Wednesday, 20 July 2016

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

Release Date: 14/07/16
Publisher:  Century


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 . . .


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


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.


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


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.


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


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 . . .


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


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.


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.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Man Who Wasn't there - Michael Hjorth, Hans Rosenfeldt

Release Date: 16/06/16
Publisher:  Century


On the side of a mountain in Sweden, six bodies have been found. Skeletons, more precisely. These bodies were buried a long time ago.

And for Sebastian Bergman that just makes the investigation into who they are, who killed them, and why, even more complex. Because Bergman has, of course, found himself on the investigating team. At first it was a chance to escape his ex-girlfriend and spend some time with his daughter, Vanja. An opportunity to try and build a relationship with her before it's too late.

But soon he finds that he's more involved than he would ever want to be. And his personal life is horribly, disastrously, tangled up in it all . . .


If there’s one thing that I happen to love Crime wise, its spending time with the Scandinavians. They know how to scare the crap out of me with murder, they know how to set the scene and for me, the descriptiveness of the landscape sells it delightfully to me every time as I tend to feel that its quite a harsh setting for an even hardier people.

What this book presents is a tale that is thought provoking, has some solid twists and when added to characters that I wanted to spend time around generated a tale that was a solid offering. That said, the ending didn’t feel quite right for me as a reader, whether this is due to a translation problem or it was rushed to hit a deadline I’m not sure but I will read future outings by this duo.

Friday, 24 June 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Passage 3: The City of Mirrors - Justin Cronin

Release Date: 16/06/16
Publisher:  Orion


In life I was a scientist called Fanning.

Then, in a jungle in Bolivia, I died.

I died, and then I was brought back to life...

Prompted by a voice that lives in her blood, the fearsome warrior known as Alicia of Blades is drawn towards to one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York. Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and last of The Twelve. The one who must be destroyed if mankind is to have a future.

What she finds is not what she's expecting.

A journey into the past.

To find out how it all began.

And an opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined.


The third and final outing in Justin’s Passage trilogy and to be honest its been a series that has kept readers glued with each instalment. Whilst the original, The Passage was released way back in 2010, its been a series that has had readers gripped from the beginning. The writing is crisp, the concept delightful, but for me, what Justin does best is bring his characters across to the reader. They are people that you can’t help but create bonds with, characters you care about and above all else a cast that you worry about who will live or die based on the whim of the author.

Add to this great dialogue as well as a plot line that keeps moving with wonderful highs and epic lows, all round make this a series that you have to sit down to devour. For me, the only downside is that they are doorstoppers and as such a huge weight, that said, a kindle makes light work of it all. Great stuff.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Kenstibec 3: Rig - Jon Walace

Release Date: 16/06/16
Publisher:  Gollancz


A fast-moving, filmic and violent SF thriller, perfect for fans of Jack Campbell. A meeting of The Road and Rogue Trooper.

Barricade introduced artificial lifeform, Kenstibec. Steeple saw him reduced to the level of humanity. Now Kenstibec must fight his way to the home of the man who created him and the other Ficials. The man who tipped the world into war and sealed humanity's fate. Can Kenstibec win a future back for man?

Jon Wallace has written a series of short, high-action yet thoughtful SF thrillers. Controversial yet full of dark humour these are rewarding SF thrillers that echo the pleasures of noir and bring a sharp new perspective to British SF.


To be honest I spend a lot of time reading post-apocalyptic titles and whilst this is the third book in the series by Jon, I’ve had quite a lot of fun reading Jon’s work as I love the humour within which when blended with a host of characters that keep the world evolving make this something of a joy to sit down with.

As with previous outings, the prose is sharp, the dialogue wonderfully involving for the reader and when backed with a writing style that is addictive makes this a series that’s a joy to spend time around. Back this up finally with a good few twists, some cracking highs and lows and all round cracking concepts make this a series that’s a treat. Cracking.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

HISTORICAL FICTION: Agent of Rome 6: Earthly Gods - Nick Brown

Release Date: 16/06/16
Publisher:  Hodder


Imperial agent Cassius Corbulo is about to go rogue. His bodyguard, Indavara, has been kidnapped and has seemingly vanished off the face of the earth. Having spent weeks trying to discover his fate, Cassius's time is up: his superiors want him to return to duty.

But when an old ally's daughter is enslaved, he feels obliged to repay a long standing debt. Refusing the offer of a prestigious post, Cassius - and his Christian servant Simo - join nomadic chieftain Kabir and a trio of warriors, determined to rescue the missing girl. Now operating outside the law, the unlikely band journey across the perilous plague-ridden hinterland of Asia Minor, hunting the slavers. But these are no common criminals, and Cassius finds himself up against ruthless, cunning men with powerful friends and a lot to lose.


