Sunday, 30 September 2012

DEJA REVIEW: September 2012

Hail Mighty Readers,
Here is our monthly summation of titles that we've revieved previously that have now been released as Paperbacks with links back to their original reviews.  Whilst the covers may differ please rest assured that they are the same title.

For this month we have:
06/09/12  BLACK, Tony - Murder Mile


We hope you enjoy them,



Gareth and Lady Eleanor

LADY ELEANOR HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Cousin Wars 4: The Kingmakers Daughter - Philippa Gregory

Release Date: 16/08/12

SYNOPSIS:

'I have lost my father in battle, my sister to Elizabeth Woodville's spy, my brother-in-law to Elizabeth Woodville's executioner, my nephew to her poisoner, and now my son to her curse...' The gripping and ultimately tragic story of Anne Neville and her sister Isabel, the daughters of the Earl of Warwick, the most powerful magnate in England through the Cousins' Wars. In the absence of a son and heir, he ruthlessly uses the two girls as pawns but they, in their own right, are thoughtful and powerful actors. Against the backdrop of the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne turns from a delightful child growing up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard Duke of York to become ever more fearful and desperate as her father's enemies turn against her, the net closes in and there is, in the end, simply nowhere she can turn, no one she can trust with her life.


REVIEW:

Having been a little disappointed with a couple of the Cousin’s War series by Philippa, I really wasn’t expecting a lot out of this book, but wow, was I wrong.

What unfurled was a book that was one of her best to date, it was beautifully written, the characters not only fully rounded but also allowed actions from one to have her seen in a different light from this stories principle characters point of view. Add to this the fact that the principle player was one that tended to be overlooked historically and all in it left me demanding more. I really can’t wait for the next story by Philippa now my faith has been restored.



SCIENCE FICTION THRILLER: The Games - Ted Kosmatka

Release Date: 22/06/12

SYNOPSIS:

Dr. Silas Williams is the brilliant geneticist in charge of preparing the U.S. entry into the Olympic Gladiator competition, an internationally sanctioned bloodsport with only one rule: no human DNA is permitted in the design of the entrants. But when his creation demonstrates monstrous strength, speed, and - most disquietingly - intelligence, Silas' scientific curiosity gives way to sheer terror.


REVIEW:

This title is a bit of a strange one as it crosses quite a few genres. It has elements of Jurassic Park, it has elements of mankind manipulating in things that are better left along and when added to a kick ass plot with quite a pace attached makes this a book that’s hard to grab a breath between the various chapters, and for me, that’s one of the area’s where the problems lie as I felt that they really should have had more breathing space before continuing in such a high octane manner.

For me, the other problem contained within was the principle players who I never truly got to grips with, they seemed fairly flat and just there to facilitate the overall arc to keep the tale moving at an incredible pace. All in its an OK read but if you’re expecting the next Michael Crichton then you’ll sadly be disappointed.


Saturday, 29 September 2012

THRILLER REVIEW: The Last Good Man - A J Kazinski

Release Date: 02/08/12

SYNOPSIS:

According to Jewish scripture, there are thirty-six righteous people on earth. Without them, humanity would perish. But the thirty-six do not know that they are the chosen ones. In Beijing, a monk collapses in his chamber. A fiery mark has spread across his back and down his spine. In Mumbai, a man who served the poor dies suddenly. His body shows the same mark. Similar deaths are reported in cities around the world - the victims all humanitarians, all with the same death mark. In Copenhagen, it falls to veteran detective Niels Bentzon to investigate. He is told to find eight 'good people' of Denmark and warn them of this threat. But Bentzon is trained to see the worst in people and he becomes increasingly skeptical as he realizes that not everyone perceived to be good is truly good. It is only when Niels meets Hannah, a brilliant astrophysicist mourning the death of her husband, that the pair begin to piece together the puzzle and a pattern emerges. There have been thirty-four deaths and there are two more to come. According to the pattern, Bentzon and Hannah can predict the time and place of the final two. The murders will occur in Venice and Copenhagen. And the time is now.


REVIEW:

Thrillers are something that I really look forward to when they land. Purely as I know that I’m going to get a high octane ride that will keep the twists coming as each revelation gives me something new to not only think about but to concentrate upon as I seek to figure out the answers before the heroes.

What this title by AJ Kazinski gives the reader is a story that if you can suspend disbelief will keep you on the edge of your seat. It does have some wonderful twists as well as some reasonable prose, which when blended with a couple of principle players keep the whole thing on a reasonable keel.



FANTASY REVIEW: Warhammer Fantasy: The Sundering Compendium - Gav Thorpe

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Malekith, betrayer and usurper, architect of the great war that will forever divide the race of elves. Alith Anar, wrathful avenger whose spirit will forever haunt the traitorous druchii. Caledor, reluctant leader, the one elf who can hold back the darkness and restore peace to Ulthuan. Witch King, Shadow King and Phoenix King. Their deeds are legend. This is their story.


REVIEW:

Whilst I love getting books when they are released, when its part of a series I tend to get a little impatient, especially when it’s a key series in the history of one of the races in the Warhammer world. Don’t get me wrong, whilst each of these titles are standalone, they really do add a greater context to the pointy eared ones as they have their own civil war. Its wonderfully rich, has great characters with each book being action packed with sword work, heavy blood price and of course double dealing.

