Thursday, 3 September 2015

FANTASY REVIEW: The Song of Shattered Sands 1: Twelve Kings - Bradley Beaulieu


Release Date: 03/09/15
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she's never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha'ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It's the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute. It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools-they've ruled the Shangazi for four hundred years for good reason, and they have not been idle. As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she's ready to face them once and for all.


REVIEW:

If you want fantasy with a more eastern flavour then you may well want to give this book by Bradley Beaulieu a go, as it not only brings a cracking fantasy female principle character to the fore but also starts out a series with one hell of a bang we see events from the past as they shape the person and future of what is to come.

It’s well written, I love the supporting cast and when you throw into this an overall arc that demonstrates quite clearly why the countries cultures are at war with each other, leaves the reader in no doubt about the bloodbath they’re about to embark upon. Magic.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

GOTHIC REVIEW: When We Were Animals - Joshua Gaylord

Release Date: 03/09/15
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

The truth is, nobody knew why it happened this way, but in the town where I grew up, when the boys and girls reached a certain age, the parents locked themselves up in their houses, and the teenagers ran wild...

As a well-behaved and over-achieving teenager, Lumen Fowler knows she is different. While the rest of her peers are falling beneath the sway of her community's darkest rite of passage, she resists, choosing to hole herself up in her room with only books for company.

For Lumen has a secret. Her mother never 'breached' and she knows she won’t either. But as she investigates the town’s strange traditions and unearths stories from her family’s past, she soon realises she may not know herself – or her wild side – at all...

A gothic coming-of-age tale for modern times, When We Were Animals is a dark, provocative journey of self discovery


REVIEW:

To be honest this was one of those types of books that you have to sit down and digest it over a few days upon completion just to you can make sure that when you write the review its not off the top of your head and you forget something that really struck you within the pages.

This book, is definitely a title that many readers need to take the time out to read as its not only very well written but the descriptive prose worked wonders in imparting the principle characters point of view of her past and how it shaped her future. It also has some cracking dialogue and with an overall arc that takes you on a coming of age story, really will be a book that will stay with you a long time after that final page is turned. Cracking.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Halo 5: Guardians Launch Cinematic - Microsoft

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
We've just got news from our friends at Microsoft with the opening cinematic of Halo 5: Guardians, its high octane, full of action and of course goes to show how badass a squad can be.  

But don't take our word for it take a look yourself:



 
Halo 5: Guardians is released on the 27th October 2015.  We really can't wait to embark on our own mission with these troopers and with luck, we'll see you on the Infinity.

 


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Xbox Announce Xbox One Elite Package - Xbox


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Xbox have let us know about the forthcoming ultimate Xbox Machine.  Here are the detail's we have:"Games and gamers are at the center of everything we do and we’re always looking for ways to offer the best ways to play on Xbox. Today we’re thrilled to unveil the Xbox One Elite Bundle, the ultimate gaming experience that comes fully loaded and jam packed with premium features to take your gaming to the next level. In addition to a matte finish, the Xbox One Elite Bundle includes a 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive, which stores frequently-accessed files on a solid state partition and optimizes system performance so you can get to the action up to 20 percent faster from energy-saving mode. This means you can spend more time this holiday playing the greatest games in Xbox history, including Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Forza Motorsport 6.  

Even better, every Xbox One Elite Bundle comes with the
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, a new, performance-class controller to meet the needs of today’s competitive gamers on Xbox One and Windows 10. The Xbox Elite Wireless Controller offers fully customizable features, interchangeable paddles, further customization with the Xbox Accessories app, Hair Trigger Locks and high-performance construction to provide an unparalleled experience every time you game. "


They've also announced Xbox One Special Edition Lunar White Wireless Controller which includes all the updated features of the standard Xbox One Wireless Controller with the addition of a white and gold colour scheme and improved grip for more control and comfort. 

All the best,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Bloodbowl Trailer Dwarfs Vs Skaven - Cyanide and Focus Home Entertainment

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.

Here, its time to see what the Stunties have to go against the Ratmen with:


We hope you'll celebrate with us (on the 22nd September 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

FANTASY REVIEW: Homecoming 1: Archmage - RA Salvatore

Release Date: 01/09/15
Publisher:  Wizards of the Coast

SYNOPSIS:

The pall that had descended over the North is gone, and a new day has dawned on a victorious Mithral Hall, but no matter how bright things seem on the surface, Drizzt and his companions know that what lurks just under their feet remains steeped in evil and charged with unimaginable power.

The dark elves of Menzoberranzan, including the powerful Archmage Gromph, aren’t done with Drizzt yet. And consumed by their own power struggles, feeling backed into a corner, the drow may just be desperate enough to call on demonic forces from the deepest reaches of the Abyss, and unleash a disaster even the Underdark could never have prepared for.

Archmage has everything Drizzt’s fans crave: action, adventure, characters that resonate with equal measures of warrior spirit and deep compassion, and no shortage of wicked dark elves!


REVIEW:

The latest Drizzt title and as usual with RA, a book that blows the others out of the water as the events of the series bring to the fore the reality of the changing world under a war of the gods. Its definitely a book that is a solid fantasy read, brings everything that fans of Forgotten Realms love and when blended with top notch combat, cracking dialogue alongside an overall plot that not only keeps you glued but twisting the machinations of deities all round leaves you turning those pages long into the early morning. Cracking.


Monday, 31 August 2015

THRILLER REVIEW: The Killing Kind - Chris Holm

Release Date: 27/08/15
Publisher:  Mulholland Books

SYNOPSIS:

Michael Hendricks is not a good man.
He doesn't deserve a good life.
But he is very good at his job.

