Monday, 19 June 2017

REVIEW: Low Town


One book, two titles, two very different covers!

So - I was coming back on the train from my only day out in 8 years (I'd been to hook up with Peter Brett & Myke Cole in London) - a day out on which it must be said my daughter Celyn was hurried back to hospital, so ... I might have to wait another 8 years for the next - and Marc Aplin of said 'Here, read this.' Or something to that effect, and slid a copy of The Straight Razor Cure across the table to me (the title and cover are infinitely better in the UK).

That was August. I started it just before Christmas and I've just finished it - which believe it or not is fast for me! To be honest I only started it because the book I was reading was upstairs and I was downstairs and if I tried to leave the room to get it Celyn would have woken up ... but this one was within arms' reach. I was quickly hooked. The intelligence and wit of the prose did the job within a few paragraphs.

Anyhow. It is as every review says 'a detective thriller in a noir fantasy setting'. 

I found the writing to be exceptionally good. Very suited to my taste and very similar in style to what I aim for with my own. It has to be said that one of the most popular 2* reviews on this site is from a guy who loved my books and really didn't like Polansky's style. So opinions on that one are mixed!

Anyhow, the writing is concise, moody, witty, and captures what it sets after.

I liked reading about the main character. He's getting old, has bad habits, deals drugs, isn't the best at anything, but is dangerous and clever. I enjoyed the twists and turns of the plot. Several important items I guessed early on - perhaps they were telegraphed a little too strongly, perhaps I was just in tune with the story. Don't know.

I enjoyed the world-building. The society did borrow from some real world stereotypes maybe, but it's not a doorstop of a book and this form of shorthand is efficient in getting the reader's imagination to do some of the heavy lifting.

It wasn't a book that exercised me emotionally to a large degree - it wasn't without emotional content, but I wasn't hugely engaged on that level. Mostly I just wanted to have the crime solved!

Either way, it was a book that kept me coming back and rewarded my time by thoroughly entertaining me.

Give it a try!

You can go like my review on Goodreads if you like.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Fathers' Day

In celebration my best fictional father.

"When you become a father, it changes you. You see the world in new ways. Those who are not changed were not properly men to begin with."

Fool Girl, by Pen Astridge

Snorri ver Snagason, The Red Queen's War trilogy.

And my worst father is of course Olidan Ancrath, who no reader has felt moved to depict!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Stabby Hufflepuff?

I ran a survey on Twitter to see what Hogwarts house readers felt Red Sister's Nona belonged in.

The results were as follows.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Cover Contest #SPFBO

Carrying on from last year's SPFBO cover contest here is 2017's turn.

I've asked each of the blogs to nominate their favourite three covers from the thirty in their batch and here they are!

I see dragons are still a fantasy staple with 20% of the covers sporting one, and some fine examples they are.

There's a public vote! Choose as many covers as you like.

The bloggers will also vote, sending me their overall 4 favourites to get 1 vote each (the ordering will be used to sort out a tie). The cover that gets the most votes wins.

Blogger vote (6 of 10 in so far)

6: Where Waters Turn Black
4: Heart of Stone
3: Valley of Embers
3: Soldiers' Redemption
2: Dead Letter
2: Trail of the Necromancer
1: Corruption
1: Cage of Deceit
1: All The Things You Have To Burn
1: Night of the Chalk

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Competition, photos, prizes, oh my!

Competition Closed

The contest is inspired by this line from Red Sister.

The prizes are signed trade paperback copies of Red Sister. 
Here is one next to the US paperback of The Wheel of Osheim. As you can see they're substantial books.

So, the contest is about how a book has changed you. All you need to do is send in a before and after photo, with you in both and one or both including the book responsible. It can be as simple as a happy -> sad, or even no change at all. 

Here is an example.


The two entries I judge "best" will win books as will a randomly selected entry. So everyone has a chance.

Email me your two photos to

I will post entries here as they come in.

I will give plenty of warning before the contest ends.


I asked my Twitter and Facebook followers for help choosing the winners. 1st place was a clear choice. 2nd place was very close between three entries (I list the other two as honourable mentions). Very many thanks to everyone for all the excellent photos. It was fun!

WINNER #35 Matthew - Discovered the thug life after reading Gang Town

WINNER #31 David - Finds a new calling in life thanks to Prince of Thorns!

RANDOM WINNER #8 A. - inspired to take up the long sword!

HONOURABLE MENTION #18 Daniel - Too much truth, man! Too much truth!

HONOURABLE MENTION #24 Tracey - Beyond Redemption seems to be what the hairstylist said later on...

#36 Jon - reached for his gun on completing The Dark Tower!

#34 Emilee - started moonlighting as an Assassin after Robin Hobb messed with her mind.

#33 Augustine - discovered a book addiction thanks to The Martian Chronicles.

#32 Darric - found himself snorting gunpowder after reading Promise of Blood.

#30 Andrew - Prince of Thorns had him hanging around briar bushes.

#29 Kyle / Slash - / Slash ... geddit?

#28 Kareem - This book slays him!

#27 Trevor - Red Sister turned him into a cactus? Perhaps he's Sister Thorn now...

#26 Tracey - Ms Hobb again, winning someone over, again.

#25 Laurie - that monster Robin Hobb broke her heart!

#23 Robert - Red Sister clearly made him Google "fetish nun costume"!

#22 Brandon - Metro got him kitted up! ... though it looks as if he has 16 years to wait now.

#21 Reddy - Be careful of the company you keep!

#20 Julia - The Stone Road begins a long path from pacifist to warrior!

#19 Leslie - That Jalan ... he's a hoot!

#17 Marielle - G.R Mathews taught her that things are much better, down where it's wetter, under the seeeeeeeeaaaaaa!

#16 Tom - before Gemmell little did Tom know that he was the Lion of Macedon!

#15 Nikolas - Pressfield's The Gates of Fire gave Nikolas the warrior physique he deserves. 

#14 Bethan - it looks as if Terry Pratchett's Sourcery has open the floodgates for Bethan!

#13 Kile - Robin Hobb made this nice man sad! Stop being mean to Fitz, you monster!

#12 Brittany - Patricia Briggs made her a vampire. #BadThing

#11 Dani - Harry Potter turned her from meh-about-books to an addict raising her own mini-readers.

#10 Peter - Clearly he loses his special edition omnibus and this worries him. 

#9 Andrea - Changes ... the title says it all!

#7 Ken - misses the point entirely. The book is supposed to change you!

#6 Conner - of course the joy of calculus is going to sail over your head when you duck like that!

#5 Malin - converted to vegetarianism by the horrors of Apocalypse Cow.

#4 Laura - turned into a cat by the power of Los Nefilim! 

#3 Darrell - um... from doubtful to blown away by The Star Reckoner's Lot?

#2 D.  - somewhat reduced by Ours is the Storm

#1 Spooky - perked up by Kings of the Wyld!