Add to this the subtle plot points (some of which you miss during your first readings), cleverly crafted sleight of hand alongside author skills that help bring the world to life and all in it’s a great compendium all round. Great stuff.


Friday, 28 September 2012

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Carrier Command: Gaea Mission - Xbox 360 - Mastertronic Ltd.

Release Date:

SYNOPSIS:

Carrier Command: Gaea Mission is a breath taking combination of action game with strategic elements set in a vast detailed archipelago. It reinvents the classic gameplay of the original Carrier Command to deliver a truly next-gen experience.

You are the commander of a near-future aircraft carrier of immense power, with many tools and vehicles at your disposal. Landing in an unfamiliar, free-roaming environment, exploration will be key and the thrill of discovery will spur you onward. The colony planetoid of Taurus is a pivotal battleground in the United Earth Coalition (UEC)'s long campaign against the rogue Asian Pacific Alliance (APA), who gained dominion over Earth in an apocalyptic conflict. The wide oceans of Taurus are dotted with resource-rich islands of varying composition and hiding many secrets.

Gaea Mission campaign

Follow the deep story coinciding with the second book of the Gaea Universe trilogy and evolve from an underdog to a skilled Carrier commander and prevail against all odds with your ragtag crew.

Free roam strategy mode

Enjoy a game mode closely based on the original 80s classics! Choose startup settings and the balance of power and challenge the enemy carrier to an ultimate strategic duel.

Massive game environment

Explore 30+ unique islands in 6 distinct climatic zones.

Fight the battle

Jump into the adrenaline pumping combat by taking direct control of any unit; shift seamlessly between your walruses, mantas and map via the immersive real-time Picture-in-Picture window.

Command the Action

Take your place behind the advanced battle computer aboard your carrier; manufacture upgrades, weapons and enhancements, customize your units and use tactics to move them across the open battlefield.

Unique game mechanics

Control a seamless blend of real-time remotely controllable vehicles with a programmable battle computer to dominate the battlefield.

Unit management

Acquire and manufacture new upgrades, weapons and enhancements for your carrier and vehicles, but don’t forget to keep an eye on your ammo and fuel stocks as well.

Strategy

Traverse the seas to establish a network of island bases for defense, mining and manufacturing. Keep a steady supply of resources and equipment to push your campaign forward.


REVIEW:

I’m an old school gamer and by that I mean I was playing consoles back in the early days, when things like Pong and Pacman were the height of E-Gaming. So yeah, I’m a little dated, but as the games have developed and adjusted so have I, yet whilst many gamers of the modern age will think that I’m not getting into my dotage I do have a good recall of classics such as the original carrier command over 20 years ago.

Whilst this modern remake plays to the strengths of the classic, it’s a game that I see will cause quite a lot of frustration among gamers for numerous reasons, first of all it incredibly difficult and whilst some of the early missions may seem reasonable, things really hot up when you get your Carrier and you have to manage multiple units. It does ease you into this and it does give you a tutorial but on that first mission from it to capture Arachnia, there will be a number of players throwing their paddles down in frustration as to be honest I didn’t find the controller as responsive as I’d have liked and got wiped by a robot as I was trying to figure out which way the gun was facing so that I could change it whilst trying to drive forward rather than to the side.

Add to this a game that sticks to rather limited graphics and you may be thinking that it’s a losing battle but once you get past your frustration and start to figure things out, the game really does start getting quite cerebral as you try and capture a few enemies islands whilst defending your own. Yes its hard, yes there are major drawbacks with the controls (in my opinon) and yes the graphics feel not as tidy as they could have been but if you like strategy that will tax you to your limit then this is going to be one for you.

However if like me you have trouble remembering things, get annoyed by a principle character who doesn’t feel like he fits in vocally let alone getting frustrated at trying to figure out the damn unit commands or the paddle controls that aren’t as responsive as I’d have liked, then you may well want to avoid it.



CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: The Death Sculptor - Chris Carter

Release Date: 02/08/12

SYNOPSIS:

'Good job you didn't turn on the lights ...' A student nurse has the shock of her life when she discovers her patient, prosecutor Derek Nicholson, brutally murdered in his bed. The act seems senseless - Nicholson was terminally ill with only weeks to live. But what most shocks Detective Robert Hunter of the Los Angeles Robbery Homicide Division is the calling card the killer left behind. For Hunter, there is no doubt that the killer is trying to communicate with the police, but the method is unlike anything he's ever seen before. And what could the hidden message be? Just as Hunter and his partner Garcia reckon they've found a lead, a new body is found - and a new calling card. But with no apparent link between the first and second victims, all the progress they've made so far goes out of the window. Pushed into an uncomfortable alliance with the confident Alice Beaumont, Hunter must race to put together the pieces of the investigation ...before the Death Sculptor puts the final touches to his masterpiece.


REVIEW:

I love the dark side of criminal psychology and whilst I recently read a book by a debut author I really was looking forward to this book by Chris Carter as he manages to send a solid chill up my spine whilst giving me my required feed of blood, imagination and of course a criminal that will test his detective to the max.

It has great pace, some cracking prose but for me it’s the characters that really help to drive this title forward as they’re not only multi-faceted but require each other to help bolster the others weaknesses. It works a treat all round and for me if you want a serious chill in the dead of night to leave you worried about turning that light off, you really have to give this author a go



SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Treacheries of the Space Marines - Ed. Christian Dunn

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

The Space Marines of the Adeptus Astartes are the defenders of mankind, the ultimate superhuman brotherhood standing against the evils of the galaxy. But even among their hallowed ranks, there are those who would turn their backs on their brothers and follow the path of the traitor. Gathered within these pages, you will find tales from the dark side of the Imperium – remember, that which can defend, can also betray...


