Friday, 20 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Massacre of Mankind - Stephen Baxter

Release Date: 20/01/17
Publisher: Gollancz


It has been 14 years since the Martians invaded England. The world has moved on, always watching the skies but content that we know how to defeat the Martian menace. Machinery looted from the abandoned capsules and war-machines has led to technological leaps forward. The Martians are vulnerable to earth germs. The Army is prepared.

So when the signs of launches on Mars are seen, there seems little reason to worry. Unless you listen to one man, Walter Jenkins, the narrator of Wells' book. He is sure that the Martians have learned, adapted, understood their defeat.

He is right.

Thrust into the chaos of a new invasion, a journalist - sister-in-law to Walter Jenkins - must survive, escape and report on the war.

The Massacre of Mankind has begun


When you're asked to write a follow up to what many see as a classic of the genre, many authors would have baulked at the task, not only do you have to get the story right so that it fits into what has gone before but you also have to step into the authoritive voice of the writer of the original in such a way that the story feels like a continuation of the first.

What Stephen manages well here is to get that voice, he brings Well's Martians vividly to the 1930's as mankind seems doomed from the start as they learned from what had gone before. Its dark Science Fiction at its best and for me each page gave me something to relate too.

All round a cracking story with characters that stood. The fact that I reread the original Wells; story just before starting only added to the overall feeling of reading joy. A must read for Sci-Fi fans.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: The Voices 1: The Defender - GX Todd

Release Date: 12/01/17
Publisher: Headline


Defender by G X Todd is an imaginative thriller that draws on influences from Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman to create a new world - where the biggest threat mankind faces is from the voices inside your own head. If you loved The Stand, you'll love Defender, the first in a four part series.

'Compelling, suspenseful, and altogether extraordinary' Lee Child

'So accomplished that it's difficult to believe it's a first novel, Defender is already worthy to take its place alongside The Stand in the canon. An absolute gem of a book' John Connolly

'On the cusp of sleep, have we not all heard a voice call out our name?'

In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn't know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.



For a reader perhaps the best books are the one that ask a question of you. In Todd's case, if you were virtually alone, would you listen to the voices in your head and if new ones arrive how much of it is you and how much an invader.

As you can tell from this question the story is indeed incredible dark, with events within the pages at times making you feel ill but that is perhaps what makes this book so unique. The fact that no punches are pulled, no subject taboo and with what feels like open writing into the mind all round just adds to the authors prowess. Back this up with a solid arc, decent dialogue and all round I was one disturbed bunny by books end. Definitely something to read for fans of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman as it links into the darkness that lurks within thiem.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Baby Doll - Hollie Overton

Release Date: 12/01/17
Publisher: Arrow


She kept moving forward. She didn't stop. She didn't look back.

Lily has been abducted from outside her high-school gates.

For eight long years she's been locked away from the outside world. During that time she's changed from a girl into a woman. She's had a baby.

And now she has seized her chance and escaped.

Running for her life, with her daughter in her arms, she returns to her family and the life she used to know - to her much-loved twin sister Abby, her mum, her high-school boyfriend - and her freedom.

But is it possible to go back?

Impossible not to read in one sitting, Baby Doll is a taut psychological thriller that focuses on family entanglements and the evil that can hide behind a benign facade.


Stories create an emotional bond for the reader and to be honest this one is going to be tough for anyone who picks it up. Not because of the writing, its beautiful, but because of the subject matter that for me is based on the Josef Fritzl case, It's deeply harrowing, is emotionally draining and at the end of the day its content is disturbing as whilst we often claim that fiction is just that, when you can find real life parallels it makes it all the harder.

OK, so this book won't be for everyone and to be honest I'd have probably preferred not reading it due to how uncomfortable it made me feel as a voyeur within the scene. The principle character is believable, the dialogue solid and all round I have to say its a book that whilst I won't say that I'm pleased that I made it all the way through, was one that with its complexities and inner thoughts made this a real in-depth discovery into the mind of a prisoner. All round a book that you really should ask yourself questions about before embarking upon but if you do, be prepared for a number of nightmares as well as questions that this tale will end up leaving you asking yourself.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: Daughter of the Wolf - Victoria Whitworth

Release Date: 12/01/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


DAUGHTER OF THE WOLF is set during the Dark Ages in an England ruled by rival kings. Among the lords who serve them is Radmer of Donmouth, the King's Wolf, guardian of the estuary gateway to Northumbria.

When the king sends Radmer on a mission to Rome, Donmouth is left in the safekeeping of his only daughter, Elfrun, whose formidable grandmother wants her to take the veil, while treacherous Tilmon of Illingham covets her for his son.

