Monday, 26 September 2016

VIDEO GAME ALPHA REVIEW: For Honor - Ubisoft


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Recently we've been asked to add some V-blog options to our Reviews, so here you go.  Here is our first attempt and to be honest we were more than happy to take the time with For Honor's Alpha Gameplay.

All round its been a great bit of fun and please let us know what you think:



Thank you,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Thursday, 22 September 2016

THRILLER REVIEW: Nick Stone 17: Detonator - Andy McNab

Release Date: 22/10/16
Publisher:  Transworld

SYNOPSIS:

Ex-deniable operator Nick Stone has spent a lifetime in harm's way - but when someone he cares for very deeply is murdered in cold blood, he can no longer just take the pain.

A high-level internecine conflict at the dark heart of the resurgent Russian Empire and an assassin's bullet on an isolated Alpine pass propel him from an apparently run-of-the-mill close-protection task into his most brutal and challenging mission yet.

As the body count increases, Stone becomes one of Europe's Most Wanted. He must evade the elite police forces of three nations in his pursuit of faceless men who trade in human misery, and a lone wolf terrorist who threatens to unleash the Western World's worst nightmare.

Vengeance of the most explosive kind is top of Stone's agenda. The fuse has been ignited - but who really holds the detonator?


REVIEW:

OK, you like Thrillers and want something spectacular, you also want something with a historical context alongside a huge sense of danger accompanied by consequences for choices made throughout. So where are you going to go? Well, this recommendation from me is from an author I’ve not read before and whilst I know he has a back catalogue, it was the premise of this title that really grabbed me. Taking us back to the days of World War 2 with a tale of a daring rescue from Auschwitz. Its gripping from page one. Has a cracking protagonist and keeps you glued throughout as the knowledge that it’s all being done for could end the world.

The dialogue is cracking, the time period brought to life and really lets you feel that you are walking through that dark period of history which when backed with a good sense of pace really does deliver a book that I’d put top of any Thriller fans list for the Christmas period. Yes it’s a little early to be thinking that far ahead but this book really was that good. Cracker.



THRILLER REVIEW: The One Man - Andrew Gross

Release Date: 22/09/16
Publisher:  Pan

SYNOPSIS:

Auschwitz, 1944. Alfred Mendl's days are numbered. But he has little left to live for - his family were torn away from him, his life's work burned in front of his eyes - until a glimmer of hope arises as he watches a game of chess. To the guards Mendl is just another prisoner, but in fact he holds knowledge that only two people in the world possess. The other is working hard for the Nazi war machine.

Four thousand miles away, in Washington DC, intelligence lieutenant Nathan Blum decodes messages from occupied Poland. After the Nazis murdered his family, Nathan escaped the Krakow ghetto and is determined to support his new country - and the US government knows exactly how he can. They want to send Nathan on a mission to rescue one man from a place no one can break in to - or out of.

Even if Nathan does make it in and finds him, can they escape the most heavily guarded place on earth?


REVIEW:

OK, you like Thrillers and want something spectacular, you also want something with a historical context alongside a huge sense of danger accompanied by consequences for choices made throughout. So where are you going to go? Well, this recommendation from me is from an author I’ve not read before and whilst I know he has a back catalogue, it was the premise of this title that really grabbed me. Taking us back to the days of World War 2 with a tale of a daring rescue from Auschwitz. Its gripping from page one. Has a cracking protagonist and keeps you glued throughout as the knowledge that it’s all being done for could end the world.

The dialogue is cracking, the time period brought to life and really lets you feel that you are walking through that dark period of history which when backed with a good sense of pace really does deliver a book that I’d put top of any Thriller fans list for the Christmas period. Yes it’s a little early to be thinking that far ahead but this book really was that good. Cracker.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Three Body Problem 3: Death's End - Cixin Liu

Release Date: 20/09/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations can co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But peace has also made humanity complacent.

Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the 21st century, awakens from hiber­nation in this new age. She brings knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the start of the Trisolar Crisis, and her presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?


REVIEW:

The conclusion to Liu's Three Body Problem Trilogy and one that not only delivers on what has gone before but gives the reader one hell of an explosive end but pulls no punches whatsoever.

The prose is sharp, the pace allows the readers take a breath where required and perhaps best of all the author allows the characters to take the tale to what feels like quite an organic conclusion. Finally throw into the mix a top notch translation that flows smoothly and all round I was a more than happy reader.



Monday, 19 September 2016

SCIENCE FICTION SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: The Paper Menagerie - Ken Liu


Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS:

Ken Liu is one of the most original, thought-provoking and award-winning short-story writers of his generation. This is the first collection of his work – sixteen stories that invoke the magical within the mundane, by turns profound, beguiling and heartbreaking.

Included here are: The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary (Finalist for Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards), Mono No Aware (Hugo Award winner), The Waves (Nebula Award finalist), The Bookmaking Habits of Select Species (Nebula and Sturgeon award finalists), All the Flavors (Nebula Award finalist), The Litigation Master and the Monkey King (Nebula Award finalist) ,and the most awarded story in the genre's history, The Paper Menagerie (the only story ever to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards).


REVIEW:

Whilst I keep up with the various awards and who win's what, there are times when I don't get to read as much as I'd like to. In the case of Ken. I know he's won a lot of awards for his short fiction but hadn't tried them, so when I found out that this book was being released I was pretty excited, counting down the days when the posty would deliver so that I could see what all the fuss was about.

Not that I doubted I'd get wouldn't get something exciting or mind blowing but there are times when I know that some people get awards for confusing the hell out of others in such a way that you feel stupid when you don't see what they're going on about.

What Ken presents here is a book full of adventure, tales full of cracking characters and above all else something different for everyone so that they can see the wide scope that he's become known for.

Not every story was a cracker but that doens't matter, what i loved best was the sheer variety of what I had in store, from time travel, travelling the universe to even virtual space. Its a quirky, eclectic mix and when you throw into the bowl of fantastic fiction an author as talented as Ken, its easy to see how he's won so many awards. They'r eeasy to get into, cracking fun to read and perhaps best of all allow you to take a break from the real world in breathable chunks.

