Saturday, 31 October 2015

GUEST BLOG: The Monster Mash - Gail Z Martin

Hail Mighty Readers,
Blog friend Gail Z Martin, joined us for Halloween fun as part of her Days of the Dead tour.  Today Gail takes the time to bring you some real treats with no tricks so we'll hand you over to her safe hands to continue:

Urban fantasy didn’t invent vampires, werewolves or hauntings (sorry to disappoint you). What urban fantasy did—very successfully—was to translate elements previously considered to be ‘gothic’ or ‘horror’ into a modern setting where the emphasis was on butt-kicking action, can-do heroes and heroines, and supernatural threats in real, contemporary cities. All of a sudden, you find yourself wondering if that creepy all-night mini-mart clerk might really be a ghoul. Or whether the abandoned building everyone thought was a crack house might really be a vampire lair. It’s familiar enough to be easy to read, but it gives everything you thought you knew a hard twist and suddenly, nothing looks the same.

 At the same time, monsters, magic, supernatural threats and cursed objects have always been part of urban legends. The guy with the hook for a hand who kills young lovers parked at a deserted overlook, the stories that make the rounds on email and social media about ending up in a bathtub full of ice minus a kidney, the implied curse of chain emails—all of these tie in to modern superstitions and anxiety. Urban fantasy gives us a directed outlet for those fears and anxiety and a hero/heroine to take them on. But the monsters, dark magic and supernatural dangers were already lurking.

Epic fantasy has long used magic—with a leaning toward big, Gandalf-type pyrotechnics and complicated spells. But if you view epic fantasy as contemporary myth-making which draws on the tradition of the Hero’s Journey and the quest sagas of legend, then monsters and supernatural creatures should be right at home. Ancient myths and legends were full of journeys into the Underworld, confrontations with all kinds of monstrous beasts, vengeful ghosts, wandering ghouls, haunted places and cursed objects. If some of those monsters, like vampires (scary, powerful ones that don’t sparkle and aren’t romantic) have been absent from the genre for a while, then using them in epic fantasy tales is a homecoming more than an innovation.

Steampunk is the genre were some people are a bit surprised about supernatural elements but there, too, the use is true to history. The Victorians were huge fans of spiritualism—séances, mediums, ghost stories. They invented the Ouija board. Victorians made mourning into a life-long fashion industry, and updated the concept of death masks to include post-mortem photography. This is an era of epidemics and wars, with high levels of infant/childhood mortality. The Victorians had a lot to mourn, and they became rather obsessed with death and the afterlife. Inventors like Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and Guglielmo Marconi attempted to create machines that would record the voices of the dead or send messages to the Great Beyond. So to me, including similar elements in Iron & Blood and in our Storm and Fury Adventures short story/novella series spin-offs seems true to the time period.


Don’t get me wrong—I love big battles, splashy explosions, intricate gun fights and sword duels, larger-than-life derring-do and flinty-eyed heroes and heroines. But for a book to speak to my heart, it’s got to have monsters, magic and supernatural mayhem. And gauging from what I hear from readers, I suspect that’s true for a lot of people. Let’s hear it for the monsters!

My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for my stories and for books by author friends of mine. You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/2015/10/22/days-of-the-dead-blog-tour-tricks-treats-and-scary-good-stuff/

Book swag is the new Trick-or-Treat! Grab your envelope of book swag awesomeness from me & 10 authors http://on.fb.me/1h4rIIe before 11/1!


Trick or Treat! Excerpt from my new urban fantasy novel Vendetta set in my Deadly Curiosities world (launches Dec. 29) here http://bit.ly/1ZXCPVS

More Treats! Enter to win a copy of Deadly Curiosities! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160181-deadly-curiosities

Treats! Enter to win a copy of Iron & Blood! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/160182-iron-blood


Treats Not Tricks! Read an excerpt from Collector, one of my Deadly Curiosities stories http://bit.ly/1t8XMy7

More Halloween goodies! Here’s a monstrous excerpt from Resurrection Day, one of our Storm & Fury Steampunk stories set in our world of Iron & Blood http://bit.ly/1QTmbRf

Trick Or Treat Loot! Bonus excerpt Space Horrors http://www.sidhenadaire.com/books/SH-ex.pdf

Halloween Treat! An excerpt from Travellin’ Show http://www.sidhenadaire.com/books/ST-Ex.pdf

About the Author
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the upcoming novel Vendetta: A Deadly Curiosities Novel in her urban fantasy series set in Charleston, SC (Dec. 2015, Solaris Books) as well as the epic fantasy novel Shadow and Flame (March, 2016 Orbit Books) which is the fourth and final book in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga. Shadowed Path, an anthology of Jonmarc Vahanian short stories set in the world of The Summoner, debuts from Solaris books in June, 2016.

Other books include The Jake Desmet Adventures a new Steampunk series (Solaris Books) co-authored with Larry N. Martin as well as Ice Forged, Reign of Ash and War of Shadows in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn, The Dread) from Orbit Books and the urban fantasy novel Deadly Curiosities from Solaris Books.

Gail writes four series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures, The Deadly Curiosities Adventures, The King’s Convicts series, and together with Larry N. Martin, The Storm and Fury Adventures. Her work has appeared in over 20 US/UK anthologies. Newest anthologies include: The Big Bad 2, Athena’s Daughters, Realms of Imagination, Heroes, With Great Power, and (co-authored with Larry N. Martin) Space, Contact Light, The Weird Wild West, The Side of Good/The Side of Evil, Alien Artifacts, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens.



URBAN FANTASY HORROR REVIEW: Horrorology - Ed. Stephen Jones

Release Date: 01/10/15
Publisher:  Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus

SYNOPSIS:

In the Library of the Damned, hidden away amongst that vast depository of ancient wisdom, there exists a certain bookcase where the most decadent, the most blasphemous of tomes sit upon a dusty shelf.

And amongst those titles - that should never be named - there is one volume that is the most terrible, the most hideous of them all.That book is the Lexicon of Fear.

But, long ago, some of its pages were ripped from the binding and spirited away by a lowly student of the ancient science of Horrorology, who was determined the secrets contained therein would one day be shared with the world.

And now that day has come. These are the words thatcomprise the very language of horror itself, and the tales they tell are notfor the fainthearted. But be warned: once you have read them, there is noturning back. Soon, you too will know the true meanings of fear . . .

Featuring stories from Clive Barker, Robert Shearman, Michael Marshall Smith, Pat Cadigan, Mark Samuels, Joanne Harris, Muriel Gray, Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Reggie Oliver, Angela Slatter and Lisa Tuttle.


