Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Trials of Koli (The Rampart Trilogy) by MR Carey – Blog Tour Book Review


Way back in April I shared my review of The Book of Koli by MR Carey and now the second part of the trilogy is upon us. Beware spoilers for book one may feature below. I like this quote from Books From Dusk to sum up book one.


About the Book


Everything that lives hates us…


Beyond the walls of Koli’s small village lies a fearsome landscape filled with choker trees, vicious beasts and shunned men. As an exile, Koli’s been forced to journey out into this mysterious, hostile world. But he heard a story, once. A story about lost London, and the mysterious tech of the Old Times that might still be there. If Koli can find it, there may still be a way to redeem himself – by saving what’s left of humankind.


About the Author


MR Carey has been making up stories for most of his life. His novel The Girl With All the Gifts was a word-of-mouth bestseller and is now a major motion picture based on his own screenplay. Under the name Mike Carey he has written for both DC and Marvel, including critically acclaimed runs of X-Men and Fantastic Four, Marvel’s flagship superhero titles. His creator-owned books regularly appear I’m the New York Times graphic fiction bestseller list. He also has several previous novels, two radio plays and a number of TV and movie screenplays to his credit.


What I Thought


I really enjoyed Koli’s voice in the first one so I was eager to delve back in to see what happens next in his journey. I found myself comfortably slipping back into his presence and the story picks up where it left off. Koli is travelling along with Ursala and Cup and Monono to try and find London. His grand idea is to see if it is habitable in order to bring different tribes together to expand the gene pool and keep the human race alive. No biggie.


But in this book we also get the point of view of Spinner, Koli’s childhood friend and one time ‘tumble’ as she settles into her new life with her husband in the Rampart Hold back at Mythen Rood, the settlement Koli was ousted from. Her early chapters go over part of the story from book one so you could potentially pick up at book two but I wouldn’t really recommend it.


The “Everything that lives hates us“ tagline definitely comes into play with killer trees, beasts, warring settlements and now the red death – what is it with 2020 and plagues (check out my review of Hollowpox tomorrow!).


I think the introduction of Spinner’s narrative makes this a stronger book because we get to still see the home that Koli is fighting for.


In my last review I neglected to tell you about my favourite character. Monono is a piece of tech (a Sony Dreamsleeve media player) who develops from a preloaded replica of sugary Tokyo pop star to an AI with her own mind, once she explores the ‘internet’. As someone who has loved the AI characters in the Illuminae Files and Skyward series Monono was a welcome addition and I like how she is used to tell Koli and the reader more about the time before.


Like I said last time if you are a fan of Mad Max, The Walking Dead or MR Carey’s The Girl with all the Gifts, or you simply like your stories post apocalypse then definitely pick this series up.


Although there is plenty of action the book does have a slight meandering pace because it is being told as a story and the book itself features a wonderful analysis of stories.


“There can’t be any rules in the telling of stories. They’ve got to go where they want to go, which is not always where you would want them to and as to the happiness or the sadness of it, that depends on where you are standing…Or you might not know, even after it’s all done, whether it came out well or badly.”


The third book – The Fall of Koli is out in March 2021 so not too long to wait until you can read the conclusion too and then we can see how it came out.

Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for arranging the gifted copy for the purposes of this honest review. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart – Blog Tour Book Review


About the Book

The emperor’s reign has lasted for decades, his mastery of bone shard magic powering the animal-like constructs that maintain law and order. But now his rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the emperor’s daughter and spends her days trapped in a palace of locked doors and dark secrets. When her father refuses to recognise her as heir to the throne, she vows to prove her worth by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

Yet such power carries a great cost, and when the revolution reaches the gates of the palace, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her birthright – and save her people.

An unmissable fantasy debut for 2020 – a captivating tale of magic, revolution and mystery, where a young woman’s sense of identity will make or break an empire. Perfect for fans of CITY OF BRASS, THE POPPY WAR and EMPIRE OF SAND.


About the Author


Andrea Stewart is the Chinese American daughter of immigrants, and was raised in a number of places across the United States. When her (admittedly ambitious) dreams of becoming a dragon slayer didn’t pan out, she instead turned to writing books. She now lives in sunny California.

What I Thought


First things first. Let us talk about that cover. Evocative. Classic. Beautiful. Breathtaking.


The first chapter pulls you straight in, introducing you to protagonist Lin, and immediately gives you a fistful of questions that you want the story to unfold.


What exactly is bone shard magic?

What are constructs?

What happened to Lin’s mother?

Will Lin get her memories back? (She’s 23 and cant remember anything earlier than five years ago).

