Wednesday, 15 October 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham New Trailer - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs, 
Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has sent us the latest trailer for LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham – featuring Comic Officionado Kevin Smith and also the talented Green Arrow, Stephen Amell. 

It's definitely looking pretty sweet and with the cracking Lego Humour coming through we can't wait to embark on the adventures with the full DC crew.  Also our friends at WBI have asked us to remind you about the season pass for the title.



The Season Pass includes:

● The Dark Knight Pack (available 14/11/14)
Experience the heart-pounding chase scene from the iconic film complete with cool vehicles and explosive action. Play as the legendary Dark Knight and Commissioner Gordon, as well as the Joker and his goons as they chase down Harvey Dent’s police escort. Bane and Catwoman from the third film are also playable.

● Man of Steel Pack (available 14/11/14)
Help Jor-El, his wife Lara and their robot Kelex send the infant Superman “Kal-el” into space towards the safety of Earth as Krypton falls into chaos. Find a way inside Jor-El’s home, fight General Zod’s invading forces and battle against Zod himself to save Superman.

● Batman 75th Pack (available 14/11/14)
Play as Joker and Harley, setting up a variety of celebration set pieces. Be the Batman and play as some of the most iconic faces of Batman through the years, including his first appearance in Detective Comics #27.

● Access to Future DLC Content
Gain access to three additional game packs, featuring new playable characters, vehicles and levels. Details about the additional content will be revealed at a later date.

Download images for The Dark Knight, Man of Steel, and Batman 75th packs at the following link: games.premiercomms.com/release.asp?i=1834

In LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the Caped Crusader joins forces with the super heroes of the DC Comics universe and blasts off to outer space to stop the evil Brainiac from destroying Earth. Using the power of the Lantern Rings, Brainiac shrinks worlds to add to his twisted collection of miniature cities from across the universe. Now the greatest super heroes and the most cunning villains must unite and journey to different Lantern Worlds to collect the Lantern Rings and stop Brainiac before it’s too late.

LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the ultimate super hero game for the entire family launches on 14th November 2014 on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, Wii U, 3DS and PC.


VIDEO GAME NEWS: The Evil Within - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have brought some interesting information to our attention with yesterdays release of "The Evil Within."  Here's what they had to say:

"Research by One Poll reveals that fear of the undead is on the rise in the UK.  The poll, conducted in partnership with The Evil Within’s publisher, Bethesda Softworks, showed that 27% of the population admitted that they have considered what they would do if there was a zombie attack.  Some have even taken it a step further with more than 11% formulating an actual survival plan.

Matthew Hall-Turner, 29, from Cheshire said: “I’ve thought long and hard about what I’d do in light of a zombie attack, I think my best bet would be pretending to be one of them, walking really slowly, then escaping when the opportunity arises.”

The research polled 2000 UK adults and looked at British attitudes towards fear and evil.  It's not just a zombie attack that's leaving Brits quaking in their boots. According to this research, 31% of the population believe in ghosts, 22% in aliens, and an astonishing 4% in fairies. A surprising 46% of people surveyed confessed to feeling scared on a daily basis with more than 36% of those declaring that they enjoy being scared, and therefore turn to movies and video games such as The Evil Within to entertain themselves."



In addtion to this, we wanted to reveal that Lady Eleanor has her own plans for the Zombie Apocalypse.   


We hope you're looking forward to getting as scared as us with the title,

 
Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Sunday, 12 October 2014

URBAN FANTASY CRIME REVIEW: Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets - Ed. David Thomas Moore

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Abaddon

SYNOPSIS:

The world's most famous detective, as you've never seen him before! A dozen established and up-and-coming authors invite you to view Doyle's greatest creation through a decidedly cracked lens. Read about Holmes and Watson through time and space, as they tackle a witch-trial in seventeenth century Scotland, bandy words with Andy Warhol in 1970s New York, travel the Wild Frontier in the Old West, solve future crimes in a world of robots and even cross paths with a young Elvis Presley...Set to include stories by Kasey Lansdale, Guy Adams, Jamie Wyman, J E Cohen, Gini Koch, Glen Mehn, Kelly Hale, Kaaron Warren, Emma Newman and more.


REVIEW:

Ah a wonderful set of short stories based around Holmes and Watson in a multitude of worlds and identities. Its well written, there’s a whole host of cracking tales and when added to the fact that you can dive in for short journey’s or a lunchbreak.

For me, I loved the sheer variety of the tales within, I enjoyed the prose, the dialogue alongside the pace which when added to cracking editing alongside the pleasure of being able to try authors that I hadn’t read before all round gave me a great experience. A pure joy.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: You - Caroline Kepnes

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Love hurts...

When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he’s instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She’s gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams.

Beck doesn’t know it yet, but she’s perfect for him, and soon she can’t resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there’s more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect fa├žade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences . . .

A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes’s You is a perversely romantic thriller that’s more dangerously clever than any you’ve read before.


REVIEW:

Books can take a reader to a number of different places, you can end up in the past, spend time in the future and of course you can spend time in the present with the voyeuristic attitude of getting to see get to see the people behind the curtains. Here within this book by Caroline is an uncomfortable story where we get to meet Joe, an altogether average man, apart from the fact that he’s a stalker. He’s easy to like and to be honest at times you can end up wondering how this happened. It makes you question previous held connotations as well as leaving you wondering how many people you know could also be stalkers.

Its definitely quirky, it has a solid storyline behind it and whilst I spent quite a bit of time within the pages, there were parts that I wanted to speed read as I didn’t like a number of the supporting characters. All round, whilst it has a fair few flaws, its definitely a title that will make you think and that in itself is an experience and a half for the reader.

Friday, 10 October 2014

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: A Vision of Fire - Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

The first in a series, A Vision of Fire is the thrilling science fiction debut of actress Gillian Anderson, best known for her role as Scully on The X-Files with David Duchovny and for The Fall. Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O'Hara is a single mum trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre love life. Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India's ambassador to the United Nations, starts having violent visions. Maanik's parents are sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father - a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels - but when children start having similar outbursts around the world, Caitlin begins to think that there's a stranger force at work. With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe and uncover the supernatural links between these seemingly unrelated cases in order to save her patient - and perhaps the world.


REVIEW:

Ok a different type of book and one that really relies on the authors name to help sell it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the idea’s within, I loved the principle character however for me the execution wasn’t as good as it could have been with it feeling fairly flat and to the point rather than with any real embellishment, almost as if it had started out as a screen script rather than a story.

Whilst the prose is OK and the pace acceptable, the key thing with this book it the characters, they breathe, they feel alive to the reader and when you add emotional contexts alongside personal struggles the reader is given a great experience for it. All round an OK book but not a title that demands to be read and one I suspect will sell more for the curiosity of Gillian Anderson rather than the talent within.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 03/10/14
Publisher:  Warner Brothers Interactive

SYNOPSIS:

In Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, gamers take on the role of Talion, a valiant ranger whose family is slain in front of him the night Sauron and his army return to Mordor, moments before his own life is taken. Resurrected by a Spirit of vengeance and empowered with Wraith abilities, Talion ventures into Mordor and vows to destroy those who have wronged him. Through the course of his personal vendetta, Talion uncovers the truth of the Spirit that compels him, learns the origins of the Rings of Power, and ultimately confronts his true nemesis.

Every enemy that players face is a unique individual, differentiated by their personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Through the Nemesis System, enemy relationships and characteristics are shaped by player actions and decisions to create personal archenemies that remember and adapt to the player and are distinct to every gameplay session. Gamers are able to craft their own battles, enemies, and rewards within the dynamic world, which remembers and adapts to their choices, delivering a unique experience to every player.


REVIEW:

OK, I’ve a person who over the last few years has spent days in the Lord of the Rings world. Whether I’ve been trekking along with Bilbo, riding beside Aragorn or even pootling round the Lego recreation world, I’ve definitely served my time with the relative armies.

Now hear for the first time, the reader gets to explore Middle Earth with a totally new tale, one that takes the side of Gondorian Ranger Talian who is stuck between life and death after being struck down by Sauron’s Necormancer.

It’s definitely a dark tale and one that delves into the rich history in such a way that the gamer is in for a real treat. It’s hard hitting, has some great twists but the real kicker is in the Nemesis system where any Orc that you’ve previous met will remember your encounters complete with scars, burns etc.

Add to this, a whole host of assassin like skills and all round it’s a title that will give the gamer hours of pleasure. However, whilst my review is positive, I do feel that I have to say a few things to other gamers out there. Don’t expect to be able to wade in sword blade swinging, and take out swathes of Orcs. It won’t work and to be blunt, you’ll see why you’re called Gravewalker time and again. You will die, you will be massacred and overall you won’t get very far before getting very annoyed with it. So how do you cope?

Quite simply you utilise your sneak skills, you learn to carefully map out your area, to sneak around and plan your attack’s and perhaps most of all you utilise your wraith abilities. Its definitely a game that you’ll have to spend time getting to know, it’s a title that you’ll have hours of careful manoeuvring and overall it’s a title that will give you a lot of frustrating situations but the payoff when you do manage to negotiate and take out your targets will be a huge rewarding feeling. Great stuff.

URBAN FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Otherworld Nights - Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: 07/10/14
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Sunday Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong captivated readers with her Women of the Otherworld series of supernatural thrillers. In this new anthology, favourite characters return in stories of drama, danger and desire. Legendary werewolf partners Elena and Clay stalk the pages of this book, along with vampires, witches, half-demons and sorcerers. Filled with fan favourites and rarities, Otherworld Nights concludes with a brand-new novella, 'Vanishing Act'. This thrilling longer story is set after series finale 13, and features much-loved characters Savannah and Adam as they begin a new life - and a mysterious new case - together.


