Monday, 27 April 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Batman: Arkham Knight sets a standard for others to follow in June - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Might Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers, DC and Rock Steady Games have sent us the latest trailer for the forthcoming, Batman: Arkham Knight (released until 23rd June 2015.)

Having seen it, we're really getting pretty excited for June as there's going to be a hell of a lot out there to keep gamers going for quite some time so how will you choose?

Like us you'll probably be glued to each of the trailers for the titles being released for this month and lets be honest here, with this latest, how can this title not be one of your top choices?  Just take a look:


Batman has his hands full hanging on and always needs the help of his friends.

Stay tuned for more Batman News, same bat time, same bat channel...


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME BETA REVIEW: Elder Scrolls Online - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
OK, so if like us you were lucky enough to get Beta Access this weekend then you’ve probably had a hell of a lot of fun this weekend as we have (Lady Eleanor has been bashing the living hell out of everything with her Dragon-Knight as I was sneaking around with my Nightblade.)

It’s a game that graphically is on par with Skyrim, however what makes it so different is the sheer volume of other players also charging around. Whilst we’ve only got 10 hours of gameplay (mission wise) it’s a title that really gives a lot to the gamer. The area to explore is huge with each landscape per Group being different to suit the various races.

However the one thing that we really noticed was that it was one hell of a steep learning curve , getting used to updating of skills and assigning them was tricky but with the difficulty of having to find the crafting materials alongside learning how to utilise the new creation of various weapons, clothes etc taking time, it’s going to be something that will have a lot of gamers scratching their heads initially as they figure out what skills to upgrade first. And that’s on top of learning which race suits your playing style alongside the benefits that each brings to your chosen profession.

It is a lot of fun and being able to join up with a US friend made it even better, but there were some drawbacks as far as we were concerned. Firstly you have to create a character before you can utilise the Explorers/Adventurer’s pack. Yes this may seem a bit silly especially if you want to do the whole game with friends as you’ll be limited to the races but characters from one server do not carry over to the other. (There’s a European Server and a North America Server.) It does make it tricky but with the huge learning curve there will be quite a few stutters and starts for a good number of players.

All round, the game looks like its going to be mega. We love the idea of charging round with our specially tailored characters as well as having friends to trade and create new items with. In addition to this, if you have friends that each specialise in a type of crafting all round means that together you’ll be a powerhouse to watch on the titles console release date 9th June 2015.

We really can’t wait to embark and we’ll see you in Cyrodiil.



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

FANTASY REVIEW: Knights Shadow - Sebastien De Castell

Release Date: 05/03/15
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books

SYNOPSIS:

Tristia is a nation overcome by intrigue and corruption. The idealistic young King Paelis is dead and the Greatcoats - legendary travelling magistrates who brought justice to the Kingdom - have been branded as traitors. But just before his head was impaled on a spike, the King swore each of his hundred and forty-four Greatcoats to a different mission.

Falcio Val Mond, First Cantor, with the help of fellow Greatcoats Kest and Brasti, has completed his King's final task: he has found his Charoites - well, one at least, and she was not quite what they expected. Now they must protect the girl from the many who would see her dead, and place her on the throne of a lawless kingdom. That would be simple enough, if it weren't for the Daishini, an equally legendary band of assassins, getting in their way, not to forget the Dukes who are determined to hold on to their fractured Kingdoms, or the fact that the heir to the throne is only thirteen years old. Oh, and the poison that is slowly killing Falcio.

That's not even mentioning the Greatcoat's Lament...


REVIEW:

The latest book in Sebastien’s Great Coat series and one that continues to work the authors magic in his not only imaginative world but one that is very well built. The characters are crisp, have a believability about them and when added to a plot that is not only thoroughly engrossing but also needs you leaving more all round generates a title tha tis nigh impossible to put down.

All round a cracking series and one that really gives the reader what they want in a fantasy world. Another serious hit for the Jo Fletcher stable. Cracking.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Empire - John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

Release Date: 01/01/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

EMPIRE is the follow-up to CONQUEST in the epic Chronicles of the Invaders trilogy by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard. As captivating as Pittacus Lore's I AM NUMBER FOUR; as vividly realised as Veronica Roth's DIVERGENT. She is the trophy of a civilization at war with itself. He is its rebel captive. Separated by millions of light years, they will fight to be united. And they will risk everything to make their world - all worlds - right again.


REVIEW:

The new novel in the Chronicles of the Invaders series and whilst I loved the original I’m always a little apprehensive of the second outing purely for the fact that with most novels being part of a trilogy, its usually the second that not only lacks pace but also loses things a little in order to give the third and final part a real kickass plotline.

So what do you get from this title?

Whilst it is a little slow to start with and with what felt like something that was out of sorts with what occurred within the original, the reader is treated to an overall arc that not only adds new life to the world with characters but also one that helps to build upon what’s gone before. It has a solid arc, and whilst the pace does suffer within in parts, the overall pieces go on to make a greater whole that really does bring you in. It is a reasonable enough release and whilst it will leave you wanting more, the wait for the third instalment is going to keep you guessing which for me is a good part of the fun.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Before he Finds Her - Michael Kardos

Release Date: 12/02/15
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

She's only alive because he thinks she's already dead...Everyone in the quiet Jersey Shore town of Silver Bay knows the story: on a Sunday evening in September 1991, Ramsey Miller threw a block party, then murdered his beautiful wife and three-year-old daughter and disappeared...But everyone is wrong. Ramsey's daughter got away. Meg, now known as Melanie, has lived in isolation, protected by her adoptive aunt and uncle. Now she is nearly eighteen and sick of hiding. Melanie's determined to confront her father, but can she find him before he finds her?


