Review: Rosewater by Tade Thompson

I can read minds but I still don’t understand women. Or men. Humans. I don’t understand humans.

This book has been sitting on my TBR forever. I bought a Kindle copy ast year and never got around to it between starting this blog and various life things. I picked up a physical copy back in February (forgetting the Kindle copy clearly) and have finally read it. Definitely the kind of scifi I need in my life right now.

Rosewater is a town on the edge. A community formed around the edges of a mysterious alien biodome, its residents comprise the hopeful, the hungry and the helpless—people eager for a glimpse inside the dome or a taste of its rumored healing powers.

Kaaro is a government agent with a criminal past. He has seen inside the biodome, and doesn’t care to again—but when something begins killing off others like himself, Kaaro must defy his masters to search for an answer, facing his dark history and coming to a realization about a horrifying future

I really enjoyed this. I have found that my taste in scifi is leaning far more towards ‘new weird’ or just generally narratives that focus more on far more diverse stories in the last year. Lagoon was a huge favourite of mine from last year and Rosewater definitely captured some similar aspects of an alternative Nigeria but manages to keep you at arms length to maintain the mystery of both Rosewater and Kaaro.

The prospect of a city like Rosewater is so completely fascinating and terrifying to me. This city exists due the the third appearance of an alien known as Wormwood as it manifests as a biodome in Nigeria. Once a year, this dome opens and people flock to it to be healed and changed by entering the dome. Thompson explains this so well, I had no problem entering the story whenever I had put it down. What I really liked as well was the description of how psychic powers work and how they are tied into the existence of the biodome. It added an extra layer to the world building that I found impressive.

Kaaro is a protagonist I would usually find it hard to gel with. When I said that we are kept at arms length, it is mostly from Kaaro. He is a powerful psychic, if not the best, who has not always used his powers for totally honorable reasons. He is narrating this story and since we get this story in different time jumps, for example the plot as it’s happening now to events that happened before Kaaro became a government agent and how he became one. The book lets you get right to that part of his past that will answer a question that you have and then the chapter will end. However far we are kept from Kaaro, he does have a fantastic characters arc and the various time jumps across his life do give him a sense of growth that I don’t see often with male characters. He is flawed yet sympathetic and I find it very interesting how his masculinity in particular is challenged and discussed at various points of the story.

The time jumps in the story are work very well with this story, There is the perfect blend of scifi meets mystery here, with the mystery kept in the dark for all the right reasons. The pieces of the plot do come together perfectly and it becomes clear that Kaaro is more involved with various events than even he realises and how his powers are at risk as well as his life. It’s also a big difference to rad a science fiction story where America isn’t a huge factor in the plot. American in 2066 having shut down after Wormwood hit is a very different and welcome direction for the plot to take. I’d also like to thank Tade Thompson for mentioning the fate of my own home of Ireland and how it shaped up!

All in all, I did thoroughly enjoy this book, my only very mild criticism that the antagonist of the plot (or at least the main source of conflict) was dealt with very cleanly. Other than that, I am really looking forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy and discovering what is to come from Rosewater next.

Thanks for checking in guys, let me know if you have read this! Happy reading!

★★★★.5/5

Review: Page by Tamora Pierce ( The Protector of the Small)

If we pick a fight, then we’re just as bad as them. Combat should be used just to help people who can’t defend themselves, period.

This seems to officially be a Terry Pratchett and Tamora Pierce stan account these days (more on the Discworld Project next week). I picked this up directly after finishing First Test so you can imagine how much that shows I’m enjoying this series.

As the only female page in history to pass the first year of training to become a knight, Keladry of Mindelan is a force to be reckoned with. But Kel’s battle to prove herself isn’t over. She must master
her paralyzing vertigo, the gruelling training schedule and the dark machinations of those who would rather she fail.

But in times of danger, Kel shines.

The kingdom’s nobles are beginning to wonder if she can succeed far beyond what they imagined. And those who hate the idea of a female knight are getting desperate – they will do anything to halt her journey.

A powerful classic that is more timely than ever, the Protector of the Small series is about smashing the ceilings others place above you.