An absolute corker and if you really want something special for that Sci-Fi fan in your life for the holiday period, definteily give this book a go. They won't be disappoointed.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Born Scared - Kevin Brooks

Release Date: 08/09/16
Publisher:  

SYNOPSIS:

The much anticipated follow-up title from the multi-award winning author of The Bunker Diary, recipient of the 2014 Carnegie Medal for an outstanding book for young adults.

Elliot is terrified of almost everything.

From the moment he was born, his life has been governed by acute fear. The only thing that keeps his terrors in check are the pills that he takes every day.

It's Christmas Eve, there's a snowstorm and Elliot's medication is almost gone. His mum nips out to collect his prescription. She'll only be 10 minutes - but shen she doesn't come back, Elliot must face his fears and try to find her. She should only be 400 metres away. It might as well be 400 miles...

Born Scared joins the ranks of Jennifer Niven's All the Bright Places, Ned Vizzini's It's Kind of A Funny Story, and Jay Asher's Thirteen Reasons Why as an example of teen fiction offering a frank and intelligent portrait of mental illness.


REVIEW:

I love to try books that are a bit different to the norm and when a subject is tackled by an author that has a unique premise associated with it, I tend to sit up and pay attention. Kevin is an author I’ve read with his adult work but for me, its his YA titles that I've heard more about from friends so when I had this opportunity I ordered it pretty quickly. What Kevin does well in this book is bring the principle character to the fore. Elliot works wonderfully well with his sense of fear leading the tale allowing you to form bonds as some of his fears are quite common amongst all of us. 


Add to this cracking dialogue alongside naturally feeling character development and all round I felt that I was treated to something wonderfully special. Magic.



Tuesday, 30 August 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Elemental Assassin 15: Unraveled

Release Date: 30/08/16
Publisher:  Pocket Books

SYNOPSIS:

After the shocking revelations of the previous book, Bitter Bite, the world of Ashland’s become even more sinister, and Gin Blanco (aka Ashland’s most fearsome assassin, the Spider) no longer knows who—or what—she can count on. Only one thing is for certain: danger and new enemies await Gin in Unraveled, Book 15 in the New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”

What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?

As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.

So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.

Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight...


REVIEW:

The latest book in Jennifer’s cracking Elemental Assassin and picks up where the previous outing, Bitter Bite left off, leaving the readers wondering how the events would affect our beloved characters in future outings due to treachery as well as familial bonds were stretched.

Here in this title, readers are taken on the continuing journey as The Circle tries to find ways to get the principle characters to recover monies owed by the deceptive now deceased mother of Finn. Its definitely a book that gets to play with a number of tropes and as a reader I just loved getting a touch of the old west mixed into this cracking series.

As usual there’s top notch action, cracking dialogue and some wonderful twists leaving the reader glued to see how events would unfurl as time and again our heroes look out thought. Well done, delightfully delectable and above all else a book that more than left me sated by the end. Cracking.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Inspector Karen Pirie 4: Out of Bounds - Val McDermid

Release Date: 25/08/16
Publisher:  Little Brown

SYNOPSIS:

'There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn't one of them . . .'

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it's as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . .

Number one bestseller Val McDermid returns with her most atmospheric, spine-chilling and gripping novel to date.


REVIEW:

I love a crime novel that takes the reader on a journey and at times I can be a real sucker for cold cases as has been witnessed when I watched the TV series feeling satisfaction at the completion of a case, so when I heard about Val’s latest book I couldn’t wait to get my hands upon it.

What Val always does well in her work is give readers a principle character that you love to spend time around. In this Karen Pirie’s fourth outing, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster case that someone behind the scenes really wants to be kept quiet as new evidence helps our intrepid detective on her search for closure for the dead. It has some great prose, wonderful dialogue and when added to an arc that just keeps giving, will leave the reader with at least one late night sa they’ll be loathed to put it down. Cracking,

Friday, 26 August 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Gaius Valerius Verrens 7: Savious or Rome - Douglas Jackson

Release Date: 25/08/16
Publisher:  Bantam

SYNOPSIS:

AD 72. Titus Flavius Vespasianus, known as Vespasian, is Emperor of Rome, but his grip on power grows increasingly fragile as economic disaster threatens. The enormous riches from his Judaean campaigns are all but spent, legions go unpaid, and the yields from Rome’s vital Spanish goldfields have fallen dramatically since the civil war.
Gaius Valerius Verrens is recently married and building a new home when the summons arrives from the Emperor. Vespasian needs a man with the combined skills of a lawyer and a soldier to investigate what is happening in remote, mountainous Asturica Augusta where the authorities claim a bandit called The Ghost is ravaging the gold convoys.
But when Valerius arrives in Asturica he faces a much more complex situation. Stalked from the shadows he cannot tell ally from enemy, the exploited native tribes are a growing threat, and the tortured landscape itself seems capable of swallowing him up. Gradually he finds himself drawn into a much wider conspiracy, one that could plunge the Empire into a new conflict and that will place him on a deadly collision course with his old friend and most dangerous adversary, the former gladiator Serpentius.


REVIEW:

I’ve read Douglas’ work since he burst onto the scene in 2008 with his first novel Caligula. He’s always been an author who has spent time doing a lot of research carefully adding details into novels to not only add a flavour of the time but to help enmesh the reader into the world. Its carefully done and presented in such a way that it doesn’t overwhelm the stories arc as some authors sadly do detracting from the tales pace.

Add to this Douglas’ ability to bring his characters to life allowing readers to get to know them via their foibles as well as abilities and all round you’re in for a treat especially when you add cracking pace and epic battle sequences. A real treat.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Vintener Trilogy 3: Blood of the Innocents - Michael Jecks

Release Date: 25/08/16
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

France, 1356: Ten years have passed since the battle of Crecy, and the English fighters are still abroad, laying siege to cities, towns and even small villages. Meanwhile the Prince of Wales raids across France to draw King John into a battle for sovereignty.

Berenger Fripper, having lost everything to the plague, is now captain of a company of mercenaries, but treachery and deceit dog him when his travels with the company lead him to Uzerche. And then his path crosses that of Prince Edward and his men as they embark on their latest chevauchée to bring death and disaster to the King of France’s subjects.

Enlisted as Vintener under Sir John de Sully, Berenger finds himself drawn into a new struggle. Can the English defeat the much larger French army, or will they find themselves finally overcome when their weary feet bring them at last to the field of battle near Poitiers…


REVIEW:

The final book in Michael’s Vintener trilogy and one that continues to build upon the previous title. Blending wonderfully descriptive battle sequences alongside top dialogue blends together with deeper development as the hundred years war continues apace.