This is the story of daughters in a man's world. Wynn, determined to take over from her father, the smith; Saethryth, wilful daughter of the village steward, whose longing for passion will set off a tragic sequence of events; and Auli, whose merchant venturer father plies his trade up and down the coast, spying for the Danes. Above all, it is the story of Elfrun of Donmouth, uncertain of her father's fate, no knowing whom she can trust, or whom she can love.


Historical Fiction is often a tricky thing to balance, you have to get just the right amount of details added within to help transport the readers back without giving them massive info dumps and you also have to make sure that the characters within are relatable so that the reader falls in love and cares about their fates.

Victoria manages to do both presenting a story that not only kept me interested but fascinated. I loved the supporting cast and how they helped bring the flavour of the past to life but for me the real gem of the piece was Elfrun. I loved the fact that even whilst she was priveledged certain things were expected as well as demanded of her, whilst she's trying to maintain her fathers interest. Its well written, the prose is solid and all round I was a more than happy reader. I will definitely be looking out for more of Victoria's work.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Catalyst - James Luceno

Release Date: 17/11/16
Publisher: Century


Lauded Star Wars author James Luceno returns to pen an intense tale of ambition and betrayal that sets the stage for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

War is tearing the galaxy apart. For years the Republic and the Separatists have battled across the stars, each building more and more deadly technology in an attempt to win the war. As a member of Chancellor Palpatine’s top secret Death Star project, Orson Krennic is determined to develop a superweapon before their enemies can. And an old friend of Krennic’s, the brilliant scientist Galen Erso, could be the key.

Galen’s energy-focused research has captured the attention of both Krennic and his foes, making the scientist a crucial pawn in the galactic conflict. But after Krennic rescues Galen, his wife, Lyra, and their young daughter, Jyn, from Separatist kidnappers, the Erso family is deeply in Krennic’s debt. Krennic then offers Galen an extraordinary opportunity: to continue his scientific studies with every resource put utterly at his disposal. While Galen and Lyra believe that his energy research will be used purely in altruistic ways, Krennic has other plans that will finally make the Death Star a reality. Trapped in their benefactor’s tightening grasp, the Ersos must untangle Krennic’s web of deception to save themselves and the galaxy itself.


When a new film comes out in the star wars universe, readers always want to get ahead of the curve and for me, you need a top notch author to help maintain the magic, especially when the book that's being released is a prequel to the film that allows you a better glimpse of not only the events but the characters whom will be the pivitol part of the rebellion gaining of the death star plans.

What James a well told story will help fully immerse you. I'm glad that I read this prior to watching the movie.

Monday, 9 January 2017

FANTASY SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM REVIEW: Arcanium Unbounded - Brandon Sanderson

Release Date: 24/11/16
Publisher: Gollancz


Welcome to New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller Brandon Sanderson's first collection of short fiction.

These wonderful works, originally published individually, have been collected for the first time and convey the true expanse of the Cosmere. Telling the exciting tales of adventure Sanderson fans have come to expect, Arcanum Unbounded include the Hugo Award-winning novella 'The Emperor's Soul', an excerpt from the graphic novel 'White Sand', and the never-before-published Stormlight Archive novella 'Edgedancer'.

The collection will include nine works in all:
'Edgedancer' (Stormlight Archive)
'The Hope of Elantris' (Elantris)
'The Eleventh Metal' (Mistborn)
'The Emperor's Soul' (Elantris)
'Allomancer Jak and the Pits of Eltania' (excerpt; Mistborn)
'White Sand' (excerpt; Taldain)
'Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell' (Threnody)
'Sixth of Dusk' (First of the Sun)
'Mistborn: Secret History' (Mistborn)

This superb collection also includes essays and illustrations which offer an insight into the numerous worlds in which the stories are set.


When you hit the new year, after a heavy swath of reading over the holiday period you sometimes want something a little lighter or smaller to dip into whilst you get ready to expound the sheer volume of what the previous year had in store, sort of a book diet if you will. Its at times like this that short stories become a firm favourite for many readers and when an author that many love brings together a collection, its like a special buffet that allows you to pick and choose.

What this title brings together is a whole set of tales from his Cosmere series and its a book that I soon found myself lost within the pages, only to emerge once I'd finished each story. They're well written, help to delightfully expand the Cosmere and all round give the reader that special treat to help ease them back into work with magical outings to help take them away during travel time or work breaks. A magical offering and one that I'm pleased I saved for the new year.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Castle 5: Fair Rebe; - Steph Swainston

Release Date: 24/11/16
Publisher: Gollancz


Steph Swainston's much-anticipated return to her uniquely imagined fantasy world of the Fourlands.

Fifteen years after the last devastating Insect attack, the immortal Circle is finally ready to launch an offensive against their implacable enemies. This time they have a new weapon - gunpowder. Hopes are high.

But the Circle's plans are threatened when the vital barrels of gunpowder go missing. Jant, the Circle's winged messenger, is tasked to investigate. Soon it becomes clear that the theft is part of a deadly conspiracy . . . and Jant and his friends are among the targets.

As tensions rise, Jant races to foil the conspirators. Can he expose them in time - or will the crisis blow the Fourlands apart?


Fantasy is a genre that every so often has an author not only try something a little different but also helps to pave the way for new talent, and for me Steph is one of those authors who likes to push the boundries to help take the genre in a different direction. Here pulling into this title, set in the Castle universe is a tale that brings terrorism into a full scale battle where the reader gets to see that not all faces of warfare are armes facing off against each other.

The writing is crisp, the character faulted and for me thats what helps bring them to life, the fact that no matter what foibles they have their acts of heroism really stand out for the fact that they feel like real people. Add to this great dialogue alongside a plot that once it sweeps you up won't let go all round makes this a thrilling ride. Magical.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Star Wars: Bloodline - Claudia Gray

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher:  Arrow



When the Rebellion defeated the Empire in the skies above Endor, Leia Organa believed it was the beginning to a lasting peace. But after decades of vicious infighting and partisan gridlock in the New Republic Senate, that hope seems like a distant memory.

Now a respected senator, Leia must grapple with the dangers that threaten to cripple the fledgling democracy―from both within and without. Underworld kingpins, treacherous politicians, and Imperial loyalists are sowing chaos in the galaxy. Desperate to take action, senators are calling for the election of a First Senator. It is their hope that this influential post will bring strong leadership to a divided galaxy.

As the daughter of Darth Vader, Leia faces with distrust the prospect of any one person holding such a powerful position―even when supporters suggest Leia herself for the job. But a new enemy may make this path Leia’s only option. For at the edges of the galaxy, a mysterious threat is growing…


I've had this title for a bit and to be honest having read it after recent events left me feeling not only melancholly but also fulfilled in certain respects as you get to know the principle character of Leia on a deeper level. Claudia has worked very hard on getting not only the "voice" of Leia right but also on allowng us to see her develop nito the woman of power she'd become.

Its emotional, it is a great addition to the star wars mythos and all round left me with a sense that we had so much more to get from her in the future outings that we'll sadly not get to see.

All round a book that I'm pleased I'd saved and one that deserves to be rated highly in the Star War's Pantheon. Magical.

Friday, 6 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Grim Company 3: Dead Man's Steel - Luke Scull

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


The final instalment in the critically-acclaimed Grim Company trilogy.

The Age of Ruin is near complete: in the far North the Nameless stirs beneath the Spine Mountains and demonspawn push ever southwards; from the West the Fade have returned, vowing to purge the realm of humankind; and an ancient weapon, forged in the Godswar, has once again been unleashed to ravage the land.

Weakened by in-fighting, the surviving Magelords are unable – or unwilling – to use their power to defend humanity. The last spark of hope rests with the surviving members of the Grim Company: Davarus Cole, Brodar Kane and Eremul the Halfmage.


The final part in Luke's Grim Company Trilogy and to be honest it was one hell of a ride from start to finish and whilst I haven't championed the series I hav to say that the conclusion left me feel that as an author he's learned a hell of a lot to present a finale that will entertain aswell as pay its dues to those who have gone before.

The story isn't rushed, the prose solid and for me, the way that the characters come across in this final outing when all bets are off, makes this title a lot more believable with death being a close companion throughout the pages.

Back this up with some modern twists of language alongside tp notch action sequences and fantasy fans will be more than satisfied by the titles end. I look forward to future outings.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: DC Ebony Wullis 5: Cold Killers - Lee Weeks

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Simon and Schuster


Eddie Butcher, one of four brothers from a notorious East End family, is tortured and brutally murdered while visiting London from his home in Marbella. DI Carter and DS Willis monitor his extravagant funeral in case Eddie’s violent brother Terry, under house arrest in Spain, tries to make an appearance. Terry is wanted for robbery, drug trafficking and murder - and the police strongly suspect he is even prepared to kill his own family to maintain his power.

What Carter hasn’t told all of his colleagues is that this family’s history is personal to him. When Carter is offered the chance to finally catch Terry, he knows he cannot refuse. But it comes at a heavy personal, and professional, cost - and Willis must protect them all as the Butcher family’s enemies close in, wanting revenge.


OK, so having read previou work by lee, I've realised that I missed book four, yet with that being said I don't feel at a disadvantage to readers who have kept up to date with the series. As with previous outings, the authirs dark humour works wonderfully well throughout the piece, the mismatched duo working wonderfully well off each other and for me, its the dialogue that really helps to glue the book together.

