Review: Ash Kickers by Sean Grigsby

With ex-firefighter Cole Brannigan in command of the Smoke Eaters, the dragon menace is under control. Thanks to non-lethal Canadian tech, the beasts are just tranquilized and locked up. But for Tamerica Williams, a job filled with action and danger has become routine. She’s so bored she nearly gets her whole team killed, and Brannigan has to step in. When a new threat emerges, the legendary bird of fire – the Phoenix – spreading fire like a plague and whipping dragons into a frenzy, it’s a perfect task for Williams, but killing the Phoenix just brings it back stronger. Is that too much excitement, even for Williams?

The second book in the series following on from Gigsby’s debut Smoke Eaters see’s us return to our Dragon killing firefighters. Only this time they aren’t killing, they’re capturing instead.

In a brilliant narrative decision this time we are following Tamerica rather than Brannigan. This gives us a fresh perspective on the role and world the Smoke Eaters inhabit.

Frustrated with the change in remit the Smoke Eaters are working under Tamerica is desperate for some action. She certainly gets it. A new threat has literally risen from the ashes – a huge flaming Phoenix is causing chaos and it’s so hot even the Smoke Eaters are having trouble getting near it.

Still present is the gritty realism of firefighting, the women feel more rounded as characters than the first time and the action sequences are fast paced and gripping.

An excellent second outing (I was thrilled to see Brannigan’s robo-dog again too). Action packed with heart as well, this is an enjoyable read. If you’ve not discovered this series yet I recommend it.

With thanks to Angry Robot and Netgalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Ash Kickers is available 09 July 2019

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Why we should love our libraries or 10 great things libraries do

I’m a little biased here as I work in one but I firmly believe that if we want to keep our libraries we need to use them. We know lots of people love the idea of libraries but the reality is that footfall is decreasing and with budget cuts libraries will struggle to survive. If you want to save your library for the future then please do pay them a visit.

With that in mind here’s a list in no particular order of 10 great things that libraries provide

Free Books

Safe Space

Children’s Rhyme and Story time sessions

Computer access

Social inclusion through clubs such as Knit and Natter groups

Children’s craft events

Audiobooks and e-books

Book recommendations

Friendly staff

Information

Oh, and did I mention the free books?!

Libraries are no longer serious, dusty places where you have to be quiet, instead they are vibrant and welcoming. You don’t have to be a great reader to use them, you will find no judgement in a library. Pick any genre, any type of book and there will be someone who can point out a load of others you might enjoy. Don’t love reading yourself but your kids do? Brilliant don’t be afraid to pop in and browse with them.

Libraries welcome everyone and everyone is welcome. So please don’t let your library die. Give it some love and we might just be able to save them for our children and grandchildren to use.

Review: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

Quantum Leap meets Agatha Christie in the twisty crime novel with a side dollop of fantasy. For me the Crime element definitely took the upper hand for the majority of the story, with a good old fashioned ‘whodunit’ and many murders along the way. However the fantasy element of this novel cannot be denied , body swapping, shadowy gatekeepers and a house trapped in it’s own bubble with no escape for it residents, most of whom remain blissfully unaware of the fact all feature here as well.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this book but even so the beginning took me by surprise and it took me a couple of chapters before I was really sure what was going on.

Despite the fact that Aiden is named on the back of the book it’s not until quite far in that we actually learn his name and I reached the end of the book with out knowing much about him as a person at all.

A cleverly written story with lots of twists and turns, I enjoyed the detective employed to solve the murder of Evelyn. However for me the last couple of chapters felt rather abrupt with a lot of additional information suddenly thrown about and some rash feeling decisions taken that didn’t feel quite right.

Overall a book I enjoyed but didn’t love.


Weekend Book Haul

A small but exciting book haul this weekend. Popped into a Waterstones while out with family and found these beauties on a ‘buy one get one half price’ deal. As they were both on my list to pick up it seemed a shame to leave them behind! looking forward to reading them soon.

