Welcome to my May wrap-up blog post featuring all of the fantastic posts on my blog that I posted during the month of May.
It has been a better blogging month for me in May than in previous months, for life too. Especially after last month with my unexpected hospital stay and things have returned more to normal now. For me, anyway, the world is still fucked. I feel far better in myself than I had done for a while. I still struggle with the darkness that is always there waiting to rear its head and sadly, I think that it always will be but, other than that I seem to be doing OK.
I have struggled with reading throughout the whole year but, in May I managed to read six books. Not many compared to most of you but, more than I have managed in any other month of the year. I also achieved 300,000 total page views on my blog too. Again, it isn’t many compared to all you other tremendous bloggers out there and while I know that it doesn’t mean anything it is a nice figure to achieve.
My May Posts.
- April 2020 monthly wrap-up.
- Upcoming Reads and Reviews in May.
- Guest Post: Crime Fiction Road Trip: Part One by David Prestidge (Fully Booked).
- Guest Post: Crime Fiction Road Trip: Part Two by David Prestidge (Fully Booked).
- My Own Sorrow.
All Fall Down is the ninth book in the DI Helen Grace series and my first. In coming to the series late I have missed out on the history of DI Helen Grace, her team, their previous cases and the personal dynamics and relationships that have been forged within the team. But, after being lured in by the sinister premise I was easily able to pick up All Fall Down, I wasn’t disappointed with Arlidge delivering a twisted delight, a darkly gripping tale and I thoroughly enjoy it. While the investigation and the murder is the main focus of the story there is enough given by Arlidge in the narrative to get a feel for Helen and the team. Helen, herself is scarred, determined and resilient. She has faced danger many times before, survived and is prepared to put her own body and her own well-being on the line to solve the case and catch the killer. DS Charlie Brooks, Helen’s friend and unofficial second-in-command is dedicated and a ‘good’ person. DS Joseph Hudson has an air of trouble to him, selfishness and anger that simmers beneath the surface. And then there is Emilia Garanita, not a member of MIT but a thorn in their side, a carrion eater who feeds of corruption and a journalist who will do anything to get the inside scoop and the story.
With All Fall Down Arlidge takes you on a dark and disturbing journey with plenty of twists and turns. The story unfolds through multiple perspectives and builds to a high octane climax, showdown and satisfying conclusion. Interspersed with the investigation into the murder of Lanning and the hunt for the murderer are occasional excerpts from the book ‘One Dark Night’ detailing the ordeal that the survivors went through and what happened to them on the night that they were abducted by King. I liked the inclusion of these excerpts. They do take you out of the investigation but they add additional insight into what went on in the farmhouse and allow you a glimpse into how twisted an individual King was. The chapters themselves are short, snappy and rapid-fire serving to keep the pages quickly turning and propel the story forwards at near breakneck pacing. The writing flows well, is addictive and Arlidge does a stellar job of maintaining a sense of tension throughout the duration of the compelling story.
Making Wolf is well-written and well-paced with the story unfolding in the first person through Weston Kogi. Thompson is a descriptive and fine storyteller and a talented writer with a tremendous sense of place. As a setting Alcacia comes to life on the pages and Thompson is unflinching in his portrayal painting a bleak, blood-soaked, corrupt, dark, gritty and savage picture of a country that is coming apart at the seams. Thompson doesn’t pull any punches and there are some vivid scenes and graphic depictions (for those who appreciate warnings, there is a rape scene late on that some will find very uncomfortable to read) featured throughout Making Wolf. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is ultra-violent but, there is an abundance of graphic violence during the story. Look beneath the violence though and there is a depth to the story that Thompson is telling.
Making Wolf is taut, gripping and unnerving. I won’t mention any details about the brutal, intense and unsettling journey that Kogi finds himself on in search of Pa Busi’s killer. However, I will say that Making Wolf sees Kogi descending into the hell that is Alcacia, losing himself, finding himself and features a satisfying and worthwhile conclusion that ties things up nicely but, should Thompson ever wish to revisit Weston Kogi and Alcacia also allows for the possibility of future books.