He's the killing kind.

He doesn't accept contract kills. He doesn't work for any criminal organisation. And he never kills civilians. He only hits hitters.

He's not the kind of guy you call if you want to pop somebody who's pissed you off or done you wrong.

He's not a guy you call at all - he calls you.

And when he does, you'd be advised to take his call. Because it means that someone wants you dead, and time is running out to save your life.

It's not a bad way to make a living, but it's a great way to make enemies.

And now both the FBI and the mafia have Hendricks in their sights, he's about to learn just how good he really is...


REVIEW:

OK, this book isn’t going to set the world alight but there are times you want a high octane thriller that has plenty of action and a plot that you don’t really have to think about relying more on the friction generated by the principle hero and villain in much the same way you go for the odd early Arnie film.

Chris knows what he does well and brings in in spades with this thriller. Add to this reasonable prose and some fairly basic dialogue and all round it’ll entertain as well as help you relax.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Virtues of War - Bennett R Cole

Release Date: 26/06/15
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

The Terran military, the Astral Force, launches a mission to crush a colonial rebellion on the colony of Cerberus. The results of that mission ripple across the planets of the Centauria, and place the entire system on the brink of war. Lieutenant Katja Emmes is a platoon commander, leader of the 10-trooper strike team aboard the fast-attack craft Rapier. Although fully trained, she has never led troops in real operations before, and lives in the shadow of her war-hero father. Sublieutenant Jack Mallory is fresh out of pilot school, daydreaming about a fighter pilot position in the space fleet and in for a rude awakening. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane uses a six-month deployment in command of Rapier to secure his rise to stardom within the military. As violence erupts, each will be tested as never before. How they respond may decide the fate of Terra, and Earth.


REVIEW:

To be honest I tend to spend a lot of time in futuristic worlds with most at war with one place or another, so a lot of the stories tend to follow similar patterns and whilst many tend to focus on the war being waged, this one deals with the results of a war won facing insurgents.

Its definitely a novel that has tried to break its own ground and whilst I can see some great writing in certain places, overall I felt that the book could have done with a little more tine spent upon it so that it could have flowed a lot smoother. All round it is an OK novel and whilst some of the characters within were a little flat I did enjoy a fair few of the action sequences which means for me I will give this author another go for the next outing.



Saturday, 29 August 2015

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW (16+:) Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls - Lynn Weingarten

Release Date: 02/07/15
Publisher:  Egmont

SYNOPSIS:

When June met Delia, she was a lifeline. Their intense friendship gave her a sense of belonging, of security, that she’d never had before. She felt braver, smarter, funnier, more attractive when Delia was around. But then something went wrong, and Delia and June haven’t spoken for a year when an announcement is made at their school that Delia is dead.

June barely has time to mourn before Delia’s ex-boyfriend convinces her that Delia didn’t kill herself but was in fact murdered, and June is fast swept into a tangle of lies and deceit – and a conspiracy she can barely conceive of, never mind believe.

Stylish, sexy and atmospheric, with so many twists it will leave you breathless.


REVIEW:

To be honest this is a book of two halves and whilst it’s aimed at the younger audience, I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone under 16. It deals with a lot of dark material and whilst the principle character of June is one that many can associate with, when you come to dealing with Delia, there really isn’t anything likable about the girl to really make you care about the events around her.

It’s definitely a book that won’t let you put it down but it does take a pretty poor turn towards the end which left me feeling depleted as well as cheated. All round it is an OK book but as it is a title that will stay with the reader be prepared for some questions that you’ll not only be asking yourself but others who have read the book.

Friday, 28 August 2015

FACTUAL REVIEW: How Smart is Your Cat - David Alderton

Release Date: 02/07/15
Publisher:  Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

We all wonder how much our pet understands, what is going on in their head and just how intelligent they really are. This entertaining and comprehensive guide will not only explain your cat's sometimes baffling behaviour - it will give you the means to test your pet's IQ yourself.

Using your cat's natural skills, How Smart Is Your Cat? will enable you to improve their responses and reactions - and ultimately their IQ - as you work through a wealth of intelligence tests, giving them a star rating as they progress. The bond between you will deepen as you learn more about how your cat thinks.

Featuring panels on feline psychology, different cat breeds and information on how cats communicate, How Smart Is Your Cat? is the ideal companion for everyone who wants to understand what their cat is thinking and how to communicate with them effectively.

The perfect gift for cat lovers everywhere, this book will open your eyes to just how canny your kitten can be!


REVIEW:

OK, so many know that I am Cat Man, toadie to five beautiful felines and whilst at times they seem to be quite smart, at others they can be completely bat shit crazy, racing from room to room as if it’s a race track at 4 AM or just to use me as a bouncy castle during the night. However at the end of the day, I like to set them little challenges as well as try to teach them some tricks just to help keep their brain’s active. After all an occupied cat is a kitty that isn’t getting into trouble. LOL

What this book from David Alderton does is give you a few idea’s as well as some training idea’s to help from everything from introduction to giving you cat some advanced training. All round it’s a bit of fun and whilst I may not agree with a number of the statements from the author, I did find some of the information within useful.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

COMPETITION TIME: Tickets or Another Me airing at Frightfest - Film4


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs, 
Our friends at Film4's Frightfest have asked us to run a competition where we can give away 2 X Pair of Tickets for "Another Me which is airing on Saturday 31st August.  The film whch will be available on HD release on the same day, will have plenty of scares and chills and lets face it, getting to see it on a big screen with other horror films will be magnificent.