REVIEW:

If there’s a fan that loves horror at Falcata Times, its Lady Eleanor and with Halloween being her favourite holiday she always looks forward to this time of year, buying up films and books to feed her need throughout the year. (Especially for Christmas.) So when this title with artwork by Clive Barker as well as being edited by Stephen Jones landed she couldn’t wait to get her hands upon it and run to her duvet of protection.

I had high hopes for this book from a selection of modern horror authors, as not only do I love the chance to try some authors that I may not have had the pleasure of spending time with but also knowing that I have pure talent from authors I love. What occurs within is a book that has a whole heap of talent within and whilst some of the tales left me feeling very flat as I hated the overuse of bad language (almost as if it was there to fill a word count, rather than entertain.) Whilst there are some cracking stories (I love Kim Newman) what always makes me happy about compendiums is that I can dip into them to get a horror fix when I need it, whether its on my way to work or during lunch or even to help me relax for bed.

All round, its an OK book and if you want to try some established names that are new to you alongside favourites, it’s a good way to spend your cash so you can make requests (or perhaps threats) for your Christmas list. Hopefully you’ll enjoy this fearful experience and at the end of the day, However because not every title gave me the goosebumps or chills I wanted it has a lower rating.

Friday, 30 October 2015

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Ubisoft

Release Date: 23/10/15
Publisher:  Ubisoft

SYNOPSIS:

London, 1868. The Industrial Revolution unleashes an incredible age of invention, transforming the lives of millions with technologies once thought impossible. Opportunities created during this time period have people rushing to London to engage in this new world. A world no longer controlled by kings, emperors, politicians or religion, but by a new common denominator: money.

However, not everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of this boom. Despite fueling the engine of the British Empire, workers’ lives are little more than legalised slavery while the top few percent profit from their labour. Living poor and dying young, the lower class unite together in protest as a new kind of family – gangs – who turn to a life in the underworld in their struggle to survive. A struggle, until watchful Assassins come to their side and re-ignite an age-old conflict involving London’s leaders that will echo throughout modern history from the underground, up.

Introducing Assassin Jacob Frye, who with the help of his twin sister Evie, will change the fate of millions in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Rise to rally and lead the underworld to break the corrupt stranglehold on London in a visceral adventure filled with action, intrigue and brutal combat.

Key Features

THE FIRST ASSASSIN AT THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN AGE — As the brash, rebellious Jacob Frye, throw up your dukes and take on enemies with lightning-fast multi-kills and counter moves. Use improved stealth tactics to elude your enemies, then unleash your arsenal of all-new weapons including the kukri knife, brass knuckles and cane sword. Utilise new technology like the rope launcher to scale buildings in seconds and take your enemies by surprise.

TRAVERSE THE FAST-PACED WORLD OF INDUSTRIAL LONDON — From Buckingham Palace to Whitechapel, fight and triumph across the massive open world of Victorian London. Parkour across moving vehicles to track down enemies or escape after a daring raid. Hijack carriages and engage in no-holds-barred street races or blaze a trail of destruction aboard steamboats on the River Thames.

TAKE-OVER THE LONDON UNDERWORLD — With Jacob as the leader, gamers can establish Great Britain’s fiercest gang, the only force that can challenge the plutocrats and defeat rival gangs, to bring freedom to the oppressed masses. Enemy strongholds can be infiltrated by using an arsenal of weapons to dominate London’s underworld. From robbing trains to rescuing child labourers, players will stop at nothing to bring justice to London’s lawless streets.


REVIEW:

OK, I’ve been a big Assassin’s Creed fan for years. I’ve loved the various idea’s, the weapons and of course the characters as well as the story as I get to revisit the past and meet people of interest from the various era’s. This game is no different bringing the modern era to the forefront as we rub shoulders with the likes of Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Darwin alongside Queen Victoria. Its definitely something different and whilst it is in the same vein as the others, there were quite a few features that I didn’t like.

Firstly having two assassins to play didn’t work for me as I found the skill trees too similar. It seemed a waste of time when they could have spent more on just the one character. I loved playing Evie and whilst Jacob provided the light comedy of the twins bickering it felt unnessessary as for me it would have made more sense to have one of them murdered (you choose) as they did in Fable 2. It would have made more sense and given the assassin’s purpose at the beginning.

But for me the biggest problem is that its set too close to the modern era for me. Yes the inventions are cool (the grappling hook) but other than that, I’m not the biggest fan of guns. In previous titles, they were one shot and they gave you chance to utilse the assassination skills to the mx, yet against modern repeaters, it feels like you’re taking ancient weaponry to a modern fight.

For me, I’d have been happier to have gone further into the past, for example to ancient Egypt as we know from the lore in AC2 that there are ancestors that are available, using chariots, the bow and of course tomb raiding. It would’ve worked better for me as a gamer and with such a wide variety of people from the past to visit the options are there. Likewise with setting it in Britain, rather than more modern times why not set it around the Tudor’s or the War of the Roses (the cousin’s war?)

All round, it is an OK game and whilst it is still true to the franchise they still haven’t gotten round to fixing a number of the glitches that have been present over previous title to do with navigation, don’t get me wrong, you’ll still have fun at the end of the day but against a number of the others its not my favourite.



Thursday, 22 October 2015

FACTOID COUNTDOWN: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Ubisoft


Assassin's Creed Factoid Countdown: 1

TAKE OVER THE LONDON UNDERWORLD 

With Jacob as the leader, gamers can establish Great Britain’s fiercest gang, the only force that can challenge the elite and defeat rival gangs to bring freedom to the oppressed masses. Enemy strongholds can be infiltrated by using an arsenal of weapons to dominate London’s underworld. From robbing trains to rescuing child laborers, players will stop at nothing to bring justice to London’s dangerous streets.

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Fallout 4: What Makes you Special: Luck - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have asked us to let you know about the seventh Fallout 4 feature which ask's why you're SPECIAL.  The trailer is a lot of fun and harks back to some of those cracking Looney Toons that you remember from years ago.  But don't just take our word for it have a look yourself.  Its an absolute corker.  More on these features as we get them, but here's Luck:




Also please remember that Fallout 4 has a special one price Season Pass that includes:

Regular Updates

We'll be doing regular free updates to the game, and like Skyrim, these will come with not just fixes, but new features. For Skyrim we added things like mounted combat, legendary mode, kill cams, visual enhancements and more. We’ll work with all of you to figure out what new things you’d love to see added to Fallout 4, whether they are small tweaks or new features. 

