Of Charms,Ghosts and Grievances by Aliette De Bodard- Book review

Here is my review of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances , an epic fantasy Aliette De Boddard set in the world of the Dominion of the Fallen.

It was supposed to be a holiday, with nothing more challenging than babysitting, navigating familial politics and arguing about the proper way to brew tea.
But when dragon prince Thuan and his ruthless husband Asmodeus find a corpse in a ruined shrine and a hungry ghost who is the only witness to the crime, their holiday goes from restful to high-pressure. Someone is trying to silence the ghost and everyone involved. Asmodeus wants revenge for the murder; Thuan would like everyone, including Asmodeus, to stay alive.
Chased by bloodthirsty paper charms and struggling to protect their family, Thuan and Asmodeus are going to need all the allies they can—and, as the cracks in their relationship widen, they’ll have to face the scariest challenge of all: how to bring together their two vastly different ideas of their future…A heartwarming standalone book set in a world of dark intrigue.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This novella was an enjoyable read with an intriguing ghost story, charming leads and quirky side characters. The plot races along with a satisfying end.

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The Splendid City by Karen Hueller -Book review

Here is my review of this urban fantasy which has a huge dose of satire and a talking cat. Thank you #NetGalley and angry robot for my copy of The Splendid  City by Karen Hueller.

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: NetGalley and Angry Robot

In the state of Liberty, water is rationed at alarming prices, free speech is hardly without a cost, and Texas has just declared itself its own country. In this society, paranoia is well-suited because eyes and ears are all around, and they are judging. Always judging. This terrifying (and yet somehow vaguely familiar) terrain is explored via Eleanor – a young woman eagerly learning about the gifts of her magic through the support of her coven.
But being a white witch is not as easy as they portray it in the books, and she’s already been placed under ‘house arrest’ with a letch named Stan, a co-worker who wronged her in the past and now exists in the form of a cat. A talking cat who loves craft beers, picket lines, and duping and ‘shooting’ people.
Eleanor has no time for Stan and his shenanigans, because she finds herself helping another coven locate a missing witch which she thinks is mysteriously linked to the shortage of water in Liberty.

Review

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This book was not what I expected but in a fun and interesting way.

I thought this would be straightforward urban fantasy featuring an underlying mystery that would be solved by the end of the book by the protagonist. But this book was so much more. My own perhaps inaccurate description would be a blend of urban fantasy, satire with feminist slant but with a dose of surreal humour.

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A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari- Book review

I enjoyed this murder mystery featuring a mystery solving botanist in the swinging twenties. Here is my review of A Botanists Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

Genre: Historical fiction/ historical crime

Series: Saffron Everleigh Mysteries

Publication Date :June 2022

Source: Thank you  NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon,  one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.
Joined by Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

Review

I was pleased to be approved for a copy of this murder mystery for a free, unbiased and honest opinion. 

 Saffron aspires to run her own study but this isn’t likely to happen in 1920s London, no matter how hard she tries. So when her only champion and mentor is accused of attempted murder she has no choice but to solve the crime with her knowledge of plants.

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Son of Shadow by John Lenahan – Book review and Blog tour

I’m so pleased be part of the Write Reads Tours for Son of Shadow by John Lehanan- I enjoyed this YA fantasy set in the world of Shadowmagic.

A world of faeries, leprechauns and dragons – and magic fuelled by the blood of trees. A mystery portal to the Real World. And a pair of curious young adventurers who know they shouldn’t step through it…
Meet Fergal the Second, nicknamed ‘two’. Or ‘Doe’, in his own language. He can do magic. But, for the moment, he’s forgotten where he’s from. Or what’s happened to his blind friend Ruby. He’s actually from Tir na Nog, the enchanted world of Shadowmagic, where a new generation of the royal House of Duir are cheeking their parents, preparing for adulthood and itching to see the Real World for themselves – whatever the peril. 

Review

I really enjoyed this Young Adult Fantasy -Son of Shadow by John Lenahan is one of my favourite reads this year. The added bonus ( for me anyway) is the fact this was written by the man who was the voice of the Toaster in Red Dwarf ( which deserves its own review).

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion

 I didn’t realise this book follows on from The Shadowmagic Trilogy when I started reading this, but this made no difference to my enjoyment. This book can be read without having read any of the previous books ( but I will be adding this to my ever-expanding list of books.