REVIEW:

I do love some time with a cracking crime thriller and whilst some titles can be hit or miss, this one at the completion of the read, left me feeling meh!. It was a title that was an OK read but it really didn’t deliver much for me as a reader, yes I liked the concept, yes I liked some of the characters, however the book’s pace sadly didn’t do much for me. I found it a lacklustre and when added to an overall plot that really didn’t deliver (in much the same way that some films have a way better trailer than the actual product) all round left me feeling that it’s a middle of the road book. Sadly, I’d recommend borrowing this from your local library, however if you’re at a loss for something to do, there are worse titles out there.

Friday, 24 April 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Glorious Angels - Justina Robson

Release Date: 10/03/15
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Justina Robson (acclaimed author of NATURAL HISTORY, LIVING NEXT DOOR TO THE GOD OF LOVE and the Quantum Gravity series) is back with a cutting-edge novel of science, adventure and ideas. On a world where science and magic are hard to tell apart, a stranger arrives in a remote town with news of political turmoil to come. And a young woman learns that she must free herself from the role she has accepted. Always vivid, always full of stunning ideas and imagery, Justina Robson is the ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARD shortlisted author of some of our most exciting, yet philosophical SF. A new novel from her is a major event in the SF calendar.


REVIEW:

I’ve been a fan of Justina since I read her Quantum Gravity series which was not only slick but well thought out with some cracking characters and of course a real kickass plot. So that’s pretty much what I expected from this, her brand new novel.

What unfurls within is a book that has a cracking overall arc, a solid plotline and whilst I was more than surprised with the opening sequences (oh my, so much sex), overall the book worked very well on the whole. As expected the pace was decent, the characters (whilst they took a while to get used to) became friends and overall, I was left wanting more. I really can’t wait to see what Justina hits with on the second title in this series.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

URBAN FANTAY REVIEW: Fish Tails - Sheri S Tepper

Release Date: 26/12/14
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

In her 35th novel, science fiction master Sheri S. Tepper boldly weaves together the storylines of eleven of her previous works - from KING'S BLOOD FOUR (1983) to THE WATERS RISING (2010) In FISH TAILS, two of Tepper's beloved characters - Abasio and Xulai (A PLAGUE OF ANGELS and THE WATERS RISING) - and their children travel from village to village scattered across the sparsely populated land of Tingawa. They are searching for others who might be interested in adopting their sea-dwelling lifestyle. Along their journey they encounter strange visitors from the far-off world of Lom, characters from Tepper's nine-book True Game series of novels - Mavin Manyshaped, Jinian Star-eye, and Silkhands the Healer - all of whom have been gathered up by an interfering, time-traveling, rule-breaking do-gooder to do one last good dead on earth before its metamorphosis is complete. For the waters are rising and will soon engulf the entire planet, transforming it utterly and irrevocably.


REVIEW:

The latest outing for a number of characters from previous tales and sadly for me, one that left me feeling pretty flat as I felt that a lot of potential wasn’t met within. The prose was flat, the pace missing and overall when you add characters that felt more like bare bones than what has gone before, all round left me feeling very disappointed. If you feel the need to read this, then I suggest borrowing from your library or waiting until it hits the cheap book shops.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

YOUNG ADULT URBAN STEAMPUNK FANTASY REVIEW: The Custard Protocol 1: Prudence - Gail Carriger

Release Date: 19/03/15
Publisher:  Atom

SYNOPSIS:

ON BEHALF OF QUEEN, COUNTRY ...AND THE PERFECT POT OF TEA When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances - names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier's wife and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone's secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?


REVIEW:

The new book in the delightfully addictive Viral’s series that has had me glued (as well as my Mum) from the very beginning.
Ah the latest title from Gail Carriger and one that more than hits the spot for readers who have loved her previous work under the Parasol Protectorate. Here within this title is a brand new heroine for a new time and one that more than meets the match of any set against her. She’s quirky, she has brains and above all else, with a different time, the world flourishes anew.

Add to the authors deliciously dark and delightful humour breaking through alongside some cracking dialogue as well as a top notch support cast and all round I was a more than happy reader. Cracking.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Falcata Times Chooses a Side - Warner Brothers Interactive



Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
We're huge fans of Mortal Kombat here and whilst we're fighting it out at the moment, the review is going to have to wait for a short time as both Lady Eleanor and I fight the good fight with our Faction.  

OK, so with five to choose from, you're probably wondering which way we went, so we thought we'd have  a bit of fun and reveal our own choices and why.  So who did we go with?

Well today, we're proud to announce that Lady E and I are:

Lin Kuei.
After all, if you're going to get such a cool name as Forest Demons how can you not go with them? In all honesty, we loved the idea from their mini ad, after all how can you not?



Anyway, hope to see you on the battlefield and if you're not with us, you're against us. Prepare to fight. Prepare to die... Mortal Kombat style. LOL


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Ugly Bus - Mike Thomas

Release Date: 26/03/15
Publisher:  Cornerstone Publishing

SYNOPSIS:

Boxing day, late shift. On duty: Flub, Dullas, Vince and Thrush. The new guy: Sergeant Martin Finch. What begins as a routine shift policing a football match rapidly descends into chaos. But how far will new guy Martin go to fit in? One thing is for certain: the lives of everyone on the Ugly Bus - and the life of a young woman drawn into their orbit - will change for ever.


REVIEW:

The new book in the delightfully addictive Viral’s series that has had me glued (as well as my Mum) from the very beginning.
If you want a crime novel that’s very different then you have to take a ride on Mike’s quirky and delightfully dark “Ugly Bus.” It has some great characters, top notch prose and when added to the humour alongside an overall arc that really does keep the pages turning generates a book that is hard to put down.

All round a thoroughly enjoyable title that was a pure joy to read and one that has really turned me on to Mike’s writing so much so that future titles will move up the TBR pile very quickly. Cracking.

