Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom (Review)

Dark Fire by C. J. Sansom

Blurb

Summer, 1540. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keep a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the King’s chief minister – and a new assignment . . . 

The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered – the formula has disappeared. Now Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client’s innocence. But very soon he discovered nothing is as it seems . . .

Review

I was so excited to read another story about Matthew Shardlake as I thoroughly enjoyed the first book Dissolution. This book is set three years after the first book and finds Shardlake no longer in the employment or favour of Cromwell but quietly working as a lawyer in London.

Shardlake is defending a girl who is accused of murdering her cousin and must work quickly if he has any chance of saving her. However, during this time Cromwell throws a spanner in the works by giving Shardlake another case and not an easy one. Cromwell also gives Shardlake a rather uncouth assistant to help him called Barack who likes to call  people he doesn’t like a rather rude name.

Shardlake and Barack have to work on the two cases at the same time but the one for Cromwell is hampered constantly. People are trying to kill Shardlake and Barack and the people involved that could help the investigations are killed before they can help. The other problem is that Shardlake and Barack always seem to be one step behind the bad guys.

This book really kept me on my toes and I never worked out who was guilty for either crime until it is revealed until the end. I also enjoyed reading about how the Tudors considered humours to be the source of health and illness as I have just finished an assignment on health in ancient Greece and Rome and their health and treatments also relied on the balance of humours.

There are so many twists and turns in this book and it never stopped for a moment. I couldn’t put this book down and throughly enjoyed it, in fact I think I enjoyed it more than the first book in the series. I can’t wait to read more about Shardlake and I give this book 5 out of 5 books. 

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

C. J. Sansom was educated at Birmingham University, where he took a BA and then a PhD in history. After working in a variety of jobs, he retrained as a solicitor and practised in Sussex, until becoming a full-time writer. He lives in Sussex.

March 2021 Wrap Up

Hello!

Happy April Fool’s Day everyone. I hope none of you have succumbed to an April Fool’s joke today.

March was a better month for me reading wise, which was good, but I fear April will not be so good due to assignments again but I live in hope.

Statistics

Books

Pages: 404

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 159

Format Read: Kindle

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 372

Format Read: Hardback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 543

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 324

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating : 🐲🐲🐲

Review

14/70 Goodreads Challenge. Now 3 books behind, really need to work on catching up.

So there is March. Please drop me a comment if you want to chat.

Happy Reading.

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie 

Blurb

Tommy and Tuppence, two young people flat broke and out of work, are restless for excitement. They embark on a daring business scheme- Young Adventurers Ltd- ‘willing to do anything, go anywhere’.

Their first assignment, for the sinister Mr Whittington, draws them into a diabolical political conspiracy, and they find themselves plunged into more danger than they ever imagined…

Review

This is my first Tommy and Tuppence full length novel. I read a short story about them over Christmas and wanted to read more stories about them so this book was a good start as it is the story of how Tommy and Tuppence became the Young Adventurers. 

Tommy and Tuppence are broke and in dire need of money and so they come up with a plan to advertise themselves as the Young Adventurers who are willing to do anything, anywhere. I must admit when Tuppence came up with this idea I did think it was rather risky as they could be asked to do anything but it is the reader’s first introduction to Tuppence’s impulsive and adventurous nature. 

Tommy is a lot more reserved than Tuppence and does tend to think before he jumps but that doesn’t mean he shirks away from adventure and gets into a fair few scraps in this story as does Tuppence. 

Tommy and Tuppence find themselves hunting for the mysterious Jane Finn and they must find her in time to stop a major political catastrophe or possibly even war. This leads them into danger and not knowing who to trust. 

I must admit that at the beginning I really couldn’t put this book down but then as I got further along my fervour waned. I will be honest I worked out who the illusive Mr Brown was rather early on and was frustrated with Tommy and Tuppence that they did not work it out sooner. The only surprise for me was the identity of Jane Finn but I loved the characters Tommy and Tuppence and I can’t wait to read further novels about them. This was only the second book Christie wrote and I can see this within the book as it lacks maturity in the writing. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey (Review)

Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey

Blurb

For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark.

Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

Review 

Another fantastic book in The Expanse series. I can’t believe how they just keep getting better and better with each book in the series. This one I could not put down.

