning everyone and welcome to today’s blog tour post for The Dead Tell Lies by J. F. Kirwan. It is books like this that make me very happy to be a book blogger and to have a place to tell people that they really must, absolutely and unequivocally read a certain book. I finished The Dead Tell Lies less than half an hour before writing this post and I can hand on heart say that this is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read!

Before I get stuck in with rambling about just how great it is, I want to say a massive thank you to the author and to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for the chance to read this book and take part in the blog tour. If you haven’t been following it or want to check out more details/opinions of the book, you can check out the other participants of the tour at the end of the post. Please go and check out their posts as well! There are also more posts coming up in the next few days, so don’t forget to keep an eye out for those too!

 

The Dead Tell Lies – J. F. Kirwan

Goodreads – The Dead Tell Lies

Greg Adams, a criminal psychologist at Scotland Yard, specialises in bringing serial killers to justice. He tracks down a spree serial killer nicknamed the Divine, who has already killed six teenage girls and is about to kill a seventh. Greg works out the location where he is hiding and joins a raid. The police capture the Divine and save the girl, but on the very same night, Greg’s wife is brutally murdered by another serial killer, known as the Dreamer.

A year later, unable to bring the killer to justice, Greg has quit his job and is ready to end it all, when he receives a phone call from a man who tells him the Dreamer is dead, and that he didn’t kill Greg’s wife, Kate.

Greg returns to Scotland Yard to work for Superintendent Chief Detective Donaldson in the hope he can re-examine the case with the help of two new detectives, Finch and Matthews.

As Greg delves into the case further, he becomes more convinced that the Dreamer wasn’t the man responsible for his wife’s murder.

But if it wasn’t the Dreamer, who was it?

In order to solve the mystery around his wife’s murder, Greg is going to have to delve even deeper into the mind of a terrifying psychopath. And this time he might not make it back in one piece…

 

Purchase Links –   Amazon UK     Amazon US

 

My Thoughts…

For me, the best indicator of a good psychological thriller is how obsessed you become about trying to work everything out. If it occupies your mind even when you have to put down the book to do the mundane things, you’re on to a good start. Find one that keeps you on the edge of your seat and guessing until all is revealed, and you are onto a winner! The Dead Tell Lies is both of these things. I have been thinking about it almost constantly for the past two days, the timeframe over which I have read the majority of the book.

The Dead Tell Lies is a psychological thriller in the literal sense; our main character Greg is a criminal psychologist, renowned for putting away six serial killers throughout his career. He has the scary ability to get into the mind of a serial killer to unravel their motives and use it to get them off the streets for good. When his wife turns up dead with the classic signature of The Dreamer’s killings, it seems that things have gotten personal.

Greg is a really likeable character. He’s wickedly smart but just as human and vulnerable as the rest of us. I think that is the part that appealed to me as a reader. He is the personality we get behind emotionally. When he summons his ‘cold fire’, his semi-detached emotional drive, to get under a serial killer’s skin and crack the case, he’s a completely different man. We stand firmly behind him as his motives are to save lives by catching the killer, but his demeanour and mental state when he is “in the zone” is unnerving!

The Dead Tell Lies is packed full of action and there is never a dull moment. It’s easy to pick up but impossible to put down once you are in the thick of the narrative and dying to know what happens next. The book is also very cleverly written. I found myself trying to find hidden clues and working out the subtext constantly, but alas, authors only leave behind clues for the things they want you as a reader to know! It makes it all the more exciting when it’s time for the big reveal.

With the way this book ended, it could equally remain a standalone or become part of a series. I seriously hope for the latter because I would love to don Greg’s shoes again and delve into another captivating thriller. I have already added another series written by this author to my TBR having loved this so much! I’ll just have to pick that up and cross my fingers in the meantime…

 

Author Bio

J. F. Kirwan is an insomniac who writes thrillers in the dead of night. He is also a psychologist, and has drawn upon this expertise, including being taught by a professor who examined serial killers for Scotland Yard, to pen the crime/mystery/thriller The Dead Tell Lies for Bloodhound Books. He wanted to shed light not only on the darkness of serial killers, but of those who track them down, who must inevitably step inside the serial killer’s worldview, and may not come out clean afterwards. He is also the author of the Nadia Laksheva thriller series for HarperCollins (66 Metres, 37 Hours and 88 North). His favourite authors include Lee Child, David Baldacci and Jo Nesbo. He is married, and has a daughter and a new grandson, and lives between Paris and London.

Social Media Links –

www.jfkirwan.com

@kirwanjf

https://www.facebook.com/kirwanjf/