For some reason and I can’t place why, this book reminds me a lot of reading Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb. Now this is nowhere near the level of grimdark that Farseer reaches but I think it might be that this time, the time scale of Kel and her training is sped up significantly. First book of course did cover that year of probation that Kel had to suffer through and this book covers from her second year as a Page to when she is finishing her exams to progress to a Squire.

As a result of that, we get to see Kel as she matures into a teenager. Within a world like Tortall, you wouldn’t expect to see in depth about the joys of puberty and every thing that a young girl might experience during that. But you forget, this is Tamora Pierce. This books are different. I was so relieved that there was a good detailed discussion about periods. Yep, this book has details about getting periods among other details. What a relief! I don’t think I can think of one fantasy book that details this without the value being around virginity/purity. Nope, this is your normal, inconvenience of having one when you really don’t meed one. And there is a discussion about them with Kel and her maid Lalasa which needs to be more common. Something small, I know but anything that will destigmatise basic bodily functions is fine with me.

Since there isn’t a lot of world or expansion of the world building of the previous book, this book functions mostly as both a character study and a coming of age story for Kel and her friends. We obviously get the period stuff I mentioned but just other small things that add to the other characters growth too. Her changing feelings for Neal being one and her discovery of a solid, female friendship with Lalasa as well. This is probably the part I loved the most. Lalasa is a welcome addition to the story and watching Kel teach her physically how to defend herself while reminding her that harassment is never okay and has to be challenged, well, it felt very relevant to be honest. Even more so at the moment.

As far as the story is concerned, it is as tight and concise as the first. I felt the climactic point of the plot was both obvious while also kind of being a thing that I didn’t think would happen. That Keladry succeeding threatened others that much and that they had to be so malevolent about it. The last few chapters were so gripping that I was getting worried while reading it and even if it does seem like she is always going to make it sue to the quartet existing, I still had my doubts for a second. That to me is great plot work.

I can’t move on without the mention of best boy Jump. A dog is a welcome addtion to any story, especially such a good boy like him. I really liked seeing even Lord Wyldon make a tiny fuss of him and agree he was vital to the entire castle. Thank you Tamora Pierce for not having the dog die as well. I don’t care if that spoils the book, I know others will want to know.

I haven’t picked up Squire yet just due to some mood reading and blog tours but that and Lady Knight will be up next on my TBR very soon. I will have considerable space after recent revelations. Thanks for reading this review and happy reading. Most of all know, I hope everyone is safe, practicing self care for their mental health and is doing okay.

★★★★.5/5

Blog Tour: We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson

Hello fellow readers, today is my stop on the Orbit Books blog tour for We Ride the Storm by Devin Madson!

In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions no matter the cost in Devin Madson’s visceral, emotionally charged debut.

War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.

Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.

In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder. In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall. And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.

As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.

‘There are no Gods. Only men. But if you can give people hope…You can become something close to divine.’

I don’t think anyone will be surprised to hear that I thought this is honestly an amazing book with a great start to a new series. This book has a lot of my buzz words, but the second I heard there was a princess tearing stuff down from the inside and an assassin who could hear the voices of the dead that was me on board.

Set in the Eastern inspired world of Kisia, straight away from the get go the world building was solid. I don’t think I struggled once to understand the various locations of the 3 main characters as we moved across this war torn land. From the varying customs that were stark comparisons between the Levanti and Kisians or the different lives led by Cassandra as both a sex worker and assassin Princess Miko having to pretend her archery skills were half what they were, the world is so clear it was hard to step away. To be fair, I read this in 2 sittings but I still had no problem stepping back into the world when needed.

World building aside, the characters are the true standouts here. We get the 3 varying points of view here that all transition very smoothly between each other and there are obviously going to be favourites. Cassandra was honestly my favourite. What’s not to love about a sex working assassin with a very murky past, has necromantic powers and has the voice of something in their head? Cassandra is a bit unlike the other characters where she doesn’t really care about the looming war and she’s just looking to be paid. Which is fair enough to be honest. She does have this interesting arc with the voice of the creature she talks with in her head and I’m really curious to see where that goes.

Princess Miko has such a great development form start to finish that has left me so satisfied, I’m afraid I won’t be able to get this into words. This novel by the way opens with one of the best lines I have read in a long time, and comes directly from Miko;

They tried to kill me four times before I could walk.