Monday, 20 April 2015

YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Terminal - Kathy and Brendan Reichs


Release Date: 26/03/15
Publisher:  Conerstone Publishing

SYNOPSIS:

This is a terrifying new Virals adventure for Tory Brennan - great niece of Dr Temperance Brennan - and the Virals team as they come face to face with their greatest enemy. From the producer of the hit TV series Bones and No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Temperance Brennan series. Tory Brennan and the Virals are forced to confront the existence of a rival pack - The Trinity - who wants them off the scene - declaring war by engraving 'One Territory. One Pack' on a local landmark. What's more this pack's powers seem stronger and their eyes glow red rather than golden when they flare. Chance Claybourne, who now owns his father's pharmaceutical company, shares The Trinity's powers - he accidentally infected himself and his ex-lab tech Will Speckman. Chance claims he's on Virals' side but can they trust him? And if Speckman is one of The Trinity, who are the other two? As the tension mounts between the two packs an even greater threat looms. Covert government agents are closing in on them, determined to find out exactly how their powers work, to experiment on them. Have The Trinity pack given them Virals to save themselves? Or are both packs at risk?


REVIEW:

The new book in the delightfully addictive Viral’s series that has had me glued (as well as my Mum) from the very beginning.
As you’d expect the plotline is fast moving, the characters a sheer joy to hang around and when added to a story arc that really does keep on giving for the reader will leave you in no doubt that Kathy’s UF series has serious legs for readers.

Back this up with some great dialogue, a few twists and all round, you’ll have a great time. Just don’t blame me for lost sleep or for a sick day due to exhaustion. LOL

Sunday, 19 April 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Supernatural Enhancements - Edgar Cantero

Release Date: 14/08/14
Publisher:  Ebury Press

SYNOPSIS:

Everybody loves a ghost story...The heir to Axton House and his companion are delighted to find themselves living in one. With it come nightmares, a secret society and a curse. A ghost may soon be the least of their worries. Part ghost story, part cerebral mystery, this is a dazzling and wholly original supernatural adventure.


REVIEW:

This is a book that I’ve had on the back burner for quite a while and whilst I’ve been reading away like a demon, its one that whilst I liked the idea, I always felt that I had something better to sit down with so it just stayed pretty much where it was in the TBR pile.

Finally I’ve managed to make my way through to it and upon starting, thought that my initial retisense to start was fully justified as I had a bit of trouble picking up the prose and getting into it. That however was until after a few chapters when I found that I couldn’t put it down. I loved the quirky characters, the twists that the author threw at you and when added to some cracking dialogue that kept you fed alongside some top notch “factual” pieces to back up the information all round generates a book that was a sheer joy to read. I’ll have to make sure that I don’t make this mistake again.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

SCIENCE FICTION FANTASY REVIEW: Fiefdom - Dan Abnett and Nik Vincent

Release Date: 14/08/14
Publisher:  Rebellion

SYNOPSIS:

New York Times best selling author Dan Abnett is to write an original novel set in the world of his hit 2000 AD comics series Kingdom. Co-written with Nik Vincent, Fiefdom is set one hundred years after the events of Kingdom, in which a genetically-engineered dog-soldiers fought giant marauding insects in a post-apocalyptic future. Kingdom took us to the isolated wastelands of the southern hemisphere, where Gene the Hackman and his fellow Aux listen to the voices of The Masters as humanity hibernates, awaiting the destruction of the alien Them. In Fiefdom the action moves into the northern hemisphere, where Them are now a folk memory and the Aux war with one another in the ruins of what was once Berlin. Inspired by the legends of Gene, young Evelyn War begins to question the Aux's situation as she hears the first rumours about the return of Them...


REVIEW:

If you want a dark futuristic novel that brings war, a bleak outlook and of course kickass characters to the fore, then the odds are you’ve read Dan Abnett’s work before. Here within this title it brings all that and of course an arc that brings fantastical elements to the fore as a world struggles to find itself after shattering events.

Its definitely a title that gives you food for thought, it’s one that keeps you guessing and when added to an overall arc that has plenty more to keep you fuelled all round gives you a series to become glued for.

Friday, 17 April 2015

YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Lockwood and Co 2: Whispering Skull - Jonathan Stroud

Release Date: 28/09/14
Publisher:  Random House Children's

SYNOPSIS:

Ghosts and ghouls beware! London's smallest, shabbiest and most talented psychic detection agency is back. Life is never exactly peaceful for Lockwood & Co. Lucy and George are trying to solve the mystery of the talking skull trapped in their ghost jar, while Lockwood is desperate for an exciting new case. Things seem to be looking up when the team is called to Kensal Green Cemetery to investigate the grave of a sinister Victorian doctor. Strange apparitions have been seen there, and the site must be made safe. As usual, Lockwood is confident; as usual, everything goes wrong - a terrible phantom is unleashed, and a dangerous object is stolen from the coffin. Lockwood & Co must recover the relic before its power is unleashed, but it's a race against time. Their obnoxious rivals from the Fittes agency are also on the hunt. And if that's not bad enough, the skull in the ghost-jar is stirring again...


REVIEW:

If you have a young reader that loves a good scare, cracking Urban Fantasy and a mystery then you really have to let them loose on Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co series. Whilst this is the second outing for the company, it gives readers cracking prose, top notch characters and of course a mystery that keeps you glued from the first page to the last.

Its definitely a series that has generated a lot of fun in my house and whilst its mainly meant for readers in the double digits, I read this to one of my nephews just before bed each night. He couldn’t wait for the sessions, so much so that he quickly ran upstairs to get ready without any cajoling and for me, that’s a sign of a great read.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Bloodbowl 2 Fouls a Plenty - Cyanide and Focus

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Its Fantasy sports with less of the sports and more of the gore, pustules, mutilation and of course deaths, so what are you going to do?

That's right sports fans, find your team, cheer them on and let the mayhem commence as the Warhammer World once again takes to the astro-turf for a bit of vengeance, scoring and of course glory as old rivalries are settled under the banner of sportmanship.

Of course its never going to be nice, its not going to be pretty but hey, when you see the opponents team mangled into the dirt (and as you dance on thier faces with your spiked boots) you can't help but get enthused.  