Mods & Creation Kit

The most important thing in our games is the freedom you have to create your own experience, and modding is a big part of that. Like all our previous games, we’ve made sure to keep Fallout 4 open and moddable at every step in development. Early next year we’ll release for free the new Creation Kit for the PC. This is the same tool we use in the studio. You'll be able to create your own mods and share them with others. We’re especially excited these same mods will then be coming to Xbox One, and then PlayStation 4. 

Downloadable Content

We've always done a lot of DLC for our games. We love making them and you always ask us for more. To reward our most loyal fans, this time we’ll be offering a Season Pass that will get you all of the Fallout 4 DLC we ever do for just $30. Since we’re still hard at work on the game, we don’t know what the actual DLC will be yet, but it will start coming early next year. Based on what we did for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, we know that it will be worth at least $40, and if we do more, you'll get it all with the Season Pass.
Thanks again to all of you! The support and excitement you’ve given Fallout 4 has blown us away. It’s energized us even more to do everything we can in these final months to make this our best game yet. We absolutely can't wait for you to play it, and share your adventures with us and each other."

We can't wait to see what will be coming to Fallout 4 from friends and other modders, and hopefully see you in the far future,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

FACTOID COUNTDOWN: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Ubisoft


Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Countdown: 2

TRAVERSE THE FAST-PACED WORLD OF INDUSTRIAL LONDON 

From Buckingham Palace to Big Ben, fight and triumph across the massive open world of Victorian London. Use parkour across moving vehicles to track down enemies or escape after a daring raid, hijack carriages to engage in a no-holds-barred street race, or blaze a trail of destruction aboard steamboats along the River Thames. 


Tuesday, 20 October 2015

FACTOID COUNTDOWN: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Ubisoft


Assassin's Creed: Syndicate Factoid Countdown: 3

THE FIRST ASSASSIN AT THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN AGE 

As the brash, rebellious Jacob Frye, put up your dukes and take enemies on with lightning-fast multikills and countermoves. Use improved stealth tactics to elude your enemies and unleash your arsenal of weapons, including the kukri knife, brass knuckles, and sword cane. Utilise new technology like the rope launcher to scale buildings in seconds and take your enemies by surprise. 

ARTS AND CRAFTS: Paper Dandy's Horrorgami - Marc Hagan-Guirey

Release Date: 07/09/15
Publisher:  Lawrence King

SYNOPSIS:

Paper Dandy's Horrorgami features 20 kirigami (cut-and-fold) designs based around haunted houses and scenes from horror films by the creator of the successful Horrorgami blog and exhibition. Each project features step-by-step instructions and a template that you remove from the book. You then follow the lines on the template, cutting and folding to make your own kirigami model. All you need is a scalpel, a cutting mat and a ruler. Clear cutting tips help you with the tricky stages and give you an order in which to complete your work, while photos of the finished model show you the final design. Projects are ranked from beginner to advanced. Suitable for folding experts and beginners alike, Paper Dandy's Horrorgami makes the perfect Halloween activity.


REVIEW:

T’is the month of ghosts and ghouls, of skeletons and spirits so what are you going to do to get your home in order, well worry not as this cracking book from “the paper dandy” as a whole host of creepy paper constructs for you to create in a step by step guide to making that extra scene for you to have fun with.

OK, so its not straight forward and to be honest I had trouble with the straight edges but that’s down to me rather than the book. It is fun, the silhouettes give you something superbly creepy and if you do what I did (which was to photocopy the patterns, you can then make them each year or to give away as Halloween gifts, or if you feel extra especially tricksy, you can blow them up and create a huge design.

All round, it’s a good bit of fun and with idea’s for everyone there’s so many things that you can have fun creating to give you that extra special theme. Magic.

Monday, 19 October 2015

FACTOID COUNTDOWN: Assassin's Creed: Syndicate - Ubisoft


Assassin's Creed Factoid Countdown: 4
MASTER THE ART OF STEALTH AS EVIE FRYE 

Play as Jacob’s twin sister Evie, a relentless Assassin who has perfected the silent, swift and stealthy strike. Use parkour to navigate across the immense open world using your status in London’s leading gang to change the city for the better.

YOUNG ADULT FUN THINGS REVIEW: Pierre the Maze Detective: The Search for the Stolen Maze Stone - Hiro Kamigaki, IC4Design

Release Date: 07/09/15
Publisher:  Lawrence King

SYNOPSIS:

Pierre the Maze Detective has a new case. Mr X has stolen the Maze Stone, which has the power to turn the whole of Opera City into a maze. Can you help Pierre and his friend Carmen find their way through the mazes – and stop Mr X before it's too late? This beautifully illustrated book features 15 full-spread illustrations of intricate, magical mazes. Take a trip through a fantastic world of underground cities, hot-air balloons, tree-top towns and haunted houses. Trace your way through each maze, spot the clues and solve the extra mystery challenges along the way. Hours of puzzle fun, for all maze detectives aged 8+. A page of answers with the routes through the mazes and other solutions is included at the end of the book.


REVIEW:

The Japanese version of Where’s Wally and whilst I’m an adult, I had a lot of fun going through each of the images, following the clues to get from point A to point B as I chase Mr X in order to save the Maze Stone from his evil clutches. OK, so its aimed at the 8+ market but lets be honest here, adults will get just as much fun from this title as young household members.

For me, this book wonderful, bright colours, top notch clues and with so many things to find within each image, it’ll take you quite a while to uncover all the nuances within. A great book for children of all ages and a title that my Dad has already pre-booked so he can do the puzzles with his grandkids. Who could ask for more?

Friday, 16 October 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Fallout 4: The Wanderer Live Action Trailer and Fallout Shelter Android Game - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have asked have let us know about their live action trailer that will have you clamouring for more in the build up to Fallout 4.  As you'll see its got a great music track and brings the game to the fore in all its glory.  As a gamer and fan of the franchise, we can't wait to utilise our "SPECIAL" gifts as well as fighting our way into the wasteland to create our own oasis.  Here's the trailer for your viewing pleasure:




In addition to this, Bethesda has also announced thier first ever Fallout 4 Android game:
We’re pleased to announce that an all-new update is now available for Fallout Shelter™, the first-ever mobile game set in the celebrated Fallout® universe from Bethesda Game Studios®, available for free on Android and iOS devices.

Thanks to Vault-Tec, a new mode, extra tools and new features have been added to protect and perfect your Vault including:

New Vault-Tec network protocols are finally in place. Now you can save your Vault to the “cloud,” (no moisture condenser necessary!) and continue any Vault experiment on all of your devices.
    

Some Dwellers are reporting sightings of a mysterious individual in Vaults around the Wasteland. Vault-Tec is offering a bottle cap reward for any positive identification!
 

Faced all the challenges the “normal” Vault simulation can provide? Introducing Survival Mode! More danger, More glory. Make Vault-Tec proud!
 

New Vault-Tec directive – Dwellers have been given authorization to scavenge equipment from dead Raiders. Gear up!
 

Are you an experienced Overseer who has already undergone Vault operational training? Now you can skip the tutorial!
 

In an effort to assist Overseers in running their Vaults more efficiently, Vault-Tec has added a statistics page to the Vault Dweller’s Survival Guide (VDSG).
 

Support added for Russian-speaking Overseers.
 

Continued general maintenance to the Vault simulation.  Because when you speak, Vault-Tec listens!
 

Available exclusively on the App Store, all new legendary character Piper from Fallout 4 and five FREE lunchboxes!

Following its release in June on the App Store, Fallout Shelter achieved global success as the top downloaded game in 48 countries and the top downloaded app of any kind in 25 countries following its release. During E3 2015 Fallout Shelter received praise from some of the industry’s leading outlets, earning ‘Game of the Week’ from Touch Arcade and nominations for ‘Biggest Surprise’ from IGN and ‘Best Handled/Mobile Game’ from the official Game Critics Awards.

To learn more about Fallout Shelter visit: www.FalloutShelter.com.


Finally please remember that Fallout 4 has a special one price Season Pass that includes:

Regular Updates

We'll be doing regular free updates to the game, and like Skyrim, these will come with not just fixes, but new features. For Skyrim we added things like mounted combat, legendary mode, kill cams, visual enhancements and more. We’ll work with all of you to figure out what new things you’d love to see added to Fallout 4, whether they are small tweaks or new features. 

Mods & Creation Kit

The most important thing in our games is the freedom you have to create your own experience, and modding is a big part of that. Like all our previous games, we’ve made sure to keep Fallout 4 open and moddable at every step in development. Early next year we’ll release for free the new Creation Kit for the PC. This is the same tool we use in the studio. You'll be able to create your own mods and share them with others. We’re especially excited these same mods will then be coming to Xbox One, and then PlayStation 4. 

Downloadable Content

We've always done a lot of DLC for our games. We love making them and you always ask us for more. To reward our most loyal fans, this time we’ll be offering a Season Pass that will get you all of the Fallout 4 DLC we ever do for just $30. Since we’re still hard at work on the game, we don’t know what the actual DLC will be yet, but it will start coming early next year. Based on what we did for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, we know that it will be worth at least $40, and if we do more, you'll get it all with the Season Pass.
Thanks again to all of you! The support and excitement you’ve given Fallout 4 has blown us away. It’s energized us even more to do everything we can in these final months to make this our best game yet. We absolutely can't wait for you to play it, and share your adventures with us and each other."

We can't wait to see what will be coming to Fallout 4 from friends and other modders, and hopefully see you in the far future,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Fallout 4: What makes you SPECIAL?: Agility - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have asked us to let you know about the sixth Fallout 4 feature which ask's why you're SPECIAL.  The trailer is a lot of fun and harks back to some of those cracking Looney Toons that you remember from years ago.  But don't just take our word for it have a look yourself.  Its an absolute corker.  More on these features as we get them, but here's Agility:



Also please remember that Fallout 4 has a special one price Season Pass that includes:

Regular Updates

We'll be doing regular free updates to the game, and like Skyrim, these will come with not just fixes, but new features. For Skyrim we added things like mounted combat, legendary mode, kill cams, visual enhancements and more. We’ll work with all of you to figure out what new things you’d love to see added to Fallout 4, whether they are small tweaks or new features. 

Mods & Creation Kit

The most important thing in our games is the freedom you have to create your own experience, and modding is a big part of that. Like all our previous games, we’ve made sure to keep Fallout 4 open and moddable at every step in development. Early next year we’ll release for free the new Creation Kit for the PC. This is the same tool we use in the studio. You'll be able to create your own mods and share them with others. We’re especially excited these same mods will then be coming to Xbox One, and then PlayStation 4. 

Downloadable Content

We've always done a lot of DLC for our games. We love making them and you always ask us for more. To reward our most loyal fans, this time we’ll be offering a Season Pass that will get you all of the Fallout 4 DLC we ever do for just $30. Since we’re still hard at work on the game, we don’t know what the actual DLC will be yet, but it will start coming early next year. Based on what we did for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, we know that it will be worth at least $40, and if we do more, you'll get it all with the Season Pass.
Thanks again to all of you! The support and excitement you’ve given Fallout 4 has blown us away. It’s energized us even more to do everything we can in these final months to make this our best game yet. We absolutely can't wait for you to play it, and share your adventures with us and each other."

We can't wait to see what will be coming to Fallout 4 from friends and other modders, and hopefully see you in the far future,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

FANTASY REVIEW: A Crown for Cold Silver - Alex Marshall

Release Date: 17/09/15
Publisher:  

SYNOPSIS:

Cold Cobalt, the Banshee with a Blade, First Among Villains . . . Queen Zosia

When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, the warrior queen Zosia faked her demise and gave up her legend to history. But when violence finds its way to her door years later, she must round up her adventuring companions - each surprised to see her alive - and set out for revenge.

Time has not been kind to her old comrades, and some have only their own goals in mind. Not only that, but there's a young, beautiful and skilled general out there, gathering soldiers to her banner for a war against the deadliest of enemies. The girl is using a legend she did not earn, and calling herself by a name that was never hers - that of Zosia herself.


REVIEW:

I’m a huge reader of epic fantasy and whilst I love the seriousness alongside development of the worlds that I’m allowed to visit, at times you want ab it of humour thrown in, that allows the story to be told by a character that fully understands that irony is sometimes the only currency that you have aplenty in life.

This title by Alex does all this, bringing a cracking female character to the fore, a woman who stands out in her world for being unusual as well as being able to set goals, achieving targets and fighting the long war knowing that battles will be lost. For me this book delivers it all, a likeable principle character, top notch supporting cast and a world that is beautifully developed. All round a book that I really recommend to epic fantasy fans looking for something a little different. I can’t wait for the next outing from Alex. Magic.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

BLU RAY DVD NEWS: X-Files to appear on Blu Ray for the First Time - 20th Century Fox


Hail Mighty Readers,
Our friends at 20th Century Fox have let us know that not only is the truth out there but that on 8th December 2015 that fans will be able to own the whole 9 seasons on Blu Ray for the first time with over 23 hours of conspiracy and cover ups.  If you have an X-phile in your life make their Christmas especially when they're preparing for a brand new series next year.

