Friday, 29 January 2010


Hail Mighty Readers,
Well this is a new feature to the site that we'll do each month. If we've previously reviewed a title that has a release date for this month, we'll link to our original review for it so that it keeps it easier for you, the reader, to find what you're looking for. (Covers in review may differ from this incarnation.)

This month you'll find:
WATSON, Ian: Warhammer 40k: The Inquisition War
COBLEY, Michael: Seeds of Earth
MIEVILLE, China: The City and the City
GUSTAINIS, Justin: Evil Ways
GOODMAN, Alison: Eon: Rise of the Dragon Eye (Previously Released as Two Pearls of Wisdom)

Hopefully you'll find this feature of use,


CRIME REVIEWS: The Liebermann Papers: Frank Tallis Day

BOOK BLURB: Mortal Mischief

It is Vienna at the beginning of the last century, and Dr Max Liebermann is a young psychoanalyst - and disciple of Freud. Psychoanalysis is only just developing and viewed with a mixture of excitement and suspicion. The world of 1900s Vienna is one where philosophy, science and art are at their most exciting and flourishing, with the coffee shops full of men and women debating the latest cultural and political theories. Liebermann's good friend Oskar Rheinhardt is a Detective Inspector - hard working, but lacking Liebermann's insights and forensic eye and so it is through Rheinhardt that Libermann is called upon to help with police investigations surrounding the death of a beautiful young medium, in what seems at first to be supernatural circumstances. While Liebermann attempts to get to the bottom of the mystery, he also must decide whether he is to follow his father's advice and marry the beautiful but reserved Clara.


I came to Franks writing probably quite late compared to a number of other readers, however what this brought to the fore was an expertise that has not only confounded courts in the US but also brought a new area of professional clinical psychology to the readers of Crime Fiction. Well written, beautifully descriptive and above all a tale where you can understand the characters motives as well as boons alongside their negative characteristics as each effects the tale as it unfurls. Its twisted in places, the mystery well worth investigating and with the descriptiveness of the time period the reader will hate to finish the first offering and luckily have the second one to delve into.

BOOK BLURB: Vienna Blood

In the grip of a Siberian winter in 1902, a serial killer in Vienna embarks upon a bizarre campaign of murder. Vicious mutilation, a penchant for arcane symbols, and a seemingly random choice of victim are his most distinctive peculiarities. Detective Inspector, Oskar Rheinhardt summons a young disciple of Freud - his friend Dr. Max Liebermann - to assist him with the case. The investigation draws them into the sphere of Vienna's secret societies - a murky underworld of German literary scholars, race theorists, and scientists inspired by the new evolutionary theories coming out of England. At first, the killer's mind seems impenetrable - his behaviour and cryptic clues impervious to psychoanalytic interpretation; however, gradually, it becomes apparent that an extraordinary and shocking rationale underlies his actions...Against this backdrop of mystery and terror, Liebermann struggles with his own demons. The treatment of a patient suffering from paranoia erotica and his own fascination with the enigmatic Englishwoman Amelia Lydgate raise doubts concerning the propriety of his imminent marriage. To resolve the dilemma, he must entertain the unthinkable - risking disgrace and accusations of cowardice.


Tales of murder and mystery generally tend to follow a set pattern and for the vast majority of readers who are used to the concept pretty easy to spot the whodunit from an early stage. What Frank does extremely well is hide the villain from the reader until the last few pages and pulls the whole thing out of the bag that the reader will be surprised that they didn’t see some of the small hints given throughout. Its well written crime fare and if you like the mysteries on the level of Christie then this is perhaps the modern author who will keep the tales alive in the readers imagination as probably one of the few who could be described as her successor.

BOOK BLURB: Fatal Lies

Vienna, 1903. In St. Florian's military school, a rambling edifice set high in the hills of the City's famous woods, a young cadet is found dead - his body lacerated with razor wounds. Once again, Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt calls on his friend - and disciple of Freud - Doctor Max Liebermann, to help him with the investigation. In the closed society of the school, power is everything - and suspicion falls on an elite group of cadets, with a penchant for sadism and dangerous games. When it is discovered that the dead boy was a frequent guest of the deputy headmaster's attractive young wife - other motives for murder suggest themselves.A tangled web of relationships is uncovered, at the heart of which are St. Florian's dark secrets, which Liebermann, using new psychoanalytic tools such as dream interpretation and the ink-blot test, begins to probe. At the same time, a shocking revelation makes it impossible for Liebermann to pursue the object of his affections, the Englishwoman Miss Lydgate, and he finds himself romantically involved with the passionate and elemental Trezska Novak - a mysterious Hungarian concert violinist, gifted with uncannily accurate intuitions. Again, all is not what it seems, and Liebermann is drawn into the perilous world of espionage - and must make choices, the outcome of which will threaten the entire stability of the Habsburg Empire. "Fatal Lies" - volume three of the "Liebermann Papers" - is about sex, the will to power, and deception.


If you want a tale that has realistic characters, a flavour of another time and above all a cracking tale of crime solving then there’s really few who delve into this than Frank Tallis, with this, the third offering in the series keeping the reader happy in the murder mystery of a cadet. Beautifully descriptive, it really does cry out to be enjoyed and whilst you could read this as a standalone you’ll have missed a lot of the hidden gems that Vienna has to offer by missing the others which would be a great shame. If you have a crime fan in your house and want something to tie them over the seasonal period without having to delve into the obligatory fare just to get past the day, then this is well worth the spends.

BOOK BLURB: Darkness Rising

Vienna 1903. Outside one of the city's most splendid baroque churches the decapitated body of a monk is found. Then, the remains of a municipal councillor are discovered in the grounds of another church - his head also ripped from his body. Both men were rabid anti-Semites and suspicions fall on Vienna's close-knit community of Hassidic Jews. In a city riven by racial tensions and extremism, the situation is potentially explosive. Detective Inspector Rheinhardt turns to his trusted friend, the young psychoanalyst Doctor Max Liebermann, for assistance. As the investigation progresses, Liebermann is drawn into the world of Jewish mysticism. Amid the atmosphere of threat and fear, Liebermann's life is in crisis. Political forces conspire against him, and the object of his romantic desires, the unreachable Miss Lydgate, is becoming an unhealthy obsession.


As a fan of historically placed crime novels I really can’t get enough of the little touches that authors throw in to authenticate the novel as well as giving the readers a real taste of the time and place in which its set. What Frank does extremely well is bring these little details to the fore as well as keeping it brief enough so its not overburdening and detracting from the books overall arc. Well written, beautifully adaptive all that you need to do is read a few pages to get the initial mystery as well as a chance to get to meet fully rounded characters who really could have stepped from the pages of time into the modern readers memory. Great stuff.

BOOK BLURB: Deadly Communication

A sexual predator is at large on the streets of Imperial Vienna and Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt appeals to his friend, psychoanalyst Dr. Max Liebermann, for assistance. Early signs indicate that the killer is no ordinary 'lust murderer' but an entirely new phenomenon, his particular deviance revealing the darker preoccupations of the age. To understand his behaviour, Liebermann must employ the latest developments in psychoanalysis and make a journey into uncharted regions of the human mind. Alongside the unfolding of this disturbing case, Liebermann must treat his own patients, including a man who claims to have seen his double - the doppelganger of Germanic folklore - an experience believed to be an omen of death. As Liebermann discovers more about this seemingly harmless man, he becomes convinced that his hallucinations are caused by a traumatic memory, buried deep in his unconscious. Could a mysterious dream hold the key? As the investigations proceed, Liebermann and Rheinhardt find themselves drawn into the worlds of art and couture, worlds in which glamorous appearances mask the most sinister secrets.


OK I’m one of the few who is ahead of a number of readers out there at the moment and had the real pleasure of enjoying the latest book ahead of its release date. This really is what can only be described as classic Tallis, a tale of proportions that will keep you guessing, has wonderful throw away trivia and of course murder most foul with a hidden villain who must be unmasked. A great author and a real mystery is something that’s hard to top in the reading stakes of today and if anyone will keep the crime market alive and well its going to be Frank Tallis. A true genius in the art of deception.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

YOUNG ADULT REVIEWS: Charters, Sisters and Lost Worlds

BOOK BLURB: Midnight Charter

In the city of Agora, anything can be bought and sold. Even children are possessions until their twelfth birthday. Mark has been sold by his father, and Lily, an orphan from birth, has bartered for her life. Thrown together by chance, in the ancient tower of Count Stelli, they face an existence of poverty and servitude, unless they can find a way to break free. But, unbeknown to Mark and Lily, they are being watched by the ruler of the city. Can they survive the traps and treachery that await them and discover the dark secret that binds them together? Their lives depend on this question: what is the Midnight Charter?


Whilst released as a YA novel this tale really will appeal to all fans of fantasy. The plotline is gripping and makes this offering pretty hard to put down and then when you add to the mix characters that grow, some carefully sculpted twists along with some sneaky manipulation of the emotional aspects, then you know that this is a must own novel. With scope for successive novels this is going to be one to make a note of now so you can say that you’ve already got it when the popularity (and it will come) hits the reading domains in general.

BOOK BLURB: Prophecy of Sisters

'Without the Keys, something terrible will happen. Something that cannot be undone. And with them, I might bring an end to the riddle of the Prophecy and my strange part in it. If Alice and I are on conflicting sides of the Prophecy, the Keys would be dangerous in her hands. Which means I have to find them. And I have to do it before my sister.' This is the story of sixteen-year-old Lia Milthorpe's quest to discover her role and her twin sister's in a powerful prophecy that has affected twin sisters for generations. But nothing can prepare her for what she discovers - about herself, about her family, and about the danger that goes from haunting her dreams to becoming her reality.


A novel setting for a modern reader as a curse comes to twin sisters who will battle to gain the upper-hand against each other as they each ensure their own individual survival. What makes this first instalment of the trilogy so gripping is that its unpredictable, what you’d normally come to expect really does throw the curve ball as you’re never sure which way its going to go until the final page. With both characters growing with each passing page, I hope that they’ll continue to emotionally in future novels. Add to the blend a completely different writing style to the norm, the dark gothic nature of Shelley finished with a hint of historical fiction and a dash of the Supernatural.

BOOK BLURB: Lost Worlds

John Howe's debut as author and illustrator for children an amazing publishing first. Lost Worlds draws together John Howe's incredible artwork with a wealth of historical facts and mythological texts to create a visually stunning, classic title. This unique children's book is a first for John Howe. It is a project which fascinates him entirely, so much so that this is the first subject he has committed himself to write about.


I’ve been a fan of John’s art for years now and as such he always manages to bring something new to whatever it is that’s being created. Time can be easily whiled away whilst you explore his pieces so its with a wonderful touch that he’s been unleashed on bringing the lost cities of the world to the fore to the next generation. The subject is fascinating, the wording simplistic to allow young readers to grasp the tale for each different section but binding it together is that wonderful artwork that really is a joy to behold. If you want something different for the younger reader interested in not only history but perhaps the chance to explore then this is definitely going to be a sure fire hit.

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Betrayal's, Monsters and Horseman

BOOK BLURB: Betrayals

The second novel in the Strange Angels series picks up with Dru neatly tucked away in a Schola that's more like a prison than a secret training facility. Except for one tiny detail ...she's the only girl in the place and is totally surrounded by tons of cute boys. But a traitor in the Order wants Dru dead and she can't trust anyone except for Graves. Too bad he's being kept busy with a new crew of wulfen teens and doesn't have time for her. As she learns the truth about who she can and can't trust, Dru's only hope may be to save herself - although the one gift that makes her special is draining away, and she doesn't know how to get it back. Will Dru survive long enough to find out who is really after her? Or is she destined for the same fate as her murdered parents? Lili's characters come alive on the page in a way that's visually stunning and she creates the same terrific pace, danger and teen romance as in Strange Angels.


With the success of her adult series, Lili went on to start a young adult series that with its original offering more than blew the competition away with cracking characterisation, beautiful scene setting and above all a heroine who’s got nerve and steel whilst remaining vulnerable. Not an easy combo to manage. What really does enhance this is the way that Lili brings life to all members of the cast, be they the principle members or just little one liners who are there to be the proverbial redshirts. Its great writing, its fascinating and she brings a heroine to the fore that whilst young may yet reset the balance in the world to which she inhabits.

BOOK BLURB: Monster Republic

An explosion in a nuclear power plant. Kids patched up with scavenged body parts and bionic implants. A growing army of superhuman soldiers programmed for destruction. 'No', whispered Cameron to the monster in the glass. And he watched it shaking its hideous head. 'That's not me. You're not me'.


A novel setting for a modern reader as a curse comes to twin sisters who will battle to gain the upper-hand against each other as they each ensure their own individual survival. What makes this first instalment of the trilogy so gripping is that its unpredictable, what you’d normally come to expect really does throw the curve ball as you’re never sure which way its going to go until the final page. With both characters growing with each passing page, I hope that they’ll continue to emotionally in future novels. Add to the blend a completely different writing style to the norm, the dark gothic nature of Shelley finished with a hint of historical fiction and a dash of the Supernatural.

BOOK BLURB: The Hollow

Growing up in the town of Sleepy Hollow, the mystery and intrigue over Washington Irving's classic legend are all part of daily life for sixteen-year-old Abbey. But when her best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Abbey's world is suddenly turned upside down. While everyone is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead, Abbey refuses to believe that she is really gone. And when Abbey meets the gorgeous, but mysterious, Caspian at Kristen's memorial she starts to feel like she has something to hold on to for the first time since Kristen's disappearance. But when Abbey finds a diary hidden in Kristen's bedroom, she begins to question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her disappearance or even her death? Hurt and angry at Kristen's betrayal, Abbey turns to Caspian for support...and uncovers a frightening truth about him that threatens both their emerging love and her sanity...


A Young Urban Fantasy novel that bring the original tale by Irving to the modern reader and gives a new spin on the ancient and in my opinion, the best Halloween story ever. What is perhaps different is how the author deals with the loss of the principle protagonista and whilst I did feel a little cheated at not having a final solution in regard to her friends passing I did enjoy this book and will eagerly seek out future novels by Jessica. Its definitely a book that will enthuse as well as enchant many readers and will give something special to the adult reader as well. Personally I’d advise giving this book around Halloween however with a strong Christmas theme within its also something that will make an excellent stocking filler.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: 61 Nails - Mike Shevdon


There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untainted...Unless a new hero can be found. Neverwhere's faster, smarter brother has arrived. The immense SIXTY-ONE NAILS follows Niall Petersen, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too.


If you’re looking for something in the UF Genre for someone special in your life or if you’re just wanting something that’s pretty unique and mind blowing then you just have to buy this book. What unfurls within this, the latest offering from the publisher, Angry Robot, is an adventure the likes of which hasn’t been revisited since Gaiman’s Neverwhere. It’s pretty unique and above all it’s a tale that will keep you gripped as the principle protagonist not only bumbles his way through the adventure but grows as well as learns to love again with the novels heroine. This is an absolute corker of a tale and definitely one that I really got a kick out of. The second novel in the series is out next year but take a tip from me. Get this now before the hype hits.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Divine Midemeanors (Merry Gentry 8) - Laurell K Hamilton


Having turned down the throne of Faerie, and pregnant at last with twins by the men she loves, ex-princess Meredith Gentry should be living happily-ever-after. But the exiles of Faerie have other ideas - they want Meredith to be their princess, whether she likes it or not. And the new political party in England, the Fey Independence Party, want the lands of Faerie back, and they've asked Meredith to come home to be their faerie Prime Minister. They won't give up without a fight. With the government of the two countries blaming her for political unrest, happy ever after for half-human, half-faerie Meredith is going to have to wait, as she is caught in a struggle that threatens her life and the lives of those she holds dear. But she's a fighter, and she wields a wild magic...


Merry is back Stateside in self imposed exile working as a detective with her harem of guys. Yet life as it is won’t let up and with the intrigue of a new case for her to investigate as lesser demi fae are murdered in a pattern reminiscent of an obscure fairy tale. Hounded by the media Merry has to fight tooth and claw to get to the bottom of everything whilst dealing with her pregnancy. Whilst this seems like ideal material the major problem with this offering is that the whole tale is more sexploitation over plot which whilst constantly getting the character off didn’t do a damn thing for me. Almost as if Laurell had a kernel of an idea and with deadlines really didn’t think it through just bulking it out with unnecessary alongside standard sex scenes almost as if she had them all ready just to insert (if you’ll excuse the pun) to fill up page quota’s.

At the tales conclusion I really felt cheated and ripped off with this offering from Laurell, so much so that I am seriously considering giving up on this series as I’m getting fed up of the transformation from Merry the Woman to Merry the Walking Mattress.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Full Circle - Pamela Freeman


Saker has devoted himself to dark enchantments and desires nothing but vengeance. And vengeance he has in abundance. His ghost army is slaughtering those of the new blood, fuelled by an ancient wrong. But while Saker had thought revenge would be simple, he's now plagued by voices foreshadowing a calamity beyond his comprehension. Ash and Bramble raise the warrior spirit of Acton, mighty in life and powerful in death. Only he can stop Saker's rampage. But is Acton, Lord of War, murderer or saviour? And why would he help strangers protect a world he's never known? Bramble has been marked as Saker's nemesis, but will be challenged by deeper powers than Saker can command - as well as by her own feelings for Acton. As the living fight the dead, strange forces will shape an uncertain future from pain and suffering.


The final novel in the trilogy from author Pamela Freeman and one that won’t disappoint the fans with its conclusion as it really does hit the spot. The writing is crisp, the characters continue to grow within the pages and whilst the ending felt a tad rushed alongside a bit predictable made this a series that was a bit of fun and something that didn’t require too much in the way of thinking to enjoy. Solid fantasy.

FANTASY REVIEW: Orc's: Bad Blood 2: Army of Shadows - Stan Nicholls


Stryke and the Wolverines returned in 2008 in ORCS BAD BLOOD 1: WEAPONS OF MAGICAL DESTRUCTION, taking their quest to save the Orc race from both man and the sorceress Jennesta across the dimensions. Now they are back in another volume of frenetic action, nail-biting adventure and black humour. Orcs warband the Wolverines are stranded in a parallel world. Their only means of escape, the mysterious instrumentalities, have been seized by their nemesis, the depraved sorceress Jennesta. But regaining the artefacts is only one of their problems. To ignite an uprising in the face of ruthless human oppressors commanding magic, Stryke and his band must reawaken the lost martial spirit of the world's indigenous orcs. You'll never look at an Orc again in the same way.


If there is such a thing as a guarantee by an author its that Stan’s novels will do what it not only says on the tin but with talent to spare. You get high octane combat, a great story arc and characters that jump off the page to the readers imagination with great prose. Add to the mix an author who not only know’s his trade but also does it in such a way that the reader has devoured the tale before they’ve even realised that they’re there and it’s a tale that will have many a legion of fans demanding more from Stan in a very short time. Beware the march of the fan army.

Monday, 25 January 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Flash Forward & Wake - Robert J Sawyer


Suddenly everyone in the world loses consciousness for two minutes. Planes fall from the sky, there are millions of car crashes, millions die. And when everyone comes round they have had a glimpse of their life in the future.

When it awakes the world must live with the knowledge of what is to come.

Some saw themselves in new relationships, some saw exciting new technologies, some saw the stuff of nightmares. Some, young and old alike, saw nothing at all . . .

A desperate search to find out what has happened begins. Does the mosaic of visions offer a clue?

What did you see?

Now the basis for the Channel 5 hit series FLASHFORWARD


Books that deal with a glimpse of the future at times have gone on to inspire mankind in its creativity, however what is presented within is a brief glimpse for each human into their own future 21 years ahead. Which allows each to examine that part in the minutae and not get the full picture as if mankind were being manipulated by the gods and taunted with the possibilities in much the same way that the Cyclops of ancient Greece were.

Beautifully written and whilst its dated over ten years ago its inspired a tv series that will have many people hoping for answers from within this novels pages. A great look into the possibilities and the madness knowning our own future would inspire but upon whom is the great cosmic joke and what exactly does this portent precede? This was a book that kept me gripped from the first few pages to the last and is definitely something that’s a tad different to the norm of the usual fiction that’s out there.


Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a matematics genius-and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something-some other-lurking in the background. And it's getting more and more intelligent with each passing day. The first of a spellbinding future history trilogy that charts what will happen when the world's first first, and superior, artificial-intelligence is born in the web.


Wake is another future classic from Robert and the start of a news series for him, in which the principle protagonist learns to see the web and learns of the consiousness stirring within.

As with Flash Forward its beautifully sculpted. The characters a triumph especially with the care and consideration of the protagonista which I really love with an overall story arc that just flows from the page into the readers imagination. Add to this an attention to detail and research that really will make you grasp without the utilisation of an info dump and I think that Robert will be a name to flag as perhaps one of the future names to judge the genre by.

Imaginative, Creative and hopefully one that will inspire readers to reach for thier dreams in much the same way Clarke or Asimov have for previous generations.

Friday, 22 January 2010

FACTUAL REVIEW: How to be a Super Reader - Ron Cole


This book will help you overcome poor reading habits which hold back your ability to read at high speeds with good comprehension and recall. It includes tools and techniques that come from the author's 14 years of experience teaching professionals and students of all ages. The book includes memory training and information on learning, attitude and achievement. The techniques in the book could save you up to ten hours a week and are a must for students and anyone who has to deal with the sea of emails and reports that are part of our working day. Using unique exercises, you will learn to mentally process multiple words at a glance, thus increasing reading speed, comprehension and accuracy. The results are quick, sustainable and grow over time with minimal effort.


As a reader who has a huge appetite for books, I’m always looking for methods to help me utilise the most of my time and presented within a list of tips that not only helped me up my reading pace but also recall which whilst already very good is something that is always worth improving upon.

For the uninitiated it will hopefully encourage their love of reading as well as helping them make the most of their office reading time to help save them valuable family time. Its also going to be something that will help you make your way though your young readers educative course material as well as novel that they’re asking you if they can have. A great book if you can find ways to utilise the tricks and what can be more important than helping make the most for family members. Hopefully this will do for the reading population what Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas did for memory recall.



'Stop this fire, whatever it takes. I, your Emperor, order it'. The Emperor: Nero, Emperor of Rome and all her provinces, feared by his subjects for his temper and cruelty, is in possession of an ancient document predicting that Rome will burn. The Spy: Sebastos Pantera, assassin and spy for the Roman Legions, is ordered to stop the impending cataclysm. He knows that if he does not, his life - and those of thousands of others - are in terrible danger. The Chariot Boy: Math, a young charioteer, is a pawn drawn into the deadly game between the Emperor and the Spy, where death stalks the drivers - on the track and off it. From the author of the bestselling "Boudica" series, "The Emperor's Spy" begins a compelling new series of novels featuring Sebastos Pantera. Rich characterisation and spine tingling adventure combine in a vividly realised novel set amid the bloodshed and the chaos, the heroism and murderous betrayal of ancient Rome.


Manda Scott returns to a genre that she perhaps does better than a great many others as Rome this time is on the side of righteousness within the context of this tale. Not only do you get beautifully described scenes but also a principle protagonist that jumps off the page. Whilst he does come across initially as hard to like you soon learn within the tale as to his reasons in regard of personal attachment. Beautifully creative in an instantly identifiable Scott piece makes this something that is going to have make readers sit up and pay attention. Great stuff and I really can’t wait for the next novel in the series.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: The Runaway - Angela McAllister


Megan, frightened, guilty, and running from everything she's ever known. When Megan arrives at what she believes to be a deserted mansion, she encounters the mysterious Marguerite, blind and despised, with only two silent, watchful owls as her companions. Her eyes. Megan and Marguerite come to depend on one another. Theirs is a strange relationship, but the deserted, almost derelict house, they inhabit is the perfect place for hiding secrets. But Tom, always watching, waiting, biding his time, is determined to bring this fragile world crashing down... With richly drawn characters and a well-plotted story, this is a haunting tale of loss and revenge, of friendship and the power of forgiveness.


There are a few books out there that are all about the adventure or combat or even just a mystery that needs solving. Yet very few seek to delve into the psyche of the protagonist but that’s exactly what this one does as we follow the mystery embarked upon by runaway Megan who finds herself in the company of the strange Marguerite as they each deal with their own emotionally painful pasts giving strength to the other in moments of weakness. It’s a beautiful book and a tale that will have me picking up other stories by Angela as I loved her prose. However, one thing that I hope that she will do in future instalments is to save a bit of the power within for the conclusion as unfortunately it was the weakest part of the story which let the tale down after such a lovingly crafted script.

YOUNG ADULT REVIEW: Time Quake - Linda Buckley-Archer


The catastrophic consequences of time travel are now impossible to ignore. Lord Luxon has set his sights on the ultimate prize: America, while, abducted to 1763, Peter and Kate begin to understand that history has arrived at a tipping point. Transformed into an oracle, Kate is able to see the future as easily as the past. Gideon does all he can to help, but he is tormented by the knowledge that The Tar Man, his nemesis, is also his brother. As they pursue him through the dark streets of eighteenth-century London, and the time quakes begin, Peter realises that this monster may hold the fate of us all in his hands.


As you’ve come to expect from Linda, a fast action packed adventure for the Young Adult reader and a fitting conclusion to the series as the characters face their toughest challenge to date. Interesting science backed up with a well rounded story really does make this something difficult to beat for its sheer size and scope. Well written, beautifully descriptive and to top it all an author that’s pretty hard to beat. Cracking.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Bite Marks - Jennifer Rardin


Jaz is possessed. After biting the neck of a domyter during a forced visit to his territory, she now has unwelcome voices in her head. While fighting for supremacy in her own mind, she finds herself confronted with a near-impossible task: perform perfectly on her next mission or face the unemployment line. This goal wouldn't be unreasonable, except that her newest target, the leader of a security software firm, plans on transporting a boatload of gnome larvae into NASA's deep space communication complex. Why gnomes? Let's just say that their god is a little peeved with humanity and plans on the usual: total annihilation. Joining Jaz and Vayl are their old buddies Cole, Bergman, Cassandra and Jack the malamute, each of whom has his or her own agenda. Between Cassandra's curse, Jaz's literally mental personal demons, and a host of angry gnomes, this mission is definitely going to be more complicated than any that have come before.


The latest offering in the supernatural series by Jennifer Rardin takes the intrepid team to Australia as they seek to stop an infestation from ruining the space programme. As usual there’s plenty of quips, tons of action with a few twists along the way. It gives the reader exactly what they’ve come to expect from this 007 with Vampires series and is one of my fav series currently on the trot. It’s good fun, the writing as usual is crisp and above all Jaz and Vayl continue to grow with each passing chapter. A must have. If you haven’t read the other novels in the series yet then don’t start here, you’ve missed an absolute ton of fun, so do as they say and start back with the first novel, trust me, you won’t regret it.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Mr Shivers - Robert Jackson Bennett


It is the time of the Great Depression. The dustbowl has turned the western skies red and thousands leave their homes seeking a better life. Marcus Connelly seeks not a new life, but a death - a death for the mysterious scarred man who murdered his daughter. And soon he learns that he is not alone. Countless others have lost someone to the scarred man. They band together to track him, but as they get closer, Connelly begins to suspect that the man they are hunting is more than human. As the pursuit becomes increasingly desperate, Connelly must decide just how much he is willing to sacrifice to get his revenge.


New authors are always an interesting prospect, mainly because you never know what you’re going to get so the novel will always end up as a surprise. What unfurls in this novel is a story of vengeance and a tale where the protagonist’s quest is always in doubt up until the final moments. It is well written and demonstrates that Orbit are prepared to bring new talent to the fore in this interesting new offering in the Urban Fantasy/Horror genre.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Heart's Blood - Juliet Marillier


This is a stunning gothic love story based on the legends of Beauty and the Beast. Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious, wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan's family and his people; those woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom. For young scribe Caitrin it is a safe haven. This place where nobody else is prepared to go seems exactly what she needs, for Caitrin is fleeing her own demons. As Caitrin comes to know Anluan and his home in more depth she realizes that it is only through her love and determination that the curse can be broken and Anluan and his people set free.


If you love your fairytales and have enjoyed recent blendings of the modern fantasy genre into an established story arc (in much the same way that Jesse Bullington did with The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart) then you won’t do much better than Juliet’s latest offering. You get cracking storytelling beautifully blended with careful character construction which leads to a compelling and highly pleasing offering from Juliet.

Whilst some of this offering is a tad predictable its the authors talent to add a touch of the whimsy to her work that will have you demanding more. A great novel from an author who really knows her craft.

FANTASY REVIEW: Naamah's Kiss - Jacqueline Carey


Once there were great magicians born to the Maghuin Dhonn, the folk of the Brown Bear, the oldest tribe in Alba. But generations ago the greatest of them all broke a sacred oath and now only small gifts remain to them. Moirin possesses such gifts - she has the ability to summon the twilight and conceal herself, and the skill to coax plants to quicken. She has a secret, too. From childhood onwards, she has been able to sense the presence of unfamiliar gods in her life: the bright lady, the man with a seedling cupped in his palm. Moirin is raised in the wilderness by her reclusive mother, Fainche, and it isn't until she is befriended by Cillian, son of the Lord of the Dalriada, that she learns her father was a D'Angeline priest dedicated to serving Naamah, goddess of desire. After Moirin undergoes the rites of adulthood, she finds divine acceptance . . . on the condition that she fulfils an unknown destiny, one that lies somewhere beyond the ocean. And that destiny promises both pleasure and pain, as she finds herself facing an ambitious mage, a noble warrior princess desperate to save her father's throne, and the spirit of a celestial dragon.


Whenever an author has had great success with previous novels in a series its always going to be difficult to start a new character as well as sequence of events off as the people who’ve bought the novels previously generally demand more of what turned them onto the authors work in the first place.

Part of the problem with this is that the reader generally wants to get to the meat of the tale without having to get to know the character along with their traits both for good and ill. As a result, here in Jacqueline’s new offering we have a tale that feels a tad rushed to give what she thinks that the reader wanted rather than taking the time to build the principle protagonist which can quickly turn the reader off as without emotional context the viewer really won’t sympathise with that person. Add to that a fast paced sequence of events that could not only confuse but really did feel like the novel was set more for action packed sequences without the lulls, yet without the emotional context I really didn’t care which is a great shame. I am surprised that Jacqueline made what I consider to be a rookie mistake but hope that she’ll fix it in the next instalment.

Monday, 18 January 2010

GUEST BLOG: Crossing Genres, Like Stepping-Stones in a Stream - Lavie Tidhar

Steampunk, I wrote back in 2005 (in “Some Notes Towards A Working Definition of Steampunk”, published in Apex Digest), “is to a large extent a cross-genre phenomenon.” And I qualified that by saying that steampunk tells stories “which discard the somewhat superficial distinction between “science fiction”, “fantasy” and “horror” (not to mention crime, historical fiction or romance).”

Which I suppose is why I love steampunk.

I never really understood why people get so worked up about trying to distinguish science fiction from fantasy, literary fiction from crime, romance from horror (haha, just joking). Emma is both romance and literature, surely? And L.A. Confidential is, besides being a “crime” novel, also one of the great works of American literature. Cordwainer Smith’s Norstrilia is as much a work of fantasy as it is science fiction, just as Zelazny’ Lord of Light beautifully blends the two.

More and more, crime narratives influence science fiction novels. Romance is shaping up modern fantasy. And all these genres feed back into the world of literary fiction – Number9dream or Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow immediately come to mind.

As a writer, I have very little patience for the artificial borders of genre marketing. Zoran Živkovic argues for all non-realistic fiction to be called Fantastika, which I think is quite a wonderful way of putting it – at least if you care for that sort of thing. I prefer to simply think of genres as toolboxes sitting by the desk, waiting to be used – or, if you prefer, as stepping-stones in a stream where you can hop from one to the other at leisure (just trying not to fall into the water in the process!)

In my new novel, The Bookman (released last week in the UK, with an American edition coming in August), I felt quite free to mix and match. There’s a bit of romance in there - a bit of mystery – a bit of the Gothic – quite a lot of adventure, and science fiction too. It’s a fun book, I think, paying homage to all those books I loved as a kid and still do today, from the Sherlock Holmes stories to the novels of Jules Verne. No one cared back in the nineteenth century whether something was a “genre”. They just told stories.

My favourite steampunk books equally cross – and cross-fertilise – genres. Tim Powers’ The Anubis Gates mixes time travel and Egyptian magic, history and fiction; in Paul di Filippo’s Walt and Emily two of the greatest American poets of the nineteenth century go on a phantasmagoric journey into another world (and delight poetry-lovers everywhere by making nookie in the process); and zombies and scientists share the same world comfortably with a skeleton piloting a blimp in James Blaylock’s Homunculus.

My favourite books mix tropes as if they weren’t even aware they existed. Michael Marshall Smith’s Only Forward begins as science fiction and ends as dark fantasy, while Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’ Feeling for Snow mixes a crime plot with hauntingly beautiful writing only to end unexpectedly as science fiction.

And why not? I’m not arguing for the sort of “cyborgs vs. elves” books, but I do think a sort of conceptual surprise is essential for fiction, and old clichés can gain new life when re-investigated. Fiction doesn’t have to be fun, but there is nothing worse than a person – or a book – who take themselves too seriously. I once read an article by a science fiction writer describing the process of creation: “I begin with a spreadsheet and start running calculations...”

To which I say, “Bah, humbug!”

The thing is, I love the tropes of genre fiction. I love haunted Gothic mansions, and star-crossed lovers, eccentric detectives, dragons, kung fu masters, wizards and zombies, gunslingers and poker players, spaceships and wormholes – and giant worms, and giant robots too. And I love it when those old, worn tropes are twisted and changed, and books pull the rug from underneath our expectations – I love the way Philip K. Dick plays with reality in the same way I love the way Sylvia Plath creates beauty from horror. I love watching vintage David Lynch because I know I’ll end up saying, every five minutes or so, “what the f—k is going on?”

So let’s not be purists. Let’s celebrate the fact we’ve had years and years and years of fiction, so many that they brought us Dracula and To Kill a Mockingbird, His Last Bow and Howl, The Three Musketeers and The Dumas Club, Great Expectations and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldrich...

Or, as my publishers tend to tell me: “Stick a giant robot in it!”

Ed Note: We'll be reviewing Lavie's book upon its arrival so please stay tuned.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Sons of Dorn - Chris Roberson


Having survived the Imperial Fists brutal recruitment regime, rivals Zatori, du Queste and Taloc advance to the ranks of Scouts. When they join the Imperial Fists in their action on Vernalis, a planet blighted by Chaos, their loyalty to the Emperor and their fortitude in battle will be sorely tested. Will they be able to overcome the power of the Roaring Blades Traitor Guard, or will old enmities lead to their downfall?


With many a fan of the Adeptus Astartes there always seems to be a plethora of books surrounding the better known chapters with some escaping the attention of fans to disappear into the darkness as if they’d never existed. What works extremely well within this tale is that we have a new Chapter and Brotherhood to follow, who whilst small allows a greater freedom with perhaps a greater sense of achievement for their chapters glory as this unknown brotherhood storm the planets to save mankind from falling to the forces of chaos. What perhaps makes them more human is their lack of all the gene traits of other chapters which means that they suffer for each wound taken, they face almost insurmountable odds as perhaps what feels like one of the Poorest Astartes Chapters allowing the reader to not only sympathise but enjoy their triumphs against the odds.

Well written, cracking battle sequences but above a humility as well as honour driven novel that will definitely improve the chapters battle presence on many a tabletop. I’ll look forward to seeing future novels in this series as they face off against other foes.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40k: Titanicus - Dan Abnett


When the vital forge world of Orestes comes under attack by a legion of Chaos Titans, the planet is forced to appeal for help. Titan Legio Invicta, although fresh from combat and in desperate need of refit and repair, responds, committing its own force of war engines to the battle. As the god-machines stride to war, the world trembles, for the devastation they unleash could destroy the very world they have pledged to save.

Savage Titan action on an apocalyptic scale and dark political intrigue meet head-on in this Warhammer 40,000 epic.


With all the books out there in the 40K world there's one that's been missing for quite sometime, a tale of the god machines so the reader could stalk the battlefield in these giant behemoths dealing death to the enemy both foot soldiers as well as the enemies machines. Perhaps because this is so fresh that Abnetts sheer quality comes through allowing him the freedom to write the tale that he wanted without having to follow too many rules. A definite buy for fans of the Epic world or fans of the beautifully crafted models by Forge World, but if you truly want to see destruction rained down from on high to the maximum offensive ability then this is the tale for you.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

NEWS: Apologies for Delays

Hail Mighty Readers,
Apologies for the delays in getting started, this was due to a Router failure and a whole week of messing about with my provider. So we're going to kick off as we meant to last week with a feature with Lavie Tihdar on Monday. Hope you've all had a great time in the recent weeks but now its time to batten down those hatches and prepare for the onslaught of this years great offerings.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Happy New Year

Hail Mighty Readers,
FT is taking a couple of weeks sabbatical and enjoying some of the latest releases. Please return in a couple of weeks to see what we've picked along with our forthcoming Young Adult Week where we catch up with some of the titles that we missed at the end of the year.

Hope you all have a happy and safe new year,


Friday, 1 January 2010

FICTION REVIEW: Rainbow Unzipped - Tim Randall


The official and uncensored story of the stars of Rainbow, as told to Tim Randall by Zippy, George and Bungle.

For over twenty years Zippy, George and Bungle were the biggest stars on children s television, inspiring a whole generation of adoring fans. But behind the smiles and the brightly coloured fur, all was not what it seemed in the Rainbow house.

Having spent the last seventeen years refusing approaches from publishers to tell their story, the squabbling stars have agreed thanks to some serious financial inducements and a clause insisting they don t have to spend more than three hours in the same room together to talk to journalist Tim Randall about the highs and lows and the heartbreaks they have endured.

From their humble beginnings to international stardom, via the wilderness years, this is Zippy, George and Bungle's fascinating autobiography. Here, for the very first time, is the inside story of what really happened at the beginning, middle and end of their Rainbow.


Rainbow was my generation and as such when I learned of the novel to let the readers know what the team had been up to since cancellation I really couldn’t wait to get my mits on this. As you’d expect they hadn’t been sitting idly by hoping for a phone call, they’d been not only proactive but continued in their glitzy careers. It’s a quirky book which to be honest you’d expect with the antics of Bungle, Zippy and George and whilst it does keep the reader happy with the highlights of their careers, it also delves into the lows such as Bungles Crème Egg Binge at Glastonbury. Sad to see that the bear fell so far.

Obviously its fun, its quirky and above all if you know someone of a certain age it will help them return to their childhood. A great stocking filler Geoffrey.

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Instruments of Darkness - Imogen Robertson


Daphne du Maurier meets CSI in this exhilarating debut

Thornleigh Hall, seat of the Earl of Sussex, dominates its surroundings. Its heir is missing, and the once vigorous family is reduced to a cripple, his whore and his alcoholic second son, but its power endures.

Impulsive Harriet Westerman has felt the Hall’s menace long before she happens upon a dead man bearing the Thornleigh arms. The grim discovery cries out for justice, and she persuades reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther to her cause, much against his better judgement; he knows a dark path lies before those who stray from society’s expectations. That same day, Alexander Adams is killed in a London music shop, leaving his young children orphaned. His death will lead back to Sussex, and an explosive secret that has already destroyed one family and threatens many others.


If you love 18th Century historical fiction then this is going to be a novel that will grab you and keep you enthused to the final page, especially when you have such engaging characters as the principle protagonists presented by Imogen within this offering.

Add to the blend a touch of crime and you’ve got a tale that will be something very special as the author weaves her magic within. It’s a great first novel and one that I got a lot of fun out of and despite some minor errors and problems within, it’s a still a novel that will make you sit up and pay attention in this almost Doylesque tale.