Here's a link to the trailer:


If you want to be in with a chance, mail us at our usual address: drosdelnoch (at) hotmaildotcom (with the appropriate fixes and let us know who is the main sponsor of this years frightfest.

Due to the close date, competition closes tonight at midnight UK Time  Winners will be expected to make their own way to the venue and cover own expenses.

Al the best,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Rise of the Tomb Raider Collectors Edition Announced - Square Enix


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs, 
Our friends at Square Enix have asked us to let you know about the collectors edition of the forthcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider (released 13th November 2015.)

Its looking pretty sweet and to be honest with the chanc to own your own new modern Lara (12 Inch Figure) alongside quite a few other tasty features that we really can't live without it.

Here's what Square Enix had to say:


Square Enix Inc. today announced a collector’s edition for Rise of the Tomb Raider® that is available exclusively from the Square Enix e-store and the Official Tomb Raider store.

The collector’s edition is packed with valuable memorabilia, including a 12 inch tall statue of Lara Croft that depicts her search for answers on her first tomb raiding expedition, a model of the jade necklace that was Lara’s first archeological discovery, and a collectible steel book case.

The exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider Collector’s Edition (£109.99) is available for pre-order here. It includes:

    Full Xbox One retail copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider
    12 inch tall statue of Lara Croft
    Collectible steel case
    Replica of Lara’s leather in-game journal
    Model of Lara’s jade necklace


All the best and see you in the forthcoming guerilla warfare battles,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Nymphs - San Luhanen, Mikko Oikkonen

Release Date: 27/08/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

Sexy, dark and exciting, NYMPHS is the novel of the smash-hit international TV series. Perfect for fans of THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and THE ORIGINALS.

Meet the nymphs: living among us, they're forever young, dangerously seductive - and ever so deadly...

A young man is found dead after a college party in a small town. His body bears the marks of a brutal attack, but police are mystified as to the actual cause of death.

Afterwards, student Didi Tiensuu is approached by two mysterious women. Beautiful and other-worldly, they have come to warn her she is in danger. And to live, she must for ever leave her old life behind.

There are evil forces at work that mere mortals can never comprehend. And Didi is about to discover her past is a lie. The night of reckoning is coming and the choice is hers. Reject her fate. Or accept her destiny and embrace her power...


REVIEW:

To be honest this was a different type of book for me as whilst I do tend to read a wide range of Urban Fantasy, I tend to keep clear of titles that have strong sexual themes within as I don’t tend to enjoy them. This title, whilst aimed at a younger reader market deals with all of this as a gateway from normal life into one of the supernatural.

It’s well written and with a solid plot arc works very well, however what I felt that the authors did exceptionally well was bring the principle character through to the audience so that they could find aspects of the principle character that they could not only identify with but one that would make them care about what happened to her.

Add to this decent dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader. I’ll definitely be reading future novels from these authors.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The King's Assassin - Angus Donald

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Sphere

SYNOPSIS:

AD 1215: The year of Magna Carta - and Robin Hood's greatest battle

The yoke of tyranny
King John is scheming to reclaim his ancestral lands in Europe, raising the money for new armies by bleeding dry peasants and nobles alike, not least the Earl of Locksley - the former outlaw Robin Hood - and his loyal man Sir Alan Dale.

The call to arms
As rebellion brews across the country and Robin Hood and his men are dragged into the war against the French in Flanders, a plan is hatched that will bring the former outlaws and their families to the brink of catastrophe - a plan to kill the King.

The roar of revolution
England explodes into bloody civil war and Alan and Robin must decide who to trust - and who to slaughter. And while Magna Carta might be the answer their prayers for peace, first they will have to force the King to submit to the will of his people . . .


REVIEW:

Robin Hood has always been a rich ground for writers and whilst many have taken to keeping it in a simple vein, Angus brings a modern telling to the fore with a cracking principle character reliving his life in note book form. Its definitely something quirky and for me a series that I eagerly await each successive part to as I love to see what he has in store for the next outing.

All round, when you add top notch prose, good action sequences and a supporting cast that you care about all round makes this a series you can’t put down. Magic.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

DVD TRAILER AND RELEASE NEWS: Lake Placid Vs Anaconda - Sony Home Entertainment

Hail Mighty Readers,
We're a sucker for a giant monster fight and we think we're in for a treat shortly with Lake Placid Vs Anaconda starring Robert Englund, Yancy Butler as well as blog friend Corin Nemic.

Here's the DVD blurb:
Anacondas large enough to crush an SUV. Crocodiles strong enough to leap onto speedboats. When they’re not hunting for human prey, they’re more than willing to take on each other. Get ready for a non-stop bloodbath unlike anything you’ve seen before in this heart-pounding battle between mutated crocodiles and genetically engineered anacondas. Packed with hot sorority girls, big guns, and jaws massive enough to swallow a human in one bite, this is one screaming good time! 


As well as the trailer:



We can't wait until the 7th of September to see which of the behemoth's will triumph.



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Hellequin Chronicles 5: Lies Ripped Open - Steve McHugh

Release Date: 25/08/15
Publisher:  47 North

SYNOPSIS:

Over a hundred years have passed since a group of violent killers went on the rampage, murdering innocent victims for fun. But even back then, sorcerer Nate Garrett, aka Hellequin, knew there was more to it than simple savage pleasure—souls were being stolen.

