Wednesday 30 June 2010

NEWS: Free E-Book from Bloomsbury

Hail Mighty Readers,
With the forthcoming release of the second novel by Alyxandra Harvey, Blood Feud, we've been tipped the wink that Bloomsbury are going to make the first, My Love Lies Bleeding, available for free download on July 5th.

We'll have a direct link up on this site on the day but remember its always a good thing to get a free book, let the world know where you heard it and follow the link on the day to get your copy.


URBAN FANTASY DEBUT REVIEW: Uprising - Scott G Mariani


A new war is dawning! For millennia, the vampires walked the earth undetected, feasting on humans in keeping with ancient tradition. In the Information Age, vampires realised they must be more careful to avoid detection. In the late 20th century they created the global Vampire Federation to police vampire activity, with special agents like Alex Bishop authorised to hunt down her own kind who break the laws. The old traditions are history. But not all vampires bow down to Federation rule. When rebel vampire Gabriel Stone declares war against them, Alex and her team are plunged into danger. Police inspector Joel Solomon, haunted by a secret terror of vampires, discovers a series of corpses left behind by Stone's bloodthirsty gang. As he and Alex are drawn together in an unlikely alliance between human and vampire, the race begins to destroy the evil Stone before his uprising tears their world apart.


If you’re after a new vampire title then this could be the one for you. It’s got action, it’s a thriller and theres a good dollop of mystery. Add to the mix that its action all the way and it could be a title to hit that itch that’s been there since you’ve wanted more hardcore Underworld action than Twilight angst.

Add to the mix a pretty good pace, some reasonable dialogue an weaponry to make even the most hardcore fan drool and its definitely a title that will impress. I had fun and with something pretty easy to pick up for reading pleasure will be one for readers looking to introduce an action fan to the genre.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

DEBUT FANTASY REVIEW: Spellwright - Blake Charlton


In a world where words can come to life, an inability to spell can be a dangerous thing. And no one knows this better than apprentice wizard Nicodemus Weal. Nicodemus is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without 'misspelling' -- a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon Nicodemus Weal is a cacographer, unable to reproduce even simple magical texts without 'misspelling' -- a mistake which can have deadly consequences. He was supposed to be the Halcyon, a magic-user of unsurpassed power, destined to save the world; instead he is restricted to menial tasks, and mocked for his failure to live up to the prophecy. But not everyone interprets prophecy in the same way. There are some factions who believe a cacographer such as Nicodemus could hold great power -- power that might be used as easily for evil as for good. And when two of the wizards closest to Nicodemus are found dead, it becomes clear that some of those factions will stop at nothing to find the apprentice and bend him to their will!


A brave new world and a novel take on the worlds of magick. What makes this offering something a little special is the way in which the author not only takes the rules and bends them to their own will imposing something new and well, magical.

The prose is hard hitting, the dialogue crisp with characters that really do leap off the page and have attributes that the reader can associate with aspects of their own imagination. Great stuff and definitely something that will win this author a number of fans. My only real gripe about this offering is that the print is a tad on the small side.

FANTASY REVIEW: Lord of the Changing Winds - Rachel Neumeier


The desert winds have come to the village of Minas Ford. Griffins, creatures of fire, have appeared in a burning haze - searing the sky a blinding white and scorching the earth to parched, barren sand. These majestic beasts, half-lion, half-eagle, spread the arid desert wherever they roam. Iaor, the King of Feierabiand, will not tolerate the destruction of his people's farmland. He means to drive the griffins from his domain - whether by negotiation or brute force. But not all those who encounter the griffins fear them. Kes, a timid village girl, is summoned to heal the King of the Griffins himself. She will discover her affinity with these creatures, and come to realise that the menace they flee is even more deadly than the blazing fires of the desert.


To be blunt, I really couldn’t get into this title as it felt a little too flowery for my own personal fantasy tastes. Whilst I’m not saying that it’s a bad book I just felt alienated with the principle protagonista whom I couldn’t get a handle on and with prose that almost dance upon the mind in a whimsical manner made this a title that just made no real sense to me as a whole.

There will be a reader market out there that’s been looking for something like this but to be blunt I do like fantasy to be more down and out dirty rather than all pretty ponies (or in this case griffins) and prancing pillock’s who I could just lamp.

Monday 28 June 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Wizard Squared - KE Mills


When the staff of Witches Incorporated receive a visitor from an alternate reality, they are shocked to learn that life in the parallel world next door is anything but a bed of roses. And it's all because of Gerald Dunwoody. At a crucial moment in time, their Gerald turned left - but the alternate reality Gerald turned right. Now the parallel world next door is in the grip of terror, staring down the barrel of a thaumaturgical war. A war that threatens to spill across the dimensions and plunge every reality into nightmare. The only person who can stop a rogue wizard gone mad is another rogue wizard. But what do you do when another rogue wizard is nowhere to be found?


As a huge fan of Karen’s writing this series has been a real gem of an offering in the fantasy world. For a while I was left wondering what the hell she could do that would really challenge her principle magician within her writing that wouldn’t appear OTT or even forced. What she comes up with in this offering is definitely something that will entertain the reader and give them the magical ride of their life. Add to the mix great dialogue, a whole host of characters that you’d love to share a jar or two with and backed up with a reasonable paced story arc. A real treat against the usual hum drum magical offerings.

FANTASY REVIEW: God of War - Matthew Stover


The first official tie-in novel to the hugely successful God of War series of action-adventure video games. This is an epic adventure set in the world of Greek mythology. This novel takes the mega-successful God of War franchise to a new level! Kratos is the new god of war, but the other gods refuse to welcome him as one of their own. Zeus kills him, but he is saved by the goddess of the earth, Gaia. She sends him back to Mount Olympos - where, once again, he will challenge the might of the gods...Written by Matt Stover, the hugely popular, bestselling writer of many Star Wars adventures, gaming fans should not miss this brand-new God of War story!


