Skip to content

Review: Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne) by Peter McLean

Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne) by Peter McLean

About the book

‘Sixty-five thousand battle-shocked, trained killers came home to no jobs, no food and the plague. What did Her Majesty think was going to happen?’

Tomas Piety takes his duties seriously: as a soldier, as a priest of Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows and as a leader of men. He has come home from the war to reclaim his family business, to provide for his men and to ensure the horrors of Abingon can never happen in Ellinburg.

But things have changed: his crime empire has been stolen and the people of Ellinburg – his people – have run out of food and hope and places to hide. With his best friend Bloody Anne, his war-damaged brother Jochan and his new gang, the Pious Men, Tomas sets out to reclaim what was his.

And as Tomas is dragged into a web of political intrigue by the sinister Queen’s Men, forced to work against the foreign infiltrators lurking in the backstreet taverns, brothels and gambling dens of the Stink, one thing becomes clear.

The war has just begun.


My thoughts

Just get it. Get it and read this book. Wow.

I think they call this grimdark or dark fantasy… fantasy/noir… Well, whatever it is called, you should get and read this book. A mob fantasy set in the aftermath of a war, the soldiers who lived have now returned home… and it’s gonna get messy. In this case Tomas Piety used to be a mob boss, he once controlled the Stink. He’s survived the war, has come home and he wants his streets back.

This is the best of mob crime, the best of dark fantasy, the best kind of story. There is a taste of magic, overwhelming buckets of blood filling the streets and the impossibility of family values (both the kind you have to accept and they kind you make). Every character is gritty and real, well fleshed out and inventive. The streets of Ellinburg take on a life of their own. The city is its own character from the Stink to the Wheels to the “high society” of Ellinburg. War might be over, but in the streets of Ellinburg its only just beginning. Clashes between mobs, the cops and unknown invaders from another shore make this is a gritty tale of murder, family and revenge. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next installment. A terrific read.

The war is far from over.

If you loved The Godfather you will love this book.


The cat curiosity killed (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook


“What’s that?”

“A shell, darling.”

“What’s that?”

“A fossil, dear.”

A pause. Shuffling feet. A sniff and a sleeve scrubs across a wet nose. “What’s that?”

Sigh. “Driftwood, sweetie.”

A longer pause. A heel scraped across the floor leaves a black mark. “What’s that?”

“The line to see the penguins.”

Thumping feet to the window. Smudges and an ear-aching sound of wet glass. “What’s that?”

“A sea monster who eats little boys who ask questions, honey.”

A pause. Little fingers wipe red eyes.


“Sweetheart, you don’t really care what they are do you?”

“Can we have burgers tonight?”



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: A Demigoddess Guide to Interplanetary Parenting by R.L. Andrew

Review: A Demigoddess Guide to Interplanetary Parenting by R.L. Andrew

About the book:

Erin exhaled and adjusted her pony tail. “You’re still helping me set up for the party when we get back aren’t you? You said you’d help me and be there the whole time. You can’t change your mind now. Hell, then I’ll have to organise everything myself. You always do this. I don’t know why I trusted you. That whole drugging me thing to get out of the mental hospital–that’s your true self, not the all high and mighty god you portray yourself to be.” 
Her daughter’s apparent mistrust sliced across Shayne’s wound upon her soul. ‘Oh yeah, I should totally have more kids. I’m so fucking good at the parenting thing. And I’m probably going to hell anyway.’ 
“Ah, ouch Erin. I knew you hadn’t gotten over that. I admit it wasn’t my best move but none of you believed me, and I had no other way. I’ve really changed in the last several months, you can’t deny that. Also on the same token you can’t keep holding things against me, and lastly, I never said I wasn’t going to help you.”

My thoughts:

Here we go again 🙂 Book two of this Aussie/interplanetary adventure kicks off with a bang. Still following Shayne’s adventures, she is now a demigodess (still crude and full of attitude) only now she has a fiance and children issues…

Daughter hates her, Step son hates her, illness biting at her heels and oh, yeah… an galactic war. All she wants is to smoke some weed and eat a gallon of chocolate.