I enjoy books with portals and parallel worlds, and Doe’s reactions to our world and his interactions with people in this world was hilarious. The world-building in Tir na Nog was just as interesting with its sentient trees, were dragons, politics and magic.

The book is told in the first person from Doe’s point of view and his voice had the right amout of humour and snark.

The story has a quest and a rescue at its heart but is made complicated by the fact Doe the rescuer has lost his memory. There is plenty of action and magic for the most ardent of fans. The women and girls in this story are just as strong and magical as the men ( and much scarier). I would have liked to have read more about the villains in the book ( and the ultimate baddie) but hopefully, this will be covered in the next books.

The main story is resolved but the next book is perfectly set up at the end and I can’t wait to read the second part of this trilogy.

Content warning

Abduction

Perfect for Fans

Anyone who loves clean, action-driven fantasy.

About the author

John Lenahan is a popular TV magician who toured with Jack Dee, Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood. He starred on a prime time BBC1 TV show, had his own BBC2 series, and was the voice of the toaster in ‘Red Dwarf’.

Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd- Book Review

I enjoyed this mystery set in Regency England featuring a huge cast of suspects, strange murders and the house party from Hell. Here’s my review of Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Lloyd.

Genre: Historical Crime

Source: Kensington books and Net Galley

Publication Date: 31st May 2022

The options for the penniless daughter of a deceased earl are few indeed in Regency England. So, Lady Caroline takes a post as a lady’s companion to the wealthy widow Frogerton.
Just as Caroline is getting accustomed to her new position, her aunt invites her and her employer to a house party in the countryside to celebrate her youngest daughter’s birthday.
But all is not well at the Greenwood estate after a series of troubling harassments of the staff, an elderly family member is found stabbed by a knitting needle.
As Caroline and Mrs. Frogerton attempt to solve the  crime, they discover the culprit  leaving bizarre clues as to who will be next in the nursery. But they must make haste, for this heartless killer is engaged in anything but child’s play…

Review

I enjoyed Miss Morton and the English House Party Murder by Catherine Taylor, a not quite so cosy murder mystery set in the traditional setting of Greenwood, an English manor house. But while the book may look like a traditional cosy mystery there are dark, modern themes running through the book that might surprise anyone looking for a typical cosy crime.

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Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis – Book review/Blog Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the Midas #blogtour for Dead in the Water by Mark Ellis historical crime set in 1942 London.

The Second World War rages on but Britain now faces the Nazi threat with America at its side. In a bombed-out London swarming with gangsters and spies, DCI Frank Merlin continues his battle against rampant wartime crime. A mangled body is found in the Thames just as some items of priceless art go mysteriously missing. What sinister connection links the two? Merlin and his team follow a twisting trail of secrets as they investigate a baffling and deadly puzzle.

Review

I love reading historical fiction but I don’t really read a lot of crime fiction set in World war 2 but after reading  Dead in the  Water by Mark Ellis, I think I will read more( luckily Dead in the Water is part of a series featuring  DCI Frank Merlin).

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The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdula – Book review

I loved this middle eastern inspired fantasy with a plenty of intrigue, magic and lovely little stories scattered through the book- read my review of The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdulla

Genre: Fantasy

Source: NetGalley, Little Brown UK

Series: Book One of the Sandsea trilogy

Loulie al-Nazari is the Midnight Merchant: a criminal who, with the help of her jinn bodyguard, hunts and sells illegal magic. When she saves the life of a cowardly prince, she draws the attention of his powerful father, the sultan, who blackmails her into finding an ancient lamp that has the power to revive the barren land—at the cost of sacrificing all jinn.

With no choice but to obey or be executed, Loulie journeys with the sultan’s oldest son to find the artifact. Aided by her bodyguard, who has secrets of his own, they must survive ghoul attacks, outwit a vengeful jinn queen, and confront a malicious killer from Loulie’s past. And, in a world where story is reality and illusion is truth, Loulie will discover that everything—her enemy, her magic, even her own past—is not what it seems, and she must decide who she will become in this new reality.

REVIEW

I really enjoyed this middle-eastern, one thousand and one nights inspired fantasy with its beautiful world-building, conflicted characters, magical jinn’s and lovely, little stories scattered through the book.

The story is told from the points of view of Loulie, a merchant dealing with magical relics, Aisha, a battle-weary member of the King’s thieves, and Prince Mazlen, the naïve prince who loves stories. While they have to work together on a quest to find a magical lamp for the Sultan, their motives for undertaking the quest are contradictory (and selfish) which of course leads to lots of fun and peril.