As a huge fan of the game franchise (well duology currently) I did wonder how well the tale would translate to this offering but with Matthew Stover behind the reigns I shouldn’t have worried. He’s taken an established history and made it something a little more personal, with great combat sequences and of course following the defined story arc but in the authors own way.

Beautifully written, top prose and descriptiveness brings the God of War franchise to fans of a different generation.

Friday 25 June 2010


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

This month you'll find:
Bad Moon Rising - Sherilyn Kenyon

Hopefully you'll find this feature of use,


ART BOOK REVIEW: Draw and Paint Vampires - Scott Purdy


This title includes ten extremely gradual step by step projects that show how to conceptualise, draw and paint a great selection of fantasy art vampires. Projects include all vampire classics - from the legendary Dracula to modern pop-culture icons such as a Goth Vampire and a High School Cheerleader vampire. First part of the book provides general guidelines on basic concepts and art techniques, and vampire lore - accompanied throughout by Scott's highly impactful art. For anyone who draws and paints fantasy art, but particularly teenage/twenty-somethings who really 'dig' vampires and vampire-related culture.


Traditional artwork of fantasy creatures for the artistically minded and one that will give the reader a number of years experience in a very short time. Easy to follow, beautifully written with step by step instructions to allow the reader to create their own vamps in a very short time. Add to the mix a style that is pretty easy to replicate it’s a title that will inspire as well as impress the reader with their own sense of accomplishment after following Scott’s advice. Also add to the mix some great tips on how to organise your workspace, what colours work well together and its lessons that will last a lifetime.

ART BOOK REVIEW: Digital Expressions - Susan Tuttle


Digital Expressions guides the mixed-media artist through 25 stepped-out digital projects created with Adobe Photoshop Elements. Projects like manipulating single photos, collage on a digital canvas, and digital illustration will inspire readers to tackle all kinds of digital mixed-media projects using stock photography, custom brushes, textured backgrounds and their own digital photos. A team of talented contributing artists further illustrates the techniques in action. Plus, a bonus CD includes more than 25 digital design elements for readers to use in their own projects.


As a huge user of photoshop, its always great to see a title that deals exclusively with this medium. It teaches a good solid background for the programme concerned and above all else will definitely teach the reader a number of useful skills from the blend through to the creation of original art. Easy to follow, explained very clearly and with easy to utilise instructions it will become a manual that you’ll reach for to learn lessons as well as to find some inspiration time and again.

Thursday 24 June 2010



The Forgotten Legion fought against almighty odds at the very edge of the known world - and lost. Now Brennus the Gaul, Tarquinius the Etruscan soothsayer and Romulus, bastard son of a Roman nobleman, are prisoners of Parthia. They dream of escape, but in the brutal fighting which lies ahead, only two will survive. Meanwhile, Fabiola, Romulus' twin sister, is caught up in the vicious eddies of Roman politics. Hunted by slave catchers she flees, hoping to find her lover, Brutus, bound for Alexandria with Caesar. Ben Kane's brilliant second novel plunges his characters into a cauldron of war and terror, as Caesar and the Roman Republic hurtle towards their day of reckoning.


OK, so I didn’t have to wait too long for this. (In fact just long enough to get a cup of tea, a couple of biscuits to help keep my strength up and a trip to the loo.) But what could I expect from this? Would the writing stand out as much, would the characters grow and perhaps more importantly would the author continue to build on the world and not have it fall down upon his ears.

First of all, the title picks up where the last left off and lets just say that Ben really did give the readers a bloody nose with number of combat sequences within, its brutal, its bloody and above all it’s really got a lot of passion behind it.

Whilst many may rail against some of the simplicity and compare it against firm fan favourites like Scarrow or even Iggulden, the titles by each author have to be taken on their own merit. Or rather than comparing to an already complete series should be compared only that far, so in this case up to book two by each author. Against these first to, you’ll notice that the author has established a pretty vivid and different world to those by the other authors. It’s different to the norm and I feel that its this difference that may have other railing against this pretty unique piece of writing.

Its fun, it’s a brave new world and above all else its got descent character growth that really does allow the reader to immerse themselves in something novel and new. A great title and one that has left me clamouring for the next title.

HISTORICAL FICTION: The Forgotten Legion - Ben Kane


Romulus and Fabiola are twins, born into slavery after their mother is raped by a drunken nobleman on his way home from a good night out. At 13 years old, they and their mother are sold: Romulus to gladiator school, Fabiola into prostitution, where she will catch the eye of one of the most powerful men in Rome, and their mother into obscurity and death in the salt mines. Tarquinius is an Etruscan, a warrior and soothsayer, born enemy of Rome, but doomed to fight for the Republic in the Forgotten Legion. Brennus is a Gaul; the Romans killed his entire family. He rises to become one of the most famous and feared gladiators of his day - and mentor to the boy slave, Romulus, who dreams night and day of escape and of revenge. The lives of these four characters are bound and interwoven in a marvellous story which begins in a Rome riven by corruption, violence and political enmities, but ends far away, where Romulus, Brennus and Tarquinius find themselves fighting against the Parthians and overwhelming odds.


With a great many titles in the Historical Fiction genre being set within the Roman era, an author has to come up with something very special to stand out from the others. What Ben has done with this offering is take a different approach by utilising an interesting snippet from history of the possibility of a Roman Unit within China. Its interesting, its got some controversy but above all the author has cleverly considered what difference this ancient war machine would make to an Army from the East.

The characters were reasonable, the plot outline not only fascinating but intriguing and brought together with some descent combat sequences. It’s a title that will either have a great many readers loving or loathing but its definitely a title that stands out and will, above all else find the readers staying up late to read the next chapter. Which is a great way to keep the author’s characters and arc in mind. I’ll eagerly await the second offering.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: The Boys (6): The Self Preservation Society - Garth Ennis, Darrick Robertson


It had to happen sooner or later: the supes get mad enough to go after the Boys. One of the world's most powerful superteams decides to hit our heroes, all guns blazing, and the Female is the first to fall into their lethal trap. Pulping teenage supes is one thing, but how will our heroes fair against a front-rank supe team of unimaginable power? Blood flies and bones shatter, as Butcher decides to meet fire with fire...


If there’s one thing guaranteed to brighten my day, its getting to spend time with “The Boys.” Garth Ennis has a real touch of humour, his characters are people you just tend to love and to be honest, it’s a great idea to have a team of people set up to kick the hell out of the superheroes for when they step out of line. Of course this earns them enemies, of course its got Ennis’ warped humour and of course you’re guaranteed top art as Robertson’s involved. This is the Superhero Graphic novel series for adults. I love it, my twin loves it and my Dad loves it (as I’ve just discovered that the latest offering has been “borrowed” proves.) Great stuff and definitely something to make any readers day no matter how bad the previous events have gone so far.

URBAN FANTASY REVIEW: Black Magic Sanction - Kim Harrison


The latest stirring instalment of the urban fantasy-thriller series starring Rachel Morgan. A pacey and addictive novel of sexy bounty-hunting witches, cunning demons and vicious vampires. Having barely escaped being skewered by the criminal vampire overlord of Cinncinati, Rachel now has even bigger problems to contend with. The demon, Algaliarept, although banished back into the everafter has infected others of his kind with his interest in a witch who can channel demon magic. Rachel soon finds herself with not one but three hellions on her tail; and one of them is even crazier and more dangerous than all the fairy assassins, weres and vampires on the planet. Published as 'The Outlaw Demon Wails' in the US.


Fans and readers of Kim’s epic series will have been chomping at the bit for this offering. What unfurls is definitely something that will give the reader a real dose of adrenaline as well as allowing them to enjoy the lulls and humour hidden within. It’s beautifully written, the characters continue to grow and above all else the tale is one that really adds to what has gone before. Great stuff.

Tuesday 22 June 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: The Desert Spear - Peter V Brett


Continuing the impressive debut fantasy series from author Peter V. Brett, The Desert Spear is book two of the Demon trilogy, pulling the reader into a world of demons, darkness and heroes. The Deliverer has returned, but who is he? Arlen Bales, formerly of the small hamlet of Tibbet's Brook, learnt harsh lessons about life as he grew up in a world where hungry demons stalk the night and humanity is trapped by its own fear. He chose a different path; chose to fight inherited apathy and the corelings, and eventually he became the Painted Man, a reluctant saviour. But the figure emerging from the desert, calling himself the Deliverer, is not Arlen. He is a friend and betrayer, and though he carries the spear from the Deliverer's tomb, he also heads a vast army intent on a holy war against the demon plague! and anyone else who stands in his way.


With Painted Man being one of last years Dark Horses, readers were expecting a hell of a lot from the second offering from Peter Brett with one question being predominant over any other “Will Brett be more than a one hit wonder?”

This is a question that’s often asked of many authors and whilst some have buckled under the pressure of trying to get the second novel written Peter has stepped up and put his talent where the questions are and so we just had to read this second title.

What unfurls within is a tale that expands beautifully from the original and gives the reader more of what they want. His prose are literally unsurpassed in the fantasy world currently and its definitely a title that allows the characters alongside world to expand in an almost natural progression. Back that up with some great dialogue and a plot outline that will surprise a number of readers and they delve once more into his world and he could be a firm favourite to win a number of awards this year.

FANTASY REVIEW: Watcher of the Dead - JV Jones


In the frigid wasteland of the north, Raif Sevrance, Watcher of the Dead, has endured many trials to lay claim to the renowned sword known as Loss. But the price of wielding the legendary weapon is high, and Raif is unsure if he is willing to pay it. Ash Marsh, Daughter of the Sull, still struggles to come to terms with her heritage, and the knowledge that the Watcher, armed with Loss, could be the one who will save the Sull ? or end them. Raina Blackhail, widow of a murdered ruler and wife of his brutal successor, has seen her clan disgraced and has, herself, taken up the mantle of chief. But there are enemies both beyond her gates and within. And in the murky swamps of the Stillwater, two children will learn the secrets of the Marsh clan. Secrets so old they threaten everything ...


Having loved Jones since the Book of Words (Baker boy, A Man Betrayed and Master and Fool), I really couldn’t wait to get the latest title in her Sword of Shadows series. So you can pretty much guess the pressure that my household was under on the count down to the title landing. I couldn’t wait to get into the title, I’d bought snacks, I’d bought my favourite Fizzy Pop (Barr’s Dandelion and Burdock if you want to bribe me) and of course a new comfy cover to snuggle in whilst enjoying my reading experience.

So you can pretty much guess that I was a tad disappointed with a title that really didn’t do much. I’m not saying that Jones isn’t a great author but against what’s gone before it was a bit of a let down. She does continue to build up the pressure, with great characters and you know deep down that the final offering is going to be a huge pressure wave that will really bowl the reader over. Back that up with multiple character POV’s alongside great dialogue then readers will definitely forgive the minor mishaps of this offering.

Monday 21 June 2010

NEWS: The Falcata Times To Be Read Pile

Hail Mighty Readers,
We thought that we'd start a new feature, the Falcata Times To Be Read list (hereby refered to as the TBR List). This is where we put up the titles that we have received and you, the readers, can let us know which ones you want to know more about and we'll move them up so that they get reviewed sooner rather than later.

We'll update once a month and from there we'll do our best to help you, the readers, make the right choice on your book buying sorties. (Especially with a certain Holiday time fast approaching. Where has the year gone?)

Currently we have:
ROBERTS, Adam - New Model Army
McNEILL, Graham & ABNETT, Dan: The Dark King (Audio)
MCNEILL, Graham – The Chapters Due
KYME, Nick – Fire Born (Audio)
ANDERSON, Kevin J & HERBERT, Brian – The Winds of Dune
THORPE, Gav – Path of the Warrior
STOSS, Charles – The Fuller Memorandum
WOODING, Chris – Black Lung Captain
McDONALD, Ian – The Dervish House
DEMBSKI-BOWDEN, Aaron – Throne of Lies (AUDIO)
SWALLOW, James - Nemesis (Horus Heresy)
RANKIN, Robert – The Japanese Devil Fish Girl…
RAJANISMI, Hannu – The Quantum Jump

CANAVAN, Trudi – The Ambassador’s Mission
CHADBOURN, Mark – The Sword of Albion
PRATCHETT, Terry – Going Postal (TV Tie in)
NEWTON, Mark Charen – City of Ruin
ANDERSON, Kevin J – The Map of all Things
PARKER, KJ - The Folded Knife
McKENNA, Juliet – The Banners in the Wind
KEYES, Greg – An Elder Scrolls Novel: The Infernal City
WRAIGHT, Chris – Warhammer Heroes: Sword of Justice
MILLER, Karen – The Reluctant Mage
LLOYD, Tom – The Ragged Man
PEVEL, Pierre – The Alchemist in the Shadows

DE CANDIDO, Keith – Supernatural: Heart of the Dragon
BRONTE, Charlotte & BROWNING-IRWIN, Sherri – Jane Slayre
RHODES, Natasha – Circus of Sins
RECHT, Z A – Plague of the Dead (The Morningstar Plague)
NEVILL, Adam - Apartment 16 (Horror)
ARTHUR, Keri – Moon Sworn
ENNIS, Garth & ROBERTSON, Darrick – The Boys: Vol 6
HARRIS, Charlaine – Dead in the Family
GRANT, Mira – Feed
MARIANI, Scott G – Uprising
BLACK, Holly – White Cat
DEHART, Terry - The Unit
KESSLER, Jackie and KITTREDGE, Caitlin – Shades of Night (Icarus Project 2)
DAVIDSON, Mary Janice – Undead and Unfinished
WELLINGTON, David – Cursed

YOUNG ADULT/CHILDRENS (appearing on Tattys Treasure Chest)
SMITH, LJ - Vampire Diaries 1&2: Awakening, Struggle
SMITH, LJ - Vampire Diaries 3&4: Fury, Return
KING, Caro – Shadowspell
NARAYAN, Natasha – The Maharajah’s Monkey
PRENEAS, Sarah – Magic Thief: Found
RICHARDSON, Justin & PARNELL, Peter – Christian the Hugging Lion (3+)
CHANDLER, Elizabeth – Dark Secrets 2
CURLEY, Marianne – The Named
CLARKE, Noel – 4 3 2 1
KATE, Lauren – Fallen
BRENNAN, Sarah Rees – The Demon’s Covenant
MOORE, Lynne & KEFFORD, Naomi & Ill. DAVIES, Benji - When the Dragons Came
KESSLER, Liz – Phillipa Fisher and the Stone Fairy’s Palace
KESSLER, Liz – Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret
HOPGOOD, Tim – Wow! said the Owl
LIMB, Sue – Girl 16 - Five Star Fiasco
KENYON, Sherrilyn – Infinity: Chronicles of Nick 1
CHADDA, Sarwat – Dark Goddess
HOPKINS, Cathy – Million Dollar Mates (11+)
SMITH, LJ – The Forbidden Game (TEEN)
HALE, Shannon – Forest born
WESTERFELD, Scott – Secret Hour (Midnighters 1)
WEBB, Catherine – The Dream Thief
WILLIAMS, Carol Lynch – The Chosen One
SCOTT, Michael – The Necromancer
BYNG, Georgia – Molly Moon: The Morphing Mystery
WATERS, Dan – Passing Strange

BLAKE, Richard – The Terror of Constantinople
BLAKE, Richard – The Blood of Alexandria
SIDEBOTTOM, Harry – Lion of the Sun (Warrior of Rome 3)
CAMERON, Christian – Killer of Men
GREGORY, Philippa – The Red Queen
VAUGHAN-HUGHES, Pip – The Fools Crusade

HEWSON, David - The Blue Demon (THRILLER)
STRAUB, Peter – A Dark Matter (HORROR)
DEL TORO, Guillermo – The Strain (Thriller)
O’CONNOR, Niamh – If I ever See you Again (CRIME)
FOREMAN, Gayle - If I Stay (FICTION)
BYRNES, Michael – The Genesis Plague (THRILLER)
PAVELEC, Jim & SEAMAN, Chris – Ink Bloom (ART)
BAXTER, Stephen – Stone Spring (Alternate History)
MOODY, David – Dog Blood (THRILLER)
GERRITSEN, Tess – The Killing Place (CRIME)
SABERHAGEN, Fred – Sherlock Holmes: The 7th Bullet (CRIME)
THOMAS, RHYS – On the Third Day (Thriller)
BECKER, James – The Messiah Secret (THRILLER)
NEWMAN, Ruth – The Company of Shadows (CRIME)
The Medieval Murderers – The Sacred Stone (CRIME)
MAN, John – Xanadu (FACTUAL)
LAWRENCE, Alice - Daddy's Prisoner (Real Life)
SUMMERS, Julie - Stranger in the House (Real Life)

All the best,

Gareth and Diane,
Your Book Reading Servant's. LOL

SCIENCE FICTION GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Robo-Hunter: The Droid Files V2 - John Wagner, Alan Grant, Ian Gibson



Encounter a P.I. like no another in this bumper collection of Robo- Hunter stories, collecting this classic strip together from the very beginning. Sam Slade is the man with a plan when it comes to robo-crime and together with his robo-pals, Stogie and Hoagie, he will bring all metal perps to justice!

Written by John Wagner (Judge Dredd, A History of Violence) and Alan Grant (Lobo, Batman) and featuring artwork by Ian Gibson (The Ballad of Halo Jones), this collection is packed full of the very best of Sam Slade.


Robo Hunter is a character that I really don’t recall to be honest. Not that he wasn’t about but he wasn’t a character that originally stood out to me. Its perhaps on the lighter side of 2000AD and whilst there will be a number of people with fond memories left me feeling a little flat.

It is well written, the characters different to what’s out there and with a touch of humour that many will just love but for me it really didn’t hit the spot or give me those Goosebumps that I’ve been longing for. A real shame but one that will appeal to a number of readers of a certain age.

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: The Noise Within - Ian Whates


On the brink of perfecting the long sought-after human/ AI interface, Philip Kaufman finds his world thrown into turmoil as a scandal from the past returns to haunt him and dangerous information falls into his hands. Pursued by assassins and attacked in his own home, he flees. Leyton, a government black-ops specialist, is diverted from his usual duties to hunt down the elusive pirate vessel The Noise Within, wondering all the while why this particular freebooter is considered so important. Two lives collide in this stunning and innovative space-opera!


To be honest this title took me back to the Deathstalker series by Simon Green. After all we have the intelligence ship, we have a cracking principle protagonist who is more of an anti hero than the true good guy you’ve come to expect backed up with some cracking tech. It’s beautifully written, the prose as you’d already expect from Ian’s previous novel was top notch and its backed up with some great dialogue. Personally, I think his combat sequences Ballistic Combat Sequences are so so compared to his sword combat but that’s something that can be improved upon. Definitely a title that will win him a number of fans but will also allow a fair amount of growth that could take Ian quite far.

Sunday 20 June 2010

NEWS: David Gemmell Legend Award Winners Announced

Hail Mighty Readers,
The David Gemmell Legend Award has announced the winners of this years tough competition. After a lot of voting the choices came down as:

Ravensheart Award: Best Served Cold – Didier Graffet, Dave Senior and Laura Brett. For the shortlist poll there were votes from 64 different countries, with the top voters being from the USA and the UK.

Morningstar Award: The Cardinal’s Blades by Pierre Pevel. For the shortlist poll there were votes from 34 different countries, with the top voters being from the USA France and the UK.

Legend Award: Empire by Graham McNeill. For the shortlist poll there were votes from 91 different countries, with the top voters being from the USA, the UK, France and Canada.

Congratulation to the winners and of course to those who made it to the second round. These were (all book nommed links to our reviews where possible):

Stephen Deas- The Adamantine Palace - Gollancz
Jesse Bullington - The Sad Tales of the Brothers Grossbart - Orbit
Amanda Downum - The Drowning City - Orbit
Pierre Pevel - The Cardinal's Blades - Gollancz
Ken Scholes - Lamentation - Tor US

Brandon Sanderson - Warbreaker - Tor US
Pierre Pevel - The Cardinal's Blades - Gollancz
Graham McNeill - Empire - Black Library
Joe Abercrombie - Best Served Cold - Gollancz and Orbit
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - The Gathering Storm - Tor US

Once again congrats to everyone concerned.

Friday 18 June 2010

WRITING ADVICE: Writing Critique Survival Guide - Becky Levine


The Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide presents the best way to create a respectful, productive writing or critique group, discussing all the important details of finding a group, running a critique meeting, and building a group that will evolve with its members. Each chapter, whether discussing plot or character or voice, teaches the writer how to read for a critique, learn from criticism, organize and prioritise feedback, revise based on the specific feedback they receive, and more. This title is perfect for writers and creative-writing students.


Whilst some would say that the sheer volume of reading that I do is to big to count, I tend to utilise it as a lot of research to learn what not only works within the writing world for me, but also to learn what I didn’t like and thus learn lessons from within. Currently I’m going to be looking into creating some basic tales to learn the background but in order to grow as a writer you have to not only submit pieces but learn how to take critism without turning into the Incredible Hulk. (A lesson that a number of established authors are still learning the hard way.)

What this book will do is help you to find the right (or perhaps write) group for you to submit pieces to, how to critique others pieces and how to take what they’ve got to say about your own. It’s a minefield out there so its always a tricky ground to walk. This book is really an invaluable guide to a newbie as well as one that will help others to learn how to improve some of their already established skills and has something for every writer within. A good title and one that will invariably have the reader flicking from time and again into its pages for a touch of inspiration or to relearn the odd lesson.

CRIME REVIEW: A Darker Shade of Blue - John Harvey


John Harvey has been described as the master of British crime and in A Darker Shade of Blue he has collected together some of his very best writing. From the killing fields of the East Midlands to the mean streets of London, from the jazz clubs and clip joints of Soho to the barren fenlands of East Anglia, this is a world of broken families and run-down estates, revenge killings and prostitution, drugs, guns and corruption; a world of overstretched police forces and underpaid detectives, men and women who strive nonetheless for a kind of justice; and, a world in which everything, even friendship, has a price. Featuring characters like Frank Elder, who tried to turn his back on police work and failed; Jack Kiley, ex-copper and one-time professional footballer, now a London-based PI; and, the renowned jazz loving and much-loved Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick, John Harvey's finely-crafted vignettes perfectly encapsulate life in the badlands of modern Britain.


If you want some top notch crime thriller short stories then Arrow have just catered to your every wish. Within this offering is a series of tales that fit quite firmly into short journeys or for a brief five minute read that feel a bit more realistic than a lot of the titles out there.

They’re dark, gritty and above all set within our world with consequences that are just too realistic to be believed. Whilst some would say that John is concentrating on the darker part of the human mind its these tales that bring the humanity to the fore of many of the cast. Beautifully written and above all with a prose that just ingrains itself within the psyche of the reader it’s a title that will definitely embed itself within your imagination and perhaps give you the odd nightmare.

Thursday 17 June 2010

CRIME REVIEW (Debut): Where the Shadow's Lie - Michael Ridpath


Amid Iceland's wild, volcanic landscape, rumours swirl of an ancient manuscript containing a long-lost saga about a ring of terrible power. The manuscript, which is believed to have inspired Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, exists...but why is it worth killing for? Untangling murder from myth is Iceland-born, Boston-raised homicide detective Magnus Jonson. Seconded to the Icelandic Police Force for his own protection after he runs afoul of a drug cartel back in Boston, Magnus also has his own reasons for returning to the country of his birth for the first time in nearly two decades - to investigate the unsolved murder of his father. Binding Iceland's landscape and history, secrets and superstitions in a strikingly original plot that will span several volumes, Where the Shadows Lie is a thrilling new series from an established master.


As a reader who is prepared to give most titles a go I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what to expect from this author yet as a huge fan of crime with a touch of myth then I was more than happy to give it a spin.

What unfurls within is an offering that will probably do for the Iceland what Craig Russell has done for Germany. The characters are realistic, the mythos of fantasy interwoven seamlessly with ancient saga’s and even adds a touch of the unspoilt majestic scenery to the readers imagination. Its got great dialogue, some wonderful descriptive sequences but perhaps most of all a mystery that the reader will enthuse about to others long after the final page is turned. I would seriously love to have read this tale whilst visiting the county but above all else it’s a story that will turn many a crime reader onto this author. I really can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

THRILLER REVIEW: The Dragon Factory - Jonathan Maberry


Having protected the world from a zombie plague in PATIENT ZERO, Joe Ledger and his crack Department of Special Sciences combat team are thrown into an even more frightening crisis. A genetic-engineering program has been used to create the ultimate fighting machine - soldiers bred for war, soldiers with greater strength, higher reaction speeds and an utter disregard for pain. Theirs and others. It's a nightmare from the pages of Doctor Moreau and soon Joe and his team are up against both the big business concerns who have billions invested in the project and, on the street, adversaries bred expressly to kill them. It's enough to make you wish you were facing zombies again . . .


Having really enjoyed Jonathan’s original offering I really wanted this title to deliver more high octane thrills as the principle protagonist slaughters his way to his mission goal. I wanted more twists, I wanted more shades of grey villains and I wanted a character who could be bent by circumstance to be just as twisted as the bad guys .

This Jonathan delivers in spades and it’s an adventure that does what it says on the tin. Its well written, the story arc has plenty of twists and its almost like the old fashioned Saturday Morning Matinee’s with its cliff hangers at the end of numerous chapters. It’s ideal material for those who want that something special with great action sequences in an action thriller that should be made into a film.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: Warhammer Fantasy: Time of Legends: Nagash the Unbroken - Mike Lee


The powerful necromancer Nagash, having suffered defeat on the battlefield at the hands of the priest kings, is forced to lick his wounds in the mountains of Nehekhara. Over time he rebuilds his strength and finds new allies in the skaven, mutant ratmen that live beneath the earth. In his new lair of Cripple Peak, the necromancer discovers something dark and powerful - warpstone. Coveted by the skaven, this magical rock could make the evil Nagash unstoppable...The Time of Legends series continues with the second book in the Rise of Nagash trilogy, an epic story of power and revenge for all lovers of dark fantasy and the World of Warhammer.


Having had problems with the original and its almost scrappy jumping style I really wasn’t looking forward to this title, hence why in certain respects its taken me a while to get round to it. As with the other Legend’s series from the Black Library it has some great talent behind it with the author keeping to the established facts but with his own unique embellishments that really make this title stand out. Whilst the jumpy nature is still here, it can be forgiven slightly purely for the sheer scope that is available for the principle protagonist within. If you loved the Mummy films then this is definitely the Warhammer novel to get you established although personally speaking I think that the Sigmar series alongside the Gotrek and Felix titles take a hell of a lot of beating.

FANTASY REVIEW: The War of the Dwarves - Markus Heitz


The dwarves have gone to battle and they have been victorious. But outside the realm, dark forces are working ...A secret army of Orcs, made immortal by the hidden powers of the Black Water, now marches towards Girdlegard, set to unleash its fury upon the kingdom. Sooner than they realise, Tungdil and his comrades will need to summon all their courage to do battle against this bloodthirsty horde. The Orcs are not the only threat. An unspeakable new power is growing and threatens the very existence of the dwarves. But both enemies have forgotten one very important truth: a dwarf is never more dangerous than when total obliteration seems inevitable ...


Having read the original title and fallen for the characters within, I really did want this title as soon as it was out. However being a tad forgetful I’d missed its original release only to be reminded a few months later that I’d missed it. This incidentally led to self reflection about whether or not my first impressions from the original read were correct or whether or not the secondary offering could live up to the first.

What unfurls is the continual search for our principle protagonists heritage alongside the overall arc of defeating the evil that’s lurking almost unseen in the background. Beautifully written, this series is going to be one that’s a real guilty pleasure for a number of readers who have only just been introduced to this pretty prevalent German author. Add to the mix great character growth, some top notch dialogue and an almost Tolkienesque scope and it will soon be a series to step to the fore of a many “stunty” fans.

Monday 14 June 2010

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Watch (WWW 2) - Robert J Sawyer


Caitlen Decter could never have anticipated what was coming when she first sensed a strange presence on the internet Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended blind mathematics genius Caitlin Decter and has grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH - the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening. WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.


Having read the original (Wake) I really did want to get on with this offering as soon as I could as I’d had a great time reading the first title in the series. I hoped that it would work beautifully in conjunction without contradicting . What unfurls is a title that not only expands beautifully to the world already developed but allows descent character growth as well as backed up with some great dialogue alongside plot outline.

Robert is definitely a name to watch (as if you’re not already) and will definitely be one to whom a great many are compared to in the future taking on the role of the standard setter from those who came before such as Arthur C Clarke.



Three hundred years in our future, in a world of alien infiltrators, religious hackers, a vast convoying nation of Nomads, city sized orbital elevators, and a cyborg pirate king who believes himself to be a mythological demon Jakob is having a bad day: "Nothing gets in the way of a hangover like being reactivated by your old C.O and told to track down an alien killing machine. The same kind of killing machine that wiped out my entire squad. And now it's in my hometown. My name is Jakob Douglas, ex-special forces. I fought Them. Just like we've all been doing for 60 bloody years. But I thought my part in that was done with. My boss has other ideas. If I didn't find the infiltrator then he'd let the Grey Lady loose on me. And believe me; even They've got nothing on her. So I took the job. It went to shit even faster than normal. And now I'm on the run with this teenage hacker who's had enough of prostitution. The only people I can rely on want to turn the internet into God. And now it turns out that They aren't quite what we'd all thought. I've been to the bottom of the sea and the top of the sky and beyond trying to get to the truth. And I still can't get far enough away from the Grey Lady. All things considered I'd rather be back at home deep in a whiskey bottle." Veteran is a fast paced, intricately plotted violent SF Thriller set in a dark future against the backdrop of a seemingly never ending war against an unknowable and implacable alien enemy.


To be honest more a military title than a Sci-Fi one (although it is set in the future.) It is well written, the context pretty reasonable backed up with some solid pace alongside some descent dialogue. Add to the mix good character development and a spartanesque descriptiveness and its got some real backbone going for it. What didn’t help was my lack of caring for the principle protagonist which made this offering a struggle as without that element I really couldn’t get as involved with this title as it really does deserve which is a great shame. With luck the author will improve on this for his next title and give me something that I think the title was lacking but for a first novel, it goes to show that Gollancz is very good at talent spotting.

DVD REVIEW: American Dad Season Five


American Dad, the animated series that follows die-hard Republican and card-carrying NRA member Stan Smith (Seth MacFarlane) and his hilariously odd family in Langley Falls, Virginia, is back to salute a fifth season of laughs.

Stan’s not-so-smart wrancine (Wendy Schaal) has an unfaltering loyalty that allows her to turn a blind eye toward Stan’s unabashed arrogance. Stan constantly butts heads with his 18-year-old daughter Hayley (Rachael MacFarlane), who knows just how to push her father’s buttons by being liberal in both her beliefs and in the amount of hippie boyfriends she chooses to date. Hayley’s 14-year-old brother is the geeky yet cocky Steve (Scott Grimes), a kid who seems to be on the constant verge of puberty but can’t quite make sense of the opposite sex.

The Smith household is rounded out by two rather unconventional members. There’s the selfish and sarcastic space alien, Roger (Seth MacFarlane), who lives in the attic and drinks like every hour is happy hour; and Klaus (Dee Bradley Baker), an attention-starved goldfish with the brain of a German guy who’s always willing to vocalise his opinions whether anyone is listening or not.

This eccentric family full of radically different personalities is just trying to find a way to love and trust each other during these increasingly unpredictable times. And with a guy like Stan in charge of our national security, it’s going to be a hilarious ride.


Fans of Family Guy are probably pretty clued in on this adult animated series. Its witty, its got dry humour and the characters really do leap off to the viewers imagination, especially ones like Roger the Alien (who always gets put down by Stan.) Whilst it won’t appeal to everyones sense of humour it really does tickle my funny bone and was a real joy to view especially on those days when I needed cheering up. A great offering for a reasonable price and one that anyone can jump into without prior knowledge of the ones that have gone before.

Friday 11 June 2010

CRIME REVIEW: Random - Craig Robertson


Glasgow is being terrorised by a serial killer the media have nicknamed The Cutter. The murders have left the police baffled. There seems to be neither rhyme nor reason behind the killings; no kind of pattern or motive; an entirely different method of murder each time, and nothing that connects the victims except for the fact that the little fingers of their right hands have been severed. If DS Rachel Narey could only work out the key to the seemingly random murders, how and why the killer selects his victims, she would be well on her way to catching him. But as the police, the press and a threatening figure from Glasgow's underworld begin to close in on The Cutter, his carefully-laid plans threaten to unravel - with horrifying consequences.


As a huge fan of the crime genre I’m always on the look out for what the next big thing and absolutely love trying new authors in order make sure that I can get on the train before the rush hour of hype hits. What unfurls within this offering from Craig is a tale of murder, mayhem with perhaps one of the freshest serial killers to come out of Scotland in a long time. (A character within this offering, not the author.)

Add to the mix a tale that has more twists and turns than a roller-coaster, beautifully scripted dialogue and a mystery that keeps you hanging on by the fingernails and its definitely a tale that will not only entertain but will, if the right people read it, be optioned for film rights pretty quickly.

THRILLER REVIEW: 61 Hours - Lee Child


Get ready for the most exciting count-down of your life hour number sixty-one. Icy winter in South Dakota. A bus skids and crashes in a gathering storm. On the back seat: Jack Reacher, hitching a ride to nowhere. A life without baggage has many advantages. And disadvantages too, like facing the arctic cold without a coat. Hour number thirty-one. A small town is threatened by sinister forces. One brave woman is standing up for justice. If she's going to live to testify, she'll need help from a man like Reacher. Because there's a killer coming for her. Hour number zero. Has Reacher finally met his match? He doesn't want to put the world to rights. He just doesn't like people who put it to wrongs.


With a grandfather who is addicted to Lee Child’s writing, this offering has been one that had to be read pretty quickly to prevent what some would term as reacquisition to the relevant authority. What unfurls within is a reasonable offering from Lee and one that will definitely entertain his fans the world over. However unlike the other tales in the series it leaves the reader on tenderhooks and a long wait for the next offering. Whilst this isn’t his best Jack Reacher tale it is certainly not his worst and makes this not only ideal holiday reading material but an adventure to sink your teeth into.

Thursday 10 June 2010

HORROR REVIEW: Horn's - Joe Hill


Ignatius Perrish spent the night drunk and doing terrible things. He woke up the next morning with one hell of a hangover, a raging headache . . . and a pair of horns growing from his temples. Once, Ig lived the life of the blessed: born into privilege, the second son of a renowned American musician, and the younger brother of a rising late-night TV star, Ig had security and wealth and a place in his community. Ig had it all, and more - he had the love of Merrin Williams, a love founded on shared daydreams, mutual daring, and unlikely midsummer magic. Then beautiful, vivacious Merrin was gone - raped and murdered, under inexplicable circumstances - with Ig the only suspect. He was never tried for the crime, but in the court of public opinion, Ig was and always would be guilty. Now Ig is possessed with a terrible new power to go with his terrible new look, and he means to use it to find the man who killed Merrin and destroyed his life. Being good and praying for the best got him nowhere. It's time for a little revenge; it's time the devil had his due. HORNS: It's moving, sad, often funny, redemptive, and filled with hope.