Nick Brown is an author that I’ve loved since I read his original novel in the series. I love the way he brings his characters across and the way he has developed them from the very beginning. Here within this, the sixth outing, we have our principle character Cassius thrown a curveball as his ex-gladiator bodyguard is kidnapped. It leaves him in one hell of a situation and whilst he wallows in his own pity, a request for aid from an old friend soon has him bucking his idea’s up.

As with the other books, it’s well thought out. Gives the reader plenty of meat to chew on and backed it up with solid prose alongside dialogue that trips off the page keeps you glued as you seek to find out more as its gently teased out to you.

If you haven’t read Nick’s work before, start with the first book and you’ll soon see that you’ll be as addicted to his series as we are.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Chaos Queen 1: Duskfall - Christopher Husberg

Release Date: 21/06/16
Publisher:  Titan


Pulled from a frozen sea, pierced by arrows and close to death, Knot has no memory of who he was. But his dreams are dark, filled with violence and unknown faces. Winter, a tiellan woman whose people have long been oppressed by humans, is married to and abandoned by Knot on the same day. In her search for him, she will discover her control of magic, but risk losing herself utterly. And Cinzia, priestess and true believer, returns home to discover her family at the heart of a heretical rebellion. A rebellion that only the Inquisition can crush… Their fates and those of others will intertwine, in a land where magic and daemons are believed dead, but dark forces still vie for power.


I’ve been a follower of Titan for a number of years and whilst a lot of people mainly know them for their graphic novel titles, I’ve always loved spending time with the stories that they release under their own label. They’re full of adventure, have great twists and of course give the reader something special to spend their time with.

Whilst I’ve not heard of Christopher before this, with Titan giving them full backing and requesting that I spent some time with his work, I picked the title up and was not only surprised at the maturity behind the writing but loved the way that the author wove the various multiple threads into a cohesive tale which not only helped flesh the world out but gave the reader a whole heap of characters that they could associate with.

All round it’s a book that is a cracking start to a series, has the reader asking a lot of questions alongside getting to know the world in which the people inhabit and to be honest the only gripe I really had was the way that the principle characters powers were unveiled which felt a little forced considering how they were revealed. That said, I did have a lot of fun reading this and its definitely a series I’ll be savouring with each release. Magic.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

FILM NEWS: The Legend of Tarzan Poster goes Live - Warner Brother Pictures

Hail Mighty Readers and Film Goers,
Our friends at Warner Brothers have let us have a copy of the poster for the forthcoming The Legend of Tarzan (8th July 2016) starring:

Alexander Skarsgård,

Margot Robbie,

Christoph Waltz,

Samuel L. Jackson,

John Hurt,

Djimon Hounsou

We're getting pretty excited to see the big screen return of the Earl of Greystoke and from the trailer:

Lady Eleanor has already put funds aside for that trip to the pictures.

So mark the date in your diary or book the jungle drums to broadcast the news closer to release so that you too can get your ticket to see Alexander in action.

All the best,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Friday, 29 April 2016

GUEST BLOG: The Power of Names in a Fantasy World - Oskar Jensen

‘Don’t you know who is the king of beasts? Aslan is a lion.’ When Mr Beaver tells the children this news in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, they are surprised – and fair enough, since Turkish language lessons weren’t on the syllabus in the 1940s, and Aslan means lion in Turkish. Creating a convincing fantasy world takes imagination and invention. But when it comes to names, it’s astonishing how many are literally, well, literal. This can give a world depth and rootedness. But it also raises a few questions about what it means to give people names at all.

So Aslan means lion (and ‘Narnia’ is a town in ancient Italy). Gandalf, in Old Norse, means ‘Wand-elf’ – and there really once was a Gandalfr, in ancient Norway, chief of a place called Alfheimr, or ‘Elf-home’. Tolkien and Lewis, of course, were experts in old languages, and cared deeply about basing their fantasies in the real world past. But the tradition of giving names a literal meaning didn’t die with the Inklings.

Philip Pullman exercises a lighter touch in His Dark Materials. Asriel clearly comes from Azrael, the angel of death: Asriel is on a mission to ‘kill death’. And he gets unreasonably cross at his daughter’s deceitfulness, given that he named her ‘Lyra’. Her eventual lover Will, however, takes the biscuit: the plot of the whole series turns on his ability to exercise free . . . will. Sometimes the most obvious ones are hiding in plain sight, reminding us that even our own ordinary names have meaning, from ‘Peter’, the rock, to every girl named after a flower. My own name, Oskar, comes from the Old Norse Ås-karl, meaning ‘god-warrior’, so in last season’s Doctor Who I rolled my eyes when Maisie Williams’ character Ashildr became immortal. Of course she did: her name means ‘god-girl’. Shame they all pronounced it wrong.