Back this up with dirty tricks, hugely bribable refs, some real hard hitters and of course a team for all tastes, you know that its going to be a bloodbath.  



We hope you'll celebrate with us (on the 29th May 2015 when its released) as we bathe in our foes tears (be they due to defeat or the pain we inflict.)



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

DVD NEWS: 20th Century Fox Pranks Trafalgar Square Visitors - 20th Century Fox

Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have let us know about how they pranked visitors to Trafalgar Squares lions this week as part of the release for Night at the Museum 3: Secrets of the Tomb.

Here's what they had to say:
"Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings back to life your favorite museum heroes in NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB available on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD on 13 April. Families around the globe have come out to see the hysterical third and final installment in the franchise which has grossed more than a billion dollars1.

If it’s laughter you’re after, get ready for the most hilarious night ever! Ben Stiller leads an all-star comedy cast, including British favourites Dan Stevens, Steve Coogan, Ben Kingsley and Ricky Gervais, alongside Robin Williams, Owen Wilson and Rebel Wilson, for one final, fun-filled Night at the Museum. This time, Larry Daley (Stiller) and his heroic friends embark on their greatest adventure yet as they travel to London in order to save the magic that brings the museum exhibits to life! 




The Blu-ray™ comes with lots of special features that will have the entire family laughing! You can check out how Stiller got into character for his alter ego Laaa, and learn how the film’s iconic flight scene inside an M.C. Escher painting came to life. 


Families can experience NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB anytime, anywhere on Digital HD 


NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB BLU-RAY™ SPECIAL FEATURES
* Improv, Absurdity and Cracking Up - The Comedy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
* The Theory of Relativity
* Becoming Laaa
* A Day in the Afterlife
* Fight at the Museum
* Creating Visual Effects
* Seven Deleted and Extended Scenes
* Audio Commentary by Shawn Levy
* Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers 




NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: SECRET OF THE TOMB DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
* Improv, Absurdity and Cracking Up - The Comedy of Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
* Two Deleted and Extended Scenes
* Gallery
* Theatrical Trailers"

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: The Ghosts of Heaven- Marcus Sedgwick

Release Date: 02/10/14
Publisher:  Hatchette Children's Group

SYNOPSIS:

A cleverly interlinked novel written in four parts by PRINTZ AWARD-winning author, Marcus Sedgwick, about survival and discovery, and about the effect of the spiral, a symbol that has no end, on all our lives. The spiral has existed as long as time has existed. It's there when a girl walks through the forest, the moist green air clinging to her skin. There centuries later in a pleasant green dale, hiding the treacherous waters of Golden Beck that take Anna, who they call a witch. There on the other side of the world, where a mad poet watches the waves and knows the horrors they hide, and far into the future as Keir Bowman realises his destiny. Each takes their next step in life. None will ever go back to the same place. And so their journeys begin...


REVIEW:

A young adult novel that is one that you’re either going to love or hate and whilst it’s a novel for young adults its one that will make the reader of any age ask questions. Its definitely a book that has a solid arc, one that has some interesting characters and whilst I’m still not sure on it, I did feel that overall it’s a book that deserves to be read, if only for the experience of questioning yourself afterwards.

All round, a book that fits into Marcus’ style very well and one that all round was a reasonable enough read.



Wednesday, 15 April 2015

FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Operation Arcana - John Jospeh Adams

Release Date: 14/04/15
Publisher:  Baen Books

SYNOPSIS:

From Tolkien's Battle of Helm's Deep to George R.R. Martin's Blackwater to Elizabeth Moon's Civil War of Fintha, it is in the battles of epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, and contemporary fantasy where heroism comes alive, magic is unleashed, and legends are made and unmade. Here are stories on the military side of both high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, and urban fantasy. These tales feature beautifully crafted worlds of a past and present filled with magic and mayhem - all served up by a range of top authors including Jonathan Maberry, Tobias Buckell, Elizabeth Moon, Tanya Huff, Glen Cook, Simon R. Green, Seanan McGuire, and Linda Nagata.


REVIEW:

Ah a book that brings not only high octane action but cracking short stories that will keep the reader glued as military and fantasy collide on an epic scale through a great many imaginations. Its definitely quirky, has some top notch options and when added to easy to dip into worlds gives the reader a whole host of tales that will make them think as well as giving them the chance to try new authors.

All round a book that was a thorough joy to read and when I’ve also managed to add some additional names to my TBR list gives me something that was a gift beyond words. Magic.



Tuesday, 14 April 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Hellequin Chronicles 4: Prison of Hope - Steve McHugh

Release Date: 14/04/15
Publisher:  47 North

SYNOPSIS:

Long ago, Olympian gods imprisoned the demon Pandora in a human—Hope—creating a creature whose only purpose was chaos and death. Remorseful, the gods locked Pandora away in Tartarus, ruled by Hades.

Now, centuries later, Pandora escapes. Nate Garrett, a 1,600-year-old sorcerer, is sent to recapture her and discovers her plan to disrupt the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, killing thousands in a misplaced quest for vengeance.

Fast forward to modern-day Berlin, where Nate has agreed to act as guardian on a school trip to Germany to visit Hades at the entrance to Tartarus. When Titan King Cronus becomes the second ever to escape Tartarus, Nate is forced to track him down and bring him back, to avert a civil war between those who would use his escape to gain power.

Prison of Hope is the fourth book in the highly acclaimed and action-packed dark urban fantasy series, the Hellequin Chronicles.


REVIEW:

The latest Hellequin title from Steve McHugh and one I’ve been waiting for for quite some time. It hits with all the power of the other books and brings our principle hero to the fore against the very gods (and titans) themselves as he seeks to avert chaos in all its natural glory.

Tis definitely something novel, has a great number of twists to the plot and when given the reader will find them glued to the pages for the infamous “One more Chapter” before bed line. (Alas my “One More Chapter” turned into a very long night (or rather it felt quite short,) with me turning the final page as the birds began to sing.

All round a magical outing and one that really leaves me singing the authors praises. Cracking.



