#Review : A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine @ArkadyMartine @UKTor @JamiedoesPR

Today I’m reviewing this astounding book. Huge thanks to @JamiedoesPR for sending me a copy of this book. If you love sci-fi and fantasy then this should be on your to-read list if you’ve not already read it. It’s a stunning book and the first in the Teixcalaan trilogy.

Blurb:  

In a war of lies she seeks the truth . . .

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next.

Now Mahit must navigate the capital’s enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths. And while she hunts for the killer, Mahit must somehow prevent the rapacious Empire from annexing her home: a small, fiercely independent mining station.

As she sinks deeper into an alien culture that is all too seductive, Mahit engages in intrigues of her own. For she’s hiding an extraordinary technological secret, one which might destroy her station and its way of life. Or it might save them from annihilation.

A Memory Called Empire is book one in the Teixcalaan trilogy.

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My Review:  I have to start off by saying I absolutely loved this book, it was an amazing read! I’ve looked at one or two other reviews and I completely agree that there are a lot of words in this book but I didn’t find that to be a problem. I don’t know how, but somehow it worked and fitted the story perfectly. This is a fabulous tale of politics, deception, murder and trying to find your way around a new place that you know well but have never been too before.  Mahit is a fabulous character, she deals with trying to protect her home, wanting to find out who murdered her predecessor and evading being killed herself, all the while keeping a cool head and learning about the city she has only just arrived in. I would say she was my favourite character if it weren’t for the astoundingly brilliant Three Seagrass who just stole the show completely. Nothing stopped her from doing her job so she could do well and progress onto bigger and better things but her sense of humour and unwavering devotion to her post made her a stand out character.

I started reading this book and finding the Teixcalaanli names a bit odd, after all they are so different from ours, but by the end of the book there were as normal to me as my own name is.  I found the other characters to be intriguing in their own ways, I didn’t like them all and that’s fine there are some that are distinctly unlikable but, even they had their charms. The descriptions of everything were perfect, there was so much detail that the city and the way it operated came to life so clearly for me. There was a list of words and definitions at the end of the book but the descriptions were so good that I never used it. I felt like I knew they city as well as Mahit did and could make a passable attempt at living there and finding my way around from only the information in the book.

I love science fiction and am slowly getting into reading more of it, however my partner is also a fan and most of his reading is sci-fi and/or fantasy so once I’d finished this book I gave it to him and he devoured it as quickly as I had. He had a serious book hangover after reading it and ended up re-reading small sections because it was that good, and to put this in even better context, in 7 years this is the first time I’ve ever seen him do that! This was an amazing book and both of us cannot wait for the second one, and are being completely impatient about it. The only consolation that we have is that there is a second book, and a third one so we have something to look forward to over the long, long months before publication of book 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#Extract #BlogTour : The Stars Now Unclaimed by Drew Williams @DrewWilliamsIRL @harriett_col @simonschusterUK

Today I’m on the blog tour for The Stars Now Unclaimed. I’ve not reviewed this book yet, though I have a copy, but my boyfriend has started reading it and is loving it. Full of space battles and funny moments from what he’s said. He’s also very excited about the next book in the series which is perfect as the extract I have for you today is from that book, A Chain Across The Dawn, which is out in August. Everyone else on the tour has talked about The Stars Now Unclaimed so it seemed fitting that I introduce you to the next book, and show you the fabulous cover for it, as I’m concluding the tour.  Many thanks to Harriett Collins at Simon and Schuster for having me on the blog tour and sending a copy of the first book, which will be reviewed in due course.

The Stars Now Unclaimed Blog Tour Graphic - FINAL

 

Blurb for A Chain Across The Dawn:

Bigger spaceships. Bigger explosions. Bigger planets.  Bigger problems.

It’s been three years since Esa joined the ranks of the Justified after her rescue from the fanatical murderers the Pax. Together, Esa and her mentor Kamali travel from planet to planet, searching for children with supernatural abilities. It’s hard work, but Esa has never felt more assured of her place in the universe.

On a visit to a planet so remote that its inhabitants never learned that the Sect Wars ended over a hundred years ago, they learn that the Justified are not the only people searching for gifted children. There is a creature with unexpected powers who will stop at nothing to get its hands on the children that Esa and Kamali are trying to rescue.

With their latest recruit in tow — a young Wulf child named Sho — Esa and Kamali will travel halfway across the galaxy in pursuit of answers. But the answers only lead to more questions, and the danger will only increase as their terrifying nemesis turns his eyes on them.

A Chain Across the Dawn Cover Reveal

 

Extract:

CHAPTER 1

The air-raid sirens were still screaming, echoing out across the golden sky of Kandriad like some sort of terrifying lament, hollow and vast and loud as all hell. The sound bounced off the concrete and the steel of the long abandoned factory city around us, rolling out over the plains of metal toward the distant horizon still tinged with the faintest blue hints of the dawn.

There shouldn’t have been air-raid sirens on Kandriad. Not because the pulse had repressed the technology for sirens, but because it had repressed the ability for anyone to conduct air raids at all: flight was supposed to be impossible in an atmosphere this choked with pulse radiation.

Except it wasn’t. Jane and I had seen the shadows of the warplanes hurtling over the factory city as we approached by the bridge, dropping bombs and executing amateurish evasive manoeuvers to wheel away from the strafing gunfire of the defenders’ anti-aircraft weaponry. The planes hadn’t exactly been modern spec—prop-driven, combustion-engine relics cobbled together from spare parts—but that didn’t change the fact that they shouldn’t have been able to get into the air at all. Something weird was happening on Kandriad.

Something weird always seemed to happen to Jane and me, but this was
weirder than most.

“So we . . . knock?” I asked, shifting my weight from side to side, staring
up at the massive barred door that was the one and only entrance to the factory city from the south. We hadn’t seen a single native as we made our way down the abandoned railway line toward the factory—they were all hunkered down inside their converted city, being dive-bombed by impossible airplanes. The sect wars might have been forgotten by most of the galaxy post-pulse, but on Kandriad they’d never stopped, the locals locked in the same stupid conflicts that had led to the pulse in the first place. “Or . . . like . . .” I winced as the sirens came around again; I winced every time. I always thought they were finally going to stop as they dopplered away across the distance,
and then . . . nope. Still going.

“We should probably wait until they’re not having the shit bombed out of them,” Jane said mildly, leaning against the railing of the dilapidated bridge and smoking one of her awful cigarettes. Jane wasn’t fidgety. Jane never got fidgety. Taller, leaner, and in significantly better shape than I was, I’d seen her be more collected under sustained gunfire than I usually was making breakfast.

“Do you think that’s likely to happen soon, or . . .” I winced as one of the bombers overshot its target, its payload coming down instead on the empty urban district beside the bridge—otherwise known as beside us. I was holding a telekinetic shield in place over both Jane and myself, and the feeling of the shrapnel from the blast smashing itself to pieces against what was basically a psychic manifestation of my own will was . . . not overly pleasant. Still, the shield held, and even if it hadn’t, our intention shields—hardwired into our nervous systems—would have protected us. Hopefully.

I didn’t particularly want to die on a bombed-out hellhole like Kandriad.

Jane waved her hand—and her cigarette—in front of her face, not so much dispelling the cloud of dust that had risen in the wake of the blast as adding to it with her cigarette smoke. “Doesn’t seem that way,” she said.

“So can we talk about how there are warplanes flying and dropping bombs in a pulse-choked atmosphere?” I asked instead. Since we appeared to be stuck out here, underneath the falling bombs, that seemed a topic of particularly hefty import.

Jane frowned at that. “I don’t know,” she said shortly. I almost grinned—despite the nearly-being-blown-apart thing—just because Jane hated to admit when she didn’t know something, and a part of me was always a little bit thrilled when circumstances forced her to do so anyway.

Still would have traded it for “not huddled just outside a factory door,
hoping not to get bombed,” though.

“But how—”

“Still don’t know, Esa,” she sighed, dropping her cigarette butt to the bridge and grinding it out with her boot heel—though it wasn’t like there find answers standing out here. Go ahead and knock—we’ve got a gifted kid to find.”

“I thought you said we should wait until they weren’t getting bombed.” As if cued by my statement, the air-raid sirens finally cut off, the last hollow howl echoing out over the horizon until it faded into the golden light of the day.

I looked at Jane. She was grinning. I glared at her; that just made her grin some more. She opened her mouth to say something, and I simply held out my hand, forestalling whatever smartassery was about to emerge. “Don’t,” I told her flatly. “Just . . .” I sighed, and reached for the heavy knocker welded to the riveted steel of the door. “I got this.”

I knocked.

CHAPTER 2

In relatively short order, we got a response to our banging. That response was, of course, half a dozen rifles pointed at us from murder holes carved out of the sides of the high wall, but it was a response nonetheless. “Travelers,” Jane said, spreading her hands wide to show that she was unarmed—well, to show that she wasn’t holding a weapon, at least. On a world like Kandriad, nobody went anywhere unarmed, and the rifle butt sticking up from behind Jane’s shoulder would have just seemed like an everyday necessity to the
locals, no different than a farmer carrying a hoe would have been on my homeworld. “Seeking shelter.”

“This city is at war, traveler,” a voice said from one of the murder holes—sounded like a Wulf, which made sense, since the vaguely canid species had made up about a third of this world’s population, before the pulse. “There’s very little shelter to be had here.”

“Very little to be had out there, either.” Jane jerked her thumb behind us, indicating the smoking craters the poorly aimed bombs had blown in the urban “countryside” of what had once been a factory planet.

“How do we know you’re not enemy spies?” the Wulf growled. I mean, Wulf almost always growl, the sound was just what their muzzles were built for, but I detected a distinct note of aggression in the low-pitched rumble of this one’s voice.

“Esa,” Jane prompted me, and I reached into my jacket—slowly, as the rifles were still following my every move—to produce a tightly rolled-up scroll. The parchment was as close to what local conditions would have allowed the natives to create as Schaz had been able to make it; hopefully they wouldn’t ask too many questions about its provenance beyond that, questions we wouldn’t be able to answer given that we’d actually printed it on board a spaceship in orbit, a concept that had receded mostly into myth for the people on Kandriad.

I held the scroll up, where they could see. “Reconnaissance,” Jane told them simply. “Aerial photography of the enemy assaulting your walls from the north. Troop positions, fortifications, artillery emplacements—enough intelligence to turn the tide of the fight.” Neither Jane nor I really gave a damn who won this particular battle, or even this particular war—whatever conflict it had spun off from, the fighting on Kandriad had long since ceased to matter to the galaxy at large, let alone to the doings of the Justified. What we did care about was getting access to the city, and to the gifted child hidden somewhere inside.

“You have planes? Like they do?” The guns were still holding . . . pretty tightly on us.

“Kites,” Jane said simply. “And mirrors.” That was a flat-out lie, but “we took images from our spaceship in low orbit, then smudged them up to look like low-tech aerial reconnaissance” wouldn’t have gone over nearly as well.

A low sound from the Wulf, not that dissimilar to his growl from before; thankfully, our boss back on Sanctum was also a Wulf, and I recognized the sound of a Wulven chuckle when I heard one. “Kites,” the unseen sentry said to himself, almost in wonder. Then: “Open the gate!”

The big metal gates rumbled open; Jane and I stepped along the train tracks, into the interior of the city, where the sentries—Wulf to a one, their rifles still held tightly, though at least not aimed directly at us anymore— watched us closely. Jane handed over the map to their leader, the one who’d spoken. He unrolled it, studied its contents for a moment, then without a word handed it off to one of his subordinates, who promptly took off, presumably for the factory city’s command. “It’s valid, and it’s recent,” the lieutenant acknowledged to us, his ice-blue predator’s eyes still watching us closely, not as friendly as his words. “I recognize shelling from just a few days ago. Intelligence like that will buy you more than just entry here, strangers. Name your price.”

“We’re looking for some intelligence of our own,” Jane replied. “Looking for one of your citizens, actually. A child, younger than my associate here.” She nodded her head toward me; I didn’t know how well the local Wulf population would be at gauging a human’s age, but at seventeen, I guess I did still have a slightly “unfinished” look, as compared to Jane, at least.

“And why do you seek this child?” the lieutenant asked—not a no. Progress.