Here's what they had to say:
THE  X-FILES  -  THE  COLLECTOR’S  SET  -  featuring  a  slot  for  the  six  episode  event  series  –  releases  on  8 December 2015, giving fans the chance to own a piece of television history and one of the year’s  must-have giftset collections.

Since  its  inception  in  1993,  ‘The  X-Files’  has  remained  a  worldwide  phenomenon,  garnering  a  loyal  cult following,  16  Emmys ® and  five  Golden  Globe ® Awards,  including  “Best  Dramatic  TV  Series”  during  its  nineseason run.

Now  for  the  first  time,  all  nine  exhilarating,  groundbreaking  seasons  of  ‘THE  X-FILES’,  along  with  special  features, can be yours to own on Blu-ray! Although they began as reluctant partners, FBI special agents Fox  Mulder  and  Dana  Scully  (Golden  Globe ® winners  David  Duchovny  and  Gillian  Anderson)  ultimately  form  a  powerful bond as they struggle to unravel deadly conspiracies and solve paranormal mysteries.

THE X-FILES  -  THE  COLLECTOR’S SET  features  more than 23  hours of content  across all nine seasons  –  perfect for catching up  on the series  before  the new event series  airs. Relive all the mythology, conspiracy theories with special features, including  behind-the-scenes featurettes, and  commentaries by executive producer  Chris Carter (Millennium, Harsh, Realm), R.W Goodwin, Rob Bowman, Kim Manners, Frank Spotniz, Robert Patrick and Rod Hardy.

THE X-FILES – THE COLLECTOR’S SET SPECIAL FEATURES
Season One
o  Series Intro by Frank Spotnitz
o  Chris Carter Talks About Season 1
o  Deleted Scenes
o  International Clips
o  Deep Throat: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
*
o  Erlenmeyer Flask: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin
*
o  Special Effects Clip From Fallen Angel
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season 1”

Season Two
o  Deleted Scenes
o  Chris Carter Talks About Season 2
o  Humbug International Clips
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Two”
o  Duane Barry: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter
*
o  End Games: Audio Commentary by Frank Spotnitz
*
o  Anasazi: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin

Season Three
o  Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
o  Chris Carter Talks About Season 3
o  International Clips
o  Special Effects with Commentary by Mat Beck
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Three”
o  Threads of Mythology: Abduction
o  Talitha Cuma: Audio Commentary by R.W. Goodwin

Season Four
o  Deleted Scenes
o  Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
o  Tunguska – Interview With Chris Carter
o  Paper Hearts – Interview with Vince Gilligan
o  Memento Mori: Audio Commentary by Rob Bowman

o  Introduction to Memento Mori by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
o  Max: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners*
o  Documentary: The Truth About Season Four

Season Five
o  International Clips
o  Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
o  Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Five”
o  Threads of Mythology: Black Oil 
o  FX Featurette
o  Introduction to The Post-Modern Prometheus by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
o  Patient X: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners

o  The Red and the Black: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter*
o  The Post Modern Prometheus: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter*
o  The Pine Bluff Variant: Audio Commentary by John Shiban*
Season Six
o  Special Effects with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  Deleted Scenes (w/optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz)
o  International Clips
o  Two Fathers: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
*
o  One Son: Audio Commentary by Frank Spotnitz*
o  Triangle: Audio Commentary by Chris Carter*
o  Introduction to Milagro by Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz
o  X-Files Profiles: Cigarette-Smoking Man*
o  Featurette on Season Six
o  Documentary: The Truth About Season Six

Season Seven
o  Deleted scenes (w/optional commentary by Chris Carter)
o  Special effects sequences with commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  International Clips
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Seven” Behind-the-Scenes featurette
o  X-Files Profiles: A.D. Skinner and Samantha Mulder
o  Closure: Audio Commentary by Kim Manners
*
o  The Truth About Season Seven

Season Eight
o  Special Effects by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  International Clips
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Eight”
o  Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Chris Carter
o  Threads of Mythology: Colonization 
o  X-Files Profiles
o  Within: Commentary by Kim Manners and Robert Patrick
*
o  Deadalive: Commentary by Frank Spotnitz
*
o  Vienen: Commentary by Rod Hardy

Season Nine
o  Deleted scenes (w/optional commentary by Frank Spotnitz)
o  Special Effects by Mat Beck with Commentary by Paul Rabwin
o  International Clips
o  Audio Commentary by Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz, Kim Manners
o  Documentary: “The Truth About Season Nine”
o   “The Making of ‘The Truth’”
o  “Secrets of The X-Files”
o  “Tribute to The X-Files”
o  More Secrets of The X-Files
o  Threads of Mythology: Super Soldiers
o  X-Files Profiles
o  Reflections on the Truth Featurette
o  Wonder Con Panel

FANTASY REVIEW: Pathfinder Tales 2: Liar's Island - Tim Pratt

Release Date: 25/08/15
Publisher:  Tor/Forge

SYNOPSIS:

Rodrick is a con man as charming as he is cunning. Hrym is a talking sword of magical ice, with the soul and spells of an ancient dragon. Together, the two travel the world, parting the gullible from their gold and freezing their enemies in their tracks. But when the two get summoned to the mysterious island of Jalmeray by a king with genies and elementals at his command, they'll need all their wits and charm if they're going to escape with the greatest prize of all-their lives.

From Hugo Award winner Tim Pratt comes a tale of magic, assassination, monsters, and cheerful larceny, in Pathfinder Tales: Liar's Island, set in the award-winning world of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.


REVIEW:

Roleplay novel books seem to be coming into vogue recently and whilst some of the settings work extremely well for the reader, sadly for me, it feels that Pathfinder is one that really isn’t sure what it can or can’t do. Its not that the authors do a bad job, but for fans of the world already, there is a lot of the additional complex details that just aren’t needed and really slow the storytelling down whilst they have to sit back and wait for the author to infodump some background in there for the uninitiated.

It really slows the book down, it feels that there’s too much detracting from the overall arc and when you cut these out it keeps it moving smoothly as well as allowing the characters to get on with their own stuff. For me, its not a series for those unfamiliar with it and perhaps because the main readership is for fans, what would work better would be a guide to Pathfinder to be read prior to staring the novels or even to cross reference so that they can keep the tale sailing along.