Monday, 13 April 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Fin Fancy Necromancy - Randy Henderson

Release Date: 13/02/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

Found guilty of a terrible crime he didn't commit in 1986, 15-year-old necromancer Finn Gramaraye was exiled to the Other Realm for 25 years. But now he's back in the mortal world and is disappointed to discover that he's middle-aged, DeLoreans can't fly, and he's been framed for using dark magic, again. All Finn wants is to pick up the pieces of his life and patch things up with his family: his mad scientist father, the ghost of his mother, a sister who is allergic to magic, a younger brother who thinks he's a werewolf and an older brother who is most unhappy to see him. But with just three days to clear his name before he's sent back into exile forever, Finn will need all the help he can get to figure out who wants him gone, and why.


REVIEW:

Titan often play a blinder with fiction and there are times that they take a chance and bring something not only new to the fore but give the reader a book that is not only enjoyable but something that stands out in the readers imagination and will do for quite some time.

Whilst its not something that happens to often, this book by Randy Henderson is one that you cannot afford to miss. It has a quirky lead character, one that not only has to bumble through a modern world (as he’s lost a quarter of a century due to a crime he didn’t commit) and being thrust into a whole struggle to not only clear his name but also to find a way to help himself against a hidden foe, all round generates a title that is not only gripping but something that you don’t tend to come across to often.

All round a fine read and one that I definitely had a good time doing. Magic.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

DVD REVIEW: Dracula Untold - Universal Pictures UK

Release Date: 09/02/15
Publisher:  Universal Pictures UK

SYNOPSIS:

Gary Shore directs and Luke Evans stars in this fantasy horror origin story. The film follows Vlad Tepes (Evans) and his struggle to protect his family and his people from the malevolent Ottoman sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), whose ever-expanding empire has put Vlad's homeland in danger of being conquered. Desperate to find a solution, Vlad seeks the help of a mysterious man (Charles Dance) who grants him the powers to defeat his enemy. But do these newly-gained powers come at too high a price?


REVIEW:

As a fan of the early Turtles cartoon it was pretty cool to hear that it was back for my nephew’s generation as a three d animation and whilst I missed the old villain characters like Beebop and Rocksteady, the new series had their own set of villains for the heroes to deal with.

So having been a fan of the Transformers franchise, when I heard Michael Bay was having a hand in dealing with the new film I thought it should be a pretty solid offering that would be fun for all. Yet originally upon release all I heard were negatives. It worried me and put me off, after all the cast looked solid enough, so I thought it could only be something to do with the script.

So when the DVD came out, I was lucky enough to get a review copy and settled myself in not expecting too much from this new release but actually I was pretty sold within the first few minutes. I liked the way that they poked fun at other hero franchises, loved the way that April O’Neal came across as the still sassy reporter and when added to the over villainy of William Fichtner really worked well for me.

All round a film that whilst not an Oscar winner, was something that not only entertained me but also gave me a good laugh, definitely worth watching with your kids and for me is something I look forward to watching with my nephews. Cowabunga.


FANTASY REVIEW: Of Bone and Thunder - Chris Evans

Release Date: 06/02/15
Publisher:  Titan Books

SYNOPSIS:

"Chris Evans PLACES the broad sword and sorcery archetypes in a new and exciting environment." R. A. Salvatore A land of thick jungle and mist-swirled mountains. An enemy moving unseen beneath the lush canopy. The growing threat of thaumics - a magic wielded by few that threatens to destabilise all. The youth of a kingdom sent to fight in a faraway hell while back home, discord and disillusionment reign - Chris Evans takes a daring new approach to the traditional world of sword and sorcery by thrusting it into a maelstrom of racial animus, drug use, rebellion, and a growing war that seems at once unwinnable and with no end in sight. In this thrilling epic, channelling the cultural upheaval and wholesale destruction of the Vietnam War, right and wrong, country and honour, freedom and sacrifice are all put to the ultimate test in the heart of a dark, bloody, otherworldly jungle.


REVIEW:

If you want something different from a fantasy book then you have to try Chris Evan’s Of Bone and Thunder that brings modern military context to the fantasy world with issues that not only fog the world of black and white into shades of grey but also allows the reader a glimpse into something that is greater than the sum of the parts as addiction wars with honour alongside patriotism vs ideals.

Its definitely something that makes you ask questions, has realistic characters and when added overall to an arc that adds more textures all round generates a world that whilst hard to survive in, makes for a hugely entertaining read as fantasy warfare takes on a new level of horror.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

DVD REVIEW: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Paramount Home Entertainment


Release Date: 16/02/15
Publisher:  Paramount Home Entertainment

SYNOPSIS:

Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O'Neil and her cameraman Vern Fenwick to save the city and unravel Shredder's diabolical plan.


REVIEW:

As a fan of the early Turtles cartoon it was pretty cool to hear that it was back for my nephew’s generation as a three d animation and whilst I missed the old villain characters like Beebop and Rocksteady, the new series had their own set of villains for the heroes to deal with.

So having been a fan of the Transformers franchise, when I heard Michael Bay was having a hand in dealing with the new film I thought it should be a pretty solid offering that would be fun for all. Yet originally upon release all I heard were negatives. It worried me and put me off, after all the cast looked solid enough, so I thought it could only be something to do with the script.

So when the DVD came out, I was lucky enough to get a review copy and settled myself in not expecting too much from this new release but actually I was pretty sold within the first few minutes. I liked the way that they poked fun at other hero franchises, loved the way that April O’Neal came across as the still sassy reporter and when added to the over villainy of William Fichtner really worked well for me.