“He or she will have . . . gifts. Abilities. We seek children with such gifts, and we train them.” All true, for its part. It was simply a question of scale that Jane left out.

“Train them to do what?”

“Whatever is necessary.” That part wasn’t exactly an official piece of the Sanctum syllabus.

The Wulf nodded his head, once. “I know the child you’re looking for,” he said.

Finally, something going our way for once.

 

 

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Blurb for The Stars Now Unclaimed:

A century ago, a mysterious pulse of energy spread across the universe. Meant to usher in a new era of peace and prosperity, it instead destroyed technology indiscriminately, leaving some worlds untouched and throwing others into total chaos.

The Justified, a mysterious group of super-soldiers, have spent a hundred years trying to find a way to restore order to the universe. Their greatest asset is the feared mercenary Kamali, who travels from planet to planet searching for gifted young people and bringing them to the secret world she calls home. Kamali hopes that those she rescues will be able to find a way to reverse the damage the pulse wreaked, and ensure that it never returns.

But Kamali isn’t the only person looking for answers to unimaginable questions. And when her mission to rescue a grumpy teenaged girl named Esa goes off the rails, Kamali suddenly finds herself smack in the centre of an intergalactic war… that she started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#BlogTour #Extract : Hard Setdown by T.Q. Chant #TQChant #LoveBooksGroupTours

Today I’m sharing with you all an extract from this amazing sounding book. Huge thanks to LoveBooksGroupTours for having me on this tour. This book is a mixture of sci-fi and psychological thriller so if that’s your thing then read on and find out more.

 

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Blurb: 

Sam Cane – ex-con artist (sort of), ex-soldier (definitely), and woman on the run.

She’s looking to escape a life of petty crime on Earth that’s got her in too deep with the wrong people. Taking a job with one of the corporations contracted to open up and exploit new worlds in the growing Commonwealth, she’s assigned to a young colony right on the edge of human space. It looks like the perfect escape, until she arrives on IGC-187X and things start to go downhill. Fast.

Arriving at the colony site, she finds it mysteriously deserted, its communication systems sabotaged and her ride rapidly heading out of the system. Failing to repair the communications system in time, she realises she’s stuck on the apparently deserted planet unless she can get a deep space message out. Exploring the colony site further, she realises two things – that something terrible has happened to the colonists, and that she’s not alone. She contacts survivors from the colony, who tell her they were forced to relocate due to raider activity, but their story doesn’t quite add up. Betrayed by them, she connects with the only sane person left – Adissa, the daughter of the colonial administrator, who has been living underground since her father had gone mad and led the colonists to a mysterious settlement elsewhere on the planet.

Suddenly, getting a message out has taken on a new urgency. Playing a deadly game of cat and mouth with the colonists, Sam and Adissa work together to try to get an old buried launch array on-line. The full horror of the situation starts to impact on Sam as she realises just how far the colonists have fallen and that something far worse is lurking hidden under the deserts of the arid world.

Out on the fringe, she’ll find out that what you’re running from isn’t always the thing that will kill you.

 

hard setdown cover

 

Extract:

“Rule number six, I think,” Sam said to herself, standing in front of the homemade shack and psyching herself to go in. “If you don’t know it and you need to, find out about it. Otherwise it could kill you.”

Lifting a couple of bits of kit from the pack, she pushed into the shack and forced herself to stand and look down on the corpse in the middle of the room.

She knew what that odd smell was now, the after-reek of death, the slight sickliness of rotten flesh. It was now just an unpleasant oily aftertaste on the air that suggested the body had been here a while.

She keyed a command into the pad to bring up data on forensic examination of a body, decay rates, other information that hadn’t been useful to her until this moment. She just regretted not having any forensic procedure software that could have done the whole examination for her – preferably while she sat outside having a beer. “No reason I’d ever think I’d need it though.”

 While the pad started throwing open work cells at convenient points in the air, she went about setting up the holopixer on its pole.

“Start recording. Security Specialist Cane Kokhani, ICG one-eight-seven, main colony site. It’s zero nine hundred local time, standard calendar date is third day fifth month one-fifty AY. Initial investigation of crime scene located approximately fifty metres from main colony site in a locally constructed building. May be some significance in the choice of venue. Victim is an unknown…female. Yes. Female.” She swallowed. She’d been taught basic police procedure in her month-long induction course, but nothing to prepare her for this. Established wisdom went that a good security chief with a population around a thousand to look after would probably know everyone well enough to spot a murderer without needing to go full Sherlock on it.

