Category Archives: books

wit’chstorm

Wit’chstorm (The Banned and Banished #2) by James Clemens

From Goodreads:

Elena bears the mark of the wit’ch upon her palm, the crimson stain that testifies to the awesome power of unimaginable potency: wild seductive, and difficult to control. Only a mistress of blood magick can stand against the foul minions and all-corrupting evil of the Dark Lord. But Elena is not yet the mistress of her magick. Protected by an ageless warrior and a band of renegades, she quests for a lost city where prophecies speak of a mystic tome that holds the key to the Dark Lord’s defeat. But if the Dark Lord finds her first, Elena will become his most fearsome weapon.

A different form of power touches Sy-wen, girl-child of an ocean-dwelling clan that bonds-mates to the terrible and majestic sea dragons. But bonds more ancient still tie Sy-wen to the land she does not know, to a man she has never seen…and to a legend asleep in stone deep beneath A’loa Glen-a legend beginning to wake.

Now, as Elena and Sy-wen converge on A’loa Glen from land and sea, will the forces they unleash lead to a future of freedom-or an eternity under the Dark Lord’s yoke? 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This picks up directly from the first book and after the first quarter I was starting to wonder how the story was going to last through 5 books without getting repetitive and potentially boring. Then there is a massive injection of new characters and storylines that really ramp up the complexity. Particularly liked how everything was brought together at the end of this chapter and looking forward to seeing how it develops further through the rest of the books. Although I read this series a long time ago I remember very little about the story except that it was good.

The section of the story with the Swamp Wit’ch reminded me quite a lot of Shota and Richard from the Sword of Truth series. The characters and stories are different but it just felt very familiar for some reason.

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death without company

Death Without Company (Walt Longmire #2) by Craig Johnson

From Goodreads:

Walt investigates a death by poison in this gripping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Cold Dish and Dry Bones, the second in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit Netflix original series

Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies, who garnered both praise and an enthusiastic readership with his acclaimed debut novel featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire, The Cold Dish, the first in the Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, now on Netflix.

Now Johnson takes us back to the rugged landscape of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for Death Without Company. When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past.

Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a cracking good read. It’s one of those books that was just so easy to read and I flew through it. After the first book I’ve now gotten over the differences between the book and TV show and just enjoying this new version of the same characters. I still picture the actors faces though when reading.

The standout from this book is the humour. Walt is very self-deprecating and has a very wry attitude to everything that happens to him – the bad and good equally! Vic also adds to this considerably. I’m definitely looking forward to the 3rd installment.

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the black ice

The Black Ice (Harry Bosch #2) by Michael Connelly

From Goodreads:

Narcotics office Cal Moore’s orders were to look into the city’s latest drug killing. Instead, he ends up in a motel room with a fatal bullet wound to the head and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.

Working the case, LAPD detective Harry Bosch is reminded of the primal police rule he learned long ago: don’t look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together.

Soon Harry’s making some very dangerous connections, starting with a dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard to the back alleys south of the border. Now this battle-scarred veteran will find himself in the centre of a complex and deadly game – one in which he may be the next and likeliest victim.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Loved this, it’s Bosch at his best, fighting hard to get to the truth and giving the finger to the brass on the way. The author really builds Harry here as the lone wolf but also betrays his lonely side through his attraction to two different women. His back story is filled in quite significantly and we get to know the man behind the man.

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summer knight

Summer Knight (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher

From Goodreads:

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything..

My Rating: ⭐⭐

Although I managed to get to the end I really struggled with this book. The storyline just didn’t work for me. The blend of fantasy and crime investigation just didn’t work, it was just too outlandish and unbelievable. The fantasy element was way off the scale and the frenetic pace of the story hampered my ability to get to grips with anything that was going on. I was just reading it on auto pilot most of the time!

According to Goodreads reviews the series improves a lot from the fourth book so I will keep going with it but after this I would be tempted to give it up.

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heretic

Heretic (Grail Quest #3) by Bernard Cornwell

From Goodreads:

Already a seasoned veteran of King Edward’s army, young Thomas of Hookton possesses the fearlessness of a born leader and an uncanny prowess with the longbow. Now, at the head of a small but able band of soldiers, he has been dispatched to capture the castle of Astarac. But more than duty to his liege has brought him to Gascony, home of his forebears and the hated black knight who brutally slew Thomas’s father. It is also the last place where the Holy Grail was reported seen. Here, also, a beautiful and innocent, if not pious, woman is to be burned as a heretic. Saving the lady, Genevieve, from her dread fate will brand Thomas an infidel, forcing them to flee together across a landscape of blood and fire. And what looms ahead is a battle to the death that could ultimately shape the future of Christendom.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve read very little historical fiction over the years but I’m very much enjoying this series. While the characters and the majority of events are fictional it’s nicely set in among actual events that are at least familiar if not well known.

Thomas’ character is also interesting. He’s a merciless killer but also with a strong moral code and honour system. His character, as well as Guy Vexille and even Abbot Planchard are used as a way to criticise the Church structure, systems and corruption but not in an overly intrusive way.

While there is more of Thomas’ story to come I was pleased to see a closure of the grail story arc. Too many authors take an idea and beat it to death over a prolonged period of time. Whatever is in store for Thomas, it will be a different story.

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camino sunrise – walking with my shadows

Camino Sunrise – Walking With My Shadows by Reginald Spittle

From Goodreads:

Walk? 500 miles? Across Spain? We can’t do that!
And so began the journey of a lifetime for Reg Spittle.

An outwardly well-adjusted professional and family man, Reg was a master of disguising a lifetime of debilitating anxiety that undermined his self-confidence.

Recently retired, he never dreamed he’d soon find himself chasing distant boundaries across a foreign land, sleeping in dorm bunks and sharing bathrooms as if he were a teenager experiencing his gap year.

When tragedy strikes, Reg reluctantly accepts his wife’s challenge to carry his red backpack on the historic Camino de Santiago, confronting past fears and humiliations, while packing weighty new worries.

Self-reflection, humor, and a recurring cast of characters create the backdrop for a story of hope in Camino Sunrise: Walking With My Shadows.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the first book written by the author but I have already read his second book that details his later treks. This is the story of how it all began.

The book is an enjoyable account of the Camino experience. It’s very different from the PCT and AT endurance treks I’ve enjoyed in lots of other books but it’s most certainly a challenge in its own right. I found that the book captured a sense of sharing and camaraderie that seems more personal on the Camino compared to the other treks. The author describes his Camino “Family” and the spirit of this definitely comes across. This subtle difference may be due to the kind of trekker that is attracted to the different trails. The people Reg and Sue met were older in general while the PCT and AT seemed to be predominantly younger trekkers.

The book is also a very personal and private struggle for the author as the Camino experience brings his life-long struggles with anxiety to the fore. Even contemplating and agreeing to attempt the trek is a massive challenge for him. Throughout the book he describes events through his childhood that led to anxiety in his adult life and how he hopes that post-Camino Reg will be a different person to pre-Camino Reg.

At times I felt the personal stories uncomfortable. I was lucky to have a much happier childhood but many of the struggles he describes were very familiar. At the time I simply put it down to shyness and social awkwardness but it made me realise that anxiety that I sometimes struggle with in adulthood was there during my childhood too. Recognising this shook me a bit. Maybe this was my own Camino journey in a very small way.

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the american

The American (Ryan Kealey #1) by Andrew Britton

From Goodreads:

At thirty-three, Ryan Kealey has achieved more in his military and CIA career than most men can dream of in a lifetime. He’s also seen the worst life has to offer and is lucky to have survived it. But being left alone with his demons is no longer an option. The CIA needs him badly, because the enemy they’re facing is former U.S. soldier Jason March.

Ryan knows all about March–he trained him. He knows they’re dealing with one of the most ruthless assassins in the world, a master of many languages, an explosives expert, a superb sharpshooter who can disappear like a shadow and who is capable of crimes they cannot begin to imagine. And now, March has resurfaced on the global stage, aligning himself with a powerful Middle East terror network whose goal is nothing less than the total destruction of the United States.