I honestly think I don’t see enough power hungry princesses in fantasy. Here Madson has managed to make Miko as a character so sympathetic and so totally believable that her goals are very hard not find yourself agreeing with at times. She is above all intelligent, growing up in her brothers shadow while also being that same shadow. She has had to watch every single move she ha made, every word spoken for fear that there will be no support for her should her brother be heir. She is also totally able to adapt and use whatever she is given to an advantage. Hard to forget as well is her relationship with her mother, the Empress, and how she uses that too to gain what she needs but learn that to rule an empire your parents might not be the best role models to look up to.

Hard to mention Miko without mentioning her mother. Empress Hana is seen by both Cassandra and Miko’s POV but both totally differently. I don’t mean like one sees “mother” and one sees Empress. They both see her as the Empress Hana of Kisia but one is a cold, shrewd tactician and the other is a Cersei type ruler who will have you dead before you can blink. That worked super well and for a character who spends very little time actually in the story I was highly impressed with her.

The characters and the world blend seamlessly with the constantly racing plot that had me totally absorbed the entire time. There was no room to breathe or stop (second sitting needed so that I could sleep) and wonder on a death or a big event since something else was always coming and it flows so well with a conclusion that is very satisfying. That being said, I need book 2 immediately and want to start reading it yesterday. Jokes aside, I do find it hard to find first books in fantasy series that are so well executed so for that alone, the book is highly enjoyable.

We Ride the Storm comes out the 25th of June.

Thank you to both Nazia and Orbit Books for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for a review. This is up there with The Wolf of Oren Yaro by totally resetting my expectations for upcoming fantasy novels. The fact this began as an self published book too makes me sad I didn’t find it prior to this but I would highly recommend this for any fantasy fans looking for something new. happy reading guys!

Devin Madson is an Aurealis Award-winning fantasy author from Australia. After some sucky teenage years, she gave up reality and is now a dual-wielding rogue who works through every tiny side-quest and always ends up too overpowered for the final boss. Anything but zen, Devin subsists on tea and chocolate and so much fried zucchini she ought to have turned into one by now. Her fantasy novels come in all shades of grey and are populated with characters of questionable morals and a liking for witty banter.

Review: Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett

Believe it. That was the way. Never stop believing. Fool the eye, fool the brain.

Welcome back to the Discworld Project. Prepare yourself for the new marvel of the Disc! Lights! Imps! Red carpets and banged grains. Today fellow readers, in the town of Holy Wood, film has come to the Disc.

The alchemists of the Discworld have discovered the magic of the silver screen. But what is the dark secret of Holy Wood hill?

It’s up to Victor Tugelbend (‘Can’t sing. Can’t dance. Can handle a sword a little’) and Theda Withel (‘I come from a little town you’ve probably never heard of’) to find out…

This was a surprising turn for the series that resulted in a fun story while also being very enjoyable. This is book 10 in the series publishing continuity and continues to add more characters to the world but is definitely better at connecting the ones we have already met.

I think the main reason I enjoyed this was the weird unusual thread of the story. It follows the usual Discworld formula in places, being based in Ankh Morpork and the introduction of some new characters being pulled into some ridiculous amount of mayhem usually linked to something magical or otherworldly. This one, felt a little the story was far more solid and that the world is better established in this book. I still can’t be quite sure if that is due to the fact that I am invested in the series now but something felt unusual.

In case you didn’t guess from the synopsis and my witty intro (ha), this sees the introduction of film to the Discworld and the disasters that would come from that. Something I really loved was that the way the alchemists develop how to make ‘clicks’ is a direct call back to The Colour of Magic. I know this is something small but I have often wondered about technology in Discworld and seeing it again is fun. The equivalent of popcorn is named appropriately too.

I think as well this is the first book where I felt the wealth of characters was explored really well. We don’t just get to see the witches, or just get to see the wizards. Holy Wood being what it is draws Trolls, talking dogs and would be wizards like our main character Victor. There is also the eventual return of a race of characters we have seen before towards the end, and of course the always welcome return of Death, the Librarian and a hilarious plot involving the wizards at the university.