As in so much else, no one comes close to J.K. Rowling in the field of nominative determinism. Professor Sprout teaches herbology? The black dog is Sirius ‘dog star’ Black?! Sometimes it’s only suggestive: the Malfoys have gone bad; Cornelius Fudge makes hopeless compromises; Hermione comes out of a long coma in Chamber of Secrets (a nod to The Winter’s Tale?) Sometimes it borders on the obsessive. Remus Lupin: so good a werewolf she named him twice (Romulus and Remus were raised by wolves; Lupin shares a root with ‘Lupus’, meaning wolf). Ludo Bagman: head of the department of magical sports with a first name meaning ‘game’.

Mostly these things are just fun to spot, an author nodding to their influences (Stark/York and Lannister/Lancaster, anyone?) Still, there’s an uncomfortable message here in books generally written for people who have all their big life choices still before them, a message that your fate can be more or less determined at birth. Returning to J.K. Rowling, there’s only one person who gets to choose their own name and, in consequence, how they will spend their life. When Tom Riddle becomes Voldemort he declares himself, literally, to be ‘Thief-of-death’ (all the baddies get French names in Rowling!) – leading to all those horcruxes. Is it only villains who are allowed to choose? It’s bad enough that

most heroes in fantasy spend all their time reacting to evil schemes, endlessly fighting to restore the status quo.

C.S. Lewis (who decided calling a big wolf ‘Fenris’ was too obvious, changing it to the subtler ‘Maugrim’) also allows only one name change, when Strawberry becomes Fledge in The Magician’s Nephew. But Aslan gets to decide that one, just like he decides everything else.

In my own books, The Stones of Winter and The Wild Hunt, most of my characters actually existed, so their names were already decided. One of them, Haralt, even changed his own surname in real life, from Gormsson to Bluetooth. Choosing your own second name is equally important for the two heroes, Astrid and Leif. But in Viking times, people really did believe in fate, and it’s been fun naming the minor characters as if they’ve always had a certain destiny. Both Thorbjorn (Thor-bear) and Karl Bersi (Man-bear) can, well, turn into bears. Bekkhild (sowing-girl) loves needlework. An arrogant poet, Bragi, is named after the first mythic poet – that’s where we get the English ‘to brag’ from.

In the second book The Wild Hunt, which moves further from real events, I got to invent some major characters. Jaska means ‘quiet one’ in Sami, a name that suits her in more ways than one. The two most important names are Issar and Grimnir, since both give major clues about what happens to those characters – so I’m not about to reveal their origins here!

It makes sense that in a magical version of ancient Scandinavia, where well-spoken words have incredible supernatural power, names and fates should be closely linked. But can’t people grow up to be quite different from their names? This is something Astrid and Leif think about a lot in The Wild Hunt. The more you – as a writer – make a name, decided at birth, reflect a grown person’s identity, the more you say about your fantasy world and the freedoms it allows people. Even Harry Potter always hopes to be as normal and unnoticed as his name suggests: in wanting to be like his name he’s no different from the flashy Gilderoy (Gold-king) Lockhart. But there’s always a choice. Whether your name is Ahmed or Aalia, Zara or Zbigniew, do you want to live up to it? Change it (to your favourite avatar)? Remember: it’s never just a name.

The Stones of Winter, and The Wild Hunt, both by Oskar Jensen, are out now, published by Piccadilly Press.

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: The Stones of Winter - Oskar Jensen

Release Date:  07/04/16
Publisher:  Picadilly Press


A Viking tale of myth and magic. All is not well at the Viking court of Jelling. Home to the mysterious Yelling Stones (three witches turned into stone), it's always been a place of power and a haven for 'the old ways'. But troubling news has reached King Gorm's court - not that fourteen-year-old princess Astrid is concerned that. She's far more worried that her family prefers her inside sewing, or planning her marriage, rather than letting her explore the forest or ride her beautiful snow-white horse, Hestur. But Astrid is about to find herself at the heart of a battle that will change her life forever. Leif, an ambitious and talented young poet, arrives at King Gorm's court with unsettling news. Leif announces he has been sent visions from the witches of the Yelling Stones, saying a dangerous and powerful force is coming - one that will change the face of Denmark - and only Astrid and Leif can stop it. But with danger all around them, including trolls, witches and a terrifying creature called 'The Beast', can they tell who the real enemy is in time to stop them? Previously published as THE YELLING STONES.


As a younger reader I loved spending time in the past, wondering the byways and highways of ancient days, seeing the time period through the eyes of the characters as well as having my interest piqued enough to sit down and do research.

This title by Oskar promises much of the same and whilst I love spending time with the Viking like characters in other titles (such as the amazing Brotherband by John Flanagan) there is something about travelling back to that era and hanging out with the culture as they undergo changes from the old ways to the new that will bring the love of history to the younger reader.

The book is well written, the characters, people I want to spend time with and with a good sense of pace backed up with cracking dialogue makes this a series that your young bookaholic will devour with relish. Cracking.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

WORLD BOOK NIGHTL Grisha Army - Leigh Bardugo

Hail Mighty Readers,
World Book Night is upon us and as a Knight of the Word, I wanted to take some time to suggest a cracking title to get into for this most auspicious of days.