All round, a book that was OK, but at the end of the day, if they keep interrupting to have to explain a lot of the details, it’s a series that for me as a reader is not going to be on my TBR list for long.

Monday, 12 October 2015

STEAMPUNK URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Gareth and Adele 1: The Geomancer - Clay and Susan Griffith

Release Date: 01/10/15
Publisher:  Pyr

SYNOPSIS:

The first Gareth and Adele Novel, The Geomancer is the start of an ongoing, character-based, urban fantasy series set in the same Vampire Empire universe as the authors’ previous trilogy!

The uneasy stalemate between vampires and humans is over. Adele and Gareth are bringing order to a free Britain, but bloody murders in London raise the specter that Adele's geomancy is failing and the vampires might return. A new power could tilt the balance back to the vampire clans. A deranged human called the Witchfinder has surfaced on the Continent, serving new vampire lords. This geomancer has found a way to make vampires immune to geomancy and intends to give his masters the ability to kill humans on a massive scale.

The apocalyptic event in Edinburgh weakened Adele's geomantic abilities. If the Witchfinder can use geomancy against humanity, she may not have the power to stop him. If she can't, there is nowhere beyond his reach and no one he cannot kill.

From a Britain struggling to rebuild to the vampire capital of Paris, from the heart of the Equatorian Empire to a vampire monastery in far-away Tibet, old friends and past enemies return. Unexpected allies and terrible new villains arise. Adele and Gareth fight side-by-side as always, but they can never be the same if they hope to survive.


REVIEW:

Duo-authorship is something that is very hard to do. It can, at times be painfully obvious as to who writes what and one style can over power another without helping the book move at a consistent pace. Characters can also jump with traits so when you get a book from two authors that works wonderfully well, brings good storytelling to the fore alongside weaving dialogue that furthers development, all round means that it’s a writing team that not only stays with you but allows them that honoured place upon your TBR pile.

However, there are times when there are a large number of problems and for me, this series really doesn’t seem to fix the holes in the plot for me. I find that it can go from one extreme to another, in some places it seems great, yet in others, it becomes convoluted and loses a lot of its colour keeping it monochrome in an almost faded way so that its not as well built as it should have been.

Sadly for me, a series that I won’t be sticking with but when they start something else I’ll give it a good go as I do see some things that they do pretty well within.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

TV TIE IN: The Big Bang Theory: The Official Trivia Quiz Book - Adam Faberman

Release Date: 08/10/15
Publisher:  Headline

SYNOPSIS:

What did Amy name her electric toothbrush?

What does Leonard bring Penny back from the North Pole?

The Big Bang Theory Trivia Quiz Book is the first official book to accompany one of the world's favourite and funniest comedies. Including 1,600 questions from series 1 to 8, along with photos, hilarious quotes, a complete episode guide and fun features, such as excerpts from the Roommate Agreement and your chance to play 'Emily or Cinnamon', this book will remind you of all your favourite Big Bang moments.


REVIEW:

Geek’s of the world unite!!!!! So you know your quasars from your black holes. You know your Wars from your Treks and you spurn those who don’t know have the stuff you do. Oooohhhh and you’re a big fan of Big Bang, but how well do you know your series? Are you up there with your Sheldon or are an Amy?

Well find out with this book or please the geek in your life with this cracking book for Christmas or just something to query yourself in the bathroom to see how good your knowledge is. All round a great book and one that really will have you wracking your brain as you second guess each other. Top notch and fun all round.



Thursday, 8 October 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Fallout 4: What Makes You Special: Intelligence - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Our friends at Bethesda have asked us to let you know about the fifth Fallout 4 feature which ask's why you're SPECIAL.  The trailer is a lot of fun and harks back to some of those cracking Looney Toons that you remember from years ago.  But don't just take our word for it have a look yourself.  Its an absolute corker.  More on these features as we get them, but here's Intelligence:


Also please remember that Fallout 4 has a special one price Season Pass that includes:

Regular Updates

We'll be doing regular free updates to the game, and like Skyrim, these will come with not just fixes, but new features. For Skyrim we added things like mounted combat, legendary mode, kill cams, visual enhancements and more. We’ll work with all of you to figure out what new things you’d love to see added to Fallout 4, whether they are small tweaks or new features. 

Mods & Creation Kit

The most important thing in our games is the freedom you have to create your own experience, and modding is a big part of that. Like all our previous games, we’ve made sure to keep Fallout 4 open and moddable at every step in development. Early next year we’ll release for free the new Creation Kit for the PC. This is the same tool we use in the studio. You'll be able to create your own mods and share them with others. We’re especially excited these same mods will then be coming to Xbox One, and then PlayStation 4. 

Downloadable Content

We've always done a lot of DLC for our games. We love making them and you always ask us for more. To reward our most loyal fans, this time we’ll be offering a Season Pass that will get you all of the Fallout 4 DLC we ever do for just $30. Since we’re still hard at work on the game, we don’t know what the actual DLC will be yet, but it will start coming early next year. Based on what we did for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, we know that it will be worth at least $40, and if we do more, you'll get it all with the Season Pass.
Thanks again to all of you! The support and excitement you’ve given Fallout 4 has blown us away. It’s energized us even more to do everything we can in these final months to make this our best game yet. We absolutely can't wait for you to play it, and share your adventures with us and each other."

We can't wait to see what will be coming to Fallout 4 from friends and other modders, and hopefully see you in the far future,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Elder Scrolls Online Announces Orsinium - Bethesda


Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Lady Eleanor and I have been roaming the towns and cities of ESO (we've both completed the Cadwell's Gold goals) and have been venturing into Cyrodil working our way up in order to tackle trials as well as venturing into Imperial City (the DLC that dropped last month.)

With this in mind, we were totally boggled to hear about the next DLC dropping on the 17th November (for Xbox One and the 18th for PS4.)