Following both Shayne and Annu on their adventures, now we also follow Shayne’s human daughter Erin, who gets roped into her mothers dramas through no fault of her own, and boy she is not happy about it. From Earth “area 51 alien examinations” to war on Orion and uncontrollable wormholes on Jupiter this is a fun story to read.

R.L Andrew has a terrific voice in this series. it’s a crude, zany, madcap adventure full of attitude and godly powers.

You can read my review of book one here

Dust to dust (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Yvette Prior

“Why so much coffee?”

I didn’t answer. It was obvious, wasn’t it? A room full of writers. Coffee was mandatory. That and the wine / whisky but it was rather early. I walked the room again, ensuring everything was in its place and perfectly aligned.

A sad day. The passing of a legend. But I was determined to find some joy in the proceedings. He would have wanted it this way. “You should have told him.”

No way could I have shown him my manuscript. He would have hated it.

Now he’s gone.

Perhaps it’s time to dust it off.



This is a Friday Fictioneers prompt

Word count: 100



© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Curiousier and curiousier (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

Do you ever wonder, if you could float up high above the ground using an umbrella or balloon, what you would see and where you would go?

Adventures are not for the faint of heart. Especially when the transport is a little bit… magical.

Morrigan Crow did it, as did Mary Poppins.


As a kid, did you ever wonder what it would be like to fly?


I imagine a far-off land filled with pixies and dragons and elves, and of battles and banquets and true love.

What do you imagine?


I stare at my reflection in the mirror… and wonder.




This is a Friday Fictioneer’s Prompt

Word count:100



© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.



A choice (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll


No one knew how it got there.

One evening it was not there, the following morning it was. Mother called it an eyesore. Father attempted to remove it with a hammer. The cuckoo clock withstood every blow.

I didn’t tell them what I saw that night.

Little bodies with pointy hats and wooden shoes, carrying tiny pieces of wood. Or that I’d heard high-pitch voices and smelt honey and fresh cut grass. Or that one spied me hiding on the stairs.

“Shhhhh,” it said. “When the clock chimes, the door will open.”

“What happens then?”

It winked. “Up to you.”



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: War Cry by Brian McClellan

About the Book

Teado is a Changer, a shape-shifting military asset trained to win wars. His platoon has been stationed in the Bavares high plains for years, stranded. As they ration supplies and scan the airwaves for news, any news, their numbers dwindle. He’s not sure how much time they have left.

Desperate and starving, armed with aging, faulting equipment, the team jumps at the chance for a risky resupply mission, even if it means not all of them might come. What they discover could change the course of the war.

My thoughts

I wish it were longer!  Military Fantasy that gets to the heart of long-term special forces battle. Weariness, hunger and a lot of waiting…

Terrific and engrossing, this novella cuts right to the chase, introducing character and world building by throwing us straight into a war, a lengthy one where the combatants are weary and bitter. In a seemingly never ending fight, the platoon are holdouts who still manage to cause great damage to the enemy. The mystic characters – Changers and Smiling Toms – are fascinating concepts I want to see more of. Teado the Changer and main character is riddled with doubts and flaws, and these fuel his desperation to get back to his platoon (his family) when everything seems to be against him. His struggles and ability to get back up when all hope seems lost carry this story to its end and give the character depth and purpose. An enjoyable read.

Wish upon a star (Friday Fictioneers)

PHOTO PROMPT © Gah Learner


I often found her standing at the window, staring at the night sky. Full moon, new moon, crescents of all sizes. I once asked why. She shut down on me so fast I got whiplash. I didn’t ask again.

When she repeated the same question within the space of a few minutes I grew concerned.

Her vagueness, her swinging emotions… You could never predict what you were going to get.

Today, I stand at the window and stare into the night sky.


Tomorrow I’ll bury the spaceship. I’ll bury her too. I never told her I knew. Now I can’t.



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word Count: 100

© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette

About the book

When a spaceship lands in Sorrow Falls, a lovable and fearless small-town girl is the planet’s only hope for survival
Three years ago, a spaceship landed in an open field in the quiet mill town of Sorrow Falls, Massachusetts. It never opened its doors, and for all that time, the townspeople have wondered why the ship landed there, and what—or who—could be inside.