As you may have guessed from the image on the left, I'm part of the Great Grisha Army, and rather than lend support to just one book, we wanted to send our support for the series.

Its absolutely cracking and consists of the following titles:

Originally published as The Gathering Dark. The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka. Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom's magical elite - the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free? The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfil her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him. But what of Mal, Alina's childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can't she ever quite forget him? Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance.

Darkness never dies. Alina and Mal are on the run. Hunted and haunted, but together at last, they can't outrun Alina's past or her destiny forever. The Darkling has emerged from the Shadow Fold with a terrifying new power and he needs Alina to realise his dangerous plan. There are others who would like to use Alina's gift too. And as her power grows, somehow, she must choose between her country, her power, and her love - or risk losing everything to the oncoming storm. Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance. Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and Laini Taylor.

SHADOW AND BONE. SIEGE AND STORM. Now Alina's story reaches its incredible conclusion in RUIN AND RISING.

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as Alina begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction - but claiming it could cost Alina the very future she is fighting for.

This series is not only magical and for young readers but is imaginative as well as fascinating for older readers as well.  Use this world book night to get into a new author or a chance to return to an old favourite, we know we will.

In addition to this, there will not only be others letting you know why to read this series, but also the chance to win some cracking goodies.  (On Tumblr.)  

Finally our friends at Maximum Pop, will be running a Q&A with Leigh so please visit.  We'll be glued to see what happens.

All the best,

Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: You Belong to Me - Samantha Hayes

Release Date: 12/03/16
Publisher:  Arrow


The compelling new psychological suspense novel featuring DI Lorraine Fisher, from the author of Until You’re Mine and Before You Die. Perfect for fans of S J Watson and Sophie Hannah.

Fleeing the terrors of her former life, Isabel has left England, and at last is beginning to feel safe.

Then a letter shatters her world, and she returns home determined not to let fear rule her life any more.

But she's unable to shake off the feeling that someone who knows her better than she knows herself may be following her.

Watching. Waiting.

Ready to step back into her life and take control all over again.


I love books that give me goose-bumps and whilst for many, a good horror tale will do that. However, for me, a touch of the real world can add more terror to the reader’s imagination Antonia wonderfully weaves a principle character into the tale that keeps the reader not only interested but generates a feeling of heart in mouth sa the tale unfolds. Back this up with some great twists, a foe that many could easily see as a neighbour all round makes this a book that is not only hard to put down but one that will keep you up wondering what each of those creaks are in the night.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Release Date: 10/03/16
Publisher:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson


Welcome to London, but not as you know it. Oxford Street burned for three weeks; Regent's Park has been bombed; the British Museum is occupied by those with nowhere else to go.

Lalla has grown up sheltered from the chaos, but now she's sixteen, her father decides it's time to use their escape route - a ship big enough to save five hundred people. Once on board, as day follows identical day, Lalla's unease grows. Where are they going? What does her father really want? What is the price of salvation?


I read this book a while ago and whilst I could have written the review earlier, I always like to sit back and savour as well as think my way through the quandaries, the characters thoughts and questions that the novel raises. Its dark, it has hope and all round for me as a reader, Antonia brings the titles cast to life.

The writing is crisp, the prose spot on and for me what really adds the sparkle is the dialogue, its easy to see how the thought processes work, what families are prepared to do to save themselves and all round how they come to live with their choices. It’s a book of many facets and all round, a title that I was more than pleased I took the time to read.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION REVIEW: Flavia Albia 4: The Graveyard of the Hesperides - Lindsey Davis

Release Date: 14/04/16
Publisher:  Hodder


From renowned author Lindsey Davis, creator of the much-loved character, Marcus Didius Falco and his friends and family, comes the fourth novel in her all-new series set in ancient Rome.

We first met Flavia Albia, Falco's feisty adopted daughter, in The Ides of April. Albia is a remarkable woman in what is very much a man's world: young, widowed and fiercely independent, she lives alone on the Aventine Hill in Rome and makes a good living as a hired investigator. An outsider in more ways than one, Albia has unique insight into life in ancient Rome, and she puts it to good use going places no man could go, and asking questions no man could ask.


Having been disappointed with the previous title in the Flavia Albia series (Deadly Election), I hoped that this one would get back to the dangerous elements where Albia’s success or failure would affect how she survived in the Roman Empire. Thankfully this one did what I wanted and as usual I was treated to a tale that had murder, intrigue and the double edged sword of truthfulness facing off against the machinations of those concerned.

All round, it’s a story that will fulfil what you want as a reader. Solid crime deduction, interesting cast members and above all else a principle character whose personal choices often put her at odds with those she works for. Cracking.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Empty Throne 2: Those Below - Daniel Polansky

Release Date: 10/03/16
Publisher:  Hodder


For centuries beyond counting, humanity has served the Others, god-like Eternals who rule from their cloud-capped mountain-city, building a civilization of unimagined beauty and unchecked viciousness.

