Monday, 31 October 2011

NEWS: Deja Review

Hail Mighty Readers,
Here's this months round up of previously reviewed titles that have either been released in PB format or have undergone new binding/artwork. (Covers in review may differ from current incarnation.)

This month you'll find:
01/10/11 CHAN, Kylie - White Tiger
06/10/11 JORDAN, Robert and SANDERSON, Brandon - Towers of Midnight
07/10/11 NEVILL, Adam G - The Ritual
13/10/11 AARONOVITCH, Ben - Moon Over Soho
13/10/11 ABNETT, Dan - Sabbat Worlds
13/10/11 KATSU, Alma - The Taker
13/10/11 McLEOD, Suzanne - The Bitter Seed of Magic
13/10/11 MOODY, David - Autumn


If we've missed one please let us know,



Gareth

FANTASY REVIEW: Dwarves 3: The Revenge of the Dwarves - Markus Heitz

Release Date: 27/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

Life has not been easy for battle-weary Tungdil the dwarf. But this heroic warrior can't rest yet, as he must now face the most formidable enemy the kingdom has ever encountered. A new evil is terrorising the land of Girdlegard. Monstrous hybrid creatures are on the rampage, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. They are out to steal an artefact which is vital for the kingdom's defence, and whoever holds it could control the world. With the existence of the dwarves under threat, Tungdil must resort to his trusty double axe and risk everything he knows to save his country from annihilation ...Hold your breath for THE REVENGE OF THE DWARVES, the next thrilling instalment in this spectacular epic from international bestselling author Markus Heitz.


REVIEW:

Having enjoyed the series to date from Markus, I was wondering what he would do to bring the latest exploit to the fore and give it a new edge to help take our heroes to a new level. All in the book has great prose, a whole host of supporting cast that the reader can fall in love with and on top of that all theres plenty of combat, wit and of course bloodshed.

Add to this Markus’ writing style of spartanesque description, great dialogue backed up with a solid overall arc hidden beneath the seams and the reader is in for one hell of a ride, although that said, I’d say to read the previous titles first to get the full flavour.

LADY ELEANOR URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition - William Peter Blatty

Release Date: 13/10/12

SYNOPSIS:

Father Damien Karras: 'Where is Regan?' Regan MacNeil: 'In here. With us'. The terror begins unobtrusively. Noises in the attic. In the child's room, an odd smell, the displacement of furniture, an icy chill. At first, easy explanations are offered. Then frightening changes begin to appear in eleven-year-old Regan. Medical tests fail to shed any light on her symptoms, but it is as if a different personality has invaded her body. Father Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest, is called in. Is it possible that a demonic presence has possessed the child! Exorcism seems to be the only answer...First published in 1971, "The Exorcist" became a literary phenomenon and inspired one of the most shocking films ever made. Freshly polished and expanded by the author, including new dialogue, a new character and a chilling new extended scene, this unique fortieth anniversary edition provides an unforgettable reading experience that has lost none of its power to shock - and is poised to terrify a new generation of readers.


REVIEW:

I’m a huge fan of the horror genre and whilst I had seen the film a few times I’d never had the chance to read the book before this, the 40th Anniversary edition landed on my doorstep. So having prepared myself to have a read of the film script I got so much more from it as the author’s research not only informed you about various procedures and rites but also left you wondering whether the problem was psychological rather than spiritual right up until the titles end.

It has great pace, took you in many directions whilst maintaining a solid structure alongside giving the reader great characters to associate with. Add to this a level of skill that many modern writers have sadly lost which means that this story that has stood the test of time. Finally add to the mix that the tale is based around a case from the 1930’s and it’s a book that is well worth the time. So much so that I ended up asking my other half if they’d stay awake as I didn’t want to read it on my own so much so that for me, it’s a real treat for Halloween.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

FANTASY REVIEW: The Inheritance Trilogy 3: The Kingdom of Gods - NK Jemisin

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri's ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war. Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family's interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for. As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom - which even gods fear - is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens the kingdom of gods?


REVIEW:

The third title in NK Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy and one that along with the others, really won’t let you sit comfortably and has been a long wait for fans. As with the previous two it has great characters, decent plot line and of course new and novel ways to do things from magic through to the interaction between deities and their followers in this no holds barred fast action title that demonstrates that NK is an author to watch.

Add to this some great twists, a real sense of not only accomplishment but also of joy at the developments and the reader is given not only a seriously decent read but one that will stay with them for quite some time as future titles will be judged against the skills presented within. For me, this has been a real breakthrough and a pure joy although that has to be tempered with the regret that this, for now, is the final journey into NK’s mind for a while.

CUISINE REVIEW: Jamie's Great Britain - Jamie Oliver

Release Date: 29/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

Celebrating Britain's very best food Jamie grew up in one of the first true British gastropubs , which his Mum and Dad still run today. For him, the heart and soul of real British cooking is food that puts a smile on your face. And that's what he wants to share in the new book: the essence of British food, done properly. Over the years, British food culture has embraced flavours and influences from all the people who came and made Great Britain their home. The food reflects an open-minded culture as well as the country's beauty. There are over 100 of Jamie's favourite recipes: some are indisputable classics, some are his versions of the classics, some should be classics but just haven't been made famous yet and others he's made up from the great bounty of British produce. Wherever you're from, if you love food this book will offer you a little taste of happiness.


REVIEW:

After a great many crusades to help the health of the nation, I was more than interested to see what Jamie would come up with for his Great Britain cook book. After all I’m more of a person who loves to learn about traditional cuisine that depends upon flavours and few ingredients that enhance the overall flavour of the meal’s star than faffing around hoping that GPS can locate the foods position on the plate.

Within this book is a whole host of delectable tastes and whilst a number of the recipes for the more gamey items for the nations larder went over my head I did find some old favourites within that I could try and then adapt to suit my own tastes.

Whilst it is nicely done and cleverly put together what I would have liked to have seen would have included recipes for key items and then coloured sundries that would work well in conjuction with them, after all everyone has different tastes and to have had an easy option such as Empire Roast Chicken paired with shredded brussel’s, killer green beans with a creamed spinach would make a lot of sense rather than leaving someone to wonder what would work well as a combo.

That said, it will have some recipes that will appeal to all who flick through but I really want a book that looks at taking readers on a journey to make the most of what they have, to give you choices that can be easily paired and demonstrates how much fun cooking can not only be but how rewarding it is when you’ve created the whole meal from scratch from stocking your larder with seasonal produce that gives you the most value for money.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Charlie Hardie 2: Hell and Gone - Duane Swierczynski

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

Mulholland Books presents...HELL AND GONE There are some criminals so dangerous the world can never know about them. They can't be held in regular prisons. They must never be released. They're here - in a secret underground prison miles away from anywhere. And now, so is Charlie Hardie. The shadowy organisation running the jail sent him there as punishment for getting in their way. But he's not a prisoner. He's in charge. He can leave any time he wants, he's told. There's just one catch: if he goes, everyone in the prison dies, including innocent guards. But when Charlie realises his family may be in danger, he knows he must protect them at any cost. Even if it means blasting his way out, one inmate at a time...


REVIEW:

OK, I love a good crime novel and when one throws a spanner into the conventions that readers have come to expect, it’s a title that really has to be read and enjoyed, almost as if the spirit of Hannibal Lector were standing over you with a delectable Chianti. In this title, the second one in the Charlie Hardie series, what the reader expects is not only turned on its head but gobbled up, chewed up and spat out to give you something that is as unpredictable as the characters which really give you that extra level of adrenaline during your read.

All in the characters are interesting, the plot line hard and fast and when added to Duane’s choice of prose as well as pace it’s a title that will thrill and spill in equal amounts as you wonder what the outcome will be from the very beginnings as this white knuckle story won’t let go.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Orthogonal Book 1: The Clockwork Rocket - Greg Egan

Release Date: 15/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

In Yalda's universe, light has mass, no universal speed, and its creation generates energy; on Yalda's world, plants make food by emitting light into the dark night sky. And time is different: an astronaut might measure decades passing while visiting another star, only to return and find that just weeks have elapsed for her friends. On the farm where she lives, Yalda sees strange meteors that are entering the planetary system at an immense, unprecedented speed - and it soon becomes apparent that more of this ultra-fast material is appearing all the time, putting her world in terrible danger. An entire galaxy is about to collide with their own. There is one hope: a fleet sent straight towards the approaching galaxy, as fast as possible. Though it will feel like weeks back home, on board, millennia will pass before the collision, time enough to raise new generations, and time enough to find a way to stop the ultra-fast material. Either way, they have a chance to save everyone back on the home world.


REVIEW:

Greg for me is one of those authors that is a little hit or miss for me. What I got from this novel was something a little different and a title that takes you away from human existence to see the universe in a new light through the eyes of a xenos race. It’s cleverly plotted, the characters are fascinating and when you add an identifiable writing style to the equation, this first novel in his new series is one that will stand out and is an excellent title for readers to try to see if they like Greg’s work.

Finally add to this, some decent twists, a wonderful sense of pace and prose and overall it’s a satisfactory novel that left you wanting more after the final page was turned.

Friday, 28 October 2011

NEWS: Live Action Trailer for Skyrim



Hail Mighty Readers,

We wanted to give you a special treat, and for those who are looking forward to Skyrim, this is just for you. Our friends at Bethesda let us know about this special
live action trailer.

Hope you enjoy,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

FANTASY REVIEW: Conan Classics 1: Conan the Destroyer - Robert E Howard

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

Conan the Barbarian is one of the most famed figures in fantasy fiction. With the success of the new film starring Jason Momoa and Ron Perlman, the time is right to revisit Robert E. Howard's classic stories. Presented in chronological order over three books, all of Conan's life is here, from his wild adventures as a youth to the final tale of Conan the King. Howard's tales of the wanderer, the reaver, the thief, the Barbarian have never been surpassed. In this volume Conan learns the secrets of THE TOWER OF THE ELEPHANT and the ROGUES IN THE HOUSE, meets THE FROST-GIANT'S DAUGHTER and the QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST and visits THE VALE OF LOST WOMEN and THE BLACK COLOSSUS. A selection of other tales and fragments round out this new collection of a classic character.


REVIEW:

Having loved the new Conan film, I was hip deep in wanting to revisit the original stories from Robert E Howard, this title not only introduces you but takes you on a combat, blood filled adventure which whilst dated now is a true classic of the genre. Add to this, great swathes of fodder, spartan prose backed by solid pace and the reader is in for a journey to take them back to the original. Great stuff.

FANTASY REVIEW: Iron Elves 3: Ashes of a Black Frost - Chris Evans

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

The Calahrian Empire is collapsing. All across the realm native populations are rising up to throw off the shackles of colonial rule. Two key factors drive this -- the return of the Stars of Power and Knowledge and the spread of the Shadow Monarch's forest. The result is that the Calahrian Imperial Army is stretched thin trying to maintain order at the critical moment when it is needed to fend off the advances of the elf-witch. For the Iron Elves regiment, their loyalty is tested to the breaking point. The Prince is devastated by the destruction of the Lost Library and the realization that the Empire he is to inherit is crumbling. Major Konowa Swift Dragon is determined to lead the living survivors of the regiment while Private Alwyn Renwar -- an emissary with his own agenda -- commands the dead. Together, their only hope is to break the oath that binds them, but doing so means making the perilous journey to the Shadow Monarch's mountain in a final confrontation that may be the ultimate trap. There is only one way to find out...


REVIEW:

OK, I’m going to be honest here, this is a book I resisted reading for a little while. Firstly because I didn’t think much to the first one but whilst the second book did pick up, I still wasn’t overly enamoured with series after I’d been enjoying the Elven exploits by James Barclay in his new Elves series.

Sadly for me the third book really didn’t do anything, it felt more like a filler with no real destination and whilst it was the culmination of the whole series it was a damp squib rather than the huge explosion that should have occurred almost as if the author lost where they were going and was just trying to put anything together to fulfil the contract. Add to this a rather poor taste is humour, a sad lack of pace and when added to disappointing characters made this a book that I really wish I hadn’t bothered with.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

AUTHOR TOUR: Anthony Horrowitz

Hail Mighty Readers,
We've had news from the Baker Street Irregulars that Anthony Horrowitz is on tour to promote the paperback of his new Sherlock Holmes novel, The House of Silk.

See the details below and hopefully there will be an elementary appearance near you:

Anthony Horowitz will be signing copies and talking about The House of Silk at the following venues:

Tuesday 1 November at 6pm
Waterstone's Piccadilly, London
The first signing session for the new Sherlock Holmes book, The House of Silk
www.waterstones.com

Wednesday 2 November at 7pm
No Alibis, Belfast
In conversation with Ian Sansom at the Ulster Museum Tel:02890319607
www.noalibis.com

Thursday 3 November at 7pm
Manchester Festival of Literature
In conversation with Jenni Murray at Manchester Town Hall Tel: 0843 208 0500 www.manchesterliteraturefestival.co.uk

Friday 4 November at 8pm
Toppings of Bath
In conversation at St Swithin's Church, Bath Tel: 01225 428111
www.toppingbooks.co.uk

Sunday 27 November at 2.30pm
British Library, London
In conversation with Robert Johnson www.bl.uk/whatson/events

CUISINE REVIEW: The Hairy Bikers: Perfect Pies - Si King and Dave Myers

Release Date: 27/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

This is the definitive Pie Bible from the Kings of Pie, The Hairy Bikers. In their culinary homecoming, Si and Dave celebrate a dish close to their hearts. This beautifully illustrated cookbook brings together the Great British classic in 150 brand-new recipes. Featuring an extraordinary range of pies - from the sweet and savoury, deep and small, and to the pies that are puddings - The Hairy Bikers will inspire you to coo and share the mighty dish with the ones you love. With top tips on pastry, the failsafe methods, the secrets and the cheats, the boys will teach you how to choose the right type of pastry and filling for any occasion. Learn the rules of pastry making and how to add the right pickles, relishes and sauces to make your pie an unforgettable dish. And of course, how to make the most of those little left over bits and turn them into delicious cheese straws, jam tarts and turnovers. This is a heart-warming, delicious and nostalgic recipe book that can be enjoyed by families, friends and fans of the nation's favourite dish.


REVIEW:

Food for me is a celebration of life, after all if you can’t have something delicious to delight not only your taste buds but enhance the experience of having a sit down with friends and family there’s no soul within you. Every meal is enhanced with great company, good characters and a star for the table so it’s a great loss when a lot of what I would term staple foods is overlooked by a great many people.

You may sneer at the humble steak and kidney pudding or call a Beef Wellington too 1970’s but these things have been firm family favourites and remembered for generations because of the great taste and experience of sharing at a family table. Add to this firm classic’s such as a homemade Cheese and Onion Pasty or an unctuous Lemon Meringue pie and you can guarantee that your mouth is already salivating.

This latest book from the Hairy Bikers is a feast of celebration and whilst a lot of the recipes may be seen as humble simple food, it’s the taste and the comforts of these that many will love to recreate with their easy to follow as well as carefully constructed recipes. But when you add some wonderful additions to accompany them like a cauliflower cheese or green beans with chilli butter or even glazed carrots, you can feel the love working its way into your heart. Finally add to the mix recipes for great accompaniments such as fool proof custard and great gravy or even the basics on making your own pastry alongside what to do with leftovers and it’s a title that will appeal, charm and also enthral all who spend some time with it. Absolutely cracking and if you’re reading this, Hairy’s your more than welcome to come round and cook some of these for me.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: 666 Charing Cross Road - Paul Magrs

Release Date: 27/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

From olde London Town to the juicy heart of the Big Apple, something is waiting to bite

In a Manhattan gallery, a strange, undead woman, who's been lost for centuries, is found in a basement and becomes the centrepiece of Shelley's new museum show. Nicknamed Bessie, the Scottish Bride, she becomes an overnight celebrity as Christmas approaches.
From the dusty vaults beneath the famed bookshops in Charing Cross Road, Shelley's bibliophile aunt Liza receives crumbling volumes by post, while her friend Jack prefers brand-new books and his brand-new lover. When a small leather-bound book of spells arrives, Liza finds it repellent. But its arcane magic brings Bessie to life, and enthrals Shelley's posh boyfriend Daniel - literally. It contains the quintessence of evil in the form of a dark bloodstain marking several pages: vampire blood. As Daniel's power grows, everyone's lives are infected. Soon the vicious vampire infestation rife in NYC threatens to spread to London - and only the Scottish Bride and her new friends can stop it...


REVIEW:

It’s always tricky when an author takes a break from an established series to put a new one out there. Partly because fans want to keep hanging out with their “literal friends” and partly because its an unknown quantity. As such the new series has to have something special about it to help it stick out from the many other titles out there and to show that the writing is just as good as well as fresh for readers to grab their attention.

What this new title by Paul Magr’s does is bring a whole new cast to his world of the weird and wonderful as the Vamps are on the march and the forces reigned against them are not only outnumbered but on the back foot. Its quirky, it has some cracking characters and best of all it is something pretty unique in the genre that is already established as Paul pokes fun with plenty of quips. Add to this his usual style of prose, some great one liners and of course his fast paced plots. Great stuff.


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

TV TIE IN TRAVEL BOOK: Billy Connolly's Route 66 - Billy Connolly

Release Date: 15/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

The best-loved comedian in Britain hits the most famous highway in the world on an unforgettable journey.Billy Connolly, music-lover, biker, and scourge of the beige and bland the world over, has dreamed about taking a trip on the legendary Route 66 since he first heard Chuck Berry belting out one of the greatest rock 'n' roll records of all time. And now he's finally had the chance to do it, heading out on his custom-made trike in search of the real America that can still be found beyond the nation's freeways. Travelling every one of its 2,278 miles from the skyscrapers of Chicago to Santa Monica Pier in California, Billy's journey takes him past many of the essential icons of the United States: the Gateway Arch in St Louis, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon, and the funky neon-lit gas stations and diners that once lined the route. But it also gives him the chance to get to know the people who call it home, from Mervin the Amish carpenter, to fellow banjo enthusiast and obsessive instrument collector Rob, to Angel, one of the many people determined to keep the spirit of the Mother Road alive. Funny, touching and inspiring in equal measure, the tales he gathers on the way tell the story of modern America. And they might inspire a few people to get on their bikes as well.With his unrivalled instinct for a good story, and the gregariousness that has made him our most engaging national treasure, Billy Connolly is the ultimate guide to the ultimate road trip.


REVIEW:

As a fan of Billy Connolly, I was glued to the TV series so when I heard that the book accompanying it was on its way, I signed up straight away so that I could relive the ride with one of my favourite comedian’s. Whilst I wasn’t enamoured with the previous book this one felt more like the Billy Connolly I knew from his shows, with his witty observations, his sense of fun and of course the chance to travel one of the most famous roads in the world without having to pay astronomical holiday fares.

All in, its fun, it has a great sense of humour and for me it was chance to see the real America over the Hollywood representation/invention that is becoming taken as fact rather than the myth to which it is. Add to this some great photographs, a step by step guide and a wonderful journey all round.

HISTORICAL CRIME FICTION REVIEW: Matthew Bartholomew 17: Mystery in the Minister - Susanna Gregory

Release Date: 18/08/11

SYNOPSIS:

In 1358 the fledging college of Michaelhouse in Cambridge is in need of extra funds. A legacy from the Archbishop of York of a parish close to that city promises a welcome source of income. However, there has been another claim to its ownership and it seems the only way to settle the dispute is for a deputation from Michaelhouse to travel north. Matthew Bartholomew is among the small party which arrives in the bustling city, where the increasing wealth of the merchants is unsettling the established order, and where a French invasion is an ever-present threat to its port. But soon he and his colleagues learn that several of the Archbishop's executors have died in unexplained circumstances and that the codicil naming Michaelhouse as a beneficiary cannot be found...


REVIEW:

I love a crime story that takes me to an old world, gives me a story I can get into as well as giving me a special flavour that demonstrates that mankind hasn’t evolved as far as we think we have. This title by Susanna is well written and whilst the 17th story in the series it’s one that you can pick up and enjoy without having read the others. It has great twists, some wonderfully deceptive sleight of hand and a mystery that will puzzle and mystify to the end. Great fun all in and one that was a real joy to read. Cracking.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

CUISINE REVIEW: Booze for Free - Andy Hamilton

Release Date: 01/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

Home brewing and wine-making is fun, easy and hugely satisfying. If you garden or forage, can follow a recipe or make jam, and you enjoy a drink, this is the book for you.

Discover the secret language of home-brewing and drinks-making

Make over 100 wholesome, delicious drinks, to your preferred taste and strength, quickly, cheaply and with minimum fuss

Turn your garden into a drinkers' paradise

Learn where and how to forage with success

Impress your friends with the weird, wonderful and just plain tasty

Cheers!


REVIEW:

As a far of real ale and keeping traditions alive, I was more than curious about this title by Andy Hamilton, where it claimed you can get booze for free. What this title does in fact is give you a good all round grounding in the various options that you have available whether you want to make some wine, a beer or even cordials or tea’s to help refresh your palette.

All of the options are explained in an easy to follow manner, takes the time to explain the terminology and also provides the reader with easy to follow recipes that will allow them to get to know what they like so that they can develop their own range at home. Obviously I haven’t brewed anything up yet due to the time delay for the stock to mature, but I have made some of the cordials of which I have to say that the Dandelion and Burdock is my favourite as it has a fresher taste than the shop bought ones and to be honest, if you want it fizzy I’d say to make it with either soda water or even sparkling mineral, really refreshing and apparently healthy for your liver.

All in I have had a lot of pleasure reading this book and I’ll have a lot more making a number of the products within. My only real disappointment is that I couldn’t’ find a recipe for mead which is one of the oldest drinks around.

URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE REVIEW: The Nightwalkers 6: Adam - Jacquelyn Frank

Release Date: 25/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

Nightwalkers dwell in the shadows; they live in a world where every night holds secrets. Hunted by magic, beset by evil, the Nightwalkers face their darkest hour yet. When the unthinkable happens, only one legendary male has the power and the will to save them: Adam.

From their first tantalising touch, Jasmine knows Adam is different. What other lover could unlock her tight control, and flood vampire senses jaded by a lifetime of decadent self indulgence?

Centuries ago, when he disappeared without a trace, she had given up hope of ever fulfilling the promise of incomparable passion. But here he is, against the very laws of nature, ready to bring down their most vicious enemy, ready to bring her blood to the boiling point . . . if she will only let him.


REVIEW:

To be honest with you the book blurb didn’t fill me with confidence that this would be a title for me, especially as I was dropping in on Book Six of the series but that said there were some interesting concepts and idea’s that were a lot of fun for me to explore as a reader. The lead character is one that will charm the reader in not only his old fashioned attitude but also as he has to learn how to cope with the world today from his old perspective and draw his own conclusions as he tries to marry his own prejudices with modern sensibilities.

It’s quirky, it has some real moments of tension and of course the love aspect works pretty well throughout (although at times a little overly sentimental for me personally.) Add to this a very well thought out plot, some cracking twists and of course something that will appeal to a broad spectrum of Urban Fantasy Romance readers. If the others in the series are constructed this well, I’ll have to look into them when time allows.

Monday, 24 October 2011

FICTION REVIEW: The Time of My Life - Cecelia Ahern

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

The stunning and magical new novel from the Number One bestselling author Lying on Lucy Silchester's carpet one day when she returns from work is a gold envelope. Inside is an invitation -- to a meeting with Life. Her life. It turns out she's been ignoring it and it needs to meet with her face to face. It sounds peculiar, but Lucy's read about this in a magazine. Anyway, she can't make the date: she's much too busy despising her job, skipping out on her friends friends and avoiding her family. But Lucy's life isn't what it seems. Some of the choices she's made -- and stories she's told -- aren't what they seem either. From the moment she meets the man who introduces himself as her life, her stubborn half-truths are going to be revealed in all their glory -- unless Lucy learns to tell the truth about what really matters to her. Lucy Silchester has an appointment with her life -- and she's going to have to keep it. Touching, warm, funny and poignant, Cecelia Ahern's new novel explores what happens when you stop paying attention to your life.


REVIEW:

OK, I’m going to be honest here, I knew the name Cecelia Ahern and had she not been the author of PS I Love You (yes I watched the film and enjoyed it) I more than likely wouldn’t have read this book which really isn’t my usual type of fiction. That said however I really didn’t expect to read all of it that quickly, expecting it to take me a good few days to work my way through it so that I could at least be honest and know that I hadn’t quit.

What occurred however was me hardly pausing as I made my way though, the lead character of Lucy felt like someone we could all associate ourselves with, the problems felt familiar and of course the way that Cecelia turned a conventional idea on its head was a pure joy to read. Add to this a great sense of pace, some light hearted moments and a story that says you can do it which left me with a warm inner glow after finishing the book. All in, a reasonable read and whilst I won’t say that I’m firmly in the Ahern camp, it was definitely a refreshing change to the usual type of title I pick and one that I was more than pleased I read. Great stuff.

LADY ELEANOR HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Lady's Slipper - Deborah Swift

Release Date: 03/06/11

SYNOPSIS:

It is 1660. The King is back, memories of the Civil War still rankle. In rural Westmorland, artist Alice Ibbetson has become captivated by the rare Lady's Slipper orchid. She is determined to capture it's unique beauty for posterity, even if it means stealing the flower from the land of the recently converted Quaker, Richard Wheeler. Fired by his newfound faith, the former soldier Wheeler feels bound to track down the missing orchid. Meanwhile, others are eager to lay hands on the flower, and have their own powerful motives. Margaret Poulter, a local medicine woman, is seduced by the orchid's mysterious herbal powers, while Geoffrey Fisk, Alice's patron and former comrade-in-arms of Wheeler, sees the valuable plant as a way to repair his ailing fortunes and cure his own agonizing illness.

Fearing that Wheeler and his friends are planning revolution, Fisk sends his son Stephen to spy on the Quakers, only for the young man to find his loyalties divided as he befriends the group he has been sent to investigate. Then, when Alice Ibbetson is implicated in a brutal murder, she is imprisoned along with the suspected anti-royalist Wheeler. As Fisk's sanity grows ever more precarious, and Wheeler and Alice plot their escape, a storm begins to brew, from which no party will escape unscathed.

Vivid, gripping and intensely atmospheric, The Lady's Slipper is a novel about beauty, faith and loyalty. It marks the emergence of an exquisite new voice in historical fiction.


REVIEW:

Whilst I’m known for loving a trip in time with authors like Philippa Gregory, I’m not usually that enamoured of a lot of the historical fiction female writers as they either don’t have enough detail within their work or they let it all fall apart with the characters electing to let strong men lead rather than taking the bull by the horns.

What this title from Deborah does restores my fair and gave me a great lead character in the form of Alice Ibbetsen who I grew to care about and like from the get go and then also loved to see what she’d get up to in the tale as it unfurled. Add to this some great prose, some great descriptiveness and of course a plot that focus’ on story rather than a huge cast that made this an intimate title that the reader was allowed to share. Wonderfully written and a book I’d recommend to anyone who wants something special either for a birthday present or a special gift.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

FICTION REVIEW: Heaven and Hell - Jon Kalman Steffanson

Release Date: 30/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

In a remote part of Iceland, a boy and his friend Barður join a boat to fish for cod. A winter storm surprises them out at sea and Barður who has forgotten his waterproof as he was too absorbed in 'Paradise Lost', succumbs to the ferocious cold and dies. Appalled by the death and by the fishermen's callous ability to set about gutting the fatal catch, the boy leaves the village, intending to return the book to its owner. The extreme hardship and danger of the journey is of little consequence to him - he has already resolved to join his friend in death. But once in the town he immerses himself in the stories and lives of its inhabitants, and decides that he cannot be with his friend just yet.

Set at the turn of the twentieth century, Heaven and Hell is a perfectly formed, vivid and timeless story, lyrical in style, and as intense a reading experience as the forces of the Icelandic landscape themselves. An outstandingly moving novel.


REVIEW:

This is a different type of book to the usual type I review but to be honest it was a refreshing change to get a pure fiction over a lot other elements as its more character driven whilst bringing the harshness of reality of fishing to the reader. It’s cleverly plotted and has a raw emotional aspect throughout which really helps the reader get to grip and care about the principle character. Add to this some interesting prose and a wonderful translation which overall gave me something that I thoroughly enjoyed even as I turned the final page.

STEAMPUNK REVIEW: The Mechanical Messiah and Other Marvels of the Modern Age - Robert Rankin

Release Date: 15/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

Robert Rankin is one of the great British eccentrics, standing alongside Viv Stanshall, Spike Milligan and Neil Innes, amongst others. 'To call Rankin irreverent doesn't begin to describe just how very good he is at playing with the rules', says the MIRROR, while THE DAILY EXPRESS says: 'Everybody should read at least one Robert Rankin in their life' - and it's right. THE INDEPENDENT maintains: 'He is an author best read in large doses. His impressively individual style means that he becomes funnier the more you read him', THE OBSERVER admires ' the stark raving genius of Rankin . . . the plot comes together with alarming and deformed brilliance' and the MAIL ON SUNDAY claims 'Rankin does for England what Spike Milligan does for Ireland. There can be no higher praise'. MAXIM calls him 'Fiendishly clever and joyously funny . . . a brilliant imagination', and SFX think he's 'Oscar Wilde meets Kurt Vonnegut in the genetics lab of classic fantasy humour'. The newest opus from the Master of Far Fetched Fiction will enhance his reputation even further: it's time to stop Rankin being a hidden gem and make him the National Treasure his fans already believe him to be.


REVIEW:

If you want an author that gives the reader something unusual, unsuspected and of course unrepentant then you have to try the mad scientist of fiction, Robert Rankin. He’s takes the weird, the far-fetched and of course the imagination by blending it together through a whole host of scientific equipment to see what the final result will reveal and as usual this title is absolute dynamite.

It’s quirky, it’s hard to put down and when you do, you often grab it back up again, almost afraid of it exploding in your face or dissipating before your next reading session and promise yourself just one more chapter before you switch the lights out. Finally add to this an unique writing style, an identifiable voice and of course a hero to the masses and you really have to try one of Britain’s most eccentric writers to date which makes this title a real triumph.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

CUISINE REVIEW: The Barefoot Contessa at Home - Ina Garten

Release Date: 04/08/11

SYNOPSIS:

In Barefoot Contessa at Home, Ina shares the recipes she loves, and her secrets to making guests feel welcome and comfortable. Here she offers the recipes she makes over and over again because they’re easy, they work, and they’re universally loved.

·For a leisurely Sunday breakfast, she has Easy Cheese Danishes or Breakfast Fruit Crunch to serve with the perfect Spicy Bloody Mary.

·For lunch, she has classics with a twist, such as Tomato, Mozarella and Pesto Panini and Old-Fashioned Potato salad, which are simply delicious.

·Then there are Ina’s homey dinners – from her own version of loin of pork stuffed with sautéed fennel to the exotic flavours of Eli’s Asian Salmon.

·And there are outrageously luscious sweets like Peach and Blueberry Crumble and Pumpkin Mousse Parfait.

Ina also lets readers in on her time-tested strategies for cooking and entertaining - from what she considers when she’s designing a kitchen, to menu-planning basics. In this beautifully illustrated book, Ina Garten proves beyond a shadow of doubt that there truly is no place like home.


REVIEW:

Whilst I’m a Brit through and through, growing up I was raised on all manner of continental cuisine from a homemade curry using authentic spices through to traditional cuisine and fell in love with Italian food when I spent a good few of my teenage years working for an Italian Restaurant in my home town. What the Barefoot Contessa does for me is take me back to some of those roots and helps bring some of attention to detail alongside to adding passion into cooking from scratch.

Add to this a whole host of recipes that will take you on a journey but ones that also show that shop bought can easily be beaten by good kitchen knowhow and someone to show you the ropes. The recipes within are easy to follow, have great flavours and when you add to the whole process recipes that can be done in a quick fashion that concentrates of the meal star then you know that the content and style within is going to be a sheer delight. Cracking.

FANTASY REVIEW: Malory's Knights of Albion 2: The Savage Knight - Paul Lewis

Release Date: 15/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

The Untold Adventures of the Round Table.... Sir Dodinal the Savage is more at home in the wild forest than in the tilting yard or the banquet hall. Keenly attuned to the natural world, but burdened with a terrible rage, he turns his back on Camelot to find peace, or a just death. In a quiet village on the Welsh border, Dodinal believes he may have finally found a home, but the village is struck by childstealing raiders from the hills, and he must take up arms once again in his new friends' aid. His quest will take him into the belly of darkness, as the terrible secret hidden in the hills comes to light...


REVIEW:

If you love a story of daring do, of knights, damsel’s and of peril, then this is the book for you as Paul Lewis brings the second book in the Malory series to the readers. As with the original, by Steven Saville, it brings the Arthurian titles bang up to date and gives the reader what they want with bloody combat, solid plot line and of course peril as well as honour.

Add to this some clever twists that bring the original stories back to the reader as well as references to help embed this firmly and it was a wonderful read. Finally add a solid storytelling voice to the tale alongside great prose and it was a cracking title that was hard to put down. Magic.

Friday, 21 October 2011

URBAN FANTASY TV TIE IN: The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor - Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga

Release Date: 21/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

Based on The Walking Dead graphic novels/comic books and the series starring Andrew Lincoln ( Teachers , This Life and Love , and Actually ) and written/produced by Frank Darabont whose previous credits include The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile , this is a new trilogy of books written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga, author of Perfect Victim and Shattered . Set in the world created by Robert Kirkman, this standalone trilogy is fast-paced, action-packed storytelling about the lengths some men will go to survive. With new characters, new storylines and with the same in-depth character-based plotting that has made the television series such an immediate hit, this trilogy of novels is sure to be a hit with those who love zombies and those who have loved the TV series and comic books.


REVIEW:

OK, I’m one of those people who hasn’t read the comic book (yeah, I know, boo hiss) although in my defence I am set to borrow them from my twin who’s a big fan and thus helped fill in some of the blanks for me as I have been watching the show. When he originally heard that I had a copy of this book, let’s just say that “hostage negotiations” started out heavily in my favour and that I got not only an exceptional deal (the promise of a load of Xbox 360 zombie games) but also the promise that a book with Kirkman backed by seasoned professional Bonansinga would only extend my pleasure of the series.

What I got from this book (having had a Governor style tactic of reading it before letting him anywhere near it) was a story that fleshed out a character who has been thought of by comic fans as one of the most heinous monsters to ever see ink with his zombie battles, his human mutilations and of course his draconian style of rule that brooks no argument as we follow his rise from a caring loving man to his own transformation to be the man fans love to hate. It’s well conceived, it has some great moments within and of course the reader is in for a treat in this new format as it was hard to put down.

All in I got a lot of fun from this and whilst I usually let others read the undead side of things, this one was done for pure pleasure and curiosity, I’m really pleased I did.

LADY ELEANOR VIDEO GAME BOOK REVIEW: Dead Island - Mark Morris

Release Date: 08/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

What will you do? How far will you go? What will you become?

Welcome to Banoi, a tropical island where you can leave the stresses of the world behind...

Welcome to the Royal Palms Resort – which offers its guests from around the world the ultimate in luxury and relaxation...

Welcome to the holiday paradise where your dreams should come true...but where a nightmare is about to begin....

Because a mysterious epidemic has suddenly, and without warning, broken out across the island. The local islanders, hotel guests and workers alike are struck down - only to rise again, craving the flesh and the blood of the still living. For four of the holidaymakers and a handful of others scattered around Banoi who are seemingly unaffected by the plague, they must face the awful, terrifying reality of a zombie apocalypse. Now there is only one thing left to do: survive.

Welcome to Dead Island... a paradise to die for.


REVIEW:

As a huge fan of zombies and bleak situations I was quite looking forward to this, especially after catching the game advert online. The book however fell more than a little flat as whilst the game had the fun of zombie splatting, the book was too linear, had no real surprises and the characters felt more 2D than anything else which left me little to care about other than hoping for a zombie feast to suddenly be provided.

The prose was slack, there was no real change of pace to allow the reader to have a breather (or not as the case may be) and to be honest I felt that it was probably something that would have been better to have been left at just the game as the written medium just didn’t come off too well for this title. I’m not casting any aspersions upon Mark’s writing here, just that with a book like this there was very little anyone could have done to turn out a decent product. Save your cash and if you have to read it, rent it from the library or wait for it to appear in a discount bookshop near you.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

FANTASY GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Orcs: Forged for War - Stan Nicholls, Joe Flood

Release Date: 21/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

This is the first graphic novel in Stan Nicholls' beloved Orcs universe. The fantasy landscape in this world is brutal and unforgiving, and populated by a race of unlikely protagonists: the powerful and violent warriors, orcs. Orcs: Forged For War is an original story-a new entry in this series, not an adaptation of old material. It follows a ruthless and deadly cohort of warrior orcs as they fight their way free of the dominion of an evil human enchantress. Orcs presents the world of its ogrish protagonists with technicolor violence and unexpected sympathy.


REVIEW:

If you haven’t already read Stan’s Orc’s novels then you’re missing a treat as the badly misunderstood race, stand on their own and take the lumps as they fight for their mistress with their own code of honour. As with the series it captures the world wonderfully, has some great characters and of course has something for everyone as the sneaky backstabbing gits of gobbos, do their best to do in the Wolverines.

Finally add to this the wonderful art of Joe Flood that gives moving images, character and action which leaves the reader in no doubt that this title will club its way to the top. Great stuff.

FANTASY REVIEW: Shadows of the Apt 7: Heirs of the Blade - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Release Date: 21/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

She remembered how it felt to lose Salma, first to the wiles of the Butterfly-kinden girl, then to hear the news of his death, abandoned and alone in the midst of the enemy.

She remembered how it felt to see her father hacked to death before her eyes.

But of her murder of Achaeos, of the bite of her blade into his unsuspecting flesh, the wound that had sapped him and ruined him until he died, she remembered nothing, felt nothing. In such a vacuum, how could she possibly atone?

Tynisa is running, but she cannot escape the demons of her own mind. Amidst the fragmenting provinces of the Dragonfly Commonweal her past will at last catch up with her. Her father’s ghost is hunting her down.

At the same time, the Wasp Empress, Seda, is on the move, her eyes on the city of Khanaphes, the fallen jewel of the ancient world. Whilst her soldiers seek only conquest, she sees herself as the heir to all the old powers of history, and has her eyes on a far greater prize.


REVIEW:

The latest in Adrian’s Shadows series and one that demonstrates why for me, he’s one of the top new fantasy writers of recent years with his well thought out world, cracking prose and of course cast of characters that have been hard to put down. Events take their own time to unfold as usual and when you add the emotional aspect as well as torment that some of the characters go through within, it clearly demonstrates that it’s a series about the people as much as the cultures.

Add to this the authors unique “voice”, a decent plot line and of course a few new twists woven within to be picked up later and you know that the Adrian is continuing to go from strength to strength. Magic.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

NEWS: BFI to show Final Destination 2-5 in Halloween Marathon


Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at BFI Imax, have let us know that they'll be running a Halloween Horror Weekend on the 28/10/11 showing four Final Desination Films back to back where you can see, death, death and of course death in its many and varied ways to scare you through the night.

Final Destination 2 (2003) 35mm 90mins
Final Destination 3 (2006) 35mm 93mins
The Final Destination (2009) Digital 3D 82mins
Final Destination 5 (2011) Digital 3D 92mins

There will be short breaks between each film and free tea and coffee to help you stay awake till dawn.

Please note this is not an IMAX experience.

To book, please follow the link.

VIDEO GAMES NEWS: Puss in Boots Trailer



Hail Mighty Readers,
We're on the final climb to Christmas so aren't we supposed to be having a Fiesta? Well thanks to our friends at THQ, we've managed to get our hands on the game trailer to get you in the mood for the release on 2nd December and we're currently utilising the skills of a certain Cat Burglar of Santiago de Compostela in order to get some goodies from our friends at Random House.

So prepare to learn the sword, prepare to learn evasion and prepare to fight for the people... but not before a glass of milk. Haha.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Fever 2: Blood Fever - Karen Marie Moning

Release Date: 13/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets. . . .

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.


REVIEW:

The second fever book by Karen Marie and one that continues to build upon the success of the original. It’s quirky, it takes the world of the fae back to the original tales and the darker aspects of man and faerie rise to the fore in this epic battle of darkness and light where the reader learns that not everything is black and white with hidden agenda’s ruling the roost with the principle character caught in the middle.

Add to this Karen’s fantastic writing style with great pace, cracking prose and witty one lines with a character that tries to remain true to her original goal perhaps to learn that vengeance is as dark as the blackest night, no matter how good the intentions are… Magical.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Fever 1: Darkfever - Karen Marie Moning

Release Date: 08/09/11

SYNOPSIS:

'My philosophy is pretty simple: any day nobody's trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven't had many good days lately.' MacKayla Lane's life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that only breaks down every other week or so. In other words, she's your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman. Or so she thinks . . . until something extraordinary happens. When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death - a cryptic message on Mac's cell phone - Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister's killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed - a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae . . .


REVIEW:

OK, I originally had this down as a Young Adult title until I read it of course. The book is dark, has some great twists and takes the world of the fae to a level as yet undreamed of by many mere mortals, where many are as foul as they are dark and a glamour is all that stands between them and ourselves.

It’s cleverly constructed, has some great twists and wonderfully weaves the mythos of Ireland into a setting that the reader can’t help but shudder yet still be allured in by the author. My only gripe with it was the sexual content that I felt wasn't required and could have added more to it had it been omitted, that said however there is some great prose and of course a fast paced story that not only entices but spellbinds which will hopefully get the recognition it deserves. Magical.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

VIDEO GAMES NEWS: Elder Scrolls: Skyrim


Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at Bethesda have let us have a couple of screenshots to help you get in the mood for Skyrim in less than a month. We're super excited about it here at Falcata Times Fortress with Lady Eleanor already with her pens, lamination paper, notepads and is currently doing Controller exercises to prepare for massive game sessions as she slaughters Orcs, Draughs, Dragons and anyone else who gets in her way.

Apparently the phone shall be banned and of course your's truly is already been booked for supply duty which also includes pints of coffee with chocky biscuits to keep her strength up. All additional supplies greatly received.

Now I'll have to get on with building my own shelter to protect me from her wrath although in all honesty, I don't give it great odds of surviving the first assault.

Fear for me, and if there's no personal message in just over a months time, remember that I went down cowering in the corner. LOL

All the best,


Gareth


VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Rage - Xbox 360 - Bethesda, Id Studios



Release Date: 07/10/11

SYNOPSIS:

RAGE is the latest game from id Software, the acclaimed designers of such classics as the Wolfenstein, DOOM, and QUAKE series. Eagerly awaited by the gaming community, RAGE is already being touted as one of the industry’s most innovative first-person shooters, winning numerous awards at E3 2010, including ‘Best Overall Game of Show’ from IGN and three ‘Best of E3’ Game Critics Awards including ‘Best Console Game’.

Fearing a planet-wide extinction from a massive asteroid headed towards Earth, world leaders are faced with the inexorable task of ensuring human survival. Left with few alternatives, life-sustaining pods filled with select people are buried deep beneath the earth’s surface. You are one of the chosen members of these modern day arks and abruptly enter the RAGE universe after surfacing alone. Leaving you to your own devices to stay alive in a world filled with those who prefer you dead, RAGE combines powerful storytelling with heart-pounding action.


REVIEW:

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this and rather than write a review after only a few hours play, I decided to slaughter my way across the full breadth whilst making notes so that I could come back and write a rounded review of what I experienced. This took longer than I thought it would and provided me with hours of fun as well as a huge amount of choices.

The game has a great combat engine that really doesn’t let up from the moment you start to the end, which when you add things like recoil makes it something that the gamer has to learn to compensate for as well as making sure that when they’ve charged down an area that they have an avenue for retreat to allow them to heal. It’s fast, it has a great overall plot and as s fan of the Fallout series was something that gave me a lot of fun all in (especially when you add a huge variety of transport that can be customised to the users delight provided you win enough races.

Finally add to the mix a huge area to play in, numerous side quests and a huge range of weaponry and there’s a style of play for all, whether you like to charge down the middle blasting a shotgun (Lady Eleanor's Style of Gameplay) or whether you like to hide and snipe like myself. Which when added to the wonderfully detailed area’s makes this a game that was too big to contain on two discs. All in, this has been a huge amount of fun, with massive area's to explore and one that more than pleased me apart from one element, the sudden conclusion that left me wondering what the hell. Perhaps a sequel will arrive to pick up from where this left off; we’ll have to wait to see.


THRILLER REVIEW: The Dead Sea Deception - Adam Blake

Release Date: 18/08/11

SYNOPSIS:

Hidden in the dead sea scrolls - the secret of how Christ really died As ex-mercenary Leo Tillman and ambitious cop Heather Kennedy investigate a series of baffling deaths, the trail leads them to the Dead Sea Scrolls - and the deadly gospel hidden within them. But soon Tillman and Kennedy are running for their lives from a band of sinister assassins who weep tears of blood and believe themselves descended from Judas. These ‘fallen angels’ will stop at nothing to expose the world-changing secret of the Scrolls . . . the secret of who really died on Christ’s cross.Rocketing from a spectacular plane crash in the American desert to a brutal murder at a London university to a phantom city in Mexico, The Dead Sea Deception is the most gripping, revelatory thriller since The Da Vinci Code.


REVIEW:

Thrillers either take one of two routes these days, a fast action packed modern type tale or one where an ancient society is hidden behind a veil that few know exist. The later is the route that Adam Blake takes and whilst the genre is pretty full of this type of tale, the author takes a different take and gives the reader what they want with breakneck speed, top notch pace and of course a whole set of problems with a likeable character to solve all issues concerned.

It’s cleverly designed, has a decent overall arc and also gives the reader the story that they crave. All in, a decent offering and one that fulfilled my requirements.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Lennox 3: The Deep Dark Sleep - Craig Russell

Release Date: 18/07/11

SYNOPSIS:

Human remains are recovered from the bottom of the River Clyde. Not an unusual occurrence, but these have been sleeping the deep, dark sleep for eighteen years. Suddenly Glasgow's underworld is buzzing with the news that the dredged up bones belong to Gentleman Joe Strachan, Glasgow's most successful and ruthless armed robber.

When Isa and Violet, Strachan's daughters, hire Lennox to find out who has been sending them large sums of cash each year, on the anniversary of Strachan's most successful robbery, his instincts tell him that this job spells trouble and will take him back into the dark world of the Three Kings - the crime bosses who run the city.

He takes the job nevertheless. And soon learns that ignoring his instincts might just cost him his life.

This is the third fantastic thriller featuring shady investigator Lennox as he stalks Glasgow's tough streets. The Deep Dark Sleep is gritty, fast-paced, and totally absorbing.


REVIEW:

Having followed Lennox in his previous tales, I have to say that I love Craig’s dark gritty Glasgow of the fifties that creeps into your mind in much the same way that the Clyde creeps its way through the city itself. It’s well written, it has some cracking twists and when you add a darker look at the cities underworld to the mix, it’s one that is rich with images as well as characters for the tales antihero to pit himself against.

As usual the prose is top notch, the pace bracing and when added to a unique author writing voice, it’s one that will thrill and entertain from the first page to the last. Just remember that Glasgow gives up its secrets in much the same way as the Clyde and that sometimes pushing through the murk to find them will lead to inevitable consequences which leave you wondering how many more breaths Lennox has left in his body. Wonderful.

Monday, 17 October 2011

INTERVIEW: Robert Lasardo

Having recently written a piece about banned books and conventions over at Bea’s Book Nook for the Banned Book Week, I couldn’t get out of my mind two sayings, never judge a book by its cover and Still Waters Run Deep. So when we had the opportunity to review actor Robert Lasardo’s two poetry titles we jumped at the chance.

Thanks to Lady Eleanor we were also lucky enough to have an interview with Robert where we asked about his writing, his body art and how he feels it has affected him in his career as well as mentally and spiritually…




Falcata Times: Do you think that the poems were in your mind when you had the tattoo's done or were they something that arrived when you looked back upon the artwork?

Robert Lasardo: My poems are a continued expression that manifested once I revisited the tattoo images and looked deeper within myself. For years people I did not know personally would ask me to explain the meaning behind the ink. Some would thank me proclaiming that I inspired them to get their first tattoo. Over time and with many more questions I started to feel a responsibility to share my story with people who seemed to express a genuine interest in the art form.


FT: The Poem 1979 mentions about being warned against having tattoo's, what tattoo did you choose first and what happened when you got home and your family saw what you'd had done?

RL: My first tattoo was a traditional cartoon 1950s style prize fighter. I had it tattooed on the right side of my chest. I was able to keep it a secret from my father for many months until I was arrested wearing a shirt that was unable to fully conceal the tattoo. It was after midnight and in the middle of summer when my father received the call that I had been arrested.

Being a juvenile I was not booked or finger printed and released into my father’s custody. I was given a court date and faced criminal charges for assault and possession of a deadly weapon. As my father and I walked home that night my shirt exposed the tattoo and I wondered if he would beat me right there in the street. To my surprise he just yelled to me to zip my fucking shirt up. By now I had tattoos on both sides of my chest and had no shame in showing the world.

My father on the other hand made it clear to me that my tattoos were a disgrace and represented everything he hated. Given the nature of my crime left me with little credibility for any argument in my defence for self-expression. I was assisting the ignorance in society and reinforcing the stigma that made tattoos seem so taboo.


FT: Also in 1979 you mention that people will look at you differently for having tattoos. How do you feel they have affected your acting career?

RL: I can only judge my acting career from the point of view of optimism. There is a line from the classic 40s film 'From Here To Eternity' spoken by the late and great Montgomery Clift "when you love a thing you have to be grateful. Doesn't mean it has to love you back." Before acting I had nothing. Acting has given me a purpose in life regardless of how I am measured by it. For years it has been suggested to me by some that my efforts have been in vain. That I will fail or have failed to transcend the physical choices I have made that were part of my evolution. I cannot deny or betray who I am as an expression for the sake of the conformed ego. No doubt there will always be people who see me as threat to conventional structures. I may not be the one to change things completely. But maybe through some of my achievements I have shown what is possible to those who have been told to give up and bury their dreams.


FT: Reading the book (playing with fire) do you feel that tattoo's do speak a thousand words if people are prepared to listen and what do you feel the majority of your tattoo's are telling people?

RL: Yes I do. If those who observe the images do so with an open mind. Art is a subjective experience that seems to be governed by personal criteria that varies from individual to individual. What people read into the pictures (Tattoos) I feel is a projection of their own belief system and thought process. Regardless of what I set out to communicate with image and word I cannot drive the response just witness the reactions. Some have found the images frightening while others have commented on their beauty. I guess it all depends on who is doing the looking. For me they encompass the extremes within life with the desire to expose and transcend inner conflict.


FT: When did you start writing poetry or is it something that you think has developed as you've gotten older?

RL: I remember writing poems in my late 20s. I don't think I even realized I was writing poetry until a friend pointed it out to me. He seemed surprised and asked me how I was able to write like that. I don't know if I was as impressed with the words as he was. I threw all of the work in the garbage. Maybe because the words marked such a turbulent time in my life.

The writing was always in direct relationship to the emotional storms I found myself in. The words just came as a way to release extreme feelings. I could not control the words any more than what life was throwing at me at the time. I would not plan to write. I would not sit down to write. I just found myself writing. Over the years I would continue to write things down then discard them. One day a friend told me rather bluntly to stop doing that. He explained to me the value of my words and the significance of the experiences that brought them to life. I can't say that I keep everything I write now but I definitely think twice before trashing it.


FT: How have the fans reacted to seeing a different side to you in this book?

RL: The first thing that comes to mind is an email I received from a man who told me specifically what poems had affected him. He also wrote, "Keep going with this." This got my attention primarily because I did not know this man. My friends were supportive but I could not be sure if they would be objective enough, though someone did warn me "not everyone is going to understand this". I was not surprised by the warning.

My goal was more about being true to what I needed to communicate rather than spelling everything out or editing myself. What I found within peoples response to my work did surprise me though. Not only did they understand it but it touched people in ways I did not expect. I knew what I had conjured was personal to me. But to see it penetrate others and create an emotional response other than fear was something very new for me.


FT: Which is your favorite poem from your book?

RL: In my second book, Playing With Fire' my favorite poem is FURY.


FT: In general which poem is your favorite?

RL: My favorite poem in general is from my first book, Choices: Inside Out. It is titled CRADLE.


FT: Are there any more books in the pipe line and what do you think that they will tell people about you?

RL: No doubt there will be more storms to come my way. And there will be an opportunity to learn something else which I can write about. My hope is that it will be something new. An inspiration perhaps that can dispel the dragon and remove the smoke that makes it so difficult to see the sun. I have a responsibility now to tell people who understand where I'm coming from a story that embraces hope.


FT: You mention giving money to charity with your first book. Can you tell us more about your charity choice?

RL: USA CARES.ORG is a charity that is working to provide US veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with much needed supplies. Some men are leaving military hospitals with no more than a trash bag to store their personal belongings. Some of these men are disabled. The goal is to provide these men with at least a descent back pack or satchel.