#SPFBO Cry Havoc (Jack Frey #1) by Mike Morris


CryHavocCry Havoc was in my first batch of SPFBO books.  The feedback from that batch can be found here and Cry Havoc was the first book that I decided to fully read and at the moment is still in the running to be a potential semi finalist.

As the story begins we meet two young boys, Jack and his older brother Brendan.  They live with their mother in rather abject poverty and frequently resort to robbery in order simply to eat.  Their father is no longer around and their mother struggles to cope, seeking solace in a bottle of alcohol more often than not.  It’s easy to see that the two are going to grow up somewhat wild until fate intervenes.  Caught attempting a burglary the two are taken by the Black Dogs, a religious order of priests who learn to fight to protect Abios from invasion by their mortal enemies, the Nostros.

The Nostros are the monsters/demons of the story.  They share a number of similarities with vampires in both their eating and sleep patterns.  They have conquered the humans of the Northlands in fact Abios seems to be the only place that they don’t yet rule.  The journey across the waters makes it difficult for them as they cannot be caught outside during the hours of sunlight.

The story is told by two different characters.  Lin, a slave of the Nostros who seems to live in constant fear of either death by the hand of one of the Masters or by one of her fellow slaves.  It’s something of a dog eat dog world that the slaves live in, they spend their nights working exhausting hours for very little reward and with barely enough to eat.  Jack is the alternating POV.  In many respects he and his brother fell on their feet when they were caught stealing.  They are now fed, clothed and taught.  They have a roof over their head and a purpose – although this doesn’t stop Jack from railing against everything to begin with.

The two storylines will eventually cross paths although not for a good portion of the story when the Black Dogs become aware of an increased threat from the Nostros and are forced to take proactive measures.

I thought that Cry Havoc was a promising start to the series.  The writing was good once the author found his feet and although it did get off to something of a slow start the alternating POV chapters helped to keep the momentum going, plus the fact that I was curious about both characters also helped.

The characters themselves.  They feel like they need something more at the moment, they’ve not completely wowed me in fact I found myself liking some of the peripheral characters more – particularly during the action scenes towards the end of the book.  But, this is a first in series and without making it into a weighty tome it can be difficult to balance everything.

The world building.  This has a mediaeval feel to it in terms of modes of transport, dress and weapons – although surprisingly there are guns – which I wasn’t expecting.  I would have liked more information about the Nostros.  They felt a little under developed at this point.  They’re very unsavoury characters indeed, human lives being absolutely nothing to them, but I would have liked to feel more tension and fear whenever they entered the scene. And I think I would like a little bit more detail about this war between good vs evil.  Again, it’s that balancing act though and no doubt more information will be forthcoming in future instalments.

In terms of criticisms.  Wel, I enjoyed this but it does have a ‘first in series’ feel.  I have yet to fall in love with Jack or Lin and this lack of attachment did make me feel a little ambivalent towards their safety during the ensuing fight scenes.  That being said this certainly wasn’t a difficult read, I didn’t feel the need to DNF and it was a fairly easy page turner.

I would rate this as a 3.5 of 5 stars or 7 out of 10.

My thanks to the author for a review copy and for entering the SPFBO competition.  The above is my own opinion.


WeeklyWrap Up : 18th August 2019

My week has been very positive.  Lots of keeping in touch with everyone and actually a very good reading week too.  I have a few reviews lined up although it actually never looks or feels as though I’m really catching up.  Two steps forward, three steps back.  LOL.  But, I’m not stressed – I’ve got so many good books coming up on my schedule that I’m positively delirious with joy.  So, this is what I’ve been reading this week (as well as making some progress with my SPFBO books):

My books:

  1. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  2. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  3. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

Next scheduled reads:

  1. The House of Sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark
  2. Brightfall Jaime Lee Moyer
  3. The Dragon Republic by RF Kuang

Upcoming reviews

  1. King of the Road by RS Belcher
  2. Queenslayer by Sebastien DeCastell
  3. A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie
  4. Cry Havoc by Mike Morris
  5. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
  6. Turning Darkness Into Light by Marie Brennan
  7. Missing Person by Sarah Lotz

I’d love to know what you’re reading this week.

Friday Face Off : “The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes”

Posted On 16 August 2019

Filed under Book Reviews

Comments Dropped 14 responses


Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book, compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future week’s themes are listed below – the list has been updated to help out those of you who like to plan ahead – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

“The haft of the arrow had been feathered with one of the eagles own plumes” – a cover featuring feathers

Thank goodness for an easier week.  I had so many books to choose from this week.  I was positively brimming over with examples.  So, I chose a book from an author that I love – Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield and here are the covers:

I’m not overly fond of the man in the top hat – not that I dislike the covers exactly but they give me Ripper vibes for some reason which doesn’t fit with this book.

My favourites :

And my favourite is the blue feather which not only fits the theme perfectly but is also simple and stylish:


Like last week I’ve added a Mr Linky here so that you can leave a link if you wish or please leave me a link in the comments so we can all visit and check out each others covers.  Thanks

I’ve updated the list and included themes through to the end of 2019 – I’ve also included events that I’m aware of so that you can perhaps link your themes up where possible (if you know of an event you’d like to share that let me know in the comments).  I also have a list prepared for 2020 and so will set up a separate page soon for forthcoming themes.  As always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment.

Next week –  A cover that is a movie tie in

Future themes: (if you’re struggling with any of these themes then use a ‘freebie’ or one of your favourite covers)


23rd August – A cover that is a movie tie in

30th August – “I wandered lonely as a cloud” – a cover that is predominantly yellow

6th September “Warm September brings the fruit” – a cover that is seasonal for Autumn/Fall

13th September – Friday the 13th – unlucky for some!  A cover with ‘curse’ in the title

20th September – “Your hair is winter fire,January embers.” – A cover featuring hair

27th September – Freebie

4th October – “Feed me Seymour” – A cover that is 60s horror

11th October – ““And, though there should be a world of difference between the smile of a man and the bared fangs of a wolf, with Joss Merlyn they were one and the same.”  – a cover featuring an Inn/Hotel

18th October – “It’s your favorite scary movie, remember? He had on the white mask, he stalked the babysitters.” – A cover featuring a scream

25th October – for Halloween – pick any scary cover you like

(I’m hoping that November will once again bring to us SciFiMonth – Twitter @SciFiMonth)

1st November – A cover that is predominantly grey

8th November – “big badda boom” – a cover that features an explosion

15th November – “No thinking thing should be another thing’s property, to be turned on and off when it is convenient.” – a cover featuring a robot

22nd November – A cover that is Futuristic

29th November – “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” – a cover that is 60s sci fi

6th December – Now is the winter of our discontent, Made glorious summer by this sun of York”  – a cover that puts you in mind of winter

13th December – A cover that features a temple/or religious icon

20th December – Longest Night –  a dark and foreboding cover

27th December – the festive season – a cover that is glittery or sparkling

(2020 – January is Vintage SciFi month so I’ll be including possible themes to take that on board.

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

Posted On 15 August 2019

Filed under Book Reviews
Tags: ,

Comments Dropped 12 responses

TruantsWow.  I absolutely loved this book and couldn’t put it down.  I want more.  I was hooked.  HOOKED.  Yes, I’m shouting.

I realise that I have a certain type of book that automatically appeals to me and all sense of reason flies out the window when I see that ‘type’.  Well, two types, fairytale retellings, particularly if they’re about Beauty and the Beast, and campus style books that involve obsession, cliques and mysteries.  So, when I read the description for The Truants I simply had to have it and boy did it knock my socks off.

I can imagine that this will be likened to Donna Tartt’s Secret History and in certain respects that wouldn’t be an unfair comparison but I felt that this stood on it’s own two feet and tells a different style of story completely.  There is an underlying mystery to this that involves the main character turning detective when the object of her obsession dies.

Jess Walker is about to embark on a new path.  She’s attending University and signed up for a course run by someone she idolises.  A woman who is something of an enigma, a master storyteller and such a strong personality that she seems to hypnotise everyone simply by walking into a room – Lorna, beautiful, beguiling, bewitching.  Jess is thrilled to be signed up to Lorna’s course, this is ‘it’, the thing that will change her life for the better.  Jess has always been something of a wallflower, she blends in, never the centre of attention and rarely the eye catching outgoing one.  University is a fresh start for her, a chance to turn over a new leaf and when she makes friends with Georgia, beautiful, bubbly, slightly wicked and something of a force of nature she sets foot on a path that will inevitably lead to upset.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the plot, this doesn’t solely focus on life on campus although that does play a large part, we also travel further afield when the mystery elements of the story become more prominent.  Instead I’m going to go into full tilt gushing about what really worked well for me.

Firstly, the writing.  It’s difficult to believe that this is a debut novel for Kate Weinberg.  The writing is beautiful.  It’s reminiscent of DuMaurier’s elegance and ability to conjure a scene with remarkable clarity.  Simply put, this was a pleasure to read and even if the plot had been less stimulating I think I still would have devoured these pages with relish.

Secondly, I loved that part of the story uses Agatha Christie as a focus, not just her books but also her own story and in particular the period in her own life that has always been something of a mystery.  I really enjoyed this element to the tale and in fact it’s given me a nudge to go and read some more of Christie’s books.  Much like Christie there are elements to the story that feel a little fantastical but I would say that you have to just go for it and enjoy the story for what it is.

Finally, the characters.  Jess is so well written, as is Georgia.  Both very different, in looks, in background and in personality.  Their friendship is tested to the limits.  In a way they both become victims to the two very strong personalities who are pulling their strings behind the scenes.  This is a story with ever increasing tension, a story where you think you know where everything is going and to some extents that’s true but it’s also quite cleverly deceptive.  There’s a nod to the murder mystery, red herrings and false trails amongst all the student drama and more than that a search for the perfect crime hidden in between the passion and betrayals.

In terms of criticisms.  Nothing really jumps to mind, other than, as already mentioned, there are a few moments where belief needs to be suspended slightly, I’m not entirely sure that all of this would withstand close scrutiny but I was having too good a time reading to stop and pay really close attention.

Overall, in case you were in any doubt, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  It absolutely lived up to the promise and in fact was even better than I’d hoped for.  The Truants is my new catnip and Kate Weinberg is an author I will be watching out for.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating 5*



Can’t Wait Wednesday : Spellslinger 6: Crownbreaker (Spellslinger #6) by Sebastien de Castell

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Spellslinger 6: Crownbreaker (Spellslinger #6) by Sebastien de Castell.  I love this series – in fact it’s a little bit sad that it’s coming to an end.

crown.jpgThe sixth – and final – instalment of the inimitable SPELLSLINGER series.

Kellen and Reichis are settling into their new lives as protectors of the young queen and dealing with the constantly shifting threats to her reign and to her life. For the first time in his life, Kellen feels as if he’s becoming the kind of man that his mentor Ferius had wanted him to be. Even Reichis has come to appreciate having a noble purpose – so long as no one minds him committing the occasional act of theft from the royal treasury.

But what seems to be a simple card game between Kellen and an old man is soon revealed to be a deadly game of wits in which a powerful mage has trapped the queen’s spellslinger in order to kill him.

Expected publication : October 2019


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