She fought to stay professional, stay clinical. She knew she had to face what was here or it would just lurk out here waiting for her. She had to start working out what had happened.

She waited until the pixer had finished its initial capture, a line of light sweeping across the space to capture everything. Pulling on gloves, she gingerly pulled away the tarp that covered some of the body ordered another pixer scan. She reached out to beckon a holographic cell to her, expanded it to read the data. “Hmm. Estimated time since death, based on humidity and average temperature, is three weeks.”

Looking back, her eyes widened. Without the ragged cloth covering, she could see the level of devastation inflicted on the colonist. “Hang on, too many legs involved here.”

She choked back a sob as that implication sank in. “Correction to my earlier statements. Two unidentified victims. One female, I’m guessing adult. One male, probably adolescent. Early teens. Bodies are severely decomposed.” Mercifully, she added to herself. “Both appear to have been stripped of clothing and partially dismembered.” Disturbed by her removing their last modesty, the bodies shifted slightly, air-cured skin and sinew settling slightly. The woman’s head rolled free. “Decapitated. Look like clean cuts.”

She got a close-up of some of the wounds, set a search running. “This wasn’t the work of animals. How could it be? The bodies were secured, definitely some sort of tool used. I’m seeing…crap… I’m seeing symbols cut – branded? – into what’s left of the skin. Are those…? Not sure, going to have to do a datastack search.”

She rocked back on her haunches, wiped her hand across her face without thinking, gagged as she tasted the slime that had come off on her gloves.

“Pausing the examination,” she gasped, staggering outside. She was technically on duty, but with no sign of a relief shift or a supervisor she didn’t mind cracking open one of her precious beers. At least it cleaned her mouth.

 

 

 

About the author:  Tim Chant grew up (mostly), went to school in East Anglia and university in Scotland. He took his History degree and did the only thing he could with it – joined the civil service. When not shackled to his desk he writes science fiction, alternative historical fiction, historical fiction and any other fiction that takes his fancy. When not doing that, he’s an inveterate roleplayer and wargamer (and getting back into historical fencing). He lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their two rabbits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Review: Dragon Road by Joseph Brassey. @JosephBrassey @Angryrobotbooks

As anyone who regularly reads my blog will know I tend to mostly read and review crime fiction, however, I’ve been wanting to get back into science fiction and fantasy as well because I am basically a geek at heart. So, when this book appeared on Netgalley I was immediately interested. It’s a mixture of sci-fi, fantasy and crime so sounded ideal for me to dip a toe back into sci-fi/fantasy with and that’s exactly what I did, so read on and find out what I thought.

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Blurb:  A murderous plot aboard a city-sized flying ship must be averted before a crazed cult sends a million people to their deaths. When portal-mage Harkon Bright and his apprentice are asked to help select a new captain for the immense skyship Iseult, they quickly find themselves embroiled in its Machiavellian officer’s court. Aboard the Elysium, the warlord Azrael, saved by his former enemies, struggles to adapt to his unexpected gift of life while suffering dark dreams of an ancient terror. As the skies darken and storm-clouds gather on the Dragon Road, the crew of the Elysium come face to face with deadly intrigues, plots from beyond death, and a terrible darkness that lurks in the heart of a thousand-year storm.

Dragon Road is out now and can be bought from Amazon UK here and from other retailers.

 

 

My Review:  I’m not quite sure how to start this review. This is a book that I believe would appeal to a lot of people, as it crosses genres, being both crime fiction and sci-fi/fantasy. It took me a little while to get into the story but I think that is partly because I hadn’t read book 1 in this series (not necessary but will give you some background knowledge of the characters) and because it’s different from what I usually read so I had to get used to the idea of giant ships that are basically flying cities, and a few other new concepts. Once I’d done that though this book was a joy to read. The characters are really well written that even though you’ve known the crew of the Elysium for a matter of a number of pages you are concerned for their safety and loving the connections and conversations between them all. It feels like an actual family on board the ship, despite the fact that some members have clearly been together longer than others.

