Book Review: Shiang (Empire of Salt #2) by C. F. Iggulden

Name:  Shiang (Empire of Salt #2)
C. F. Iggulden
Number of Pages:
368 (Hardback)
September 6th 2018 by Michael Joseph
Genre:  Fantasy


In Shiang, the young king rules without dissent. Mazer swordsmen stand watch on every corner, looking for the first sign of rebellion. This city is a place of quiet and slow dignity, like a man eating rice with a razor pressed against his throat.
Yet with one sharp movement, order is overturned. The balance of centuries is undone in the sudden spill of blood – and in the darkness, something terrible returns to Shiang.
Far to the west, four Shiang masters approach the city walls of Darien. The sword saint and his companions have crossed a continent to bring an old man home for punishment. They will not be denied, even if the whole city stands in their way.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Following on from Darien, Shiang continues the story of the Empire of Salt. The story begins in a new city, Shiang, far removed from Darien and the characters we came to know first time around.

Shiang introduces us to new main characters; a group of swordsmen sent by the king to bring home his uncle who has been located in none other than Darien, and another group who also set out on the long road to Darien.
Both these groups are interesting, from Masters Hondo, Bosin, and twins Hi and Je, the Mazer swordsmen tasked with escorting the king’s uncle back to Shiang, to the dangerous group who, via the power of one of the magical stones, manage to return from a grey land and occupy other bodies. Gabriel becomes the leader of this group when he realises just how much power he has and decides he wants to take first Shiang and later Darien.

All roads eventually lead to Darien where some of the characters from the first book make an appearance, most notably Tellius and Lady Sallet. Vic Deeds makes a brief appearance too.

Once the two groups completed their perilous journey and reached Darien I thought the pace really picked up and I found it difficult to put the book down, especially as the families of Darien unite and bring their magical artefacts out to defend the city against the threat of these powerful soldier-mages determined to take control of the city. The magic and the stones and their various powers made it exciting reading, especially when pitted against enemies who wield great power drawn from another stone.

The final book in the trilogy, The Sword Saint, had just been published by the time I picked up Shiang, and so I’m continuing the adventure of the Empire of Salt, to see what lies ahead for Darien and these characters I’ve followed for two books.



Bout of Books 26 (August 2019) – Final Summary

Another edition of Bout of Books has ended. Doesn’t the read-a-thon week just fly by?

I had a decent day of reading, and managed another 50 pages in total, which brings my total to…

Number of pages I’ve read today:  50

Total number of pages I’ve read:  290

I set some goals for the read-a-thon (Original goals posted HERE).

I managed to finish one book, and read another too.
I enjoyed being around on my blog (almost) daily.

Thank you to everyone who visited my blog during Bout of Books. I hope everyone had a great week of reading.

The Week’s Progress Revisited…

Continue reading

Book Review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Name:  The Escape Room
Megan Goldin
Number of Pages:
368 (Paperback)
August 8th 2019 by Trapeze (first published July 30th 2019)
Genre:  Thriller


‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

In The Escape Room four colleagues are trapped in an elevator for the duration. And what a bunch they are; I don’t think I’ve encountered such a wholly unlikable group in a novel for quite a while. When I first started reading there was a moment I was hesitant. I decided to read on a little further, and suddenly, something just hooked me.

There are two narratives. In the current setting a group of four colleagues from Stanhope and Sons have been lured to a ‘meeting’ which becomes an apparent escape room challenge.
They’re all highly successful, ruthless, competitive and in danger of losing the lucrative jobs that keep them in such high-flying lifestyles.
When the clues to their escape start to become increasingly personal, their survival instincts kick in and the tension mounts as their hopes of rescue begin to fade.

The other narrative follows the rise of new recruit Sara Hall, who joins Stanhope with good intentions; she hopes to be able to support her parents with part of her salary. Over time Sarah admits she has become more used to the ruthless attitude the company encourages and of her fellow employees.  She’s not particularly comfortable with some of her choices though, and forms a friendship with another colleague, the brilliant Lucy, whom the team tolerate mostly for her financial acumen.

The chapters go back and forth between the two narratives and leave you wondering just what happened to the two more likable characters of Sara and Lucy, and which of the elevator group, if any, will make it to the end of their ordeal as secrets and betrayals finally come to light and the truth about why they were selected for the escape room is revealed.