But all that is about to change. Bas Alyates, grizzled general of a thousand battles, has assembled a vast army with which to contend with the might of Those Above. Eudokia, Machiavellian matriarch and the power behind the Empty Throne, travels to the Roost, nominally to play peacemaker - but in fact to inspire the human population toward revolt. Deep in the dark byways of the mountain's lower tiers, the urchin Pyre leads a band of fanatical revolutionaries in acts of terrorism against their inhuman oppressors. Against them, Calla, handmaiden of the Eternals' king, fights desperately to stave off the rising tide of violence which threatens to destroy her beloved city.

The story begun in Those Above comes to a stunning conclusion in this unforgettable battle for the hearts and minds of the human race, making The Empty Throne the most exciting epic fantasies of recent times.


Daniel is an author that has entertained me throughout his writing, he manages to bring cracking world building to the fore as he not only weaves a complex story but allows character growth to happen naturally and in this, his second outing (and final for his series) into the Empty Throne world, we get to see all of his skills brought to the fore.

The writing is crisp, the dialogue smooth and when blended with good authorly sleight of hand generates a book that is hard to put down. All round a cracking title although for me, I did feel that the conclusion felt rushed almost as if a deadline interrupted rather than allowing it to finish naturally but even so its still a fun read.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Stealers War - Stephen Hunt

Release Date: 17/03/16
Publisher:  Gollancz


Weyland has been at war. Invaded by a technologically advanced enemy, the cities sacked, and what fragile peace remained torn apart by a civil war.

All anyone should want is a return to peace.

But Jacob Carneham still wants his revenge; and if he can lure the invaders into the mountain he can have it. He can kill them all.

If he does, there may never be peace again.

If he doesn't, Weyland will never be free of the threat of invasion.

The northern horse lords are planning an attack. A future Empress is fighting to save her daughter. Jacob's son is trying to restore peace and stability to Weyland, alongside the rightful King. And behind it all is a greater struggle, which may spell the end for them all . .


If you want an author that brings you solid storylines, cracking dialogue and old fashioned type of heroism to the fore, then Stephen Hunt is an author that you’ll want to spend quite a bit of time with. Noticing Stephen way back when he won the WH Smiths writing competition I’ve loved his ability to weave believable characters into all his work. They live and breath and are people you care about.

And such is the case in this his latest title. As with his other works, it has solid prose, great sense of pace and when blended with dialogue that trips off the page as well as wonderfully working in world-building that transports you right to the centre of the story all round gives you a book that’s hard to put down. Magic.

Monday, 11 April 2016

SPECIAL FEATURE: Kill Your Friends - Studio Canal

Hail Mighty Readers and Film Fans,
Our friends at Windmill (and Studio Canal) have asked us to let people know about the DVD release of Kill Your Friends (based on the John Niven novel of the same name.

It was released on the 4th April and as we like to read the book before we see a film (as we like to compare notes), we have a special feature of an interview with the films star Nicolas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Badlands and also Skins), which we feel priveledged to bring to you, our readers.

Here's the film description:
A&R man Steven Stelfox (Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road) is slashing and burning his way through the music business, a world where ‘no one knows anything’ and where careers are made and broken by chance and the fickle tastes of the general public. Fuelled by greed, ambition and inhuman quantities of drugs, Stelfox lives the dream, as he searches for his next hit record. But as the hits dry up and the industry begins to change, Stelfox takes the concept of “killer tunes” to a murderous new level in a desperate attempt to salvage his career. Based on John Niven’s best-selling novel, Kill Your Friends is a dark, satirical and hysterically funny evisceration of the Nineties music business.

So without further ado, Nicolas' thoughts about playing Stephen Stelfox:

We hope you enjoy.

FANTASY REVIEW: Snakewood - Adrian Selby

Release Date: 17/03/16
Publisher:  Orbit


Once they were a band of mercenaries who shook the pillars of the world through their cunning, their closely guarded alchemical brews and stone cold steel. Whoever met their price won.

Now, their glory days behind them and their genius leader in hiding, the warriors known as the 'Twenty' are being hunted down and eliminated one by one.

A lifetime of enemies has its own price.


As a huge fan of fantasy, I love a tale of war blended with solid world building as well as being backed with a premise that sells it to you right from the get go and whilst all of this is there in the blurb for Adrian’s Snakewood, for me, the delivery was sadly lacking.

Not that the writing was awful, far from it but, as many people know, when I can’t find something to help me associate with the principle players, leaves me with no real emotional connection or caring as to their fates. This for me makes a book a hard slog and even when it has some great twist as well as idea’s added within makes it an uphill struggle to finish. All round it is a solid enough title but due to lack of character interest makes this a book that I’d recommend that you rent from your library rather than purchase.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Far Cry Primal - Ubisoft

Release Date: 23/02/16
Publisher:  Ubisoft


The award-winning Far Cry franchise that has stormed the tropics and the Himalayas now enters the original fight for humanity’s survival with its innovative open-world sandbox gameplay, bringing together massive beasts, breathtaking environments, and unpredictable savage encounters.