As usual each chapter is from a certain character’s perspective. The four characters are Anna, Bull, Clarissa and of course Holden. Now my favourite character has always been Amos but Anna was a brilliant character and very different from Amos.

Anna

Anna is a pastor and has been chosen to go on an Earth ship with other religious leaders and important people to look at the alien artefact. Anna lives by the code act first, ask for forgiveness later and I must admit this does get her into some dangerous situations but if she believes something is right and just she fights for it and will do anything to protect her flock and others. 

Bull

Bull is an Earther but works for Fred Johnson. Bull knows how to run a ship and knows how to get a job done. I loved how Bull gained respect from the Belters and got those who didn’t respect him to at least obey him. He might be rough around the edges but he always does the right thing.

Clarissa

I don’t want to say much about Clarissa as I don’t want to spoil anything but I will say she is a very troubled woman who desperately needs help and somebody to love her. 

This book revolves around the alien artefact and shows the human race at its best and its worst. I wish there had been more of Alex and Amos but hopefully there will be more of them in the next book. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, George R. R. Martin’s assistant. They both live Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Reviews in the series so far

Leviathan Wakes

Caliban’s War

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell (Review)

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Blurb

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child. 

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. 

Review

Always seduced by a pretty cover I got this book because of the special Waterstones edition that is very attractive.

I do love the work of Shakespeare and have been trying to read all of his works. Although I will be honest I always felt very sorry for his wife who was left behind all that time whilst he was in London.

Hamnet is based on Shakespeare’s son, Hamlet or Hamnet but really it is more to do with Shakespeare’s marriage. The story moves backwards and forwards to the present day and to the past based around Agnes and William as children and how they came about meeting and getting married.

Agnes or Anne as she is more commonly known, is described as a woman with peculiar talents. Agnes can see the dead and also see snippets into the future and she understands the properties of herbs and can heal people with them. This means that people both fear her and need her in equal measure.

William is introduced as the eldest son of a glove maker who does not get on with his father. His father sees him as a waste of space and does not understand why his eldest son does not want to take the family business on. William is acting as tutor to earn a living but is not enjoying it and is getting more and more depressed and frustrated until he makes the move to London.

The book shows us how Agnes and William cope as parents, living so far apart and having to deal with the death of a child. I found this section very emotional but I must admit I got very frustrated with William and Agnes at times and felt very sorry for their daughters.

I enjoyed the story and found that O’Farrell had taken an interesting take on the people we know so well from history and yet know so little. I will be honest I could have done without the chapter about a flea and just found it rather unnecessary. I also discovered there were a few sections that I found unnecessary and could have done without but overall I did enjoy this piece of historical fiction and give it 3 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Maggie O’Farrell (born 1972, Coleraine Northern Ireland) is a British author of contemporary fiction, who features in Waterstones’ 25 Authors for the Future. It is possible to identify several common themes in her novels – the relationship between sisters is one, another is loss and the psychological impact of those losses on the lives of her characters.

Worst Martian Playlist by Corrie Garrett (Review)

Worst Martian Playlist by Corrie Garrett

Blurb

“No one should die in silence. May I make a suggestion?”

A pair of shell-shocked astronauts struggle to survive in Worst Martian Playlist, a suspenseful science fiction adventure that mixes near-future science, AI, and humor.

The first caverns of the new Martian base, Tenacity, were dug by rovers and tested by the Forerunner crew. But when the first long-term crew is on its way, catastrophe strikes. 

Miranda Oceveda and Caleb Wexler are the sole survivors. In the caverns and tunnels that comprise the new Tenacity base—still scheduled to have over a thousand residents by 2110—they do their work diligently.

But they are plagued by their losses.

When NASA uploads an AI assistant to the Tenacity system, they both welcome it. Sure, it’s a little pushy with its recommender engine (Ero was originally a proprietary personality for Amazon), but it’s handy, comes with tons of media, and supposedly has a good psychiatric function.

But when Miranda begins to be reckless with her safety…

When Caleb begins to lie about his tasks…

They both have to grapple with what Ero has become to them. Because Mars is waiting to kill anyone who slips.

Review

I saw a recent review of this book and immediately thought this is a book for me. I downloaded a sample on my kindle and that was me sorted, I couldn’t put the book down. 

Miranda and Caleb have been stuck on Mars for a long time and things are not good, they are having to do the jobs of a crew and there are only two of them. They are tired, overworked and still in shock from what happened on the voyage to Mars and they are not handling things or each other well and then there is Ero. 

Ero is an AI and very obsessed with giving the best media selection to Miranda and Caleb even though they are never keen on his suggestions. Even though he was a precursor to Amazon’s Alexa he runs the Mars base brilliantly and does his job well and Miranda and Caleb depend upon him. 

At the start of the story it is clear that Miranda is not well and she is taking more and more risks with her safety. Caleb is very worried about Miranda but doesn’t know how he can help and nobody else can help as they are so far away. Then things take an interesting turn when Ero has ideas of his own. 

As the story develops you begin to see how things are panning out but never sure of what will happen next. I simply couldn’t put this book down and will definitely be reading more of Corrie Garrett’s books. 5 out of 5 Dragons from me.

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Purchase Links

Amazon

About the author

Corrie began writing in 2010, when she discovered NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and finished her first novel in a month. She has a degree in History & Political Science, along with Computer Science, since she mistook her love of science fiction and romance for a love of computers and history. But she doesn’t regret it, since it led to her very own happily ever after. Corrie lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband, four kids, and a lot of very pushy fictional characters.

Corrie loves classic science fiction, from Isaac Asimov to Andre Norton, and enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with an old-school vibe and a bit of romance. Her second love is retellings – be it myths, Bible stories, or classics.

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd (Review)

Things in Jars by Jess Kidd

Blurb

Bridie Devine—female detective extraordinaire—is confronted with the most baffling puzzle yet: the kidnapping of Christabel Berwick, secret daughter of Sir Edmund Athelstan Berwick, and a peculiar child whose reputed supernatural powers have captured the unwanted attention of collectors trading curiosities in this age of discovery.

Winding her way through the labyrinthine, sooty streets of Victorian London, Bridie won’t rest until she finds the young girl, even if it means unearthing a past that she’d rather keep buried. Luckily, her search is aided by an enchanting cast of characters, including a seven-foot tall housemaid; a melancholic, tattoo-covered ghost; and an avuncular apothecary. But secrets abound in this foggy underworld where spectacle is king and nothing is quite what it seems.

Blending darkness and light, history and folklore, Things in Jars is a spellbinding Gothic mystery that collapses the boundary between fact and fairy tale to stunning effect and explores what it means to be human in inhumane times.

Review

I love a gothic mystery so I was very excited to start reading this book and I will be honest it was rather a surprise once I got into the story. 

My first impression of this book was too much description and it took me a while to get used to this. Kidd is an excellent writer but sometimes her descriptions can go on too long. For example she describes at one point all the different dreams people are having and to be honest I just lost interest as they were characters that were not important. However, that is my only problem with this story; the rest I loved.

Bridie is fantastic and the more I got to know her the more I loved her character. Bridie is clever and has the ability and intellect to be an amazing doctor but sadly she is woman and women are not allowed to be doctors. This doesn’t stop Bridie though who helps Inspector Rose with unusual cases by examining the bodies and the scene of the crime. She also solves crimes for private clients as well. Bridie is eccentric, she smokes a pipe and speaks her mind and is a force to be reckoned with and she does all of this in a dress and many petticoats, most of the time.

I will be honest Bridie is basically a female Sherlock Holmes and it is very clear that that is who Kidd based the character on. Bridie also has a house maid called Cora who is fascinating. Cora is seven foot tall and a very scary woman who the local children find very interesting. She is also a fantastic bodyguard for Bridie who will see no harm come to her.

This story combines folklore and history together perfectly and makes for a fascinating read. I will be honest at times I found it a little disturbing but it was still a fabulous read that I highly enjoyed. I give this story 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Jess Kidd was brought up in London as part of a large family from county Mayo and has been praised for her unique fictional voice. Her debut, Himself, was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2016. She won the Costa Short Story Award the same year. Her second novel, The Hoarder, published as Mr. Flood’s Last Resort in the U.S. and Canada was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2019. Both books were BBC Radio 2 Book Club Picks. Her latest book, the Victorian detective tale Things in Jars, has been released to critical acclaim. Jess’s work has been described as ‘Gabriel García Márquez meets The Pogues.’ 