Add to this a title that never felt rushed but allowed to feel naturally matured backed up with characters that you just want to take time out and pray for their survival. All round a cracking read and a series that Historical Fiction fans will just love.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

HISTORICAL CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Thomas Hawkins 3: A Death at Fountains Abbey - Antonia Hodgson

Release Date: 25/08/16
Publisher:  Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

Late spring, 1728 and Thomas Hawkins has left London for the wild beauty of Yorkshire - forced on a mission he can't refuse. John Aislabie, one of the wealthiest men in England, has been threatened with murder. Blackmailed into investigating, Tom must hunt down those responsible, or lose the woman he loves forever.

Since Aislabie is widely regarded as the architect of the greatest financial swindle ever seen, there is no shortage of suspects.

Far from the ragged comforts of home, Tom and his ward Sam Fleet enter a world of elegant surfaces and hidden danger. The great estate is haunted by family secrets and simmering unease. Someone is determined to punish John Aislabie - and anyone who stands in the way. As the violence escalates and shocking truths are revealed, Tom is dragged, inexorably, towards the darkest night of his life.

Inspired by real characters, events and settings, A Death at Fountains Abbey is a gripping standalone historical thriller. It also continues the story that began with the award-winning The Devil in the Marshalsea and The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins.


REVIEW:

Plot lines in titles can often become not only convoluted but overly complex and it takes an author with great skill to keep not only the events within on track but to also make sure that the tale doesn’t become mired in Gordian knots that no one can untangle regardless of how well written the book is.

Antonia has always done this for me as a reader as she carefully blends personal issues into a story with greater effects to the world as a whole feeling not only a natural occurance but both with equal importance to the tale. Add to this her delightful manner of bringing the principle characters to the fore, adding dialogue that develops the world further as well as allowing the reader what feels like a snapshot into the past. Back this up with some cracking authorial manipulations, some cracking twists as well as life and death decisions left me as a reader not only short of breath as various scenes concluded but one that just felt that the book couldn’t be left until I found out all the facts alongside conclusion as this standalone title concluded.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Spellwright Trilogy 3: Spellbreaker - Blake Charlton

Release Date: 23/08/16
Publisher:  Harper Voyager

SYNOPSIS:

Leandra Weal has a bad habit of getting herself in dangerous situations.

While hunting neodemons in her role as Warden of Ixos, Leandra obtains a prophetic spell that provides a glimpse one day into her future. She discovers that she is doomed to murder someone she loves, soon, but not who. That’s a pretty big problem for a woman who has a shark god for a lover, a hostile empress for an aunt, a rogue misspelling wizard for a father, and a mother who--especially when arguing with her daughter--can be a real dragon.

Leandra’s quest to unravel the mystery of the murder-she-will-commit becomes more urgent when her chronic disease flares up and the Ixonian Archipelago is plagued by natural disasters, demon worshiping cults, and fierce political infighting. Everywhere she turns, Leandra finds herself amid intrigue and conflict. It seems her bad habit for getting into dangerous situations is turning into a full blown addiction.

As chaos spreads across Ixos, Leandra and her troubled family must race to uncover the shocking truth about a prophesied demonic invasion, human language, and their own identities--if they don't kill each other first.

Spellbreaker is the long awaited sequel to Spellbound, which was listed by Kirkus Reviews among the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2011. This final installment of the Spellwright Trilogy stands alone as a complete story; however, fans of the series will find in it answers to the questions raised by the previous books about Leandra’s parents, Nicodemus Weal and Francesca DeVega.


REVIEW:

The third and perhaps most epic of Blake’s titles that have not only kept me glued to the final page but a series that has been a pure joy from start to finish. The writing is scrips, the characters a pure delight to spend time around and when added to cracking development alongside an organic feel to the overall arc makes this a series that should become a modern classic.

Back this up with Blake’s charming writing style that just envelops the reader allowing them to feel fully immersed alongside his dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader. Cracking.



Monday, 22 August 2016

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Titanfall 2: Mech Test of Alpha Gameplay Review - Respawn


OK, so firstly let me get the disclaimer in.  This is my point of view of Titanfall 2, based on playing the Mech Test of Alpha footage, over the weekend of 19th to the 21st August.  It does not in any way represent a final review of Titanfall 2 and changes can and probably will be made by Respawn prior to release.

Right, so as a huge fan of the original Titanfall, I was expecting a few things, however the key thing that I wanted (and that I feel needs to be addressed first) was for EA to fix what I considered a major problem with the original.  That was playability, after all there was no real Community.  Yes you could play with your friends, yes there were upgrades to earn but at the end of the day if your mates weren’t on, you were stuck doing the same thing, game in, game out hoping to level up.  There were no DLC’s no new weaponry and pretty much every Titan was the same and the only difference was the amount of dashes that you do.  So what have EA done?

Well, in my opinion, not much.  They’ve opened a “Network” forum on the game, you can find local players (geographically), you can get your friends into a Clan like Network and the chance to meet other games to find groups that suit your style or hobbies and go from there.  All in, not much really.

So surely they must have done a lot with the game then?

Well I’m not so sure all in.  Let me list my problems and then go into each in depth:
1)     Mech Action - so its called Titanfall.  That should mean that there’s a lot of hardcore Mech fighting yes?  No.  During a match you’re lucky if you can call in your titan once or twice at most.  They’re relatively easy to destroy and whilst on a brighter note they each play differently (Scorch and Ion), the gamer should have an anti-personnel option to rid yourself of enemy pilots riding on you without having to exit your Titan.

2)    Training - yes you get some Pilot training, however where is the same for the Titan’s.  You surely should be able to try various exercises with the available Titan’s to see which one you like more.  Personally the one I was looking forward to was the Sword Mech (Ronin) and sadly I didn’t get the chance to test him out.  But being thrown to the wolves in a match when you have no idea how the Titan plays means that its serious on the job training hoping to that you won’t frag it and lose the damn thing so quick.  That feels completely unfair.