Here's the trailer for Orsinium:



Which also brings this to the table:
  • Over 20 hours of captivating story content and quests
  • A long-awaited exploration of the culture of Tamriel's Orcs
  • A colossal new zone available to characters of all levels
  • A new single-player progressive challenge, The Maelstrom Arena
    • Available in Normal and Veteran versions
    • Grants special rewards only obtainable by completing arenas
    • Includes class-specific leaderboards, so you can see how you match up against your fellow combatants
  • Quests and objectives that contribute to rebuilding the city of Orsinium, returning it to its former glory
  • Two large public dungeons, Old Orsinium and Rkindaleft, featuring all-new challenges for both solo and group play
  • Special harvest nodes that scale to the most advanced material type your character can use for crafting
  • Six all-new, challenging world bosses
  • Powerful new gear, unique crafting styles, and other rewards inspired by the history and denizens of Wrothgar
    • Four new Provisioner recipes, only available in Wrothgar
    • 18 powerful new item sets including 6 ability-altering weapons, 9 sets obtained by participating in activities in Wrothgar, and 3 new craftable sets
    • The Ancient Orc crafting style
    • Six new collectible costumes only available in Wrothgar
  • Over an hour of brand new in-game musical score


In addition to this we've also heard some more news about changes to the standard ESO which will make your ventures not only more fun but fairer.  They are:
  • Gamepad support
  • Subtitles
  • LFG improvements – cross-alliance dungeons
  • Champion Point cap & catch-up system
  • Shield Dyeing
  • Improvements to battle-leveling
  • Akaviri crafting style
  • Ability balance and bug fixes
  • New ways to spend Alliance Points
  • Increased item drop rates
Now out of all this, the main thing that we've noticed and liked is that they're limiting Champion Points to 500 (currently I'm around 91) and whilst a lot of us on the console version don't have that yet, it means that people who have transported their characters over from PC will also be limited so that it will make for a more even fight and that we won't be over powered when five of us jump on another level 14 character and get pummeled. 

All round we're getting pretty excited and with us preparing for our guilds Trails adventuring, we're also grinding for Orsinium.

See you in Cyrodil,


Gareth and Lady Eleanor

Monday, 5 October 2015

VIDEO GAME NEWS: Destiny: The Taken King - Bungie

Release Date:15/09/15
Publisher:  Bungie

SYNOPSIS:

(Text refers to Destiny: The Taken King Legendary Edition) Destiny: The Taken King delivers the next adventure in the Destiny universe

Destiny: The Taken King - Legendary Edition is perfect for new and existing Guardians that are ready to jump into the Destiny universe or continue to carve their legend in the stars. The Legendary Edition features the complete Destiny experience including The Taken King, the next evolution in the Destiny universe, Destiny, Expansion I: The Dark Below and Expansion II: House of Wolves. Unite with 20 million Guardians in the fight to defeat Earth’s enemies, reclaim all that we have lost, and Become Legend.
Pre-order and Gear Up

Pre-order and upgrade your weapon arsenal with an early access weapons pack. Guardians will receive a Vanguard themed Auto Rifle, Pulse Rifle, and Side arm.

Early access to Weapons Pack available starting 15 September 2015. Weapons Pack can be attained by pre-order of digital or physical editions of Destiny: The Taken King or by the purchase of the digital or physical Collector's Edition. Weapons Pack may also be attained through gameplay starting on 01.01.16. See www.destinythegame.com for additional details. Weapons Pack not exclusive to any retailer or platform. Subject to availability.
The Taken King

A dark shadow has fallen over our worlds. Oryx, The Taken King, is hell-bent on vengeance and is raising an army of corrupted “Taken” forces by manipulating the Darkness itself. You must find a way into his impenetrable Dreadnaught ship to defeat The Taken King before he and his dark army consume our civilization and bring our solar system to ruin.

Destiny: The Taken King, the next great adventure in the first person shooter Destiny universe, introduces a new story campaign and quests, new enemies to fight, new locations to explore, new Strikes and Crucible maps, a new Raid that will put players to the ultimate test, and more. To stand up to the challenge, players will have access to three new devastating Guardian subclasses, and a massive arsenal of weapons, armor, and gear.
VIP Rewards

As a thank you to our most loyal fans who have reached Light Level 30 or who previously purchased Expansion I and Expansion II by August 31, 2015, you will receive an exclusive commemorative Founder’s Fortune Year 1 Emblem, Sparrow, Armour Shader and more at launch with your purchase of The Taken King. Many Guardians serve the City, but tales of your bravery will echo through time. Return to the Tower on September 15. Its champions wish to celebrate and commemorate your accomplishments. May these gifts prepare you for the battles to come.

To be eligible to receive the VIP rewards, players will need to have at least one Light Level 30 character or own both Expansion I and Expansion II on or before 31/08/15 AND purchase and play The Taken King on or before 01/02/16. VIP Rewards applicable for any eligible purchase of Destiny: The Taken King, Destiny: The Taken King – Legendary Edition, and Destiny: The Taken King – Collector’s Edition (digital or physical).
Feature Highlights

Powerful New Abilities

To battle back the Darkness and the Taken army, players will get brand new subclasses with new supers. Warlocks will now harness the power of an electric storm, Hunters will carve a bow formed from gravitational void energy, and Titans will summon a flaming hammer that can sear their adversaries from a range or deliver a devastating melee impact.

New Campaign

A massive Hive Dreadnaught ship looms in the rings of Saturn. Oryx, The Taken King has arrived in our solar system, bringing with him a corrupted army to exact revenge on the Guardians who destroyed his son Crota, and to consume our worlds. Arm yourself with newfound abilities, weapons, and gear. Defeat the Taken hordes. Make your way aboard the Dreadnaught, and face Oryx himself within his inner sanctum.

New Locations

The amazing Destiny universe continues to expand - Infiltrate a Cabal base on Phobos, and establish a beachhead on Oryx’s flagship – the Dreadnaught – a mysterious, loot-filled fortress. Charge into the Crucible where all-new competitive multiplayer maps await you and your Fireteam.

Level Cap Increased and All-New Gear

Fill your arsenal with brand new weapons and armor. Find and collect new, powerful Exotics while continuing to level up in the Destiny universe.

New Activities

Adventure through new Strikes featuring powerful bosses, follow more questlines that lead to powerful, new gear and brave the next major Raid to test six-player Fireteams.

Access the Complete Destiny Universe alongside The Taken King


Destiny

You are a Guardian of the last safe city on Earth, able to wield some of the Traveler’s incredible power. Destiny is a next generation first person shooter featuring an unprecedented combination of cinematic storytelling, cooperative, competitive, and public gameplay, and personal activities that are woven into an expansive, persistent online world. Venture out alone or join up with friends. The choice is yours. Become Legend.

Expansion I: The Dark Below

Beneath the surface of the Moon, a long-forgotten enemy stirs. Survive the true depths of the Hellmouth, and stop its dark army from invading Earth. Expand your Destiny adventure with a wealth of weapons, armor, and gear earned in new story missions, three new competitive multiplayer arenas, and a new cooperative Strike and Raid.

Expansion II: House of Wolves

Only the bravest Guardians will hunt down the rising Fallen threat and lay claim to the mysterious treasures of The Reef. Discover where your legend will take you next with a wealth of weapons, armor, and gear to earn in new story missions, three new competitive multiplayer maps, and a new cooperative Strike. Expansion II introduces a new competitive elimination mode in the Crucible and an all-new arena activity – The Prison of Elders.