Then one day a government operative—posing as a journalist—arrives in town, asking questions. He discovers sixteen-year-old Annie Collins, one of the ship’s closest neighbors and a local fixture known throughout the town, who has some of the answers.

As a matter of fact, Annie Collins might be the most important person on the planet. She just doesn’t know it.

My thoughts:

Ah! Loved it. This is a terrific YA scifi story that reminded me so much of Douglas Adams I wondered if there was a family relationship. A fun story all about a little town and a young woman in that little town… the catch… a spaceship lands in a local field and… well… nothing changes.


This is a great story about consequences and what ifs… what if a spaceship landed on earth, what if nothing happened for a while, what does the population, the military, the government, the townsfolk do about that?

Annie is a great character dealing with a fair amount of crap. There are parent issues, government issues, friend issues…

Then ordinary things are not so ordinary any more.

Characters are well fleshed out, containing oddities, flaws and amusing behaviors all of which make them seem quite real. The sci fi concepts are interesting, clever and make you think. The alien life forms are unique and something I had not encountered before in a book. Very well told.

I really enjoyed this story. its one all sci fi readers will enjoy…

Author Interview: Sean Grigsby – Daughters of Forgotten Light

Welcome to another installment of my Author Interview series.

Once again, join me in welcoming Sean Grigsby, author of Smoke Eaters and the newly released Daughters of Forgotten Light. Out today! (To read my review – click here)

A roar of noise comes from the road. I’m expecting my friend Sean but what I hear sounds like… a motorcycle.

I gulp, and search the ground for a weapon. Then I laugh. Come on, I don’t need a weapon… right?

I scrub my sweaty palms against my trousers, wishing I had my gang at my back.


Oh, it is Sean! Phew…

Hi Sean, thank you once again for joining me to chat about your new book, Daughters of Forgotten Light

I hear you are pretty busy now with several books in the works. How is it all going?

It’s going great! I’ve reached a point in my career where I have too many ideas to write at once. ASH KICKERS will be out sometime in 2019, and I’m also working on a robot detective noir, and then a space opera/space western revenge tale.

Tell us a little about Daughters of Forgotten Light? What is it about for people who haven’t heard anything (Seriously? there can’t be anyone who hasn’t heard about this book. I for one have been sharing it everywhere!)

I’ve always described the book as motorcycle girl gangs in space, but it’s so much more than that. It’s definitely an homage to 70s and 80s exploitation and science fiction movies. Many have described it as Bitch Planet meets Mad Max: Fury Road and Escape from New York with the motorcycles from Tron. All of that is accurate.

The cover is amazing, did you have any say in the design?

Marc Gascoigne had this great idea to make the cover look like a rock band poster. All I did was give him and John Coulthart some descriptors and suggestions, but they did all of the rest. I couldn’t be happier with it.

I understand this is a book you have been wanting to get out there for a while. What was your inspiration for writing Daughters of Forgotten Light?

It all started with a Twitter conversation. I was just blabbing about how to make book ideas more dynamic and an agent told me they would love t if I wrote this particular idea. Then, I said, “What if it was in space?”

The idea blossomed from there. Once I get a sense of what it looks like in my head, it’s hard to get away from it. I just ran with everything that popped into my head.

When did you write it?

I finished writing it in December of 2015. With it, I signed with my agent three months later. It was out on submission FOR-EV-ER. Enough time for me to finish Smoke Eaters and get it published. Then Angry Robot said they wanted to publish DOFL as well.

How long did it take to write?

I had to take a break from it in the middle because I had to go to fire academy a second time. Then I was selected to enter a contest called Pitch Wars, and that took even more time away. Including the time it took me to implement my agent’s editorial notes, I’d guess it took me about 6 or 7 months. I write fast.

There are so many great female characters, in fact, nearly every character in Daughters of Forgotten Light is female. Tell me why you chose to do that?

I’d been hearing for a while that there were very few strong female characters in books. I decided to make every character a woman. The Lord of the Flies had all male characters. Why couldn’t I do the same kind of thing with all women? My own mother told me it wouldn’t get published if I didn’t put some men in the book. Joke’s on her.

Mothers and daughters and choices feature heavily in this book. Why?