3)    Weaponry Options – I feel that this is a little out of order personally.  I wasn’t a huge fan of the Anti Titan Weapons and because of the lack of Titan time, I would rather have had a Secondary Primary, for example being able to have a Sniper Rifle as well as an Assault Rifle.  Perhaps if an additional weapon slot were added it would give gamers new ways to personalise their loadouts so that they’re not having to chop and change class depending upon the terrain.

4)    Tactical Options -  OK, there are some good ones that have been added, for example I loved the grappling hook, and the Stim will help speed but I do wonder at the other options such as the Holo Pilot which for hit and runs will work well is pretty damn useless for a sniper and all round I haven’t found the Pulse Blade that useful. 

5)    Game Play – So here is where I feel the biggest bugbears are.  Firstly the Titans take forever to call in.  IN a hit and run gameplay, it seems to be he who sees the other pilot first wins, there’s no gun battle, no chance to duck into cover, you’re just dead watching the replay to find out what happened.  The pilots need to be tougher so that you have a chance to evade alongside the option to strike back. And all in, it feels like pretty much what has gone before with just a few new tweaks for a new release rather than overhauls to fix what the gamers thought was wrong with the original.


To sum up, all in, I hope that the Respawn team seriously listen to the all us fans who have taken the time to play as well as write our thoughts about the game.  Yes I would rather that it was delayed to fix a lot of issues rather than leaving it on its current schedule and here’s hoping that there will be some great surprises to come. 

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Robin Hood: Demon's Bane 2: The Two Torcs - Debbie Viguie and James R Tuck

Release Date: 19/08/16
Publisher:  Titan

SYNOPSIS:

After the shocking revelations of the previous book, Bitter Bite, the world of Ashland’s become even more sinister, and Gin Blanco (aka Ashland’s most fearsome assassin, the Spider) no longer knows who—or what—she can count on. Only one thing is for certain: danger and new enemies await Gin in Unraveled, Book 15 in the New York Times bestselling Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series that RT Book Reviews calls “unbeatable entertainment!”

What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?

As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.

So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.

Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight...


REVIEW:

Having really enjoyed the novel telling in the original novel, I was more than interested to see how the characters of not only Robin and his merry band would change but also how devious the Sheriff would become in later outings as he got to know his foe. So when this title landed, it was one that was out of the envelope and opened within 10 minutes. (Hey I needed a coffee and some biscuit for strength first.)

As with the previous Debbie and James manage to weave the wonderfully dark magical elements into the story without it feeling completely unnatural for the overall arc, its inventive, it brings the darkness before the dawn feel and overall makes a cracking outing that really should be made into a TV series.

Back this up with character development, personal growth as well as strengths found within and overall I was a more than happy reader. Cracking.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Lennox 5: The Quiet Death of Thomas Quaid - Craig Russell

Release Date: 04/08/16
Publisher:  Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

PI Lennox - the Scottish Philip Marlowe - returns with a new helping of fast-paced detective noir. where the violent death of Quiet Thomas Quaid shows that Quaid's life had been anything but quiet. From the winner of of the Bloody Scotland Crime Novel of the Year.

Lennox liked Quiet Tommy Quaid. Perhaps it's odd for a private detective to like - even admire - a career thief, but Quiet Tommy Quaid was the sort of man everyone liked. Amiable, easy-going, well-dressed, with no vices to speak of - well, aside from his excessive drinking and womanising, but then in 1950s Glasgow those are practically virtues. And besides, throughout his many exploits outside the law, Quiet Tommy never once used violence. It was rumoured to be the police who gave him his nickname - because whenever they caught him, which was not often, he always came quietly. So probably even the police liked him, deep down.

Above all, the reason people liked Tommy was that you knew exactly what you were dealing with. Here, everybody realized, was someone who was simply and totally who and what he seemed to be.

But when Tommy turns up dead, Lennox and the rest of Glasgow will find out just how wrong they were.


REVIEW:

Craig is a Crime author that I originally stumbled across with his original novel Blood Eagle and to be honest I’ve been hooked ever since. He has a knack for bringing cracking prose with top notch dialogue alongside an arc that just keeps the reader glued.

In this title, a tale featuring PI Lennox really gives the reader the gritty feel of a post WW2 Glasgow with the darker, seedier aspects really helping to give the city a feeling of reality for the reader which when backed with solid description really helps bring it all to life. Finally throw into the mix a principle character that just keeps giving and never letting go, all round generates a story that at the end of the day sated me as a reader leaving a smug satisfaction at the end of the final page. If you love Crime Noir and want some home grown talent, then Craig should be top of your list, trust me you won’t regreat it Just prepare to spend a lot of late nights savouring the stories.



Saturday, 20 August 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: A Devil Isle Novel 2: The Sight - Chloe Neill

Release Date: 18/08/16
Publisher:  Gollancz & Berkley

SYNOPSIS:

The paranormal war that engulfed New Orleans seven years ago is over. But the battle for the city is just beginning . . .

Claire Connolly is a Sensitive, infected with magic when the Veil that divides humanity from the world beyond fell. Magic can easily consume and destroy a Sensitive, and if Claire's secret is discovered she'll be locked into the walled district of Devil's Isle along with every other Paranormal left in the city.

Bounty hunter Liam Quinn discovered Claire's secret, but refused to turn her in. Together they saved New Orleans from the resurgence of magic that nearly destroyed it. But now a dangerous cult is on the rise, and it will take both Claire and Liam - and magical allies within Devil's Isle's towering walls - to defeat the occult threat before magic corrupts them both . . .


REVIEW:

The second outing in Chloe’s new series and whilst I didn’t really get on with her Chicagoland Vampires series, I have to say that this one not only has me gripped by hooked. I love the principle character, the overall arcs, the interactions of the supporting cast and when added to top notch prose and a great understanding of pace to keep the reader glued, I was a more than happy reader from start to finish.

Add to this a cracking series arc that wends it merry way throughout the pages as well as dialogue that really helps the casts personalities shine through really made this a series that has a high place on my to be read pile with each new release. Cracking.



Friday, 19 August 2016

MILITARY FANTASY REVIEW: Heart of Granite - James Barclay

Release Date: 18/08/16
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

The world has become a battleground in a war which no side is winning. But for those determined to retain power, the prolonged stalemate cannot be tolerated so desperate measures must be taken.

Max Halloran has no idea. He's living the brief and glorious life of a hunter-killer pilot. He's an ace in the air, on his way up through the ranks, in love, and with his family's every need provided for in thanks for his service, Max has everything . . .