So what exactly did I get?

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

On the edge of town, a beast haunts the woods, trapped in the Gray, its bonds loosening… Uprooted from the city, Violet Saunders doesn’t have much hope of fitting in at her new school in Four Paths, a town almost buried in the woodlands of rural New York.

The fact that she’s descended from one of the town’s founders doesn’t help much, either-her new neighbours treat her with distant respect, and something very like fear. When she meets Justin, May, Isaac, and Harper, all children of founder families, and sees the otherworldly destruction they can wreak, she starts to wonder if the townsfolk are right to be afraid.

When bodies start to appear in the woods, the locals become downright hostile. Can the teenagers solve the mystery of Four Paths, and their own part in it, before another calamity strikes?

Have you read either of these? Did you enjoy them?

Review: The Mint Julep Murders by Angie Fox

For Southern girl Verity Long, friendship means sitting down to stories and sweet tea on the front porch. For her gangster ghost housemate, it means dragging Verity out to a remote haunted asylum during a raging thunderstorm to do a favor for a long-dead mob boss.

But Verity is always ready to help out a friend, even one as eternally eccentric as Frankie. And in the case of Mint Julep Manor, the stakes are too high to refuse. The criminally insane mob boss holds a secret to Frankie’s past, one that might set Frankie free. Do the favor—survive the favor—and they might change Frankie’s afterlife for good. Fail, and they might never leave the asylum. 

I adore this series and this 8th instalment kept up the standard I’ve come to expect from Angie Fox.

I’m never quite sure whether to categorise this series as Fantasy or Crime, I guess it’s really a bit of both, and i think it would be enjoyed by readers of both genres. As this is Wyrd and Wonder month I’m claiming it in the name of Fantasy for now.

This time Verity is on a personal mission to help Frankie her accidentally bound ghost find out who it was who shot him all those years ago in the hope that the knowledge would finally let him free himself from Verity’s property.

This leads Verity, Frankie and Verity’s policeman boyfriend Ellis to Mint Julep House an old asylum currently being turned into a ‘haunted house experience’ by it’s new living owner.

Haunted is exactly what Mint Julep is, home to ghostly asylum patients and their remaining ghostly medical practitioners Nurse Claymore and Doctor Anderson.

Also in ghostly residence is a high security ghost prison, housing Scalieri the mob boss who knows the identity of Frankie’s killer – but he’s using the information as a bargaining chip.

With Frankie and Verity disagreeing on whether or not to bargain with Scalieri, a storm closes in on the manor cutting the power and flooding the bridge that is the only way off the property. It’s annoying for all concerned until Mint Juleps owner is found dead and then it gets scary.

Trapped in the creepy building with a killer on the loose the Mint Julep Murders is far more nerve wracking and tense than the other books in this series which I’ve always found very light. That’s not to say this is a bad book – it was brilliant but took me by surprise a little.

I love the relationship between Frankie and Verity and Verity’s growing confidence in herself as a person and as a ghost hunter. If you’ve not tried this series yet I highly recommend it. You can jump in at any point or go start at the beginning.

With thanks to Moose Island Books and Netgalley for a review copy in exchange for honest review.

The Mint Julep Murders is available now.

Top Ten: Witches and Wizards

Sepia toned photo, the pages of an old book flipping to release magical sparkles. Text - Wyrd & Wonder / Celebrate the fantastic, 1-31 May
Image Credit

 Magical book by Jakub Gojda– from 123RF.com.

Making use of a Wyrd and Wonder prompt for this post, after a lot of back and forth and stretching the definition of Witches and Wizards (mages, sorcerer’s and other associated magic users must count right?) here are my Top Ten Witches and Wizards.

They’re in no particular order as I’m indecisive and couldn’t make the decision! I’m also rubbish at lists so I’ve probably missed some I love, but here goes…

Hermione Granger

Hermione really has to make the list. Muggle born but still a powerful Witch she doesn’t flaunt her power but instead uses it and her calm rational thinking to help her best friends.

