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Fantasy novel set in 19th century England - quite good

The Binding - Bridget Collins



I’m in two minds about this novel. It’s set in 19th century England where bookbinders bind people’s memories into books so that they can forget unpleasant memories. That’s as far as the fantasy element goes. The rest is about Emmett’s apprenticeship as a binder, the people with whom he comes into contact and the effect of binding on all of them. There’s sexual content and some violence and loads of description through similes and comparisons. The characters are well fleshed-out and it’s quite a long read. True fantasy lovers may be disappointed but those who enjoy the latest “magic realism “ type of book may enjoy it. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Blues-related thriller series – not particularly original plot-wise but still enjoya

Crossroad Blues (Nick Travers Mysteries) - Ace Atkins



This series involves Nick Travers, a blues fan and detective, assigned to find out about Robert Johnson's missing records. The plot involves the usual conflicts and killings from a mystery series with few surprises. The plot is therefore nothing too outstanding and the characters are quite clearly-defined unlike the black-and-white artwork which is not always clear. It's OK as far as it goes but don't expect anything very original.


Fantasy novel about power politics, betrayal and manipulation – quite good

The Traitor - Seth Dickinson



This fantasy novel takes place in a made-up world and that's as far as the fantasy element goes. Apart from that, this could be a novel about politics, power. Manipulation and betrayal (thus the title). Baru decides to get her revenge on the Masquerade by infiltration and manipulation from within with deadly results fro anyone in her proximity. There are a whole bunch of interesting characters, al well-developed and the plot is long but quite engaging. Scenes of battle complete the novel. It's quite good but I don't think that I'm suitably bothered about finding out what happens in the next book.




Spy series set after the end of the Cold War - original and engaging

The Dead Hand Volume 1: Cold War Relics - Kyle Higgins, Stephen Mooney, Jordie Bellaire



This series deals with characters trying to maintain the status quo following the end of the Cold War in a particularly unusual way. The characters are well-defined and interesting and the story moves along at a good steady pace. The end result is an entertaining and original tale which has cxlear detailed and enjoyable artwork. Very good stuff.

Very good police procedural in Nottingham - worth a look

Rough Treatment: The 2nd Charles Resnick Mystery (A Charles Resnick Mystery) - John Harvey

This detective story revolves around a couple of astute professional burglars and the mess that they get involved in as DI Resnick investigates. The book includes many developed characters from CID and their foibles and problems. These do not intrude but complement the plot which swings along at a good pace. It is well-written and engaging and I'd recommend it to lovers of good straight-forward police procedural stories

Disappointing read from the 1980s

Paradise Postponed - John Mortimer

It serves me right really as I thought that I'd really enjoy this novel by John Mortimer as the Rumpole stories were quite fun. It is however a product of its times, written in the 1980s, when novels about the foibles of the middle classes were popular and abundant. It is dated and rarely amusing as we discover the lives of Simeon, a left-wing country parson and his family and their story from the 1950s to the 1980s and their impact on the other people in their circle. There's plenty of adultery and plotting, political manipulation and legal wrangles. Disappointing.

Interesting series about a liberal terrorist fighting a fascistic state

Days of Hate (Act One) - Aleš Debeljak

Amanda is a liberal terrorist, accompanied by Arvin, fighting a right -wing regime in the US. The story also includes Freeman trying to find and neutralise her and Huian, her ex-girlfriend. There’s plenty of flashbacks to explain the situation and terrorist attacks and mistrust abound.

With reasonably exciting artwork and a well-paced plot, this series is engaging and worth a look with a second Act to follow.

Quite good conclusion to this series

Eternal Empire Volume 2 - Sarah Vaughn, Jonathan Luna

This volume brings this series to a conclusion as Rion and Tair confront the Empress, darakas and all, after being trained by the Nifaal. They hope to save Sala from her and this results in some unexpected surprises.

The dialogue is stilted and basic and therefore quite annoying. The artwork is clear but emotionless, nicely coloured and enjoyable. Quite good series but not the best.