. . . right up until he hears something he shouldn't have, and refuses to let it go. Suddenly he's risking his life and the lives of all those he cares about for a secret which could expose corruption at the highest levels, and change the course of the war.

One man, one brief conversation . . . a whole world of trouble . . .


REVIEW:

I’ve been reading James Barclay for years now (too many to count to be honest) and he’s always been an author that for me has brought cracking characters to the fore concentrating on the humanity of the situations that they find themselves in and blending it seamlessly with a cracking story arc so I know that I’m always going to get something special.

In this James’ latest novel, I have to say that I was more than astounded by this novel new take on a futuristic warfare with the use of magical creatures used as the vehicles leading me to wonder about the manoeuvres alongside various hazards that would need to be overcome in order to gain the upper-hand. Its all wonderfully dark, has great dialogue and for me give the reader exactly what they want with some stunning sequences as well as generating something pretty unique for the fantasy fan. A real treat a new series you really can’t afford to miss. Just don’t let the label put you off.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Relic Guild 3: The Watcher of Dead Time - Edward Cox

Release Date: 18/08/16
Publisher:  Gollancz

SYNOPSIS:

Labrys Town, home to a million humans cut off from the rest of the universe, has been invaded. Those who protected it have been deposed.

The Relic Guild are scattered across the worlds of the Aelfir. Many of them are dead or dying. The Genii control everything. The war is almost over.

Clara, a young woman barely able to control her werewolf side, has seen her friends and mentors killed in front of her. She is the last hope for Labrys Town.

But someone else is watching...

The dramatic conclusion to the award-nominated fantasy trilogy which began with THE RELIC GUILD.


REVIEW:

The third and final title in Edwards Relic Guild series and a book that had a hell of a lot to do as with the conclusion of the last title left the reader wondering what would happen with so many casualties in the Relic Guild/Genii War, Its high octane all the way as the reader is left gripping the covers and refusing to put the title down until they know what finally happens. Back this up with cracking storytelling, a masterful understanding of pace alongside top notch prose all leads the reader, at the very least not only heartbroken but sated with the tales conclusion. Magic.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Arrowood - Laura McHugh

Release Date: 11/08/16
Publisher:  Century

SYNOPSIS:

Arrowood is the most ornate and beautiful of the grand historical houses that line the Mississippi river in southern Iowa where the days are long and humid and communities are small and closed.

It has its own secrets and ghostly presence: it's where two small twin girls were abducted ten years previously - never to be seen again.

Now, Arden has inherited Arrowood, and she returns to her childhood home determined to establish what really happened to her sisters that traumatic summer. But the house and the surrounding town hold their secrets close - and the truth, when Arden finds it, is more devastating than she ever could have imagined.

Family lies, buried secrets and a terrifying truth lie at the heart of this brilliant and haunting crime novel.


REVIEW:

I love a mystery that really draws you in and when you blend it with a psychological and supernatural aspect it can be something that not only keeps you on the edge of your seat but also gives you chills as events unfurl. What happens within the book is a tale that has a solid story, some decent twists as well as dialogue that keeps it moving on at its own pace. For me there was just one problem.

I hated the principle character. I just couldn’t get on with her as I couldn’t get a hook into her, so much so that I really didn’t have enough interest in the story to care about how events turned out and how it would affect her. Back this up with an ending that didn’t feel like it gave me any real closure and all round I was disappointed with hits outing.

Monday, 15 August 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Nevernight - Jay Kristoff

Release Date: 11/08/16
Publisher:  Harper Voyager

SYNOPSIS:

From New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff, comes a dangerous new fantasy world and a heroine edged in darkness.

Destined to destroy empires, Mia Corvere is only ten years old when she is given her first lesson in death.

Six years later, the child raised in shadows takes her first steps towards keeping the promise she made on the day she lost everything.

But the chance to strike against such powerful enemies will be fleeting, so if she is to have her revenge, Mia must become a weapon without equal. She must prove herself against the deadliest of friends and enemies, and survive the tutelage of murderers, liars and daemons at the heart of a murder cult.

The Red Church is no ordinary school, but Mia is no ordinary student.
The shadows love her.
And they drink her fear.



REVIEW:

I hate to say this after loving Jay’s Lotus series but I had a real problem getting into this book. I just had one hell of a time getting on with the principle character and the way that the opening chapters were written as I felt that they were not only convoluted by highly confusing especially when you add the absolute deplorability of our “hero.” She was obnoxious and for me as a reader was a person that I really didn’t care if she lived or died especially when she faced danger and like a petulant child kept using her powers to try and prove a point even when told why she shouldn’t.

Add to this a beginning that felt it was added more for word count than any real use which when added to a backstory that felt forced left me wondering if I’d made a mistake with picking this title up expecting so much more than I felt was delivered. Whilst for a number of readers they will love the strong willed female lead as well as the world building, for me, I just felt that it was sadly lacking and felt like a lot more filler than anything else and could have been edited in such a way as to make a way better novella as an idea to explore a new world. All round not a series I’ll be looking forward to returning to but every author is entitled to an off book with me and here’s hoping that the next outing will fix a lot of my problems.


Saturday, 13 August 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Dinosaur Lords 2: The Dinosaur Knights - Victor Milan

Release Date: 05/07/16
Publisher:  Tor

SYNOPSIS:

Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often cruel world. There are humans on Paradise but dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden, and of war. Armored knights ride dinosaurs to battle legions of war-trained Triceratops and their upstart peasant crews.

Karyl Bogomirsky is one such knight who has chosen to rally those who seek a way from the path of war and madness. The fact that the Empire has announced a religious crusade against this peaceful kingdom, the people who just wish to live in peace anathema, and they all are to be converted or destroyed doesn't help him one bit.

Things really turn to mud when the dreaded Grey Angels, fabled ancient weapons of the Gods who created Paradise in the first place come on the scene after almost a millennia. Everyone thought that they were fables used to scare children. They are very much real.

And they have come to rid the world of sin...including all the humans who manifest those vices.

"THE DINOSAUR KNIGHTS" is the second in Victor Milan's lush, exotic tale about knights. Knights riding dinosaurs.