The character of Azrael is an excellent example of the skill of the writer. Having not read book 1 I don’t know exactly what he has done but due to the bits of background dotted through the story I did get an idea of his past and it’s not pretty to say the least. However, despite that I had great empathy for him and wanted him to find peace from his past and the nightmares and find a new life for himself. Despite the horrors he has clearly committed the author has managed to give him a humanity that even the nice characters in other books don’t always have. Although I had probably the most empathy for Azrael I did care about the other main characters and a few of those on the skyship Iseult as well.

This story is a mixture of action scenes and investigation. Some people on the Iseult don’t agree with Harkon Bright and his apprentice being involved in helping select a new captain after the previous one dies suddenly. The investigative scenes are very well written but even better, if possible, are the action scenes. There are some explosive (in more ways than one!) action scenes and they grab you and draw you in so fast you can barely catch a breath. Despite the amount that is going on the scenes are so clearly written that you keep up with everything, feel everything the characters feel and need as much of a rest as they do once the scene is finished.

There is so much in this book that I could keep writing, but that would make for an incredibly long review and I don’t want to do that. What I will say is that if you already love sci-fi and /or fantasy then this is definitely a book worth reading, the amount of depth in it is just astonishing. If you’re not into sci-fi/fantasy but fancy trying some then you could do worse than to start with this. It might take a bit of time to get into it but believe me it is worth every minute!  I’ve already got Skyfarer (book 1) on my to-read list and can’t wait to add book 3 as well. I cannot wait to get back to the Elysium and find out where they go next!

 

 

 

About the author:

Joseph Brassey

JOSEPH BRASSEY has lived on both sides of the continental US, and has worked as a craft-store employee, paper-boy, factory worker, hospital kitchen gopher, martial arts instructor, singer, and stay-at-home Dad (the last is his favorite job, by far). Joseph was enlisted as a robotic word-machine in 47North’s Mongoliad series, and still trains in – and teaches – Liechtenauer’s Kunst des Fechtens in his native Tacoma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#Review : Red Rising by Pierce Brown @PierceBrown @HodderBooks #RedRising #Netgalley

I know, I know, everyone else on the planet read these books years ago and I’m incredibly late to the party but better late than never surely??  Many, many thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for making this book available again because of the recent release of Iron Gold (Red Rising book 4).

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Blurb:  Darrow is a helldiver. Born to toil beneath the surface of Mars so that one day future generations might live above it.

 

 

Review:  So, I’ll be upfront here, I loved this book!  In fact I loved it so much that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else once I’d finished it so immediately bought and read book 2 (review coming soon) because it was the only thing I wanted to read.  I’ve also bought book 3 but am holding off on that because I don’t want to get into the position of reading book 4 and then having to wait months to find out what happens next.

As I’ve said in another review, fantasy is not a genre I read much of, sadly neither is sci-fi at the moment, but despite that this book grabbed me from the first page and wouldn’t let me go.  The characters are all richly detailed without extraneous detail used on those who are only in the story for a page or two.   I felt like I was with Darrow every step of his journey, felt every emotion he felt and wanted the same goals as he did because I could understand why they were so important to him.

The locations, while not obviously places we are familiar with, felt alive to me, the descriptions were so clear and well-written.  I read this story on my kindle and have since bought the paperback and therefore seen the map that is in it, something I didn’t have in my ebook.  The descriptions were so clear throughout the story that my imagined layout that I had in my mind was almost identical to the map in the book, that’s how good the writing is.

This isn’t a non-violent book but I felt the violence there was fitted with the story.  It’s also not a book with a complete ending as it is the first in the series, however, the ending does tie things up to an extent so there is a feeling of an ending of sorts which I liked and don’t always get with books that are part of a series.

If you’re one of the few people on the planet who have not yet read this book then I would urge you to give it a go.  It might not be your usual genre but why not step outside of it and try something different.  Life can be boring if we never try new things, at least occasionally.

For anyone who wants a fast paced, well-written read that will keep them glued to the book for hours then I highly recommend this one.  The only regret I have in reading this book is that I didn’t do it sooner.