Ead Duran


Of all the characters in Priory Ead was one of my favourites. She wasn’t afraid to walk her own path but also cared deeply for those who she allowed to get close. Loved the magic system that was used here too.

Kell

Kell was an interesting mage. He’s a gripping central character and his form of magic is interesting too.

Severus Snape

Yes I know, a second Potter character on my list and it’s not even our eponymous hero. Pulled in different directions by two different strong minded Wizards, Severus still manages to carve a place for himself and teach an unwilling and ungrateful Harry as much as he can.

Mildred Hubble

I adore Mildred Hubble. One of the first Witches I remember reading on my own she had to have a place on my list. I’ll always have a soft spot for Mildred, Maud, Tabby the Cat and Cackles academy.

Belgarath

As the book title suggests Belgarath is a sorcerer not strictly a wizard but I’ve a soft spot for the cranky old man with mis-matched boots, and the ability to transform into a wolf. The Will and the Word was also my first real introduction to different magic systems.

Minya

I wondered which of the Godspawn to pick from this wonderful duet but in the end I think it was small, fierce, ghost catching Minya who really touched my heart.

Septimus Heap

Septimus Heap is the seventh son of a seventh son and therefore destined for great things in this smart, funny and touching YA series.

Willow Rosenburg

Ok so I’m cheating slightly adding Willow to a book list but no top ten Witches list could really be complete without her.

Daine

I love Daine, her magic is probably the one from this list that I’d choose if I could have any. The ability to talk to animal has always appealed to me in fantasy books and Daine is a wonderful character as well.

As a bonus entry I’m adding The Witch in the Cherry Tree. I adored this book as a small child. I’ve not read it for many many years now and suspect it’s out of print but the Witch with her burnt cakes is one I have fond memories of.

Why I love Fantasy Books

Image Credit
 Dragon – by  kasana86

This month I’m taking part in Wyrd and Wonder a month dedicated to all things fantasy. I’m delighted to be a small part of this wonderful celebration, do check out other Wyrd and Wonder bloggers as well.

I adore Fantasy books, although I read fairly widely across genres Fantasy is my first love and I always find myself coming back to it. My introduction to epic fantasy came through my Dads collection of David Eddings paperbacks and I’ve loved it ever since.

So what is it about fantasy books that I love so much? I love how they can be anywhere and about anything. Show me another genre that can be part crime, part romance, possibly lgbt and still uniquely its own genre set in fantsatical worlds. It really is reading escapism at its finest.

Of all the fantasy sub-genres I think Epic is still my favourite, I’ll happily read fantasy in all it’s forms though. Here’s some of the reasons why I love it so much

Quests

Every good epic fantasy has a quest of some kind. whether its to find a magical object, a person or reach a place, a quest is a must. I love how this lets you ‘see’ the world built up by the author rather than just being told about it.

Swords

A mainstay of epic fantasy – the named sword. these are often, but not always, magical objects themselves. Bonus points for a flaming sword.

Coming of age

I know ‘farm boy made good’ is seen as a fantasy cliche these days but its still a trope I love. Not all coming of age fantasy have to have hidden birthright but a lot do.

Magic

There are so many different magical systems out there and I love them all. from Potter style ‘spell and wand’ to Everless style blood magic.

Talking Animals

I’m a huge sucker for this fantasy trope, largely because I wish that this was something that actually existed! Whether everyone can hear them or just a select few, I love talking animals of the ‘real’ or mythical kind.

Dragons

Not all fantasy books have these but who doesn’t love a good (or bad) dragon?

Non human characters

Vampires, werewolves, demons are definitely more common now in Fantasy than they used to be but they can be great fun to read about.

Obviously a lot of these books fall in more than one of my categories, Fantasy is a wonderful genre to read with so much diversity, I’m never bored of reading it. Do you read Fantasy books? Which ones are your favourites?

Images taken from Goodreads