Tag Archives: 4star

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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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 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 eye of the world

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan

From Goodreads:

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Having recently watched and enjoyed the Amazon TV adaptation of The Wheel of Time I was inspired to go back and read the original books for probably the 5th time! It has been a long time since I’ve read the earliest ones though and I’m finding details now that I missed before.

Starting this series is a serious investment of time as there are 12 instalments in total and each is well over 10 hours reading time.

Some of the themes and characters of this story are simplistic and dated by now but this is the start of one of the most epic stories in the fantasy genre. To me it is a brilliant blend of many different themes and story elements from the best that fantasy has to offer. I’m going to enjoy reading them all again, even the difficult ones!

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raven black

Raven Black (Shetland #1) by Ann Cleeves

From Goodreads:

Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

We watched the TV show based on these books a few years ago and while it was difficult to separate the two I did find this book very enjoyable. There were interesting differences in Inspector Perez and his friend Duncan between the TV and book but I think I can see why from this first story.

The author writes in a very relaxed way, probably suited to island life and also manages to give what appears to be an authentic view of life on the Shetlands even if it is in the unusual turmoil of a murder enquiry. I’m looking forward to reading more of these.

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trippin’ through my 60s

Trippin’ Through My 60s by Reginald Spittle

From Amazon:

As a child of the Sixties, Reg Spittle was no stranger to unrest and rebellion. So it was no surprise that, at age 60, when he closed his office door for the last time and left the working world behind, his restlessness would lead him to a path less traveled.

Trippin’ Through My 60s is a lighthearted look at how Reg discovered and pursued his passion for trekking along four famed European long-distance trails:

  • Scotland’s West Highland Way
  • The Alps’ Tour du Mont Blanc
  • Italy’s Way of St. Francis
  • England’s South West Coast Path

Unexpected challenges, wrong turns, and humor evoke memories of life in the Sixties and create the backdrop for Reg’s adventures as he tackles backpacking escapades that push him to the edge.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I’ve been following Reg’s blog for quite a while now (Books and my Backpack) and enjoy his reviews and recommendations of books by other authors. He mentions his own two books occasionally but isn’t pushy with them. However, I’ve been meaning to check them out for quite a while now. Recently, I spotted this book, his second, on Amazon and added it to my reading list.

This book covers four trekking trips that Reg and his wife Sue undertook in their retirement. I was particularly interested as the first two treks were The West Highland Way and The Tour de Mont Blanc. I was interested to see how they coped with the challenge of these two tough trails.

Reg has a very casual and relaxed way of writing. Even when he and his wife are struggling to cope with the conditions and demands of the trail he seems to be able to retain good spirits and take the best from every situation.

I very much enjoyed those first two treks as I’ve watched some YouTube videos of walkers on the West Highland Way and canoeists on the Great Glen Way. My visit to Switzerland in 2019 to Pierre’s house in Valais also involved a day trip to Chamonix which is where the Tour de Mont Blanc starts and finishes. Lots of the scenery and placenames were familiar and there was a real sense of adventure from their depiction.

The final two treks were also interesting but less adventurous than the first two. I also found the descriptions of these two trips a bit repetitive, especially the English trip which is why I dropped a star*

Overall I really enjoyed this book, Reg and his wife are inspiring to anyone considering long distance and multi day treks. They are living proof that age shouldn’t be a barrier to your dreams and that it’s never too late to chase them. I’d recommend this book to anyone with an interest in walking or the outdoors.

*I was very tempted to drop a second star due to his horrified reaction to eating smokey bacon crisps for the first time. My favourite flavour!

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the gold coast

The Gold Coast (John Sutter #1) by Nelson DeMille

From Goodreads:

Welcome to the fabled Gold Coast, that stretch on the North Shore of Long Island that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America. Here two men are destined for an explosive collision: John Sutter, Wall Street lawyer, holding fast to a fading aristocratic legacy; and Frank Bellarosa, the Mafia don who seizes his piece of the staid and unprepared Gold Coast like a latter-day barbarian chief and draws Sutter and his regally beautiful wife, Susan, into his violent world.

Told from Sutter’s sardonic and often hilarious point of view, and laced with sexual passion and suspense, The Gold Coast is Nelson DeMille’s captivating story of friendship and seduction, love and betrayal.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yet another re-read for me. Despite this being far away from my normal genres I really enjoyed this story. It’s all down to the quality of the writing and the character creation, especially the two male characters of John Sutter and Frank Bellarosa.

Apparently the author grew up close to the setting of the book and that is very obvious from the detail he provides of the geography, history and cultural background of the area. Combine this with the excellent (if slightly self-destructive) main character of John Sutter and you have a cracker of a story.

Why not 5 stars then? I found the relationship between John and Susan to be very weird. I just couldn’t see what had brought them together or kept them together. Maybe though their particular relationship was required for the rest of the story. The main reason for dropping a star was the irritating constant of being half-told something and then informed that you’ll get the full story later. This happened a number of times in the first half of the book.

It’s quite a long book taking me at least a week to complete (I’m a speedy reader) but the story and characters are more than strong enough to keep the interest strong. There’s no happy ending but it’s a very good ending.

Spoiler: I really loved the scene where John told his father in law:

“You are an unprincipled asshole, an utterly cynical bastard, a monumental prick, and a conniving fuck.”

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