Nate’s discovery of the souls’ use, and of those supporting the group’s plan, made him question everything he believed.

Now the group Nate thought long dead is back. Violent, angry, and hell-bent on revenge, they have Hellequin firmly in their sights. And if he won’t come willingly, they’ll take those closest to him first.

The battle begins again.


REVIEW:

Nate returns in this latest adventure that throws him against the shadows that seek the downfall of Avalon. Its definitely something that really sets the nerves on edge and when the reader gets to see our principle hero who not only struggles to survive against what the villains can throw against him but from his own past all round gives you something that is unique in the way it deals with the arc.

As a reader, Steve is an author that manages to merge top notch action sequences with emotional context alongside spinning a tale that keeps hold of you from start to finish. Back this up with a real kickass tale and a hero who can dish as good as he gets all round allows you some special reading time.

Monday, 24 August 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Night of the Damned - Stephen Bywater

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

When darkness falls the nightmare begins . . .

It is 1935 and a rubber plantation deep in the Amazon jungle is losing its labourers one by one. Company agent Miller arrives to investigate the mounting number of those disappearing as well as the brutal killing of a fellow agent.

Sightings of a corpselike girl and a man who bears a striking resemblance to the dead agent soon have Miller on edge. And when night falls, and the humid air fills with the stench of rotting flesh, he becomes convinced he's found the nearest thing to hell.

They roam through the darkness, hide in the shadows and shun the daylight. But what are these deathly-looking figures?

As the sun sets over the plantation, only a brave man dares to sleep...


REVIEW:

I love a good horror story late in the night, where every creak of the house chills you and that’s exactly what I got from Stephen Bywater’s new novel, Night of the Damned. I loved the way that he wove the tale with solid characterisation, top notch prose and of course with enough chills within to leave you wondering if you’ve pulled your duvet tight enough.

All round a great read and one that I really couldn’t put down mainly because I wanted the dawn light to be creeping through the windows when I went to sleep. Great fun.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Tintagnel 1: The Blood of Kings - MK Hume

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

The fate of Roman Britain is sealed when Caradoc, King of the Dumnonii tribe in Tintagel, meets Flavius Magnus Maximus, one of the most influential Roman officers in Britannia. Their unlikely friendship leads to an ambitious plan to unite the tribal leaders and, once crowned the first High King of the Britons, Maximus casts his eyes on the throne of the Western Roman Empire.

Leading a force of brave warriors to Gaul, Maximus is victorious in battle. But it is not long after his return to Britain that hubris gnaws at him once again. Despite Caradoc's pleas to exercise caution, Maximus is determined to march on Rome itself. But who will pay the price for his bloodthirsty quest for power?


REVIEW:

When I read Marylin’s first book “Dragon Child” I was hooked, I loved the way she brought a new flavour to the Arthurain period as well as the myths and legends wrapping then in a time period that very little is known about. I love the way she breathes life into the characters, giving each individual traits that in the whole make them stronger whilst their own personal foibles allow a vulnerability.

Here in her latest book readers are treated to a title that includes bloodshed, truces and of course merging of cultures. It is well written ,has cracking prose and of course a storyline that is hard to put down at the end of your reading time, so much so that “One more chapter” may well become a popular turn of phrase in your home.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

ALTERNATE HISTORY: Tin Men - Christopher Golden

Release Date: 16/06/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

Tin Men by Christopher Golden - author of Snowblind - is a must-read for fans of Dean Koontz, Peter Straub and Joe Hill thanks to its high concept and jaw-dropping thrills.

Economies are collapsing, environmental disasters are widespread and war the backdrop to life.

And so the military has developed a force of elite soldiers to keep the peace. A force like nothing seen before ... codenamed Tin Man, soldiers are virtually transported to inhabit robot frames in war-torn countries.

When PFC Danny Kelso starts his day shift in Syria, an eerie silence welcomes him and a patrol confirms the area is totally deserted. But when a rogue electromagnetic pulse throws everything into darkness, Danny's conscious mind is trapped within his robot body.

The attack turns out to have been global - the world is facing a return to the dark ages with no electricity, no technology ... no safe zones. And the Tin Men face a race against time to save not only themselves but society as we know it.



REVIEW:

Christopher can be a bit of a hit or miss author for me and whilst the premise is always entertaining as well as something that draws you in, at times it feels that the characters within are not fully realised and feel just there to be cannon fodder rather than anything to show the terror or horror of what they’re facing.

For me, as a reader when this happens it a let-down and really doesn’t allow me to fully engage with the book, to generate a personal connection to those involved and as such really doesn’t keep me glued to see what happens as each situation evolves as well as resolves itself.

Sadly this is the case with this book and whilst I do love the concept, for me as a reader, the execution was sadly missing as the title took a well-trodden path leaving no real surprises as it told the story. Don’t get me wrong, it is an OK read but when you’re spending hard earned money alongside devoting your personal time to help relax then it’s something that I feel cheated by.

Friday, 21 August 2015

YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY: The Changeling - Helen Falconer

Release Date: 04/06/15
Publisher:  Corgi Children

SYNOPSIS:

Aoife is an ordinary teenager, hanging out with her childhood friend Carla, putting up with school. The worst she has to contend with is that the boy of Carla’s dreams is trying to get off with her instead.

But then, after chasing a lost little girl no one seems to be able to see, Aoife starts to develop mysterious powers. Eventually her parents confess that she isn’t their real daughter. Their human child was stolen by the fairies, and Aoife is the changeling left behind in her place.