REVIEW:

Short stories with cracking combat, bloody swathes and of course more writing talent that you can shake a stick at. Ideal for short journeys or someone who just wants to dip in time and again makes this a book that has a whole lot of bolter fire for its buck. Add to this the chance to try different authors from the catalogue for a low price to see if you like their writing style and all in it’s a solid book that will generate a lot of interest.

Finally throw into the mix a whole host of heroes for each of the relevant chapters and all in the reader will be aching to take to the battlefield to re-enact the combat within. Great stuff.


Thursday, 27 September 2012

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s - Ed. Gary K Wolf

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Modern science fiction came of age in the 1950s, and it was inAmericathat the genre broke most exuberantly free from convention. Moving beyond the pulp magazines, science fiction writers stretched their imaginations at novel length, ushering in an era of stylistic experiment and freewheeling speculation that responded in wildly inventive ways to the challenges and perplexities of an era of global threat and rapid technological change. Long unnoticed or dismissed by the literary establishment, these “outsider” novels are now recognized as American classics.

Frederik Pohl and C. M. Kornbluth, The Space Merchants
What’s it all worth?
Theodore Sturgeon, More Than Human
Could this be the next stage of evolution?
Leigh Brackett, The Long Tomorrow
Who will control post-apocalyptic America?
Richard Matheson, The Shrinking Man
Ever feel small?
Robert A. Heinlein, Double Star
Are politicians ever really themselves?
Alfred Bester, The Stars My Destination
What is the price of revenge?
James Blish, A Case of Conscience
What in God’s name are we to do with aliens?
Algis Budrys, Who?
Can you trust?
Fritz Leiber, The Big Time
Is the past ever really past?


REVIEW:

OK, I have to admit this, I’m a huge fan of Science Fiction B-Movie from the 1950’s, so it’s always good to read stories that not only inspired them but also had a way to bring their own messages forward. Wrapped up in a collector’s hardcase alongside hardback copies of the books, this no expense spared collection from the Library of America really does hit the spot for the reader.

Whether it’s taking a trip with Richard Matheson and his Incredible Shrinking Man or even embarking Robert A Heinlein’s Double Star this title reads like a who’s who of Science Fiction. It’s incredible that so much talent can be packed into so little space. All in a great collector’s item and a wonderful gem for any fan of Sci-Fi to enjoy.



FANTASY REVIEW: Moontide Quartet 1: Mage's Blood - David Hair

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Most of the time the Moontide Bridge lies deep below the sea, but every 12 years the tides sink and the bridge is revealed, its gates open for trade. The Magi are hell-bent on ruling this new world, and for the last two Moontides they have led armies across the bridge on 'crusades' of conquest. Now the third Moontide is almost here and, this time, the people of the East are ready for a fight ...but it is three seemingly ordinary people that will decide the fate of the world.


REVIEW:

I love a story that takes the reader onto a journey not only of a new world but one that feels rounded through the use of politics, double dealing, vengeance and a quest that leads changes that will echo throughout the annals of time. All this and more happens in David Hair’s debut, Mage’s Blood the first book in the Moontide Quartet.

The writing is crisp, the characters full of vigour and desires which when they become banded together really gives the story something to focus upon as the bonds grow stronger. Add to this an overall arc that has a huge epic scale which when added to solid dialogue alongside combat really gives the reader a sense of grandeur. All in a great debut and one I’ll look forward to reading more from.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Injustice: Gods Among Us Collectors Edition - Warner Brothers Interactive


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Warner Brothers Interactive have let us know about Collector's Edition coming out on Friday 19th April 2013 for the following formats:
Xbox 360
Playstation 3
PC

The UK Injustice: Gods Among Us Collector’s Edition will include:

· Exclusive 25cm Injustice Collectible statue featuring iconic characters Batman and Wonder Woman
· Two issues of a brand new DC Comics series
· Exclusive Steelbook™ casing
· Three exclusive skins based on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman from DC COMICS – THE NEW 52

Injustice: Gods Among Us introduces a bold new franchise to the fighting game genre from NetherRealm Studios, creators of the definitive fighting game Mortal Kombat.  Featuring DC Comics icons such Batman, Cyborg, The Flash, Harley Quinn, Nightwing, Solomon Grundy, Superman and Wonder Woman, the latest title from the award-winning studio presents a deep original story. Heroes and villains will engage in epic battles on a massive scale in a world where the line between good and evil has been blurred.  The game is scheduled for release April 2013 for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and the Wii U™.

For more information, visit www.injustice.com.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Horus Heresy: Shadows of Treachery - Ed. Christian Dunn

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

From the battlefields of Phall and Isstvan, to the haunted shadows of Terra itself – the greatest war in the history of mankind rages on. While the traitor Legions continue their campaign of terror across the galaxy, preparations are made for the defence of the Imperial Palace and the final, inevitable reckoning that must yet come between Horus and the Emperor...


REVIEW:

To be honest this book is one that you might want to watch picking up if you’ve been pretty up to date with buying a number of the E-books as well as the audio titles from the Black Library as quite a few of them have been about before. Don’t get me wrong if you’ve not purchased either it’s a book that you’ll love especially with the rich writing talent within but if you’ve already got a lot of the addition mediums, the odds are you’ll feel a little short changed.