The magical system while not unique is beautifully described for example a description of a tree bearing glass fruit that crunch in your mouth but dissolve into sweetness- something I would love to try. The world-building is fresh with the sinking sands of Sandsea being my favourite

Loulie, Matzen and Aisha are well-rounded and realistic characters and I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them with every setback and peril they encountered. The relationship between Qadir and Louie was one of the highlights of the book- sweet and supportive.

I enjoyed the blurring between black and white- there is a lot of grey in this book. Are the Jinn truly evil or are Humans just as bad? Even the villains are sympathetically drawn ( but still evil!).

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series and discover more about the world of Sandsea.

Perfect for fans

Who enjoy fantasy set in a middle-eastern setting.

Mercury Rising by R.W.W Greene -Book review/Blog Tour

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for Mercury Rising by R.W.W Greene. I enjoyed this character focussed science-fiction with an intriguing alternate history where Earth is more technologically advanced and facing an alien threat.

Genre: Science Fiction/alternate history

Source; NetGalley

In an alternate history, earth’s space technology is much more advanced with the Oppenheimer Atomic Engine. Aliens from Venus destroyed cities in the USA and the USSR but Eagle seven and their Russian equivalent manage to stop them from invading Earth. Eighteen years later in 1975, Brooklyn ends up serving in Earth Orbital Forces (EOF) to avoid going to prison and despite his best efforts ends up in spaceships and space battles with a whole load of strange people.

Review

Can I just say how much I loved the opening chapter? The first chapter could be a short story in itself -from the initial tense standoff between the aliens and Earth to the epic space battles to Jet’s (an astronaut) final sacrifice to save Earth.

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased opinion.

This is a book of many, distinct parts that all fit together at the end to form a complete story. Some parts may seem a little out of place (and I must admit I wasn’t sure why these chapters were there) but these small details made sense by the end of the book.The author creates an interesting world both on Earth where Nixon has been re-elected following an alien attack on Cleveland and in space where there are space colonies with hotels and spaceships manned by a gay crew.

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Equinox by David Townsend- Blog Tour and Book Review

I’m so pleased to be part of the blog tour for the dark fantasy crossed mystery   Equinox by David Townsend.

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Publishers Head of Zeus for a free and unbiased opinion

Everyone is not as they seem in this fantasy novel, replete with war, witchcraft and secrets.

Christophor Morden lives by night. His day-brother, Alexsander, knows only the sun. They are two souls in a single body, in a world where identities change with the rising and setting of the sun. Night-brother or day-sister, one never sees the light, the other knows nothing of the night.Early one evening, Christophor is roused by a call to the city prison. A prisoner has torn his eyes out and cannot say why. Yet worse: in the sockets that once held his eyes, teeth are growing. The police suspect the supernatural, so Christophor, a member of the king’s special inspectorate, is charged with finding the witch responsible.Night-by-night, Christophor’s investigation leads him ever further from home, toward a backwards village on the far edge of the kingdom. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more his day-brother’s actions frustrate him. Who is Alexsander protecting? What does he not want Christophor to discover?

And all the while, an ancient and apocalyptic ritual creeps closer to completion

Review

I was so excited to be part of this blog tour for Equinox by David Towsey- especially when I saw the cover.

I was given a free copy of the book for a free and unbiased opinion.

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Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin- Blog tour/Book review.

I’m so pleased to be part of the Random Things  Tours blog tour for Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin- a thought provoking speculative fiction exploring memory.

Genre: Speculative fiction

Publication Date: 12th May 2022

Source : With Thanks to Hutchinson Heinemann and Random Things Tours

Across the world, thousands of people are shocked to receive an email telling them that they once chose to have a traumatic memory removed. Now they are being given the chance to get that memory back. For Mei, William, Oscar and Finn there is a piece missing, but they’re not sure what. And each of them must decide if the truth is worth the pain, or better left unknown. For Noor, who works at the memory clinic Nepenthe, the process of reinstating their patients’ memories begins to shake the moral foundations of her world. As she delves deeper into the programme, she will have to risk everything to uncover the true human cost of this miraculous technology.

Review

I was expecting, Tell Me a Story, to be a hardcore science-fiction novel about tech. But Jo Harkin has created a speculative fiction exploring on memory and its impact on our personality, lives, and relationships.

I received a copy of this book for a free and unbiased review.

Continue reading “Tell Me An Ending by Jo Harkin- Blog tour/Book review.”