Quite fun detective novel in Victorian times.

Mrs. Jeffries on the Trail - Emily Brightwell

This is the first Mrs Jeffries novel that I’ve read and it’s enjoyable. Mrs Jeffries leads the servants in the Inspector’s household into investigating the murder of a Covent Garden flower girl. The characters are interesting and developed and the plot moves along at a good pace.

Certainly worth a look if you enjoy simple detective mysteries.


Fantasy novel for the female YA readership - quite good but predictable in many ways

Frostblood (The Frostblood Saga) - Elly Blake

This fantasy novel revolves around ruby, a Fireblood, who can generate heat and fire, living in a world dominated by Frostbloods who generate ice and cold and persecute the Firebloods. She gets involved in a conspiracy and finds allies and enemies all around her. Betrayal and dark forces are at work.

The characters are reasonably developed but are a bit predictable. Like a lot of similar books, there's a fair amount of introspection which can be repetitive. Quite good but not really enough for the seasoned fantasy fan although there's some originality.

Second instalment of horror comic collection- not really for me

Underwinter: A Field of Feathers - Delilah Fawkes



This horror collection involves a man driving his children to visit the grandparents and what happens to them. Again the plot is not particularly clear and I don’t enjoy the unusual artwork (I’m too old-fashioned). It’s quite short and not a lot of fun and really I should avoid the series in the future.


Quick, easy detective novel

Gently Sahib - Alan Hunter

A quick read, set in 1963, this novel deals with a strange murder in the Home Counties and Gently has to deal with an assortment of characters who may or may not be involved in the crime. The style suits the period but the whole experience was not particularly inspiring. I preferred the TV series to the novels so far - which is usually be the other way around. A little disappointed.

Poorly written detective story.

For Sale In Palm Springs - Albert Simon



OK - it was free so I get what I deserve. This detective novel has all sorts of issues. Do I need to know how the main character deals with his dinner plate after eating? Do I need to know which streets he drives down in Palm Springs since these will only mean something to someone living there? It seems padded (and it’s a short novel). It was also pretty easy to predict who the perpetrator was – especially if you read a lot of detective fiction. Don't bother with it.


Various stories about characters in the Lazarus saga - entertaining and enlightening

Lazarus: X +66 - Aaron Duran, Neal Bailey, Eric Trautmann, Greg Rucka, Bilquis Evely, Alitha Martinez, Mack Chater, Justin Greenwood, Tristan Jones, Steve Lieber



A collection of stories about the Lazari and other characters, this volume is as interesting and exciting as the reader would expect from this series. Each one contributes to the saga and the artwork is fine, detailed and enjoyable.

Recommended but only if you’ve read the rest of the series although there is some explanation before each story.


Historical mystery novel with a magic realism touch - worth a look

Once Upon a River - Diane Setterfield



Taking place at the end of the 19th century over the period of a year along the upper Thames, this novel deals with the discovery of an injured man and a seemingly dead girl emerging from the river at the Swan inn. From there, a series of events take place involving a host of locals of various descriptions. There are mysteries to be solved, revelations to be explained and the novel includes murder, theft, kidnapping, betrayal, domestic abuse and a lot more besides.


The characters are the most important part of the tale, well-developed, diverse and interesting and they drive the plot as they find love, redemption, justice and a future. Slow-moving, the plot takes its time and there’s not a lot of “action”. An enjoyable read, reminiscent of true 19th century works with a touch of the mystical. Recommended.


Science fiction novel with loads of real science - still quite interesting

The Martian - Andy Weir



If science bores you, then this is probably not for you. As in the film, Mark Watney gets stranded on Mars and the novel deals with how he survives, using his scientific knowledge and later NASA’s. There’s buckets of science information which presumably is correct but may put readers off. Despite my limited knowledge, I got quite a lot out of the book and there’s tension and adventure involved.


Quite good novel and I’m sure that many will enjoy it.