It organically became a theme for the book. I wanted to explore these issues without taking a side or being didactic. Ultimately, I wanted to look at what it’s like for someone not to have a choice with what happens to them, while also examining the ramifications of what happens when you do have a choice, but then regret the decision afterward and can’t take it back.

Horror is the main character and leader of the biker gang… How did you devise her as a character?

One of the reasons this book has a special place in my heart is that I got very close to the characters. I put a lot of myself into Lena, but I also added some Snake Pliskin and many other women I look up to and respect. Lena gets shit done, and she never apologizes for doing what she thinks is right… and necessary.

How did you come up with the idea of female biker gangs in space?

It stemmed from that twitter conversation, but I also wanted to write something darker than the average science fiction novel. A grimdark science fiction, basically. Why should fantasy get all the grit? And Sons of Anarchy was still pretty popular at the time. I wanted characters that were tough, wild, and out of this world. Space biker gangs encapsulates all of that.

I admit, I had trouble reading some of this book. The violence is… visceral. And I just couldn’t help thinking the concept of throwing people away (out of sight) so they will be forgotten is all too possible and therefore hard to read. Fabulous but hard to read… Also, that violence is so easy to turn to when there are no laws and no police/security to enforce it. What did you want your readers to take away with them after reading Daughters of Forgotten Light?

I didn’t want to shy away from anything. Although, the original manuscript was even more intense. I felt the only way to show how terrible Oubliette is, was to get visceral. I don’t believe in violence for the sake of violence in fiction. I wanted it all to mean something, to pull at reader emotions, give them thrills, chills, and a feeling of absolute despair, so they could really empathize with these women.

The concept of family in Daughters of Forgotten Light features highly. The family we have and the family we make… There is a lot of screwed up love in this book. What were you trying to get across to your readers here?

That you’re never completely forgotten or ostracized, not when you have people at your side, who might not even be related to you. Many marginalized people and others who don’t fit into the majority’s mold have found family in the strangest and loveliest of places. Sometimes the family you find is stronger than the family you’re born into.

Now a little bit more about you.

Tell me about your writer support system? Who do you go to when you need inspiration or a shoulder to cry on?

Anyone who’ll listen. Lol. I go to my agent for a lot of stuff, but also my agent siblings. Twitter and Facebook have a lot of friends out there who are either going through the same type of stuff or have been through it before. I always try to pass it on as well. Writing is a very lonely pursuit. If I didn’t have people I could talk to, I’d go crazy… well, crazier.

Tell me a little about your writer journey… How did you get your agent and publishers?

I submitted DOFL to my agent and he offered me representation. I was his first client, and it was the fourth novel I’d written. It just took years of persistence and drive. I tell people all the time, you have to want it, you have to work on your craft. If you don’t love it, why the hell are you doing it?

Smoke Eaters got picked up first by Angry Robot. Both it and DOFL were rejected by everybody else. Angry Robot proved to be the smartest publisher in the game by offering me publication.

Your debut book Smoke Eaters came out last year. How has your debut year been?

Fantastic but tiring, and it’s not over yet! It’s awesome to have two books out in the same year. From what I hear, Smoke Eaters  is doing very well, and I hope DOFL does the same.

Please, can I have a hint of what you are working on now? I know I’m super excited about more dragons… But there are some robots coming too, aren’t there?

Yep! Robots Don’t Cry is the story of two cities: Upper and Lower Vomisa. The cities are separated by a wall, and Lower Vomisa is where all the robots live. The humans don’t cross over and neither do the bots. They live separate lives, the bots working to provide the humans with oil and other resources, while the humans trade specialized bot alcohol and cigarettes, known as electroettes.

In Lower Vomisa, it’s 1947 and Detective EZ-42 catches a hell of a case when a human is found on the bot side, drowned with salt water. It’s even more of a conundrum, considering Upper Vomisa is in a draught and there isn’t an ocean anywhere around.

Thanks so much for chatting with me today Sean.

Alone again I wander the dusty road. A shadow passes over me. Well… it doesn’t pass, it seems to cover the earth on every side of me. What on Earth? I peer up. Shiny black surface. Ah, crap.

It’s out now….


%d bloggers like this: