Blog Archives

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

MR Carey, author of The Girl with All the Gifts, returns with the first in a post apocalyptic trilogy.

About the Book

The first in a gripping new trilogy,The Book of Koli charts the journey of one unforgettable young boy struggling to find his place in a chilling post-apocalyptic world. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and Annihilation.


Beyond the walls of the small village of Mythen Rood lies an unrecognizable world. A world where overgrown forests are filled with choker trees and deadly vines and seeds that will kill you where you stand. And if they don’t get you, one of the dangerous shunned men will.

Koli has lived in Mythen Rood his entire life. He knows the first rule of survival is that you don’t venture beyond the walls.

What he doesn’t know is — what happens when you aren’t given a choice?

About the Author


Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

He writes as both Mike and MR Carey

Early Thoughts

I’m 56% in and here are my thoughts so far.

Do you remember the children in the film Mad Max beyond Thunderdome, and how they speak? The boy narrator – Koli – from The Book of Koli reminds me of that voice. Because the story is written in “dialect” I think your enjoyment may hinge on whether this is something you like generally. Koli is also one to go off on a tangent when telling his story but he actually brings himself back round to the point, and so the effect is to build tension and keep you reading.

I’m really enjoying it so far and to me the first half very much has the feel of a number of Young Adult dystopians that I have read. Although, this is written from the perspective of a future Koli so there is a certain hindsight that comes with his telling. So far the story has all taken place in his village of Mythen Rood, in Ingland, and has been setting up everyday life. From the somewhat carefree childhood, with friendships and crushes, to the mysterious Waiting year and its culmination in the Rampart ceremony. There are hints of diversity in terms of race, gender and sexual identity.

Ramparts are held in higher esteem in this society. They can command the technology of old and as such are responsible for the village security. The village feels very much like a Walking Dead settlement. Koli wants nothing more than to join their ranks, but it seems that one family above others are destined to become Ramparts – the family of his best friend.

A travelling doctor lets Koli into a secret that throws his life into turmoil – can he control tech too and will it earn him his longed for place? I love the tech and hints at the old times, there seems to be some advances on what we know but then a throwback to a more rural way of living. Koli things his village of just over 200 people is big!

Outside the village we are told lies only danger, with nature fighting back and the danger of shunned or faceless ones and a host of savage beasts keeping them isolated especially in the summer months. The – don’t go outside – message may be a little close to the bone for some readers at the moment although it’s trees rather than a virus that seem to pose the biggest threat. We haven’t seen much of what they can do yet so they are a scary unknown threat so far.

This is where Koli, and us, are about to head now and I’m intrigued to visit the wider world and to see what other secrets get spilled. I’m guessing that we might be left at the end of book one with lots more questions. Book 2 is (was?) due out in September and I already know that I’m going to want to know what happens and if/how Koli comes back home again.

If you enjoyed The Girl with All the Gifts and Melanie’s voice this definitely has a similar feel. The Book of Koli is out now. I’ve listened to the sample of the audio version and I think that would be a great way to read this story.

Do check out the rest of the tour stops. Thanks to the publisher and Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the e-ARC for the purposes of an honest review.

Sanctuary by VV James – Blog Tour Book Review

It is my spot on the blog tour for Sanctuary by VV James which releases in paperback tomorrow (2nd April 2020).

About the book

Sanctuary. It’s the perfect town. . . to hide a secret. 


The star quarterback’s death was a tragic accident.

Those rumours about his ex-girlfriend? Local gossip.
Detective Maggie Knight thinks she has it all figured out.

She’s wrong.

The small town of Sanctuary is rocked by the death of its star quarterback. Daniel’s death looked like an accident, but everyone knows his ex-girlfriend, Harper, was there when he died. 

Then the rumours start. When Harper insists Dan was guilty of a terrible act, the town turns on her. So was his death an accident, revenge – or something even darker? 

As accusations fly and secrets are revealed, paranoia grips the town, culminating in a trial that the whole world is watching.

About the author


V.V. James is the author (as Vic James) of the contemporary fantasy trilogy Gilded Cage, Tarnished City, and Bright Ruin. Gilded Cage is a 2018 World Book Night pick and a Radio 2 Book Club selection. V.V. worked as an investigative producer for Channel 4 News and now directs documentaries for BBC1 and BBC2.

What I Thought


I had been really struggling with reading since the covid crisis so I put aside plenty of time to read this for the blog tour, but thankfully I ended up whipping through it.


The chapters were generally short and pacy which really helped but the premise was so good and the characters and plot intriguing. If you have any interest in the Salem witch trials and/or crime fiction you are going to want to read this.


Told in multiple points of view mainly from 3 adult women. Abigail – mother of the deceased, Sarah – town witch and mother of the accused and Maggie – detective.


In this world after the witch trials, witches were embedded into the fabric of America but under strict social control, having to register, banned from performing certain spells or using certain texts. The use of magic in a crime increases the severity of the punishment and evidence gained from magical means is inadmissible in trial.

The idea of a coven being between one witch and other non magical women who can loan their energy was fresh and added an extra layer to the uncertainty about what had happened. The secrets and lies between the women begin to unravel not only their friendship but society as a whole. The small town setting added to the claustrophobic atmosphere with everyone interconnected. The relationships were complex and nuanced.


There is an uneasy acceptance of witches in society, hate crime against witches being outlawed but clearly bubbling below. Trust is easily broken and fear stoked up and fuelled by the sorrow of losing a high school quarterback. Football being it’s own religion in certain quarters.

At its heart this was a murder mystery, a who or what done it and why, and I managed to guess at some aspects but not the whole. And this made it a hugely satisfying pay off. The gradual hints at and unfurling of a prior mystery were also so intricately plotted and made this a compelling page turner.


There was so much incidental diversity included. It was a breath of fresh air when a non binary character was introduced who was initially mis-pronouned. But once the character was corrected they simply used the correct pronouns without it being an issue at all.
Ironically towards the end of the book the town gets put into a quarantine because of a “sickness”. But don’t let that parallel with what’s going on in the world put you off. This is a clever and insightful take on a number of contemporary issues. I’ll leave you to learn the lessons of the witches. Something given for something gotten.

For fans of The Crucible, Practical Magic, Witches of East End and Asking For It. Trigger warning for rape and some grotesque moments. Adult.

Thanks to Orion for the paperback copy for the purposes of an honest review. The hardback edition came in Illumicrate. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

Fierce, Fearless and Free by Lari Don (Illustrated by Eilidh Muldoon) – International Women’s Day Blog Tour Book Review


Happy International Women’s Day everyone.


Today I have a review of Lari Don’s collection of fierce, fearless and free girls from myths and legends around the world.


About the Book


A brilliant, inclusive collection of traditional tales from around the world featuring amazing women and girls. Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who – no, that’s not right! Once upon a time, there were strong, fierce women who plotted, schemed, took action, showed kindness, used magic and trickery, and made their own destiny. From the long-haired Petrosinella who escaped the tower and broke the spell that the ogress had cast over her and Nana Miriam who beat a hippo using politeness and magic, to Kate Crackernuts who tried to save her stepsister from her mother’s curse, these are stories of girls doing it for themselves! With stories drawn from all over the world, including China, Scotland, Armenia, Italy and Nigeria, Lari Don presents heroine stories that don’t leave girls sitting around waiting to be saved by the handsome prince.

About the Author


Lari Don is an award-winning writer for young people of all ages. She loved Scottish traditional tales as a child, and now loves gathering myths, legends and folktales from all over the world to inspire her novels. Since becoming a full-time author, she has written more than 30 children’s books, from picture books and early readers to middle-grade adventure novels and a teen thriller. Lari is passionate about visiting schools and libraries to share the traditional tales she loves, to show how those old stories can be used to inspire new stories, and to encourage young people to create their own adventures. Fierce, Fearless and Free is her fifth collection of traditional tales for Bloomsbury, returning to the theme of her first, the bestselling Girls, Goddesses and Giants. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and two fierce, fearless and free daughters.

Website: www.laridon.co.uk

Twitter: http://twitter.com/LariDonWriter

About the Illustrator


When Eilidh Muldoon isn’t drawing she’s thinking about drawing and she loves nothing in no more than to immerse herself in the world of traditional stories. Her sketch books are packed with detailed drawings and plots and plans. An illustrator and designer, she loves the variety of working one day on one of her popular colouring books or city-scape prints, and the next on one of Lari’s extraordinary heroines. This is her first book for Bloomsbury.

What I Thought


I really enjoyed the fact that there were tales inspired by local and international myths and seeing how fairytales such as Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood have a different spin in different areas.


Each story opens with a beautiful black and white illustration, with title and locality of the stories inspiration. Then comes Lari’s version of the tale. They are perfectly bite sized for a bedtime story or for readers to read independently.
At the back of the book Lari also briefly looks at the tale’s origins and I love how she highlights how and if she has adapted the stories. Each one has always been about the girls taking things into their own hands though – and the only thing Lari has usually changed is removing the trite “and she married a prince and lived happily ever after” endings. They aren’t needed – the resourcefulness and determination shown by the girls is the end goal.


My favourites were Neringa and the Sea Dragon (Lithuania – where you can visit the peninsula inspired by the tale), Bridget and the Witches (don’t leave your feet water out!), The Lace Dragon (even lace dragons breathe fire) and Medea and the Metal Man and now I’m just wondering how to slip that latter tale into my own Medea retelling.


I have one criticism and that is we needed a gorgeous hardback edition with full colour illustrations by Eilidh. After all girls deserve the best.


Fierce, Fearless and Free also has the well deserved title of hive’s Children’s Book of The Month – https://twitter.com/hivestores/status/1235572450647146496?s=21


Thanks to @fayerogerspr and @bloomsburyed for the #gifted copy for the purposes of an honest review and to @laridonwriter and @EilidhMuldoon for giving us some fabulous #FierceFearlessAndFree tales for #IWD. Do check out the rest of the stops on the tour.

%d bloggers like this: