Sunday 1 April 2018

Hail Mighty Readers and Followers of the Calloused Thumbs,
Falcata Times is moving, yep, we're rebranding and bringing new features to the blog but please update your links to our new site:

Totally Pawsome

We hope you like our new look and it goes live on the 2nd April 2018.

Tuesday 2 January 2018

YOUNG ADULT URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Folk of the Air 1: The Cruel Prince - Holly Black

Release Date: 02/01/18
Publisher: Hot Key Books


Of course I want to be like them. They're beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

One terrible morning, Jude and her sisters see their parents murdered in front of them. The terrifying assassin abducts all three girls to the world of Faerie, where Jude is installed in the royal court but mocked and tormented by the Faerie royalty for being mortal. As Jude grows older, she realises that she will need to take part in the dangerous deceptions of the fey to ever truly belong.
But the stairway to power is fraught with shadows and betrayal. And looming over all is the infuriating, arrogant and charismatic Prince Cardan . . .
Dramatic and thrilling fantasy blends seamlessly with enthralling storytelling to create a fully realised and seductive world, brimful of magic and romance.


As a long time reader of Holly's books, when I discover that there's a new one on the horizon, the calander is marked, the days are crossed off and the long wait is on its countdown.

Why is this the case? Well for me, Holly is an author who always delivers on the top notch fiction not only for the young adult audience but also produces a book for all ages. Her characters are flawed, have goals and also have to learn to adjust to changes as they happen alongside living with the consequences of those choices.

It gives them a reality, a roundedness that appeals and of course allows you to form a relationship with them and whilst some of them are from the "otherworld" its these foibles that really help bring the world to life. Here within this book we're treated to a tale of action, of political double dealing and of course danger around every turn from both friends and foes. I loved it.

Back this up with Holly's wonderful storytelling style, top notch prose alongside an overall arc that promises a hell of a lot as well as delivers in this first part all round makes this a tale that was sadly finished too quickly due to my voracious reading. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Saturday 2 December 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Regional Office is Under Attack - Manuel Gonzales

Release Date: 13/07/17
Publisher:  Del Rey UK


The Regional Office and its band of super-powered female assassins protects the world from annihilation. But a prophecy suggests that someone from inside might bring about its downfall. And now the Regional Office is under attack…

Rose is a young assassin leading the assault, eager to stretch into her powers and prove herself on her first mission. Defending the Regional Office is Sarah - who may or may not have a mechanical arm - fiercely devoted to the organisation that took her in as a troubled young woman.

On the day that the Office is attacked, Rose’s and Sarah’s stories will overlap, their lives will collide, and the world as we know it just might come to an end…


I'm a huge fan of authors like Tom Holt who manage to wonderfully blend humour alongside cracking Urban Fantasy storytelling, so I had high hopes for this title from Manuel, thinking that I was going to get a tale that would not only be reminicent but bring a new voice to the genre that I could keep an eye out for and love.

What unfurled however was a story that sadly let me down, I felt that whilst a lot of the plot elements were carefully constructed that the language used within was badly put together in places and rather than help move the story forward had you sitting down, scratching your head taking you out of the moment.

Sadly for me, this book left me feeling flat and when I finally finished it, I have to say that I won't be heading back to Manuel's work for some time.

Friday 1 December 2017

HISTORICAL FANTASY REVIEW: Dark Ages 1: Pendragon - James Wilde

Release Date: 13/07/17
Publisher:  Bantam


Here is the beginning of a legend. Long before Camelot rose, a hundred years before the myth of King Arthur was half-formed, at the start of the Red Century, the world was slipping into a Dark Age…

It is AD 367. In a frozen forest beyond Hadrian’s Wall, six scouts of the Roman army are found murdered. For Lucanus, known as the Wolf and leader of elite unit called the Arcani, this chilling ritual killing is a sign of a greater threat.
But to the Wolf the far north is a foreign land, a place where daemons and witches and the old gods live on. Only when the child of a friend is snatched will he venture alone into this treacherous world - a territory ruled over by a barbarian horde - in order to bring the boy back home. What he finds there beyond the wall will echo down the years.
A secret game with hidden factions is unfolding in the shadows: cabals from the edge of Empire to the eternal city of Rome itself, from the great pagan monument of Stonehenge to the warrior kingdoms of Gaul will go to any length to find and possess what is believed to be a source of great power, signified by the mark of the Dragon.
A soldier and a thief, a cut-throat, courtesan and a druid, even the Emperor Valentinian himself - each of these has a part to play in the beginnings of this legend…the rise of the House of Pendragon.


I've loved this authors work for a number of years, firstly because he brings cracking characters to life and secondly because of his top notch action sequences that are written in such a way that you feel like you're watching a movie.

As with the others, this new series also brings delightful prose as well as a cracking arc that fulfills exactly what action reading junkies are looking for. All round a magical beginning to a brand new series and one that will make an ideal christmas present for many readers.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Playing With Death - Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis

Release Date: 13/07/17
Publisher:  Headline


'This fast, furious, twisty thriller kept me on the edge of my seat' Chris Ryan

'If Stephen King had collaborated with Michael Crichton on a thriller, it might have been as good as this' Peterborough Evening Telegraph

FBI Special Agent Rose Blake has faced evil and survived.

Haunted by a failed undercover mission, Rose can't shake the memory of her close encounter with a ruthless serial killer - one who could strike again without warning.

Then comes the call to investigate a suspected arson attack that's left a man dead. Rose fears the worst: that a cold-blooded killer has carried out the perfect murder. A killer with a terrifying imagination and the intelligence to stay one step ahead at every stage. She knows only one thing about him: that he will kill again.

Rules will have to be broken. And the clock is ticking...


I have to say that I was looking forward to this title from Simon Scarrow and Lee Francis as I've loved spending individual time with each author. However I have to sadly say that for me, this title really didn't work. The principle character was not one I could associate with, I felt that she was flat and all round as many readers of my reviews will know, that's a massive deal breaker for me.

Add to this an overall arc that was fairly flat, bringing nothing new to the Thriller genre and feeling like it was overly simplistic as well as being to predictable finally left me wondering why I even took the time to finish it.

Thursday 30 November 2017

PARANORMAL THRILLER: Twelve Days - Steven Barnes

Release Date: 12/06/17
Publisher:  Tor


A paranormal thriller from master storyteller Steven Barnes: A broken family struggles to hold itself together against a plot to unleash global genocide in Twelve Days

Around the world, leaders and notorious criminals alike are mysteriously dying. A terrorist group promises a series of deaths within two months. And against the backdrop of the apocalypse, the lives of a small shattered family and a broken soldier are transformed in the bustling city of Atlanta.

Olympia Dorsey is a journalist and mother, with a cynical teenage daughter and an autistic son named Hannibal, all trying to heal from a personal tragedy. Across the street, Ex-Special Forces soldier Terry Nicolas and his wartime unit have reunited Stateside to carry out a risky heist that will not only right a terrible injustice, but also set them up for life--at the cost of their honor. Terry and the family's visit to an unusual martial arts exhibition brings them into contact with Madame Gupta, a teacher of singular skill who offers not just a way for Terry to tap into mastery beyond his dreams, but also for Hannibal to transcend the limits of his condition. But to see these promises realized, Terry will need to betray those with whom he fought and bled.

Meanwhile, as the death toll gains momentum and society itself teeters on the edge of collapse, Olympia's fragile clan is placed in jeopardy, and Terry comes to understand the terrible price he must pay to prevent catastrophe.


As a reader of a lot of thrillers, I love it when author's blend genres and bring new elements into the story. It gives it a whole new set of tropes to play with which often can turn elements upon thier heads within the overall arc.

That said, it can also really bind authors as well, and sadly for me this is what happened with this tale from Steven Barnes. Firstly whilst I did like some of the characters within I have to say that for me, the supernatural element wasn't required it could easy have just been a real world thriller without having to bring any of the Urban elements within.

Back this up with hard action sequences and sexual elements that were overly descriptive all round left me feeling uncomfortable that sadly pulled me out of the story. Whilst many will enjoy this story, for me it was more of a middle of the road title that sadly didn't have enough going for it to stand out. A great shame.

FANTASY REVIEW: Age of Sigmar: Hallowed Knights: Plague Garden - Josh Reynolds

Release Date:  30/11/17
Publisher: Black Library


As the War for the Realm of Life continues, Lord-Castellant Lorrus Grymn leads the battered remnants of the Steel Souls warrior chamber against the sargasso-citadels of the Verdant Bay. The Hallowed Knights claim victory, but at a terrible cost – Grymn is lost to Realm of Chaos. Now Gardus, newly-reforged and fresh from the destruction of the Scabrous Sprawl, must lead his warriors into the foetid heart of Nurgle's realm in search of the Lord-Castellant, where they must once more brave the horrors of the Realm of Decay...


Whilst many love to spend time within the Horus Heresy subsection of the Warhammer 40K, so I love to go back to the Age of Sigmar in the epic stories coming out from the Black Library as part of their Warhammer Fantasy series.

Here in this title, we get to spend time in a full length novel featuring the Hallowed Knights, an order that is helping to forge the realm of mankind within the chaotic time as they face off against other races. Travelling to the face off against the plague lord Nurgle, takes our heroes into a situation that will have dire consequences in the choices that they make with each character bringing their own strengths alongside weaknesses to this quest.

As usual it is engaging, has great combat and when added to a full range of emotional turmoil really helps flesh the world out by allowing readers to form connections making deaths not only a number but a personal loss. Cracking.

Wednesday 29 November 2017


Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Orbit


World Fantasy Award-winning fantasy author K. J. Parker delivers his most ambitious work yet - the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes.

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no one knows how it will end. Except, perhaps, the Two of Swords.


KJ Parker is an author that delivers a hell of a lot for me as a fantasy reader. You get the dark gritty reality that has become on trend where all choices have consequences that start the ripple effect into this well rounded world.

Add to this characters that you love to spend time around.  Principle players who has a realistic feel with their emotions alongside personality coming to the fore whilst vying against their foibles and for me this second volume is a real treat. Magic.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Horus Heresy: The Crimson King - Graham McNeill

Release Date: 30/11/17
Publisher: Black Library


After the razing of Prospero, Magnus the Red spirited the Thousand Sons away to the Planet of the Sorcerers, deep within the Eye of Terra. Removed from the concerns of the galaxy at large and regarding the Warmaster’s unfolding Heresy with cold detachment, Magnus has dedicated his hollow existence to the preservation of all the knowledge once held in the great libraries of Tizca, should mankind ever seek such enlightenment again. But his sons can see the change in their primarch – he is a broken soul, whose mind and memories are slipping away into the tumult of the warp. Only by returning to the scenes of his greatest triumphs and tragedies can they hope to restore him, and allow the Crimson King to be crowned anew by the Ruinous Powers.


OK, lets get the basic business done first. Are you a fan of the Thousand Sons? Have you read the Thousand Sons as well as Prospero Burns? If the answer is no, stop right here now. Read those books first to get the full flavour as well as a good bit of background to this story.

Right up to date? Ready to roll? Magic. This book by Graham is an epic outing as we learn how the chapter deals with thier seperation from the Throne into the realms of chaos as the primarch seeks to preserve their knowledge should mankind ever need it again. Its a dark tale, it has some magical twists and with the way that its woven makes this a book that I had a hell of a time putting down. Back this up with good action sequences alongside a brotherhood uniting to help return thier Master and all round its a book that I'll be rereading again.

Tuesday 28 November 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Jade City - Fonda Lee

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher: Orbit


Jade is the lifeblood of the city of Janloon - a stone that enhances a warrior's natural strength and speed. Jade is mined, traded, stolen and killed for, controlled by the ruthless No Peak and Mountain families.
When a modern drug emerges that allows anyone - even foreigners - to wield jade, simmering tension between the two families erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all in the families, from their grandest patriarch to even the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets.

Jade City is an epic tale of blood, family, honour, and of those who live and die by ancient laws in a changing world.


I love books that try to do something different and whilst this is technically a fantasy novel it fits delightfully into the Urban Fantasy genre. Its quirky, it has a wonderfully eastern flavour and to be honest whilst reading I tended to think of a Hong Kong as a background setting for this tale.

Magic delightfully blends with modern weaponry as the principle character fights to find a balance between their internal struggles and the outer expectations of his clan. The characters are delightfully rounded and when you throw into the mix criminal double dealing all round leaves you wanting more as this tale takes a break in a lull ready to kick back with a roundhouse in the next outing. Cracking.

Monday 27 November 2017

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: In the Dark - Andreas Pfluger

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Head of Zeus


She lost her sight, but she can still see the truth...

Jenny Aaron was once part of an elite police unit tracking Germany's most dangerous criminals. She was the best. Until it all went wrong. A disastrous mission saw her abandon a wounded colleague and then lose her sight forever.

Now, five years later, she has learnt to navigate a darkened world. But she's still haunted by her betrayal. Why did she run?

Then she receives a call from the unit. They need her back. A prison psychologist has been brutally murdered. And the killer will only speak to one person...


The UK publisher of this title is one that is renowned for bringing foreign talent to the British reader and when they spend out for a translator they really do make sure that the book is polished to not only bring the full flavour of the tale to the fore but also so that the language nuances work well in the translated version so that the text flows without any minterpreted words that can ruin the whole flow of a paragraph.

Within the pages the reader is treated to a principle character that feels rounded, she has her flaws and whilst she's hard on herself, the strength and ability really show that she "see's" more than the average person. The book has great pace, solid dialogue and all round gives the crime reader a real treat wtih some magical twists. all round a great read and now an author thats firmly on my radar.

CRIME THRILLER REVIEW: Bone Fields 2: The Hanged Man - Simon Kernick

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Century


From the Sunday Times bestselling author, Simon Kernick, comes the thrilling second instalment in The Bone Field series. Featuring DI Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd.

A house deep in the countryside where the remains of seven unidentified women have just been discovered.

A cop ready to risk everything in the hunt for their killers.

A man who has seen the murders and is now on the run in fear of his life.

So begins the race to track down this witness before the killers do.

For Ray Mason and PI Tina Boyd, the road ahead is a dangerous one, with bodies and betrayal at every turn…


The Second book in Simon's Bone Field series and one that continues to build upon not only the success of the first but continues to develop the characters so that they become more real to the reader.

As with the original its well written, the overall arc a delight to spend time with and when you throw into the mix a great understanding of pace alongside dialogue that fits the characters as envisioned by me as a reader down to a tee. All round makes this tale a joy to devour. A great christmas gift.

Sunday 26 November 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Into the Drowning Deep - Mira Grant

Release Date: 14/11/17
Publisher:  Orbit


New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant, author of the renowned Newsflesh series, returns with a novel that takes us to a new world of ancient mysteries and mythological dangers come to life.

The ocean is home to many myths,
But some are deadly...
Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy.
Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they're not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life's work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.
But the secrets of the deep come with a price.


A book of the mysterious that seeks to uncover the events alongside reality of what heppened in the first tale in the series "Rolling in the Deep." Its well written and, as usual with Mira Grant's writing, a tale that glues you from the outset as she continues to help bring to the fore a real flavour of discovery as the story unfurls.

Its well written and whilst i love the pace, for me the real stars here are her characters that feel that they live and breathe in our own world and would be a person that you could easily pass on the street which for me elevates the book straight away as an author who can get you that involved with thier characters has already created a bond that will be hard to break no matter what happens with the further chapters.

Back this up with great prose as well as an overall arc that leaves the novel open to a future outings make this a book that is a real treat and a series I'll be returning to when the mood hits. Magic.

FANTASY REVIEW: Vlad Taltos 15: Vallista - Steven Brust

Release Date: 01/11/17
Publisher:  Tor/Forge


Vlad Taltos is an Easterner - an underprivileged human in an Empire of tall, powerful, long-lived Dragaerans. He made a career for himself in House Jhereg, the Dragaeran clan in charge of the Empire's organized crime. But the day came when the Jhereg wanted Vlad dead, and he's been on the run ever since. He has plenty of friends among the Dragaeran highborn, including an undead wizard and a god or two. But as long as the Jhereg have a price on his head, Vlad's life is...messy. Meanwhile, for years, Vlad's path has been repeatedly crossed by Devera, a small Dragaeran girl of indeterminate powers who turns up at the oddest moments in his life. Now Devera has appeared again - to lead Vlad into a mysterious, seemingly empty manor overlooking the Great Sea. Inside this structure are corridors that double back on themselves, rooms that look out over other worlds, and - just maybe - answers to some of Vlad's long-asked questions about his world and his place in it. If only Devera can be persuaded to stop disappearing in the middle of his conversations with her... Full of swordplay, peril, and swashbuckling flair, Vallista is a treat for longtime fans of this popular fantasy series, a deep dive into the mysteries of Dragaera and all within it.


OK, I'm going to be honest here, I had a hell of a time getting into this book. However before you turn off my review and refuse to buy the book, let me explain why. This is a book that is the 15th in the series and without having read the previous others, I've lost not only a lot of back story but the ability to see how the character has developed over those events in order to keep a bond formed with him.

Thats not to say that I didn't appreciate the writing style, the characters or the overall plot but it meant that I had quite a bit of trouble getting into the story. For me, it is well written, I liked the way that the author twists events and also manages to give you a story thats hard to put down but overall please start at book one. Something I wish I'd done and will do shortly in order to get the fuller picture.

Saturday 18 November 2017

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Ironclads - Adrian Tchaikovsky

Release Date: 02/11/17
Publisher:  Solaris Books/Rebellion Publishing


Special limited edition science fiction hardcover novella by the Arthur C. Clarke Award-winning author. Only 1000 copies. Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear. Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad - the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war - but something has gone catastrophically wrong. Now Regan and his men, ill equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironclad-killer out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?


I've loved spending time with Adrian since he burst onto the scene with Empire in Black and Gold (Book One of "Shadows of the Apt" series.) Since then I've loved each adventure that he's brought to my imagination, allowing me a whole range of creative literal films that are not only wonderfully unique but diverse into the bargain.

Here in this outing, Adrian treats the reader to a modern war where raising oceans have devastated the world and corporate companies profit from warfare where flesh and blood is cheap as well as plentiful, unless of course its one of their sons, in which case, like the knights of old, they're encased in the best robotic armour alongside ordinance that money can buy.

Here, a grunt unit is sent into the warzone to retrieve a lost son of the magnates only to have the situation go not only to hell but become way more complex as matters unfurl. It's addictive writing, the characters within were fun to be around and for me I just loved spending time in this new world.

I hope that more books will follow and as a reader I'd love to see a book with the "pack" as the key characters. Magic.

HISTORICAL CRIME REVIEW: Pale Horse Riding - Chris Petit

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Simon and Schuster


The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.

Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger's new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger's sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.

Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war - a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.

The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle...


Historical Crime is a genre that I've been getting into quite a bit and whilst most of the time I spend it deep in the past, this time its more recent history, into the depths of living memories most horrific place, 1943's Auschvitz.

The book is well written, the characters rounded and to be honest whilst I deplore the time and politics, the book is well done. The prose is sharp, the dialogue acceptable and whilst I expect more derogatory comments within, it does feel appropriate to the time. Back this up with high octane danger around every corner and all round it was a heart in the mouth read as you're never sure which way things are going to go.

Friday 17 November 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: The Great God's War 1: Seventh Decimate - Stephen Donaldson

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher:  Gollancz


The war between Amika and Belleger has raged for generations. Its roots lie in the distant past, beyond memory. Sorcerers from both sides rain destruction down on the battlefield, wielding the six deadly Decimates of fire, earth, wind, water, lightning, and pestilence.

Prince Bifalt hopes that Belleger's new weapons technology, the rifle, will provide a decisive advantage. But when Belleger's sorcerers are mysteriously deprived of their magical abilities, leaving them unable to defend against Amika, he must set aside his own deep hatred of sorcery and work to solve this new enigma.

Grasping at any chance to save his beloved homeland, Prince Bifalt of Belleger sets out on a hazardous journey across the unmapped wastelands to the east. With Elgart, his last comrade, Bifalt pursues the long-hidden trail of the one object that might be able to turn the tide of the endless war - a book entitled The Seventh Decimate.

The events that unfold force Prince Bifalt to weigh his stubbornness, his patriotism, and his hatred for sorcerers against his sense of loyalty and of what he knows to be right. And as he learns, Amika and Belleger may simply be pawns within an even larger struggle...


I love a cracking fantasy book and whilst I've discovered new authors, there's always something delightful about returning to authors that you've grown up with for that extra special pleasure. Here in this new outing from Stephen Donaldson, the reader is treated to a book that not only brings full rounded characters to the fore but also ones that are made more human by the fact that they have foibles as well as boons. They're flawed like the rest of us and whilst they try to do the best that they can, the way that story revolves demonstrates that choices have consequences and that everyone will have to live with them.

The book in addition to this has great pace, some wonderful twists and when added to a refined writing style that delivers on what made the previous books that he's written so great, all round gives you something not only cracking to settle down with but makes this the start of a series that you can't wait to get the next part to in order to see how things will develop and change. A magical outing and for me, a book that really deserves to be added to any fantasy fan's Christmas list.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Warhammer 40K: The Eye of Medusa - David Guymer

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher: Black Library


Ever since the dark days of the Great Heresy, the Iron Hands have a long and tortured history. Their years of suffering and war has left them hardened and believing in a brutal tenet: the flesh is weak. Heavily cybernetic, their flesh extensively altered, these warriors of the Imperium are more machine than man, cold in aspect as well as demeanour. Their methods of recruitment are harsh, their rituals arcane, their pride unshakable. So when a world under the protection of the Chapter falls foul of insurrection, the Iron Hands answer with fire and cold retribution. It matters not that Thennos is considered sovereign territory by the Adeptus Mechanicus - the Iron Hands' campaign is one of extermination. But there is something dark lurking within Thennos, a horror that defies the purity of cold logic and the machine, and threatens something more, something ruinous...


A tale of the Iron Hands, which takes the reader into their chapter as they seek to exterminate sedition from within a world that the Adeptus Mechanicus consider theirs. Its wonderfully dark and rich as our heroes seek to purefy the world and discover what lays behind it.

Back this up with top notch action, cybernised principle characters alongside a plot with plenty of twists and turns and all round its a book that will not only entertain but also have the reader questioning how much of man must remain to be human. Cracking.

Thursday 16 November 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Path to Ascendancy 2: Deadhouse Landing - Ian C Esslemont

Release Date: 16/11/17
Publisher: Bantam Press


After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To do so they join forces with a small band of Napans who have fled a civil war on their own home island. The plan, however, soon goes awry as Kellanved develops a strange and dangerous fascination for a mysterious ancient structure found on the island.
The chaos in the region extends to the metaphysical planes also as a young priest of D'rek starts to question the rot at the heart of the worship of the god of decay. And back in Li Heng, Dassem, now the proclaimed Sword of Hood, finds himself being blamed for a plague which leads him to a crisis of faith - and searching for answers.
During all this, war with the neighbouring island of Nap threatens, recruited allies wonder at Kellanved’s sanity, and powerful entities take more of an interest in the little mage from Dal Hon. Dancer faces a hard choice: should he give up on his partnership? Especially when the fellow’s obsession with shadows and ancient artefacts brings the both of them alarmingly close to death and destruction.
After all, who in his right mind would actually wish to enter an Elder mystery known to everyone as the 'Deadhouse'?


I love returning to the world of the Malazan and whilst its Steven Erikson that is mainly known for his Decad into the world, his co-creator, Ian also manages to bring the same complexities into his work that delivers pre-Book of the Fallen histories to life.

The characters are top notch, the world wonderfully diverse and complex and all round the reader is delivered a book that is not only richly complex but one of action as well as intrigue that should be used as a blueprint to writing fantasy.

Add to this a tale that really doesn't let up, delivers some wonderful twists and all round give the reader a story that will not only engross them but have them salavating for more. Cracking.

FANTASY REVIEW: Perfect Shadow - Brent Weeks

Release Date: 09/11/17
Publisher: Orbit


For the first time in print as a special hardcover edition, Brent Weeks's blockbuster novella Perfect Shadow tells the origin story of the Night Angel trilogy's most enigmatic character: Durzo Blint. Also includes the short story, I, Nightangel.

Gaelan Starfire is a farmer, happy to be a husband and a father; a careful, quiet, simple man. He's also an immortal, peerless in the arts of war. Over the centuries, he's worn many faces to hide his gift, but he is a man ill-fit for obscurity, and all too often he's become a hero, his very names passing into legend: Acaelus Thorne, Yric the Black, Hrothan Steelbender, Tal Drakkan, Rebus Nimble.

But when Gaelan must take a job hunting down the world's finest assassins for the beautiful courtesan-and-crimelord Gwinvere Kirena, what he finds may destroy everything he's ever believed in.


Brent has long been an author that I've sat up and paid attention to, loving each of the books that he brings out as they not only deliver what I want in a fantasy novel but also bring together characters that are not simplistic but complicated human beings in an extraordinary setting. Here fans of the Night Angel trilogy are given a deeper glimpse into the character who would become Durzo in that series and whilst its a prequel, you really need to read the trilogy prior as otherwise you'll have it spoiled due to information contained within.

As with the authors other work its fast paced, has great twists and whilst you know that the hero is never in any real danger in this tale due to appearing in the series, all round it is a wonderful excerpt into the environs as well as a chance to get to see how choice made affect things as a whole. Magic

Wednesday 15 November 2017

SHORT STORY COMPENDIUM: Strange Weather - Joe HIll

Release Date: 07/11/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society.

One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn't safely under cover. 'Rain' explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers.

In 'Loaded' a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it...

'Snapshot, 1988' tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories...

And in 'Aloft' a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero's island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.


For me, Joe Hill is one of those authors that whilst he can write full length novels, always feels better with the short story. I like the way he puts it together, draws it all up in no nonsense prose and manages to breathe life into the whole piece in such a way that the characters come across wonderfully well without an extra padding in order to get to the meat of the tale.

Add to this a cracking imagination, a good understanding or pace as well as the ability to hit hard and fast with the twists all round made this a pure pleasure to read. Magic.

Sunday 29 October 2017

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: Shadow of War - Warner Brothers Interactive

Release Date: 10/10/17
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive


Middle-earth: Shadow of War is the sequel to the critically-acclaimed Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, winner of more than 50 industry awards, including 2015 Game Developers Choice Awards’ Game of the Year, Outstanding Innovation in Gaming at the 2015 D.I.C.E. Awards and the BAFTA for Game Design. In Middle-earth: Shadow of War, players wield a new Ring of Power and confront the deadliest of enemies, including Sauron and his Nazgul, in a monumental battle for Middle-earth. This open-world RPG is brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience.

Nemesis System Evolved

Players turn all of Mordor against Sauron by leading their personal Orc army created by the award-winning Nemesis System. The robust personalization from Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now applied to the entire world where the environments and characters are all shaped by player actions and decisions, creating a personal world unique to every gameplay experience. The Nemesis System has been expanded with the introduction of Followers, who bring about entirely new stories of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. Through Nemesis Fortresses, players utilize different strategies to conquer dynamic strongholds and create personalized worlds with their distinct Orc army.

Pick up the Season Pass to gain access to the Slaughter Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Outlaw Tribe Nemesis Expansion, Blade of Galadriel Story Expansion and Desolation of Mordor Story Expansion.

Beyond Mordor

Players experience the epic scale of the open-world in a number of ways including new regions and gameplay modes, larger environments, enriched visuals, expanded dialogue and more ways for players to create their story.

Enhanced Combat

Harness the power of Talion and Celebrimbor as the Bright Lord with enriched varieties of combat to take down enemies, include duality, the new Ring of Power, enhanced stealth, melee and more.

Enemy Diversity

Defeat Sauron’s deadliest warriors, including new varieties of Orcs, Olog-hai (war trolls), fire-breathing drakes (dragons), armored caragors and many others. Orcs belong to Tribes, which extend their influence and culture throughout the open-world, creating a rich ecosystem of missions, exploration and a dynamic Orc society.

Original Story in Middle-earth

Taking place in the time between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the original story continues with Talion and Celebrimbor, known as the Bright Lord, who must go behind enemy lines to build an army, forge a new Ring of Power and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.


Having loved Shadow of Mordor, I couldn't wait to return to Middle Earth and see what was next for Talien and Calembrimbor the forger of the Rings of Power. The storyline works wonderfully well and with a humanised Shelob adds more mythos to this already packed world.

Storywise the player continues the quest for vengeance against the Dark Lord and with a new feuding system as well as new ways to establish your own army with sieges all round makes this a game that will not only take you quite a bit of time to do but will also give you many hours of pleasure as the storyline is revealed.

Whilst there is the niggle of you being able to "pay to win" by purchasing bonus boxes, I found that I didn't see the point in that option personally as they can be come by whilst engaging in online vengeance missions. Yes you can make the game easier with these but you cut down your gaming time by quite a lot and make a lot of the fun redundant which is the whole point of playing a game.

All round I was very happy with the new systems in place (which included various Orc tribes which gave specific bonuses alongside a rework of the nemesis system) and when added to cracking storyline, top notch animation with good voice acting, made this a game that I was more than happy to sink many hours into.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

TV TIE IN SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Electric Dreams - Philip K Dick

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Based on the stories contained in this volume, the ten-part anthology series, Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams is written and executive produced by Emmy-nominated Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander) and Michael Dinner (Justified, Masters of Sex), with Oscar nominated Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Breaking Bad) both executive producing and appearing in the series.

Each episode will be a sharp, thrilling standalone drama adapted and contemporised for global audiences by a creative team of British and American writers. The series will both illustrate Philip K. Dick's prophetic vision and celebrate the enduring appeal of the prized Sci-Fi novelist's work. Other guest stars include Janelle Morae, Anna paquin, Timothy Spall and Benedict Wong.

The ten stories included are:



A compendium of Philip's tales that helped inspire the new Channel Four TV series. As you'd expect they're full of observations, accompanied by witty interpretations and for a new reader, is a great way in the mind as well as worlds of the author.

Back this up with solid prose, a good understanding of the human condition and a tale that asks more questions of the reader than it answers, all round goes to show why this author is held in such high esteem by many readers. Cracking.

TV TIE IN POETRY BOOK REVIEW: Doctor Who: Now we are Six Hundred - James Goss

Release Date: 14/09/17
Publisher: Harper Design


With illustrations by Russell T Davies, original showrunner of the new-era Doctor Who, the first ever Doctor Who poetry collection--a charming, funny and whimsical illustrated collection of verse that celebrates the joys and pitfalls of getting older . . . Time-Lord older.

Like many of us, the older they get, the more Time Lords realize how little they understand the universe around them. This delightful collection of poems--the first volume of Doctor Who verse published--offers moments of insight, wit, and reassurance for the maturing inhabitants of Gallifrey (and everywhere else), including such delights as:


When I was One

I was not much fun

When I was Two

I was barely through

When I was Three

I liked strong tea

When I was Four

I hated a bore

When I was Five

I was really alive

When I was Six

I somehow could never quite fit in to what was expected of me, well, not exactly but that was because things weren't neat and there are no easy rhymes in the universe and scansion, my dear Peri, is a thing that's really overrated and you only have to look at a sunset to realise that creation itself is a poem and oh no wait, got it, of course, Fix! The line needed to end with Fix!

(Or tricks. That's works too.)

When I was Seven

I sent the gods to Heaven

When I was Eight

Kissing was great

When I was Nine

I had forgotten time

When I was Ten

I began again

When I was Eleven

I totally got even

When I was Twelve, I became as clever as clever

And now I think I'll be Twelve for ever and ever*

(*Unless, of course, there is a terrible catastrophe involving explosions, radiation, or heights. And then I guess we'll find out what comes next. But the eyebrows won't be as good.)


A poetry book based on Dr Who and one that is a bit of a weird book for me as I don't often sit down and read this type of thing. Its a book that for me is designed purely for the fans as an addition to thier collections and whilst its OK, its nothing that really stands out and to a certain degree feels like a cash in. Don't get me wrong, for the fan there are some good pieces in there, but overall, I don't thing it's a book that'll be read over and over again.

Monday 16 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Sweet Dreams - Tricia Sullivan

Release Date: 21/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Charlie is a dreamhacker, able to enter your dreams and mould their direction. Forget that recurring nightmare about being naked at an exam - Charlie will step in to your dream, bring you a dressing gown and give you the answers. As far as she knows, she's the only person who can do this. Unfortunately, her power comes with one drawback - Charlie also has narcolepsy, and may fall asleep at the most inopportune moment.

But in London 2022, her skill is in demand. And when she is hired by a minor celebrity - who also happens to be the new girlfriend of Charlie's lamented ex - who dreams of a masked Creeper then sleepwalks off a tall building, Charlie begins to realise that someone else might be able to invade dreams...


A story that I've been looking forward to for some time as I remember reading the synopsis in the Orion catalogue and thought wow, so much so, that I made a note on my calendar to keep an eye out for it. What was delivered wa a kick ass story that I loved. It was novel, it had a character I loved to spend time with and whilst she had a great many of her own problems, the overall arc really delivered with a good understanding of pace alongside plot.

For me, a great story and one that I hope will generate other future outings for our heroine. Magical.

Sunday 15 October 2017

THRILLER REVIEW: The One that Got Away - Annabel Kantaria

Release Date: 24/09/17
Publisher: HQ


Everyone has one. An ex you still think about. The one who makes you ask ‘what if’?

Fifteen years have passed since Stella and George last saw each other. But something makes Stella click ‘yes’ to the invite to her school reunion.

There’s still a spark between them, and although their relationship ended badly, they begin an affair.

But once someone gets you back, sometimes they’re never going to let you go again…


A book has to have a good few elements to make it work, firstly it has to have a solid story mixed with a good understanding of pace, it has to have full described characters to you fall in love with and care about and for me, it has to be delivered in such a way that whilst certain elements within may be fantastical, it has to be believable.

A book can to a certain degree get away with two out of the three, but for me, the cardinal sin and one that really makes a book a struggle for me, is when I can't stand the characters. After all, if I can't form a bond with them, why should I care about thier fates or what their own actions have wrought within the tale?

This is the problem with this book for me. Yes it has a good story arc, the pace is delightful and of course the twists and turns make it a car crash read as you wait to see what moves and counter-moves each of the principle players to do get their own way, however because they're so detestable, it was more a case of "Meh, why should I care about these two, they deserve each other."

All round, it is on a technical scale a solid offering, but for me, its more of a middle of the road title that won't stay with me for too long as a lot of what occurs within has been done before. A shame really as I really wanted so much more.

Saturday 14 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Guild Hunter 10: Archangel's Viper - Nalini Singh

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn't a vampire or an angel . . . or human . . .

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy grey underground of the city for the angels. But it's not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman - it's the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalised by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerise her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head . . .

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael's private guard, and he's as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly's. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself - because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening . . .

No one is safe.