Teaming up with beautiful and tenacious British-born agent Naomi Kharmai, Ryan intends to break every rule in order to hunt down his former pupil, whatever the cost to himself. As Ryan puts together the pieces of a terrifying puzzle, and as the elusive March taunts him, always staying one step ahead, he discovers the mad man’s crusade is personal as well as political and Ryan himself is an unwitting pawn.

With the clock ticking down and the fate of the country resting uneasily on his shoulders, Ryan is caught in a desperate game of cat-and-mouse with the most cunning opponent he’s ever faced, one who will never stop until he’s committed the ultimate act of evil a man who is all the more deadly for being one of our own.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

An interesting debut novel and pretty well written. It is heavily influenced by the many CIA novels set during the Cold War but set against the backdrop of modern terrorism and America’s conflicts with Middle Eastern states.

While it was well written I found it pretty unoriginal. It was like he was following a successful but predictable formula. Although there was nothing surprising in the plot I look forward to seeing how the author develops and how he develops the main character as the series progresses.

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the cold dish

The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) by Craig Johnson

From Goodreads:

Walt Longmire, sheriff of Wyoming’s Absaroka County, knows he’s got trouble when Cody Pritchard is found dead. Two years earlier, Cody and three accomplices had been given suspended sentences for raping a Northern Cheyenne girl. Is someone seeking vengeance? Longmire faces one of the more volatile and challenging cases in his twenty-four years as sheriff and means to see that revenge, a dish that is best served cold, is never served at all.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve been watching the TV series (Longmire) based on these books over the last few months and having totally finished the series I decided to give the original books a try. Overall I’m very impressed and think they will get even better as they go.

It’s obvious to see the influences of the book on the TV show but there are many differences between the characters in terms of personality, description and even their back story. It took me a little while to get used to this especially with the TV characters so visible in my mind but the quality of the writing and the great story building soon swept me along.

The ending really caught me out, I was worried that I would guess from the TV show but it’s definitely very different. If you watched the TV show then I’d definitely recommend the books. If you haven’t then I’d still recommend them and the show both!

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borderlands

Borderlands (Inspector Devlin #1) by Brian McGilloway

From Goodreads:

The corpse of local teenager Angela Cashell is found on the Tyrone-Donegal border, between the North and South of Ireland, in an area known as the Borderlands. Garda Inspector Benedict Devlin heads the investigation: the only clues are a gold ring placed on the girl’s finger and an old photograph, left where she died.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the author’s debut novel and is a great read. It’s set very close to me. Lifford and Strabane are 15-20min from home and it was a little bit creepy reading a murder story set like this. Some of the locations and names have been changed slightly which created a slight discomfort when reading but nothing to detract from the overall enjoyment of the book.

The storyline is very good and very well structured. I enjoyed the descriptions of complexity of how the police work right on the border and sometimes across the border. It’s nice to see a book using Northern Ireland as a location without dwelling on politics or The Troubles.

The characters were good. Inspector Devlin is the main character and I look forward to seeing how he develops. I found the female characters very badly developed (Devlin’s wife Debbie in particular was frustratingly weak) so I hope that improves as the author’s writing skills mature through the rest of the series.

The author taught in St. Columbs College, Derry for 18 years. He wrote this book in 2007. I worked there in 2001/2002 as a Science teacher and he does look familiar. I’m not sure if I’m just trying to find a connection but there’s a good chance we worked there at the same time and may even have spoken in the staff room. I’ll take it as a celebrity interaction regardless!

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the searcher

The Searcher by Tana French

From Goodreads:

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The author has written a few books before this one but this is a standalone book. It’s my first time reading her stuff and over all I enjoyed it. The relationship between Cal and Trey is well done and they are excellent focal characters for the story. The supporting characters of Mart, Noleen and Lena are also good although Mart’s country shtick gets a bit irritating at times.

The storyline was a good concept with Cal being reluctantly dragged into investigating the disappearance of Trey’s brother. However, the lack of material being based in a small rural village meant that it became a bit repetitive and dragged on occasion as the author seemed to struggle to move the story forward.

This was good enough to make me want to read more by this author. She has a series based around a murder squad based in Dublin that sounds interesting.

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