REVIEW:

I’ve been a huge fan of Kelley’s for quite a number of years and whilst she’s always made it to the top of my TBR pile when a new title landed she has written some short stories that I haven’t had the pleasure to read as either I wasn’t aware of it being released or it was in a foreign release that I’ve not been able to get hold of.

So as a reader I’m always happy when an author releases a compendium of the short stories that they’ve written as it means you don’t have to worry about either tracking down way overpriced limited edition multi-author releases or that you’ve spent a lot of money for just the one story.

Here Orbit have compiled a number of her short stories in the first volume and whilst there has been a short tale compendium before, this one is part of a trilogy (if memory serves correctly) that will bring them altogether in a must own series. All round it’s a great book to dip into for journeys or lunch breaks and coming from Kelley (and focussing on her Otherworld tales) will give the reader the chance to spend more time with some of their favourite characters. Great stuff.



Wednesday, 8 October 2014

FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Fearsome Magics - Ed. Jonathan Strahan

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

A cabinet of magic! A cavalcade of wonder! A collection of stories both strange and wondrous, of tales filled with wild adventure and strange imaginings. Fearsome Magics, the second New Solaris Book of Fantasy, is all these things and more. It is, we think, one of the best books you will read all year. Award-winning editor Jonathan Strahan has invited some of the best and most exciting writers working in fantasy today to let their imaginations run wild and to deliver stories that will thrill and awe, delight and amuse. And above all, stories that are filled with fearsome magic! Authors include Garth Nix, K.J. Parker, Justina Robson, Ellen Klages, Christopher Rowe, Isobelle Carmody, Tony Ballantyne, James Bradley, Karin Tidbeck, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Frances Hardinger, Kaaron Warren, Genevieve Valentine and Robert Shearman.


REVIEW:

There are times when I want to settle down with a huge epic story and get lost in the world that the author has so lovingly built but there are others, when life and travel times won’t permit you to get that deep into a tale, so what do you do? Well if you’re like me, you pick up a set of short stories

This has two benefits:
1) Its nice and easy to open, read a tale and put it down again so either an escape in your lunchtime or break or to help fill a short journey without panicking about missing your stop.
2) A great way to try a huge variety of authors without spending a ton of money on just the one book.

What this title from Rebellion offers is a whole selection of authors who present a cracking set of stories based on a central theme. Its quite quirky to see what each one creates on that theme and with none treading the same ground it is a wonderful way to see how prose and pace can really make a tale for the reader. A real masterclass in writing.

All round a great book and whilst I did get annoyed with the odd story relying on a single line to make sense, the vast majority gave me a read that wonderfully filled my time, add to this some authors that I haven’t tried before that have now made my reading list and I’m a happy reader as my multiverse journey continues. Magic

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: The Evil Within: The Fight for Life - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda has contacted us to pass on the latest news in regard to the forthcoming "The Evil Within" which demonstrates how observation and quick reflexes will help you survive.  Here's what they had to say:

Fight for Life
Enemies and trap-laden environments are a constant threat to your survival in The Evil Within. Check out new gameplay footage of the demented, vicious and deadly foes that lie in wait – and see how you can use observation and quick reflexes to avoid death in the latest trailer, Fight for Life.
Developed by Shinji Mikami and the talented team at Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within embodies the meaning of pure survival horror. Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story are combined to create an immersive world that will bring you to the height of tension. With limited resources at your disposal, you’ll fight for survival and experience profound fear in this perfect blend of horror and action.



While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what’s behind this evil force.
The Evil Within releases on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC on Tuesday, 14th October in North America and Europe, 16th October in Australia and New Zealand, and 23rd October in Japan.

For more information on The Evil Within please visit theevilwithin.com.


We hope you're looking forward to getting as scared as us,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Shadow Boxer - Tricia Sullivan

Release Date: 09/10/14
Publisher: Ravenstone

SYNOPSIS:

Jade is a seventeen-year-old mixed martial arts fi ghter. When she's in the cage she dominates her opponents - but in real life she's out of control. After she has a confrontation with a Hollywood martial arts star that threatens her gym's reputation, Jade's coach sends her to a training camp in Thailand for an attitude adjustment. Hoping to discover herself, she instead uncovers a shocking conspiracy. In a world just beyond our own, a man is stealing the souls of children to try and live forever.


REVIEW:

To be honest this was a book that was a little bit strange for me partly as I couldn’t decide it if was meant to be more of a Young Adult Review or whether it was more of an adult title due to the language within. Its quirky, it has some wonderful twists and when added to a story arc that keeps moving all round generates something that when blended with some bhuddist mythology generates a tale that was hard to put down.

Whilst I did enjoy the book I did feel that in places the book was sadly lacking, firstly I loved Cake’s mother and felt that she should have had a bigger role rather than as a supporting cast member and was heavily underutilised considering the opinions of women within the Muay Thai world.

All round a solid enough book and I’ll be keeping a careful eye on Tricia’s future releases.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE REVIEW: Dark Witch - Nora Roberts

Release Date: 31/10/14
Publisher:  Piatkus

SYNOPSIS:

Three cousins inherit a gift that will transform their lives ...Iona Sheehan has just taken the biggest gamble of her life. Leaving her job, her home and her family in Baltimore, she has come to Ireland in search of adventure - and answers. Iona has always felt a powerful connection to the home of her ancestors. So when her beloved grandmother confesses an extraordinary family secret, she can't resist visiting County Mayo to discover the truth for herself. Arriving at the beautiful and atmospheric Castle Ashford, Iona is excited to meet her cousins, Connor and Branna O'Dwyer, for the first time. And when she lands a job at the local riding school she finds herself drawn against her will to its owner - the hot-tempered but charismatic Boyle McGrath. Perhaps in County Mayo she has found her true home at last. What Iona doesn't realise is that her cousins have been expecting her for a long time. Connor, Branna and Iona have all inherited a powerful but dangerous gift from an ancestor known as the Dark Witch. And they are about to discover that some old legends can return to haunt the present ...The first in a magical new trilogy, Dark Witch is a captivating story of love, family and destiny.


REVIEW:

I’ve not really read Nora Roberts before and to be honest I am always a little dubious when an author puts out quite a few titles in a year. So sitting down I wasn’t expecting too much out of this book and whilst the plot felt a little like an ABC of a formula that works, I did actually enjoy it.

County Mayo is brought to life with its ancient heritage, wonderful scenery alongside a haunting tale, yet having visited the County a few years ago I did end up wondering how much of the descriptive really added to the sequence from the author and how much of it was down to me knowing the area.

That said, the storyline was interesting, I liked the opening, a fair bit of the dialogue as well as the pace, yet for me, where this book really failed was with the principle character Iona who I felt I didn’t really know enough about or had a good enough grasp of her to really get behind the events that were effecting her life.

All round a mediocre book and whilst I had fun with it, there wasn’t much to stand out and shout read me to the average reader. Perhaps established fans will be a lot happier.



Tuesday, 30 September 2014

VIDEO GAME NEW: The Evil Within: Survival Trailer - Bethesda

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda has contacted us to let us know that gamers for "The Evil Within" are in for a real treat with a survival guide.  Here's what they had to say:

To prepare players for their impending struggle with survival, we’ve just released a new gameplay video. The first in a series, Every Last Bulletgives players a 101 lesson in survival. Taking advantage of resources, managing ammo, and simply knowing when it’s time to run away can help stave off death for a moment longer.
Developed by Shinji Mikami and the talented team at Tango Gameworks, The Evil Within embodies the meaning of pure survival horror. Highly-crafted environments, horrifying anxiety, and an intricate story are combined to create an immersive world that will bring you to the height of tension. With limited resources at your disposal, you’ll fight for survival and experience profound fear in this perfect blend of horror and action.



While investigating the scene of a gruesome mass murder, Detective Sebastian Castellanos and his partners encounter a mysterious and powerful force. After seeing the slaughter of fellow officers, Sebastian is ambushed and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he finds himself in a deranged world where hideous creatures wander among the dead. Facing unimaginable terror, and fighting for survival, Sebastian embarks on a frightening journey to unravel what’s behind this evil force.

The Evil Within releases on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC on Tuesday, October 14th in North America and Europe.

For more information on The Evil Within please visit theevilwithin.com.
The new gameplay video can be downloaded from our press site (press.bethsoft.com) or via the link below. Additionally, a YouTube embed code is available below.

We hope you're looking forward to getting as scared as us,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor Season Pass Announcement and Launch Trailer- Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive have asked us to let you (with the game being released on Friday the 3rd October) that they're releasing a season pass (£19.99) for the game.

The title will be released for the following formats:
PC
PS3
PS4
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Here's the trailer:


     
In addition to this, they've also released a launch trailer which can be enjoyed here:




Also please remember that if you've pre-ordered  Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (and Amazon is still taking them although today could be the last day) will get access at the game’s launch to  The Dark Ranger exclusive bonus pack. Available at all participating retailers, the pack will provide exclusive content and challenges for players including:  
  • Dark Ranger Character Skin
    • Begin your own quest for vengeance with a new Dark Ranger character skin that embodies Talion's darker side
  • "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
  • Face Sauron's Captains and defeat them to earn powerful Runes and gain a head start in the game
  • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards 
  • Access to Exclusive Leaderboards for "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
    • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards in this challenge mode



    Hopefully this will have whetted your appetite so remember to keep your blades sharp and your wits sharper.

    Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Oversight - Charlie Fletcher


Release Date: 06/05/14
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Only five still guard the borders between the worlds. Only five hold back what waits on the other side. Once the Oversight, the secret society that polices the lines between the mundane and the magic, counted hundreds of brave souls among its members. Now their number can be tallied on a single hand. When a drunkard brings a screaming girl to the Oversight's London headquarters, it seems their hopes for a new recruit will be fulfilled - but the girl is a trap, her appearance a puzzle the five remaining guardians must solve or lose each other, and their society, for good. As the borders between the natural and the supernatural begin to break down, brutal murders erupt across the city, the Oversight are torn viciously apart, and their enemies close in for the final blow. This dark Dickensian fantasy spins a tale of witch-hunters, magicians, mirror-walkers and the unlikeliest of heroes drawn from the depths of British folklore. Meet the Oversight, and remember: when they fall, so do we all.


REVIEW:

Ah Victorian London, the dark streets, the creeping chill of fog and of course the muffled sounds of things that go bump in the night in Charlie Fletcher’s first book in a new Urban Fantasy series. The writing within has a wonderfully dark undertone, the characters people I want to spend time with and with an overall atmospheric feel that really takes you there, I was more than a happy reader.

Back this up with top notch pace, some wonderful twists and all round I was sold. Great stuff.

Monday, 29 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Three - Sarah Lotz

Release Date: 22/05/14
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

Lost meets The Passage in this incredible new thriller, for all fans of The Shining Girls and Stephen King. They're here ...The boy. The boy watch the boy watch the dead people oh Lordy there's so many ...They're coming for me now. We're all going soon. All of us. Pastor Len warn them that the boy he's not to---- The last words of Pamela May Donald (1961 - 2012) Black Thursday. The day that will never be forgotten. The day that four passenger planes crash, at almost exactly the same moment, at four different points around the globe. There are only four survivors. Three are children, who emerge from the wreckage seemingly unhurt. But they are not unchanged. And the fourth is Pamela May Donald, who lives just long enough to record a voice message on her phone. A message that will change the world. The message is a warning.


REVIEW:

To be honest if you’re looking for something far from the norm in the genre then this is a book that you’ll be more than interested in reading, as author Sarah Lotz first solo title brings a fictional series of event together in a non-fiction concoction written by one of the characters.

It’s a book that has strange events within, blending mystery, science fiction and of course journalistic fictional interviews that help give the story a believability and of course a timeline that wends its way drawing the reader in deeper with each passing chapter. All round, it’s definitely a strange book and for me it’s one that I really enjoyed as I had the chance to depart from my normal reading. Great stuff.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Bruno Courreges: Children of War - Martin Walker


Release Date: 12/06/14
Publisher:  Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

Bruno, chef de police in the French town of St Denis, is already busy with a case when the body of an undercover French Muslim cop is found in the woods, a man who called Bruno for help only hours before. But Bruno's sometime boss and rival, the Brigadier, doesn't see this investigation as a priority - there are bigger issues at stake. Bruno has other ideas. Meanwhile, a Muslim youth named Sami turns up at a French army base in Afghanistan hoping to get home to St Denis. One of Bruno's old army comrades helps to smuggle Sami back to France, but the FBI aren't far behind. Then an American woman appears in St Denis with a warrant for Sami's extradition. Bruno must unravel these multiple mysteries, amidst pressure from his bosses, and find his own way to protect his town and its people.


REVIEW:

The latest outing of Martin Walkers detective and one that continues to build upon the characters reputation as this tale brings Islamic Extremism as well as mystery featuring the hiding of children during the second world war that also gives the story a sense of depth and history.

It’s definitely a book that I had a lot of fun reading and whilst I’ve enjoyed the series to date, I’m starting to wonder how much longer the character can continue as to be honest, for me, he’s starting to stagnate. Don’t get me wrong, I love the prose, the twists and of course the dialogue however I’ve felt that in this book the character hasn’t grown and is starting to become unbelievable.

All round it is a book that will give you a good amount of mystery for your buck but at the end of the day, if a character doesn’t grow then that for me is the beginning of the end.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

VIDEO GAME TIE IN: Assassin's Kitties (Assassin's Creed: Unity Parody)


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
As many know we're huge fans of the Assassin's Creed franchise and I have to admit to being a crazy cat man.  So when I came across this trailer that blends two of my passions in life I just had to share it with others.  Ubisoft, please give us an adventure like this with the Assassin's kitties. 

So without further ado, enjoy:


 
 
All the best gamers and keep you blades sharp but your minds sharper,   



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Expanse 4: Cibola Burn - James S A Corey


Release Date: 05/06/14
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonise has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Illus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire. Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the heart of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail. And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilisation which once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed them. Cibola Burn is the exhilarating fourth novel in the New York Times bestselling Expanse series, following the Hugo-nominated Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate.


REVIEW:

I’ve enjoyed quite a lot of the authors work from the various genres but for me this one has felt more than a little flat as is seemed quite simplistic plot wise as well as fairly predictable which took a lot of the fun out of the story. Add to this quite a slow pace and all round I wasn’t that impressed with this, the fourth offering in the series.

Whilst the prose was OK and the dialogue alongside the characters acceptable all round felt that this was more of a filler than taking the story to new heights almost as if it was to fulfil a contract over giving the reader something to enthuse over. Sadly a disappointing read for me but as I have enjoyed a lot of the author’s work before I will keep an eye on future outings but in this case if the next Sci-Fi is as flat as this I won’t be diving into it again.

Friday, 26 September 2014

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Pagan Min: King of Kyrat - Ubisoft


As a huge fan of the Far Cry franchise, we can't wait to embark on any adventure.

Its one that really keeps you on your toes and with all the cracking graphics as well as storyline, we can't wait to get started.

Our friends at Ubisoft have sent us the latest trailer featuring Pagan Min, despot of Kyrat:




Finally here's all the latest info on the game for you:

Welcome to Kyrat!

Built from the legendary DNA of its award-winning predecessor, Far Cry 4 delivers the most expansive and immersive Far Cry experience yet in an entirely new and massive open world, with integrated drop-in/drop-out co-op play. Hidden in the towering Himalayas lies Kyrat, a country steeped in tradition and violence. You are Ajay Ghale. Travelling to Kyrat to fulfill your mother's dying wish, you find yourself caught up in a civil war to overthrow the oppressive regime of dictator Pagan Min. Explore and navigate this vast open world, where danger and unpredictability lurk around every corner. Here, every decision counts, and every second is a story.
Explore an open world filled with possibilities
Discover the most diverse Far Cry world created yet. With terrain spanning from lush forests to the snowcapped Himalayas, the entire world is alive... and deadly!
  • From leopards, rhinos, black eagles, and vicious honey badgers, Kyrat is home to abundant wildlife. As you embark on your hunt for resources, know that something may be hunting you.
  • Scout enemy territory from above in the all-new gyrocopter and then plummet back to earth in your wing suit. Climb aboard the back of a six-ton elephant and unleash its raw power on your enemies.
  • Choose the right weapon for the job, no matter how insane or unpredictable that job might be. With a diverse arsenal, you'll be prepared for anything.
Pagan Min
Pagan Min is a raging narcissist with a God complex. He's always been a fan of his own image and the presentation of himself as a brand. Ambitious and ruthless, the self-proclaimed King of Kyrat was every bit the charismatic leader. He conquered Kyrat slowly, pulling people to his cause – including the Golden Path rebels. Quickly enough, idealism surrenders to reality. Pagan Min believes that Kyrat's problems lie in its connection to the past. In trying to sever those connections, Pagan Min causes a split in his own camp. He may control much of Kyrat, but in making enemies with the Golden Path a rebellion is born.
Co-op: bring a friend
Not every journey should be taken alone. Far Cry 4 allows for a second player to drop in and out at any point, re-imagining the cooperative experience in the true spirit of Far Cry for the next generation. You'll now be able to discover and explore the living open world of Kyrat together.
The arena: what will you become?
Prove your combat prowess and fight for survival and fame in the arena. Earn the respect of roaring crowds and test your will to survive, battling man and beast alike, until only one contestant remains standing.
Multiplayer
Get a taste of Kyrat's embattled history in a brand new adversarial multiplayer mode. Play as a heavily armed soldier of the Golden Path rebellion, or as a member of the ancient Kalinag warrior tribe equipped with the lethal power of nature.
Map editor: deathtrap designer
Create and share your own maps using the most powerful and intuitive map editor ever offered in the Far Cry franchise. Your creations will get the attention they deserve thanks to its enhanced tools, improved interface, and the ability to publish and share your maps with the community. Hopefully this will keep you up to date with the latest Ubisoft developments. Gareth and Lady Eleanor 

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor: Everything you need to know - Warner Brothers Interactive

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive have put together a special guide to Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor letting all gamers what the title will entail for the games release on the 3rd October.

The title will be released for the following formats:
PC
PS3
PS4
Xbox 360
Xbox One

Here's the guide:

   
Also remember that fans who pre-order  Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor will get access at the game’s launch to  The Dark Ranger exclusive bonus pack. Available at all participating retailers, the pack will provide exclusive content and challenges for players including:  
  • Dark Ranger Character Skin
    • Begin your own quest for vengeance with a new Dark Ranger character skin that embodies Talion's darker side
  • "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
  • Face Sauron's Captains and defeat them to earn powerful Runes and gain a head start in the game
  • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards 
  • Access to Exclusive Leaderboards for "Test of Power" Challenge Mode
    • Test your speed, skill and strategy and measure yourself against your friends on the leaderboards in this challenge mode



    Hopefully this will have whetted your appetite so remember to keep your blades sharp and your wits sharper.

    Gareth and Lady Eleanor

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Iron Druid 7: Shattered - Kevin Hearne


Release Date: 27/06/14
Publisher:  Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

The acclaimed author Kevin Hearne returns with a brand new novel in his epic urban fantasy series starring the unforgettable Atticus O'Sullivan. For nearly two thousand years, there was only one Druid left walking the Earth - Atticus O'Sullivan, the Iron Druid, whose sharp wit and sharp sword kept him alive while pursued by a pantheon of hostile deities. Now he's got company. Atticus's apprentice Granuaile is finally a full Druid herself. What's more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern name Owen Kennedy. And Owen has some catching up to do. Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus's chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury's still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki - or merely a pain in the arse. As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they're hoping that this time ...three's a charm.


REVIEW:

I’m a huge fan of this series and every book to date has been a hit with me. I love the way that the author brings the world to life, has superb plotlines but for me, the key selling point is the characters that people his writing. They’re not only a blast to hang out with but they also feel individually crafted, with each having their own emotions, feelings and beliefs that not only help gel the plotline but gives everyone an unique voice.

Back this up with some magical prose and of course a pace that doesn’t let you go for one minute and all round I was a more than happy reader. Great Stuff.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Touched - Joanna Briscoe

Release Date: 03/07/14
Publisher:  Hammer

SYNOPSIS:

1963: Rowena Crale and her family have recently moved into an old house in a small English village. But the house appears to be resisting all attempts at renovation. Walls ooze damp. Stains come through layers of wallpaper. Ceilings sag. And strange noises - voices - emanate from empty rooms.

As Rowena struggles with the upheaval of builders while trying to be a dutiful wife to her husband and a good mother to her five small children, her life starts to disintegrate. And then her eldest and prettiest daughter goes missing. Out in the village, a frantic search is mounted - while inside the house reveals its darkest secret: a hidden room with no windows and no obvious entrance. Boarded up, it smells of old food, disinfectant - and death...

Set in a world where appearances are everything, and nothing is as it seems, Touched is unsettling, claustrophobic, and utterly gripping.


REVIEW:

OK this is a novella rather than a full blown novel and to be blunt, its one that sadly doesn’t work for me. It’s convoluted, the plotline a little all over the place with elements that seem to have been added to extend rather than add anything to the tale. Back this up with a slow pace and characters that didn’t become fully realised which left me feeling cold.

Sadly not a book I’ll be rereading again anytime soon and whilst I will give the author another try if the next one leaves me feeling like this I won’t be reading any other titles in the future.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

URBAN FANTAY YOUNG ADULT REVIEWS: Clanless 1: Senior Year Bites and Tales of the Traveller 1: Sebaska's Tale - Julie A Campbell


Release Date: 05/07/14
Publisher:  Untold Press

SYNOPSIS:

Senior year is supposed to be fun: boys, dances and graduation. It's significantly harder to enjoy it when you're dead.
Thanks to an innocent game of Truth or Dare, I wound up sleeping in a graveyard. Probably not the brightest thing I've ever done, but thanks to a couple of well-placed fangs, I'm here to tell the tale.
Vampires might stalk pop culture, but they’re just myths, right? Yeah. Not so much...
Everything seems a lot more difficult when you’re a nocturnal creature of the night, especially school. I was managing, but couldn't keep it hidden from my friends. Steph decided that we should be cool, like superheroes, and fight crime.
I’m a vampire, not a hero. Living in a sleepy New England town, crime is a little harder to come by. At least it is until a serial killer moves into the area. He’s got the authorities stumped, but then again, the cops don’t have a teenage, blood-sucking, non-hero on their team. It doesn't take long for me to discover the world is full of monsters. I may be one of them…but will I turn out to be the hero, or the killer everyone is looking for


REVIEW:

The first of Julie’s books that I sat back to read and whilst I knew that Sabaska’s Tale was the first, it was the premise of this one that really fired my imagination. What occurs within is a story that the reader will love to sit back to and enjoy as she weaves supernatural elements into a realistic world wonderfully and when added to the authors prose that keeps you turning the pages alongside cracking pace all round made this a book that I just couldn’t put down.

Finally add to this dialogue that not only sells itself but weaves the characters emotional aspects richly alongside the friends relationship into a pure joy to read all round gave me a cracking experience. 



Release Date: 05/07/13
Publisher:  Untold Press

SYNOPSIS:

To Anna, horses were more than a fascination, they were everything. Luckily, she had the opportunity to spend every summer on her grandmother's horse ranch in Colorado. Life was perfect, until she received the devastating news that her grandmother had been tragically killed. Anna knew she was the only member of her family who could take over the ranch and hopefully find new homes for her grandmother's beloved Arabians.
Anna wasn't alone for long. Her grandmother had hired a local teenage boy to help tend the horses for the summer. Anna didn't stand a chance against Cody's quiet charm and the two rapidly become friends. However, even with the responsibilities of the ranch, Anna quickly discovers the secrets her grandmother had been hiding and a legacy that sends her on an adventure she never thought possible. An adventure in the saddle of a horse that wasn't a horse at all. Sabaska, her grandmother's favorite Arabian, was a Traveler; a magical being that could travel between worlds. With Anna at the reins, they find themselves trapped in a fight against evil with the highest of stakes… Their very survival.


REVIEW:

I love something a little different so when I got to read a book by horse lover Julie, I couldn’t wait to see how her passion would translate into an Urban Fantasy tale. As with the authors other writing that I’ve read recently (Senior Year Bites) she brings the readers great characters that have a likeable factor that really creates that special bond. You care about them and you want them to achieve their goals, dreams and of course the mission to which they’re undertaking.

The prose is solid, the concepts wonderfully rich and when added to dialogue that just trips off the page all round gave me an experience that I just loved to sit back with. Add to this a heartwarming sensation at the books end and all round I was more than pleased with this experience.








Tuesday, 23 September 2014

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

Release Date: 23/09/14
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.


REVIEW:

We’ve been huge fans of Scott here since Lady Eleanor originally read his Uglies series and loved them. So we’re always quick to grab the next time as soon as we could so that we could sit back, relax and enjoy our next adventure. He became a name that made it straight to the top of the TBR pile (in fact it never made it there as it was started straight away) so we’ve always come to expect a certain quality from him.

Now to be honest here I am a little bit in the dark on the publishing world to a certain degree and whilst I do know authors who have talked me through their journey through to publishing, this book was in stark contrast to that. It seemed too easy for her (the protagonist) and it felt unrealistsic, so much so that it threw the rest of the book into doubt and when you have something that delves into the unreal you need something to help ground it and help give you chance to find identifying markers with the character.

All round, I found this book a little flat, I didn’t get on with the principle character and for me, I was left feeling cheated by the whole thing almost as if it were a debut novel. All round a great shame for me.




URBAN STEAMPUNK: Jani and the Greater Game - Eric Brown

Release Date: 31/07/14
Publisher:  Solaris

SYNOPSIS:

It's 1910 and the British rule the subcontinent with an iron fist - and with strange technology fuelled by a power source known as Annapurnite - discovered in the foothills of Mount Annapurna. But they rule but at the constant cost of their enemies, mainly the Russians and the Chinese, attempting to learn the secret of this technology...This political confrontation is known as The Greater Game. Into this conflict is pitched eighteen year old Janisha Chaterjee who discovers a strange device which leads her into the foothills of the Himalayas. When Russians spies and the evil priest Durja Das find out about the device, the chase is on to apprehend Janisha before she can reach the Himalayas. There she will learn the secret behind Annapurnite, and what she learns will change the destiny of the world for ever...Jani and the Greater Game is the first book in a rip-roaring, spice-laden, steampunk action adventure series set in India and featuring a heroine who subverts all the norms.


REVIEW:

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to make of this novel. It had some great points about it, such a the inventiveness where the author manages to blend alien worlds with Victoriana Steampunk alongside some fun stereotyping with the various cultures involved. However apart from a rip-roaring adventure pace,, that’s where the book falls flat as it felt that in parts of the book were way to coincidental a pieces fell together a little too fortuitously as well as in an unbelievable jammy way.

All round, whilst I did have fun with the book, I did feel that some of the supporting cast were a little flat and when added to a sadly lacklustre overall arc all round left me feeling that this one was a bit of an average book without standing out like it should have done. A great shame for me however I will read others as I liked a few of the concepts within.

Monday, 22 September 2014

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Return of the Discontinued Man - Mark Hodder

Release Date: 07/08/14
Publisher:  Del Rey

SYNOPSIS:

Burton and Swinburne return in a new wildly imaginative steampunk adventure, and this time they're facing their greatest foe...Leicester Square, London. Blood red snow falls from the sky and a strange creature, disorientated and apparently insane, materialises out of thin air. Spring Heeled Jack has returned, and he is intent on one thing: hunting Sir Richard Francis Burton. Burton is experiencing one hallucination after another; visions of parallel realities and future history plague his every thought. These send him, and his companions, on an unimaginable expedition - a voyage through time itself...


REVIEW:

As a huge fan of Steampunk, this has been one of the series that I’ve been keeping a close eye on as the preinciople characters within this work are people that I love to spend time with. I like their roundedness, the way that they step of the page and also the way that Mark brings cracking dialogue to this extraordinary world.

Yet for all that, this book felt a little lacklustre compared to others in the series (and on a side note you do have to read the others to get the fuller picture here.) With the pages, it felt almost rushed with confusion taking the reader somewhere different to the norm. All round, it was a fun plot to spend time around and whilst for me the pace was off key and the prose not as quite as sharp as they have been it was a book that gave me a wonderful escape from the real world.