That said, the writing is crisp, the short stories a wonderful diversion for journeys and when backed with a whole host to dip into all taking part during mankinds galactic civil war makes this a book that would be wonderful for a Christmas Gift. All in pretty reasonable but check what the person you’re buying it for already has as otherwise you may find it hardly touched.



FANTASY REVIEW: The Swords of the Emperor Compendium - Chris Wraight

Release Date: 27/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Rebellion consumes the province of Averland and civil war looms, while orcs threaten to sweep out of the mountains and devastate the land. Suspecting the taint of Chaos behind the uprising, the Emperor Karl Franz sends two of his greatest champions to defeat the greenskins, thwart the Dark Gods and restore Imperial rule to Averland.


REVIEW:

This compendium is a duology and deals with a complex plot arc for the two heroes involved. Its wonderfully crafted, has the obligatory sword skills and also deals quite heavily with political machinations. Its clever, it has some solid twists and of course if you haven’t got the two individual titles make a wonderful addition for any Warhammer fan. Add to this an author who knows how to keep you glued with a solid sense of pace and all in it’s a great read.


Tuesday, 25 September 2012

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Ubisoft and HMV support Teenage Cancer Trust with Rocksmith

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
OK, so console games have moved on, you can get fit with them, you can control characters in game with your body and now you can learn to play the guitar with Rocksmith (available on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC on the 28th September 2012) by Ubisoft.

But wait thats not all, we've just had a spectacular announcement from our friends at HMV and Ubisoft who've let us know this:

"Today, Ubisoft, in partnership with retailer HMV and their nominated charity Teenage Cancer Trust, has announced that, from the launch of Rocksmith™ for Xbox 360 and PlayStation®3 systems on 28th  September 2012 (and 19th October for PC), until Christmas, with every purchase of the game in the UK, £5 will be donated to the charity. Ubisoft and HMV will each contribute £2.50 from every sale. Rocksmith is the first and only game where consumers can plug in ANY real electric or bass guitar and learn whilst playing, with gameplay that automatically adjusts to personal ability, and innovative game design that makes playing music visually intuitive.

“We are exceedingly excited to be launching Rocksmith in the UK this week,” said Rob Cooper, Managing Director, Ubisoft UK. “The game literally provides real-life benefits by teaching people how to play an actual guitar, and we hope to inspire the next generation of rock stars in the UK and beyond. Moreover, I couldn’t be more pleased to be partnering with HMV to raise much-needed funds for Teenage Cancer Trust.”

Teenage Cancer Trust, founded over 20 years ago, is a charity devoted to improving the lives of teenagers and young adults with cancer. They are the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and chances of survival for the six young people aged between 13 and 24 diagnosed with cancer every day. To date, Teenage Cancer Trust has funded, developed and opened 22 specialist units within NHS hospitals across the UK, which are supporting young people and their families.

HMV Product Manager for Games & Technology, Vicky White, adds: “We’re delighted to be partnering in this special promotion that enables us to support the launch of Ubisoft’s fantastic Rocksmith, while also raising funds for our wonderful nominated charity, Teenage Cancer Trust.  All three parties have a natural connection through music and gaming, so this feels like a great fit.”    


Game Blurb:
Introducing the next stage in the evolution of the guitar game. Rocksmith is the first and only game where you can plug ANY real guitar into your console and actually LEARN while you PLAY.
Nothing plastic. Nothing fake. Just the most authentic guitar experience in music gaming. By plugging your electric guitar into your console, you’ll develop real skills and real styles while playing real music.

Featuring gameplay that automatically adjusts to your personal ability, and innovative game design that makes playing music visually intuitive, Rocksmith will engage experienced musicians as well as those who have never picked up a guitar before in their life.

You’ll unlock mini games to hone specific skills. You’ll be able to choose from a large catalogue of songs in different styles. And you’ll experience it all with an actual guitar. Nothing compares to playing a real guitar. Except playing Rocksmith.

The game will include the brand new Bass mode, offering players the opportunity to play bass guitar on all supported on-disc and downloadable songs.

Not only can players play the bass parts of songs, but bassists of all experience levels can also improve their skills with dedicated bass technique challenges and tutorial videos. Players can even use any 6-string guitar to emulate a 4-string bass. Tracking their learning has never been easier as bass progression is tracked separately from guitar progression.

Last but not least, all songs can be played in multiplayer with one person playing the bass part and the other the guitar part.

Key Features
  • When we say any guitar we mean any guitar: Whether it’s the guitar sitting in your attic that you have forgotten about up till now, or the guitar you are yet to buy, Rocksmith lets you plug any guitar into your console or computer. Electric guitar or electro-acoustic, as long as your guitar has a jack, you can play. And get plugged in right away as Rocksmith comes with a unique quarter-inch jack to USB cable!
  • Get Plugged In: Rocksmith will include a unique quarter-inch to USB cable that is the first of its kind, and will allow users to plug any real guitar with a quarter-inch jack directly into their Xbox 360®, PlayStation 3®, or PC. Developed exclusively for Rocksmith, this guitar cable is 11.25' and turns the guitar’s signal from analog to digital, allowing it to be recognised and played through video game consoles for the first time.
  • Real time adjustment levels: from beginner to rock god!: You love a challenge, but hate being overwhelmed. Rocksmith understands this, and knows exactly how far to push to keep you entertained. With addictive gameplay that adapts continuously to your personal skill level, you will automatically progress from single notes to complex chords at your own pace. Eventually you’ll be playing 100% of the actual guitar parts from the songs and the game will challenge you to step away from the notes on screen and play songs from memory. Imagine that. A video game that will get you stage-ready.
  • Bursting with Hits: One of the most satisfying moments for any guitar player is hearing yourself play your favourite song for the first time. Rocksmith has amassed an amazing library of songs from different music genres allowing players to experience those moments first hand. Whether you like classic rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Cure, Lynrd Skynrd or if you’re more into current chart-toppers such as The Strokes, Muse, Radiohead and The XX, we have you covered. And with our growing tracklist from metal to indie rock available for download, you will always find a song that suits your mood.
  • There’s always a way to develop your guitar skills and overcome your difficulties: Having troubles with the solo of your favourite song? The riff-repeater option is your saviour. It will isolate the song part of your choice, and let you repeat it over and over … until you eventually ace it! Want to improve your finger dexterity? Learn chords? Improve scales? For all of these and more, there’s a specific mini-game that will help you get it in Guitarcade. Rocksmith will turn your guitar into a controller, for instance, while shooting ducks in the Ducks mini-game you’ll actually be learning how to shift from fret to fret without even realising!
  • Turn your TV or computer into an amplifier: No need for an amplifier anymore, with Rocksmith your TV or your computer IS your amplifier and will let you try and play with loads of in-game pedals, amplifiers and cabinets. String pedals together with nearly infinite combinations and tweak your sound until you’re satisfied. Whether it’s a crunchy distortion, a vintage tremolo or a psychedelic reverb, we have it covered to make sure you can achieve the sound you’re looking for.
  • Play in multiplayer: Plug in a second guitar to go head-to-head with friends to see who can earn the highest score, or have fun playing cooperatively as lead and rhythm guitars. Also, all songs can be played in multiplayer with one person playing the bass part and the other the guitar part.
  • Brand new Bass mode: The game will include the brand new Bass mode, offering players the opportunity to play bass guitar on all supported on-disc and downloadable songs. Not only can players play the bass parts of songs, but bassists of all experience levels can also improve their skills with dedicated bass technique challenges and tutorial videos. Players can even use any 6-string guitar to emulate a 4-string bass. Tracking their learning has never been easier as bass progression is tracked separately from guitar progression.
Tracklist
  • Best Coast - When I'm with You
  • Blur - Song 2
  • Cream - Sunshine of Your Love
  • Dan Auerbach - Want Some More
  • David Bowie - Rebel Rebel
  • Eric Clapton - Run Back to Your Side
  • Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
  • Incubus - I Miss You
  • Interpol - Slow Hands
  • Jarvis Cocker - Angela
  • Jenny O.Well - Ok Honey
  • Kings of Leon - Use Somebody
  • Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
  • Little Barrie - Surf Hell
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd - Sweet Home Alabama
  • Muse - Plug In Baby
  • Muse - Unnatural Selection
  • Nirvana - Breed
  • Nirvana - In Bloom
  • Pixies - Where Is My Mind?
  • Queens of the Stone Age - Go with the Flow
  • Radiohead - High and Dry
  • Rapscallions - California Brain
  • Red Fang - Number Thirteen
  • Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook
  • Silversun Pickups - Panic Switch
  • Soundgarden - Outshined
  • Spoon - Me and the Bean
  • Stone Temple Pilots - Vasoline
  • Stone Temple Pilots - Between the Lines
  • Taddy Porter - Mean Bitch
  • The Animals - House of the Rising Sun
  • The Black Keys - I Got Mine
  • The Black Keys - Next Girl
  • The Boxer Rebellion - Step Out of the Car
  • The Cribs - We Share the Same Skies
  • The Cure - Boys Don't Cry
  • The Dead Weather - I Can't Hear You
  • The Horrors - Do You Remember
  • The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
  • The Rolling Stones - Play with Fire
  • The Rolling Stones - The Spider and the Fly
  • The Strokes - Under Cover of Darkness
  • The White Stripes - Icky Thump
  • Titus Andronicus - A More Perfect Union
  • Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Good Enough
  • Velvet Revolver - Slither
  • White Denim - Burnished
  • Yellow Moon Band - Chimney

DVD REVIEW: Terra Nova - Jason O'Mara, Steven Lang - 20th Century Fox

Release Date: 24/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Terra Nova follows an ordinary family on an incredible journey back in time to prehistoric Earth as a small part of a daring experiment to save the human race. In the year 2149, the world is dying. The planet is overdeveloped and overcrowded, with the majority of plant and animal life extinct. The future of mankind is in doubt, and its only hope for survival is in the distant past.

When scientists at the FERMI Particle Accelerator unexpectedly discovered a fracture in time that made it possible to construct a portal into primeval history, the bold notion was born to resettle humanity in the past--a second chance to rebuild civilisation and get it right this time. The series centres on the Shannon family as they join the Tenth Pilgrimage of settlers to Terra Nova, the first colony established in this beautiful yet forbidding land. Jim Shannon (Jason O’Mara), a devoted father with a checkered past, guides his family through this new world of limitless beauty, mystery and terror.

Episode List:

Genesis (Part 1)
Genesis (Part 2)
Instinct
What Remains
The Runaway
Bylaw
Nightfall
Proof
Vs.
Now You See Me
Within
Occupation
Resistance (extended finale--never before seen on TV)


REVIEW:

I always love a TV series that gives the viewer not only a set of characters that they can get behind but gives them a journey into a Science Fiction world that not only keeps you glued but also gives an overall arc that is not only fascinating but also gives a darker edge to the individual episodes.

That and more was achieved with Terra Nova and whilst its unfortunately one of the casualties of One Series Culling, it was a series that gave the viewer dinosaurs, survival as well as human interest. It had some great talent, Jason O’Mara (Life on Mars US), Steven Lang (Avatar) and with the might of Spielberg behind it was a series that had so much going for it.

All in, whilst only thirteen episodes, it was a series that had a solid grounding for the future with enough threads to not only expand for quite some time but also to keep it going for multiple outings. A great shame that its been cancelled but overall, definitely something that I really enjoyed.

INTERVIEW: Jason O'Mara

Having been fans of Jason O'Mara for quite some time, when we heard that he was in Terra Nova, we couldn't wait to not only view this new series but also to have the chance to feature an interview with this extrordinary actor.

So here for your viewing pleasure is that interview in association with Terra Nova...



QUESTION: Was it a challenge to find that protective spirit to make James Shannon a credible hero in Terra Nova?

JASON O'MARA: I think mostly because I’m a father in real life, and I had never played a father on screen. Every parent knows how protective you can be over your family. You would go so far as to say you would die for your children.  And that’s just normal.  You know, that’s not extraordinary.  So the idea of playing a man whose actions are motivated by that is a very strong choice to make.

QUESTION: What motivates James Shannon? A need to be the hero or something more profound?

O'MARA: Whatever he does heroically, he does it for a pure reason, for a good reason.  And not only that, that sense of emotion is very empowering, and it’s strong.  It gives him an emotional base to make all of his decisions, and it gives him his moral compass without which I’m not sure where he would be. I don’t know where James Shannon would be without his wife and his kids.

QUESTION: How does Terra Nova affect his own code of survival?

O'MARA: He’s from a pretty tough background and he could have gone the other way at any time.  He’s impulsive, which can be his own worst enemy. I just think the idea that he wants his children and his family to thrive and survive in this new place, and knowing that they are part and parcel of what could be the future of the human race is very powerful.  And I think it’s also a really strong idea.  It’s a really strong theme.

QUESTION: How do you define a series like Terra Nova?

O'MARA: It is quite hard to define.  What helped me get into it was thinking of it in terms of a classic western, like Gunsmoke. But there are also science fiction elements.  I suppose. More than anything else, it’s Swiss Family Robinson. Lost in Space was Swiss Family Robinson in space. This is Swiss Family Robinson in the Cretaceous period.  When you look at it more like that, it actually just boils it down to its elements.

QUESTION: How do the family dynamics enhance the Terra Nova experience?

O'MARA: It’s really the story of a family in a very extraordinary situation, and there are all these other things going on politically, philosophically, socially, and even challenges with just surviving with the wild life.  But ultimately it’s about a family experiencing and seeing this world through their eyes.

QUESTION: How does this first season evolve from its complex first episode?

O'MARA: We want to keep developing all of these creation stories, how Terra Nova came about.  Taylor has some dark secrets, events that happened at the birth of Terra Nova, the first people that were involved in forming it.  That’s all revealed. What’s in the box will be revealed, what the carvings on the rocks were all about. Bear in mind, it all comes down to family at the end of the day.  That’s an important clue as to what’s going to happen.

QUESTION: Where does your imagination go when you’re in the midst of an effects sequence, say after five takes? Ever find your mind drifting as to the day’s grocery list, for example?

O'MARA: [LAUGHS] First of all, we don’t get five takes.  Second of all, no, we’ve developed a series of processes in order to try to bring these sequences to life. It’s difficult.  The dinosaurs are not there.  So we’ve found ways.  There are ways you can play a scene just using your imagination alone as to what’s happening.  Also you can play a scene where the director’s saying, “Okay, it’s crawling up your leg,” or “Now it’s about to take a bite out of you, dodge it, quick!” We have a guy with a cardboard dinosaur head on a stick, making you flinch.  We’ve sort of incorporated all of these different ways, shooting it from different angles and multiple takes.  But every take we do, there’s a lot of pressure on us to try to make this as real as possible. I’m never thinking about my grocery list. [LAUGHS] I’m always trying to give a truthful reaction to these dinosaurs that aren’t there.

QUESTION: What remains in store for this first season? How will the Terra Nova mythology evolve?

O'MARA: We’ve got to find out who the spy is, what’s motivating the spy to do what they are doing. Also, what’s coming through on the 11th pilgrimage, and what’s happening in 2149. We really do develop our mythology, deepen it and answer all these questions that we’re posing. While there will be a cliffhanger at the end of season one, which will lead to another set of storylines, we pretty much answer all of these storylines.  It’s self-contained, even though it sets us up easily for a second season. There’s something very satisfying about that, I think.

TERRA NOVA is available on DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Gone in Seconds - A J Cross

Release Date: 05/07/12

SYNOPSIS:

When the skeleton of a young woman is found near a West Midlands motorway, evidence suggests that it is that of teenager Molly James, who went missing five years ago. Forensic psychologist Dr Kate Hanson and the Unsolved Crime Unit are called in to re-investigate Molly's case. The deeper they dig the dirtier the clues get, and when a second set of remains is unearthed Kate suspects they're looking for a Repeater: a killer who will adapt, grow and not stop until they are caught. Will Dr Hanson manage to unravel the tangle of clues that the killer has left behind before he has a chance to take another innocent victim?


REVIEW:

As a huge reader of Crime titles its starting to feel that these days you can’t pick up a book that isn’t written by someone who has been involved in the investigative side of a crime, whether its from former policemen or pathologists or now from criminal psychologists.

Not that it’s a bad thing as you know that the procedural side of things is correct for the relevant country but also because real life experiences have been woven within to help give it a feel of authenticity. What makes this book a little different is the fact that it’s set over here in the UK (which to be honest in my opinion makes it a little scarier) and whilst some cases aren’t mentioned by name the reader can cast some educated guesses at which ones are hinted at within.

All in, the details are pretty descriptive with the author not giving the reader the chance to miss anything with a solid prose and of course a wonderful lead character to help the reader make their way within this dark aspect of our own world. Back that up with solid deductions, some good side-lines and a plot that keeps you going throughout and all in it’s a cracking debut.



SCIENCE FICTION AUDIO BOOK REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: Chosen of Khorne - Anthony Reynolds

Release Date: 25/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Deep within the Eye of Terror, the followers of the blood god Khorne war amongst themselves to win their patron’s favour, and for the right to lead a new crusade against the Imperium in his name. Argus Brond, berserker champion of the old World Eaters Legion, has called upon his old comrade Kharn for assistance – surely, this legendary warrior will break the deadlock and secure victory for him? But Kharn, known with good reason as ‘the Betrayer’, is far more than just a crazed killer, and his own agenda will always come first...


REVIEW:

Whilst some audio books don’t quite work on the level that they’re intended this visceral story by Anthony Reynolds comes over with its deep sense of menacing weighing wonderfully against a mind gone mad. It’s definitely a title that I enjoyed with the vocal talent really bringing it over to the listener with a cracking set of pace, some wonderful sound effects which when blended with a tale of paranoia alongside a mind lost within itself that really keeps you going from start to finish.

Back all that up with writing that’s wonderfully suited to audio, a tale of bloodshed alongside insanity that leaves you wondering what is real and imagined from one of the characters points of view with a climax that really will keep you glued to every word and all in its one of my favourite 40K Audio books. Great stuff.



Monday, 24 September 2012

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Borderlands 2 - Take 2 Interactive

Release Date: 21/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

Borderlands 2 furthers the distinct blending of First Person Shooter and Role Playing genres to create the true evolution of the Role Playing Shooter. Team up with up to three other players for four-player online goodness or go old-school with two-player split-screen couch sharing mayhem as you spend hours leveling up your character and equipping them with one of the millions of badass weapons.

Borderlands 2 features a new visually stunning array of procedurally generated guns, shields, grenades, artifacts, enemies and more. Choose one of the four new character classes to be taken through a carefully crafted and connected story to all new and surprising environments across the living planet of Pandora. Make new friends, arm them to the teeth and fight alongside them on your relentless quest for revenge and redemption.

Features:

Gunzerker Leads a Cast of All-New Characters and All-New Classes: Step into the role of the Gunzerker, whose highly deadly skills allow him to dual-wield any two weapons found in the game. Not only that, you will build on that skill to do more things with two guns than you ever imagined possible. Dual machine guns? Cool. Dual rocket launchers? Of course! Dual Sniper Rifles? Sure, if that’s your thing! Want to try other styles? More tactical perhaps? There are multiple classes to choose from!

Dynamic Co-op online, split-screen and LAN: Share your adventures with friends both online and via LAN. Borderlands 2 features a seamless system enabling you to drop in and drop out of a campaign without ever having to restart the game. On top of that you can even take your new gear from any game to any other!

World Connected Story: You will find yourself left for dead in the frozen tundra of Pandora as you begin your quest of revenge and redemption. Expose the evil surrounding the Hyperion Corporation and take on the perpetrator of a universe-wide grand deception -- the nefarious Hyperion CEO, Handsome Jack. (Oh, also: he's stolen credit for the opening of the Vault.)

New Badass Gun System: An entirely new take on the groundbreaking procedural system means millions upon millions of possible weapons. The variety and style of guns in Borderlands 2 is staggering, and you’ll see tons of new and innovative ways to engage foes on Pandora. Fire, electricity, corrosive acid, and much more will all be at your disposal as you fight your way through the Hyperion Corporation’s forces!

87 Bazillion...Everything: In addition to the new gun system, you will lust after procedurally generated shields, grenades, Alien Artifacts, class mods and much, much more. And you thought the original Borderlands had a ton of loot!

Brand new environments on Pandora: Hunt through entirely brand new areas of Pandora that are more alive than ever! From the arctic tundra, through the dangerous grasslands, past the mysterious corrosive caverns to beyond, you’ll be surprised by the unpredictable world of Pandora at every turn!

Brand new enemies: A whole slew of new enemies are out there to kill you in Borderlands 2. Hulking, gorilla-like Bullymongs, vicious predatory Stalkers and the Hyperion mechanical army, run by Handsome Jack, are just some of the new enemies you will be facing off against on Pandora. New strategies will need to be created for every fight, as enemies now interact and aid each other to ensure you don’t get far in the world of Pandora.