Shocked and disorientated, Aoife turns to Shay, the taciturn farmer’s son who is the only person who might believe her story. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey, which takes them deep into the underworld and changes everything they thought they knew about fairies.


REVIEW:

Any book that is for a younger audience has to find a way to strike a chord with the target audience fairly quickly and through the use of modern technology, schools and a principle character that the reader can’t help but like all round makes this a book that whilst starting off on a solid footing takes you into the modern urban fantastical as events spiral out of our heroines control.

It’s definitely a book that I had a lot of fun with, especially when the magical aspects pretty much exploded within taking me on one hell of an adventure. The prose is sharp, the dialogue delightful and when you throw in a mythological background all round gives this book a solid stand from which to entertain. Cracking.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

FACTUAL REVIEW: WIld Camping - Stephen Neale

Release Date: 07/05/15
Publisher:  Adlard Coles,

SYNOPSIS:

From getting back to nature with a tent, some matches and a few litres of bottled water, to enjoying a pub dinner and camping out in the garden afterwards, this book shows how to get stuck into wild camping in all its forms. Beautiful wildernesses; tiny budgets; environmentally-friendly Whats not to like?


REVIEW:

A few years ago I used to love going out and about with my tent, camping out, enjoying the scenery but the major bane of my existence was having to preplan all the places I could stay and how easy they were to get to alongside how much of a journey it was between each step.

And boy, could I have used this book by Stephen then, as to be honest it’s full of the legal jargon and knowhow that means you can prove that you’re not camping illegally and that you are entitled to. It’s easy to remember and were I to plan a trip again now, I would definitely have this title packed as well as having my copy filled with post its so I could find the right section for the circumstance I was in.

In addition to this, it is full of great information, tales of his own adventures as well as places where you can stay to help make planning your own trip on a budget better. A great book for any camping enthusiast or home bound adventurer. Cracking.



Wednesday, 19 August 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Dimensions sends Scooby Doo one hell of a Snack Treat - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Lego and Warner Brothers Interactive, have sent us a real mystery, that is, the Scooby Doo trailer for the forthcoming Lego Dimensions, here's what they had to say:

"In a new video featuring Scooby-Doo and Shaggy, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed today gameplay featuring everyone’s favourite Mystery, Inc. characters in LEGO® Dimensions™, the upcoming entertainment experience that merges physical LEGO® brick building with interactive console gameplay. For the first time in a LEGO videogame, the Scooby-Doo gameplay combines the distinctive, blocky LEGO® art style with the cel-shaded look of the original, animated cartoons. The LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack includes a complete, mission-based Scooby-Doo level that Batman , Wyldstyle and Gandalf must traverse in their quest to stop Lord Vortech and save the LEGO® Multiverse.
For Scooby-Doo fans that want to customise their LEGO Dimensions experience, it was also announced that a Scooby-Doo Team Pack which includes LEGO Scooby-Doo and LEGO Shaggy minifigures, plus a LEGO Mystery Machine and LEGO Scooby Snack, will be available at the launch of the Starter Pack.  Scooby-Doo and Shaggy each have their own abilities and the Mystery Machine and Scooby Snack can be physically built and then rebuilt twice for a total of three different objects that do entirely different things in the digital game for massive variety. Either character can also unlock the Scooby-Doo Adventure World, an open-world environment which provides additional open world gameplay content separate from the game’s main story which allows players to explore iconic Scooby-Doo locations, race, solve puzzles, and more.






 

All expansion packs provide gamers the opportunity to use every character, vehicle and gadget interchangeably, anywhere throughout the game. Players can bring up to seven toys into the LEGO Dimensions game all at once by placing them on the LEGO Toy Pad to create extreme gameplay cross-overs, such as Scooby-Doo piloting the Batmobile through Springfield!
Launching September 29th 2015, LEGO Dimensions  will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment systems and Nintendo´s Wii U™ system."



Can't wait to embark on our adventures,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

HISTORICAL URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Watchman of Eternity - Paul Witcover


Release Date: 07/05/15
Publisher:  Bantam Press

SYNOPSIS:

In the seventh year of its war against France, England faces threats from abroad and at home, from above - and below. Buoyed by a series of military victories on land and at sea, French forces are gathering for their final push across the Channel. In Scotland, Jacobites loyal to Bonnie Prince Charlie plot to restore the Stuart dynasty to the throne. Beneath the bustling streets of London, a subterranean race prepares to rise. And in the realm known as the Otherwhere - home to dragons, demons and gods - civil war has erupted, causing a great and powerful weapon to be cast into the world. That weapon is a clock - a watch, to be precise, of a size to fit comfortably in a man's hand...a watch with a taste for blood - a mechanism that contains the doom of all that lives.

Daniel Quare, of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, was sent by his masters to find that deadly time- piece. But he was not alone in his pursuit: both the mysterious thief Grimalkin and the ruthless French spy and assassin Thomas Aylesford were on its trail. But with the help of Lord Wichcote - an aristocrat of many talents and more disguises - Quare succeeded in seizing the watch. But not for long: Aylesford took it from him - and with it, Quare's hand. And now the French spy is on his way back to his masters, Lord Wichcote lies gravely wounded and Daniel Quare has vanished . . . which would seem to mean that all hope for the world is lost...


REVIEW:

This is a book that’s taken me a while to sit down and review purely because it’s a title that can’t be rushed. There’s subtle nuances throughout and when you throw into the mix a whole heap of trouble alongside a solid pace, its quite easy to miss some of the details within.