REVIEW:

The second title in Victor’s Dinosaur Lords series and to be honest I was still quite disappointed with it and whilst I had a lot of problems with the first I was hoping that with the world building set up that the author would look more to developing the characters as well as the overall arc so that it could become a series I could get behind.

For me, a lot of the same errors from the first was still there. The characters were pretty standard fantasy stereotropes, the arc was lacking and the dialogue was forced so much so that to me it felt like the characters were fighting against the author for every step within.

All round a great disappointment to me and a series I won’t spend any more time with.

Friday, 12 August 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt - Chuck Wendig

Release Date: 12/07/16
Publisher:  Century

SYNOPSIS:

The Emperor is dead, and the remnants of his former Empire are in retreat. As the New Republic fights to restore a lasting peace to the galaxy, some dare to imagine new beginnings and new destinies. For Han Solo, that means settling his last outstanding debt, by helping Chewbacca liberate the Wookiee’s homeworld of Kashyyyk.

Meanwhile, Norra Wexley and her band of Imperial hunters pursue Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and the Empire’s remaining leadership across the galaxy. Even as more and more officers are brought to justice, Sloane continues to elude the New Republic, and Norra fears Sloane may be searching for a means to save the crumbling Empire from oblivion. But the hunt for Sloane is cut short when Norra receives an urgent request from Princess Leia Organa. The attempt to liberate Kashyyyk has carried Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a band of smugglers into an ambush―resulting in Chewie’s capture and Han’s disappearance.

Breaking away from their official mission and racing toward Kashyyyk, Norra and her crew prepare for any challenge that stands between them and their missing comrades. But they can’t anticipate the true depth of the danger that awaits them―or the ruthlessness of the enemy drawing them into his crosshairs.


REVIEW:

Sadly I have to say that this outing for the Star War’s Universe is a title that I personally felt didn’t need to be published. It was lacking material, felt full of fluffy stuffing with no substance and all round left me thinking that this was a title that would have been better being condensed into more of a short story rather than a full title.

Yes if you’re a War’s fan you might like this but for the options that were available during the time period, it’s a book that really could have had way more going for it than was delved into. All round if you have to read this book, borrow it from the library and save your money as for me, its got to be a bargain bucket offering to even make it worth considering for any reader. A huge disappointment and sadly a book that I will not associate with Chuck’s usually stellar work.



Thursday, 11 August 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Robert Hunter 7: I Am Death - Chris Carter

Release Date: 14/07/16
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

Seven days after being abducted, the body of a twenty-year-old woman is found on a green patch of grass by the Los Angeles International Airport. She has been left with her limbs stretched out and spread apart, placing her in a five-point human star.

The autopsy reveals that she had been tortured and murdered in a most bizarre way. But the surprises don't end there. This killer likes to play, and he left a note lodged inside his victim's throat.

Detective Robert Hunter, who leads LAPD's Special Section, Ultra Violent Unit, is assigned the case. But almost immediately a second body turns up. Hunter knows he has to be quick.

Surrounded by new challenges as every day passes, Detective Hunter finds himself chasing a monster. A predator whose past hides a terrible secret, whose desire to hurt people and thirst for murder can never be quenched - for he is DEATH.


REVIEW:

The seventh Chris Carter novel to feature LA Special Unit’s Ultra Violent squad Detective Robert Hunter as the principle player in this first standalone outing. As with Chris’ other work he blends delightfully hardcore action with top notch prose, some wonderful twists as well as bringing the reader not only into the mind of the detective but also the killer as we seek to see how events will unfurl.

It has some great dialogue, backed up with some cracking sleight of hand and all round generates something that was a pure joy to read and more than a little satisfying as the last page turns. All in this is a great book and one that I was more than delighted to have spent a deliciously dark night with. Cracking.

Friday, 29 July 2016

CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION: Lament for the Fallen - Gavin Chait


Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher:  Transworld

SYNOPSIS:

'Father, tell me a story?' asks Isaiah, moments before a strange craft falls from the sky and smashes into the jungle near his isolated West African community. Inside the ruined vessel the villagers find the shattered body of a man. His name is Samara and he is a man unlike any the villagers have seen before - a man who is perhaps something more than human.

With his city home of Achenia hiding in the rubble left by a devastating war, Samara has fallen 35,000 km to earth in order to escape the automated hell of an orbiting prison called Tartarus. As he struggles to heal himself, he helps transform the lives of those who rescued him but in so doing attracts the attention of the brutal warlord who rules over this benighted, ravaged post-21st century land. He is not a man to be crossed, and now he threatens the very existence of the villagers themselves and the one, slim chance Samara has of finding his way home and to the woman - and the world - he loves.

And all the while - in the darkness above - waits the simmering fury that lies at the heart of Tartarus . . .


REVIEW:

I love spending time with new authors from different walks of life as I feel that they bring something not only new to the genre but also bring some quirks that work delightfully well to the fore. Whilst this is definitely a different type of Sci-Fi title, I was more than a little smitten with the characters within. I loved spending time with them and whilst there were a few language turn of phrases I had to research, I thoroughly loved the whole experience as Gavin brought solid world building into the mix alongside cracking pace as well as dialogue that just tripped off the page.

All round a great read and one that I was more than happy to spend time with. I can’t wait to embark on the next outing with Gavin to see what other turns he’s going to throw my way. Magic.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

FANTASY GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Terry Pratchett's Small Gods - Ill Ray Friesen

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher:  Transworld

SYNOPSIS:

'Just because you can't explain it, doesn't mean it's a miracle.'

In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was: 'Hey, you!' This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, it's certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone's book.

In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...

Now adapted into graphic novel form with new artwork by Ray Friesen.


REVIEW:

I grew up with Terry’s Discworld book, looking forward every year for a new one and enjoying each one multiple times as I loved the humour, his wacky world as well as the way the characters came across. So when I heard about a graphic novel I wasn’t sure if it would translate quite as well. After all in order to get a story across in graphic novel format, they have to be heavily edited with some of the minor lines removed in order to make it accessible.

What this title from Doubleday does is pair the humour of Terry’s work with the enthusiastic artwork of Ray Friesen. It’s a great combo as the brightness and flow beautifully compliment both styles. Back this up with cracking storytelling and of course the “small gods” all round makes this a great addition to any Pratchett collection. Cracking.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: New World Rising 1: Son's of the Blood - Robyn Young

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher: Hodder

SYNOPSIS:

In the dying days of the Wars of the Roses a secret war is born. The battle for a crown is about to become a fight for the world.