REVIEW:

I’ve been looking forward to this game for quite some time and after replaying the original just prior to starting I was expecting a hell of a lot with loads of missions, bazillions of guns and of course the ability to annihilate the citizens of Pandora whilst achieving my own aims.

Upon receiving the game the first thing that you have to decide is which class you want to play and with four to choose from, each offers their own style of play. For example, Lady Eleanors straight in, no messing attitude is ideal for the Gunzerker, whereas for me having loved the Siren in the original I set off playing this class and whilst it has been fun, I suspect the Assassin may be more to my taste (which I’ll try on a replay shortly) whereas you enjoy playing a more military strategic option then the Commando would suit you. It’s great fun, it has a couple of different vehicles to drive round (although I tended to stick with the Rocket Launcher on the Light Runner) which whilst fun, I’d have liked the option of flying the Buzzard at some point. Add to this lockers to stash old guns in for others characters you play and I thought it was a very nice touch.

All in the game has a lot of quirky people to meet, an absolute ton of missions and of course always the chance to get bigger and better weapons as well as the options to buy and sell. Finally add to the mix, a whole load of missions, a wicked sense of humour thrown into the programming backed up with huge amount of chaos within the threads and all in it’s a game that I’ve absolutely loved and can’t wait to re-embark upon again.

DVD REVIEW: How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Mel Gibson - Lionsgate

Release Date: 24/09/12

SYNOPSIS:

It’s been a bad day for Driver (Mel Gibson) and it’s not getting any better. He just made a big haul of millions that would give him a nice summer vacation on easy street. A good idea that went south – literally.

During a high-speed car chase with the US Border Patrol, and a bleeding body in his back seat, Driver flips his car smashing through the border wall, tumbling violently, coming to a stop … in Mexico. Apprehended by the Mexican authorities, he is sent to a hard-core prison where he enters the strange and dangerous world of “El Pueblito”, the worst prison in all of Mexico. Not an easy place for an outsider such as Driver to survive, unless it’s with the help of someone who knows the ropes - a 10 year-old kid.


REVIEW:

I love a film that’s feels not only different but gives the viewer something to cheer for as well as enjoy. That’s exactly what I got from this latest Mel Gibson title which to be honest I had a lot of fun with. It’s got some great twists, the acting is reasonable and I loved the dodgy anti-hero he played here that really stole the show.

Add to this a solid script backed up with typical Gibson humour purveying throughout and when added to some slick shots, some good editing and a whole host of action really gave me a title that I enjoyed from the beginning opening sequence to the final scene.



LADY ELEANOR URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Ash - James Herbert

Release Date: 30/08/12

SYNOPSIS:

The World Grand Master of Horror cordially invites you to an idyllic Scottish retreat with beautiful rooms, luscious gardens, a breathtaking view ...and a basement full of secrets.


REVIEW:

As a long-time fan of James’ writing, when I originally heard about this book I was more than a little eager to get my hands upon it. Then the delays hit with the publication date being pushed back time and again yet my faith stood strong knowing that when the title finally arrived it would be something magical. Yet sometime on when it finally arrived I was a little apprehensive to start as to be honest this title was a little chunky and of course a bit scary as when you’ve waited as long as I have the anticipation is almost a living breathing creature.

What unfurled within the book was a story that was well written with obviously meticulously researched material into the events that gave this story a setting in the real world. Yet for all that, the book was overly long with what felt like a lot of unnecessary padding with no real middle leaving a book with an interesting beginning and a monotonous conclusion. Back that up with no real paranormal occurrences within the title alongside poorly designed, almost cartoony characters and all in it was a pretty poor offering for me.



FACTUAL REVIEW: The Art of Manliness - Brett and Kate McKay

Release Date: 25/05/12

SYNOPSIS:

This limited-edition collection contains a wealth of information and inspiration for the modern man. Included inside are the following books: "The Art of Manliness." This book is dedicated to helping men uncover what manliness means in the 21st century, from rediscovering the outdoors to dressing with panache to becoming a good father."The Art of Manliness: Manvotionals." This book contains the manliest wisdom of the ages--a myriad of poems, quotes, and essays designed to inspire men to live life to the fullest and realize their complete potential as men.

Together, housed in a classic cigar box, they make the perfect gift for any man (or soon-to-be man) who is conscious of leaving his mark on this world. (This $38 value is priced at only $29.99.)

Also includes 6 drink coasters!


REVIEW:

To be honest I picked this up as a little bit of a joke between me and my Brother in Law who insists that his son (my nephew) should have Dinosaurs or Car’s on his T-Shirts. So when I came across this book from David and Charles I really thought that I’d hit pay dirt, firstly for a joke but secondly as it seemed to contain nuggets that my Dad missed out for me. (I now know how to fold my suit hanky.)

Yet when I read this compendium of books I was surprised at what was contained, it was written from a common sense point of view, had easy to follow guides and whilst a lot of it was stuff that you knew in the back of your mind, other traits that seem to be missing from modern life were present. For example etiquette that seems to be missing from many teenagers today.

All in, this book was not only engrossing but also something that helps you become a better person in yourself as you get the track on how to behave and act when in the presence of a lady (a hard earned lesson for most people) as well as how to make the most of yourself. Finally add the quirkiness together with the presentation and all in for me, this collectable is something that a great many people can benefit from. Great stuff.