I do think that Victor was a little weak, especially alongside Ginger and Throat. Seeing Throat reappear in a more vital role in the plot was brilliant and felt true to his constantly changing nature, but I still felt Victor was left a little underdeveloped compared to other main characters I’ve met so far. Gaspode the Wonder Dog is a true standout though.

I did still really enjoy this, I flew through it which is always great for immersion with a story like this and it is always a great experience reading any Pratchett book. The next book will be Reaper Man so that is one I am looking forward to. Happy reading folks!

★★★★/5

Blog Tour: Switchboard by Andrew Post

Hello fellow readers! My apologies for my silence! Today is my stop on the Random Things Tour’s blog tour for Switchboard by Andrew Post!

It’s only as haunted as you are.

After two raids turn up zero evidence, narcotics detective Dwayne Spare infiltrates a crumbling apartment building where a suspected manufacturer of krokodil is hiding—but finds something much worse. The chemist Gerald Metzger isn’t after money; he’s lulling his most ‘dedicated’ customers into catatonia, to make contact with an eldritch being. 

When Dwayne’s cover is blown, he becomes Metzger’s new test subject, an involuntary pilgrim into a world where “it’s all just in your head” is far from a reassuring statement.

I don’t think I have the words for this one. This is another perfect example of a shorter books being just as capable of carrying a long and winding plot that is liable to sneak up on you and bite your face off to sacrifice to the ancient elder gods.

Everything about this story is claustrophobic and uncomfortable. The appearances are truly deceiving here as I went into this for a creepy noir style story with supernatural elements while Detective Spare runs after Metzger in an endless cat and mouse game. I was so wrong and am delighted I was.

With a limited cast of characters and a very remote location and a looming entity that is really left in the shadows, Post drags us through an unsettling unknown that would leave you paranoid after reading a few pages. I kid you not, this book followed me into my own dreams and had me waking up when I went to finish it wondering where one ended and another began.

The book also has some wonderful moments of body horror scattered through out this strange plot that just add to the desolation and the sheer feeling that everything is just stuck in a loop. The way the story wraps up is a little bit left of centre for where I thought it was going but honestly the longer I sit with this book I know that there was only one outcome for Spare and the others. And it was done well.

Thank you to Anne for having me on the tour and JournalStone for a copy of the book in exchange for review! You can get this book now and I would highly recommend it for fans of Odd Thomas and House of Leaves!

Andrew Post was born in Erie, Pennsylvania (imagine Eraserhead but in color). While he was
honing his craft as a writer (those early stories were awful) he worked in a gift shop in one of the scuzziest hotels in the Midwest, he cleaned rental cars (also gross), he was a butcher (despite
being a vegetarian), and in 2013 his first novel, the cyberpunk thriller, Knuckleduster, was published. No one really seemed to care much but he kept at it and has since published a handful of other works to varying degrees of resulting public interest with a few seeing translations and one almost became a movie (that lit agent has since been fired).
Andrew lives in a sleepy river town in Minnesota where he may or may not be planning aquatic
“accidents” to befall the many other authors who live in the area and he has been mistaken for Rob Zombie on no less than ten separate occasions.

Review:The Wolf of Oren Yaro by K.S Villoso

But I was starting to realize, with a sinking feeling that the wold did not turn on loyalty alone.

Fantasy is a genre that loves a story about a Queen. Queens that fight, queens that are masters of manipulations using their husbands to get what they want and Queens of startling beauty that wars are fought over. Today, we are going to talk about the Bitch Queen.

Born under the crumbling towers of Oren-yaro, Queen Talyien was the shining jewel and legacy of the bloody War of the Wolves that nearly tore her nation apart. Her upcoming marriage to the son of her father’s rival heralds peaceful days to come. But his sudden departure before their reign begins fractures the kingdom beyond repair. Years later, Talyien receives a message, urging her to attend a meeting across the sea. It’s meant to be an effort at reconciliation, but an assassination attempt leaves the queen stranded and desperate to survive in a dangerous land. With no idea who she can trust, she’s on her own as she struggles to fight her way home.

I don’t think I have devoured a dense fantasy book this fast in a while. I honestly tore through this incredible story in two days and enjoyed it immensely. Taking place in a Asian/Eastern inspired world with questionable characters mixed with elements of grimdark fantasy throughout I just couldn’t put the book out of my hands.

The characters stood out to me most of all and really left me unsure of who I could trust in the book. Taliyien (or Tali) is a ruthless woman who is willing to get her hands dirty and will have your head off for the sheer insubordinate of you looking at her wrong. The only other queen of her like I have come across is that of Cersei Lannister but that is even a weak comparison. Tali is far stronger, way more compelling and will really keep any reader guessing as to her true feelings or intentions with anyone around her. That being said she does have some very emotional moments that are very tender and really flesh her out further than most monarchs we are used to seeing in fantasy stories.

There are many other memorable characters, particularly Khine and Agos. I’m not sure why Ago is more memorable than any one else but I really enjoyed his total dedication to Tali while Agos being totally as bloodthirsty and battle ready as she is. I really liked that part of his personality and how there was this one guy always rooting for her at least. Khine is just too good for this world and I mean THIS world in the book.

One part that I did struggle with here in the book was the world building. I felt it lacked a little in places since this world is massive and there are so many different tribes with varied histories. Also every tribe has a unique interaction with each other depending on that history. We did get some fascinating information on both the Oren-Yaro as well as the Ikessar. Since I am reviewing this a s a digital NetGalley copy I am not totally sure if there was a map in the final copy but I think that would have helped me a bit more too.

Besides Tali and her wonderfully woven characters I honestly couldn’t fault the pacing or the structure of this story. There are flashbacks scattered throughout the book which can be done to death but the author has managed to put them into the story in a way that doesn’t break your immersion at all. If anything they add to the plot and the ongoing complexity of Tali as our POV. Also for a story like this to be in first person and manage to keep secrets from the reader is a huge feat.

Definitely would recommend this for fans of either Robin Hobb or a Song of Ice and Fire. Also a great book that would work as an entry point to grimdark since this isn’t distinctly part of the genre but would definitely feature some key elements of the plots typically associated with it. There is a lot of blood basically and I loved it. The next book in the series can’t come sooner!

Thank you to NetGalley, Nazia and Orbit Books for an EArc of this book in exchange for review! The Wold of Oren Yaro is out now.

★★★★/5

Immersive SFF for Social Distancing

None of us can avoid the C word (not my C word) anymore. I was going to avoid putting any mention of the virus here on my blog but lets be honest that this isn’t possible anymore. I’ve been working from home for nearly a week and as of today, Ireland has recorded another death from Covid-19. But we do need to live and keep our heads somehow. Science fiction and fantasy is my chosen escape.

I’m making this list (for once, more than books will be on it) for anyone who like me, is a big fan of SFF and needs some head space. I’m also doing this since I intend on using my blog to escape a little while also using the extra time at home to develop what I write about here. So in here we will have books, comics, movies, a TV show and even a podcast.

Warning: Some items in here deal with apocalyptic elements and may be triggering to others at this moment in time. Mind yourself and make good choices.

So without further ado;

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: Now, lets get this out of the way. Neil Gaiman is my favourite. Yes. And yes I love all his books equally. But I honestly think this book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to get into his writing while also completely escape from reality. The plot is one massive story that is running from place to place with characters that are vibrant and unique. Its also not a very typical fantasy for anyone new to fantasy.

The Magnus Archives-Rusty Quill: Now this is more of a horror podcast but it is definitely immersive. It is statements recorded to tape that summarise events people have experienced that verge on the paranormal. It has this great Twilight Zone adjacent feel to it at the start. Then a story becomes apparent and suddenly you are scared for all the characters and you’re scared of doors and plugholes. I am planning to do a post on this anyway but I would be lost without the absorption this podcast gives me for commutes as well as remote working.

The Hellboy movies: I would recommend avoiding the dog rough version that was released last year but they original pair of movies made so beautifully by Guillermo Del Toro (and their animated counterpart) These movies are such a happy place for me but they are also incredibly easy to get lost in. The creatures, the characters, right down to the signature Del Toro leaves on anything he makes are so incredible that its hard not to get lost in them.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples: If you somehow avoided what Saga is or how vital it is to comics, now is your time to read it and get caught up. Space Opera about star crossed lovers from warring nations as narrated by their child, with weird creatures, other races and robot royals along their way. That is barely the tip of this very big iceberg.This series is hard on the emotions but has such a well written story with some VERY detailed art that its hard not to get caught up in this world. Also, giant cats and cute seal people.

Good Omens (Book and TV Show) by Neil Gaiman&Terry Pratchett: Warning: This is about the end of the world and the Antichrist which might be far too on the nose and quite triggering for some people at this moment in time.
I don’t think anyone missed the success of this beauty last year but in case you did, it is great, wonderful and ineffable. I recommend the book just as much as the show since both are pieces of art in themselves. Both of these despite the nihilistic subject matter are very comforting (I can’t explain it for some reason) and very easy to get drawn into.

That is only a small list but still, just wanted to rattle off the things that are currently saving my sanity a little bit and in general are comforting for me to return to even when I’m anxious.

I hope everyone who can work from home, is doing so and everyone is safe and sound. If you have any very immersive SFF yourself you would like to recommend, of ANY kind, then please feel free to do so. We all need an escape and we all need a little comfort.

Stay safe everyone and happy reading!

Blog Tour: Containment by Vanda Symon

Hello fellow readers, today I am kicking off the Random Things Tours blog tour for Containment by Vanda Symon!

Chaos reigns in the sleepy village of Aramoana on the New Zealand coast, when a series of shipping containers wash up on the beach and looting begins. Detective Constable Sam Shephard experiences the desperation of the scavengers first-hand, and ends up in an ambulance, nursing her wounds
and puzzling over an assault that left her assailant for dead. What appears to be a clear-cut case of a cargo ship running aground soon takes a more sinister turn when a skull is found in the sand, and the body of a diver is pulled from the sea … a diver who didn’t die of drowning… As first officer at the scene, Sam is handed the case, much to the displeasure of her superiors, and she must put together an increasingly confusing series of clues to get to the bottom of a mystery that may still have more victims…

I think what I have really enjoyed from doing blog tours for crime books, especially Orenda, is that I am getting a rich selection of different kinds of crime fiction and that I am really learning what my tastes in crime is.

This book is the third in the Sam Shephard series but I honestly didn’t realise until writing this review. These books seem to be very accessible to new readers and can be picked up individually I would think. What I really loved here was the setting. I recently read another book set in New Zealand and I’m really loving this new emergence of fiction set here. Dunedin (the old name for Edinburgh, fun fact) has a real dreary, dark feel to it for such a small place and I love that mood.

The plot itself does start with the utter chaos of a crashed ship being looted and Sam our protagonist getting into a sudden and brutal assault. The pacing is really good which does keep the reader really engaged as the stakes are raised and becomes more apparent how interconnected things are.

This is definitely a great start off for anyone wanting to take a chance on detective novels, especially one with such protagonist who grows with the story and the reader as the plot envelops everything into a wonderful conclusion. Readers will want to replace Sam’s partner Smithy and tag along on her next case just to make sure she is okay.

Thank you to the ever amazing Anne at Random Things Tours and to Orenda Books as always for sending me this book in exchange for review! Containment is out now!

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THE AUTHOR:

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently

Blog Tour: We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk

Good evening fellow readers, and welcome to my stop and the beginning of the Random Things Tours blog tour for We Are Monsters by Brian Kirk!

When a troubled psychiatrist loses funding to perform clinical trials on an experimental cure for schizophrenia, he begins testing it on his asylum’s criminally insane, triggering a series of side effects that opens the mind of his hospital’s most dangerous patient, setting his inner demons free.

So this did not go the way I thought it was going to go. This book on the surface is sold as closed circle narrative where through the fault of the people who care for the mentally ill, they are locked in with the patients. I was thinking Arkham Asylum meets that awesome scene in Watchmen. What we get is an examination of the treatment of mental illness and the horrors of living with trauma

We encounter many characters through differing points of view varying from the staff of Sugar Hill and the patients. Alex, our main protagonist, is not a likable man. Alex has discovered a possible medication that can help those suffering from Schizophrenia return to their former selves. He is however in chronic debt, is corrupt to his very core and a bad husband. Trust me. You don’t wanna marry this guy.

The same can be said about the rest of the characters and this felt very intentional. I’ve said it in the past that I do love a flawed, morally grey character but I think what resonated with me the most was that characters like Alex are very real. There are people working in mental health services who are just as morally corrupt as him. But there is also another conversation that is happening in this book.

The other staff of Sugar Hill are all dealing with their own traumas while working with the mentally ill people who reside there. They are all awful but they all need help. Eli, the head of the facility battles his own PTSD and channels his own bias towards not using medication to treat mental illness into the patients treatment. Angela, a gifted young social worker within the walls of Sugar Hill throws herself into binge drinking and one night stands that she can barely remember every other night to forget what she hears and sees.

The book is a bit slower than I am used to with horror books, especially since I was expecting a totally different story. There is a purposeful build up to the conclusion as we learn what is taking over Sugar Hill. But in the end there is an important discussion to be had here. The use of medication in treatment, the attitude towards people with mental health within society and most importantly the trauma we all carry everyday.

Thank you to both Anne and Flame Tree Press for sending me a copy of We Are Monsters in exchange for review!

★★★/5

Brian Kirk is an author of dark thrillers and psychological suspense. His debut novel, We Are Monsters, was released in July 2015 and was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award®for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. His short fiction has been published in many notable magazines and anthologies. Most recently, Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories and Behold! Oddities, Curiosities and Undefinable Wonders, where his work appears alongside multiple New York Times bestselling authors,and received an
honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year compilation. During the day, Brian works as a freelance marketing and creative consultant. His experience working on large, integrated advertising campaigns for international companies has helped him build an effective author platform, and makes him a strong marketing ally for his publishing partners. In addition, Brian has an eye for emerging media trends and an ability to integrate storytelling into new technologies and platforms.


Sourcery- Terry Pratchett Review

‘ Rincewind rather enjoyed times like this. They convinced him that he wasn’t mad because, if he was mad, that left no word at all to describe some of the people he met.’

Welcome back to my holiday on The Disc! I am very sorry for the lack of updates to the Discworld Project. It has been busy down here on the Hub and boy is it good to be back at the Unseen University with the smell of the Ankh. Oh wait, is that smell you?

This is the fifth book in the publication order of the Discworld novels. This is the third novel following the failed wizard, Rincewind and the happenings at the Unseen University. The unthinkable has happened. A wizard, an eighth son of an eighth son, has had another son. His eighth son. He cannot be a wizard. He is a Sourcerer. And he is coming to the university. Do I want to be left alone? Yes. Do I want a sentient trunk that follows me on many legs and eats crisps?Definitely.

The wit as always within Pratchett’s writing is consistently satirical without being pompous. As often quoted by Neil Gaiman when asked about Pratchett, the opposite of funny isn’t serious. It’s just something not being funny. While Discworld relies heavily on humor for its tone and consistence it never fails to be intimate and heartwarming. I honestly needed to read this book at this very moment in time to help make my current situation more bearable.

I listened to this on audio and it was narrated than none other than Baldrick himself, Tony Robinson of Time Team and Blackadder fame. I have often said that the only voice I hear for Rincewind is that of Eric Idle but now it will always be Robinson. Not only does he voice Rincewind to perfection he manages the cast of characters with a fantastic flourish and each is distinct from the other.

In this adventure we meet our recurring and welcome characters such as Death, Luggage and the Librarian. We also get to meet some even more memorable characters such as Conina the Hairdresser, daughter of the famous Cohen, Nijel the eventual barbarian and so much more. I loved listening to each voice they were given by Robinson. Each characters was literally in my head, walking around and trying to drag me on their adventure.

I only have one small critique in with this particular story. The pot jumped from one particular point I was highly enjoying to the climactic drama very quickly. I do feel that is going to be a feature of all the Rincewind books but this one it didn’t work as well as it did in say, ‘The Light Fantastic’, which never stopped once to breathe because something was happening and we had to go there. I feel because this one starts in a more mundane situation that the jump takes a way a small bit from Pratchett’s usually decent pacing.

However in saying all that I deeply enjoyed this book. I have been putting off coming back to the Disc for too long, this was a necessary change and I chose the audio because I was so busy which worked out even better since the audio for this particular story is totally flawless.

Thank you as always for reading, do tell me if you have read this book in the series and what flavour crisps you think the Luggage would prefer.

★★★★.5/5