All round a film that whilst not an Oscar winner, was something that not only entertained me but also gave me a good laugh, definitely worth watching with your kids and for me is something I look forward to watching with my nephews. Cowabunga.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Lightship Chronicles 1: Impulse - Dave Bara

Release Date: 12/02/15
Publisher:  Ebury Press

SYNOPSIS:

A remote solar system A fragile galactic alliance An interstellar war is on the brink of eruption...When the Lightship Impulse is attacked without provocation, Lt. Peter Cochrane, son of the Grand Admiral, is sent to investigate. His first deep space mission, this isn't what Peter has spent three years in training for. Surrounded by strangers and following secret orders, is he willing to do what it takes to keep the alliance together? Even mutiny? Book one in The Lightship Chronicles, a groundbreaking new action-adventure space opera from Dave Bara.


REVIEW:

OK, I’m going to get right to the point here. I wasn’t a huge fan of this novel. There, I’ve said it. The characters felt pretty much just 2d with a book feeling much like something in the vein of a title that’s more old school than anything new or innovative with the whole concept of the tale being revealed pretty early on.

It got to me that I wasn’t going to get something new and whilst at times, nostalgia can be a good thing, when it feels like its something that you’ve not only seen time and again but done better in other incarnations then its perhaps time to borrow rather than spend your money on the book.

All round, whilst there were some cool idea’s within, I felt a more than a little cheated, losing a good chunk of reading time, however if you want something that harks back to the days of old Sci-Fi then this could be the book for you.

Friday, 10 April 2015

AUTOBIOGRAPHY REVIEW: We Need to Talk About... - Kevin Bridges

Release Date: 09/10/15
Publisher:  Penguin UK

SYNOPSIS:

This is the comic autobiography of 2014. A comedian's autobiography? I wonder if he's ever used humour to deflect from his insecurities? To avoid being bullied? Is there heartache behind the humour? I wonder if he's a manic-depressive? Tears of a clown? Yes, all of that. Discover the hilarious life-story of one of Britain's best-loved comedians in Kevin Bridges' brilliant memoir. 'First of all, I have never written a book before, you probably haven't either, so there we have it; a connection is established between reader and writer...' Aged just 17, Kevin Bridges walked on stage for the first time in a Glasgow comedy club and brought the house down. He only had a five-minute set but in that short time he discovered that he really could earn a living from making people laugh. Kevin began life as a shy, nerve-ridden school-boy, whose weekly highlights included a cake-bombing attack by the local youths. Reaching his teens, he followed his true calling as the class clown, and was soon after arrested for kidnapping Hugh Grant from his local cinema on a quiet Saturday night. This was a guy going somewhere - off the rails seeming most likely. Kevin's trademark social commentary, sharp one-liners and laugh-out-loud humour blend with his reflections on his Glaswegian childhood and the journey he's taken to become one of the most-loved comedians of our time. '...Hopefully now you'll take this over to the till and I can accompany you for the next wee while. That's the benefit of book shops, reading the little bit and then deciding if the author deserves to be part of your carefully selected 3 for 2 deal, or part of your plane journey, train journey, your next bath, your next shite.'



REVIEW:

I originally came across Kevin on one of the Comedy Channel’s shows and his sense of humour hit me as a lot of the stuff he was saying about growing up struck a chord. He’s funny, his humour takes a poke at life so I thought I’d give his book a go and whilst it did contain some jokes, Kevin really took a long honest look at his life and laid some quite emotional things bare for the reader.

Its written pretty well and whilst you can tell he had a hard time starting, as the book progresses the patter becomes more of a friendly chat with each subsequent chapter. All round, a book that I was pleased I read and whilst I don’t go through many autobiographies, this one more than showed me I should give a few more a go.


URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Deadly Spells - Jaye Wells

Release Date: 12/02/15
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

MAGIC IS A DRUG. ADDICTIVE AND DEADLY. After the gristly murder of a dirty magic coven leader, Kate Prospero and The Magical Enforcement Agency team up with the local police to find the killer. But as the infighting between covens turns ugly, an all-out war brews in the slums of Babylon. When a tenacious reporter sticks her nose in both the investigation and Prospero's past in the covens, old ghosts resurface. The team will have to use all the weapons in their arsenal to stop the coven war and find the killer before the case brings down all their careers - and their lives. Deadly Spells is the third urban fantasy in the Prospero's War series by USA Today Bestseller Jaye Wells. The first two novels in the series were Dirty Magic and Cursed Moon.


REVIEW:

As a huge fan of Urban Fantasy, I always love it when someone tries not only something different but blasts the ball not only out of the park but puts it into its own orbit. One such author, is Jaye Wells, whose Prospero series really delivers a huge bang for your money, so whilst I was introduced to the series in the original book Dirty Magic, when I heard that the latest was due, I not only got pretty excited but automatically gave myself a reread just for that extra spice when I began the third title.

As usual with Jaye the writing has a cracking arc, some top notch prose but for me, its her characters that really do step out of the pages into your imagination. They’re rounded, they have flaws and when tied to some great dialogue means that not only kicks ass but also gives the reader high octane entertainment for their cash. If you haven’t started this series yet, do so. You really won’t regret it.


Thursday, 9 April 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Yesterday's Hero - Jonathan Wood

Release Date: 12/10/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

Another day, another zombie T-Rex to put down. All part of the routine for Arthur Wallace and MI37 - the government department devoted to defending Britain from threats magical, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and generally odd. But a zombie T-Rex is only the first of Arthur's problems, as Russian cyborg wizards threaten his life, and his co-workers threaten his sanity.


REVIEW:

OK, so this book has been out quite a while and whilst I’ve read the 2014 reprint, I was more than satisfied with not only the lead character but the humour of Jonathan that splattered the pages with a cracking plotline. Whilst it’s a bit more serious than the original title the reader is treated to a book that has solid prose and some solid dialogue. All round a book that was a thorough joy to spend time with and one that I had an awful lot of fun with.