Welcome to the Stone Age, a time of extreme danger and limitless adventure, when giant mammoths and sabretooth tigers ruled the Earth, and humanity is at the bottom of the food chain. As the last survivor of your hunting group, you will learn to craft a deadly arsenal, fend off fierce predators, and outsmart enemy tribes to conquer the land of Oros and become the Apex Predator.

Far Cry Primal will be available on PlayStation 4, XBOX One, and PC, coming out early 2016.

Key Features

You will play as Takkar, a seasoned hunter and the last surviving member of your group. You have one goal: survival in a world where you are the prey.
 Grow your tribe and hone your skills to lead your people.
 Encounter a cast of memorable characters who can help push back the dangers of the wild.
 Face enemy tribes who will do anything to eradicate you and your allies.
 Defeat predators and humans alike and rise to become the apex predator.

This isn’t the Stone Age as you know it. This is the Stone Age with irreverence and mayhem. This is Far Cry’s Stone Age.
 Stalk enemy outposts and plan your attack using weapons and tools crafted from the bones of beasts you’ve killed.
 Master the element of fire to expand your tactical options, setting your weapon on fire or scaring predators at night.
 Land the killing blow on the prey you've hunted across the plains. But beware, its scent may attract predators willing to fight you for the prize.
 The rich setting of the Stone Age only multiplies the amount of deadly weapons, dangerous threats, and incredible stories that Far Cry is known for.

After the last Ice Age, the glaciers retreated to leave behind a land blooming with nature and resources where humans and animals alike can thrive – provided they have what it takes to prove their dominance.
 Discover the majestic and savage land of Oros with its breathtaking valley of redwood forests, harsh taiga, and humid swamps where you can see Earth as it was before man laid claim to it.
 Oros teems with life from large herds of deer and vicious packs of dire-wolves to warring enemy tribes. It is ruled by megafauna such as sabretooth tigers and woolly mammoths, giant animals that dominated the Earth in the Stone Age and were feared by every other living being.


Ubisoft is a company that creates games that I just love to spend time with, with me losing many hours in their immersive worlds and for me, whilst I’ve had a lot of fun with modern weaponry, my real love is with the more feudal types with me often using bows in the more modern games over firearms.

This release from Ubisoft is something that I’ve absolutely enjoyed and whilst I accept what they’ve done with the language (and having to put subtitles up) I spent a lot of time earning my “back-up” beasts to help me with my missions. Its well worth the reward and as with other Ubisoft titles, allows you to tailor your own gaming style into the mix, whether you prefer the full frontal assault or (if you’re like me) the sneaky assassination style.

All round, the controls are a smooth for me, the graphics colourful with a good frame rate and when you throw in the sheer amount of time that you’ll have earning achievements as well as completing your map, you know that you’ll be at this for quite some time which gives you great value for money.

Saturday, 9 April 2016

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Tom Clancy's The Division - Ubisoft

Release Date: 08/03/16
Publisher:  Ubisoft


A devastating pandemic sweeps through New York City, and one by one, basic services fail. In only days, without food or water, society collapses into chaos. The Division, a classified unit of self-supported tactical agents, is activated. Leading seemingly ordinary lives among us, The Division agents are trained to operate independently of command, as all else fails.

Fighting to prevent the fall of society, the agents will find themselves caught up in an epic conspiracy, forced to combat not only the effects of a man-made virus, but also the rising threat of those behind it. When everything collapses, your mission begins.

Total Breakdown

We live in a fragile and complex world, a web of interdependent systems we rely on every day. When one fails, others follow, creating a deadly domino effect that can cripple society in days. In Tom Clancy’s The Division, immerse yourself in a frighteningly chaotic and devastated New York City, where all has failed. As a Division agent, your mission is to restore order, team up with other agents, and take back New York.

A new take on the Clancy series

Welcome to an online, open world RPG experience where exploration and player progression are essential. Use your skills, weapons, and wits in combat. Play in a persistent and dynamic environment that combines the Tom Clancy series’ core authenticity and tactical decisions, RPG action, trading, and much more.

100% social

Team up with friends in co-op, jump in and jump out at any time, and use your combined skills to fight the crisis, investigate the sources of the virus, and engage all threats... even your own citizens. Seamlessly engage in PvP, player-to-player trading, and experience suspenseful scenarios where danger can come from anywhere and anyone.

Only on next-gen

Powered by the new game engine Snowdrop, tailor-made for next-gen consoles, Tom Clancy’s The Division achieves a whole new level of gameplay quality. Snowdrop takes full advantage of the new consoles, with dynamic global illumination, stunning procedural destruction, and an insane amount of detail and visual effects.