February 2021 Wrap Up

Hello!

Happy March! I feel like it was only yesterday that we were in January. I will be honest February hasn’t been the best month for reading due to assignments but I have still managed to fit some in to help me relax.

Statistics

Books

Pages: 601

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 68

Format Read: Kindle

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

Pages: 385

Format Read: Paperback

Dragon Rating: 🐲🐲🐲🐲🐲

Review

9/70 Goodreads Challenge. I’m 2 books behind!

There is my February. Hopefully March will be a better reading month.

Please drop me a comment if you want a chat.

Happy Reading.

Die Standing by John Jackson Miller (Review)

Die Standing by John Jackson Miller

Blurb

No one in the history of histories has lost more than Philippa Georgiou, ruler of the Terran Empire. Forced to take refuge in the Federation’s universe, she bides her time until Section 31, a rogue spy force within Starfleet, offers her a chance to work as their agent. She has no intention of serving under anyone else, of course; her only interest is escape.

But when a young Trill, Emony Dax, discovers a powerful interstellar menace, Georgiou recognises it as a super-weapon that escaped her grasp in her own universe. Escorted by a team sent by an untrusting Federation to watch over her, the emperor journeys to a region forbidden to travellers. But will what she finds there end the threat—or give “Agent Georgiou” the means to create her old empire anew? 

Review

This is the latest book in the Star Trek Discovery series and I must admit I was a bit hesitant to read it at first because I was worried about whether Emperor Georgiou would annoy me or not. Thankfully I did read it and was mistaken.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that has made me laugh so much. Georgiou is hilarious and very dangerous. Georgiou the emperor is a ruthless woman who has lost it all but is determined to make the best of the situations she finds herself in by any means necessary. Georgiou delights in causing chaos and the things she says are hilarious but one thing is for sure she is a lethal weapon. Georgiou is an expert killer, tactician and spy and this is all shown in the book.

In this book we also meet Finnegan. Georgiou knows Finnegan as Blackjack in her universe and by sheer coincidence she meets Finnegan in the current universe. Finnegan loves a good brawl and definitely loves a drink. You can happily imagine him getting drunk in a pub and starting a fight for fun. However, Finnegan does not agree with killing or enjoy it and that is where he differs from Blackjack. I really enjoyed the relationship that developed through the book between Georgiou and Finnegan and found it very funny how Finnegan was quite happy annoying Georgiou.

Emony Dax was an interesting character and one who wasn’t daunted by the scary things Georgiou kept coming out with. I felt quite sorry for Emony at times as people did not take her seriously and just ignored her opinions and ideas. Emony is an interesting character and I really enjoyed seeing how Finnegan took her under his wing and taught her how to fly a shuttle craft and even Georgiou at times looked after her and taught her things. 

I loved this book, the storyline was excellent but the main thing that really made this book was Georgiou, Finnegan and Emony and how they interacted with each other. A big 5 out 5 Dragons from me.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

New York Times bestselling author John Jackson Miller has spent a lifetime immersed in science fiction. His Star Trek novels include the Discovery – Die Standing, the acclaimed novel Discovery — The Enterprise War, the Prey trilogy, and Takedown. His Star Wars novels include A New Dawn, Kenobi, Knight Errant, Lost Tribe of the Sith, and the Knights of the Old Republic comics, available from Marvel as Legends: The Old Republic.

He’s written comics and prose for Halo, Iron Man, Simpsons, Conan, Planet of the Apes, and Mass Effect, with recent graphic novels for Battlestar Galactica, Dumbo, and The Lion King. Production notes on all his works can be found at his fiction site. 

He is also a comics industry historian, specialising in studying comic-book circulation as presented on his website, Comichron.. He also coauthored the Standard Catalog of Comic Books series.

The Weekly Brief

Hello!

I hope everyone has a had a very bookish weekend so far.

So here is what I have been up to in the blogging world.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

Books Acquired this Week

I had a lovely surprise this week from my husband who had very kindly bought me books 3, 4, 5 and 6 of The Expanse series as a present. I am so excited to get reading book 3 as I am absolutely loving the series.

So there is my week. I hope everyone has also had a good week. Please drop me a comment if you want a chat.

Happy Reading.