The story told by Whitaker is emotionally charged and character-driven. It is not fast-paced, it is a slow-cooked story that simmers, that takes its time, that doesn’t rush, that gives you ample opportunity to become acquainted with the characters and that deserves to be savoured. It is one of those layered, powerful and weighted stories that rank high on the emotional scale. It is a story that reaches out, that touches you within, that breaks you a little, that you won’t soon forget, that will linger and that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page. We Begin at the End is classed as a thriller but, saying that it is ‘just a thriller’ does the book a disservice and it is something so much more. I cannot rate it highly enough, it is genuinely moving, a remarkable work of literature and absolutely stunning.
We Begin at the End is not simply a book that you read, it is a journey, an experience and as you walk beside the characters, as you see through their eyes and feel their pain it is a story that you live, breathe and you will care. You will care about the story, about those involved and you will care so much about Duchess Day Radley who, for me, is the tattered and torn outlaw heart of We Begin at the End.
Guerdon has always remained neutral in the Godswar between the neighbouring nations (each with their own pantheon of mad gods) of Haith and Ishmere, trading and selling alchemical weapons to both. But, the Godswar is closing in, drawing nearer. Guerdon is a city that is suffused with a long history, it has changed countless times since its inception and it is a city that has been built and rebuilt over time and time again. The Guerdon of the present is built on the detritus, the remnants of the past and, for its current iteration, the latest change, the next evolution occurred recently at the end of The Gutter Prayer where, after the Crisis what is now referred to as ‘The Gutter Miracle‘ altered the streets, changed the landscape and reshaped a large portion creating the ‘New City‘ that has become a refuge to the poor of Guerdon, a home for those with nowhere else to go and a sanctuary for the refugees fleeing from the Godswar. On the surface Guerdon, with its festering and rotting core is a corrupt and grimy hellhole full of anarchy and disorder with an abundance of degenerates and miscreants who populate the dangerous streets. Whilst under the surface, in the catacombs miles below, lurks the dark unknown, a vast network of ghoul infested tunnels and ruins that are home to lost secrets and forgotten eldritch horrors. In Hanrahan’s hands, Guerdon is far more just a city, it is just as important to the story and the unfolding events as the flesh and blood characters are. It’s not simply ‘the location‘ where the story takes place, it is integral to the story.
To go with the present timeline there are some flashback scenes scattered throughout The Bone Keeper that all tie-in with the initial flashback from the beginning of the book. These help to set the atmosphere and add an air of mystery to the story. The actual myth and urban legend surrounding the Bone Keeper itself is sinister, oozes malevolence, is well incorporated into the story and was definitely my favourite part of the entire book.
The writing in The Bone Keeper is serviceable and, at times even decent. But, it failed to grab me, missing that spark that ignited my interest. There is also a distinct lack of humour (it’s non-existent and I do like a bit of dark humour in my thrillers) and for me, the pacing seemed off dragging in places and moving from one scenario to the next without any emotion or impact to the reader. It is, however, a good story with an intriguing premise that is somewhat let down by the execution. Personally, I had high hopes, I wanted to be consumed by the darkness and I was left underwhelmed and just wanted ‘more‘ from the book.
The Bone Keeper isn’t a ‘bad‘ book by any stretch of the imagination and if you are a fan of the genre or are just looking for a creepy and dark read then I’d suggest giving it a go. You never know, you might have a better time with it than me and I’d say it’s worth a read just for the urban legend of the Bone Keeper.
The characters in Fate of the Fallen are highly likeable. For Aaslo and his companions, they are misfits galore that find their way into your heart and make you root for them. I also liked Magdelay, Mathias’s stern grandmother and mention must also go to Myropa, a reaper and a collector of souls who is a very intriguing character and the gateway character for the reader to see what the gods are currently plotting. The story itself is engaging and exciting. The writing is descriptive and flows well with a good sense of location and the settings where the story takes place are all easy to visualise be it the forests, towns/cities or the swamps. There are emotional moments interspersed throughout and a bountiful amount of banter. The banter really shines and it is a mixture of darker, needling and sarcastic along with light-hearted, jovial and good-natured. It is often laugh-out-loud hilarious and it is some of the best that I have read in a long time.
I had a great time reading Fate of the Fallen, it felt like classic fantasy injected with a fresh new feel, it is incredibly entertaining and a hell of a lot of fun. I found it hard to put down, the ending came far too soon and it was with a heavy heart that I turned the final page as I wasn’t yet ready to leave either the characters or the story behind.
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