Joe Hill is one of those authors that is trying to take the horror genre into a slightly different tangent with his work. Not that it’s a bad thing but with his first offering (Heart Shaped Box) leaving me feeling that it was more of a novella trying to get out I did wonder if he might be biting off a bit more than he could chew. Then with his second title 20th Century Ghosts I was left wondering if he was little more than a hack who had the time to experiment with his writing due to his parentage as to be honest I only really liked one tale within its pages.

That said, whilst I wasn’t a huge fan of Stephen King’s son I am prepared to give each offering a go as his writing, whilst not always to my own personal taste is something that creeps into the readers imagination. What unfurled within this offering is a tale of love, horror, betrayal and murder and whilst its more of an emotional psychological ride than anything else does have moments of levity in typical Hill humour. Its quirky, its definitely different to a lot of offerings out there and its guaranteed to be one that will make many readers pay attention to this author. He really has improved in my estimation with this offering and delivered what felt like a proper full length novel without over egging the pudding. Great stuff.

ART BOOK REVIEW: Fantasy Genesis: A Creativity Game for Artists - Chuck Lukacs


Readers will get easy, fun techniques for creating extraordinary drawings from a working illustrator in the industry. Constructed around the familiar dice-rolled decision-making dynamic of role-playing games using a common set of dice available in gaming and comic shops everywhere, the reader gets an accessible group of lists from which an infinite variety of conceptual sketches can be made. By the end of the book, readers will have all the tools they need to continue playing the game on their own and with their friends, with an infinite number of combinations and creations possible.


Artists are always looking for a new challenge and with a number of art books out there, its always tricky to find something that not only entertains and nurtures the talents but also challenges the reader to create something new and novel. What makes Chuck’s offering from Impact so much fun is that he throws a way convention and demonstrates the fun that can be had with some dice, some art material and a vivid imagination as he takes you through some of the basic’s through to some of the more advanced techniques within this offering. It’s good solid fun and with tutorials thrown in to get the most from textures and hybridisation it clearly demonstrates that the only limit to those with the talent is their imagination. Definitely a book that will inspire.

Wednesday 9 June 2010



In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - vampire warriors, defenders of their race ...John Matthew has been through his vampire transition and taken to the life of the Brotherhood with a vengeance, but he still can't shake the nightmare of his past and is unsure of his future as a warrior hero. He's made a promise to honour the Brotherhood and their fight with the slayers at all costs, until the love of his life is kidnapped and he is forced to make a choice that could change his life and the Brotherhood's forever ...


As a relatively late comer to the series (I started with the last offering) I pretty much made my way through the previous 7 titles before starting on this (due to the insistence of a number of Black Dagger Brotherhood fans.) What I gleamed from those was that I really did have a whale of a time and came to understand the characters better, so much so that they felt almost like friends.

That’s ultimately the key to this authors writing and something that I’d advise everyone else to do before starting on this title as it allows the emotional context that’s within to get a deeper route within the readers imagination. And that’s exactly what is key to this offering. There’s unrequited love, a huge sense of loss and of course the old heartstrings are pulled time and again and blended together with kickass action that really does show that JR is a top notch author.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

FANTASY REVIEW: First Lord's Fury (Codex Alera 6) - Jim Butcher


The aging First Lord of Alera has fallen in battle. Yet his people must continue to resist an invading inhuman army. Desperate Alerans even pledge fealty to the Vord Queen to survive, turning the incredible power of Aleran furies back on their own people. And despite all efforts, the Alerans are being ground into dust and pushed to the farthest reaches of their own realm. However, Tavi has returned with vital insights from the Canim Blood Lands. He knows how to counter the Vord and, more importantly, believes human ingenuity can equal fury-born powers. Now events are rushing towards a last stand, where Tavi and the last Aleran legions must formulate a dangerous new strategy, together. For a civilisation is on the brink of extinction.


Whilst I’m a huge fan of Jim’s Dresden series, I’ve only really become a convert to his fantasy offering over the last few. I still feel it’s a tad clunky but the world building is of a level that few others delve into. The magic’s interesting, the characters well rounded. Add to the mix a solid writing style with a solid narrative and you’ve got an offering that will hit the right spots for a number of readers. One word of caution is that this tale is part of a series and as such will make it a difficult if nigh impossible place to begin. If you do fancy this offering please start with book one and enjoy the journey.

FANTASY REVIEW: West of the Mountains, East of the Sea - Brian Sibley, John Howe


This enchanting little hardback is an essential companion for any reader journeying through The Silmarillion or The Children of Hurin. Featuring an entertaining text and detailed gazetteer by acclaimed Tolkien author Brian Sibley, this gift edition also contains a stunning fold-out poster-map of the First Age of Tolkien's Middle-earth. Writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley is a foremost expert on The Lord of the Rings (he adapted the novel for the award-winning BBC radio dramatisation in 1980), and here in this clothbound hardback he will take you to the First Age of Middle-earth, many thousands of years before the events chronicled in The Lord of the Rings. This was the setting for the great War of the Jewels, as recounted in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion and includes a gazetteer of the many places shown on the full-colour illustrated map which accompanies the book. The Map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North is faithfully reproduced in full colour by world-renowned Tolkien artist John Howe, the conceptual artist employed by Peter Jackson to work on his multi-award winning Lord of The Rings film trilogy, and who is soon to work on Guillermo del Toro's Hobbit film. The map is based on the original map by Christopher Tolkien. Embellished with heraldic emblems and dramatic scenes from The Silmarillion, it completes the trio of authorized Tolkien maps by John Howe which can be removed for reference or even for framing. Each element in this collector's package is special; together they provide an enchanting and desirable artefact that will be a prized possession of Tolkien readers of all ages.


This is a wonderful addition for fans of Tolkien’s Beleriand as this map gives you a vivid impression of the world in such fine detail a reread of the tale is invariably going to happen at the same time as your exploration. It’s gorgeous, its beautifully created and obviously a real labour of love that clearly exudes itself throughout the page. A real magical offering.