Nalini has a huge following for her Guild Hunters series and when she returns to characters that readers have come to love throughout the books and seems to be giving them exactly what they want, it should have been a title that would not only have made them very happy but something that should have been a firm fan favourite for years to come.

However, whilst she did deliver a story, the book never really took off and left me feeling, as a long term reader, that I was cheated and that certain events were forced almost as if the characters just didn;t want to play. OK, so the overall arc is OK, but when you're not giving whats expected until a very late stage and even then its almost an heavy handed after thought then all round it leaves it feeling very jarring. Sadly for me, its not going into my favourite list of the author and for many others, its going to be more of a meh when asked about it. A great shame.

Friday 13 October 2017


Release Date: 13/10/17
Publisher: Tor Books US


Humanity's last hope of survival lies in space...but will we even get there?

Helt Borresen is an Incident Analyst. What that means is that aboard the seed ship Kybele, he is the closest thing that the organization has to a security officer. But he doesn't think that it'll be a big part of his job, as all the candidates have been carefully screened.

Why the need for a seed ship? Because our planet is toast and the colonists that leave our world are the best shot that we have for our species to continue.

Everything is set...and then someone is found hanging dead just weeks before the launch. Fear and paranoia spread as the death begins to look more and more like a murder. The authorities want the case settled quickly and quietly so as not to cause panic.

And Helt is the one to prevent a murderer from sabotaging the entire mission.


If you love murder mystery in a sci-fi setting then this is a book for you, with top notch prose, good twists and of course a lead protagonist that steps off the page whilst delving deep into personal matters that make him question things as personal conflict intervenes with his investigation into the murder aboard his ship.

Its well thought out, brings some interesting characters to the fore and all round delivered a title that I very much enjoyed. All round a great book for me and one that has now added Sage to my TBR list.

Thursday 12 October 2017

FANTASY REVIEW: Iskari 1: The Last Namsara - Kristen Ciccarelli

Release Date: 12/10/17


Destroyer. Death bringer. Dragon-slayer. I am more weapon than girl.

Asha is a dragon-slayer. Reviled by the very people she's sworn to protect, she kills to atone for the wicked deed she committed as a child - one that almost destroyed her city, and left her with a terrible scar.

But protecting her father's kingdom is a lonely destiny: no matter how many dragons she kills, her people still think she's wicked.

Even worse, to unite the fractured kingdom she must marry Jarek, the cruel commandant. As the wedding day approaches, Asha longs for freedom.

Just when it seems her fate is sealed, the king offers her a way out: her freedom in exchange for the head of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard.

And the only person standing in her way is a defiant slave boy . . .

THE LAST NAMSARA is an extraordinary story about courage, loyalty and star-crossed love, set in a kingdom that trembles on the edge of war.


I'm the type of reader who is often found in fantastical kingdoms and worlds where mystical creatures live and magic is in abundance so when I get the chance to try a Young Adult title that will help get the love out there for the younger reader I jump at the chance in order to help pass on my love of reading to my nephews and niece. (So that when I'm old, they'll know the right sort of books to buy me. LOL)

So I had high hopes for this although to a certain degree the blurb sounded pretty generic and I thought was something that I'd read before in titles such as McCaffrey's Pern series. I finally picked up the book and settled down awaiting to see what would occur. The story pretty much went the way I expected and whilst there were quite a few elements that worked well, the whole thing was centred more around two characters placing them in a fantastical setting and following a certain linear path. That's not to say it wasn't well done, it was, but for me, there was no surprise and when you also throw in supporting cast that felt pretty flat I was left a little disappointed with the overall book.

All round it was OK, and the parts that I liked were well done, however for me there were other avenues that needed to be explored so I'm hoping that in future outings the writing will have not only improved but that the character development continues with fuller fleshed out cast members.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: The Furthest Station - Ben Aaronovitch

Release Date: 28/09/17
Publisher: Gollancz


A brand new novella in the PC Grant series!

There's something going bump on the Metropolitan line and Sergeant Jaget Kumar knows exactly who to call.

It's PC Peter Grant's speciality . . .

Only it's more than going 'bump'. Traumatised travellers have been reporting strange encounters on their morning commute, with strangely dressed people trying to deliver an urgent message. Stranger still, despite calling the police themselves, within a few minutes the commuters have already forgotten the encounter - making the follow up interviews rather difficult.

So with a little help from Abigail and Toby the ghost hunting dog, Peter and Jaget are heading out on a ghost hunting expedition.

Because finding the ghost and deciphering their urgent message might just be a matter of life and death.


I've been a huge fan of PC Grant since the first novel Rivers of London back in 2011, and whilst its always a hard wait between novels, I love it when you get little extra treats like novella's that whilst perhaps not a full length story, give the reader a hit of what they've been hankering for.

Within this novella, PC Grant faces a tough challenge, solving a case where a short time after the encounter people have forgotten all about it. Its definitely going to be a challenging case for our detective and one that more tha piqued my interest upon reading the synopsis.

As usual the writing is crisp, the prose wonderfully addictive and when you throw into this good pacing all round gives me a story that I was sad to finish. It was everything I hoped for with some great moments within taking the reader through a range of emotions and all round is making is a title I'll be rereading again soon to see what I missed on my original read. Cracking.