As with Paul’s original novel in the series (The Emperor of All Things), the prose is cracking and when you throw into this Pauls action sequences alongside a story that can concentrate on what’s happening rather than giving the reader a lot of the background details (as happened in the original making it a slow starter) makes this a series that I’m pleased I stuck with. Thank you Paul.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

HISTORICAL FACTUAL REVIEW: History Without the Boring Bits - Ian Crofton

Release Date: 05/02/15
Publisher:  Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

Conventional chronologies of world history concentrate on the reigns of kings and queens, the dates of battles and treaties, the publication dates of great books, the completion of famous buildings, the deaths of iconic figures, and the years of major discoveries. But there are other more interesting stories to tell - stories which can bring the past vividly and excitingly to life. Imagine a book that tells you the date of the ancient Roman law that made it legal to break wind at banquets; the name of the defunct medieval pope whose putrefying corpse was subjected to the humiliation of a trial before a court of law; the identity of the priapic monarch who sired more bastards than any other king of England; and last but not least the date of the demise in London of the first goat to have circumnavigated the globe - twice. Imagine a book crammed with such deliciously disposable information, and you have History without the Boring Bits.

By turns bizarre, surprising, trivial, and enlightening, History without the Boring Bits offers rich pickings for the browser, and entertainment and inspiration aplenty for those who have grown weary of more conventional works of history.


REVIEW:

OK, I admit this, I have a set of books that I keep in the bathroom that are full of curious information, weird facts and to be honest things that will either make you laugh or just itch that scratch that for something completely useless to anyone but everyone finds fascinating.

So when this book by Ian landed, it was one of those that I added to my bathroom stock, after all, it’s the place where you can do a little light reading and then throw into the mix some weird fact when you want to either entertain you children or friends. Hidden within this title are a wealth of information that goes to show that stupidity is not just a modern thing and that it can be surprising as to how we’ve managed to live so long.

Add to this historical information that will fill in some gaps within your mind as well as giving you funny ways to remember the facts, all round could turn you into your quiz team history hero. Good fun.



Monday, 17 August 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Jessica McClain 5: Pure Blooded - Amanda Carlson

Release Date:  16/06/15
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

There's nowhere left to run.

Back from Hell, Jessica arrives to find her world thrown into chaos. Her father is fighting a losing battle against the Made wolves, and when Jessica and her crew rush to his aid, they discover the war is not as straightforward as it seems. Something larger is on the hunt, something ancient and powerful that won't rest until Jessica is dead. Now Jessica's plan of attack must change - but how can she defeat someone who can predict her every move?



REVIEW:

OK, so I’ve been a huge fan of this series for quite some time so when I get the chance to embark on another outing with Jessica and her “pack” I can’t wait to see what trouble they not only get into but wonder how the author can escalate things with each tale packing a bigger punch than the previous.

What occurs within this book is a tale that is rich, full of solid storytelling and when added to consequences for previous actions as well as future one, leaves the reader wondering what is going to happen if she makes the wrong move. However that said, I did feel personally that this book was a tale of two halves. The first would have made a great novella with the second feeling like just the beginning of a second full story cutting off part way through. Don’t get me wrong I do enjoy my time with Amanda’s characters but for me this book felt a little bit flat and I’d have preferred it if they’d released it the first part separately as perhaps a taster to get readers into the characters with the second part awaiting a fuller beginning, middle as well as end.

All round it was an OK read and I do want to see what else the crew gets up to but at the moment I’m feeling a little short changed.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Maradaine Constabulary 1: A Murder of Mages - Marshall Ryan Maresca

Release Date: 07/07/15
Publisher:  Daw

SYNOPSIS:

A Murder of Mages marks the debut of Marshall Ryan Maresca’s novels of The Maradaine Constabulary, his second series set amid the bustling streets and crime-ridden districts of the exotic city called Maradaine. A Murder of Mages introduces us to this spellbinding port city as seen through the eyes of the people who strive to maintain law and order, the hardworking men and women of the Maradaine Constabulary.

Satrine Rainey—former street rat, ex-spy, mother of two, and wife to a Constabulary Inspector who lies on the edge of death, injured in the line of duty—has been forced to fake her way into the post of Constabulary Inspector to support her family.

Minox Welling is a brilliant, unorthodox Inspector and an Uncircled mage—almost a crime in itself. Nicknamed “the jinx” because of the misfortunes that seem to befall anyone around him, Minox has been partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with either of them.

Their first case together—the ritual murder of a Circled mage— sends Satrine back to the streets she grew up on and brings Minox face-to-face with mage politics he’s desperate to avoid. As the body count rises, Satrine and Minox must race to catch the killer before their own secrets are exposed and they, too, become targets.


REVIEW:

There is something delightfully delicious when the world of Victoriana meets magic’s and investigative techniques, and for me this new series, really kicks off with a huge bang as Marshall thrusts the reader into a world where death is easy to come by and answers a rarity.

Its definitely a quirky book and one that really grabs you from the opening as you get to know the principle character as she struggles to come to terms with her current circumstances. Its harrowing, its harsh but a woman with a brain can face hard times even if she is skilled for the job. All round, this title is one that’s not only a solid opener but one that really grabs you from the get go as each event helps the overall arc spark alongside throwing some more confusion into the mix only to come together as the clues are solved.

Definitely a top notch read and a series that I can’t wait to see what else is to come for those involved. Cracking.

Friday, 14 August 2015

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Veil - Chloe Neill

Release Date: 04/08/15
Publisher:  New American Library

SYNOPSIS:

Seven years ago, the Veil that separates us from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil's Isle.

Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she's a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil's Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.

Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack - in full view of the French Quarter - Liam decides to bring her to Devil's Isle and the teacher she needs - even though getting her out of his way isn't the same as keeping her out of his head.

As more and more Sensitives fall prey to their magic, and unleash their hunger on the city, Claire and Liam must work together to save New Orleans, or else the city will burn...


REVIEW:

A new UF outing for Chloe and whilst I wasn’t a huge fan of her Chicagoland Vampire series, I did recognise solid writing, good prose and of course an ability to weave a tale for the reader. So when I heard of this new release from Chloe, I signed up straight away to embark on an adventure that I hoped would hit the spot where the other series missed for me.

What occurs within is a tale with a cracking lead heroine, a world gone askew with a supernatural tint and a setting that not only grabbed you in but wouldn’t let go as the initial darkness took hold. It was a joy to sit down and embark upon and when you add cracking dialogue, solid storytelling alongside a whole host of supporting cast that helped keep the world real in the imagination, gave me more than I hoped for. I can’t wait to embark on the next release. Thank you Chloe.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet - Becky Chambers


Release Date: 13/08/15
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful - exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They'll earn enough money to live comfortably for years... if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn't the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.


REVIEW:

A different type of space novel and one that fans of firefly as well as Farscape will love as it has a lot of similarities with both series. Its definitely quirky and whilst most novels have a huge arc to work their way through this one felt more like an experiment with the characters to see how they’d interact with each other rather than a full novel in its own right. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this approach but if the characters hadn’t enchanted me as much as they had, I’d have been left wondering what the hell the book was trying to achieve.

All round a solid enough outing and one that having established the crew and universe to the reader, will allow later outings to deliver more on plot and kickass action. Definitely someone to watch.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

CUISINE REVIEW: The Seahorse - Mitch Tonks and Mat Prowse

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Absolute Press

SYNOPSIS:

The Seahorse restaurant, nestled on the mouth of the River Dart, champions some of the best fish and shellfish in the world from the nearby landing site and is a favourite haunt of the foodie establishment. The menu is a seafood lover's tour of Europe's great fish dishes and cooking over a charcoal fire is the restaurant's speciality. With an emphasis on freshness and the catch of the day, the food's simplicity is as deceptive as it is delicious. Cherished by critics, foodies and locals, The Seahorse is a rare gem in Britain's sea of restaurants and was named 'Best Seafood Restaurant in the UK 2013' by the Good Food Guide and 'Best UK Restaurant 2012' by Observer Food Monthly.

The Seahorse showcases over 70 spectacular dishes served at the restaurant. Celebrating the seasons and reflecting the restaurant's changing menu in tune with the harvest from the waves, it combines insightful features focusing on the restaurant's suppliers in Europe and stunning photography from Chris Terry to create a beautiful and accessible addition to any seafood lover's kitchen.


REVIEW:

As a person who loves to spend time in the kitchen, I tend to relish any chance I get to learn new recipes. These days I tend to feel that I need to eat a bit more fish in order to make sure that I not only have a healthier lifestyle but also to make sure that I get all the vitamins and essential oils that I may be missing.

Based on the successful recipes of renowned restaurant The Seahorse, this title delivers a good few cracking recipes and a few that I wouldn’t have expected from a seafood restaurant. It’s definitely a book that has a whole heap of things to keep you interested, a few combinations that may surprise you and all round allows you to prepare something special for any time of year making the most of the seasonal catches. And that, is the key to not only sustainable fishing but also allowing you to try some varieties of fish that you may not be familiar with but will love the flavour of. Magic.

Friday, 7 August 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Blood Bowl Star Players Trailer - Cyanide and Deep Silver

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Today we bring you the latest from the Blood Bowl field with the news about Star Players to help bolster your cannon fodder players, against their Astroturf foes.

We can't wait to get onto the hallowed pitch to start handing out some whoop ass on any who dare face us and gamers remembe, no gut,s no glory, so start spilling them and using that star players entrails as a merry maypole.  LOL

Now for your viewing pleasure the trailer:



We hope to see you on the pitch,

 


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Homefront: The Revolution Hands on Time at Gamescon - Deep Silver


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,

Our friends at Deep Silver have let us know about the forthcoming Homefront Revolution and asked us to let visitors to Gamescon where they can visit to get hands on game time with this new title.

Here's what they had to say:
"Deep Silver today revealed a new cinematic trailer for the up-coming open-world FPS Homefront: The Revolution. Developed by Deep Silver Dambuster Studios, Homefront: The Revolution puts the player in the middle of a full-blown guerrilla war in an occupied United States. The game is scheduled for release in Spring 2016 on Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4, PC, Mac and Linux and will be fully playable at gamescom 2015 at the Deep Silver booth in hall 9.



 

Homefront: The Revolution throws players into an alternate near future dystopia, where a humanitarian crisis has brought the USA to its knees under the brutal military control of a globally dominant Korean corporation. Surveillance drones, armoured patrols and police violence have become every-day life in Philadelphia, the once proud birthplace of American independence. However, in the ruined outskirts of the city, resistance is getting stronger…

On their path to freedom, players have to fight a seemingly un-winnable guerrilla war against a superior military force. Using hit and run tactics, ambushes and infiltration, the resistance relies on surprise attacks and an arsenal of improvised weapons to throw back the oppressors and spread the flame of revolution.

For more news on Homefront: The Revolution visit the official website at www.homefront-game.com; or follow us via Facebook: www.facebook.com/homefrontgame; Youtube: www.youtube.com/homefrontgame or Twitter: www.twitter.com/homefrontgame."

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Dimensions Update and Lego Avengers News - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Lego and Warner Brothers Interactive, have contacted up with this latest news fresh from Gamescon.  Here's what they had to say:

"Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment today at gamescom revealed that LEGO  Dimensions, the upcoming entertainment experience that merges physical LEGO brick building with interactive console gameplay, will include unlockable Adventure Worlds that provide open-world environments for players to explore.  Separate from the game’s main story which takes players on a heroic journey through universes as varied as The Simpsons and Doctor Who in their quest to save the LEGO Multiverse, players will also be able to access fourteen distinct Adventure Worlds for each of the fan-favorite entertainment properties in the game. Every character in LEGO Dimensions, including the three Starter Pack characters and any Expansion Pack character, has the ability to unlock the corresponding Adventure World of same brand to provide players with additional gameplay content that is based on that entertainment property.

Players will immediately have access to three unique Adventure Worlds based on DC Comics, The Lord of the Rings, and The LEGO Movie. Each of these Adventure Worlds can be unlocked by one of the three heroes from the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack: LEGO Batman can unlock the DC Comics Adventure World, LEGO Gandalf can unlock The Lord of the Rings Adventure World and Wyldstyle can unlock The LEGO Movie Adventure World. Additionally, each of the remaining Adventure Worlds can be unlocked by any character from the same franchise available in the LEGO Dimensions Level Packs, Team Packs and Fun Packs.  







In a new trailer giving the first glimpse of the Adventure Worlds, X-PO (voiced by Joel McHale), the robot guide from LEGO Dimensions, shows off worlds full of beauty and mystery where players will be able to race, collect studs and gold bricks, and explore classic locations from the varied brands available in the game for even more adventure beyond the LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment also revealed a Ghostbusters Level Pack with a LEGO Peter Venkman minifigure and Ghostbusters Fun Packs with LEGO Stay Puft and LEGO Slimer minifigures.

Launching 29th September 2015, LEGO Dimensions will be available for Xbox One, the all-in one games and entertainment system from Microsoft and the Xbox 360 games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation4 and PlayStation3 computer entertainment systems and the Wii U system from Nintendo."



 In addition to this, we've also heard news in regard to the forthcoming Lego Avengers:
"Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced today that LEGO® Marvel’s Avengers, the first console videogame to feature characters and storylines from Marvel’s The Avengers™, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron™ and more, will be available on 26th January 2016 in North America and 29th January 2016 in Europe, via participating retailers.

In addition, an exclusive UK retailer will be announced very soon, where consumers can pre-order their copy and receive an exclusive Silver Centurion Iron Man LEGO minifigure, which is one of the many suits that will be playable in LEGO® Marvel’s Avengers. The minfigure will ship along with the game for online customers; in-store customers will receive at time of purchase at the exclusive UK retailer while stocks last.

Brand new screenshots were revealed in honour of Gamescom, featuring Bruce Banner, Hulk, Ms Marvel Kamala Khan, Speed, Thor Jane Foster and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl."

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Burn it Trailer revealed for Just Cause 3 - Square Enix


Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at Square Enix have let us know about the new trailer for Just Casue 3 revealed at this years Gamescon.

Its big, its brash and its defintiely over the top, however if like us you haven't played the first two titles in the series, theres even better news as the Xbox One copy includes JC 2.  So its a twofer.

Here's what they had to say:
"The latest JUST CAUSE 3 trailer entitled ‘Burn It’ exploded onto the Xbox gamescom 2015 briefing stage where it was revealed that the Xbox One version of the game will come with a digital copy of JUST CAUSE 2 that will be added to players’ Xbox One and Xbox 360 game library. JUST CAUSE 3 will be released globally on December 1st, 2015 and the offer will be available for a limited time for anyone picking up a digital or physical version at pre-order or on the game’s release.





The new ‘Burn It’ trailer is available now and showcases an in-game mission for the very first time, revealing the variety of ways the player can tackle any given mission or objective. In the mission ‘Better Late than Never’, Dictator General Di Ravello instructs his forces to send an army of tanks to destroy the town of Costa Del Porto and take the rebels hostage. Enter Rico Rodriguez to put things right using his varied and unique explosive arsenal. Three new screenshots from the game are also available now."

Thursday, 30 July 2015

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Crazy Love You - Lisa Unger

Release Date: 30/07/15
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Love hurts. Sometimes it even kills... Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, playing in the woods of their small Upstate New York town, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies who called him "loser" and "fatboy... and from his family's deadly secrets.

Now that they've both escaped to New York City, Ian no longer inhabits the tortured shell of his childhood. He is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss... Priss is still trouble. The booze, the drugs, the sex--Ian is growing tired of late nights together trying to keep the past at bay. Especially now that he's met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn't like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen...


REVIEW:

There are times as a reader that you not only want to be creeped out but treated to a cracking Crime Thriller story in the process and that’s exactly what Lisa Unger delivers in this, her latest release. It has all the elements that make her writing so Moorish, a cracking arc, top notch prose, magical dialogue and characters that you just want to spend a lot of time around as you find their foibles alongside weaknesses not only endearing but really makes them feel human.

Here within this book you end up asking yourself a lot of questions about what is and isn’t happening and when the author throws in quite a bit of sleight of hand into the mix as well as an arc that seems to deliver all you could want, really makes this a book that you just can’t let go of. Cracking.