FICTION REVIEW: Haterz - James Goss


Release Date: 06/02/15
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

Is there someone online who really grates on you? That friend who's always bragging about their awesome life and endlessly sharing tired memes, and who just doesn't get jokes? Look at your Twitter feed: don't you get cross at the endless rage, the thoughtless bigotry and the pleading for celebrity retweets? Meet Dave, a street fundraiser and fan of cat pictures. He's decided that unfollowing just isn't enough. He's determined to make the internet a nicer place, whatever it takes. When he killed his best friend's girlfriend, he wasn't planning on changing the world. She was just really annoying on Facebook. But someone saw, and made him an offer. Someone who knows what he's capable of, and wants to use him to take control of the darkness at the heart of the internet. And now the bodies - the comment trolls, the sexual predators, the obnoxious pop stars - are starting to mount up...


REVIEW:

Ah, as a reader who spends quite a lot of time on the internet its delicious to come across a novel where the characters do what you want to do to so many people that you meet online.

Its dark, funny and with a crime aspect added also has a lot of reading pleasure to be had within the pages. Back this up with solid prose alongside some thoroughly enjoyable dialogue and all round it was a sheer pleasure to read. An absolute cracker.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Deus Ex New Chapter Announced - Square Enix, Eidos



Hail Mighty Reader and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Square Enix and Eidos have let us know about thier latest announcement, the next instalment of the franchise, heres what they've had to say:
"Eidos-Montréal® a part of Square Enix Europe and the award-winning studio behind the critically acclaimed DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION™, today announced that DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED™, the next chapter in the legendary DEUS EX™ franchise, is in development for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, and Windows PC.

“For 15 years, Deus Ex has been a point of conversation across the games industry and beyond, whether the topic is the franchise’s unique gameplay or topical narrative focused on advanced biotechnology and human augmentation,” said David Anfossi, Head of Studio, Eidos-Montréal. “What began with Deus Ex: Human Revolution goes to a whole new level in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, diving even deeper into this discussion and, in turn, offering fans an all-encompassing experience, one which will challenge their skills as players and emphasize decision-making based on real world topics.”




"DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED takes place in 2029, two years after the events of HUMAN REVOLUTION and the infamous ‘Aug Incident’ in Panchaea that resulted in the death of millions at the hands of those who had installed augmentations. This event has created a huge divide between those who have augmentations, and those who do not. Amongst this emotional turmoil are various factions looking to manipulate the public by twisting public opinion of augmentation to further their own agenda and hide the truth of what really happened.

As the social and political chaos reaches boiling point, super-augmented anti-terrorist agent Adam Jensen re-enters the fray. Empowered by brand new augmentations that bolster his formidable, strategic arsenal, Jensen will visit multiple new locations to uncover the truths that are hidden by a cloak of new conspiracies. With more choice at the player’s disposal than ever before, DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED is the ultimate DEUS EX experience.

DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED marks a new era in Eidos-Montréal’s technology, utilising the advanced visual and immersive capabilities of the DAWN ENGINE™, specifically built for the recent generation of consoles and PC. Under the umbrella of the Gaming Evolved program, AMD and Eidos-Montréal have been collaborating on DEUS EX: MANKIND DIVIDED, and the game will feature Microsoft's DirectX® 12 support as well as AMD's TressFX™. These features will not only raise the bar in game performance but bring unrivalled visual fidelity to the Deus Ex franchise. "

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Obsidian Heart: The Wolves of London - Mark Morris

Release Date: 24/10/15
Publisher:  Titan Books

SYNOPSIS:

Psychology professor Alex Locke is an ex-convict, forced back into the criminal underworld when his daughter is threatened. After he agrees to steal a mysterious Obsidian Heart, Locke is pursued by unearthly assassins known as the 'Wolves of London'. Soon he discovers the heart can enable him to travel through time, and while it bestows him with his own dark powers, it also corrupts...


REVIEW:

If you want an Urban Fantasy title that is dark, has deliciously devious angles alongside solid prose then you really have to give Mark Morris’ new book a try. It has a great principle player, an antihero who will often leave you a little (if you’ll pardon the expression) “foxed” as he weaves his way through the overall arc which at the end of the day really will keep you glued.

Back this up with some solid twists, a few unforeseen angles and a good support cast and all round, it’s a series that has something different for the UF fan out there.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Imperial Fire - Robert Lyndon


Release Date: 05/02/15
Publisher:  Sphere/Little Brown

SYNOPSIS:

AD 1081: Vast empires struggle for dominance. From the Normans in the north to the Byzantines in the south, battles rage across Europe and around its fringes. But in the east, an empire still mightier stirs, wielding a weapon to rule the world: gunpowder. Seeking the destructive might of this 'fire drug', the mercenary Vallon is sent by the defeated Byzantine emperor on a near-impossible quest to the far-off land of Song Dynasty China. Leading a highly trained squadron, Vallon is accompanied by the physician Hero, Wayland the English hunter, and a young upstart named Lucas. All have their own reasons for going, all have secrets. It's a quest that leads them across treacherous seas and broiling deserts, and into the uncharted land of mountains and plains beyond the Silk Road. Many will die...but the rewards are unbelievable.


REVIEW:

Having read and loved the authors debut title Hawk Quest last year, I really couldn’t wait to see what he’d hit back with, especially since you could see all the time he not only lavished on the titles creation but on research for it. Whilst many see book one as the beginning of something wonderful for any author, for me, it’s the second title that is the one that shows whether they’re a one hit wonder or have the ability to create writing to deadlines. Here, we not only get to return to his world but get to enjoy again the chance to spend time with the principle hero Vallon.

So what do you get in this title?

As with the original, the authors writing is something that is not only stunning but a sheer joy to sit back and savour. The prose is crisp, the overall arc gripping and when added to a whole set of characters that not only bring the world to life but give it a flesh that helps keep it in the readers mind all round generates a tale that is pure magic to read.

Back this up with a cracking set of dialogue and all round you’re in for a treat.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Yarrick: Sarcophagus - David Annadale

Release Date: Out Now
Publisher:  Black Library

SYNOPSIS:

Trapped in an overturned tank after being caught in a bombing run on Armageddon, Commissar Sebastian Yarrick fights to escape and return to his forces, but as he emerges, he finds himself surrounded by greenskin foes. Can the Old Man of Armageddon survive the onslaught with power claw and Evil Eye, or will he finally fall to the servants of the Great Beast Ghazghkull Thraka?