Bastard son, mercenary soldier, protector of the rightful king, seeker of a secret more treacherous than any in Christendom: Jack Wynter is destined to live in dangerous times.

In England, the Wars of the Roses ended a decade ago with the fall of the House of Lancaster and the victory of King Edward of York. But peace sleeps uneasy in this divided realm and when the king dies unexpectedly it isn't long before old blood feuds and ambitions are awoken.

In the sun-baked city of Seville, unaware of the clouds of war rising over England, Jack Wynter is cursing his fortune. Sent here by his secretive father, king's man, Sir Thomas Vaughan - with a locked chest he has been ordered to guard with his life - Jack wonders if this mission was simply a ruse to get an illegitimate, inconvenient son out of the country. But when a stranger arrives with news that his father has been arrested for treason, Jack finds himself thrust into the heart of a deadly conspiracy.

What is the secret Jack has been guarding? Is it the reason for his father's fall? The only place he is going to find answers is back in England, where young Prince Edward is due to become king . . . unless his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester, decides to make a move for the throne. It is also where Jack's half-brother, Harry, broods bitterly over their father's apparent preference for a bastard son.

Jack Wynter is coming home, to a realm of intrigue and corruption, mystery and war. Somehow, he is connected to a secret that can kill him - or make him. Its influence spans Europe and will draw him towards the very edge of the known world, and beyond, in Robyn Young's dazzling new epic.

The old world is turning.

A new world is rising.


REVIEW:

In recent years, a lot of authors are taking inspiration from the War of the Roses (Aka, The Cousins War). It’s a pretty harsh time to be alive, where the nobility faces death as easily as a serf with each choice leading to possible death, treachery and at times the loss of lands and titles.

Its well written and whilst I did have problems with some of Robyn’s earlier work, this title for me, has gone to show that she has not only matured as a writer but manages to balance the story with great prose, top notch pace and also brings relatable characters together with fictional ones to create a new dynamic.

Add to this solid dialogue as well as a hugely epic over arc and all round, its going to be a series to savour. Thanks Robyn.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Alexandra Cooper 18: Killer Look - Linda Fairstein

Release Date: 26/07/16
Publisher:  Sphere

SYNOPSIS:

New York City is one of the fashion capitals of the world, well-known for its glamour and style. Yet high fashion means high stakes, as Alex Cooper quickly discovers when businessman and designer Wolf Savage is found dead in an apparent suicide, days before the biggest show of his career. When Savage's daughter insists his death was murder, the case becomes more than a media sensation.

With her own job at the DA's Office in jeopardy, and spiralling into a reliance on alcohol, Alex is not anyone's first choice for help. But she is determined to uncover the grime - and the possible homicide - beneath the glitz. Soon she and police detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace are investigating the family secrets Savage kept so well hidden, even from those closest to him - just as things are about to get deadly on the catwalk.


REVIEW:

This was my first outing with Linda as well as her principle heroine Alexandra Cooper (although there are seventeen titles prior to this) and as a new reader I was left wondering if all the books were like this one and sadly lacklustre. Yes I could have just picked up a title that lags within the series but if you want to establish your series you can’t rely on a title selling itself on whats gone before alienating new readers as they won’t return for more.

OK, so the story whilst acceptable wasn’t something that stood out for me and with a principle character not one I cared about left me feeling more than a little flat as I didn’t have the relationship that other fans may well have had with her. Back this up with pace that was OK and all round I’ll leave tackling Linda again for a while and hope that I was just let down by an offering that just didn’t stand out.



Wednesday, 20 July 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Will Trent 8: The Kept Woman - Karin Slaughter

Release Date: 14/07/16
Publisher:  Century

SYNOPSIS:

A body is discovered in an empty Atlanta warehouse. It's the body of an ex-cop, and from the moment Special Agent Will Trent walks in he knows this could be the most devastating case of his career. Bloody footprints leading away from the scene reveal that another victim - a woman - has left the scene and vanished into thin air. And, worst of all, the warehouse belongs to the city's biggest, most politically-connected, most high-profile athlete - a local hero protected by the world's most expensive lawyers. A local hero Will has spent the last six months investigating on a brutal rape charge.

But for Will - and also for Dr Sara Linton, the GBI's newest medical examiner - the case is about to get even worse. Because an unexpected discovery at the scene reveals a personal link to Will's troubled past. The consequences will wreak havoc on his life and the lives of those he loves, those he works with, and those he pursues.

But Sara's scene-of-the-crime diagnosis is that they only have a few hours to find the missing woman before she bleeds out . . .


REVIEW:

Ah, Karin Slaughter, an author who brings a whole world of cracking characters to the fore to not only populate her world but give the reader people to love, people to hate but always with a cracking story. Here in this title we get to see Will’s Ex Angie Polaski as the star of this title and get to understand her in a way that none of the other people in her life will do.

It’s definitely a book that I loved spending time with and whether you love or hate Angie, she’s fascinating any which way you look at her. As with Karin’s other books the prose is sharp, the dialogue adding a layer of believability and when backed with top notch pace all round generates a real treat all round. Cracking.



Tuesday, 19 July 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Dragon Round - Stephen S Power

Release Date: 19/07/16
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster

SYNOPSIS:

For fans of Scott Lynch and Naomi Novik comes a high fantasy epic that blends swashbuckling adventure with a dark tale of vengeance--when a ship captain is stranded on a deserted island by his mutinous crew, he finds a rare dragon egg that just might be the key to his salvation and his revenge.

He only wanted justice. Instead he got revenge.

Jeryon has been the captain of the Comber for over a decade. He knows the rules. He follows the rules. He likes the rules. But not everyone on his ship agrees. When a monstrous dragon attacks the Comber, his surviving crew, vengeful and battle-worn, decide to take the ship for themselves and give Jeryon and his self-righteous apothecary “the captain’s chance:” a small boat with no rudder, no sails, and nothing but the shirts on their backs to survive.

Marooned and fighting for their lives against the elements, Jeryon and his companion discover that the island they’ve landed on isn’t quite as deserted as they originally thought. They find a rare baby dragon that, if trained, just might be their ticket off the island. But as Jeryon and the dragon grow closer, he begins to realize that even if he makes it off the island, his life will never be the same again. In order for justice to be served, he’ll have to take it for himself.