Gear up and live your own adventure

As part of The Division, harness state-of-the-art technology, both networked and prototyped. Loot fallen foes and craft new, improved gear. Completely customise your go-bag, an agent’s only supplies in the event of collapse, and communicate with the other agents at all times with your smartwatch. Customise your agent with thousands of weapon types, skill combinations, gear, and much more. The choices you make can help forge a recovery or plunge the city deeper into chaos.


There are times when you have to wait quite a long time for one game to land and then two crackers land at once, however when two of these arrive from one company, you have to sit up and take notice. Firstly I want to deal with The Division. If you love your Action Shooters, then this is going to be one for you to sit up and take notice. Here within this title is a story that has a terrifyingly possibilities. The gamer is thrown into a city in chaos, where you find better items and can buy great weaponry with the funds that you earn. It’s tough but as a gamer you don’t want one you can finish in a short time, you want to feel rewarded for achieving missions.

But for me, not only do the characters you meet make this up, but the sheer variety of combinations of clothes and even weaponry makes this something that can be personally tailored for your own choices. Fun will be had. Frustation will be matched but for me the graphics and fluidity of the title make this a must play. Back this up with the options of playing with friends and being able to call in others to help with missions, make this a title that has a lot of variation for your cash as well as a PVP area where even better gear can be earned.

Friday, 8 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The City 2: The Immortal Throne - Stella Gemmell

Release Date: 24/03/16
Publisher:  Bantam Press


The emperor is dead…long live the emperor!
The fervent hope of the victorious rebels and the survivors of the uprising that liberated the City from tyranny is that the accession of Archange to the imperial throne will usher in a new era of freedom, peace and stability. If only that were so...
As the the City struggles to return to something resembling normal life after the devastation brought on by the rebellion, word arises of a massive army gathering to the north. No one knows where it has come from or who leads it, but it soon becomes apparent that its sole purpose is to destroy the City and annihilate all - man, woman and child - who live within its battered walls. And while warriors go forth to fight and die on the battlefield in defence of their homeland and all that they believe in, bitter family feuds and ancient rivalries, political and personal betrayals, and mindless murder surface within the palaces and corridors of power: it seems the City is under siege - from both without and within . . .
With this new novel, Stella Gemmell brings the astonishing story of the City to a spectacular climax and confirms her place as a master of the genre.


Having thoroughly enjoyed The City, I’ve been waiting (Im)patiently for this release. After all I want to see how “The City” was affected after the events of the previous novel and in this, the second part of the duology, we get to see not only world development but also emotional alongside it.

Its well written, the prose is sharp and for me with the action sequences goes to show good solid storytelling with a masterful understanding of pacing. Back this up with good dialogue and all round I was a more than happy reader. Cracking.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: The Seven Forges 4: The Silent Army - James A Moore

Release Date: 07/04/16
Publisher:  Angry Robot


The power that was hidden in the Mounds is on the move, seeking a final confrontation with the very entities that kept it locked away since the Cataclysm. Andover Lashk has finally come to accept his destiny and prepares to journey back to Fellein. The Sa'ba Taalor continue their domination over each country and people they encounter, but the final conflict is coming: The Great Wave of the Sa'ba Taalor stands to destroy an empire and the Silent Army prepares to stop them in their tracks. Caught in the middle is the Fellein Empire and the people who have gathered together on the final battlefield. The faithful and the godless, the soldiers and killers alike all stand or fall as old gods and new bring their war to a world-changing end. Some struggles are eternal. Some conflicts never cease. The Gods of War are here and they are determined to win.


The fourth outing for James Seven Forges series and one that continues to build upon the previous success of those that have gone before. The prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully timed with great action tempered with some wonderful lulls to allow you to get your breath back. Back this up with some great characters alongside a world that is delightfully designed all round makes this a series that continues to go from strength to strength.

Finally, and this is the clincher for me, Moore gives the characters a depth with their dialogue that not only shows their devotions but also gives them a roundedness that allows you to become fully immersed. Cracking.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

DARK URBAN FANTASY: The Demonists - Thomas E Sniegoski

Release Date: 07/04/16
Publisher:  Roc


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Fallen series, a new dark fantasy series about fighting the worst hell has to offer...

There is more to our world than meets the eye. Exorcist John Fogg and his wife, psychic medium Theodora Knight, know what lurks in the shadows. But even they re not prepared for when an ancient evil prepares to make Earth its battlefield...

After an exorcism goes wrong, Theodora is left catatonic, possessed by countless spirits, and John finds himself on a desperate quest to find a cure for his wife. But Theodora s possession is only one piece of a deadly plot that is threatening the entire world and without John and Theodora s intervention, there is no chance for salvation...


I love to spend my time in a book where I can never be sure whats around the corner, and to be honest Thomas is one of those authors that no matter what he turns his hand to delivers on that promise. The writing is crisp, the characters good fun to hang around and whilst I loved all of them, I now want a book with a certain Gran as the titles principle character..