REVIEW:

Recently I’ve had a thing for short story fiction, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time diving from the far future to the distant past and somewhere in between. What you get in this title in the ever popular Yarrick series is a short story of a hard fought war of attrition against the Greenskins and as usual the reader isn’t let down as we not only find our principle hero in a tight squeeze (literally) but also get to see him power his way through.

As you’d expect with a short story, the prose is hard hitting, to the point and when added to a character that you love to spend time around generates a tale that not only gives you hardcore action but also generates a tale that fits in exceedingly well for the characters traits. All round a lot of fun and a tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.

HISTORICAL SHORT STORY FICTION REVIEW: The Shrine - Ben Kane

Release Date: 31/03/15
Publisher:  Conerstone Publishing

SYNOPSIS:

A closely fought race, treachery in a back alley, a visit to the shrine of an Egyptian Goddess. A Roman centurion discovers that Fate will always hold him in her power.

The German frontier, spring 6 BC. When Lucius Cominius Tullus, a recently promoted centurion, gambles on a foot race between rival legionaries, he has no idea that his wager will endanger his very life, and that the streets of an Empire border town can be as deadly as the bloodiest battlefield.

A prequel to Ben Kane’s dramatic new trilogy, Eagles at War, The Shrine also includes a sample chapter from the first book in the series.


REVIEW:

A cracking short story from Ben Kane that delves into the past of a hero to be. Its definitely quirky, has a lot going for it and in some parts is reminiscent of David Gemmell’s fortune telling for Druss the Legend. All round, a read that not only drew you into Ben’s world but one that will act as a great way to start the cracking series. Back this up with solid prose and of course an author who knows how to weave a story and all round you’re in for a treat.
(The Shrine is available for Free on Amazon,.co,.uk, Kobo, I-tunes)


URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Weirder Shadows Over Innsmouth - Edited by Stephen Jones

Release Date: 30/01/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

Respected horror anthologist Stephen Jones edits this collection of 17 stories inspired by the 20th century's master of horror, H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," in which a young man goes to an isolated, desolate fishing village in Massachusetts, and finds that the entire village has interbred with strange creatures that live beneath the sea, and worship ancient gods.


REVIEW:

OK, to be honest this isn’t a book that you’re going to read cover to cover in a short time, however it is a book that is a lot of fun to dip into when you want a touch of not only the weird but the macabre. I loved the differing writing styles within and to have a good few names I know in there made this a book that was not only fun but one that I had a lot of pleasure from when I dipped into.

As with a lot of short stories, this is the type of book that you really want for journey’s or just the times when you want to lose yourself and get to the full conclusion of the tale within a short time. All round a solid book and whilst a reprint under the Titan name, a book that will definitely keep many a reader entertained. Cracking.


Monday, 6 April 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Fangborn 3: Hellbender - Dana Cameron

Release Date: 31/03/15
Publisher:  47 North

SYNOPSIS:

I-Day is near at hand, and soon the Fangborn will reveal themselves to humankind. As a member of this secretive race of werewolves, vampires, and oracles, will archaeologist Zoe Miller be prepared?

Still grappling with the newfound powers she gained after opening Pandora’s box, Zoe shares the responsibility of protecting “Normal” humans. Having long preferred to keep to the shadows, she knows the pending revelation of the Fangborn will set the world on fire. With Fangborn enemies in the Order of Nicomedia forcing their hand, Zoe and her supernatural Family have no choice but to step into the spotlight. But that decision has garnered the attention of the powerful and otherworldly beings known as the Makers. They claim to have created the Fangborn—not as saviors, but as predators. And it seems they have their own plans for Zoe…and for the fate of all the Fangborn.

Filled with stunning twists, Hellbender takes the Fangborn series to a thrilling new dimension.


REVIEW:

The third book of Dana’s Fangborn series and one that really sets up a cracking read for readers. Now having not read the previous titles (Seven Kinds of Hell and Pack of Strays), I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to make head of tails (pardon the pun) of what was occurring, yet whilst a little confused and obviously realising that I’d missed the earlier books after starting, I found that it was not only a fab read but one that I managed to be able to get into quite quickly.

I loved the principle character and the way she dealt with trouble. I loved the way that her dialogue fit her down to a tee and perhaps most of all I loved the way that she grew as the story developed. Yes, at first she felt overpowered against everyone else, yet as it developed her foibles came to the fore and showed her vulnerable. Back this up with solid prose, cracking pace and all round a set up for another thrilling instalment which will lead readers into a much darker world than the one we already knew existed. Magic.

BIOGRAPHY REVIEW: Life in a Cold Climate: Nancy Mitford - Laura Thompson

Release Date: 29/01/15
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

This is the final book in the enthralling Engelsfor's trilogy. After the terrible events in Fire, the Chosen Ones are reduced from seven to six. Will they be strong enough to face the final showdown with terrifying the demons? In The Key questions are answered. Secrets are revealed. Loyalties are tested. Only one thing is certain: Everything will change.


REVIEW:

Nancy Mitford was, in the words of her sister Lady Diana Mosley, 'very, very complex'. Her highly autobiographical early work, the biographies and novels of her more mature French period, her journalism, and the vast body of letters to her family, friends such as Evelyn Waugh, and to the great love of her life, Gaston Palewski, all tell an intriguing story. Drawing from these, as well as conversations with Mitford's two surviving sisters, acquaintances and colleagues, prize-winning author Laura Thompson has fashioned a portrait of a contradictory and courageous woman. Approaching her subject with wit, perspicacity and huge affection, Thompson makes her serious points lightly, eschewing cliches about the eccentricities of the Mitford clan. Life in a Cold Climate is full of the sound of Mitfordian laughter; but tells also the often paradoxical and complex story beneath the smiling and ever elegant facade.