Psst - want a sneak preview?

On Goodreads there is a group called Making Connections: YA Edition (link here). In exchange for impartial and unbiased reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, you get a free e-copy of the book you offered to review, often ahead of publication.

White Magic (Warrior Stone Book 2) just went live on Making Connections (link here), so if you fancy a look (two months ahead of anybody else), click on the link.



Review: Red Knight by K T Davies

I almost put this book straight on the charity shop pile when I opened it and a slip of paper fell out exhorting me to post reviews if I liked it, or to keep my mouth shut if I didn't. After a moment's reflection I decided to believe the latter comment was meant humorously and ploughed on, but it was a risky gambit, in my opinion.

I am, generally, put off by meaty tomes, and this one clocks in at about 500 pages. They tend to be hidden or badly disguised trilogies. I dont like long epic fantasy series. Had my fingers burnt by Robert Jordan and they are still tender.

But, Davies pulled off a neat trick in that she not only got me to read it, but finish it. A rarity. These days I have so much lined up to read that i am unforgiving of books that don't keep hold of me. There were a couple of wobbles along the way, but we got there.

The Red Knight didn't turn over any new ground for me. It was well written, well paced, but a fairly standard fantasy novel; Brave Soldiers and Honourable And Attractive Princes, Troubled Realms, Uncouth Savages, Dark Magic, and Fey Of Dubious Intent. I do not mock. On the rare occasion I write fantasy, I use the same stereotypes, and most fantasy I read these days falls into the same trap. It's the jam in the porridge that makes a fantasy book stand out (see Art of Forgetting by Joanne Hall)

Whilst I applaud sexual equality in general, I found myself not quite able to believe in the universal equal-opportuity policy in the military and the casual way it was passed off made the female soldiers seem male, or homogenised them all to asexuality. Again, I recommend Art of Forgetting.

In fact, the whole military thing was what nearly made me put the book down a couple of times. I have a feeling that Ms Davies may be a practitioner of EMA (European Martial Arts), or someone in her creativity vortex is. I found the military passages over detailed, using many specialist words I wasn't familiar with (and couldn't be bothered to look up). Combat sequences tended to be over-long, and made me think of Military SF or Warhammer. For somebody who is interested in such things, though, a real treasure-trove.

What kept me going through the book, though, was the secondary characters, and the secondary interactions of the primary characters. The adventures of Garian Tain were compelling, and
I found hints of Hobbs assassins from the Farseer trilogy. I sensed a hint of Joe Abercrombie's 'Best Served Cold' in the conclusion to The Red Night, dark, sombre and unexpected. Not a bad end, but one you have to think about.

For all the points mentioned above, and enjoyable read, and I thank the author for making it self-contained (even though there are hints there may be more in the same universe).


Monk Punk, born again

A while ago, my evil older twin who writes grown up stuff and uses more of my name than I do, was lucky enough to get a short story published in an anthology called Monk Punk.

Found out recently that Monk Punk is being republished as an omnibus edition with 'The Shadow of the Unknown'; 500 pages of entertainment. Who could resist?


US            UK


I just finished The Lady Astronomer by Katy O’Dowd. Very remiss of me - it has been on my kindle for ages but I’ve been doing a lot of paper, and working on my own writing projects.

This book is wonderfully difficult to define. Having said that, it is unmistakably steampunk. In fact it almost defines the genre. After that, things get a bit more difficult. There is a huge dollop of the surreal in this book. I’m reminded forcibly of Jasper fforde’s SpecOps books, and there are flavours of Roald Dahl, too.

Robot butlers and lemurs far to smart for their own good vie with seven-strong teams of vertically challenged builders and mechanical body-mods, and underlying it all are plots mysterious and duplicitous.

In short, it was one of the most ‘fun’ reads I’ve seen in a long while, without sinking to actually outing itself as comedy. Most enjoyable