The Escape Room is fast paced, compulsive reading, a tale of bad behaviour, endless ambition and the desire for revenge, of secrets exposed and wrongs righted in an elaborate way. If you’re looking for an entertaining read to see you through these last days of summer then The Escape Room might be one to try.


Book Review: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

Name:  Good Omens
Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Number of Pages:
384 (Paperback)
March 5th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre:  Fantasy


According to The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (the world’s only completely accurate book of prophecies, written in 1655, before she exploded), the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just before dinner.
So the armies of Good and Evil are amassing, Atlantis is rising, frogs are falling, tempers are flaring. Everything appears to be going according to Divine Plan. Except a somewhat fussy angel and a fast-living demon—both of whom have lived amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and have grown rather fond of the lifestyle—are not actually looking forward to the coming Rapture.
And someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist . . .

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Apparently 2019 is the year of my discovering new-to-me authors whose works have been around for a while and then wondering how on earth I’ve missed out on them for so long.
I picked up Good Omens after watching the new tv series; I wanted to see if I would enjoy the book as much as I’d liked each colourful, bizarre, entertaining episode of the show, and it turns out… I did!

Would I have picked this one up had I not watched the series first? In all honestly, possibly not, the story may have sounded a bit too bizarre, but once I started reading, I found it difficult to tear myself away from the world of Crowley and Aziraphale. So, how to describe Good Omens?

The end is nigh, but years previously there was a mix-up involving a group of chattering nuns and a certain demon which resulted in an epic mistake… the Antichrist is missing. It’s a problem because the demon in question, Crowley, and his heavenly counterpart Aziraphale, have come to enjoy their existence on Earth and their Arrangement which sees neither good or evil triumph completely and keeps things ticking over quite nicely so they can enjoy all this world has to offer and each other’s company at the same time – unlikely as it may seem, the angel and the demon have formed a solid friendship over the many years of their existence.
So, neither of them really want the upcoming apocalypse to begin, and set out to locate the Antichrist and see if they can put a stop to it all.

I love these two central characters and their companionship. They’re so different yet they work so well together and balance each other out. I enjoyed every page of them together, whether it be trying to discover the location of the missing Antichrist, or planning to go for lunch at the Ritz.

There were so many little moments in Good Omens that made me smile, so it’s probably the first impending-apocalypse novel to achieve that. It’s a quirky, fun, bizarre caper of a novel with all manner of randomness – aliens, a 30-ft-tower of fish on the M6, the Bikers of the Apocalypse, a unique approach to team building exercises and Crowley’s poor Bentley, eventually willed on by nothing more than his own imagination. I laughed a lot throughout this book.

The characters, aside from the angel and the demon at the heart of the story, are so varied. There’s Anathema Device, descendant of the witch/creator of the Nice and Accurate Prophecies… and Newton Pulsifer, descendant of the Witchfinder Major behind Agnes’ eventual demise, and a group of kids, the Them, who live in the idyllic Tadfield, growing up alongside Adam, who is more than he realises. Oh, and a hellhound called Dog.
And that’s before I get to Shadwell and Madam Tracy, who make an unlikely team and get involved in averting the end of the world as we know it.

Good Omens is certainly one of the most unique books I’ve read recently, and I doubt I would ever have picked it up had I not checked out the tv series first. What a treat I’d have missed. Plots, sub-plots, random moments of laugh-out-loud humour, colourful characters and imaginative situations, Good Omens has all this going for it. Can’t wait to check out other books by these authors in the future.

Top Ten Tuesday: Freebie!  AKA The Books of 2019 Past and Future…

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.  Click on the link for more info and to find out about future topics.

This weeks theme is:  Freebie!  AKA The Books of 2019 Past and Future…

For this weeks Top Ten Freebie I’ve complied a list of books I’ve enjoyed so far this year and what I‘m looking forward to for the coming months:

Read This Year:



The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon – Fantasy, wonderful ladies, talking dragons, magic, adventure; I loved this!

The Woman in the Woods by John Connolly – I was very late to the Charlie Parker series, and this tale served as my introduction and left me wanting more.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher – I’m a fan of post apocalyptic tales and this one stayed in my thoughts long after I finished the book.