The plot has a great number of twists linking organisations and people together as well as allowing the characters of each to come to the fore as each players past events war against their professionalism as well as beliefs. All round a cracking read and one that I hope will be a start to a cracking new series. Great fun.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Pathfinder Tales: Hell Knight - Liane Merciel

Release Date: 05/04/16
Publisher:  Tor


Paizo Publishing is the award-winning publisher of fantasy roleplaying games, accessories, and board games. Pathfinder Tales: Hellknight is the latest in their popular novel series. The Hellknights are a brutal organization of warriors dedicated to maintaining law and order at any cost. For devil- blooded Jheraal, even the harshest methods are justified if it means building a better world for her daughter. Yet when a serial killer starts targeting hellspawn like Jheraal and her child, Jheraal has no choice but to use all her cunning and ruthlessness in order to defeat an ancient enemy to whom even death is no deterrent.


The latest novel in the Pathfinder Tales series and whilst I’ve not always been a fan of the series this one really delivered for me with high octane action vying against authorly cunning as the titles principle player fights an ancient foe who has no fear of death.

In addition to this, Liane brings top notch prose some solid dialogue alongside a tale that keeps going from start to finish. All round a book I thoroughly enjoyed and one that has me looking forward to the next Pathfinder novel, especially if Liane is behind the helm.

Monday, 4 April 2016

FANTASY REVIEW: Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne: The Last Mortal Bond - Brian Staveley

Release Date: 24/03/16
Publisher:  Tor



The Annurian Empire is losing a war on two fronts - and it's unclear who is in command. Adare is stationed in the thick of battle and now calls herself Emperor. However, she can't hold back the nomadic Urgul forces for much longer. She needs her brilliant general, Ran il Tornja, but will he betray her again?

Her brother Kaden is the true heir, yet he'll accept a Republic to save his divided people. And he faces something even more terrible than war. He's unmasked Ran il Tornja as a remnant of an ancient race who attempted to destroy mankind. The general plans to finish what they started, and is amassing all the power he needs.

The empire calls on the Kettral, its toughest soldiers, but their order has been decimated. Its last fighters are in disarray, but could they still turn the tide of war? Most disturbingly of all, capricious gods walk the earth in human guise. And their desires could seal the fate of a world.


The third and final book in Brian’s Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne that not only goes out with a bang but pretty much leaves this title as perhaps the best final fantasy tale in a series for the year and one that will have not only readers but other authors grabbing for tissues’ at the way in which he brings it together alongside playing for keeps with those whose lives his story telling has fitted around.

Its hard hitting, has great prose and when blended with characters that you’ve come to love over the series has readers fearing for “friends” survival as each page is turned. Back this up with dialogue that won’t let go from the readers imagination will have this book leaving many sitting up into the early morning as the one more chapter wars against don’t let this be XXXXX’s end.

All round a great book and a series I really can’t recommend to fantasy readers enough. Cracking.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Mercy Thompson 9: Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs

Release Date: 08/03/16
Publisher:  Orbit/Ace, Berkley Publishing


Mercy Thompson is back, and she'll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it's the children who suffer . . .

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?


The new Mercy Thompson title and one that shows that the fae are up to something as Mercy’s pack sets itself up to be defenders of the humans against all comers. It’s not only a ballsy move on their part but works wonderfully well for the caring nature of the principle character herself.

Its well written, the prose is sharp and the story is one that is hard to put down as for me, one more chapter is a common phrase when I have a cracking book. Back this up with top notch dialogue as well as the readers already established relationship and feelings towards the subsequent cast members all round makes this a cracking addition. Magic.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Outer Earth 2: Zero-G - Rob Boffard

Release Date: 21/01/16
Publisher:  Orbit


Outer Earth is a giant space station, orbiting the dead remains of our planet. It is humanity's last refuge.

Riley Hale may be the newest member of the station's law enforcement team, but she feels less in control than ever. When a doctor bent on revenge blackmails her, Riley has no choice but to give in to his demands and break a dangerous prisoner out of jail. But this is not just any prisoner - it's someone capable of bringing the entire space station to its knees.

With time running out, Riley must break her own beliefs - and every law she's sworn to protect - if she has any hope of saving Outer Earth from destruction.

Experience the excitement of Outer Earth in Zero-G - an action-packed thriller set in space from Rob Boffard.

The Outer Earth novels:



I love books that take me on a journey and if you love high octane, fast paced action then this book will pretty much hit the spot for you. The prose is solid, the characters decent and when you throw into the mix a galaxy of dirty and grime that feels fairly realistic all round generates a story that works well for the reader.

Back this all up with a solid overall arc and a plotline that really brings the authors imagination to the fore backed by a trilogy that has allowed it to flourish almost organically all round has made this a pure joy to read.