REVIEW:

To be honest this has been a fairly hard book to review. Firstly I wasn’t quite sure what the author was attempting but as the tale opened up, I could see that it was a story that was full of vengeance alongside demonstrating the destructive nature of mankind, his cruelty alongside a feeling of the Count of Monte Cristo within.

As an opener its solid and whilst a bit of a slow starter as you get to know the principle players within, allows you to form bonds as well as seeing how what should have become a beautiful relationship is driven by a selfish need from one of the protagonists. It is well written, the prose solid enough and for me it’s the dialogue that sells the book.

All round it’s a good opener for a series and whilst I worry about how the book leaves the world at its climax, I have to say that its going to be interesting to see what Stephen hits back with in the future.



Monday, 4 July 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Last Days of Jack Sparks - Jason Arnopp

Release Date: 28/07/16
Publisher: Orbit

SYNOPSIS:

Jack Sparks died while writing this book. This is the account of his final days.

In 2014, Jack Sparks - the controversial pop culture journalist - died in mysterious circumstances.

To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone.

It was no secret that Jack had been researching the occult for his new book. He'd already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed in rural Italy.

Then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account.

Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed - until now. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack's final hours.


REVIEW:

If you want something different then you may well want to give Jason Arnopp a go. Why? Well for me this is a book that has a whole heap of things to offer. It is full of humour, has great prose and when added to a storyline that just keeps you going all round offers something that is pretty unique.

Pack this with a principle character who is not only believable but generates reader responses as things start to go upside down alongside cracking dialogue all round makes this a book that finished way quicker than I was expecting as I just flew through the pages. Its solid, it’s fun and above all else, it’s a book that really is a cracking read that goes to show he’s a unique voice on in his own worlds. Magic.



Thursday, 30 June 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Kigmaker 3: Divided Souls - Toby Clements

Release Date: 30/06/16
Publisher:  Century

SYNOPSIS:

Lent, 1469

The recent wars between the House of York and the House of Lancaster seem over. The Yorkist King Edward sits on his throne in Westminster, while the Lancastrian claimants are in exile or under lock and key in the Tower.

But within the family of York there is discord. The Earl of Warwick conspires against his King, and while to one another's faces they are all smiles, their household men speak in lies and whispers.

No man comes to court unarmed.

Thomas and Katherine have returned to Marton Hall, the only home they know.

But what lies buried in the past cannot remain so for long, and soon they are forced to take up arms once more in one of the most savage wars in history.

The Wars of the Roses . . .


REVIEW:

I’ve spent a lot of time in the Cousin’s War over the last few years so I thought that I’d pretty much seen nearly anything that this time period could throw at me so it was with great happiness and surprise when this series from Toby Clements arrived taking the reader into the minds of the common folk rather than concentrating on purely those vying for the throne.

It’s well written, the prose sharp and there’s more than enough plot to keep the tale rolling without leaving the reader to worry that this is just filler due to the books placement in the series. Add to this great characterisation, magical dialogue and a cast that will keep you glued to see what happens next all round makes this a series that is a real treat to enjoy. Cracking



Tuesday, 28 June 2016

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Technomancer - Focus

Release Date: 28/06/16
Publisher:  Focus

SYNOPSIS:

Set on Mars during the War of Water, The Technomancer is the enthralling new sci-fi RPG developed by Spiders studio for PlayStation4, Xbox One and PC. Threatened by the secrets of his past, an aspiring Technomancer must navigate hostile environments searching for answers that could be the key to protecting his future. The Technomancer offers players dynamic RPG gameplay and action-oriented combat along four different skill trees, concentrating on three different fighting styles and the destructive electro-focused powers of the Technomancers. But brute strength won't get you through every situation: conversational dialogue plays an important role in quests, changing the story depending on the decisions you make. Along your adventure, you will craft equipment, weapons and armour for yourself and for the companions you'll recruit, nurturing relationships with these important allies. Confronted with the cruelty of Mars' iron-fist enforcers and alien wild-life, can you survive long enough to uncover the truth behind The Technomancer? Technomancers are "mage-warriors" with an innate talent to harness destructive electricity-based powers using cybernetic implants. Both respected and feared by all, they are formidable warriors trained to fight from a young age. You are one of them, close to passing your initiation rite to become a full-fledged Technomancer.


REVIEW:

This title from Focus is a title I’ve had high hopes for since seeing the original announcement back in 2015. I loved the idea of a colonised Mars, with corporations treating their workers as little more than slaves awaiting a time when a rebellion would occur from those beneath them. It’s a concept that’s been used before (with Total Recall (1990) and with the water shortage (Tank Girl, 1995).makes this a world that has little hope.

Into this scenario enters your Technomancer, Zachariah, a person whose training and magical abilities affects technology. It’s a great concept and with three distinct combat styles there is something for everyone. However this is where I start to have problems. Firstly I wanted more customisation for the character as the options were pretty limited and without being able to personalise my character I felt that I was a little disengaged from the story initially and when added to a combat system that had problems for me, left me feeling a little let down. Each of the three styles were unique and whilst they offered strong options for whatever your game style didn’t feel that it was that complete as the controls were not as responsive as I’d have liked with very limited manoeuvring often feeling that what you told it to do would take a second or two to happen, leaving you feeling very exposed and prone to taking damage that you felt you should have avoided. It seemed pretty basic and whilst I can see the use of a shield and mace or even a quarterstaff, I did feel that as a gamer, a gun with a dagger wasn’t a good combo. After all, looking at this logistically a bullet is a one use item and with shipping would seem a pretty expensive item, whereas if they’d equipped them with a one hand crossbow it would have had a more overall cohesive feel or for the rogue style, double daggers would have generated smoother movement. Don’t get me wrong it is a beautiful game and whilst I easily got lost into the story as well as the landscape, with the combat system feeling scrappy and not as smooth as it should have been (for me) or as progressive compared to others like Assassins Creed or ESO, I feel that seeing as this is a combat game first and foremost it should have been the strongest feature.

All round, it is a game that will engage you with the story, you’ll enjoy exploring and with five endings to “earn” it is a title that has replay value however at the end of the day for me, it’s a game that should have been more of a star rather than a middle of the road title that it turned out to be. A great shame.