The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – I loved the story of Vasya and Morozko and the whole Winternight trilogy.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – The twist! I’ll say no more…


Bone China by Laura Purcell – I loved both The Silent Companions and The Corset, so there was no way that Laura Purcell’s latest offering wouldn’t make my list. A ghostly tale set in Cornwall? Sounds good to me!

The Institute by Stephen King – It’s Stephen King so I’ll definitely going to give this one a try.

A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie – I spotted this one on the library catalogue and decided it might be worth a request.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern – I was a big Night Circus fan, and would actually like to re-read that book to see how much I enjoy it a second time, and this new novel sounds just my cup of tea.

So, have you read any of the books that made my list this week?  If so, what did you think of them? See you again next time for another Top Ten Tuesday.

Book Review: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Name:  Twisted
Steve Cavanagh
Number of Pages:
352 (Paperback)
May 21st 2019 by Orion
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery


1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.
After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I picked up Twisted, glanced at the brief synopsis and ventured online to try and find out more before I started reading. As it happened, quite a few reviews said this thriller worked best the less you knew, and I decided to stop looking before I ended up tripping over inevitable spoilers. Guess what? They were right! The less you know, the less you see coming and that makes for an enjoyable read.

It makes Twisted a great book to recommend, but a little tough to review, so I have a feeling this will be fairly short, but that by no means reflects on the book at all. I just don’t want to risk giving anything away…

Twisted is about books, writing, hidden identities, betrayals and deceptions, and that’s about all I’ll say in terms of plot. It’s cleverly plotted and perfectly titled, for just when you think you’re getting a grip on the ‘who’, the ‘how’ or the ‘why’, there’s the next twist, delivered at the perfect time to leave you reeling and rethinking your ideas as you read on.

Twisted certainly delivers a fast-paced thriller. It is a page-turning read that builds the suspense and raises the stakes right through to the very end. It draws you in and keeps you guessing. This is the first Steven Cavanagh book I’ve read, but I already have a copy of Thirteen and after enjoying this one so much I can’t wait to discover more of this author’s work.

Book Review: A Book of Bones (Charlie Parker #17) by John Connolly

Name:  A Book of Bones (Charlie Parker #17)
John Connolly
Number of Pages:
720 (Hardback)
April 18th 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural


The new thrilling installment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series.
He is our best hope.
He is our last hope.
On lonely moor in the northeast of England, the body of a young woman is discovered near the site of a vanished church. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.
Each is a sacrifice, a summons.
And something in the darkness has heard the call.
But another is coming: Parker the hunter, the avenger. From the forests of Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border, from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London, he will track those who would cast this world into darkness.
Parker fears no evil.
But evil fears him . . .

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A Book of Bones is the 17th in the Charlie Parker series, but only the second book I’ve read after picking up The Woman in the Woods earlier this year. What a find this series is! I don’t know how I missed it for so long. The stories offer a wonderful mix of crime and supernatural and some memorable characters. This story begins shortly after events of The Woman in the Woods, and I am glad I read that book first.

A Book of Bones follows Charlie Parker and his allies Louis and Angel, along with rare book expert Bob Johnston who is knowledgeable in the ongoing search for the Fractured Atlas, an old book said to have enough power to alter the world forever.
Parker is in pursuit of the lawyer, Quayle, and his sidekick, a woman known as Pallida Mors. When last we saw this pair Quayle believed his search for the scattered pages of the Atlas was almost complete and that everything was about to change.

The search for this dangerous duo takes our heroes across Europe and to Britain, where a series of murders is keeping the police occupied. We follow D.I Nicola Priestman and her team as the body count rises, each being discovered at a site of historical significance.

There are stories within the main story, historical events of a strange nature, from a disappearance from an archaeological expedition to a murder in Whitechapel, and these tales added atmosphere and creepiness to the modern-day search for Quayle and Mors. I loved these interludes almost as much as the main narrative.

A Book of Bones is a vast and epic tale, and one that draws you in right from the start. Towards the end I couldn’t stop reading ‘just one more chapter’, but I didn’t want it to end either! At least I have the rest of the series to discover whilst eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Charlie Parker’s story.