Why did her father foster Bayan?

Why does Lin believe her father fears her?

What is driving the rebellion?

Who or what are the Alanga?

What does the key open?

And right at the end of the chapter the question every book reader asks – Why do book characters never realise they are holding their breath 🤦‍♀️

Other than this slightly cliched line the writing is sumptuous. Andrea Stewart knows how to paint a vivid picture with words. Her characters jump from the page into the reader’s heart too. Even the Blacksmith, mentioned briefly feels real enough to care what happens to him. With only a few words and actions you feel the weight of his backstory.

The lure of the locked doors puts one in mind of Bluebeard. But Lin isn’t the only rebellious woman set to smash down doors and the story is told from more than her point of view. It’s an excellently used ploy to keep you reading, with each character’s little cliff hanger making you wait tantalisingly for its pay off.

This book is the beginning of a trilogy in a world that is so richly imagined, the story weaves between the different character’s journeys as much as between the islands of the Phoenix Empire. Who will rise from the ashes of rebellion?

Thank you to Tracey at Compulsive Readers and the publisher for the gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review. The book was also Goldsboro’s SFF pick of September and that copy came with the stunning stencilled edges you see on the picture at the top. It also came with a double sided postcard print with artwork by Andrea Stewart. Doubly talented.

Do check out the rest of the blog stops and order or pick up your copy now.

Dear Hero by Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat – Book Review


Dear Hero is a YA superhero chat fiction released by INtense Publications on 28th September 2020. I was contacted by one of the authors and gifted a copy for the purposes of an honest review. The blurb made me swipe right but was the story a perfect match?

Book Cover


About the Book


TWEET CUTE X I HATE EVERYONE BUT YOU

Up-and-coming teen superhero Cortex is on top of the world—at least, until his villain dumps him. If he’s going to save his reputation, he needs a new antagonist, and fast.

Meanwhile, the villainous Vortex has once again gotten a little overeager and taken out a hero prematurely. Will any young hero be able to keep up with her? Maybe she should work on finding a steady relationship with an enemy she won’t kill in the first round.

So the two turn to Meta-Match, a nemesis pairing site for heroes and villains, where they match right away. After throwing punches at each other behind coffee shops, practicing their fight choreography, and hiring henchmen to do their bidding (mostly just getting them coffee), they begin to realize they have a lot more in common than just names that annoyingly rhyme. 

But not everything in the superhero world is as it seems. Who are the real heroes and villains? And just how fine of a line is there between love and hate? When darkness from the past threatens them both, Cortex and V may need to work together to make it out alive. 

About the authors


Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 700 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from HOOKED to Writer’s Digest. Her boarding school drama Blaze, (Illuminate YA) released in June, and the sequel Den released July 2020. She’s a theater nerd, occasional runway model, is way too obsessed with superheroes, and may be caught in a red cloak, fairy wings, or a Belle costume in her downtown, for no reason. Her favourite way to procrastinate is to connect with her readers on social media (@hopebolinger). Check out more about her at hopebolinger.com.


Alyssa Roat grew up in Tucson, Arizona, but her heart is in Great Britain, the inspiration for her YA contemporary fantasy Wraithwood. She is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., a freelance writer, and an editor with Sherpa Editing Services. She holds a B.S. in professional writing from Taylor University. She has also worked for Illuminate YA Publishing, Little Lamb Books, Zondervan Library, and as the online editor and a staff writer for The Echo News. Over 200 of her works have been featured in various publications, from newspapers, to national magazines, to anthologies. Her name is a pun, which means you can learn more about her at http://www.alyssawrote.com or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as @alyssawrote.


What I Thought


This book was so much fun and just what I needed. Structured like Tinder and then WhatsApp chats I love how much we grew to know the characters. They even actually meet, we just have them chatting about their meet ups after the fact, rather than “seeing them” live.


I was wondering if the format would sustain for the whole story and I’m pleased to report that it did. More characters are introduced as we move forward and there is lots of witty banter to make this a pacy read.


As well as a meet cute, we have a break up and trying out other partnerships, and I think this says as much about modern dating as it does about superheroes. Are these two meant to be together, and what sort of relationship are they destined for?


If you enjoyed Despicable Me and love superheroes then I’m pretty sure you will enjoy this. There are lots of nods to well known heroes and villains and plenty of brand new characters. I’d definitely swipe right to a follow up read.


If you read this I’d love to find out who your favourite character was and in the meantime tell me your favourite superhero/villain pairing in the comments.


Thanks to Hope for reaching out to me on my blog and for the gifted copy.

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