Its delightful, it is deliciously dark and all round its a book that i had a hard time putting down let alone letting go of each night as I processed what I'd read and tried to guess what else would occur. All round a cracking author and one that I'm going to have to pay more attention to so I don't miss out. Now if you'll excuse me I have book four to order.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Finisterre - Graham Hurley

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


Germany, September 1944: Dozens of cities lie in ruins. Enemy armies are at the gates. For the Thousand Year Reich, time is running out. Desperate to avoid the humiliation of unconditional surrender, German intelligence launch Operation Finisterre – a last-ditch plan to enable Hitler to deny the savage logic of a war on two fronts and bluff his way to the negotiating table.

Success depends on two individuals: Stefan Portisch, a German naval officer washed ashore on the coast of Spain after the loss of his U-boat, and Hector Gómez, an ex-FBI detective, planted by Director J. Edgar Hoover in the middle of the most secret place on earth: the American atomic bomb complex. Both men will find themselves fighting for survival as Operation Finisterre plays itself out.


When a title is set in a different world or time period to the one in which we live now the author has to do quite a few things in order to help immerse the reader, firstly they have to give you information without it feeling lie an infodump and secondly the characters within have to be approachable so that you can form bonds. Both of these traits are hard to manage but Graham has managed it with plenty of talent to spare.

The story is gripping, the dialogue sharp and for me the real star of the piece is each of the myriad of the characters that are contained within the page's They feel real, I care about their lives and perhaps best of all I like the way that they're brought across despite which side of the ware they fall. All round the story is wonderful descriptive and feels quite authorative almost as if its been lifted from secret files and brought to the reader. Cracking.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: Agent Pendergast 16: The Obsidian Chamber - Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

Release Date: 01/12/16
Publisher: Head of Zeus


After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachussetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead.

Sick with grief, Pendergast's ward, Constance, retreats to her chambers beneath the family mansion at 891 Riverside Drive -- only to be taken captive by a shadowy figure from the past.

Proctor, Pendergast's longtime bodyguard, springs to action, pursuing Constance's kidnapper through cities, across oceans, and into wastelands unknown.

BUT IN THIS WORLD, NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS And by the time Proctor discovers the truth, a terrifying mechanism has stirred -- and it may already be too late..


If you love a series that is deliciously dark then this thriller series by Douglas and Lincoln really will send a shiver down your spine one minute and hit you with a shot of adrenaline the next. The writing is addictive, has you reading each page carefully so that you don't miss anything NS wraps it all up with top notch characters that you just love to spend time with.

The fact that this is the 16th book in the series doesn't diminish the writing in any way and if anything helps give the reader a fuller flavour as characters return alongside new friends being introduced. All round a cracking read and one that I can't wait to see what comes next with,

Monday, 2 January 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEWL The Expanse 6: Babylon's Ashes - James SA Corey

Release Date: 08/12/16
Publisher: Orbit


A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy - a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships - has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

Babylon's Ashes is the action-packed sixth novel in the New York Times bestselling Expanse series, now a major TV series.


I tend to spend a lot of time with my head in books, so I make a lot of notes of authors that I've loved and have managed to not only thrill as well as excite me so that each time when they have a new book released I get my hands upon it as soon as possible.

James is a very prolific author and whilst a lot of his works have entertained, I've sadly found that the Science Fiction has been going a little downhill. So much so that I found that I hated this book, The principle villain was terrible and not in a good way. Incompetence seemed to strong a word for someone who in previous titles mastered such destruction. Then I found the heroes deplorable and found that I didn't care about them. All wrapped up in a story that left me wondering more about the flaws than enjoying it.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Invisible Library 3: The Burning Page - Genevieve Cogman

Release Date: 15/12/16
Publisher: Tor


The third title in Genevieve Cogman's clever and exciting The Invisible Library series, The Burning Page is an action-packed literary adventure!

When it's your job to save the day - where do you start?

Librarian spy Irene has standards to maintain, especially while on probation. And absconding from a mission via a besieged building doesn't look good. But when her escape route home goes up in flames, what's a spy to do? However, it seems Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across dozens of worlds. Worse still, her nemesis Alberich is responsible -and he plans to annihilate the Library itself.

Irene and assistant Kai are posted to St Petersburg, to help combat this threat. Here Alberich emerges, as Irene tries to save her friend Vale and foil assassination attempts. Then one incredibly dangerous opportunity to save the Library emerges. Saving herself would be a bonus . . .

Irene's adventures feature stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies - think Doctor Who but with librarian spies!


The latest book in the series and one that has continued to build upon the success of the previous two as the readers are treated to a tale that will not only thrill and excite but also pull at the emotional heartstrings as Genevieve continues to weave an almost eldritch spell with the pages.

As with the previous books, the writing is engrossing, taking you into the authors world in such vivid colour that you feel that you;'re walking hand in hand with the protagonists. Finally throw into the mix cracking dialogue and all round its a title that will leave you salavating for more. Great fun.