REVIEW:

OK, I fell out with Destiny with the last DLC, The House of Wolves. I felt cheated as you could play through the new content in less than a day, a lot of it was very repetitive (and when you found the safe corner for each scenario you could sail through) and all round left me wondering why the hell I’d paid for that.

So when I was offered The Taken King, I was prepared to give it a go but wasn’t really expecting too much and to be blunt, was expecting more of the same with another high priced product for very little. What I actually got was a whole lot more. New content, the chance to upgrade my guardian to level 40 and a whole new host of guns, armour and skins for my ghost. Yeah that’s right, something I’ve wanted for quite a long time.

All round, it is a lot of fun and I’ve had a good amount of pleasure playing through to get my level up and unlocking the new abilities. What I also liked was the various new options, the bigger gameplay and a reason to replay through everything that has gone before to hear the new Ghost voice and his comments (although I miss Peter Dinklage.) Back this up with a whole new host of enemies to figure out the best way to destroy as well as having to get all the new gear and you’ll be more than happy with the options. The only real downside is that people new to the game and who have putchased the legendary edition get all year one products with the Taken King for £50 whereas if you’re just getting The Taken King you’re paying £44.

That said, I have had a lot of fun and at the end of the day, that’s what gaming is all about plus with the new work that’s gone in to fixing a lot of the buggy problems with the original as well as making it more streamlined, generates a whole new experience. Just remember that to make the most of it you’ll need to find others to complete the raids with and in case you think that on that one you’re on your own, there is a great site where you can find others to game with (http://destinytracker.com/destiny/lfg?system=xbone). Great stuff. I just hope that as much care goes into Year 2 updates as there has been with this instalment.



Sunday, 4 October 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Children of a Dead Earth 1: The Ark - Patrick S Tomlinson

Release Date: 04/10/15
Publisher:  Angry Robot

SYNOPSIS:

Humankind has escaped a dying Earth and set out to find a new home among the stars aboard an immense generation spaceship, affectionately named the Ark. Bryan Benson is the Ark’s greatest living sports hero, enjoying retirement working as a detective in Avalon, his home module. The hours are good, the work is easy, and the perks can’t be beat.

But when a crew member goes missing, Benson is thrust into the centre of an ever-expanding web of deception, secrets, and violence that overturns everything he knows about living on the Ark and threatens everyone aboard. As the last remnants of humanity hurtle towards their salvation, Benson finds himself in a desperate race to unravel the conspiracy before a madman turns mankind’s home into its tomb.


REVIEW:

This is a bit of a strange book as its set completely upon a space station where crime has virtually been wiped out as mankinds last descendants make their way to a new home amongst the stars. It’s a well written plot, the twists work wonderfully well and when you throw a good few spanners, the quirkiness of living in virtually a tin can all round generates a story where it feels not only claustrophobic in places and agoraphobic in others.

Add to this good solid prose, dialogue that helps endear the principle player to you as well as discovering that whilst things appear fine from the outside, goes to show that secrets really don’t survive in such an enclosed area especially when it seems that everyone has something to hide. A solid read and one that I had fun reading. I really can’t wait to see how future outings develop.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

CUISINE REVIEW: The Hairy Bikers Meat Feasts - Si King and Dave Myers

Release Date: 27/08/15
Publisher:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson

SYNOPSIS:

There's something about the smell of meat cooking that signals a feast - it's savoury, comforting and tempting. A steak on the grill, a roast in the oven, a casserole bubbling: they make your mouth water.

Si King and Dave Myers, aka the Hairy Bikers, have always been passionate about meat, and this bible is an unadulterated celebration of the fine produce we have available today. MEAT FEASTS includes all their favourite recipes and some new surprises. There are family classics, spicy treats, perfect pies and delicious zingy salads.

Si and Dave love their veggies too, and MEAT FEASTS features some of the very best veg recipes to showcase a Sunday joint or make a little meat of a very long way.

A meaty modern classic, MEAT FEASTS is your one-stop meat cookbook!


REVIEW:

I love the Hairy Bikers and whilst I do like to cook different styles of food from Thai to Italian, for comfort food, I always come back to good old traditional British cuisine. It’s the type of food that I love, puts a smile on my face and all round makes me happy on days when I feel a little down.

This title brings a lot of UK favourites to the fore, adds a touch of the exotic (if you want a bit of spice) and does it all with their flair alongside easy to follow instructions keeping it simple for maximum taste. This is real food, not that Haute Cuisine that requires GPS to find it on the plate, but pure gut filling, family satisfying fare.

For me, this is a book that will have a lot of uses and coming into winter, it’s a time when we want comfort, a time to gives that stick to the ribs feel and all round make everyone happy. I can’t wait.


Friday, 2 October 2015

CUISINE REVIEW: Let there be Meat: The Ulitmate Barbecue Bible - James Douglas and Scott Munro

Release Date: 18/06/15
Publisher:  Weidenfeld and Nicolson

SYNOPSIS:

LET THERE BE MEAT is the must-have companion for anyone interested in the art of barbecue and smokehouse; wood-smoked, slow cooked pork and beef, sausages, burgers, ribs, seafood feasts and all the mouth-watering sides that go with them.

James Douglas and Scott Munro provide their unique insight into the American BBQ culture, gleaned from seven years travel and hard study in the Deep South, with instructions on how to get the most from your meat. Including matching cocktails, sides, sweet stuff and even how to make your own pig roaster and home brew IPA.

LET THERE BE MEAT is the carnivore's bible, crammed with over 100 melt-in-the-mouth recipes that have made Red's True Barbecue a phenomenon


REVIEW:

Ah, as a guy, we all like to become the self-styled, king of the bbq, I have to admit that whilst I love to grill, I’m really not that good at it or adventurous, choosing to do the basics like sausages, drumsticks and burgers. So when I had the chance to read up on a whole heap of other things I can tackle (including utilising the smoker function on my BBQ) I thought it would be good so that I can make the most of my cookout and get to enjoy the labours later.

This title is easy to follow, has everything from good, tasty recipes through to rubs and marinades in order to really get a lot of flavour in there. Finally giving me the encouragement to tackle a few things that I wouldn’t have tried previously as I’d worry about cook times. All round I’m looking forward to trying a good few of these out and even though its not traditional to fire it up during the winter, I may well do that towards Christmas to have the meat selection something different for my family party. Great stuff.